Sk8kings has long since been a formidable player in the niche markets of the longboard/skateboard scene. Disciplines like flatland freestyle, slalom and LDP are not only represented in their shop but explained and introduced through their website. Their product is as much the goods as it is the services they provide. They create and sell modded trucks and offer setups that would otherwise not be offered, like slalom completes. Add this to their friendly customer service and the great advice from knowledgeable employees who are willing to help design and build setups for beginners and experts alike…and you’ll understand why Sk8kings is such a coveted asset to those who are already familiar with the brand.
Well if there’s anything that’ll put a tail plate to the test, it’s sliding. Luckily, Sk8kings hit the nail on the head with this one. They’re not only light and durable, but they slide smoothly over nearly any surface. I took them to some really janky roads and they tore through it like a champ. Even when I wasn’t comfortable with a new trick and didn’t commit all the way, I wasn’t getting the abrupt jolting stop I’m used to with tail down tricks. Sure, when I wasn’t executing something properly, they would hook up on me…but not without warning. They’d hook up much more gradually in a way that was predictable. This made it much easier know when to catch a failed trick and be able to ride off unscathed. This is a big deal because of how harsh high siding can be when half your board is up in the air, ready to trip you up or pivot unexpectedly while you’re trying to bail safely. Having the ability to confidently fuck up a trick without eating face every attempt is going to get you learning that trick that much faster and easier. The one thing to get used to, especially if you’re putting them on a deck that your already familiar with, is how it changes the angle the board is when the tails touch the ground. It doesn’t throw you off that much, nor for very long, but if it’s something you’d rather not deal with then risers are an easy way to counteract it. Plus, a great compliment to pucks if you’re looking to keep your deck in peak condition for as long as possible…but we’ll get to that.
After slidability, the next big test is how well a tail puck maintains a decks pop while protecting your board. Now, nothing is going to beat a brand new skateboard with nothing but trucks and wheels. Even shock pads will noticeably reduce fresh pop like that…but you also start getting pressure cracks and razor tail faster that way which muddies up your pop even more. Skateboarders might have the option to just buy a new board at that point, but longboards are investments! It took forever to find a deck with the exact features you wanted and it was damn expensive compared to a skateboard…so sacrificing a very small amount of that fresh pop is totally worth maintaining it for the life of your deck. Especially when King Pucks make it a point to keep as much of it as possible. The lightweight material facilitates an impressive amount of energy transfer, and the many options of KP shapes and sizes means you’re sure to find one that fits your deck perfectly (especially since Sk8kings customer service is so awesome). This may seem purely aesthetic at first…however, not only does making sure it’s fully protected help extend the life of your deck, but that tail was designed to function with your board so the size and shape matters, KPs act as an extension of your deck so whatever you feel under your feet is exactly how that tail will function even with a KP attached.
To the grind! I’m sure some of you are already wondering what grind would even utilize tail pucks in such a way as to even be slightly relevant. Truth is, they don’t. At least not in the way you might think. However, for nose and tail slides they do provide a bit more reference and even help lock you in better. Even things like crooked grinds seemed to benefit from the consistency and feel a bit more locked in. Take them to a bowl or a pool and they can even touch the platform and provide some stability when tail sliding. Then, due to the angle that you dismount coping, are completely out of the way when diving back into the pool. Railing and curbs are a bit different. Certain angles will have you tapping that puck as you dismount from your grind. Luckily, Sk8kings thought of this too, and made the inside edge beveled so that you can slide right over it. It’s still noticeable, like hitting a small crack in the road, but easy to just ride right through if you don’t let it psyche you out.
I’ll be honest, tail pucks don’t really play into downhill much. A lot of your best DH decks might not even have tails. Though, that is kind of the reason I bring it up…if you’ve already committed yourself to a KT deck for downhill then getting a tail puck isn’t going to add noticeably more drag or weight than having a tail already would. This applies to a lot of disciplines where tails are mostly optional: dancing, slalom, LDP, ect…they’re barely noticeable. This means that you don’t really have to consider what you’d be sacrificing when purchasing these pucks, just what you’d be gaining. The previous three sections might not have caught everyone’s attention, but if it caught yours then that’s pretty much all you have to know about them. There’s no compromise.