Monthly Archives: August 2014

O-So-Tangy Keanu Review


Second Chance (at a First Impression):
Doing reviews is such a humbling experience. As people we are so flawed and stupid…and cling stubbornly to preconceived notions and prejudices. I’m sure mine seep into my reviews all the time and color the way I view and describe products…though its definitely my job to try to keep that to a minimum (which I strongly try to enforce on myself)  and in doing so I gain new perspectives and learn a lot about the different ways other skaters ride…not to mention how differently I ride now compared to when I started. Which is kind of where I’m going with this, do you remember your first wheels? Your first experience with sliding? Chances are, it might have very easily been on Orangutangs, and it might have been a bad one. Maybe we sucked at skating back then (let’s be honest, we did…), maybe Durians didn’t stand the test of time as longboard sliding evolved. Though that’s the great thing about Loaded and Orangutang: they easily could have coasted on their “everyone’s first board” status and did pretty well as a company…but the skaters that make up that company are much to passionate about skating to even just keep up and evolve with skaters, they were determined to innovate and experiment. Enter Keanu (stage left), one of three new freeride wheels…with a new formula and a very popular core, and things start getting really exciting.

The Tangy new Peach urethane is really what makes these wheels a unique product. I was fortunate enough to get to try both the orange (80a) and the yellow (86a) duros and both took a while to really break in, but the yellow was icy and unpredictable at first while the orange started pretty ok right out of the packaging and only got better. Once broken in, both slide smooth and controlled…though the orange has a much more defined release and a leanier steeze going on. The yellow have an abrupt and early release and a slide that leaves you a lot more on top of the board…it gets kind of icy if you go to fast, but still handles speed better than most wheels I’ve tried that are similarly techy.

Neither of these wheels really dump thane like a lot of modern wheels…so they last a while, but still feel pretty “in the pavement” for such a durable wheel. I mean, both those things are kind of opposites…so take that with a grain of salt. It’s no magic wheel with a chalky slide that lasts forever, but if you’re looking for the perfect balance between the two…Otangalang has got you covered. They really put in the hours perfecting the new Peachy urethane and it has really paid off. The wear is slow and even so I don’t see the center set thing becoming important in that respect…but it’s still nice knowing you can flip your wheels as a backup option.

I do have to be honest…as much as Keanus surprised me, some familiar things reared their ugly heads. It’s not a big deal, but as much as I tried to go in fresh these things made me immediately cringe while my head filed with bad memories. Maybe some of you can already guess…yes, I got these to chatter like mad. Though you notice that I said I got them too…for the most part I was pleasantly surprised: checks, 180s long standies, glove downs…all were met with a beautiful “SSSSHHHHHHHH” sound and smooth consistent sides. As long as four wheels were on the floor I was fine, though I did try a few blunt slides and got a huge “HOOOONNNNKKKK” from my wheels and a pretty choppy slide. Especially the yellow ones…which were otherwise great tech freeride wheels.

Final Thoughts:
Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of people start leaning away from mids and put-cheating wheels and looking instead for a smooth controllable wheel that lasts a bit longer. I’m pleasantly surprised to realize that they might have been hiding right under our noses as a cool new product from an already well known brand. Keanus are a great wheel and Orang-Otang is making it pretty clear that aren’t ready to live off the name any time soon, so keep your eyes peeled. For more info or just to check out some pretty hilarious product videos check out the Loaded and Orangatang websites.

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Posted by on August 30, 2014 in Uncategorized


Rojas Trucks Review


Lets get this shit straight: Rojas are NOT torsional trucks! I called them that once and it made Jared Braden cry. That may or may not be true (it’s not), but it’s his word against mine (thats true) and I haven’t lied since I was four (I have) and I’m not about to start now (that itself was a lie). So unless you’re one of those suckers who wastes his time reading inside parenthesis, I think we can all agree that torsional geometry is a pretty sore subject over at Braden Boards. Which isn’t unreasonable…torsion trucks have a pretty bad name in the longboard community and a lot of people hate on them. I’m not here to condemn or redeem those trucks…but rather just distinguish them from Rojas, which are ultimately a completely new and unique product. If you haven’t tried them yet, seriously…do yourself the favor. There’s really nothing else like them…and while some will hate them, some of you will love them! I started off thinking of Rojas as a bit of a niche market item, even a little gimmicky and weird. After testing them for a few months I’m left thinking of them as a third kind of standard truck…not replacing TKP, or RKPs but rather providing a third option with strengths and weaknesses all its own. Allow me to explain…

Lets start with freestyle. Rojas and freestyle have a complicated relationship. It’s kind of the opposite of what you’d think, having only seen pictures of these trucks…the bare axle hanger is actually really strong and resilient. I had these things on a brick with foot cuffs and one of my riders took it off some huge drops…no bending whatsoever. However, they are actually really heavy. They don’t look it, but they are. Another drawback is that they have the ride height of RKPs with the axle set past the kingpin, like TKPs. What this means for freestyle is that kicks are effectively shortened and raised…say goodbye to your pop. If you stick to Shuvits, manuals and early grabs you won’t be disappointed, the rest of you need to grab some foot cuffs because these rock on short WB bricks anyway.

Speaking of which, that was one of my favorite things about these trucks. Really short wheelbase riders rejoice, TKPs are no longer the only logical option! Rojas extends your wheels past the bolts the way TKPs would, extending your EFP and adding stability, while still maintaining maneuverability and that consistent RKP turn. In fact, Rojas is a completely no-slop truck. The hangar rotates the kingpin on two bearings while the pins stretch and compress the bushing disk to provide resistance. This makes a very precise truck with a very strong center. Though I’d caution anyone that thinks they know their bushing preferences…I did, and I was wrong. Not only are the bushings the only thing saving you from wheelbite (so you’re going to want to follow the weight chart and not go to soft), but the combination of the typical push back to center with the added pull back that Rojas has…high rebound urethane can be overkill. Luckily, there’s charts on the website and the Braden team is more than willing to help weary of confused customers.


This is also relevant to DH, but lets keep this thing moving, shall we? One of the most interesting things about Rojas was how strong the center is. Not just creating a good return, but also what I’m going to call a break away. You feel it a lot more on the softer HR bushings, so if you top mount you’ll probably be using hard enough bushings that you wont notice it too much…but it’s something to get used to either way. Basically, the trucks can hold center almost too well…so even on soft bushings you might have to lean more than you’re used to just to break center, which you’ll probably respond to by over leaning and dive straight into a sharp turn. this makes slide initiation REALLY easy…but control a little harder (at first). Soon you’ll find that sweet spot where the trucks break away into a controlled turn and you’ll absolutely love these trucks for freeride. Grab some soft bushings and throw them on a long WB with cutouts and get ready to throw out long standies like its nothing.

A Few Other Things I Noticed:
So usually I’d have another discipline here…instead I just want to blab a bit on how unique these trucks are. Rojas are definitely convention challenging trucks…every time I assumed something they proved me wrong. First off, the break away made initiating slides so effortless that drop-through decks felt like they had top-mount leverage. Cutouts were also a favorite for me again (for the first time in years) because with nearly no limit to how far these trucks can turn, with the right bushings you could achieve the controlled turn radius of both low and high degree trucks…just lean more to turn more. Though, on the other hand different degree baseplates would be very interesting. Braden claims the standard Rojas truck is 45* though in reality it functions more like a 135* truck. You don’t notice at such a perfect middle ground…but say you lower the hangar to 40*, you’d turn more. Thats because you’re not really lowering anything, you’re raising it to 140*! What does this mean to you, the rider? It means, beyond 90* raising the baseplate degree is also lowering the ride height. So a 140* Rojas will be low as a 40* but have the turn response of a 50* baseplate. Is this making sense? I think its cool…but I think we’ve established I’m pretty geeky about longboards. Speaking of which, if you’re a mad scientist yourself the Rojas also open up a whole new world of experimentations. The Silverfish thread is chocked full of homemade bushing mods, and I’m sure a lot of you will be coming up with your own soon enough!

That’s about it for Rojas, not so much the short lived gimmick as it is the third viable option for kingpin geometry. Not sure what they’ll call it yet, re-reversed kingpin trucks? Who cares, they’re fucking awesome…so be sure to check out their Facebook page and give them a like. Who knows what might be coming out of Braden Boards next.

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 August 17, 2014 in Uncategorized