Hip To Be Square
Why the Shark Wheel might change the skateboarding world for good.
- Written byStefan Slater
David M. Patrick is quick to admit that the Shark Wheel, a uniquely designed skateboard wheel of his own invention, is a little odd looking. “The shape itself, well, you’d never think ‘wheel.’ It looks natural and a little weird,” says David.
The wheel, at first glance, appears to have a square shape, but that’s not quite right—it’s actually like a sine wave, sphere and a cube rolled into one. “If you put it inside of a tube, it would be flat on six sides. It literally is a perfect cubic shape—and I mean perfect,” he says.
David’s design is inspired by curvatures that are often found in nature (the shark jaw is one such example.) The wheel’s design was born during some inventive tinkering, and because David has been skating for most of his life, he thought the shape could be applied to a new kind of skateboard wheel.
David worked with Pedro Valdez, who specializes in mold-making and makeup effects for film productions, to refine the design. The shape, they discovered, worked wonderfully when used as a skateboard wheel.
“When we dropped and it rolled, it rolled like a man walking—left foot, right foot. It was very balanced, and it didn’t go off-center,” he says. Due to the wheel’s sine wave-like appearance, it allowed for low friction without sacrificing control.
He explains that the end result features the benefits of a skinny tire, with high speed and low friction but with the “benefits of fat tire with lots of grip and control.” Also, while gravel and pebbles can hamper most skateboard wheels and cause terrible wipeouts, the Shark Wheel’s alternating channels funnel debris effectively, and they also allow for a high level of grip.
“We don’t stop on rocks,” he says. “Our kick rocks left or right, or you go over it and don’t even feel it.”
Pedro notes that the prototype phase was challenging. “We spent 18 to 20 hours a day trying to figure it out. We went through 100 wheel trying to make the right one,” he says.
“They were horrifying, terrible. There was an entire year of 100 different designs,” says David about their initial prototype wheels. He adds that they didn’t want to release the wheels until they were absolutely ideal.
But once they finally perfected the design and tested a set, David felt that all his hard work paid off. “You know the math was possible, but we hadn’t felt it yet. And once we did, it was astounding.”
David believes that his wheel could help bring about change to the skateboard industry, especially for the domestic longboarding market. He notes that because Shark Wheels offer less friction when compared to other wheels, they’re easier to keep moving with less effort.
Also, because of its ability to retain its grip and funnel debris, it’s safer. The wheels, he says, can be used “with literally any trucks.” David points out that, within the skateboard world, new wheel designs are few and far between and that most skateboarders have few options.
“The industry hasn’t seen anything new in 30 years,” he says. “I have something that looks cool and performs better.”