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Author Archives: thelongboardcritic

Drang Dancer 59 Review

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The Drang Dancer is quite the impressive deck…it’s the gentle giant of longboarding. Listed on the Drang website as 59×10, it’s impressive dimentions make it quite the spectacle, while it’s design really pursues and encapsulates a peaceful, surfing inspired state of mind. Plus, it’s quite unique in that it’s a very modern take on what could easily considered some of the very first longboards. All skate disciplines have evolved over time, so often as technology improves, trends also change. This means that certain styles may never get to see their gear perfected. Drang is changing that with the Dancer 59″. Not the huge, flat planks wood that your father might have rode, but not the elastic springboards of modern European inspired dancing either. The Drang instead cements itself as a champion of skateboardings homeland, and the surf inspired longboards that first brought boardwalking to the streets. It’s simply the epitome of old school style revitalized by new school innovation.

Freestyle:
Well let’s get right into it! No fucking around this time, dancing and freestyle are what we came to see. So let’s talk about it! The Drang really shows off here with their king of old school style…but let’s start with the cons: Flips and aerial variations are possible, but the weight making for more of a thud than a pop, consistency can vary. Plus, having this giant lug fly at your face is still a little scary even if you have the trick on lock. On the other hand, the leverage from those giant kicks makes manuals, pivots, G-turns and shuvits are all a breeze, and horizontal rotations (I.e. old school kickflips) are easy and not nearly as threatening as other flips. Not to mention how the large stable platform is ready to catch and cradle you any time you feel like you should be the one flying through the air. What this means is that what seems like basic board/body rotations can bee easily combined into more advanced things like shuvit body varials, spinbigs, cross-step ghostride kickflips or any other combination/variation you can think of. Even landing them one foot or cross footed is easy with such a large platform, so incorporating freestyle directly into your dance lines is damn near seamless. Basically your treflip isn’t going to be awkwardly halting your dancing to steal the show…the board is instead designed so that equally impressive tricks can be used in a way that serves your dancing without interrupting your flow.

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Dancing:
Speaking of flow. Holy crap guys, this thing is a rolling dance floor. Nearly any step you can imagine is a breeze on its giant EFP. Plus, there’s so much room that everything can be doubled up and combined without having to reset your stance in between. For instance, you can start a cross step and once you get to the last step where your back foot (right, for me) is in front on the other side (left side, for me) instead of having to put your front foot in front of it and then sliding it back towards the rear bolts to start your next step, you can simply treat it like the transitional step of a double Peter pan and place your front foot on its opposite side (left foot, right side…for me) and then do your Peter pan. I know that was probably stupid long and confusing…but long story short: you have room. Plus, that same great landing platform that aided in freestyle makes jump steps, pirouettes and body varials easy to incorporate into your dancing. Plus, while the appeal here is more geared towards steady flow and much more advanced steps…the fast paced simple steps you see a lot now days are possible with the right trucks/bushings. The difference is, if you trip yourself up on this board you don’t eat it so much as you just fall back into a slower more steady step.

Pushing:
It’s a love-hate relationship this board has with distance skating, that’s for sure. With dancing in mind, pushing up to speed was less of a concern than maintaining that speed through various steps and having a large enough platform to perform them on. So basically, it’s pretty heavy to push around…but that and weight keeps its momentum much longer than other boards. With high rebound wheels on a smooth surface you’ll glide for ages on just a few kicks. You will, however, absolutely hate taking this board anywhere you have to push a lot. Uphill, rough roads, busy sidewalks…it all sucks. So if you want to do some dancing at school or even on your way to work then keep the terrain in mind. If the trip there is clear, smooth and flat (or, if you’re insanely lucky, slightly downhill) then it’ll be a breeze and totally worth coasting for blocks on this yacht. On the other hand, any path that keeps you pushing most of the time is a path where you might want to ride a board that’s easier to push.

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Photo Credit: Paige Israel

Freeride:
Believe it or not, this is actually a viable category for this board. Depending on the flex and how you weight your feet, is surprisingly not that hard to get this thing moving sideways. Of coarse, when I say “how you weight your feet” I mean near the bolts…which are pretty damn far from each other. So unless you’re giant yourself, you will have to get creative. Blunts, no-complys, honey butters, one foot stalefish, no-comply blunts, ect… basically anything you can remember that Adam and Adam taught you will still rip in this board. The nice solid curve of the kicks and the subtle wheel flares will keep these tricks from feeling anywhere near as out of place as you would expect them too. Plus, not to sound like a broken record…but like freestyle, freeriding on this board works best when used to compliment a dance line. Though I did purposely mention a few things like blunts and one foot stalefish slides that don’t lend themselves very well to flatground. So that means this board can freeride on a hill, you ask? Well yes…but keep in mind that I’m trying really hard here to make the distinction between the modern DH inspired interpretation of freeride and a much more mellow older style. Think early 2000s videos and you’ll know what I mean.

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Sk8king King Plates Review

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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.

Freeride/Tech Slide:
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.

Freestyle:
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.

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Street/Pool:
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.

Downhill:
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.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Anonymous Marionette Review

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Allow me to introduce you to the ambassador of modern European flare: The Marionette. Anonymous has already proven to us that they know how to make a damn good dancer…and that they aren’t afraid to try something different. So what about the Marionette hasn’t been done yet? Well, partnering with a Korean longboard shop helps. Dancing is huge in Europe and no where more so than Korea, they treat dancer decks the way we do freeride…
constant innovation and thoughtful designs. The Marionette is a fantastic example of this. No where else in America can you find this kind of modern utilitarian dancer…at least not such a great one.

Dancing:
Slight camber, responsive flex, a fantastic EFP (thanks in part to a useful but not limiting waist) this board has it all…and then some. The balanced dimentions means you don’t have to rely on “flop-N-stop” to know exactly how the board will carve (because you only have the one option), and you don’t have to worry that being able to control the amount of turn when it’s useful will also mean that you have to try and predict how much the board will carve when just trying to dance in an open space. Everything feels very controlled and knowing where to step is pretty intuitive. My favorite thing though may be the smallest, but (like Il Ballerino before it) shows how much thought and foresight goes into an Anonymous product. The top layer of fibreglass means there grip holds on great, but also peels off easily without leaving residue. This doesn’t seem accidental since the griptape pattern was apparently designed around remaining functional through several stages of “undress”. I personally like removing the large middle piece for pirouettes and the like while leaving the sides gripped for confident stepping. Though even the sides can be removed without having to ungrip the kicks. I just think that’s really ingenious.

Freestyle:
As great as this board is for dancing, it simply isn’t content to constantly be leaving all four wheels on the ground…it desperately wants to be flying through the air. The shorter, somewhat flat kicks make manuals slightly more tricky (coming from skateboards I’ve never been comfortable having to point my toes downward to get a board to nose manual…maybe that’s just me), but the pop they get is worth the trade off. Basically, it’s like if you’ve ever watched a dance competition and seen the guys on the shorter boards (relative to dancing) who link a few average steps only to reach the tail and just step off the board and watch while it spins spasticity into oblivion, then jump back on for the perfect landing once it’s done. Yea…apparently those tricks are planned and not just a glitch in the matrix, and the Marionette is a longer board that can execute those same tricks without losing the dance part. Which is good, because it’s a dancer… What’s the point of leaving people bored while you cross step for the hundredth time to set up your next killer freestyle trick? Though, dancer or not, the Marionette is as much an advanced freestyle deck as it is anything else.

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Freeride:
Ok, so let’s talk about freeride a bit. It can’t hurt, right? The Il Ballerino kind of killed it at freeride, at least for a dancer deck. The Marionette? Not really so lucky…it really does pull back on the versatility a bit in order to shine that much more in its intended disciplines like freestyle and dancing. It’s light, so your won’t have to muscle it around or anything, but that doesn’t mean it won’t still fight you if you try to put it sideways. The flex is very reactive, and the light springy bamboo isn’t easy to reign in. Especially considering the long wheelbase making it really hard to keep both feet near the bolts. Now that doesn’t mean it’s impossible…but you really do have to think in terms of supporting your dancing (because that’s what kind of board it is). Basically, if you can get one foot best the bolts and really deweight the other, sliding will work. So quick 180s, small checks, no complys and even blunts (though it’s hard on those kicks) are available to spice up your dance routine. Sure, it’s definitely not a freeride board…but don’t rule out those cool flatground slides because of it.

Skogging:
Again, not a board that’s designed for distance skating. However, not only is the ability to your maintain momentum on flat ground important for a dancer, but dancing seems to attract the minimalist in-touch-with-your-board types. Not to stereotype, I’ve just happened to notice that skaters who mostly dance also tend to travel on that same board…it’s part of the freedom of the discipline, you can do it anywhere and half the fun is exploring and adapting to new terrain. As for this board, it can get pretty low with your weight pressing down it, and a springy flex combined with the angle of your foot on a cambered deck has been said to aid in energy return…but these claims are unsubstantiated and my LDP abilities aren’t nearly consistent enough to conform or deny, so take it as you will. What I can say for sure though is that pumping on this board is fantastic. As a board designed for speedy footwork, not only does one precarve into a dance line not kill a bunch of speed, but pumping a few times actually gains you momentum. It’s not going to bring you up to speed from a complete stop like more advanced pump-specific split setups, but it keeps you going between pushing…and sets up a great dance line if you get bored. I wouldn’t call that great at LDP or anything, but maybe something very free form meant to be an entertaining (even if less efficient) way of traveling distances. Let’s call it skogging. That’s like…at least close to what skogging is right? I seriously can’t figure it out.

Don’t forget to contact Anonymous Longboards if you have questions or want to purchase a board! Here’s the Facebook Page.

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Broadway Boards Halftones Review

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First impressions:
I’m not gonna lie, I was apprehensive about Halftones dual color wheels. The concept was sound, but application had to be perfect. Your wheel spins when you slide (if it doesn’t you flatspot)…so a lot of the idiot trolls who didn’t think striped thane lines would work, must either have piss poor form or an absolute wealth of misinformation about how longboards work…probably both. Seriously, just read “second hand stokes” comments and try not to cringe. It’s amazing how condescending some people can be while simultaneously being completely wrong about everything…only to turn around and beg for free wheels (you know, the ones that supposedly suck). So while anyone with a brain knows the idea of striped thane lines should work in theory, dye does change the consistency of urethane and only certain formulas will combat this (and even then, only within reason)…meaning that performance could easily suffer. Luckily, white and blue were a great choice is dyes and well “within reason”, but the urethane itself still had to be the right formula, one that didn’t react as much to the dye…which I won’t know until I ride them. One thing I did notice upon receiving the wheels is that they look less like a blue and white urethane mixed and much more like one urethane with blue dye added to the side of the mold. That alone removes the chance that a wheel is made up of two urethanes with slightly different compositions or ages mixed together. Which, a lot of people claim is how even single color wheels get swirls…so already Halftones is making sure their quality is above even that of some very popular wheels.

Riding experiences:
Once I took then to the hill, I was surprised by how the wheel rode. Not because anything horrible about them stood out…but not because anything amazing blew my mind either. All in all they were a really well rounded and balanced wheel. They didn’t dump thane, or die in a sesh…but the lines are bold and distinct. They had average acceleration, didn’t go crazy fast but didn’t feel sluggish or slow either. They didn’t kill all your speed when sideways, but they felt controlled and did shave a good amount off. Plus, the slide itself wasn’t icy and wild, but it was easy to initiate and slid for a while. I’d put them right in that category of wheel that everyone likes (even if they like others better) that are regularly suggested to beginners…you know, Freerides, Butterballs, that kind of thing. Really, it’s a basic familiar feel that anyone can ride, and I think that’s done purposefully. They aren’t trying to compete with the heavy hitters on the already over saturated market…they just want to add some harmless and accessible fun to the mix. Now, in mentioning beginners, I would like to bring up over really cool thing I did notice. Not only does the dual color thane not ruin the consistency of the urethane…but one could argue that it’ll encourage better form and therefore more even wear. Basically, by the same principal that makes lower degree slides keep wheels round as they thane, Halftones make more stripes the faster your wheel rotates while sliding. So the closer you are to sliding 90° the less stripes you’ll get until finally the wheels don’t rotate at all and you get one color and a flatspot. Obviously, striped thane lines in no way help your form… but the fun of being able to control the frequency of your stripes is some great positive reinforcement for playing around with/trying to improve your form. I learned stand up pendys on these simply because it was so cool seeing my lines go from really short stripes to long ones and back again.

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Criticisms:
Considering how much hate these wheels got online (before they were even released), believe it or not, I can’t really criticize them…not because they’re the perfect wheel that can do everything, but because they deliver on exactly what they intended to. They’re super fun to play around with, the feel is going to be accessible to everyone, and they have a very well rounded performance. They aren’t magical cheat wheels or downhill speed demons…but they aren’t meant to be. They’re a really well balanced quality product with a fun little gimmick. I personally wouldn’t pay extra for striped thane, but Halftones doesn’t expect you to. It may be the wheels defining trait, but they treat it very casually and their marketing and prices reflect that. If you ask them, it’s less a “feature” than it is just some unnecessary fun, like multi colored sets (I.e. Skiddles/Tracers), glow thane or, let’s face it, leaving thane lines in the first place.

Final Thoughts:
I can’t help but think about how this might expand. I have a few color combos I think would be cool, and even some I’d be worried about. I think Halftones was very smart in their choice of colors because white and light blue have always seemed so similar in slide characteristic/wear to me in the past. This will be something to consider in future releases, and it’ll be fun to see how far they can take it without ending up with uneven wear. Yea I know, I’m never NOT the sceptic but frankly I think if their first wheel was a white/dark purple combo my review would have been that they ovaled like crazy. Though something like a red/blue or a light green/orange could make for some pretty vivid and awesome thane stripes while remaining consistent and smooth throughout. If you have your own idea for the next color combo, shoot them a comment on their Facebook page, and grab a set of the blue/white ones to help fund the next batch with new colors.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Laissez Faire Anarchy

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The Laissez Faire Anarchy…this is going to be a pretty hard review for me to stay unbiased with, since this is one of my favorite boards. Probably the most used of my personal quiver, due not only to quality but versatility. No matter the weather, the time, where I am or if I’ve got the gas money to get anywhere else…this board can make a fun sesh out of any situation. Which is why I’ve gravitated towards it a lot lately. Lots of stressful things going on and not much time to skate? Well, not only can you pull the Anarchy out and thrash just waiting at the bus stop…but it sure takes a beating! So you can really get out some of that aggression you have over your piece of shit car. Then, once you finally can drive to the hill again guess which board still feels right under your feet? I mean, you know… hypothetical situation of coarse, but regardless…

Street:
I know I rag on the modern popsicle deck sometimes. A slightly more angled 7.5″ kick instead of a 7″ kick that’s a degree lower isn’t the most creative tweak you can make when designing a board. Though, the truth is, it does make a huge difference in how the same exact shape will perform. These subtleties aren’t the eye catching spectacles that longboard concaves are, but get the right one under your feet and you won’t care if it looks any different than your buddies…it’s just better. That being said, there’s something magical about a hybrid deck from a company with more skateboards in their line up than longboards (or I guess an equal amount now that the Warmonger comes as a KT). I had a hunch they knew how to make a DK, and boy was I right. The kicks are the perfect length/angle for insane pop and great leverage and control. The base of which is already a great little pocket, but add wheel wells and you always know exactly where you’re feet are. We know why that’s good on a hill, but even in street skating it’s advantageous. You know right where your wheels are based on their relation to the easily felt wheel wells. This means you can change stance without looking…and know exactly how much leverage you’ll be getting over the trucks. So changing the height of your ollies is quick and easy, and things like tweaking grinds start to come more naturally.

DHS:
For the sake of space let’s combine freeride and tech into a Downhill Slide section. It’s just different duros anyway. Depending on the width of your stance and the way you intend to ride, both the 36″ and the 33″ are great options. I have a somewhat wide stance and haven’t quite gotten used to the front foot in the nose thing all the best tech sliders do. So for me, the 36″ is perfect for both disciplines. I ride with my front foot cocked forward in an angle between the flares. It’s not only a good stance for holding out checks, but with most my foot over the bolts I get stability when I need it and just a little leverage over the nose when I feel like eating shit. With my back foot just past the flares wedged in the base of the kick you get one hell of a pocket and easy access to the tail. No matter where you shuffle your feet the flares really do cradle you. That, the great concave, and well designed kicks is really the only subtle things keeping it from feeling like you’re shooting downhill on a skateboard. A feeling I personally hate…luckily, everything about the Anarchy is designed to function like a skateboard, but feel secure and stable like a Longboard. They really nailed the balance, and the result is insanely fun.

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Park:
The Anarchy kills it at big parks. Small technical parks? Not so much. While I love it in the actual street, a lot of “street” inspired parks are designed to utilize limited space, so they can get cramped. Plus, small ramps are awkward on a 36″ deck. If my back wheels just barely left the flat when my front ones hit coping, it’s not exactly fun to skate that. Plus, the ever popular Jersey barrier is even harder to ride, not that I can even do it on a skateboard. On the other hand, anywhere you wouldn’t mind taking some technicality for stability and the Anarchy is king. The bowl, the vert ramp, the tranny section, big funboxes, big hubbas, double digit stair sets. Basically anywhere that you’d want the board to feel really secure and glued to your feet… because that’s exactly what it’s designed to do. Plus, the width gives you the leverage and control to maneuver large ramps in a fluid, seamless way that maintains your momentum very efficiently, and the option for larger wheels keeps everything smooth and fast. As always, the wells are also great reference points, since looking at your feet is even more disastrous (at least for complete noobs like me) when you’re literally sideways on the vert.

Flatground:
I know, I’ve been including flatground in my reviews a lot lately. You have to understand though, Freestyle was my life throughout the 90s when everyone else was on vert ramps and 27 steps measuring each other’s dic- oops, I mean air. Now that it’s becoming even a little bit accepted, you better believe I’m not going to shut up about it! Plus, the whole reason I said the Anarchy has been so good to me is because it has no boundaries. You don’t even need a curb or an incline, a block of concrete is all you need. Go out to the sidewalk and learn primos, caspers, walk the dog, butterflips, ect… It all works. The curvature of the concave and the rounded rail isn’t perfect for balancing primos, but the wheel wells allow for much larger wheels…which makes balancing so easy, you won’t even notice the rounded rails. In fact, large wheels+round rails make balancing a wash and make pivoting from rail much easier, so frankly I prefer it. The kicks could be less steep for caspers, but not so much that some undercarriage grip (or just a scratched to shit tail) won’t fix it. Plus, the extra ply and solid construction keeps the rail from compressing/splitting from excessive truckstands or even pogos. It really is insanely fun, and much better than NOT skating if you’re stranded somewhere flat.

So…yea. That’s the Anarchy. Pretty cool, huh? I mean, considering it probably won’t be winning the “absolute best deck for this discipline” award in any of the aforementioned categories…it would still be impressive to grab second place across the board. Especially such a close second like the Anarchy would. Between their street series and longboards like the Warmonger killing it in their respective feels, the Anarchy probably was intended to bride the gap. Which it does with insane pop. Get it? Yea…you get it. Check out their Facebook for more.

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Speedlab Lightnings Review

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Speedlab isn’t exactly our typical Longboard review…in fact, they aren’t even a Longboard company! Though anyone who’s been paying attention knows that, longboarding itself owes just as much to vintage skateboarding as it does modern innovation. Which is why Speedlab wheels are such a natural fit for a Longboard review. Speedlab started in 2002, right around the same time the modern longboard scene started to gain momentum, and has been taking a separate but surprisingly parallel path ever since. They’ve basically done for classic bowlriding what Longboard companies have been doing for downhill skateboarding: Taking dated concepts, like conical lips and 60mm+ diameters and using modern manufacturing to refine and perfect their performance. I think we all know how awesome that can turn out.

Street:
So I first threw these on to my board after wearing some Bones down to about 48mm. At a fresh 56mm the Lightnings were actually as light, if not slightly lighter than the worn Bones. In fact, they seem almost comparable to soft wheels of the same size as they seem noticeably less dense than your typical hard wheel. Usually, this is a huge trade off for small wheels since that density is the only thing maintaining their momentum…but speedlab uses a very high rebound formula that gains speed very easily. Sure, it loses it just as quick but these aren’t designed for the kind of flatground lines where you push ten times to get to the next obstacle. They’re designed for the constant pumping of poolriding, and for that they are FAST! So…can you guess what I’m getting at? What else maintains a similar perpetual momentum? Downhill. Now importantly, even hills with street obstacles on them. Plus, the light hard wheels will be giving both longboarders and skateboarders a bit of extra pop compared to what they’re probably used to. So while long flatground lines might not be the Lightnings strong suit…if you hit gaps downhill, or even if you and your buddies are at a spot with a single obstacle (as opposed to full lines) you’re going to get a bit of an edge due to its quick acceleration. Especially on anything with shorter run-ups.

Bowl:
There’s a lot of overlap with these wheels…so let’s just move on and throwback to street if we need to. So to expand on the advantages of the light, high rebound ethane, we already mentioned how well these wheels gain speed (and with the help of gravity, maintained it). What we didn’t mention was how losing speed pretty easily was actually kind of a plus in a pool. Since their is constant momentum in a pool, you pretty much just haul ass the entire time until you end up in a sketchy situation. At which point, it is pretty easy to pull out of it at a much more comfortable speed…most of the common techniques for shedding speed will be even more effective on these wheels, and only when you want them to be. Plus, the conical lip profile really does just pop right over the coping. It has enough guidance to keep you locked in a grind as long as your comfortable, but smoothly and easily “dismount” whenever you like. This is also where we’re going to mention street again, since the conical lips really help with slappies. It won’t be the walk in the park that hitting the coping is, but considering how sketchy I still find slappies…the difference in performance is even more noticeable (and appreciated) than in a bowl.

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Tech slide:
I actually loved getting to know these wheels. They were my second tech slide wheels, after bones (which were so grippy I got away with using my freeride form and not really having to learn to tech slide). They were also the first ones I got serious enough about to use as often as I did freeride wheels. And let me tell you, I’m really glad it worked out that way because they are the perfect wheels to learn on. That low density thane I won’t shut up about really starts to shine even more here. Once broken in they feel powdery as a snowball and slide really smooth. For a tech slide wheel it has a really in-the-pavement feel. Giving you not only great control but a pretty large margin for error. What does that mean? Well it means that, for such a hard wheel, the point where the wheels release into a slide, and where they ice out completely is pretty damn far apart. So over leaning or hitting a crack isn’t going to send you straight into a faceplant. You’ll not only gain a lot of confidence with such accommodating wheels, but transitioning from freeride to tech slide is much easier when you aren’t icing out every two seconds. They’re basically the Swingers of tech…feeling pretty much like I’d expect hard Swingers to feel like. Though the one drawback is that they are similarly un-resilient. Luckily, chucking in hard wheels is much less dramatic than in soft. No need to worry about giant pieces falling off when you hit chunder… but don’t be surprised if slightly frayed lips are unavoidable even on relatively smooth surfaces (you can see in the pictures, taken after just one slide sesh, that the lips look like they’ve been nibbled on by mice or something).

Freestyle:
Freestyle is also worth mentioning. Not in depth, but I’d like to touch on it. A lot of what we’ve already covered applies here too: lightness, easy acceleration/deceleration, early release and controlled slides. All help in some small way to flatground freestyle. Though, on top of all that the profile is fantastic! Yes…I know we already covered that too, but it functions much differently here. Freestyle specific wheels are usually medium sized (60mm or so) sideset hard wheels. This is to make it easier to balance primos and also to recess the axle nut so it doesn’t get damaged. Lightnings may be center set, but they’re wide enough that the urethane still extends past the nut just enough to keep it from getting torn up and welding itself to your axle. With the conical shape, it feels like a much smaller wheel than it is when you have it primo, so you won’t get much help balancing…but the trade off there is the added guidance/control you’ll get when initiating flip tricks from primo. Godzilla flips are more consistent than I’ve experienced with other wheels. Apparently, it even helps when trying to balance that primo manual thing people can do after collecting all the VHS tapes and activating god mode. Not that I’d know…but apparently. -_-

Well that’s it kids. Go eat eggs. Oh, and check out Speedlabs Facebook page. Then eat eggs, punks.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Cast Arsenal Review

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Arsenal was born of the influx of precision truck companies we saw a few years back. Which isn’t a bad thing. Sure, it was quite the over saturation at the time…but the expense of precision weeded out the weaklings pretty quickly. Arsenal was one of the few to stand the test of time. Now that they’ve proven that they know how to make one hell of a precision truck, they’re taking that knowledge and applying it to cast. Let’s check them out.

Downhill:
Well this is the entire point, isn’t it? So let’s get right to it. You know, that thing I said…the point. Let’s get to the point, damn. Anyway, downhill is a great place to start because we can discuss the fundamentals of this truck. Which, frankly, is all there is to it. Instead of flashy bells and whistles Arsenal spent their time and energy perfecting the fundamentals, and it shows. It actually made them a surprisingly hard truck to review because there isn’t really much to discuss without sensationalizing (which I try not to do). There’s nothing flashy about then really…nothing special to make them stand out against other cast trucks except for the fact that they’re simply better. With a surprisingly un-bowed axle for a cast truck, a pressed in kingpin and tight, clean pivots they already feel extremely precise. Add that to a deep bushing seat with very low tolerances and its as close to precision as you’ll probably feel without having to buy precision trucks…and that’s before any upgrades.

Freeride:
OK, so some of you might have noticed that I glazed right over “deep bushing seat” and are already headed to Facebook to tell me about how the borg hive-mind that is longboarding has decided those aren’t cool anymore. Well jokes on you because this is one case where you should really give them a chance. They hug the urethane of the bushing and hold it in place for more consistent turning and, thanks to the tall bushing compatability, don’t feel very restrictive at all. If you’ve ever run cup washers with talls you’ll know what I mean. Theirs so much free urethane to compress when you turn that it’s only near the end of a pretty deep turn that you start to progressively begin feeling it getting more restrictive. You could even argue that, in this case, it’s a plus… because you still get hella lean but start to get more rebound as it bottoms out. Giving you a clean controlled turn for initiating slides, but a good solid return to center that makes for a smooth and predictable hookup.

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Freestyle:
For better or worse, freestyle is another place that cast Arsenals really emulate precision trucks. What does that mean? Well, it means they have a hardened to shit axle and both the hangar and the baseplate are Heat Treated to a T6 Temper…this gives them an extremely impressive strength (especially for cast), but also makes them a little heavier than the latest/lightest editions of popular cast trucks (though it would probably be lighter than the previous generation of those same popular trucks). All this means is that flip tricks that might be second nature for you take a little more thought at first…though anything my riders already had dialed took less than three tries to really nail on Arsenals. Well worth the five minutes of practice once they started taking them off bigger and bigger drops. Arsenals pretty much stood up to anything we could throw at them.

Dancing:
Lol. Just kidding… I know this is usually where I would try some weird shit the product isn’t designed for and tell you how well (or disastrously) it worked out, but there’s no point here. Arsenal aren’t throwing you any curve balls here…anything you’d personally be comfortable doing on RKPs and arsenal will fill that need. It’s pretty much the type of quality and performance you’d expect…just more of it. Sorry to the guys at Arsenal if you saw this and thought I included dancing in your review. You give me these badass black trucks that look like they belong on Batman’s Longboard and I have the audacity to dance on them!? Yea…I get it, it’s a douche move. Rest assured, I barely even tried it. It wasn’t half bad actually, but I only have the 44* baseplates so it was silly to even try, let alone review.

At the end of the day, it’s hard to communicate the simplicity of perfectionism. Everyone says their product is better…and for every product there’s plenty of people who will agree. It’s all personal preference…so how do you put into writing what makes a truck great when it’s only gimmick is a basic proven geometry and an attention to detail and devotion to quality? Idk…I tried my best. It’s really one of those try it to believe it deals. So if you’re curious, it’s well worth the investment. Hit them up in their Facebook page for more info.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Quinboards Buck Spencer Review

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Quinboards is one of those bands that doesn’t like to be put in a box. They find it hard to concentrate…they can’t think in there. You know…inside the box. The one they were put in. You could even say they would prefer thinking OUTSIDE the box…Ay?…Ay? Know what I mean? Outside the box? Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink. Say no more? …Ah? Nudge, nudge. Snap, snap. Wiggle, wiggle. Say no more? Oh never mind… You’re a fucking square, like a box. omg, I just did it again! I’m on a roll. I’m literally rolling. That would never happen inside a box. You know, because they’re square. They can’t roll. Unlike the guys at Quinboards…they aren’t in a box, so they roll smooth as hell. Just like their boards do. Bam! Segue back to skating. You didn’t think I could do it but I did…we’re back to the review, no digression needed, just came right back around. You could almost say: We came full circle! Unlike a box, you know…becau-FUCK! I did it again. Let’s just move on…

Bowl Riding:
Let’s keep this obnoxious asshole vibe rolling with a discipline I probably shouldn’t have even tried on this board: Bowl Riding. It’s actually surprisingly decent at it. Your not going to be rocking to fakie very easily, and tranny/vert are not the best on this deck, but anything fluid, fast and with an embankment is actually really fun. Basically, while it’s not a trick or park board by any means, it provides a lot more control and versatility than its clunkier downhill brethren. It’s extremely stiff, and pretty thick and beefy as well. So it definitely seems like one of those crazy stable behemoths since it provides the stability and confidence of those tanks…just not the weight and lack of maneuverability you’d expect to go with it. Since, in reality, the ash and carbon fiber construction makes this a surprisingly light and nimble ride. You know what’s even more fun though? Realizing you’re on a board that kills it both in a bowl and on the hill…and taking it to where they combine those two things: Kona Skatepark. Oh fuck yea! Do yourself a favor and try this board in a snake run.

Downhill:
Let’s tighten the reigns a bit and get back to this boards true calling… It’s a downhill machine. Hence the name: Buck Spencer. I’m not certain…but I think it’s both a reference to this being a collaboration with Buck Longboards and the manly Italian actor Bud Spencer (he’s like a European Chuck Norris…which is why they can definitely name their next colab Buck Norris if they like, compliments of the twisted minds here at TLC). Though they could have called this Little Bunny Fufu and it would have still been a beast…there’s just no ignoring the construction and design. Of coarse, there’s the beefy yet lightweight feel which is a nice compromise not to have to make, but just the concave is really thought out. There are wheel flares in the front that provide leverage and lock you in no matter how you angle your front foot, much less limiting than a drop would be. The back however, does have a really nice drop that makes a perfect place to wedge your foot against when tucking. There’s a lot more to it than that…but let’s expand on the concave in the freeride section.

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Freeride:
Continuing on with the concave… There’s also a really unique asymmetrical rocker (Yes, it gets more unique than a half-droped deck). It’s higher in the front and lower in the back just before the drop. This makes it to where the standing platform is angled backwards slightly and leaning your weight forward feels more like your leveling yourself out than pushing your balance forward. This helps negate that “about to flip over your handlebars” feeling you get from some decks. There’s no easy way to explain it really… It just feels very natural and secure. This coupled with how the asym rocker hammocks your back foot, and the drop/deep tub concave making it feel almost like it’s strapped in…you really have an insane amount of control over the back of the board, even with very little pressure applied to your back foot. The entire design really encourages good form and makes it feel really natural not just taking this board sideways, but doing it correctly. If the term flatspot/oval resistant could ever be used to describe a deck…this would be it.

Parking Garage Pump:
So, full disclosure…not everyone loved the asym rocker. It won us over by a huge majority, but everyone is different. The good news is, you can remove the asym rocker next by using about a 1″ riser on just the back truck. I took it a little further myself and used a 6* angled riser. Using a relatively high degree truck and dewedging only the back gave the board a nice 47/41 split and raised the back of the board just enough to level out the standing platform. The rocker is gone and the drop feels a little more aggressive. It’s a great option for those who like the unique concave but don’t want rocker. Plus, the more vertical feeling drop keeps your stance consistent and locks your back foot in for a really solid pivot point while the flares in the front give you great leverage for pumping. It’s not exactly made for any cross country style LDP, but if you want an extremely fun garage bomber with enough pump to get you through the flats…this board will probably help you win some garage races.

So there you have it, the Buck Spencer! Yea, I know…even the non-downhill sections have been kind of about downhill. I just find it interesting that Quinboards put so much thought and effort into making a great downhill board that it ended up exceeding their expectations a bit. They weren’t aiming for a versatile deck…but there’s so much overlap that in perfecting it’s downhill features they inadvertently covered a few other disciplines as well. For more info on Quinboards check out their Facebook page and give them a like.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Wheelrz 85a Diablos Review

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First Impressions:
Wheelrz Diablos are a fun looking wheel. They’re this bright redish-orange with pitchforks and a crazy font that seems like carelessly scribbled demonic script. The whole thing looks like what you’d imagine Skatan might doodle in his notebook while spacing out in ethics class. As for the urethane itself, I like the color a lot. I’m always a fan of the obnoxious highlighter wheels that will never match anything…it helps quiet the little voice in your head that actually cares about dumb shit like that, and usually leaves great looking thane lines. The one misstep in the graphics is that the “D” in Diablo looks a lot like a sideways “A”. Maybe it’s my dyslexia, but that isn’t the best when trying to read a rotating text.

Riding Experience:
Diablos are unique in that they are one of very few wheels where a stone ground finish really does equate to a nice slide right out of the wrap. Most wheels that slide well immediately do so because they just break in that quick…can’t exactly credit the finish for that. However, Diablos are a slow wearing wheel and do take a while to really break in. Before they do, the slide is a little icy, but the release and hookup is really defined. Great for techy shit and quick 180s. As they slowly break in they start to sink into the pavement, gradually providing more resistance and in turn, more control. It’s funny, because they wear so little and the break-in period is so long, I imagine it would almost perfectly coincide with the learning curve of a beginner skater. Effortless 180s out of the package, and more lean and control as you start to go faster and hold out bigger slides. For this reason, they definitely seem perfect for anyone who’s learning how to slide. Even an expert who’s trying to kick that cheat wheel habbit will appreciate being eased out of the ice.

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Criticisms:
My assumption about the thane lines was dead wrong. After they’ve broken in a bit, they’ll leave faint lines on a hot day…but for the most part, they don’t really leave discernable marks. Of coarse, this is just the 85a…so I can’t really comment on the wear patterns of the 80a.

Final Thoughts:
At the end of the day, Diablos are a great wheel with a very unique feel. If you’re learning to slide then I can recommend them, sight-unseen, and feel pretty confident that I hooked you up…I don’t even have to know you. Even if your an experienced skater who’s working on that steeze lean… They’re going to gradually provide more resistance as you grow more confident on them, letting you get more and more horizontal. They feel like a buttery cheat wheel (which I find are almost always chalky) only with a bit less “cheat”. Making them seem like one of those “love them or hate them” wheels…but you’ll never know which one you are until you try.

Check out the Wheelrz Facebook Page for more info!

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

DaSilva Aldous Review

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The hippy mentality isn’t the first thing you might relate to hardcore skateboarding… If anything, combining the two usually results in the shaggy barefoot beach cruising type. I don’t think most real skaters “hate” those guys, but we don’t exactly aspire to be them either. That’s why it’s so refreshing to see a brand that’s both. They embrace both cultures so strongly that it develops something completely new and somewhat profound. Applying the free love, back to nature hippy vibes with the meditative aspects of downhill and cathartic feeling of freeride results in some of the best feelings in the world, the coolest/nicest guys you will ever meet, and some fantastic handmade decks built with the utmost love and care. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m talking about DaSilva Longboards from Israel. Brace yourself friends, because here be Hippies.

Freeride:
Lets not waste anyone’s time here, the Aldous was designed to be the swiss army knife of skateboarding…and for Longboards, the “knife” part is always freeride. Want to make a good versatile board? Don’t skimp on the skids. Dasilva is clearly familiar with this rule of thumb, and proves it with the freak concave. It has a great depth and cradles your foot in nearly any stance. Plus, the Bellbottom flares are very well thought out. Well defined but not obtrusive or excessive, your going to feel comfortable both on or between them. Respectively, larger stances will benefit form the leverage they provide, while smaller ones will feel even more locked in with the way they somewhat simulate microdrops. In fact, I myself freeride with a snowboard inspired duck-stance…so my heels feel super locked in between the flares while my toes get some extra leverage from being on top of them. (you won’t find me complaining about either of those things anytime soon!) Finally, the concave continues onto the tails, which scoop upward slightly, creating a nice pocket. So while it’s clear that this board was designed around an in-between-the-bolts philosophy of freeriding…reaching and utilizing the kicks while going downhill feels safe and comfortable. In short, your blunt slides won’t suffer, they’ll just take a little more peroration than on boards where riding on the tail is a more viable option.

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Downhill:
There are two versions of the Aldous, stiff or flexy. I think we’re all used to the varying flex patterns of dancers or pump decks, but they never seem to reach downhill stiffness, just different amounts of flex. Recently however, we’re starting to see brands designing boards around both stiff and flexy constructions. It’s actually really cool because now you have even more options. I for one have definitely seen shapes I absolutely loved until finding out they had mad flex…the Aldous is one deck that’s never going to have that problem. The one I got to try was speed stiff and downhill ready. The pockets made by the bellbotom flares are a prefect place to wedge your foot when tucking, the concave is comfortable but really locks you in, and the overall design is relatively streamlined…though if the drag from the kicks really bothers you, Dasilva uses Freak cave in a few other shapes that are a bit more speed friendly.

Freestyle:
Personally, I’m a fan of the kicks though… They really walk the line between the highly functional (but intrusive) popsicle inspired kick, and the streamlined (but short and stubby) downhill kick. At the shortest wheelbase they are plenty long and have decent pop. They are upturned slightly but in a way that extends smoothly from the boards natural rocker. Add that to the way the concave continues onto the kick and the bottom of the deck somewhat resembles a speedboat. How’s that for imagery? It’s definitely the most you could possibly reduce drag while still having such functional kicks. All that works very well on the top of free board as well. The length is the kicks and the way they scoop upward gives you great leverage, and the extended concave makes rotations easy to initiate and control. Not to mention how light their construction is Basically, if you’ve been looking for a good DK that doesn’t compromise much, the Aldous nailed it in the freestyle department.

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Dance:
Full disclosure, I haven’t gotten to try the flexy version of this deck…so I can’t really comment on the type or amount of flex it has. However, considering how much thought has been put into the Aldous, and the fact that there is a designated dancer in their lineup…methinks they might have done some research/experimentation on flex patterns. Aside from that though, even the stiff version shows promise as a dancer. Both wheelbases have a decent EFP, but the larger one really gives you a lot of room to walk around in, especially with TKPs. The width means you can choose how far your steps are from the center, making it easier to control how much the board turns, and slope of the concave makes standing near the rail feel much more natural. Plus, I found that the flares are a great indicator of when your reaching the kicks. Probably not a huge concern for a master dancer…but it’s a pretty cool feature for a board like this, considering a lot of people would probably just be using dabble a bit in dancing.

Done. Here’s the Facebook page. Now I’m going skating. Suck it nerds.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2015 in Uncategorized