Back when I first started in the scene- 3 years ago, there was a certain skateboarder that I quickly developed a skater-crush on. He was so modestly gnarly- ready to teach me, a beginner, and just really fun and incredible as a person. He was mostly baked out of his mind most of the time, but he was still tons of fun nonetheless. His constant love of skateboarding and push to do better is one of the reasons I am proficient in my drifts today. Seriously.
Well, 3 years ago, I saw how good this guy was at skating (he was already sponsored by Landyachtz at time), I asked him if he had a promodel. And he was just like, “Nah, not yet- I don’t think I’m that important hahaha” and I bet him that he’d get one very, very soon. He still just shrugged it off. And I just sit here and chuckle because… Alex Hannigan, I told you so.
Alex rode a 2013 Wolfshark for as long as I’ve known him- not the newer ones, he just loved the original 2013 Wolfshark. The concave was apparently perfect and he’d always rave about how the w and flares created the perfect foot pockets for his stance. So when I first stood on the Cheese Grater many weeks before its release, I knew at first stand that it was a 2013 Wolfshark mold, with slightly smaller flares, and lots and lots of extra wheelbase options. The concave has got some really nice, juicy microdrops and flares that you can really feel.
Alex was always the embodiment of function over form- and you can see those effects in the Cheese Grater. It’s got a solid ply on the bottom that hides the hollowtech, big, blocky wheel wells, and a brick-like shape with minimal shaping. You get some really nice, blocky kicktails if you run it on a smaller wheelbase even (which isn’t all that small)!
The Cheese Grater. 38 inches long, 9.5 inches wide, and 100% fun. Pick yours up now! (Cheesegrater not included.)
When it comes to widespread truck companies, one of the oldest and largest is the Paris Truck Company, based (now) in Culver City, California! Named after one of the most romantic cities on earth, Paris has weaved their way into the hearts of many skateboarders, both in street, pool, on the boardwalk, and in downhill. They’re a generous, wholesome company, with policies to make sure the customer and skateboarder comes first, innovation an absolute priority, and progression of the community always in the back of their minds and hearts.
However, written information about many trucks on the market is lacking, and as an investigative writer, I am compelled to put down some information that people will be able to use in the future!
Paris Cast V2s:
To begin, it’s worthy to mention that you have most likely come across a set of Paris trucks in the past. Paris is widespread in the market, to the point of having knockoffs sold on chinese markets and on mall completes. So you’ve most likely either stood on or seen a set of these in the wild. V2s are some of the most loved cruising trucks in the market right now, for their flowy, turny attitudes, relatively standard prices and ease of use. What makes V2s so flowy, surfy and enjoyable? It’s all in the geometry.
To put it simply, Paris V2s have a relatively open bushing seat that allows you to compress bushings further and lean further than many trucks on the market. That doesn’t make Paris trucks inherently better or anything, it just makes them good for certain applications- such as cruising and carving around. The axles are offset from the pivot axis (in a feature called rake), so your turn increases exponentially as you lean. There’s a bunch of science and technical information behind how this works, but that’s what it does, and it makes the truck very lively when you need them to be.
One of Paris’s early advertisements in Concrete Wave Mag.
Paris V2s as they come stock have 89a Divine bushings in them- some come with cones and barrels, some come with dual barrels in them. They’re decent bushings with decent urethane, and anyone from 140-170 pounds will fare quite well on them. Anyone outside that weight range may have difficulty enjoying stock Paris trucks, but aftermarket bushings exist for very good prices and in different hardnesses, so adapting is not difficult in the slightest.
Now, there’s all this information about why Paris V2s are great for cruising and carving around, but I’m sure you’ve heard about downhill skaters taking them to high speeds and pushing out slides. This is where some of my experience pops in- I downhilled and raced on Paris V2s when I was a beginner in the scene. And let me tell you, they are very, very capable of fast, gnarly skateboarding. Before the Paris Savants were released, many Paris fanatics did the same on V2s- like other cast trucks, you can dial V2s to be more stable for downhill through different bushing setups. Some companies, such as Riptide, have emerged with Paris-series bushings which fit the bushing seat more precisely, eliminating slop. Paris is awesome for downhill and freeride because of the rake (what we talked about earlier)- the center is generous, and once you lean outwards, the turn increases exponentially, so it makes for a very surfy, stable setup once set up correctly.
Paris Savants are Paris’s most recent solution to their lack of a precision truck in their lineup. Historically they had been working on some Paris precisions, but plans fell through and the release of a precision truck from Paris was delayed by almost half a decade- but that’s fine, because the final product that did end up getting released was something spectacular. They were able to capture the flowy, carvy essence of Paris V2s but also increase the center point and create a more downhill/freeride-oriented truck.
Paris Savants are forged. This means that rather than having molten aluminum poured into a mold, a block of either heated or cold aluminum is hammered in a high-pressure environment into the desired shape of the truck. This creates an incredibly strong, well-grained aluminum structure in a relatively lighter package. They’re also different from CNC precisions, which are cut from a billet of aluminum in a 3 or 4-axis CNC machine. Do note that they’re a fair bit heavier than the Paris V2, so they might not be the most versatile for a freestyle or cruising purpose.
Cruising fast on Savants.
Setting up Savants to be good downhill/freeride trucks is relatively simple, if you are coming off of Paris V2s. You are able to use the exact same bushing setup as in your V2s- but don’t expect to get the same feeling. Savants have tighter tolerances, a different pivot shape and a slightly thicker pivot cup- this will change the feeling of your trucks quite a bit. For one, you have a larger center point- you’ll find that the trucks won’t quite go from rail to rail as quickly as V2s. Rather, they’ll have an area in the middle of your lean where you feel remarkably stable and locked in. Also, due to the added cylindrical nature of the pivot, the truck feels as if it has more rebound. So all in all, the Savant is a downhill-ified version of the V2 and I’ve been very pleased with their performance.
In conclusion, Paris Trucks are great- and you should get a set! Even though they are just one truck in a sea of many, they are dear and close to my heart and I hope they will be close to yours as well in the coming skate season. Happy skating!
As a skateboarder, I’ve spent most of my time on Rayne decks. I enjoy the steeper concaves, light construction and the longevity of stiffness that comes with Rayne’s signature vertically laminated bamboo construction. I’m aware that the last writer’s pick was a Rayne Exorcist, but that’s only because well, I hopped onto a Rayne Reaper after the Exorcist and feel that I’ve progressed tremendously because of it. Other boards will come, I assure you. But today I wanted to speak a bit about the Rayne Reaper and why I feel that it’s one of the best double drops on the market today.
(There’s no Reaper video, but the Nemesis is very comparable.)
A little bit on the history of the Reaper- the first double drop that Rayne made was the Demonseed. It was introduced as a push board for long distances- but it soon gained popularity as a downhill deck and so the Nemesis and Reaper were introduced as size alternatives for people with different sized feet and leg lengths. The Nemesis was massively popular for a few years for its large drop and drifty attitudes- but the Reaper was swept under the rug a little when it came to the double drop scene because it was small for a lot of people.
It’s the perfect size for me though- I have a really small stance (I mean, I used to ride a 34 inch downhill topmount) and I hate having extra board outside of my stance. So large double drops like a Nemesis are a no-go for me- I feel sluggish and sloppy having an extra 4 inches of board all the time past my back foot. The 36 inch nature of the Reaper gave me a compact, defined standing platform for my feet and I could comfortably stand drop-to-drop without feeling too spread out. It was really confidence-boosting as I have trouble finding a comfortable place on a lot of boards. I had the issue on my Loaded Tesseract, Omen Airship, and Vandal. But having a HUGE drop that both my feet could contact comfortably was a source of unremarkable confidence that led to me sending it a significant bit harder in the following weeks. Also, having tiny feet (size 8 mens) meant that most decks are too wide for me, but the 9.5 inch width of the Reaper was perfect for me to keep my back foot in a position where I could go rail-to-rail for comfortable sliding and cornering.
(Note, I know there are a lack of photos, but we will upload them as we get them!)
We did a review of the Muirskate Podiums and Markers a couple weeks ago, and that was an awesome time- the concept of a shop making their own products is definitely new and welcome. Great way for the shop to make themselves some money, and get their own personal tastes into their products. I’m a fan.
Muirskate has always had this tradition of partnering with boardmakers to have a budget board for people to pick up in case they didn’t want to spend too much on their first board or whatnot. In the past it was Rayne with the Muiracle, but for now, it’s Earthwing with the Muirderer!
I talked to Scott a few weeks ago and he was (as always) generous enough to send me a Muirderer 33 (there are two sizes, 33 and 36) to test out and write about. What a wholesome man, I’d totally buy him a dinner. Funny story- it got stuck in Canadian Customs for a couple weeks before it was released to my house and panic ensued, but I did some calling and I found my board and got it to my house eventually. After experimenting with some different truck setups and wheel choices and shredding it for a few weeks as my daily putt board, I’m confident that I have experienced all this board has to give.
The Muirderer 33 is a 33 inch (go figure) long single kick board with pretty generous freeride-esque concave. It’s 9.75 inches wide, which is pretty wide for a board that’s only 33 inches long, but it makes a lot of sense. I’ll get into that later. It’s got some really mellow W concave, wheel flares, a flat kicktail and a bit of a flared-up nose to help you catch those ollies. All in all, a pretty fun shape that’s meant to do a lot of things on a miniature scale. I assume the 37 came first, and then they shrunk it down to make the 33. Great choice, in my opinion.
So, the first setup I had for the Muirderer was Paris 150s and Orangatang Skiffs- I had a lot of trouble with that setup, since I got wheelbite and not enough turn. Pretty bad choice on my part, I should’ve known better, since Earthwing makes a lot of their stuff based off of Independent 169s. So I got myself a set of 159s, and the setup worked a lot better. The wheel wells are perfect for Indys. I had no trouble with wheelbite, and even running a really leany setup on my Indys, I had nothing to worry about. I’d strongly recommend going with either Independents or your favorite TKP (traditional kingpin) truck with this board.
Now, about the concave. I found the concave to be so, so comfortable and appropriate for the board’s size. It’s just straight up, mellow progressive radial concave complemented by some small-ish wheel flares. I like the design cue behind this- since the board is short, there’s nothing that gets in the way of you using the full length of the board as your standing platform. You can realistically put your feet wherever and they wouldn’t feel squished out of form or cramped at all. The board tapers towards the front of the board. Intended or not, it makes it easy to wedge your foot into one of the wheel flares for a nice lock for the front foot. In the back, you can rest your feet near or on the wheel flares as a good reference point for your tuck or slides. The W is very mellow- I usually can’t tell it’s there, but it definitely adds to support when you’re putting out a quick heelside check. For reference, it’s like a Tesseract, but with less concave, smaller wheel flares and much less W. The kicktail! It’s functional, flat like a street kick, and there’s not much else about it. It works and I’m thankful for that.
The construction is of maple, and for the most part it’s been durable. There’s a little chipping on the wheel wells and the wheel flares are definitely seeing some wear from sliding along the ground, but that’s with any skateboard and I’m alright with it. The one thing that’s concerning me is that the board’s gotten twisty since I got it. It’s not warped, but torsionally, it’s not the stiffest board. It’s small, so it doesn’t make that large of a difference, but I can jump in the middle and the board will flex a solid 4 centimeters. Again, not an issue since my feet are near the bolts anyway, but I’m curious about the 37 version since it’s larger and people with smaller stances will definitely be putting a lot of pressure in the middle of the board.
All in all, the Muirskate x Earthwing Muirderer is one of the best small decks that I’ve stood on and used extensively. It will be staying in my quiver as that board I’ll hop onto for beer runs and going out to meet friends. It’s functional enough for some meme-ey freeride at the local outlaws! I strongly recommend it for its price point as well. Get out there and swoop one up!
There are companies out there that we’ve talked about (Pantheon for example) who take a lot of their design inspiration from direct community involvement. Whether it’s through word of mouth or through the scouring of facebook pages and forums, the latest concave and shape trends actually end up on the next iteration of whatever board. Rolling Tree is another one of those companies- but Rolling Tree is a tad bit different.
Rolling Tree has this program where skaters- just random skaters from anywhere, can design a deck and upload it to a facebook group where people are able to vote for their favorite designs. When and how a deck is produced is up to Rolling Tree and their schedule, but any random Joe can put up a sketch and have a chance at it. (That being said, it’s advantageous to have CAD mockups and models ready to show and present- that’s a lot better than a notebook sketch.) Anywho, when your design gets approved, Rolling Tree figures out production, does some prototyping, does a run of the decks and slaps them on the page, and slaps one into the designer’s hands. Pretty wholesome process and project overall. The previous one was the Acedia- which sold so well that they even made a carbon version of it.
Rolling Tree Acedia Gripped
Rolling Tree Acedia
Rolling Tree Speedboard V2 Cave – Trent Gobel
But now the Lotus.
The Lotus is a directional drop deck that seems to be designed purely for utility and less on aesthetics (even if the graphic is incredible). It has these blocky cuts to accomodate a clean, even taper from 9.7 inches wide to 9.2 inches wide, large, ergonomic drops with clean wheels wells and what seems to be comfortable, crescent-shaped drops. The deck is overall a very manageable length at 37 inches (small dropped decks are the best, you can go drop to drop without stretching!), and a very comfortable but nimble wheelbase of 27-28 inches variable. Anything between 26 and 30 is generously drifty and stable- nimble and responsive, and not long enough to be sluggish and hard to stay on top of.
The concave is very different from the simpler things coming out on the market currently- people seem to be into simple radial concaves and featureless tub concaves these days (see Valhalla Skateboards, Rayne and Landyachtz). And if there is W to contend with, it’s a simple bump in the middle or a strip down the length of the board. The Lotus has something radically different- double W in the back, and bacon cave in the front and back of the board. Lots to work with, so your feet will never really slip off if you don’t want them to. There’s definitely a market though- some people (like me, 2 years ago) really enjoy lots of concave features. Some feel naked without them, and I totally understand.
All in all, the Lotus is a lot of experimental concave features packed into a board, pulled off in a seamless package. Rolling Tree does it again! Also remember that Rolling Tree does truck chops and a lot of various custom work that you can pay for.
You know that we always love the smaller companies because they seem more like loving family members than a business that you’re buying skateboards from. Earthwing is one of these wholesome companies that we at Longboard Envy enjoy so much- they’ve been around for so many years, and through all of those years they’ve only gotten better.
In times like these when there’s so much hate and unjustifiable animosity between humans, when the news is dirty with tales of vandalism and people hurt by the words of others, it’s unremarkably wholesome of Earthwing to come out and release a new deck called the Hope. The backstory of the Hope is just as innocent- it’s inspired the feeling of welcome and freedom that you feel when you’re on a skateboard. The way that skateboarding is a way to avoid being an adult amidst work stress, paying bills and having responsibilities. Brian writes in his piece called “And I Hope”, that the graphic is designed by one of his kids in a pen-pal letter to a soldier overseas. Two stick-figure kids holding hands, which has got to be the cutest thing that I’ve seen this week.
The Hope comes in two variants- 34 inches long and 36 inches long. It seems to be a slightly shaped street-inspired deck, with steeper, street-y kicktails and a flatter standing platform than decks designed for downhill, although I’m sure it’s perfectly usable as a street-slasher hybrid as well. It comes in a bunch of bright colors- everything from bright pink to orange! Prices are thrifty and fair as expected from Earthwing: 70 dollars for the Hope 34 and 75 dollars for the Hope 36. A handmade double kick in this quality range is rare at 70 dollars!
All in all, the Hope is an awesome street deck with a wholesome backstory, and it’s one of those things that you feel about buying after you’ve pressed the buy button. Get out there and get yourself one!
Once upon a time, downhill longboards were bland and boring. They were made of things like wood, wood, some more wood, maybe bamboo, but it turns out that that’s wood too. So a lot of wood. What’s more is that they were ALL made of wood. There was not a single downhill longboard in the world made of anything other than wood.
And then the Chubby Unicorn came.
The Chubby Unicorn was this big, long thing made of otherworldy materials such as UHMW plastic and urethane and super-light basswood cores and fiberglass and oh my god so many new materials! It was revolutionary- it was years ahead of its time in terms of concave, and construction, and basically, the skateboarding community couldn’t justify a board of such potential awesomeness because rider skill just wasn’t there yet, among some other factors. So it inspired a new board- the Loaded Tesseract (a still widely skated, composite board of cork, bamboo and fiberglass with similar concave features). Then all was calm once more- the Tesseract was fairly priced and well-made for people of all skill groups and demographics. The Chubby Unicorn continued to sell well domestically and internationally- but it was later taken off the line for a while for production reasons and the introduction of some new boards to the line-up.
But then people began to hunger- other companies started to come out with Chubby Unicorn-esque constructions of various plastics and urethanes and light wood cores, and people started to ask, “Loaded, where’s the Chubby Unicorn? Wherefore has’t thee f’rsaken us?!” And the dudes and dudettes at Loaded smirked, because Loaded never leaves the scene behind. And lo and behold, the Chubby Blood Slayer- a gory, elevated version of the fat, happy-go-lucky Chubby Unicorn. This time in red and black! (It’s the new blue and white.)
The Chubby Blood Slayer is to an extent, extremely similar to the original Chubby Unicorn. It has the same kicks, the same shape, same grip design, same recessed truck mounts and the same width and length. But what you may not notice is that Loaded made a few changes after listening to the community for the few years that the Unicorn was away. The W is a little mellower, and the board is practically completely waterproofed due to the addition of urethane truck mounts. Also, after so many years, you can expect an overall improvement of quality from Loaded, as they’re always innovating and improving their production methods.
This is a very limited run of boards- so be sure to find out where they’re available and pick one up as soon as diddly-doodly possible!
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!
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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