Posted by:on July 3rd, 2006
Madrid: Cadillac Wheels
Cadillac Wheels were the first production urethane skateboard wheels in 1973. Frank Nasworthy is credited with bringing the urethane wheel to skateboarding, almost as if he invented them. The history books (and films) are not very clear on how these wheels differed, if at all, from the preexisting urethane roller skate wheels. Seems like a no-brainer in retrospect, bound to happen eventually.
These wheels are from Madrid Skateboards, which now owns the Cadillac name as it applies to skateboards at least. They are supposed to be essentially very similar to the original Cadillacs but with an updated modern urethane formula and a bearing seat that fits the enclosed precision bearings. If you are scratching your head at that one you should know that in the dark ages skateboards had loose ball bearings that rested inside the wheels against the axles. Who was the person that brought precision bearings to skateboarding? I don’t know, but shake his hand will ya?
The first thing you will notice about these wheels when you see them in person is that they have an aura of history about them. Wheels like this just aren’t made anymore (more about that later), and they look really cool. I hesitated to set them up once I held them in my hands. They really are that cool to look at.
The second thing you’ll notice is that there is probably a reason that wheels like this aren’t made anymore, and that is because the performance just isn’t there. They are really small and soft with almost a perfectly square profile. The bearings are not center set either. If you try and ride these wheels in any kind of demanding circumstances you’ll find their limitations quickly, especially if you are, how shall I say, not exactly lightweight. On rough pavement they are slow, and when making tight turns at high speed they feel like they might slip off the axels. I don’t know how they rode these things with any aggro back in the day. They are an obvious improvement over clay wheels, but they are not high performers by any means..
They sure look cool though. Did I mention that? These new Cadillac wheels are best for sticking on an historically accurate reissue deck or that vintage ebay board you just added to your collection. The thing about it is I can’t remember seeing boards in the 70’s with wheels that small, though that’s probably because they predate the wheels found on the plastic banana boards that were my introduction to skateboarding. The new Cadillac wheels are good for a board that is going to sit on a shelf or display case and will only be used in the simplest of manners. If you want to set up a retro styled hybrid and actually ride it a bit then you’d be better off with one of the higher performance retro styled wheels from the likes of ABEC 11 or Retro, or some of the re-issued Bones wheels. There are several other makes out there, but those are what come to mind.
Bottom line: They look kick ass, and if that’s all you need them to do then they will make a good finishing touch to a skateboard form the appropriate era.
Online Action: madridskateboards.com
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