Seismic Alpha 80.5mm review
March 31, 2020
I’ve been riding the Seismic 80.5mm Alpha wheels for a couple months now. You’ve probably seen me on them in various clips and videos. Today I’ll be reviewing them. Talking about how they roll, slide and perform. Check it out.
If you want to read a review of the 75.5mm versions, check it out here.
- Diameter – 80mm
- Width – 61mm
- Contact Patch – 60mm
- Durometer – 76a, 78a
- Urethane – Defcon
- Core placement – slightly offset
Seismic Alpha 80.5mm review
Let me just start by saying that I’ve really enjoyed the last couple of months skating on these. I’ve really come to like big wheels that roll fast and hold their speed. The roads in Nairobi aren’t so steep, so it can be a challenge to maintain speed. Big wheels hold their speed well, so they allow me to have a lot of fun whilst going fast.
These wheels are fast and have great acceleration
When I first skated these wheels. I was surprised by how quick they were. They didn’t feel slow too start, or have too much inertia as big wheels usually have. I was able to push hard on them and they picked up speed easily.
I was riding the Slide Perfect Fluxx wheels before I switched them for these. The Fluxx aren’t the fastest wheels around but aren’t slow either. Still, the Alpha’s knocked them out of the water. I found myself going a couple of mph faster on some runs, and even initially felt scared of the quick acceleration.
And it’s the case with other wheels. The Alpha’s usually come out on top in terms of speed. If anything, they are known as one of the fastest wheels on the market. If anyone is trying to do anything fast, you’ll find them riding Alphas or using Defcon urethane.
They last forever
With dense urethane, comes long … longevity …
Honestly, these wheels last forever. Whether it is the skin, the lips or the wheel itself. The Alphas’ don’t wear much at all.
I’ve been skating them on and off for the last few months and only seen a few mm of wear. They’ve also held their shape quite well. So it’s safe to say I’m impressed.
When they do wear, the skin is the first to go. The lips follow but do take a while to lose shape.
They have so much momentum
80mm wheels are known for how much momentum and speed they carry. The Alphas are no different.
This is great because they hold their speed over the non-hilly sections of hills. You don’t have to get out of your tuck to push. You can hold it and allow the momentum of the wheel to carry you forward.
The flipside is that they slow down a bit less. Because they are so heavy, you have more momentum and more weight to allocate braking forces too. Paired with the slidey nature of the urethane, it is wise to adjust where you start braking when you skate these wheels.
Because of all this momentum, relying on air braking to slow down is not wise. You’ll have to foot brake or adjust your airbrake point to a point further up the hill.
For a wheel of their size, they don’t feel sluggish or slow.
I had previously skated the 80mm Kegels and didn’t find them to be good at changing direction fast. They had a lot of heft in a straight line but didn’t react to my input and change direction very quickly.
These wheels feel pleasantly nimble and quick turning. Note, they are still 80mm wheels so will feel more sluggish than smaller wheels. They do feel better than their 80mm counterparts though.
When fresh, they slide …
When fresh, they have a ton of braking power, but still slide extremely smooth. This is surprising.
Most wheels don’t slide smoothly when fresh. They feel like they are grabbing the pavement and sometimes even skip during the slide.
If you’re an experienced skater and have skated the wheels often fresh – you probably know how to slide fresh wheels properly and are accustomed to the grip. For other skaters, this isn’t the case. The wheels will skip, feel wild, and generally won’t produce an enjoyable sliding experience.
The Abec 11 77a HD Big Zigs are a good example of challenging wheels to slide fresh.
The Alphas are different. When I first slid them it was so smooth I thought the wheels were scrubbed. I was also very confused because they slowed me down a ton too.
I think the smooth sliding nature can be attributed to how the large core and dense urethane support the lips. With the lip so stiff, you don’t need to be particularly ‘tuned in’ with the wheel to slide it well. The wheel does most of the work for you.
Still, even with the smooth slide they have extreme traction and slow you down a lot.
If you want a forgiving experience skating fresh wheels, the Alphas aren’t a bad idea to go along with. If you’re less experienced, the smaller 75.5mm options will be more appropriate for you.
When broken in …
When the wheels are broken they slide very smooth. In fact, they feel more like big free ride wheels when worn than they do DH wheels.
They slide easily and some of the less experienced skaters in my squad find them easy to control too.
That said, they sill have enough traction to allow you to grip a corner comfortably and take fast lines.
Finally, the line between grip and slip is thin. It isn’t difficult to slide these and you can do so in tight spaces.
If you’re looking for a downhill wheel that will continue to challenge you after the skin is gone, you should look elsewhere as these don’t fit that criteria well. That said, most beginners will still find this wheel very challenging, so they should look elsewhere or consider getting the smaller 75.5mm option.
What’s not so good about the Alphas?
They don’t have as much braking power as other wheels
If you want a bit more braking power, I’d avoid these wheels.
For a metric of comparison, they feel more slidey than wheels like the Kegels. And wheels like the Venom Magnums and HD Big Zigs have a lot more braking power than these.
They don’t handle rough roads so well
When I rode the 75mm Alphas, they chipped, cracked and chunked. They chunked so badly that I had to reshape the wheels so they could wear properly. The wheels were in really bad shape.
Wheels with dense urethane tend to chunk over rough surfaces, and chip if they hit hard against a curb.
So this time, I decided to stick to smoother, more forgiving roads. The results speaks for itself and these wheels have not chunked – even after months of abuse.
In summary. If you skate these wheels on bumpy, rough roads, they WILL chunk. You will have bits and pieces of your wheels missing . My advice is to generally avoid the really rough roads.
They reflect a lot of road vibration
Once again, with dense urethane comes a lot of feedback. The huge core doesn’t help either. These wheels reflect a ton of road vibration.
In comparison to the Slide Perfect Fluxx or Magnums, these reflected everything. I could feel every wave in the pavement, most cracks and I could tell where the rough patches were.
When riding, this gave my truck more “twitch”, and it made things feel a bit more unstable. Still, I haven’t gotten wobbles once when riding these. A less experienced rider may freak out and feel very uncomfortable skating these on rougher roads at high speeds – but if you stay calm and relaxed, it’s not something to worry about.
The 80mm height smoothens out the ride quite a bit – so I expect this to get worse the more they wear down.
They are not cheap
These wheels are amongst the most expensive in the market – costing a whopping $85.
Seismic attributes this cost to the type of urethane they use and the large core. And this is reflected in other wheels in the industry too. The more urethane they have, the more expensive they tend to be. As well, the more development went into them, the more their price tends to be.
The price sucks yeah, but when you look at how consistently they perform and how durable they are, they become kinda worth it. Still. RIP to your wallet.
What type of riding are they right for?
- Downhill. – They were designed for primarily downhill. They are great for that
- LDP (long-distance pushing) – These wheels roll fast and have a lot of momentum. They are the choice for a lot ldp skaters. You’ll find them on decks at a ton of race meets. They have a narrower LDP version. By being narrower, it weighs slightly less and has less inertia when you push it.
- Slalom – I haven’t seen the Alphas used much (or at all) in Slalom. I do think they’d be great for it. They are quick turning, have fantastic traction, get off the line quick etc. …
- DH Racing – A lot of skaters have had success on these for downhill races.
Who should get them?
- If you’re looking for a fun downhill wheel, you should pick up the 80mm Alphas.
- If you’re competing at an all grip race and need a fast wheel to get you the win, the Alphas are the right choice.
Who should avoid them?
- If you don’t have experience sliding 80mm wheels, the Alphas will be challenging.
- If you won’t be skating fast, these may feel inappropriate.
Closing thoughts …
These are by far some of my favorite downhill wheels. They go fast, slow you down decently, and allow you to dial in your lines. They are slidey enough to keep things interesting but have enough traction that you can rally corners comfortably. I love them and I hope to skate more like these in the future.