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!

Landyachtz – Cheese Grater

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. Continue reading →

Earthwing x Muirskate – Muirderer 33 Insights and Impressions

(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!

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!

 

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.

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.

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.

Muirskate – Podiums and Markers Insights and Impressions

A few months ago, LongboardEnvy HQ received two sets of wheels from Muirskate- the Markers and the Podiums, which are Muirskate’s most recent additions to their lineup of proprietary skate products, alongside their many washers, mini-cruisers, beer koozies and other plentiful accessories. We rode them extensively for an extended period of time- parkades, downhill, drifty downhill, and they were then shared with other members of our local community to get a taste of what they could do.

But first- the whole experience. Muirskate has been one of the leading shops in North America for every skater’s various skateboarding needs; they stock street skates, longboards, slalom accessories and various other soft and hard goods that are designed to enrich a skateboarder’s enjoyment of the sport. Scott, the owner, has been very cooperative and generous in our dealings with him. Even though the shop has grown exponentially in the last couple of years, the fact that Scott personally responds to all emails convinces us that the vibe at Muirskate is closer to that of a mom and pops’ ice cream shop than to that of a large corporation. No wonder they’ve created such great products. Look at how friendly they look!

The first product in the spotlight is the Muirskate Marker.

This is the larger freeride offering of the  three shop wheels, suited for long sessions on setups that feature a generous amount of wheel clearance. They’re made of the same urethane as the mini-markers, as far as we can tell. They feel similar to Zombie Hawgs- they slide well, the hookup is mildly pronounced and the slide is moderately deep in the pavement. There’s nothing extreme about this wheel- everything has been engineered in moderation. When sliding at low, 15-20 mph speeds, they feel almost as if they’re dragging into the pavement, but at higher speeds above that, they’re absolutely prime for long stand-ups and squat drifts. The core seems to be a standard Labeda core, but it is satisfactory in supporting the wheel and we haven’t noticed any heavy coning through the life of the wheel. The centerset core ensures that you can flip the wheels to combat any deformation of the wheels during heavy sliding.

I’ve also noticed that the Muirskate Marker is a great contender as a commuting wheel. The narrow wheel profile fits under most boards without sticking out of the side, and the fast roll speed ensures that the commute to work or school isn’t overly tiring. Personally, I use an oversized double kick to get to school, and the round lips have given me the ability to do some mediocre freestyle when I had the inkling to do so. They’re a great wheel to throw on a setup if you don’t know what you’ll be doing that day.

Second, the Muirskate Podiums, which are the downhill, grip wheel offering from Muirskate. These surprised me the most- they reminded me of Phat Deanz! (an older wheel that isn’t made anymore, but used to have a cult following.) They were pleasantly grippy and sticky to garage floors and smooth floors, extremely grabby in paved corners, especially. The large contact patch ensures a very solid, enunciated line between grip and slip. This ensures tight, snappy pre-drifts when the skin is fresh, and pronounced but long, speed-killing drifts when the skin is worn off. These are the epitome of finely tuned race wheels, and I can only imagine that they’re even better for San Diego-local roads. As the name suggests, both prototypes and production models have been on the podium at major races!

The Podiums are fast. They feel hefty under the feet at the initial push, but the weightiness definitely contributes to how fast they pick up speed and maintain it. I’ve noticed myself being shot out of parking garage corners than any of my fellow skateboarders on their grip wheels and rolling farther and faster on flats during long pushes.

All in all, Muirskate has emerged with two of the best shop wheels I’ve skated so far. They’re fast, durable and versatile. Get a set now!

 

Zenit Longboards – Morning Wood Impressions and Insights

About a week and a half ago, the folks at Zenit Longboards, based in Montreal sent me a Morning Wood, one of the new double kick offerings in their new 2017 lineup!

Just a note about the whole experience; Zenit was one of the most wholesome companies I’ve had the pleasure of working with- everything from getting information and pictures for past articles to just chatting and geeking about skateboarding screamed family to me, a dynamic that many companies lack. It was never, “Hey, let me email Phil and ask if we can do this”, it was always, “I’m seeing Phil on Friday, I’ll chat with him about it then”. They all call each other by nicknames and prod each other with jokes all day, it seems. That really impresses me- those who manage to stay friends in the workplace create the greatest businesses, and with that thought, I have no doubt that Zenit will stay wholesome and succeed in the many endeavors that they take in the future. With that said, the product.

Simply put, the Zenit Morning Wood is a street deck that’s be re-thought, re-pondered, and re-engineered to be one hell of a do-it-all board. There are two kinds of quiver-killers in my mind. There are those that are built after a dancer board profile, such as the Zenit Marble 40 or Loaded Tesseract as a more classic example, and those built after a street deck profile, such as the Morning Wood. They’re slightly larger and offer larger wheelbases than street decks, and offer variations in flex to accommodate a rider’s style. The Morning Wood did so perfectly for me- coming from a street skating background, my style has meshed with downhill and freeride to result in a very street-surfy style, using the environment to my advantage in sliding banks, flipping trucks and hopping over obstacles; things that the Morning Wood is a gift from heaven for.

First, we should talk about the concave- because the first thing you do on a board is stand on it. The Morning Wood has progressive concave, meaning that the concave is steeper at one end of the board than the other due to the width being greater at the front than the back. Traditionally for downhill and freeride boards, the concave is steeper at the back for kicking slides out and whatnot- but Zenit decided to take the reverse approach and put more concave in the front. In the beginning, I couldn’t grasp the logic of it- why put concave where you need the least support? However, when I stood on it and cruised around with it for a bit, I understood the concept of it- most of your steering comes from the front foot, and it’s hard to keep leverage on both your toes and heels when carving back and forth. The steeper concave in the front allows me to rely less on a misplaced back foot and do most of my steering over the front truck with my front foot. The result is a much less tired ride, more agile carves, and powerful cornering. This concept is inspired from mid-80s ramp/pool decks, where your front feet really don’t move while the back foot pivots all over the place depending on trick, rotation and happenstance obstacles. 

 

Second, the shape- it’s one of the first things you notice, and it’s one of the most important contributing factors to an efficient, responsive board. The Morning Wood is a classic popsicle shape (sized up), with a little bit of taper towards the tail. This works closely in conjunction with the concave to allow the back foot to go from rail to rail more efficiently, making the board incredibly nimble. Moreover, the taper allows the concave in the back to mellow out significantly, creating a better surface to transition your weight on. The board also features asymmetrical kicktails which visually gives the board a more directional feel and look when riding, and the slightly steeper nose kick is useful for skating park, pool and tranny when it comes to really leveling that board out during intense air. The kicks are the perfect steepness- less steep than a conventional skateboard for sure, but that’s appropriate for the larger size of the board. The shallowness mediates the amount of rotation you get off of twisting and flicking so that you don’t have a hurricane of a board when attempting a shuvit.

Third- the construction, because it constitutes the durability and feel of the board under your feet. Let me tell you about this board- it’s dead stiff. There is basically no play in the construction in terms of torsional or lateral flex- that makes the board feel as if my inputs have direct, clear output, which is an overwhelmingly positive feature on a double kick. After 5 days of absolutely shredding this deck, there’s only minimal wear in the kicktails- in the first few hours, there was some wear, but after reaching the point that it has, the speed of wear seems to have plateaued.

The kicks have tons of pop- I’ve had no trouble clearing curbs or obstacles.

Fourth- the auxiliary features. You know, the stuff that Zenit really didn’t have to include, but they did, being the wholesome people that they are. The squarish wheel wells are actually some of the most efficient, best looking wells that I’ve ever seen. Most wheel wells are circular or oblique- this is because of the convenience of lining up a drum sander and going to town with it in a certain place. This sometimes results in a larger-than-required area of non-graphic. The square shape of the wheel well on the Morning Wood removes excess trim and gives you a wheel well just where you need it, no less, no more.

There’s also the curious quirk of the rounded popsicle shape- if you flip it, it just rolls instead of skidding and ruining your rails. Makes for a very durable board.

With all these great features put together, Zenit has created one of the best, most versatile do-it-all longboards on the market. After doing some research and talking to the guys at Zenit, I’ve found that many people have incredibly diverse setups on the Morning Wood.

My personal favorite setup on the Morning Wood so far is Paris 150s (43 degrees, symmetrical), Free Wheel Co. Ballins, with 90a Riptide Bushings all around. I’ve been using it for commuting to school and cruising around with friends in a variety of situations. It’s great for freeride- the small wheelbase makes for some very nimble turning, and it’s awesome for kicking out 180s and the occasional 360 if you’re feeling ambitious. The smaller wheelbase can be a twitchy at speed, so downhill isn’t exactly ideal for the board, but with an asymmetrical truck setup with upwards of a 30 degree split, the board may actually handle some gnarly downhill!

Other people have their Morning Woods set up differently. I’ve heard of 160mm Kodiaks, 165mm Savants, and one particular setup with Don’t Trip Trippins on it. Adam, the board designer and team manager at Zenit, has a street-esque setup on his board, with Independent 169s and Orangatang Skiffs, a slashy, cruisey, carvey hybrid.

All in all, the Morning Wood is one of the best street-inspired DKs that I’ve ever used. It’s replaced my previous board as my daily commuter, and my park DK for street skating. I am thoroughly impressed with the product and can’t wait for more developments from the guys over at Zenit Longboards!

 

Venom – Enhanced Durability Formula

Venom has been at the top of the urethane game for a long time now. The original mass-producers of a huge variety of bushings, Venom has also been the greatest creator and designer of many cores, urethane formulae and shapes on the market since day one.

Much of Venom’s well-deserved fame comes from their Cobra cores- a proprietary core that’s almost unmatched in speed, grip and slide characteristics. Debuting in late 2015, they replaced the generic cores in the old Cannibal wheels, a downhill wheel offering that’s infamous for being grippy as sandpaper with fresh skin, and a freeride-able goodie when broken in. Since then, the Harlot was born into the Cobra Core lineup, a freeride wheel with the same urethane formula as the Cannibal, but in an addictive round bevel shape.

This year, Venom created the Hard in the Paint urethane formula, a formula we covered last month that’s reputed to leave thane lines when you kickturn. However, there was a small mishap during the release, when Venom’s wheel factory mispoured the production models with an 80a Mach 1 urethane formula, which is another one of Venom’s Cannibal formulas. Riders found this to be incredibly resilient and durable, prompting Venom to embrace one of their mistakes and release the wheel in that same mispoured formula, now named the Enhanced Durability formula.

Rider testimony has been incredibly positive- it’s said to be fast (after all, the 76a Mach 1 formula broke the speed record) and awesome for all different kinds of asphalt pavement. The resiliency of the formula is good for practicing, as you really don’t need urethane lines for practice.

Get a set now! Venom is sold out, but Muirskate has a few Harlot sets left!