The Maxxspeed Thunderbird is plain. There’s just something so unassuming about it…when other boards of similar construction are exaggerating their features (wheel wells painted to stand out/or look deeper) or crying for attention (weird/eye-catching graphics) the Thunderbird seems content just to showcase its simplicity. Which the raw wood finish and classy logo do quite well, if you ask me. If this were a romantic comedy the thunderbird is the nerdy friend you never pay attention too. Let’s see if we can’t get her to lose the glasses and let here hair down (or, if you’re a girl…take his shirt off?), because this board might just surprise you. (Plus, we all know that hot foreign exchange deck just isn’t into you.)
Ok, so let’s knock out the obvious first. This board excels at downhill. Honestly, one wouldn’t expect much to go into the making of a DH deck…flat and pointed wins the race. Keep it streamline! However, this criteria is in opposition of everything that makes decks separate from just planks of wood. Every feature has to be weighed against this in order to find the right compromise. The Thunderbird found this perfect middle ground with a flat nose that gradually develops into a mellow elliptical, and a long tail that turns slightly upward. Nothing is exactly hugging your foot, you won’t feel “locked in” but you won’t cramp up either, and the basic concave provides plenty of grip and leverage.
This was a concern for the guys at Maxxspeed…with freeride decks really leaning towards crazy concave (not to mention the correct assumption that the Garuda was what caught my eye) they wanted to make sure I was one to appreciate a more simplistic deck as well. I assured them that, while I like concave, I’m a fan of simple boards too because I like to customize my boards topography. Which, you can do (with everything from duct tape to craft putty), but I honestly didn’t feel I needed to. A foot stop was all it took to make my front foot feel secure, and with a mellow elliptical and a nice pocket made by the tail, your back foot feels great wedged either over or just past the bolts, depending on how you mounted your trucks. Either way you get great leverage and an easy release for long stable slides…but with that extra bit of tail under foot you get great control over things like blunt slides. This DH looking deck can get surprisingly techy when it wants to!
So…there honestly wasn’t much I was tempted to try with the Thunderbird that it doesn’t excel at. That’s not to say it can do absolutely everything…it just doesn’t presume much, what you see is what you get. So I kind of had to pull a fourth category out of my ass…luckily, when someone told me it felt like Comet fucked Powell Peralta and gave birth to a mystical beast, I said “what the hell.” and took it to a bowl. I have to say, mounted on the shortest WB it was nimble, and the wide platform made me feel really comfortable surfing around. Plus, the tail is so accessible that kick turns are fluid and natural. However, want a counter point? It’s huge. That’s it…the nose is really obtrusive and the deck can feel clunky at times. I was afraid it wouldn’t even fit in some of the tighter corners…it did, but that constant doubt didn’t make for the most fun riding experience.
Ok, so I don’t just have boardercross ramps stacked in my trunk…but my favorite discipline is what I like to call Urban Freeride. It’s the incorporation of street-skating obstacles (waxed curbs, handicapped ramps, stair sets) into hillriding tricks…and The Thunderbird excels at it. The tail of this board is where the magic happens. A surprising amount of thought went into this seemingly simple kick. The design and dimensions are perfect…this beefy tail plants hard and has a lot of pop. I was very surprised because I’ve honestly never felt so much like I was actually doing an ollie on RKP trucks! Quite frankly, longboard ollies always look/feel more like bunny hops to me…a fluid movement that seems to lazily leap over obstacles. This board has the aggressive pounce of a TKP board, that snap and lunge that makes obstacles it’s bitch! While other KT boards are saying “oh shit, a manhole…I better ollie.” The Thunderbird is saying “Finally, we found a five step! I was getting hungry…”
There it is, The Maxxspeed Thunderbird. Design and ingenuity disguised behind ascetic simplicity. Everything you need in a simple top mount and nothing you don’t. Quite the drastic change from its predecessor, the Garuda! So I’d keep an eye on Maxxspeed Skateboards if I were you…it’s quickly becoming obvious that they don’t plan to be another “one note” line of decks! These botanomancers are out to prove they can do anything with a slab of wood, and I for one can’t wait to see what’s next.
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DISCLAIMER: This company was confident enough in its quality that it was willing to provide me with product to review.