Volante Mini Checkers Test Setup:
Volante Mini Checkers
Volante is not a brand that messes around with wacky looking wheels, their graphics are definitely all business. Even at a glance these are some seriously classy wheels: center set white urethane on an orange core with two blue stripes on the side, the larger of which contains text and a little checker graphic reminiscent of some kind of old school race track marquee. The text reads: VOLANTE CHECKER 64mm 82a. Overall it's a very "classics never die" look, leaving no doubt in my mind: if Sinatra longboarded, that pimp would roll on Mini Checkers.
Riding Mini Checkers for the first time really is a very unique experience. They start off surprisingly grippy but break in pretty quick. Just a few slides and they were releasing consistently and sliding really well. However, I’d like to note that I was cocky (see: forgetful) and didn’t bring my gloves to break them in...BIG mistake. Not a fun wheel to standie until you at least get past the mold release. Until then they’re totally swoosh: nothin’ but sketch. After you get past the mold release though they tend to be very glidey and "above the pavement" at first, not thaning all that much...and gradually sink in and feel really chalky. It's a strange transition from super grippy too kinda techy too consistent and smooth, but it's really fun once you realize you're getting all that out of one wheel.
Once completely broken in they start to live up to their non-mini name with a nice controlled slide that lays just enough thane to know where you've been. They don't last forever, but hold together well enough that you won't regret getting a 64mm wheel. Plus, flat spots and ovals won't be in your near future unless you have really bad form or use a belt grinder to core your wheels.
I understand that the size and shape of a wheel changes its slide characteristics quite a bit...but I was still very surprised how different the Mini version felt from the original Checkers. It's been a while, but I don't remember the OG checkers being as grippy, even once broken in. Volante doesn't hide the fact that they enjoy speed (the graphic makes it obvious that they're named after the racing flags of the same name) so it would make sense that they'd want to provide a 64mm wheel that wasn't just for putting on DKs...but it would have been nice if they warned us. Lucky for you, that's exactly what I'm doing: be warned, this wheel may look small...but it's still designed for fast freeride.
Review by Jonathan King of The Longboard Critic.