About this project
Our Kickstarter campaign is over, but you can still get Wheel Shields. Go to www.WheelShields.com to learn more and order.
Wheel Shields are a patented longboard accessory with 6 powerful features:
1. Splash Protection. Typically when skating on wet roads, your wheels will fling dirty water all over your clothes. Wheel Shields act similar to a mud flap and keep you dry. Your longboard is now a versatile all-weather transportation vehicle.
2. Wheel bite elimination. Wheel bite is a safety problem that injured Chase and inspired him to invent Wheel Shields. Wheel bite occurs during a hard turn when the bottom of the board hits the top of the wheel. By creating a barrier around each wheel, Wheel Shields eliminate wheel bite and allow wheels to rotate freely.
3. New tricks. Wheel Shields also allow riders to stand directly on top of their wheels, opening up all sorts of new trick possibilities. You can invent brand new manuals, colemans and dances with Wheel Shields!
4. Longer bearing life. Wheel Shields fit snugly against the outer bearing of each wheel, without creating additional friction. This keeps water from entering the bearing, protecting it from rust and increasing usable life.
5. End shoe bite. You'll no longer accidentally step on your wheels, which can happen while doing new tricks or plain not paying attention.
6. Prevent locking wheels. If you're into downhill skating, you'll no longer lock wheels with other riders. Their wheels will lock against yours, but your wheels will keep rotating because they are protected by Wheel Shields, giving you the confidence to skate tighter lines around the opposition.
"Wheel Shields are brilliant. Hands down the biggest innovation in longboarding. I wish I had Wheel Shields when I skated around the world. Wheel Shields have changed the longboard transportation paradigm forever. They are an elegant solution to a frustrating problem."
- Rob Thomson, Guinness World Record for Longest Distance on a Skateboard (7,500 miles)
To buy Wheel Shields (we ship internationally): click "Back This Project" above. Enter $50 and pick reward #6 (Wheel Shields).
You won't be charged if you order Wheel Shields,
until September 4th (when our Kickstarter ends) and you'll only be charged if we reach our funding goal of $25,000.
If we don't reach our goal, you won't get your order and you won't pay a dime. We can't produce Wheel Shields without your support! Pledging is a risk-free way of bringing a new innovation into the longboarding world.
Money-Back Guarantee: If you aren't happy with your Wheel Shields, we will issue a refund. We know you'll love em.
How do Wheel Shields mount to my board?
Wheel Shields work universally with almost any longboard and attach to the end of each truck axle. We originally designed Wheel Shields to work with the nuts that come standard on longboards, but found that Wheel Shields would rotate off if you hit a curb or pushed them sideways. Wheel Shields mount using our custom nut setup to ensure they stay firmly in place. Almost all trucks are compatible with the custom nuts except Churchill RKPs, which have a non-standard thread count on the axle.
What wheels work with Wheel Shields?
Wheel Shields work with almost all wheels 76mm and under. Certain wheels with massive contact patches or extreme shapes won’t work, but almost all of your favorites will. Wheel Shields will fit perfectly on any set of wheels as long as the distance between the bearing and the outer lip is less than 1 inch, which is very rare. They even work with uber wide wheels like Biggie Hawgs. Send us a message if you wanna know about a certain wheel: email@example.com
Won't rocks get stuck in Wheel Shields while riding?
Nope! We ran into that problem on older prototypes, which used to cover more than half the wheel if looking at the wheel sideways. We solved the problem by adding a small ledge covering the space between the wheel and Wheel Shield. On the final production model, the ledge isn't needed because the device covers less than half of the wheel, which creates an angle that makes it seemingly impossible for rocks to enter. They've been tested for countless hours with no problems!
How strong are Wheel Shields?
The ribs on each Shield increase weight bearing-potential, so Wheel Shields can handle almost anything you can throw at them. We still haven't broken an aluminum Wheel Shield and have successfully let a 250lb man stand on them. Further testing and updates will follow!
How much do Wheel Shields weigh?
A set of 4 Wheel Shields weighs a little over 1 pound. We prototyped Wheel Shields with nylon, but found that plastics don’t stand up to the chaotic intensity of longboarding. We’ve opted for aircraft aluminum because of its amazing strength and lightweight properties.
How will funding be used?
We spent a year perfecting Wheel Shields, and now we are ready to take the plunge by launching Wheel Shields worldwide. To do so, we need a die cast mold that can mass produce thousands of Wheel Shields. The majority of the funds will go towards the mold, but will also go towards packaging, distribution, customs and shipping. Additional funds will go towards essential expenses and the development of next-generation longboarding technologies. Note that the metal Wheel Shields shown were manufactured via CNC, but the consumer version will be die cast aircraft aluminum.
When will Wheel Shields ship?
December. Why the wait? The die cast mold needed to mass produce Wheel Shields takes one month to make, at which point the manufacturer needs 10 days to test and measure the mold. After a small sample run is field-tested and approved by Chase, the manufacturer needs an additional month to produce and powder coat all of the Wheel Shields. Once all that is done, Wheel Shields must be shipped to the United States and placed into our distribution network before finally being sent to skaters. Add all this together and you can expect your Wheel Shields in December. Sure, waiting is no fun, but remember:
Without your backing, Wheel Shields won't be produced.
To buy Wheel Shields (we ship internationally): click "Back This Project". Enter $50 and pick reward #6 (Wheel Shields).
Previous video (watch for more details)
Wheel Shields are the result of a year of prototyping, testing, and refining. Over 20 prototypes came before the product model that is being released to the public. Each prototype taught us something valuable that ultimately changed the design and evolved Wheel Shields.
On June 18th, 2012 Chase Kaczmarek posted on Reddit.com’s r/entrepreneur subreddit asking “How can I take my invention idea from concept to reality?” His post caught the eye of another redditor, Christopher Wagner, who messaged Chase saying he was a professional product developer. Christopher explained his passion for engineering and offered to help develop Wheel Shields, asking nothing in return. Chase’s faith in humanity was instantly restored by Christopher’s selfless passion. Development of Wheel Shields began.
NOTE: The plastic Wheel Shields shown below are prototypes. Plastic was an effective material for prototyping, but lacks the durability and quality that we want to deliver to skaters. The final production model (the model you can buy) is made of Aircraft Aluminum.
Chase and Christopher live hundreds of miles apart, so they communicated mainly via email. Product development is very hands on and visual; it’s much easier to collaborate on ideas in person. To overcome this barrier, Chase often conveyed his design changes to Chris via crappy Microsoft Paint drawings.
On July 12, Chase ordered the first Wheel Shields prototype using a popular online 3d printing service. Chase’s product development cycle/process is as follows:
1. Order prototype.
2. Test prototype rigorously (check fit with multiple wheels, test mount, skate with Wheel Shield, etc).
3. Tell Christopher about problems/possible improvements. Correspond over multiple emails about what changes should be made.
4. Order another prototype once changes are finalized.
These pictures show the evolution and development of Wheel Shields. Certain prototypes were omitted (for example February 11) because changes in the mount are very difficult to see. The mount itself took the longest to develop. Wheel Shields need to stay firmly in place during intense skating, even when taking an impact. Mounting the device was an engineering challenge. Nuts that come standard on longboards have little rotational resistance (i.e. it’s easy to rotate them off). Originally, Wheel Shields used these standard nuts, which could rotate off very easily. About 10 different mount setups were experimented with before arriving at the final mount design. One interesting way of mounting that was tried involved several spring-like arms on the inside of the mount (visible on the prototype from December 8). These tiny springs were designed to create pressure between the Wheel Shield and outer nut, in an attempt to form a “jam nut”. This prototype was discarded because the springs didn’t create enough pressure and were not durable.
After 12 prototypes, Chase bought a 3D printer (a Solidoodle 3) to speed up product development. The online 3D printing service provided quality prototypes, but they took about 3 weeks to arrive. Developing Wheel Shields inspired Chase to learn the 3D CAD software that Christopher had used to design Wheel Shields. 3D printer and CAD skills in hand, Chase was able to churn out new prototypes in hours instead of weeks.
Cool development details:
• Wheel Shields used to cover more than 180 degrees of the wheel (when looking at it sideways). We originally thought that this not only looked cool, but would provide better splash protection. The problem with this amount of coverage is that Wheel Shields would ride very close to the ground. Wanna go up a small bump? The lip of the Wheel Shield would hit the bump and get pushed around. We started reducing coverage slowly before arriving at the final coverage of 145 degrees. The assumption was that less coverage would lead to wetter skaters, and more coverage would be more prone to snagging on bumps. We struck a perfect balance that provides incredible splash protection while riding high enough off the ground to clear bumps.
• On older prototypes that covered more than 180 degrees, we had problems with rocks getting stuck in the gap between the wheel and Shield. You can’t see this in the pictures, but we implemented a small ledge along the gap to prevent rocks from getting in. As Wheel Shields evolved and began to cover less than half of the wheel, we removed this ledge and found that it was no longer needed. Why? The angle that a rock would need to bounce at to get stuck is seemingly impossible, and hasn’t happened once during countless hours of testing.
• Designing Wheel Shields to work with as many wheel shapes as possible took a long time. The internal geometry had to change a number of times as we tested more and more wheels.
• Load-bearing strength is essential to Wheel Shields. If they can’t bear weight, they can’t perform. To make sure that Wheel Shields are fortified, we added ribbing along the front that reduces bend. Several changes were made to the mount to increase strength as well.
Here’s our manufacturing plan to get Wheel Shields to skaters like you. We have already lined up manufacturing and distribution, and have talked thoroughly with these partners to create this timeline:
1. Get funded on Kickstarter. (End of August)
2. Immediately purchase the die-cast mold that is needed for mass production. Our manufacturing partner needs one month to make the mold. (Completed near end of September)
3. 10 days are then needed to test and measure the mold.
4. A few sample Wheel Shields are made using the mold and are shipped to Chase.
5. Chase spends a few days testing the sample, and approves the first mass production run if the samples are up to par. (Completed in November)
6. Our manufacturing partner then needs an additional month to produce and powder coat all the Wheel Shields. (Completed near end of November/beginning of October)
7. The first batch is shipped to the United States.
8. The batch is delivered to our distribution partner, who places the stock of Wheel Shields in their climate-controlled, bulldog-guarded warehouse.
9. Orders are sent out and backers are happy! (December)
Both our manufacturing and distribution partners were recommended to us by trusted local businesses who have had success working with them. We’re excited to work with these firms, but also have alternative options ready in the event that deadlines or promises are not met.
Longboarding is dangerous. Although Wheel Shields make it safer by eliminating "Wheel Bite", we advise riders to:
- Wear helmets and pads.
- Make sure your Wheel Shields are firmly mounted before each ride. Failing to install Wheel Shields correctly can result in them unexpectedly rotating off, which could lead to injury. You should attempt to rotate each Wheel Shield in both directions before each ride to ensure that they are properly mounted.
- Wheel Shields allow riders to do new tricks, but you should exercise caution and practice in a safe area. Be aware that certain tricks may increase the likelihood of Wheel Shields rotating off, especially if Wheel Shields are not properly mounted.
- Always avoid cars, pedestrians and bikers.
- Don't be stupid.
Any person using Wheel Shields assumes all the risk of personal injury and/or damage that can result from using Wheel Shields.
We may discover small improvements that we will implement before final production. Any design changes will be posted as an update so our backers are kept in the loop.
Laws and regulations regarding longboards and skateboards vary by country, state, county, and municipality. Please always check your local laws and regulations before you ride.
We are a US-based company, but we want Wheel Shields to be available to skaters around the world. Those who order from other countries are responsible for any customs, local taxes and duties.
Risks and challenges
We already have a trusted manufacturing partner lined up to meet our needs. We are putting an emphasis on quality to ensure that the final product is top-notch, and that you love your Wheel Shields. Like most longboarding gear, Wheel Shields are covered by warranty and can be returned if they are in reasonable condition. We also warrant defects in materials or workmanship. Although our manufacturing partner has a great reputation, this is our first time doing business together. It is possible that they won't meet certain deadlines/agreements, at which point we would find a new manufacturer.
Another risk is the powder coating that our manufacturer will use to produce Wheel Shields in blue, green, purple and black. Powder coating is used on a wide range of consumer products, including some longboard gear. However, we do not yet have a sample of the powder coating that will be used, so we are unsure how it will handle being smashed and scraped during intense longboard rides. We may switch the from powder coating to an anodized finish if we decide powder isn't rugged enough.
International distribution can be tricky. Wheel Shields need to clear import customs, which vary greatly between countries. We don't expect to have any problems with this and are connected to a company that specializes in international customs. If a problem were to arise and we simply could not get Wheel Shields into a given country, we will refund affected backers.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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