Am-Wing SP Marathon wheels
Extra weight can't slow down these speed demons
By Francisco Ramirez
You may not have heard of Am-Wing Technosport, but the Taiwanese company has been involved in the wheel business, mostly in Asia, for the last 10 years.
Last year, it teamed up with the German maker of the PC-Vane flexible-hub wheels. This year, it introduced its own line of inline wheels, and already, it has found some success. In August, China-Taipei's men's team at the World Championships won a gold medal on the wheels in the 3000-meter relay.
Skating on Am-Wing wheels is a different kind of experience. They are easy on the legs, like soft wheels, but at the same time, fast rolling, like hard wheels.
They are heavier than most other wheels. (The 22mm wheels tip the scale at a hefty 153 grams). But they maintain momentum so well that the extra weight is usually not noticeable.
As mentioned above, these wheels provide great roll. Skating on them, I noticed little loss of forward momentum while coasting on flat, smooth pavement. I felt like I could roll forever. I found this true with all three thicknesses (18-, 20- and 22mm) of the wheels, although it was most noticeable with the 18mm wheels.
Wide to Narrow Comparison
These wheels do an excellent job of holding the road. I was able to sprint full-speed around a 90-degree turn without the least bit of sliding. In fact, at no time did I feel as though I was in danger of slipping. This was especially true for the 20- and 22mm sizes, although less true of the 18mm. (The narrow wheels provided good grip but felt less solid on the corners.)
Fair Weather Friends
Am-Wing makes a wheel for the rain, the SP+. But the wheels I tested (the SP and CP03) performed poorly on wet pavement and worse in the rain. I was only able to use about 40 percent of my stroke in the rain. If it's wet outside, leave these wheels at home!
For the most part, these wheels are very durable, although naturally the thicker wheels out-last the thinner. I used the SP wheels (which roll better) in the middle positions on my frame, and the CPs (which grip better) on the outside.
Here's how they compared:
These wheels are fast. In my speed tests, they performed as well as Gyros, Matters and MPCs. My impression is that they are at least as fast as other top-rated wheels.
As a result, these would be my No. 1 choice for races of 42K or less, as long as the course is dry and not too hilly. The reason I wouldn't recommend them for a hilly course is the extra weight. I used them in a 50K race on the loop course in Trexlertown and I started feeling the weight after going up the hill for the 25th time.
The price of Am-Wings is about average for high-quality racing wheels. The 100mm cost $10-11 (USD); the 110mm, $11-12.
The hubs are stiff and responsive; bearings fit snugly.
These wheels provide great roll, amazing grip and terrific overall speed at a moderate price. They are heavy by today's standards. But I was surprised, especially with the 22mm wheels, how well they maintained momentum once I got them rolling.
Despite their weight, the 22mm Am-Wings were my favorite. Even on hills, the extra load did not phase me (at least, for the first 40 kilometers!)
If you like Star Grips, the 20mm Am Wings are the way to go. They are heavier than Star Grips, but they do a great job of maintaining momentum and grip like a world champion. They also provide good edge control.
The 18mm Am-Wings are somewhat problematic. Their narrow profile can feel awkward and requires careful edge control. For that reason, I would not race in them, although I would recommend them to skaters who want to improve their technique or learn the double push.
18mm: 135 grams
20mm: 145 grams
22mm: 153 grams
The company rates their wheels at 85A. My durometer pegged them at 86A.
Copyright © 2007 by Robert Burnson