Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick..............BOOM!!!!!!!!!!!

    I was lucky enough to get my hands on some Atom Booms recently (thanks to the lovely people at Atom), we have stocked them at SkateHut for a while, but I hadn't had chance to try any out and had been asked a bunch of questions about them in the shop. Having had a crazy weekend at Brawlgust, I injured myself less than a week later trying out the new things I had learnt - nothing serious, but it put me out of contact drills for a few weeks and if ever there was a time to try out new wheels then this was it.

    The thinking behind the Boom range is clever; the wheels don’t state a durometer and work off a generalised hardness rating instead. This makes sense to me as so many people reject a new wheel because it isn't the number that they are used to. I hear a lot of people saying things like 'I only skate on a 92 so a 93 is no good for me'.  Really? The average skater will not notice such a slight duro difference in a wheel, there are just too many other factors that can influence it. Atom have made a good choice here and I hope it is something they stick with, by taking away the durometer it makes it easier to choose based on what you really need. I get a lot of newer skaters in the shop who come in saying 'Someone in my league said I need new wheels and should buy an 88A'. What works for one person doesn't work for everyone - across my league we have skaters on every type of wheel and durometer, it just depends on how you like to skate and what you need to do it best.

    With new wheels to play with and having to sit out of any contact for a few weeks, I set about practicing my footwork and stops - probably the easiest way to get a feel for a new set of wheels, and always worth doing anyway. After a few laps to get a feel for them and adjust to the slightly wider (38mm) profile than I am used to, I got stuck into practice. The Boom feels different from many wheels; they are made from a hybrid formula so great on multiple surfaces - a lot of people have compared them to skateboard wheels but they remind me a lot of the Rollerbones Day of the Dead series. I went with a Firm and XX Firm combo as our home venue is incredibly slick but I like a lot of speed. The Firm wheels are grippy with a slightly rubbery feel, yet you don’t get that sensation of squishiness or a loss of momentum. I tend to prefer a harder wheel, so I was surprised that I still got a good amount of slide with these. The XX Firm feels more like the wheels I am used to (around a 95a) but with that same rubbery feel I mentioned before. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes these different but that hybrid compound does make it feel like you are more in control of your entire wheel and can utilise your inner and outer edges with more ease. I tend to dig in with some wheels and let the others drift depending on what I am doing and it is fair to say there is never equal pressure on all 4 wheels at any time, so it is important to me that I know how they are going to react which is exactly what I got. Atom make great wheels anyway and the Boom is the official wheel of Team USA - I don’t think you would find them skating on anything that didn't offer predictable performance every time!

    Like with most wheels, the Booms took some getting used to, but having now scrimmaged in them several times I can say that they will be staying part of my kit for a while yet. I really liked the responsiveness I got from the firm wheels - plenty of grip without being too soft or slow - if anything, they felt quite bouncy. The XX Firm were speedy but I really felt my hockey stops benefited from them too, I could get a good slide in them yet still dig in for sharp stops and to hold fast in a wall. After playing around with the set up a little, I've come to the conclusion that I need another set of the XX-Firm so I can run a 3&1 combo on each skate but that is just my personal preference, as I like my back wheels to all be quite hard. I wish that the X-Slim variety came in all hardnesses as I will always be a fan of a slimmer wheel. When the next iteration of the Boom appears I hope that this is an option.

Anyone undecided about whether the Boom is for them will be pleased to know that if you don’t like thm within 30 days then Atom will exchange them for you (OK, so it is a pain to do this from the UK, but Atom must be pretty confident in how good they are for them to make that kind of offer!)

You can buy the Atom Boom wheels plus a whole range of other derby wheels from www.skatehut.co.uk

About The Author

DOB: 8/7/1985

Skater for Central City Rollergirls and Roller Derby Brand Manager at Skatehut, a UK Brick and Mortar Skate Shop www.skatehut.co.uk

I've skated for most of my life in one way or another, on ice, inline and now quads. In the little spare time I have, I have started trying to do a bit of aggressive skating too.

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