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Bont Quits Development of Wheels Over 100 mm

Skate Maker Cites Design Problem, But New Size Limit May be a Factor

By Robert "Just the Factoids" Burnson

Along with a few other innovative skate makers, Bont has been hard at work in recent months developing 100 mm-plus wheels for racers who want to see just how far they can push the new big wheel technology.

But in the face of technical problems and an unexpected rule change, Bont has quit development of the new wheels.

"Sadly, pretty much all wheel projects over 100 mm have now been canceled," marketing director Alexander Bont said today on the Bont forum.

Alex does not explain the reason. However, he says designers ran into problems with "pressure on the bearings" with Bont's highly anticipated, and now indefinitely postponed, 125 mm wheel.

New Wheel Size Limit

But it is probably more than pressure on bearings that caused Bont to scrap its 100 mm-plus wheels. The reason probably has more than a little to do with the new wheel size rule of the International Roller Skating Federation (FIRS). The rule prohibits wheels larger than 100 mm in sanctioned races.

Bont was clearly unhappy about the new rule when rumors about it first surfaced about a month ago. Bont coach Bill Begg complained that it was unfair to change the rule after skate makers had already spent a great deal of time and money developing new wheels and frames.

But a couple of weeks ago, Alex Bont cast some doubt on how much the size limit would affect the company's research and development when he reported a chat he had with the organizer of the World Inline Cup. He said the organizer told him the size limit would not apply to World Inline Cup races, even though they are sanctioned by FIRS, and that racers in these events would be free to use any size wheels they chose.

Finally Acceptance?

But today's post by Alex suggests that Bont may be grudgingly accepting the FIRS size limit. Or perhaps the company has decided that it doesn't make financial sense to come out with wheels that couldn't be used at such racing events as the Inline World Championships, which are very much under FIRS control.

It is not yet clear whether Bont will also stop or slow development of frames for skates with 100 mm-plus wheels.

A few skate makers have already come out with 100 mm-plus wheels and frames.

Famously, speedster Eddy Matzger won the 2004 Athens to Atlanta Road Skate on a hi-lo K2 frame with Star Grip 100 and 110 mm wheels.

(Talk about this story in the forum)

(Posted Thursday, February 3, 2005)



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