Review: Orangatang Moronga freeride wheels by Skate Slate
The Orangatang Balut came quickly and went rather unexpectedly. Some people loved them; some hated them; some just criticized them from afar without ever even trying a set. I guess the same could be same for a lot of wheels. Well, I decided to forget what I knew about the Baluts when I got a few sets of Orangatang Morongas to try out and review. I wanted to review the wheels without the shadow of the Balut interfering in my opinion and criticisms of the wheel. Orangatang reinvented the Balut and transformed it into the Moronga, another wheel in their freeriding line.
And with that little disclaimer out of the way, let us get up close and personal at the wheel named after a pig blood sausage: the Orangatang Moronga. All the specs and the theories behind the wheels design can be found on the Loaded website here, but I’ll go ahead and post them here again in-case you’re too lazy to click the hyperlink. A 72.5mm tall centerset wheel that is more or less symmetrical in shape, it has a 44mm width and a 35mm contact patch to start out. The difference between the width and the contact patch is due to the wheels lip shape which is slightly beveled/stone ground toward the wheels core. The lip is pretty thick and after about 10mm or so it begins to curve in sharply toward the core. Apparently, Orangatang used the same oversized core as the Baluts, except they filled it in with urethane, making the wheel heavier. I haven’t been able to confirm this yet as I haven’t cored mine—that Euphorethane formula takes a while for me to kill.
Now that I’ve painted a picture of what the wheel looks like, I’d like to talk about the ride. The narrow patch and the thick lip make for some interesting and unexpected characteristics. Surprisingly, it took more effort than I was expecting to break out into a slide. When I first started riding them, they were noisy—I mean, screaming banshee noisy—but thankfully they grew more silent as they became more broken in. I was thinking that I would ice out at higher speeds due to the narrow contact patch, but I was able to stay in control of my slides even when freeriding at faster speeds. The Morongas didn’t shed much speed while sideways due to only having 35mm of thane in contact with the ground at a given time. This made it pretty easy to hold out longer slides without too much chatter or trouble. Finally, the hookup took a little bit to get used to; it crept up on me quickly and unexpectedly the first few times. There is a definite point where the wheels no longer wanted to go sideways, which has both its pros and cons. Of course, it’s bad if you’re not expecting it, you could get pitched off your board pretty easily. Once you get used to the wheels a bit more and learn to control them, it is kind of nice to have such a solid hookup.
And now, a little bit on how the Morongas wear. As I said earlier, I haven’t cored mine yet due to their shape or thane formula or whatever. I can tell you, however, that the wheels will start to cone fairly quickly. In my opinion, this isn’t a problem since they become easier to slide when coned. If you really don’t like this, the wheels are symmetrical and centerset so you can flip them any which way you want to correct the “problem”. I haven’t had any problems with ovalizing yet, which I’ve experienced with some of Orangatang’s other freeride wheels. The wheel’s profile begins to change slightly after the first few millimeters of wear due to the lips shape. After sliding off about 3mm of urethane the contact patch gets a little bit wider before getting smaller again. This seems to make the wheel more consistent for a longer period of time. Even though the contact patch size fluctuates, the change is pretty minimal and didn’t seem to affect how the wheels felt.
A little note on the different durometers—80a orange, 83a purple and 86a yellow—they behave as you may expect: the orange wears faster and sheds more speed while the yellows act on the other end of the wear and riding spectrums. I preferred the yellows for higher speed sliding due to the better wear and the oranges for slower freeriding, but that’s just me.
So, while the Morongas aren’t necessarily a game changing wheel, Orangatang has brought a solid freeriding wheel to the table. The wheel’s shape provides more grip than expected when going straight, but sheds little speed and offers control while sideways due to the Euphorethane formula. The wheels are a bit perplexing at first and don’t quite behave as you might expect, but once you ride them for a while you learn the ins and outs of how they perform. I would say that Orangatang has brought a competitive wheel to the freeriding market by reinventing one of their older ones and I’m pretty happy with the result.