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Monthly Archives: March 2014

Eastside H20 Wheels

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Finally, It rained! There wasn’t dry pavement for weeks…and then I’m tasked with reviewing rain wheels and it stops. Well, this week it fucking stormed…and I’ve never been more excited. Why? Not because I have rain wheels, because I have the only rain wheels specifically designed for freeriding in the wet! Eastside H20 wheels are round lipped…but have treads. They are soft and grippy…but come stone ground. They’re made for the rain but they’re clear and thane like crazy. Everything about them seems to be oxymoronic…my first thought was, either these are a miracle wheel that no one else has thought of, or they’re going to fail miserably! I was hopeful…but cautious. So with a helmet, knee pads, and a pillow strapped to my ass, I ventured out into the pouring rain for one hell of a fun skate session.

Wet:
Ok, so this wheel isn’t Skatans gift to British longboarders…but they are extremely well designed and thought out. Being that they were Freeride wheels my first instinct was to try a nice long heelside check. I iced out immediately and ruined my pillow. Ok…How about a quick 180? Perfect! Quick, smooth…clean release and a definitive hook up. Not something you expect in the rain. Luckily, I’m pretty tech with my freeride so I ride anything from 81-88a. It didn’t take long to figure these wheels out…if you ride harder wheels it won’t phase you either. Really, there’s no way to have wheels feel the same in the rain…so you won’t be able to switch out your skiddels and still side the same. Instead, Eastside offers a new feel that delivers on its own way…if you do ride wet, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. When normal wheels are icing out in the rain and other rain wheels are hooking up abruptly and unexpectedly, H20s shed just enough of that clear thane as the wheel hooks up for a clean and consistent deceleration that doesn’t slip out or halt abruptly. You still need a lot more weight over the board…but once you find where these wheels release and hook up it doesn’t change. For the first time ever I was riding a wheel that was predictable, even in the rain. A few minutes in and not only was I getting some really long checks…I was purposefully targeting giant puddles for that epic splash! They ride the same even nearly underwater. (P.s. no freestyle section in this quick fix…but I just have to mention how fun slap shuvits are in a puddle. Lol.)

Dry:
Ok, so I had a hard time waiting to try these wheels…maybe I rode them dry a little before it rained. Was that wrong of me? Yes and no…the idea behind these wheels is that they’re super grippy so they have traction in the rain…but they’re stone ground and thane well so that losing and regaining that traction feels more gradual and controlled. What this means for riding them dry means that they core quick. Which might sound like a good thing to some of you…but remember, the treads only go so deep. So I would recommend getting actual mids instead…especially since these aren’t the greatest wheel dry. They release surprisingly well but hook up abruptly, albeit predictably…It still tends to make longer slides choppy at slow to medium speeds. Add that to the massive chatter and these are ok dry…but definitely not worth ruining right before a rainy day (which, with your luck is exactly when you’ll core them…You know who you are).

Well that’s just about it…yet another “quick fix” that ran much longer than I had originally intended. To recap, these are great freeride rain wheels…not because they slide the same as you’d expect dry, but because they are predictable once you get used to them. They slide dry too…but it’s not worth dulling your tread. I’d also like to note that they do get pebbles stuck in them, but that didn’t seem to affect the slide much, dry or wet. For more info be sure to like Eastside Longboards on Myface.

As always, don’t forget to like The Longboard Critic on Facebook to get updates on our weekly reviews! Not to mention, some cool contests soon…

DISCLAIMER: This company was confident enough in its quality that it was willing to provide me with product to review.

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Posted by on March 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Valkyrie Baseplates Review

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So you’re a fan of a truck that doesn’t offer an adjustable baseplate? Something like Bears or Rey…or maybe you just like tweaking your ride without a towering ride height? Then good news friends, Valkyrie truck co. has got you covered. Svipul baseplates offer truck degrees from 35 to 50 while still maintaining the same ride hight as your stock trucks. Add that to the fact that they sell them individually and not only are they the cheapest adjustable baseplate option on your market but you only have to buy one (if say…you race and only need it in the back) since it’ll be the same height as your front truck. It’s a pretty cool idea in theory…let’s see exactly how much stupid shit I did to test these things limits though.

Freeride:
For me, freeride isn’t where this things strengths are…since my favorite freeride setup is pretty basic and almost assuredly has to be symmetrical! 45-50° on both sides really works best depending on how you ride and how fast you’re going…the extra bolts don’t get in the way and when fastened tightly show no sign of loosening even after the friction of sliding for a few hours. As far as freeride goes, it’s unnecessary but won’t hurt either…but that’s only if you’re just doing freeride…this things strength isn’t in just one discipline, it’s in the fact that it delivers in several! Which is great for freeride…if you want that same board to be DH ready after just a few tweaks.

Downhill:
So you’re ready for some speed? Well then get out the special Allen key that came with your new Svipuls and crank that mother fu- Wait, you lost it? Well then tough shit buddy because you’re T-tool isn’t going to fit. Yea…I did that a few times. It isn’t hard to find one that does fit, but it would have been easier if they were just standard T-tool sized. Speaking of easy though, if you didn’t leave the right tool at home then it’s twist twist slide and you have a new degree for your baseplate. Easy as remembering a lame dance from the 90s. Throw that sucker on 35° in the back and 45° in the front and haul some ass. Obviously, everyone is going to have their own favorite setup but this is my go-to if I want stability but also plan to pre-drift a few hairpins.

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Freestyle:
This one is going to be short…for the most part carving and flipping your board are mutually exclusive. So tweaking your turn radius isn’t going to make impossibles any less impossible…only practice can do that. However, it’s worth mentioning that this seemingly bulky contraption doesn’t really add any noticeable weight to your board. There. Done. Let’s move on…

Pumping/bowls:
Yup! That’s right…just took your favorite single kick down a crazy hill with your friends only to find a nice skatepark at the bottom? Don’t be that guy that sits on the coping complaining that he’d school everyone if he wasn’t on a DH board. No one likes that guy…instead, set your front truck to 50° and leave the back at 35° and surf that concrete wave! This is honestly the most fun I had on these things…maybe spending your hard earned money on a board with “surf simulating trucks” is a little kooky unless you are in fact a landlocked surfer…but when the option is just a few turns of a wrench away, there’s really no way to have more fun in a bowl.

So…in summation, this really is a product for those of us that want to get the most out of one board. It’s for the tweak geek in all of us that would otherwise spend WAY to much money trying different trucks or buying new boards (not that some of us aren’t going to do that anyway). It’s light, it’s compact, it maintains a consistent ride hight with stock trucks…but if you lose its designated tool or you mount them drop-through, you aren’t going to be adjusting them much. Though, I lose my T-tool just as often so let’s just say I’m the stupid one here and call it a day. Check their online store to grab a pair! Definitely check out the “refurbished” ones…they’re like blem decks except they fixed them and still want to sell them at a discounted price. Most companies wouldn’t even tell you their was ever anything wrong with them! I think that’s pretty cool…which I like. Literally. On Facebook. You should too.

As always, don’t forget to like The Longboard Critic on Facebook to get updates on our weekly reviews!

DISCLAIMER: This company was confident enough in its quality that it was willing to provide me with product to review.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Blood Orange Grip Review

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So…We’re starting something new at The Longboard Critic. From here on out I will be occasionally posting reviews of “accessory” products. Anything that doesn’t exactly facilitate my usual format of reviewing by discipline, but is still a crucial part of any good setup. I call it a “Quick Fix”, and it’s the only place to find out about the best slide pucks, bearings, pads or grip tape! This weeks Fix is going to be Blood Orange Griptapea colorful, long lasting, high abrasion, grip for your stick. Honestly, if you haven’t at least seen this grip around then you’re not as active in the longboarding scene as you thought you were…or a fresh sheet of neon orange was the first one you saw and it blinded you (you gotta work your way up guys…). Either way, let’s get you up to speed and maybe share some knowledge even you expert longboarders were looking for.

Quality:
The first thing you notice about Blood Orange grip is that the red one looks like someone shrink wrapped Diablo sandpaper! The grit is intense like small sharp pebbles…but unlike Diablo, it’s not just glued on…there’s a definite coating. It’s thin enough that it won’t smooth out any of its rough edges or anything, but there’s enough there to keep this shit durable and grippy for a very long time. This product literally has grip for ages. The only drawback to this is that cutting such coarse grip leaves a strange white trim around the edge of your board…though honestly, it’s an acceptable trade off.

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Appearance:
Here’s the great thing about griptape…while I’m the first to admit that form over function has no place in skating, for things like griptape, form and function aren’t exactly at odds. Blood Orange is a high quality grip that just happens to come in some really cool colors. Plus, with the recent trend in board writing, the bright grip makes it easy to just use any old permanent maker. No more ruining your mom’s white-out pen every time you need an inspirational quote to push your skating, your friend says something memorable about longboards, or you just want everyone at a slide jam to know your stance on their problems and how much your mother loves you.

Uses:
For grip tape, a lot went into the design here. After bushings, grip is the cheapest way to really change up your ride, so it’s nice when a company pays attention to the little things. A thin extra sticky tape makes aggressive concaves and wrapping your rail easy…and rails last longer than any other grip I’ve tried (though keeping grip on the rail of a board you also freestyle on is a losing battle no matter what). Plus, with the grip coming in four square sheets is easier to save excess and “foot pads” are quick and simple. Not to mention…if you want a mellow grip for freestyle or ollies and something to really lock you in for freeride the bright colors allow for easy reference…place two strips where you want your feet and it just takes a quick glance to find your stance going downhill.

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Conclusion:
Sure…at the end of the day, grip tape is grip tape. So with everything else longboarders worry about, you may not have time to give a fuck about some sticky sandpaper. Though I’d argue that that’s exactly why it’s a good thing Blood Orange did it for you. If you just need something to keep your feet on the board, this grip is as good as any other coarse longboard grip…but if you need something that’s versatile, durable and a little unique, then check your local shop or go to the Blood Orange online store to order some for yourself!

Also, don’t forget to like The Longboard Critic on Facebook to get updates on our weekly reviews!

DISCLAIMER: This company was confident enough in its quality that it was willing to provide me with product to review.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Never Summer Admiral Review

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I want to start this review off by explaining exactly why I’m writing this…Never Summer has been around for a while now, and when modern longboarding still wasn’t sure exactly what it wanted from a board, Never Summer was one of many companies that took a shot in the dark. Someone told me back then that they were also a snowboard company. I rolled my eyes and thought “well that makes sense…”, I wasn’t very impressed, and I feel like a lot of people retain that attitude even still. Today however, is a different day! The sport has refined itself, longboarders know what they want now (very specifically sometimes). So for the 2014 lineup Never Summer grabbed their bag of tricks from snowboard manufacturing, took one look at our current list of demands, and said: “We can do that, and we can do it better!” Don’t believe me? I was hoping you wouldn’t…you’re gonna want to keep reading.

Downhill:
While the Admiral itself doesn’t seem to be made specifically for DH, several features give it a surprising advantage given its shape. In fact, the very first thing I noticed about this deck was how ridiculously light it was. I knew the channels on the bottom provided strength while lightening the board…and it was clearly made of bamboo, but that didn’t seem enough to explain this featherweight board. So I contacted Never Summer to see what mysteries hid in the core and found out that it was a dual core of poplar and ash sandwiched around a layer of bidirectional fiberglass. (For those of you unfamiliar with poplar, it’s a wood so strong and light that the Greeks used to make shields out of it!) So…light as it is I wouldn’t personally think you need to shed any weight…but I can’t help but notice how clean this thing would look chopped. Although, even then it wouldn’t exactly be very streamlined.

Freeride:
With a wide W concave that mellows towards the kicks, plus flares that are actual flares and not “wheel bumps” the deck offers one comfortable locked in feeling. I’ve tried very few concaves that didn’t have to trade comfort for control (or vice versa)…this is one of them. However, with all its sleek smooth lines it can be hard to know exactly where your feet are on the Admiral without looking. Luckily, that doesn’t seem to be much of a problem though because the Admiral is pretty clear about where you’re stance should be, and the angle of the kicks let’s you know if you’re getting to close to the ends of the deck. In fact, the kicks are so perfectly scooped that I’ve never felt more locked in with my foot ON a kick (as opposed to wedged in the corner made by the base of the tail). Not to mention the rails built in to the bottom of the board assist in pre drifts and stalefish slides as well!

Admiral Grab Rail

Dancing:
The Admiral doesn’t have the EFP of your designated dancer, or the flat riding platform…but the oval shape of the wheel flares and tub concave surrounding the wide W concave create a circular track that cups your feet no matter where you decide to place your steps. It’s like a funky disco skate rink for your feet. Short steps like 180s, 360s, chop the wood and single Peter pans are a breeze on this deck. Bell bottoms aren’t required, but I think it goes without saying that they definitely help your steeze factor (+5 speed if they’re pink).

Freestyle:
Whoa man, is this a fun freestyle deck! It actually took a while to get used to how absolutely light the deck is…and the pop you can get out of those tails! So with these things coming stock with coarse DH grip you can expect some sliced fingers at first. Once you learn to anticipate this beasts pounce though…you’ll be tossing this thing around like it’s nothing. Indian burns and other over-the-head tricks are fun and easy. We already discussed why the board is so light, but most of the pop comes from that beautiful carbon fiber bottom. Plus, the tails are going to stay strong and snappy because they’re reinforced by Ptex (an extremely durable polyurethane thermoplastic used in snowboards).

So yea…Never Summer is REALLY stepping up its game. Maybe there are other companies out there that have developed similar features or used similar materials, but it’s the attention to detail and finesse that makes Never Summer stand out. The fact that so many ideas fit so seamlessly into one board that you might not even notice them unless you were looking…it’s pretty amazing. If the Admiral isn’t in your local shop, see where you can get it, or tell them to get their shit together and contact their distributor, because you have to try this deck!

Also, don’t forget to like The Longboard Critic on Facebook to get updates on our weekly reviews!

DISCLAIMER: This company was confident enough in its quality that they were willing to provide me with product to review.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Riptide Street Series Review

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Alright, so Riptides aren’t exactly unheard of in the world of longboarding…honestly, the RKP version is far from being in need of review. That just makes it even more exciting that they’re recently set their sights on an old standby, Independent Trucks! Hell, Indys were such a presence in my young skater life that I routinely befriended bikers wearing West Coast Choppers shirts because I thought they rode the same trucks as me (I was a sad confused little kid). Even in modern longboarding the benefits of TKPs are becoming more and more accepted…with increasingly eclectic quivers and multi-talented skaters pushing limits every day, a lot of longboarders now skate at least one TKP setup. So it only makes sense that a quality aftermarket bushing manufacturer like Riptide would want to provide us finicky longboarders with the performance and customization we’re used to with our RKP trucks, so they made Street Series. And let me just say, you should thank your chosen deity that they did, because they’re fantastic! (Now I’m just imagining hundreds of thank you cards being addressed Morgan, Colton, Yuppie and Mullen.) So, I’m approaching this review a little differently. No one needs convincing that Riptides are awesome…the news here is that the Street Series is making TKPs a more viable option for longboarders. With so many variations I want to share a few setups I think will have quite a few of you busting out those old standbys from your skateboard days…

Freeride:
The idea of freeriding TKPs isn’t a popular one…but the fact of the matter is, at a short enough wheelbase you can get the leverage of having your feet right over the bolts while still maintaining the stability of wheels that are slightly farther apart than your stance. This juxtaposition of stability and control is complimented great by a soft(relative to your weight), high rebound Chubby or Magnum boardside combined with a short cone/cup washer or short barrel/flat washer (respectively) roadside. Both these options give you a nimble but progressive and controlled lean, great for slow freeride. The smaller carves necessary to execute quick rotations will be snappy and abrupt. The larger carves that make holding out longer slides on such short wheelbases feel more comfortable takes a bit more lean, which you need to hold out a good slide. All in all this setup feels very natural and intuitive for freeride.

Dance:
For dance my go-to bushing was the Fatcone. This thing worked beautifully on a long flexy deck because a soft enough bushing boardside and a tall cone/cup washer roadside gives you not only a pretty decent “flop and stop”, which makes for a very predictable carve and therefore easy dancing…but since the “stop” is where the cone gets thick and not the farthest the truck can lean you actually still have some play. This gives more advanced riders a bit more control of their movements as the steps become more natural and the carves become more purposeful.

Tech:
That’s right, no downhill this time. I feel I must get enough flack even reviewing “downhill” in south Florida without telling anyone to go down a mountain with Indys. instead, I feel I’ve ignored tech for freeride long enough…Street Series will have you equipped to do both. The best set up for this was a medium hardness tall bushing boardside and a short cone/flat washer roadside. This gives you clean linear turn and a strong return to center, which is perfect when you want to have good control over turns without displacing to much weight…since icing out is easier to do even glove-down with hard enough wheels.

Freestyle:
Here’s where it gets fun! When I was a kid skateboard bushings were impossibly hard, for the pop. You just had to be really good at kick turns. Now days, all the skater groms I know trade in some pop for easier turning. Imagine their surprise when I told them they didn’t have to! Or at least I could make it a little less of a trade off…run a chubby boardside and a short cone/cup washer roadside and all that urethane hugging your truck will add stability, increase your accuracy, and enhance pop. Not as much as hard bushings…but without sacrificing a good carve. Which is all good and well but the songs of you might have already noticed the kicker here…this setup is also one of the ones I mentioned was great for freeriding. can you guess what my Indys are still set up with now? Yea…this shit is fun.

Overall, Riptides Street Series is a really good reason to take another look at TKP trucks on longboards. Maybe you’re not a fan, maybe it’s not your style…but that’s just because you suck and your “style” is limiting your abilities as a skater. If you only have mellow hills and one setup for everything or a decent quiver with room for a street/pool thrasher is time to reevaluate whether it was shitty stock bushings keeping you from rocking some solid Indys this whole time. Check your local shop for these bad boys. Plus, don’t forget to show their facebook page some love.

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DISCLAIMER: This company was confident enough in its quality that they were willing to provide me with product to review.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2014 in Uncategorized