Kevin Reimer Powell-Peralta DH Pro Model Wheels
I will admit I am a bit of a gear junkie and sometimes a fan boy. Over the years, Kevin Reimer has not only been an industry Pro and World Champion, he has created some of my favourite products from back in the days of Rayne, to Aera, and then Powell-Peralta (and SkateOne) where he is now. Even when something works well, change can be a good thing and Kevin is always on the hunt for the best, so changes happen in the quest for excellence. While he’s not changing out of Powell anytime soon, These Wheels needed to change and with the brand now long gone, Powell-Peralta Downhill and Hardcore Skate Products are some of Kevin’s latest focal points. After much testing and tweaking, Kevin’s new Pro Model wheel is finally out under the Powell-Peralta Downhill Brand and I couldn’t resist an opportunity to hit him up for more info.
Hey Kevin! You’ve been around the Skate[Slate] neck of the woods before. But to our new viewers, how about a quick introduction. Long time racer, world champ, product designer, and as of this year, event organizer! Quite the repertoire eh?
My name is Kevin “K-Rimes” Reimer, 2009, 2010 and 2014 Downhill World Champion of the IGSA (2009, 2010) and IDF (2014). I’ve been skating downhill since I was 14, and being 28 now means it’s been a pretty fun ride. At 20, I started Aera Trucks, and then at 25 I moved down to Santa Barbara to work with SkateOne (Powell-Peralta, Bones, Mini-Logo, etc) as Aera became a part of the family here. As things progressed here at SkateOne, we migrated soft wheels to Powell-Peralta and I’ve been running the marketing and product design part of it for the last 6 months or so.
So you’ve been in the game for quite some time now. It seems that the past few years, it’s hard not to see your name on a product somewhere in this industry. And with that being said, we see you have a new Pro Model wheel coming out! You know we’re loaded with questions haha. Let’s start with the specs and general riding style?
It has been quite awhile, but we are finally releasing a sharp lip, race inspired wheel shape. This time, it’s totally updated though. The wheel is 72mm tall, and 57mm wide (57mm CP) and it’s served up in a totally new formula – Soft Slide Formula PRO. The PRO formula has about 30% more grip than the SSF found in the Snakes, and the wheel shape makes for a much more defined edge traction. It’s a wheel that I’m confident you can race a heat or two on, and then freeride down mountain roads. It’s an interesting formula that is highly heat dependent. In weather above 25C (85F) it slides like a grippy freeride wheel, and in temps below 20C (70F) it has tons of reliable traction. We sent some 60mm wide versions with an extended lip for Alex Charleson, and Matt Noseworthy racing in Europe and the wheels are in the top 10 quali times! Pretty insane for a freeride-able DH wheel.
We’ve been seeing those guys kill it in Euro Tour! Should we expect some rad raw runs? Classic Aera style? We know you always have something cookin’ in the works. Let’s talk about this photo that was leaked! Some death defying stunts here!
The boys and girls out in Europe are likely focused on the racing this year, but we always hope they’re out there getting footage between the races. Emily Pross was saying she’d help film some premium runs of Alex, so we’re hoping she comes through! There are a couple runs I have of myself testing the prototypes and they’ll be dropping over the next few days. And we recently let one rip on the Powell Peralta FB page.
The photo shown here is from when I was out testing the 72mm in NorCal. Though it appears super irresponsible, it was the only option I had at the time. The hill is super steep and I was going a good 40-50mph into a corner that required a hundred foot drift. You can see in the footage that the wheels shave off the speed I need quickly, and lock up perfectly for a safe line. They are an unbelievable flexible urethane, both physically and in the sense that they can do what you want. Stand up slide smooth, or gripping tenaciously through a hand down slide to grip line. Definitely my all time favorite DH wheel.
Sounds like a sweet all around wheel for any occasion. When you were developing the product, what were some major key characteristics you found necessary in releasing a wheel that would be the best of the best?
The majority of the formula development was done while working on Soft Slide Formula for Snakes. We found out some very positive characteristics could come from 75a, and George Powell and I worked hand in glove to go back and forth developing the compound. We changed a bunch on the SSF PRO formula to give it the traction you expect from a DH wheel, but still have that super smooth and buttery slide when it was sideways, just like Snakes. No chatter whatsoever. We first developed the urethane, then I did some extra testing on the width of the wheel, since the performance changed a lot going down to 75a. It was clear that wide, or narrow, it was a great all around wheel shape and the urethane was performing excellent. I opted for a medium width that would be more all around for fast freeride, rather than something super wide that might chatter. Durability has been improved over Snakes since there is more urethane and grip, they’re a touch faster with more rebound, and they are also a bit more chunk resistant till you get through the lips. Like any race wheel, especially one in 75a, it is not invincible and you can’t expect to slide it over cracks or really rough pavement without small chips or chunks getting torn out. The performance of the urethane is so good that it’s worth putting up with some small cosmetic nicks and cuts. They rarely affect the ride, and we always warranty if it’s a manufacturing defect.
Wheels go through a lot in the abusive relationship that is DH skateboarding. We gotta show them more love. But it sounds like durability and performance is the name of your game. So it seems that one of the things that makes Powell Peralta DH stand out, is that everything is poured in house, and you have a direct connection with the product you’re designing. How has that helped in product development in the making of your new Pro Model?
SkateOne has an amazing wheel factory here in Santa Barbara and it is certainly the secret to the sauce. We produce urethanes that are truly DIFFERENT than anything else out there, and we do that through formulations, treatments, and hands on care that simply isn’t available anywhere else. We really care about you, the skater. The goal isn’t to make the best “seller”, we are always trying to produce the best wheel for Skateboarding – No matter the variety you participate in. This means it will be durable, perform better, and allow you to skate better, simply by the quality of the shape and formulas that we use. In my own life, having access to this factory and its collective 40+ years of knowledge has opened my eyes to just how crucial the each and every person is to the whole process. The people who work here are the key to making the best performing wheels ever made, and we are obsessed with improving our formulations and shapes as often as possible. Going back and forth with the guys and gals who are actually pouring the wheels, and developing the urethanes directly with George has been eye opening, and a breath of fresh air: I finally get to ride the perfect urethane, no matter what I need it to do. There is something special here at Powell-Peralta, and I can’t put it any other way than that, “We really care.” From the bottom of the factory to the top of podium, the employees here want you to improve your skating, and let you have more fun – all through improved skate products.
That really puts a whole new meaning to by skateboarders for skateboarders! And the product and the brand really speaks for itself. First the snakes, then the pro model, what’s next? Can you give us any juicy insider secrets of what’s to come?
We are going to be coming in very strong over the next few months. There are a lot of releases planned. We just dropped Black 75a Snakes and 85a G-Slides, which will have a more sugary wear pattern than the other colors, and a touch more grip too. The 72mm Race / Freeride wheel and the re-release of the Byron Essert 72mm in SSF PRO will add some weight to the line-up and with the extra grip they’ll be a totally different Powell experience compared to Snakes. We are working on the 75mm Stage II race wheel that never got released from These™. The shape has been updated for today’s racing style, and we are tooling up for that now. George and I starting to work on a completely new formulation that will be a game-changer. On the trip up north to film for the 72mm, the new formulation blew my mind. It’s so different that it will take months if not years to fully test and develop, but I am certain it will become the gold standard of race wheel formulations for years to come.
Ahhh, the Stage II’s. The most desired and unreleased secret of the industry. I’ve heard them being called the extra power ups in racing. Having tried a set or two, I gotta say you can’t make us wait too long! It looks like your Pro Model will be sharing the same UHR core, which will give us a taste of that speed. Could you tell us more about the core and how it affects your wheel?
The 75mm indeed was a rare breed. We had some issues with production of the wheel, but we’ve figured it all out now and are moving forward with the new moulds. We are really changing it up, and it will be using the H5 core which is the same as in the Snakes. Interestingly, we found that the UHR urethane core that is in the current 72mm and Byron has more rebound at lower speeds, but at high loads the H5 is superior for rebound. This means that the H5 core is the best bet for the high speeds of racing, and it is also significantly stiffer than the UHR core, which will help with traction. The H5 will also allow for more urethane depth (faster roll speed on rough roads), and more flexible lips to lock you in around the turns. It’s definitely a huge step for us to release the wheel since they’ve probably still won more World Cups than any other wheel! I’m certain when it’s released, it will be the most competitive race wheel on the market by far – George and I are working together again for this entirely new formula.
Thanks Kevin! We really appreciate the insight and you taking the time to talk to us at Skate[Slate] today. I’m sure we’ll be hearing from you again soon. Let’s not wait months if not years for that to happen. Got any last words? Shoutouts? Words of wisdom?
Shout outs to all my sponsors: Powell-Peralta, Bones Bearings, Aera Trucks, Powell-Peralta DH, TSG International, and Sickboardshop. More shouts to all the skaters out there who are sharing the positivity and fun of skating. We all need to work together these days to keep this sport alive, and positivity helps a lot with that. Keep on shredding and get your local crew stoked to bomb some hills!