Blacktop, as a company, is what I would call a perfect storm of conflicting ideas. It’s a collaboration between a Korean manufacturer and an American designer/distributor, both of which are avid skaters and really nice guys…though both are also very smart and rather opinionated. Each having their own (very different) idea of what makes a good truck well…good. However (hopefully I won’t offend anyone by saying this), the original Korean Blacktop was frankly a bit clunky looking and utilized very dated features (that were left behind for a reason). Similarly, the American vision for the product would easily have fell victim to the “over-saturated market” criticism considering its failure to bring anything that new to the table. Luckily for us, the Blacktop Trucks I’m reviewing today aren’t either of these. Instead, they’re the result of extensive research, debate, rider feedback, and (most importantly) compromise. Neither the archaic revamp, nor the popular modern clone, these trucks are something entirely their own…new, exciting, and innovative.
Yes, the original concept for these trucks was to be a distinctly dance oriented precision. This was quickly abandoned for a much more versatile geometry…but with the popularity of tripping in Korea (and Europe in general), it’s probably a good idea to see how much of that flatground heritage they’ve managed to retain. By the way, “tripping” is a MUCH cooler name than dancing…at any rate, the responsiveness of these trucks is great. Once you learn where to place your feet, your control is unparalleled. This is fantastic for experienced dancers, since you can really decide how much each step will make you turn. For beginners, the 50° baseplate is a great option because it’ll make longer wheelbases feel more nimble, and soft bushings will stimulate that “flop and stop” that makes beginners inaccurate steps more predictable, and you can always move up to harder bushings as you progress.
Ok, let’s talk tech. This is where things start getting really fun. Forget everything you’ve ever heard about bearing pivot trucks because blacktop has changed the game. Yes, it’s a bearing pivot. No, it’s not spherical. No, it isn’t affixed to the baseplate. No, it doesn’t suck. Instead, what you’ll see here is a cylindrical bearing…so instead of the side to side movement you’d have in sphericals, it actually removes slop. In fact, it’s probably one of the most direct relationship between turn and lean I’ve felt. Which usually translates to a rough and unforgiving ride (a huge concern early on). This was addressed by encasing the bearing in urethane. That’s right…the bearing has its own pivot cup. This absorbs shock from the road and allows for a more natural bushing compression. It’s very precise and responsive, but not twitchy. Basically the opposite of everything bad about sphericals. The only drawback is that the hangar has to go on first, so the kingpin has to be flipped.
This is where these trucks really shine. The road dampening makes for a smooth ride and clean slides. The precise turning makes for a consistent and easily predictable release (which means getting used to new thane is a quick learn). Plus, the dance roots come through a bit as an increased responsiveness to foot placement and great leverage. You’ll swear you’ve never had more control over your board. If I had to compare it to anything I’d say it feels like a bolted in pivot…except it’s a much smoother ride and the flipped kingpin redeems itself a bit when you realize how much easier changing out bushings is than with similar technology. The 45° are prime for freeride and have great lean…and while the other current options (50° and 27°) are pretty good for running splits, the upcoming downhill oriented R-Spec will bring about even more viable baseplate degrees.
For a precision truck, these are insanely light. Which is probably a lame things to say…using an exaggeration like “insane” and a qualifier like “for a precision” in the same sentence. I was raised better than that. Let me be more specific: They feel like your average cast. Not your super lights or your hollow kingpins or especially your balsa wood axles (pretty sure some trucks actually have those). Nah, just the good old generalized cast were all pretty used to. Which, in my opinion, is fantastic for anyone looking to step up to precision because they’ll be familiar. They’re easy to get off the ground and stand up to harsh landings. It’s hard to bend these things…I’m 200+ and I tried to fuck them up. Didn’t happen. The one thing I’d warn of is that the whole foot-placement sensitivity thing we discussed earlier also applies to sloppy landings. If your feet aren’t directly above the bolts, don’t expect to land going completely straight. You’re not going to slam, and it won’t ruin your trick, but it’s a sketchy thing to learn for the first time going down hill…my rider can attest to that. Just have your landings on point before you try freestyle tricks going fast. Or just be prepared to land a little squirrely.
That’s about it kids. The Blacktop Facebook page is updating constantly with posts none of us are cultured enough to understand. Luckily, the pictures are pretty self explanatory…and the page is run by the owner, who is very helpful and knows English. Plus, you kind just read a review about them. So, you know…there’s that.