Spitfire Wheels, under the leadership of San Francisco native Jim Thiebaud since its founding in 1987, has completely transformed the world of skateboard wheels. This revolutionary company has soared to become one of the most iconic and beloved skateboarding brands of all time. In fact, it's not an exaggeration to say that Spitfire Wheels is at the pinnacle of skateboard wheel companies worldwide, consistently the top choice of professional skateboarders. When you flip through the pages of skateboarding bible Thrasher or watch the latest skate video, it's no surprise to see the Spitfire logo proudly emblazoned on clothing and boards, with those distinctive Spitfire wheels spinning below.
Jim Thiebaud, the driving force behind Spitfire, has a remarkable skateboarding journey. He started as an amateur for Powell-Peralta, became a professional for Santa Monica Airlines, and co-founded Real Skateboards with his former Powell-Peralta teammate Tommy Guerrero. Real Skateboards quickly became one of the most influential teams in the world of skateboarding. Jim's enduring commitment to skateboarding extends to his role in nurturing future talent and fostering charitable causes within the skateboarding community. He's known as one of the nicest figures in skateboarding, and this same spirit of skateboarders supporting one another is what defines Spitfire Wheels. It's a company created by skateboarders, for skateboarders.
The inspiration behind Spitfire Wheels can be traced back to the primitive skateboard wheels of the 1960s, which were small, rudimentary, and made from materials like metal or hard-baked clay, often prone to splintering. The game-changer arrived in 1973 when Frank Nasworthy introduced the first polyurethane polymer skateboard wheels. Spitfire Wheels, always in pursuit of improvement, took this innovation and elevated it further. Their reputation has been hard-earned, as they've consistently refined their hand-poured and shaped wheels in the USA over nearly 35 years, making them a symbol of excellence in the skateboarding world.
What makes Spitfire Wheels so popular? It's the higher-grade polyurethane they employ, providing exceptional performance on various terrains. Riders experience improved rebound and consistently smooth speed, along with unprecedented traction. What truly sets them apart is their remarkable resistance to flatspot, ensuring longevity that can endure daily asphalt cruises for multiple seasons and, when ridden on concrete, potentially for years. Spitfire Wheels has continued to enhance its secret polyurethane blend, crafting high-performance wheels perfectly tuned for different skateboarding styles.
Throughout the years, Spitfire Wheels has evolved with a range of outstanding skateboard wheel series. These wheels are aerodynamically designed with angled, contoured edges, adding a defining touch to skateboarding, whether you're cruising or performing acrobatics. The series includes Classics, Chargers, and Formula Four, catering to professional riders, amateurs, and beginners alike.
Classics: This series harks back to the early days of Spitfire Wheels, designed for street cruising. It's one of the most beloved sets of wheels, featuring a traditional design with a sharply cut wheel edge and generous width. Classics are available in two hardness ratings: 99 for the street and 101 for the skate park.
Chargers: These street cruiser wheels are built to absorb the shocks of uneven pavements, thanks to a softer version of the Spitfire Wheels formula with a hardness rating of 80. This cushioned flexibility ensures a comfortable and smooth ride, while maintaining reliable hardness for trick performance.
Formula Four: The latest addition to Spitfire Wheels, Formula Four, is the most technologically advanced. It offers various sub-categories tailored to different skateboarding activities. Formula Four Tablets, Radials, Radial Slims, and Conical Full provide options for different styles and preferences.
Spitfire Wheels have taken wheel hardness identification to the next level by introducing color-coding that matches hardness ratings:
- Light Blue (80): Ideal for street cruising and easy tricks.
- Light Blue with Red (92, 95): Suited for skate parks.
- Yellow or Blue (99): A versatile all-rounder.
- Red or Green (101): Perfect for street cruising.
The iconic Spitfire Wheels logo, featuring a grinning, flame-haired character with sharp teeth, was designed by Kevin Ancell. This logo perfectly embodies the spirit and energy of a "spitfire," someone with boldness and determination. It's a fitting symbol for the fearless skateboarders who rely on Spitfire Wheels, with the logo typically appearing in a dominant shade of red when representing the brand.
Spitfire Wheels also collaborates with renowned brands, such as Vans, to create stylish and high-traction footwear suitable for skateboarding.
The roster of Spitfire Wheels team riders has included legendary figures like Mark Gonzales, Tony Trujillo, Anthony 'AVE' Van Engelen, Lance Mountain, Ishod Wair, Dennis Busenitz, and many more. Their contributions have left an indelible mark on skateboarding history. The company's video releases, starting with "Spitfire" in 1993, have featured skateboarding icons like Ed Templeton, Jamie Thomas, Jason Dill, and Julien Stranger, delivering a constant stream of skateboarding excitement and innovation.
For those with questions about Spitfire Wheels, here are some FAQs:
Q: Who owns Spitfire Wheels?
- A: Spitfire Wheels was founded in 1987 by Jim Thiebaud and is part of the Deluxe Distribution family.
Q: Where are Spitfire Wheels manufactured?
- A: They are meticulously hand-poured in San Francisco.
Q: What does the Spitfire Wheels logo represent?
- A: The logo, featuring a grinning character with sharp teeth and flame-like hair, embodies the spirit and energy of a spitfire.
Q: Which Spitfire Wheels are best for beginners?
- A: Formula Four Conical Full, offering exceptional traction and stability.
Q: How can I extend the lifespan of my Spitfire Wheels?
- A: Occasionally rotate them to ensure even wear.
Q: Which Spitfire Wheels are the narrowest?
- A: Formula Four Radial Slims.
Spitfire Wheels remains a dynamic and influential force in the skateboarding world, continually evolving and setting the standard for skateboard wheel excellence.