Photo of the Seismic 73MM BlackOps Speed Vent lineup

Seismic Speed Vent BlackOps Review

Most people know Seismic Speed Vents as the number one long distance pushing and pumping wheel, but did you know that they are also efficient downhill and freeride wheels?

The 73mm Seismic Speed Vent was first seen around July of 2008. Over the years it’s been available in an assortment of sizes and urethane formulae. The 73mm size, BlackOps urethane and Energy Conversion core make a great allrounder.

Design: 

The Speed Vents are easily one of Seismic’s most successful wheels. The obvious reason is a simple and effective design, but the truth is years of carefully refined research and development.

Our review unit measures 73mm x 54mm, poured in the 80a Black Ops Formula and features a 53mm contact patch with a squared outer and beveled inner lip. It’s wrapped around Seismic’s Energy Conversion core with a slightly offset bearing seat. They weigh in at 6.1 oz. per unit.

The Energy Conversion core is key to this wheels success. Most companies have adopted taller and wider cores in their race oriented downhill wheels but Seismic’s core has been around the block. 10 years of production have allowed them to continually learn and integrate improvements. They recognized the value in larger cores a long time ago and thus have had lots of time to perfect it. Some benefits include:

  • Stiff core leads to better wear, increased rebound and supported lips
  • Vented core makes them lighter and helps improve acceleration
  • Larger core distributes weight more evenly, less urethane deformation, faster roll speed
  • Larger cored wheels wear more evenly

Speed Vents come in two urethane formulas, BlackOps and Defcon:

  • BlackOps:  ultimate balance of speed and grip, extreme traction when fresh, buttery and smooth broken-in, comfortable and predictable
  • Defcon: Guinness WR speed, directional slide, long-lasting grip and slow, consistent wear

All of these features add up to create a wheel that works very well for LDP, downhill and freeride.

Downhill: 

While not the most common wheel in the downhill scene, the Speed Vents are very capable. The large, supportive core, wide contact patch and squared outer lip are well suited for speed and grip. Likewise, the BlackOps formula comes fresh with a very grippy mold release.

While the skin is still present, the 73mm BlackOps Speed Vent have amazing grip. Following your line through the turn feels precise and natural, like rails. They also have a surprisingly good amount of stopping power going into slides. The skin is relatively durable, so you can get a few longer runs in before it’s worn off.

Once broken-in, they have a tough time holding a line like another downhill wheel might. Still a great choice for technical downhill runs but it’s important to prepare earlier and for longer slides going into corners.


Freeride:

Speed Vents seamlessly transition into freeride wheels once the skin has scrubbed off. The BlackOps formula has a sugary, buttery feeling with lots of road feedback. The slide feels in-the-pavement and it has great stopping power. Each of these contribute to a confidence inspiring freeride experience.

Solid road feedback and consistent break-out and hook-up combine with the offset and supportive core to make a wheel that is fun going fast or hitting technical standup runs. Riding at speed is more comfortable when you know your equipment is working with you.

The only weakness with the Speed Vents and BlackOps combo is how considerable a role weather plays in their performance. They have considerably more grip and stopping power in the cold.


 

Slide:

The in-the-pavement slide feeling creates a unique sliding experience. Distinguished road feedback, defined break-out and a surprisingly forgiving hook-up all characterize the slide on these.

The Speed Vent’s slide is one that you can feel more confident with. It just seems to feel better every time you take them faster or push your limits.  Plus they are one of the more durable wheels I skated recently makes them a surprisingly great freeride package.

LDP and Cruising:

The Speed Vents are fantastic cruising and pushing wheels. The big core and high rebound urethane creates a wheel that accelerates quickly, rolls forever and can clear any obstacle. I don’t think I could recommend any other wheel over Speed Vents for casual cruising or pushing. Nothing seems to feel as good as these wheels. (There are other, better duro and formula combinations for LDP than the BlackOps 80a).

Conclusion: 

If you’re a looking for a wheel that you can cruise or push long distances then transition to a huck and tuck downhill run and later do some technical freeride, you would be hard pressed to find a better wheel than the 73mm Speed Vent in BlackOps.

However, no wheel is perfect. Seismic wheels are expensive because you are paying for their propriety urethanes and cores. They are also effected by the weather a lot more than I anticipated and if you are in a location were the temperature changes a lot these might not be for you.

Overall, they are an amazing wheel with some small flaws. I think anyone can find some use for these wheels whether the discipline is downhill, freeride or LDP. Seismic has mentioned that 73mm Speed Vents in BlackOps may be discontinued. Availability should remain through third parties for some time but hit the link and pick up a set soon if you’re keen to try them.


Pros: stiff vented core, light, quick acceleration, durable, good slide

Cons: expensive, affected by weather


Specifications
Model73MM Seismic Speed Vent in BlackOps
Height73mm
Contact Patch53mm
Durometer80a Black Ops
SkinMold Release
CoreOffset Energy Conversion (EC) hub
LipSquare