Season Starter – Helmetposting!

Preface:

It’s been a while folks. I’ve been away at engineering school for a year. I’ve been too busy to function. But now that school is over, I am back at the keyboard, and I am ready to produce good content for you. Great things are coming! Don’t worry, I missed you too.

Even though we here at LongboardEnvy haven’t been writing, we’ve definitely been skating. We’ve used some great gear, amassed great experiences, and we cannot wait to share them with you.

Let’s have a great season.

-Ryan (and JC)


I think safety is important. More than any other boardsport, I’m proud that the longboarding scene puts such a healthy focus on helmet safety. I think it improves the public’s view of our sport, but also prolongs the life and stoke of the scene, since you know, people aren’t dropping from head injuries left and right. That’s morbid, but it’s true- there’s a reason why so many of us are able to stay skating for so long.

I also think it’s the first thing that should be on your mind when you get back into skating this season. Whether you’re cruising or blasting hills, helmets are so, so incredibly important. For that reason, I’m going to start off with an article about the helmets that I’ve been using recently- helmets that I wholeheartedly recommend to you.

The TSG Pass.

This is a relatively new helmet. It emerged onto the scene back in 2014 by TSG, a pretty large European helmet manufacturer. It’s known to the community as one of the safest, most aerodynamic helmets on the market. It’s got a sleek, moto-like appearance that’s a testament to its supreme fit and finish.

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I’ve had a couple full face helmets during my skate career. I’ve had a Predator DH-6 (the older model) and a Triple 8 Racer before the TSG Pass; none of the former can rival how tight and snug the TSG Pass is on my head. It’s a little bit of a pain to get on and off, but when it’s on my head, it’s on there for good. There’s no wiggle.

It’s incredibly light for how burly it looks. Lighter than the Predator DH-6, I’d say. When whipping my head around to look around me, I don’t feel like it’s really on there. It moves with your head and sticks to your head, so it feels like part of your skull.

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The field of vision on the TSG Pass is the best out of any helmet that I’ve had (short of a half-shell). I don’t have to move my whole head to focus on something- just the movement of your eyes will do. The edge of your vision isn’t blocked completely by the helmet either- the viewfield wraps all the way around to right beside your head, so you’ve got all that peripheral vision and some more to spare.

The one complaint I have about the helmet is that I can no longer find different sizes of fit pads! I’d like a smaller sized cheek pad, but I cannot source any of those. I’ve looked everywhere, and it’s completely out of stock. But that’s okay, I don’t wear it incredibly often and it’s comfortable enough when I do.

I would 100% trust a TSG Pass if I was to ever tomahawk off my board into a guardrail. It will save your life.

The S1 Lifer Halfshell.

Literally, the oldest thing I have in my skate collection. Everything else has been replaced, used up, cored. But the S1 Lifer Halfshell (used to be white, now it’s gold), has been a staple of my skate inventory for the past 4 years. It’s the first helmet I bought, and I still wear it on my head daily every time I go skateboarding!

 

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Wow, Ryan can skate?

 

It’s just comfortable. It’s dual-certified, it has an awesome track record for saving watermelons for street and vert skateboarding, and it comes in a huge multitude of sizes for your comfort. It has some great color options too!

That’s all I have to say about it. No complaints, nothing. Just a really good helmet.

Skate safe, skate hard!
-Ryan

 

(banner image by Devon Chambers [@devons_chamber])

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.