Loaded Boards – Tarab

There is no word in English that accurately translates the word Tarab from Arabic to English, which makes it very difficult to define. Tarab is used in Arab culture to describe the emotional effect of music, a word to describe the natural flow, rhythm and evoking composition of music.

I received the Loaded Tarab in the mail a few weeks ago, at the very start of winter, when the roads up here in Calgary were covered in snow. And as such, I had around 700 square feet to test it out in. That’s… not much for longboard freestyle. Nonetheless, I had some time in the middle of my midterm season to test the deck out, and here are my thoughts. I haven’t spent too, too much time on dancing decks. My whole journey, I’ve been a downhill/freeride kind of guy that dabbled in a bit of street skating at the inception of his career. I’ve never done more than one cross-step in a row, I’ve never done a shuvit on a huge board, but let me tell you- I’m in love with the Tarab.

The Tarab- a 47 inch long, 9.5 inch monster of a deck that really puts “long board” into scope, is a flexible, oversized deck meant for dancing and freestyle longboarding. In general, it was easy to handle, damp (not soggy), durable (so far), and aesthetically very pleasing. Steps on the deck were predictable and none of them ever bounced me off- other dancing decks that I’ve tried with camber instead of rocker would bounce me off, most of the time. I attribute that to too much flex, misplaced fiberglass and sometimes, wonky geometries that make certain parts of the deck stronger than others. None of these seem to be problems with the Loaded Tarab. The shape is a straight-cut, simple dancer shape. Nothing complicated. There’s some rocker and the flex is damp, not springy- I think these attributes greatly improve a rider’s ability to stay on the deck after landing a trick. But that’s just me.

The urethane tail and nose guards have held up very nicely. I’ve seen pictures where the whole bottom veneer of the deck has been sheared and shaved away, but the urethane still seems intact and less worn than the rest of the deck. Seeing that the tails are mostly made of that urethane, structurally the deck should be sound for a very long time.

One small criticism that I have of the deck is the slightly puzzling placement of the UHMW rail inserts. They aren’t on the top of the deck, but rather one ply down, covered by a layer of bamboo. Perhaps this was an aesthetic choice, but functionally, that one layer of bamboo doesn’t adhere the greatest to that UHMW and on one part of my Tarab, the bamboo is chipped off. Again, this doesn’t change the shape or concave of the deck and I am sure that the UHMW itself will be very durable. In the long run, one little chip on the bamboo is worth it if the rails are still intact after several weeks of hard skating.

From Kyle at Loaded (we had a discussion!), we’ve garnered this quote that explains the design choices, and it sure does make things clearer.

“In order to maximize the structural integrity of the inserts and keep them bonded to the deck, it’s ideal to have them bonded on both top and bottom surfaces. So on the Tarab, the top of the UHMW is flush with the bamboo core and this entire surface is then covered with the top layer of basalt fabric. Additionally, this “sandwich” construction with basalt skins on both sides of the core provides maximum strength while allowing us to keep the board thin and light.

On the flex 2 the cork layer is placed directly over the top layer of basalt, whereas on the flex 1 there is an additional bamboo veneer between the cork and the basalt. This additional layer is primarily intended for added stiffness rather than as a protective material, although it does ultimately provide an additional layer of material to wear through before hitting the UHMW.”

All in all, I think Loaded will once again influence the landscape of the North American dancing scene with a widely acceptable, beautiful work of art that the Tarab is. It will be received well by new skaters and experienced skaters alike, and I personally look forward to putting lots and lots of time on it when spring comes around. This deck made me fall in love with freestyle. I don’t fall in love easily.

 

Valhalla Skateboards – Berserker

Champion Norse war heroes who put themselves in a rage-like trance and proceeded to overpower their enemies and opponents in a storm of heavy blows and swordsmanship- Berserkers. That’s a little extreme for 2017, but you can be very close on a Berserker, a brand new board release from our favorite anarchist skateboard company, Valhalla Skateboards!

This new creation is unlike anything that Valhalla has made before- it’s a double kick quiver-killer shape with Valhalla’s signature mellow-cave, meant for slashing of all kinds and possible shenanigans in all kinds of skateboarding environments. Downhill, urban, even at the park. It’s slightly more downhill and freeride-oriented than most other quiver-killer double kicks though- it’s slightly shorter, at 39 inches, and on the wider range of boards at 10 inches wide, for all those people with large feet. The width is slightly worrying for people who aim to be freestyle-heavy, but there are other options on the market for those specific people.

The deck has a traditional maple layup enjoyed by Madrid and Valhalla combined- you can expect the same no-frills construction as you’ve seen in past Valhalla and Madrid decks in the past. In recent versions of their decks (Sellout, for example), Valhalla adopted a “shark-bite” style of wheel well. You can find those on the Berserker as well. I’ve heard mixed reports about their utility but I’m not one to make judgements- I’ve never owned a Valhalla board. Hopefully that changes.

All in all though, it’s a fresh take on Valhalla’s widely loved mellowcave and you can be damn sure you’ll see it on your local hills at some point. Get yourself one now!

Loaded – Pushin Cushion

So you’ve been out skating for a few hours now- pushing around town. Your feet are tired, you dread the next push. Hell, it hurts to sit down! Your feet are throbbing with every beat of your heart and you take your shoe off and massage the bottom of your foot but it doesn’t help! You’re completely pooped! The world turns greyscale and you hear a voice in the distance:

“Are your feet tired from skating all day? Do you wish there was a way to… cushion your feet on your board?”

You nod your head yes. So much yes!

“Well, you might want some of this Loaded Cushion Cushion! It’s what your feet crave! Comfort is a guarantee!”

Uh… we don’t know who that was, but it might’ve been Ethan Cochard.

We can’t be sure, but we CAN be sure about the Loaded Pushin’ Cushion, Loaded’s most recent possibly game-changing creation! Made of special dense, yellow foam, the Pushin’ Cushion is the answer to your tired feet’s screams of existential pain and loathing.

The Pushin Cushion is a pretty technologically advanced product- it’s made of XRD’s PORON foam (http://www.xrd.tech/howitworks/index.aspx), which is the same stuff that G-Form’s pads are made of. It’s made of urethane- similar stuff to the material in your wheels, but of a special cellular structure. Technically speaking, urethane molecules will absorb energy from an impact. When this specific cellular structure absorbs enough impact, it’ll momentarily “freeze”. Since this threshold is quite low, it’s usable in safety applications. Basically, it just hardens on impact and absorbs up to 90% of impacts. Pretty great stuff!

I received a portion of Pushin Cushion a while back, and the first thing I did was to put it on my long-distance pusher (as the name implies, this is what it was designed for). I felt locked in! It’s a small, small difference mind you- the foam doesn’t compress a whole lot, but that extra millimeter or two of being surrounded by foam keeps you in place for sure. I tried it on a stiffer deck, and I found that it had an even greater effect on vibrations from the road. Basically, get the vibration-cancellation effects of a flexy deck on a stiff one! Installation is a learned procedure for sure- the first time I did it came out quite messy, but I did it another time and it came out quite clean. Loaded’s instructions are:

  1. Remove any old griptape and adhesive residue.
  2. Apply the Poron like a sheet of griptape. No need to stretch as it will behave better under minimal tension.
  3. Press down and massage the Poron everywhere, especially along the rails/edges of the board, to ensure good adhesion. Avoid wrapping it over the rails as it will make trimming messier.
  4. Use a fresh razor blade to trim the Poron along the outline of the deck as you would a sheet of griptape. Some tips:
    1. Stabilize the deck and carefully cut by bringing the razor toward you.
    2. Keep the razor sliding against the deck.
    3. Maintain a shallow angle of attack.
    4. Make each cut as long and smooth as possible.
    5. Continuously move the blade vertically (think slicing) while cutting.
    6. Replace the razor whenever it gets gunked up and sticky (you may need at least 2-3 blades for a single deck).
    7. Finish the edges by buffing lightly with fine-grit sandpaper or griptape (if you’re feeling fancy).
  5. Apply the new griptape over the Poron.
  6. Punch your mounting hardware through the Poron just like you would with griptape. Hold the surrounding area down as needed to minimize adhesive separation.
  7. Tighten your bolts down snug enough to eliminate any play; the Poron will get squashed, but that’s okay.

You can also stack Poron like you used to do with Vicious back in the day- this doesn’t waste griptape and it adheres to itself better, in my experience. I haven’t done it myself, but when I was stacking some to put on the inside of my guitar case, it stuck to itself splendidly. Also, it can be used for DIY projects such as my guitar case or baby-proofing your house! How thoughtful of Loaded.

Get yourself a pack and show us what you did with your Pushin Cushion!

PS. Loaded got us real good with that packaging.

Paris Truck Co. – A Rundown.

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:

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!

Matt Kienzle takes a corner.

 

Earthwing Skateboards – Hope 34 and 36

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!

 

Loaded Boards – The Blood Slayer Cometh

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!

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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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!

Zenit – 2017 Release

2016 has been the year of fledgling companies going huge in the downhill longboarding scene. Unlike the majority of companies, these few companies made most of their revenue selling quality downhill/freeride longboards, with a few cruiser completes being sold on the side. First it was Moonshine MFG, and now it’s Zenit Longboards.

If you were on the website last year, you would have seen a completely different lineup compared to this year’s. Last year’s lineup was a small, minimalist series of 5 boards- but this year, Zenit turned it around and emerged with a huge release of decks which cover all there is to do with longboards, style-wise and discipline-wise.

But that isn’t to say that Zenit is like any other board company with a diverse lineup- they’re a little different. Upon stumbling onto their website, the first thing you’ll notice is that they have a peculiar surfskate lineup! These are extremely space-efficient, stylish cruiser/slasher hybrids with meaningful concave which unlike many other cruisers, can be utilized to do some more stylish, skill-based riding such as urban slashing and pool skating.

There are three of them- the Hibiscus, the Alaia, and the Choka. They all have more or less the same shape, with the main difference being in the length and width- most of the length differences come from the size and quantity of kicks. The Hibiscus has no nose kick, and Alaia has a small nose half-kick, and the Choka has two full kicktails. The widths increase from 9 inches with the Hibiscus to 10 inches with the Choka, with the Alaia being right in the middle with a 9.5. These small increments make finding a board that’s a good match for your shoe sizes an absolute jiffy. LNV recommends a 9.5 inch width for people with a size 9 men’s shoe size (US standard), so you can scale up or down depending on how big your feet are.

Some of the most hyped boards of Zenit’s 2017 lineup are the downhill/freeride boards. These were released to the team riders and local scenes in small numbers, gathering more and more positive feedback every time.

The Marble 40 is pressed in the CONFO mold, which is a microdrop-flare combination with a delicious amount of medium radial. This makes an awesome foot pocket right where the microdrops meet the flares, where you can really wedge your toes or heels in for toesides and heelsides. Aside from the concave, the 40 has double kicktails and a small amount of flex to help with a skater’s freestyle ability- it’s still stiff enough to do downhill and freeride on. Take the Loaded Tesseract for example with its slight dampening flex. The Marble 40 just does the same with its construction rather than a layer of cork on the bottom.

The Marble 38 is the same, except with just one kicktail, and complete rigidity opposed to the small amount of dampening flex that the 40. Same concave, same shape. The great thing about the 38 is also that each board is painted and “marbled” by hand at the factory. The artists at Zenit layer paint over a base and strafe it down the board to create a legitimate marble look and finish that’s durable and total eye candy to look at.

The Rocket V2 is, as it stands, the most recent iteration of the 2015-2015 Rocket V1 and Missile boards. It features a directional, gnarly concave with some of the greatest gaspedal-inspired concave you may ever see on a downhill longboard. Although the middle features almost no radial, the concave is high and persistently supportive wherever it matters. The small amount of rocker helps to support the feet on an otherwise laterally straight concave profile.

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Kebbek – 25th Anniversary Series

Graphics have traditionally been either flat colors or a heat/pressure transfer from a graphic sheet. And although this keeps creativity open and the possibility of different colors, shapes and designs virtually infinite, it definitely gets old knowing that there’s no real special technique going into the graphics on your boards.

Other companies have tried woodburning, embossing, and staining boards to show off their natural wood grain- but nobody’s ever tried opalescence as a visual concept on their boards (at least, as far as we at LNV are concerned). That is, until now, with the Kebbek 25th Anniversary boards! And it looks absolutely bumping. Each board is painstakingly painted with layers of metallic and opalescent paints to create a visually stunning opalescent effect on each of their boards.

Kebbek has also brought back some throwbacks to their original line, including the Ben Dub Classic, Ian Comishin Classic, and Kalator Classic, each with their special board finishes.

Kebbek’s wallet-friendly economic construction and easy-going staff will make you feel at home again, for the 25th year, with their new 25th Anniversary Series boards.

Check them out at the link!