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.
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 riding 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.
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.
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.
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.