MPC VT (ex firm)
World's best ... or just most expensive?
By Francisco Ramirez and Robert Burnson
MPC created a buzz this year with its VT "Variable Traction" road wheel. Building on its success in international track racing, the U.S. company delivered a technologically advanced wheel that quickly notched some impressive road victories.
But aside from being fast, the VTs are pricey. In fact, at $15 a piece, they are the most expensive wheels in the world — a fact that has no doubt discouraged some skaters from trying them. The question is: are they worth it?
The VTs employ MPC's Mtech dual-pour construction. That means they have an inner layer of bouncy urethane (similar to the stuff of Super Balls) and an outer layer of hard road-worthy urethane. MPC says this combination makes for a wheel with superior rebound and durability.
The first thing you notice about the VTs is their good looks. The outer layer is made of a transparent tinted urethane (pink, firm; gold, ex firm). Under the outer layer — and clearly visible — is the translucent inner core. Floating (cleverly) between the layers are the black and white letters of the label. Add to that a black spoked hub and you've got a very attractive wheel.
Roll and Feel
The VTs provide excellent roll. Gliding on them, you feel little loss of forward momentum on flat surfaces. They also do a good job of soaking up road vibration.
Hard wheels like these can tire the legs over long distances. But we found the VTs to be quite comfortable when we combined the ex firm with the firm on each skate. They were not as easy on the legs as wheels designed for comfort, like the flexible-hub PC Vanes. But unlike the PC Vanes, the VTs make no compromise when it comes to roll and stability.
The VTs hold the road very well, especially when used in combination (firm and ex firm). We felt confident on tight corners and noticed no slipping when sprinting.
This is the only place where the VT's fell short. MPC claims these wheels last two or three times longer than other wheels. But we did not find that to be the case. In our tests, the VTs seemed to wear down as fast, or nearly as fast, as other premium speed wheels.
The VT hub is designed like a jet turbine. The nine spokes slant sidewise like the blades of a fan. MPC says this design cuts wind drag. We can't vouch for that, but we can say that the hubs are strong and not given to flexing.
MPC used to have a reputation for making its hubs too large. But it appears to have corrected this problem. Bearings fit perfectly (not too loose, not too tight) in the hubs of our VTs.
(One note of caution: the blades of the hubs have sharp edges, so it's a good idea to warn young skaters to keep their fingers away from them to avoid injury.)
The VTs average 123.5 grams. That makes them a few grams lighter than most other top quality outdoor wheels, although not as light as the lightest speed wheel, the narrow-profile Star Grips (108 grams).
At $15 each, the VTs are the most expensive outdoor wheel on the market.
MPC wasn't exaggerating: the VTs are great wheels. Fast, grippy and comfortable, they would be one of our top picks if not for their price. We might be willing to pay the premium if these wheels clearly outlasted the competition. But as noted, we did not find that to be the case. Nonetheless, we wouldn't hesitate to recommend these wheels to skaters for whom price is no object.
Recommendation: For optimal grip and comfort, use the firm wheels on the back and front of your skates and the ex firm in the two middle positions.