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Monthly Archives: October 2014

Omen Sugar Kick Review

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This is going to be a very hard board for me to review. Not because I couldn’t find anything to like about it, but rather because the Omen Sugar Kick has become my own personal favorite shredder. Now, all that means is it fits my riding style pretty well…there are still pros and cons just like any board. I just happen to love the pros while the cons don’t really bother me. Luckily for me, the point of reviews isn’t to be positive or negative but rather descriptive. So I’m just going to give you the most unbiased overview of this wooden beast possible and by the end of it, you should be able to tell for yourself whether or not the Sugar Kick is primed to be your next quiver killer too. It is quite a strange amalgamation of styles, it’s big, sturdy and a bit heavy…but with an uncommonly short wheelbase for its size and kicks that are angled more like a skateboard deck than a downhill board. So while a standard popsicle DK is clearly going to be swift and nimble and a big 9ply downhill board will tend to be much more grounded and stable, the Sugar Kick seems to bridge that gap with surprisingly little compromise.

Freeride (Fast):
Usually you’d figure the more nimble a board, the less stable…and vice versa. Not the case here, you don’t feel sketchy and unstable pulling long checks while quick 180s are still smooth, snappy and don’t have to be forced by throwing your chest around that way you might be used to with heavier decks. Initiating slides is easy and holding them out is effortless, even at higher speeds. The one drawback is that the weight of the board will take charge if you let it. Not that controlling slides is difficult…this deck is very responsive to everything you do…as long as you do it with purpose. On the other hand, if you get lazy (or just indecisive) and start to slide without really knowing where you’re headed with it…this board can, and will, whip you around any way it sees fit. That’s just a side effect of a heavy board…which is the opposite of where the industry is going right now, but still has benefits all its own. Namely, it helps keep all four wheels firmly planned on the ground. Meaning less of your weight has to be tasked with this, and more of it can be off the side of the board. So you can lean hard and still have the traction of a controlled slide. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m a sucker for a good long steeze lean.

Freeride (Techy):
So usually I’ll have one freeride section and then explain what the board is more geared towards and expand on that. This is going to be a little different, since the Sugar Kick lends itself to a variety of styles. If you’re not holding out long standies at high speeds then you’re either bored out of your mind, or you keep it fresh by adding more technical difficulty. This board is going to keep up with you on both accounts. It’s important to note that it definitely feels like a symmetrical Sugar…it’s not the DK version so much as a KT with a nose. I know that sounds stupid, but what I’m referring to is stance. Trying to keep both your feet between the micro drops is uncomfortable and gives you much to sort a stance to control such a large heavy board. Instead, you’re front foot feels great in the micro drop while the wheel flares and the angle of the kick makes a great pocket for your back foot. You feel really locked in, but that kick is right there for quick rotations, blunt slides, shuvouts, ect…all of them are second nature with this board. In fact, adding flare is where you can grow complacent. I don’t decide if I’m going to try a shuvout or blunt or something until halfway through most slides.

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Freestyle:
Speaking of the kicks, they’re perfect for street style tricks. You’ll get plenty of leverage and great pop…though it is a little heavy. Ollies don’t feel sluggish like some bigger longboards, and you get good clearance. You won’t be able to flick the front kick for a good arch, the board is to long. Luckily, the micro drop serves this purpose just fine. The drawback of the weight only become apparent after a few runs when you start to realize how tired you’re getting. You won’t have that issue with rotational flip tricks though, the angle of the kicks gives you great leverage…so things like shuvits are effortless, the only thing the weight does is give you a solid landing platform. Also, the shape of the board, the wheelbase, and the fact that you’re foots on the kick and at the ready, makes slappies fun and easy. All this adds up to a board that can be pretty decent flatland or park…but really excels when used to add street and tech tricks to your freeride lines.

Downhill:
The Sugar Kick definitely handles speed well. It’s very stable and really locks you in. I might not have an amazing tuck, but it feels pretty good on this board. It’s not quite designed for this, especially considering the front is essentially the back mirrored. The wheel flare/micro drop combo gives you a nice place to wedge your back foot…but doesn’t give big feet much room in the front. My toes end up right on the drop and it feels a bit weird. Though weird or not, it still works…the board feels glued to my feet during predrifts. All that is great for getting and handling speed for freeride, though I’d hesitate to recommend a board specifically for downhill when it has the huge upturned tails that the Sugar Kick has. You might not win to many races with what is basically two giant wind foils dragging you down…

That’s about it guys, Omen is stepping up their game yet again. If there was ever a board that exemplified a literal “downhill skateboard” it would be the Sugar Kick. Keep an eye out for the rest of their new line up and see the latest Omen news on their Facebook page.

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 October 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Anonymous Il Ballerino Review

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So, this review will be of the Anonymous Il Ballerino. This board is very ambitious…some might argue it’s overly ambitious. You see, the more features you add, the more specific a product becomes. This is a great thing, it shows integrity and proves the company puts thought and passion into their work. However, mass appeal is how you move product and cater to the market. What’s the perfect balance between these two things? There isn’t one…but there is an easy way to cheat! Provide options. For Anonymous, this meant selling their boards with varying amounts of flex, for others it means things like multiple wheel-base options. For me it just means some fun DIY projects! Speaking of which…the point I was trying to get too was that as specific as Il Ballerinos features may seem, the varying flex options provide a bit of customizability…and assuming we all can manage a quick re-drill, the versatility of this deck will blow your mind.

Dance:
Ok, so this seems like it should be a no brainer…this deck is clearly designed to be a dancer. Though there are a few subtle things to consider…first off, there is both rocker and a damp flex. This means the already low deck sinks even lower when you step in the middle. This, like in freeride, trades leverage for a really stable feel…which definitely gives you a lot of confidence. I admittedly hadn’t focused on dancing for a while and after jumping on this board tricks I wasn’t quite nailing yet back when I regularly practicing were coming easy. Though I have to say, with so much leverage being given away it would be nice if there was more room to place your foot off center near the middle of the board…instead they have a “waist” making the ridingĀ  platform thinner. Meaning you’ll probably want to get softer bushings and/or wedged risers. As you advance and feel like you might be comfortable trading some stability for leverage (and therefore more responsive carves) then a quick re-drill will simultaneously give you more leverage, a nimble turn radius, less rocker and a livelier flex. This, with wedged TKPs (to maintain the EFP of a longer wheelbase) is my preferred dancing setup.

Freestyle:
I love freestyle on this board. The higher flex ratings (i.e. lower numbers) can be on the heavy side, but the beefy tails more than make up for it. Plus, you won’t be muscling this thing around thanks to the surprisingly audible pop of the bamboo. The symmetrical kicks seem perfectly designed to provide just the right amount of leverage. Assuming you made sure you choose the flex (which determines how heavy the board will be) that matches your weight, you and the board should be pretty well balanced. This makes things like G-turns and shuvits a breeze. Tiger claw based tricks are also easy. Though I’d caution those who are still learning any trick where you have to catch the board with your hand…the weight of this board (and the force with which it can launch in the air) can really hurt your fingers if you miss. Lastly, that tapered waist I had so much animosity for in the dancing section really proved it’s worth here, old school kickflips and the like are a lot easier when the board dips in where you need to hook your foot.

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Freeride:
It’s not often that a board designed for dancing is any good at freeride. There are a good number of products meant to walk the line between disciplines…but dancing and freeride are such opposites that finding their middle ground always seems like such a compromise. Il Ballerinos ambitious list of features makes is accidentally different. The board is rather thick, and the flex is designed to be comfortable when stepping in the center, hammocked by the rocker that drapes between the 33″ wheelbase. Re-drill it to 28″ and the trucks move slightly down the continuous rocker, raising the board and allowing for more leverage. The board feels less flexy this way and with the trucks farther in, you can plant your feet just inside the bolts making the deck feel surprisingly stiff actually. Plus, the rocker still really cradles you, making for a stable ride and confident slides. Now, I’m not saying this is a freeride deck…and wouldn’t recommend it on that principal alone. However, if you’re looking for a board specifically for dancing, and think you might throw down some slides…even take on a mellow hill or two, then you’re not going to find a board that bridges that (rather huge) gap better than this one.

Push:
Another thing this board is surprisingly good at: Long Distance Push. I mean, I wouldn’t take it cross country…but if you need to get to school or work then you’re going to get there pretty damn easy and be ready to learn/not get paid very well (I assume…since you’re riding a skateboard to work). The rocker+ flex keep the center nice and low for comfortable pushing but the top mount will have you turning easier than most push decks. Plus, it’s platypus style shape acts as cut outs for larger wheels with better roll speed. If you are light, then chances are the flex you choose will be light to…and if you’re not then chances are you have the muscle mass to push around a heavier deck without much trouble. Hell, I’ve seen skinny kids set up Evos for push and they did alright…I think you’ll be ok. All in all its not quite ideal, but that’s compared to setups designed to be perfect for LDP and absolutely nothing else. With versatility there always has to be some compromise, though I’m very impressed with how little there is with this particular deck.

That’s about it for this round guys…Anonymous knows their shit. Plus, if you aren’t a fan of dancing and managed to make it through without turning your nose up, I have a surprise for you. Anonymous has a few other gems up their sleeve including a pretty clean looking freeride deck. Check out their Facebook for details.

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 October 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Liqwood Kamikaze Review

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It’s been a while now since I’ve been able to write a review. A lot of personal problems have been keeping me down and I need to get some positive energy flowing. So I’ve decided to get back into the swing of things with a product that I just can’t help but feel good about! Frankly, the Liqwood Kamikaze managed to get me right in the childhood…since my first longboard was an old Gravity board and my favorite skater at the time was Brad Edwards (if you don’t know who that is, Google him immediately. It’s way more important than anything I can say…you can come back to this), the Kamikaze looked like everything modern longboarding has left behind. Fun for me? Sure…but maybe not the most alluring prospect for a young skater. Luckily, in testing the deck I came to realize that, despite its classic surf esthetic, Liqwood did a great job of incorporating all the modern features one might look for in a deck. Allow me to explain…

Freeride:
The Kamikaze is a freeride machine. It might have looked like an old school, stretched-out skateboard to me (meaning I expected it to be flexy, flat, and made for TKPs), but instead I found myself on a stiff, curvy, deck designed for RKP trucks. It felt super stable under foot and the wheel wells allowed for quite a bit of lean. One aspect I found particularly interesting was the concave. It’s essentially a very mellow bacon concave with subtle hips near the back end. The combination of the wide flat flares of the bacon-esk shape and the notches that the hips create really give you that locked-in feeling without the need for excessive concave. I know this conjunction of features isn’t an entirely original concept, but a lot of the boards that utilize this combo also have massive foot-cramping concave. Liqwood seems to have realized the potential here and decided to maximize grip and leverage while still remaining comfortable. Good call, that will also come back to us in the freestyle section. Wait for it…

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Freestyle:
…Bam: Freestyle. How long did you wait? It shouldn’t have been that long…it’s the very next section. Maybe you read slow, or you could have taken a pee break. I’m not here to judge…not you anyway. Speaking of which, the Kamikaze was pretty harshly judged on freestyle and came out smelling like…dirt. Though it performed very well! In using the aforementioned features in the shape as well as a nice elliptical concave, Liqwood managed to keep the center of the riding platform smooth and obstruction free. Some of you may recognize this as the part that your foot slides on when you ollie. Add that to the fat kicks and substantial pop the deck has and you have yourself a great board for street/park style riding. Plus, it’s just the right length where ollies still have a bit of spring to them, but fingerflips and tiger claw variations are going to have that fluid Brad Edwards steeze.

Ditch slap:
Speaking of which…despite the modern construction and features I couldn’t help but hope this board was at least capable of some old-school slashing. So in honor of one of my childhood idols, I set out to add a new section to my reviews. I switched my RKPs for some TKPs and set out to find a ditch to thrash. Now, I don’t ride ditches very often, and yes…I did fall a lot. Though countless bruises and some pretty bad road rash wasn’t nearly enough to stop me from having the most fun I’ve had on a board in a while. The relatively short wheelbase keeps you feeling surfy and nimble while pumping up and down the ditch and the intuitive concave keeps the board on your feet no matter what odd slides you end up trying. Plus, wells and small drains are fun and easy to ollie.

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Downhill:
So the kamikaze is definitely stiff enough to handle some good speeds with grace and stability. Though to really excel at downhill I feel like there should be something about the design of a deck that makes it better than others at speeds. The kamikaze is not that deck. With two large kicks creating a lot of drag, and all of its best concave features surrounding a mostly flat center…not only won’t your board be very streamline, but you aren’t going to feel very secure in a tuck. Plus, Liqwood boards come with a beautiful varnish coat that can shatter rather easily. When you fuck up a kickflip then you get a few spiderweb cracks that actually look pretty cool…but I can’t help but think a high-speed curbing will leave your board looking a little too much like a half eaten glazed doughnut.

Overall I’m really impressed with everything I’m seeing come out of liqwood, they’re a bunch of crazy goofballs and their boards definitely reflect the fun loving nature of their designers. If you want more info yourself than be sure to check out their Facebook page.

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 October 12, 2014 in Uncategorized