Harfang Supremes – Insights and Impressions

A few weeks ago, we covered the release of a certain wheel called the Harfang Supreme- a new freeride wheel by Harfang which comes in regular and Roman Candle variations (the ones with flints in them for sparking action at night). In case you missed that post, here’s the jist of it:

“The Supreme is 65mm in height and 46mm in width- this means it’s quick to accelerate, and is moderate-high in grip. For reference, Venom Harlots are 48mm in width. The wider contact patch means that the wheel performance will be snappier- a harder kickout, a consistent, speed-killing slide, and then a quick, aggressive hookup. The Supreme comes with Harfang’s proprietary Fiberglass Matrix race core, meaning the wheel is well supported for even wear patterns and slide characteristics. The core is centerset as well, meaning they’re flippable so that you can correct coning on the wheels halfway through the life of the wheel, for example.”

We were lucky enough to get a set of the Harfang Supremes flowed to us by Yann, the wonderful owner of Harfang for review. And let us tell you, they are a hoot. Well, better than Hoots. (Bonus points if you got the reference.)

So, to begin with- Supremes have a pretty generic shape. Now, don’t let that be a testament to the quality of a wheel. Wheel manufacturers only have so many molds and it just turned out that Harfang chose one of them. Also, a generic shape is only generic because it’s averagely just a good shape that works for a lot of things. In the case of a freeride wheel, the Supreme shape is nice because aside from the bevel at the beginning of the wheel, the width and contact patch of the wheel will stay the same during the duration of the wheel’s life. I found this to be incredibly positive, as that makes a consistent wheel. I got really used to them and could expect the same slide every time.

Casting quality of the wheels was great- I didn’t notice any separation of the wheels from the core, which I have noticed with wheels before. If you didn’t know, this creates chatter when you slide, and it’s not the most pleasant thing- you can live with it, but I hate it with a burning passion. Thank goodness that didn’t happen to the Harfang Supremes. There was also none of the common wrongs with bad wheels- swirling, inconsistencies in wear, no shearing in the urethane, no cracking in the core. So, all-around a pretty reliable wheel.

Okay, with all those technical things aside- my experience with the wheel.

Harfang Supremes, compared to wheels that I’ve ridden in the past, are gripper than Orangatang Skiffs, Free Wheel Co Free Ballins, Tracers, and and Envys. They are slidier than In Heats, Ahmyo Mukti Protos, and Muirskate Markers. So they’re right in the “less-slidey” category of wheels. They’ll wash out, they’ll slide far, but they definitely won’t dump thane and launch you off the side of the road in the case of a bad slide. The slide is a little in the ground, kind of chalky, and will leave thane lines if the pavement is hot. They’re not very good on cold pavement though- they get really grippy and the hookup turns really mucky. They’re some of the most controllable wheels that I’ve skated, whatever input you put into these wheels, you can expect to feel a reaction. Good for novice skaters who are just learning to learn pendulums and drifts, I think. They won’t win a slide jam in the longest slide competition, but they’ll definitely be a wheel that you want to shred at the local putt and freeride hills.

The roll speed is pretty generous- I was able to keep up with the others at Saturday Night Skate with these on. It’s pretty easy to tell a slow freeride wheel from a fast one, and this one definitely isn’t slow. The urethane seems to be generously dense, so you get a decent amount of speed out of them.

The sparks! The sparks are gnarly. When you first get the wheel, you’ll find that the flints in the wheel are kind of jagged and sticking out weird. Worry not, one slide and those will be evened out. There are times in the life of the wheel when they get a little short and you don’t get heavy sparks like you did in the very beginning of the wheel, but as you wear down the wheel, you start to get sparks again. I don’t expect Harfang to know the speed at which their wheels wear and how that relates to the wear of the flints. That’s like, a lot of math and research. But the flints work reliably and they’re oh-so-showy when it comes to sliding at night.

All in all, these were an awesome wheel- they’re made to be slid and they’re made for you to enjoy. A conservative, careful company like Harfang has once again introduced a wheel that’s different to all the others. Sparking wheels, who would’ve thought! These are definitely a wheel that I’ll be skating in the future. Might have to buy another set as soon as I run out of freeride wheels!

 

Orangatang Wheels – Skiffs Insights and Impressions

Ah, Orangatang, Orangatang, Orangatang. It’s a household name in the longboarding scene- they were some of the first to make quality downhill wheels, some of the first to come up with a diversified wheel series to cover several riding styles such as downhill, freeride and cruising, and one of the companies that helped to spread the message of downhill skateboarding across world.

From such a great company, it’s reasonable to expect a great product or two every couple years- I definitely do. And it was no surprise when Orangatang released the Skiff, a fun freeride wheel in a similar class to Rayne Envies, Tracer Hawgs, Seismic Crybabies and other wheels with a small contact patch and slippery urethane. These wheels were made for one purpose- fun and easy freeriding. These are the wheels that people break slide records on, the ones that people win slide jams on!

The Orangatang Skiff was something of an experimental project after the release of the Onsen back in 2015- the small core inspired the designers and riders at Orangatang to substitute the hard urethane for a softer freeride urethane, and the result was a small, successful run of 83a Skiff-prototypes. Production of a more refined shape came very soon, with the wheel being produced in all 3 durometers of Happy Thane- 80a, 83a, and 86a. We at Longboard Envy HQ received the 80a, mainly because one of Ryan’s favorite urethane formulas is Happy Thane in 80a- his first wheels were 80a In Heats, and most of his slides were learned on them. So it was a trip to the past for him when he got the 80a Skiffs.

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Battle For The Net!

Today is the internet wide day of action for Net Neutrality. We’re passionate about a free and open internet where information and ideas are treated equally. Information should be free and you, not the ISPs, should decide what’s available.

Join us in the fight for net neutrality by visiting battleforthenet.com and telling the FCC that you support an open internet.

Harfang Wheels – Supreme

There are few wheel companies in the longboard scene that’s known for having their wheel technology to a science. Harfang wheels has been active for a long time in the longboarding industry, taking other companies’ wheels and using their state-of-the-art 4-axis CNC machine to cut rain grooves into them, and they’re popular and preferred by many racers for good reason because their performance is much beyond anything that’s manufacturable on a normal linear-axis lathe.

What you may not have known is that Harfang also manufactures their own wheels. First it was the Absolute back in 2016- a 73mm race wheel that comes in all varieties of rain grooving, and now it’s the Supreme, a freeride wheel born out of Harfang’s experience making and selling the Absolute.

The Supreme is 65mm in height and 46mm in width- this means it’s quick to accelerate, and is moderate-high in grip. For reference, Venom Harlots are 48mm in width. The wider contact patch means that the wheel performance will be snappier- a harder kickout, a consistent, speed-killing slide, and then a quick, aggressive hookup. The Supreme comes with Harfang’s proprietary Fiberglass Matrix race core, meaning the wheel is well supported for even wear patterns and slide characteristics. The core is centerset as well, meaning they’re flippable so that you can correct coning on the wheels halfway through the life of the wheel, for example.

Harfang Supremes come in a 78a and 81a durometer. As with any Harfang wheel, the Supreme comes in the Roman Candle variety as well! That is, wheels with flints inserted into the urethane, which makes the wheel spark when they are slid. They don’t change the way the wheel feels though, it’s just really flashy, if you’re into that aesthetic!

Jump on these quickly, because Harfang wheels have a tendency to sell out fast!

Cloud Ride – Storm Chasers

It’s been awhile since I reviewed a wheel! A couple weeks ago, I received a set of Cloud Ride Storm Chasers in the mail- they’re the new downhill wheel from Cloud Ride wheels, a popular urethane company affiliated with Atlas and DB Longboards. Historically, Cloud Ride has never had a grip wheel offering. The Freerides were grippier than most, but their shape and urethane was still engineered to give a nice, in-the-pavement slide. However, with the Storm Chasers, Cloud Ride finally has a fully fleshed-out wheel lineup, all the way from cruiser wheels to downhill-heavy grip wheels.

I had heard some rumors that the Cloud Ride Storm Chasers were the same stock core and generic urethane as some other downhill wheels on the market. But I was a little skeptical of these rumors, since Cloud Ride had been advertising their custom core for months now- and it’s true, they’re definitely custom. It’s called the Thunder Core, and it’s actually produced at a facility separate from the one where the urethane is poured; definitely a higher-end process, since many wheel companies just choose from the selection that the urethane company offers them. However, that’s not to say that the Thunder Core is anything ordinary- the recessed design is unique when compared to other proprietary cores such as the Cobra Core or the RAD Crown Core; those are large, but the Thunder Core is small, with support ribs closer to the bearing hub.

This allows for an incredibly gushy, soft-feeling wheel. The small core allows urethane to deform further than other wheels, and the difference is absolutely noticeable. In my time riding the Cloud Ride Storm Chasers, I’ve noticed that I’ve been able to grip drift corners and have difficulty putting down small bike paths where I would normally pull off drifts and checks on my other wheels. Naturally, I’ve been riding a lot faster than I normally would.

The slide is definitely in the pavement- the skin takes around 4-5 fast drifts to take off completely (I do wish it lasted a little longer), and the slide is a little choppy with the skin on, but afterwards, it’s wonderful for anything race-esque. They kill so much speed compared to large-contact-patch wheels such as Cult Raptures and Biggie Hawgs because they’re grippy (not to say that they’re bad wheels, they’re great too) and really dig into the ground. I’ve never felt safer going down a hill with cars coming up the other side. I know I’d be able to stop with only a moment’s notice.

Some auxiliary information- Storm Chasers are seriously, seriously heavy and carry a metric crap-ton of momentum. They make some very good commuting wheels if you can get some shorter hangars and make them stick out anything but an inch out the side of your board. Just a personal opinion, Cloud Ride should make a version that’s offset just for commuting purposes. They’re so cushy!

All in all, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Cloud Ride Storm Chasers; if you’re looking for a grippy, responsive, speed-killing, fast wheel, these might very well be for you.

Chroma Skateboards – Pilot

You know that we always love a new fledgling company- they represent growth and progression in our scene, as they’re the ones filling the gaps where there is a need for a new design. Small companies are also usually run by skateboarders who happened to have the skills and ideas to start a successful company, and that appeals to us, since we at Longboard Envy were just skateboarders who happened to have the skills and ideas to start a magazine. Birds of a feather, you know?

Chroma Skateboards has been in the hype machine for a little while now with their crisp graphics and unique, directional concaves. This year, they’ve released 3 variants on the same mold along with 1 street-inspired double kick.

The first Chroma Skateboards mold is a rocker-heavy, asymmetrically microdropped platform with a medium, cylindrical W pocket in the back. The rocker ensures that tucking is comfortable and that the legs are preloaded for standup slides and similar endeavors. There’s only one microdrops, which is in the front, and that’s well thought out because on many >35 inch boards, the back microdrop won’t be utilized by most people. A microdrop also makes it impossible (due to the folding/creasing properties of wood) to have continuous W. So Chroma took out a rear microdrop and added a rod of W that extends to the mounting holes. They have 3 boards cut from this mold, a topmount cutout, a kicktailed topmount, and a topmount with taper.

The Aurora features a small amount of taper towards the back of the board, and has a variety of mounting options to let you find your favorite wheelbase. Along with large wheel wells, this board is great for those who want to grip and rip and do some compact drifts.

The Aspect is basically an Aurora, with a straight rail (no taper) and a kicktail. This is a do it all board, usable for anything from city slashing, fooling around at the top of the run, and pulling some mad flip tricks.

The Solstice is a classic speedboard shape, with the cutout shape and partial wheel wells to ensure you can get as much lean out of your trucks as possible.

And lastly, the Quintara is an oversized skateboard with decent concave.

Check them out and get yourself one when they release more the next production run!

 

Ahmyo – Akasha FR

Ahmyo is one of those smaller companies that have a fanbase that’s much larger than you would expect- people run Ahmyo wheels at Maryhill, kill dozens of sets at Giant’s Head Freeride, and many use them to get around town because of their efficient, purpose-driven shapes. So it’s no surprise that the next wheel that they release will be heavily hyped as well, just like the Vibez and Protos before these ones.

One of the most ridden Ahmyo wheels is the Akasha- a large, inset grip wheel versatile for both downhill and long distance push alike. The drift is supreme, the roll speed is fast, and the contact patch is large. If only they made a version that was stone-ground and freeridable…. Continue reading →

Writer’s Picks: Rayne – Deep Sea Exorcist

I know I write reviews of various longboarding products for Longboard Envy all the time and it seems that I’m always jumping onto different gear every week- you’d expect me to change preferences all the time as I go through seemingly better gear. Thing is though, I’ve been on the same downhill board for around a year and a half now- I’ve raced, freeridden, and whenever I’m on another board as I’m reviewing it, I always miss the familiar feel of a Rayne Exorcist underneath my feet. I’m so into it in fact, I have two, even though both of them are completely fine.

Some history for you- the Exorcist is birthed from a former Rayne board, the George Mackenzie (or GMack), pro-model board of western  ripper and legend George Mackenzie! You can see him in the iconic Rayne video, Step Back to the Forge and the historic series, Greener Pastures. The Exorcist takes the intense concave features of the GMack and cuts away the extra meat to make a racy, sexy board. 

The Exorcist’s concave is probably the most aggressive concave that I’ve ever spent an extended amount of time on- and that’s coming from someone who rode a Loaded Tesseract for a good 2 years. Some people might say that aggressive concave is painful to the feet and that it inspires terrible form, but I’d beg to differ, especially on the Exorcist. It’s a highly well thought-out board. It eliminates W in places where you don’t need it, while having it in places where it’s crucial.

The Exorcist has steep-ish tub concave which is supplemented by an equally steep bubble drop to create a true 360 degrees of concave surrounding your feet. There’s something to support your feet longitudinally when tucking, and something laterally when sliding. In addition to the deep tub, there are pleasure domes- islands of W in the middle of the board which don’t impede foot placement during a tuck, but are there for use during slides as soon as you lean back to initiate.

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Arbor Collective – Crosscut Series

Hybrid street-slashing is becoming an increasingly popular skate style as both street and downhill scenes start to merge in feature-filled urban environments. Soft freeride wheels on an oversized skateboard has been becoming more and more common to see at both slide jams and city environments alike. It’s a new kind of rush to be able to pull an ollie, some freestyle tricks, and then transition into a banked slope while doing a squat slide.

The folks over at Arbor Skateboards must have experienced this new phenomenon- they have emerged with a new and improved version of last year’s Shakedown 34 and 37, Arbor’s hybrid street-slash offerings, now part of the Crosscut series. The Shakedown offers a friendly, smooth radial concave which flattens out into two generous street-inspired kicktails.

The Shakedown comes in two sizes- the 37 is great for more longboard-inspired freestyle, such as no-complies and slide shuvits, while the 34 is great as a park board alternative for skating pools and all that.

Never Summer – Superfreak Insights and Impressions

Never Summer is an excellent snowboard company that entered the longboarding scene, utilizing their mastery of raw materials to start creating durable, efficient longboards for all different purposes. They have a roster of unique, useful shapes with all their respectively unique concaves. Through the years, Never Summer longboards have changed in shape and concave to adapt to the needs of the public, like a good company always should. This year, Never Summer gave us the new 2017 Superfreak to test out and write about, and we’ve got a lot of thoughts about it, and we wanted to share them with you!

First, the shape. The Superfreak is one of Never Summer’s long-standing freeride double kick offerings, with a hefty kicktail and a minimalist nose kick. In previous years, there was taper and more rounding to the deck shape, but this year, Never Summer seems to have chosen a more minimalist approach, with no taper and a blocky, straight-edge shape. Whether this is a positive change or not is up to the rider, but we at Longboard Envy thought that the shape could use a little more refinement in terms of cutting away some of the tail to round it out. A rounder kicktail is best for flip tricks as flat-shaped kicktails tend to grab the ground and decrease pop. Same for the nose kick which has a concave cut on the front, which has thrown off flip tricks in our experiences. Otherwise, the sharp rails and the overall finish of the deck was great. The sides started to splinter a little bit as I did more freestyle, but that’s to be expected with any longboard deck that’s getting thrashed.

Second, the concave. The Superfreak has a compound W-flare concave, which means it’s straight radial down the length of the board, with some hefty W in the middle which flattens out before the bolts, supplemented by large wheel flares. The W concave is great for pushing out slides, as it supports the inside of your arch. The flares are comparable to the flares on a Loaded Tesseract, as they come up and give you an extra boost on concave if you ever need it. It’s nothing complicated, and it does the job very well.

Third, auxiliary features. The Superfreak features what seems to be UHMW bumpers on the nose and tail, which extends the durability of the deck by a substantial amount. I’ve found that after a week of heavy freestyle, the tail has worn significantly less than a similar deck of wood construction. I haven’t curbed the Superfreak yet, but I’d expect the deck to hold up well to such an impact. Never Summer did a great job with the bumpers- the fact that they figured out how to inlay UHMW into the board as a ply is an innovative and interesting design.

All in all, the Never Summer is a great board for all-around slashing, mellow downhill and some freeride in an innovative, well-engineered package! Get yours before they sell out!