Battle For The Net!

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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!

Sanctum Collective – 24K Choomah

Traditionally speaking, the public has only ever gotten the finalized, perfect copies of production model boards. And some may say that this is incredibly positive- the fact that customers are always 100% ensured and confident that they’ll be receiving a production-quality board means that a company’s image goes up, and customers stick around, having experienced the quality of a company’s service.

Prototypes and leftover B-grades are usually left to the team riders or close friends of companies. For that reason, prototypes are sometimes sought after in the public scene as some prototypes have different shapes or concave features that certain people enjoy. Some like to collect them and appreciate having a one-off, one-of-a-kind board in their arsenal. I turn out to be one of those people.

So I was incredibly delighted when I learned about Sanctum’s 24K project, where they fully open their prototyping process to the public in the form of limited production runs of sub-models in the process of creating a finalized, production-grade board. For example, when prototyping Tanner Morelock’s Choomah, Sanctum released the current model as a 24K board last weekend. The Choomah will continue to evolve in its shape and concave, but the limited release represents the Choomah at that point in its development.

The current 24K Choomah is a 35 inch long, 9.75 inch wide cutout topmount monster with a 27 inch wheelbase that grows to 28 inches per the rider’s request. It features some awesome curves, such as an artificial microdrop in the front in the form of wheel flares, a fat W with ridges in the back, and an edged flare that spreads to the back corners. Continue reading →

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.

Continue reading →

Landyachtz – Stratus

Dancing and freestyle as a genre of longboarding is starting to pick up momentum in North America. While before it was a style that was pretty much exclusive to Europe and Asia, it’s now starting to penetrate into the sunny scenes of southern California and western Canada as a less speedy alternative to getting your fix of adrenaline and progression each day.

To meet the speedy growth of the freestyle scene, Landyachtz has painstakingly worked away to create a fancy dancer of their own! The Hollowtech Stratus is made with Landyachtz’ proprietary hollowcore construction, consisting of fiberglass and wood composites on the top and bottom, with more solid wood kicktails. This is the third year that Hollowcore has been available to the public, and you can expect it to be both durable and functional. Other than that, you can hold it up to the sun and see right through your board!

The folks at Landyachtz are so thoughtful in fact, that they even engineered the placement of the griptape. With some talented freestylers under their wing, Landyachtz has decided to leave the whole middle section of the board without griptape, knowing that pirouettes, boardwalking and other related tricks are exponentially harder and choppier when your feet are sticking to the board like mice in sticky traps.

The Stratus comes in two flex patterns- standard flex and super flex, noted by their colors, red and blue respectively. Listening to community feedback, we’ve deducted that anyone over 170 lbs will easily bottom out the super flex, and thus should go for the standard flex model. The standard flex model is quite snappy and sturdy as it is, and is a great choice for those who may not want a board that’s overly flimsy.

 

S1 – Lifer Fullface

S1 has been one of the greatest helmet companies for derby, skateboarding and BMX. Ever since the introduction of their hard-foam, hard-shell dual-certified S1 Lifer, and creating waves in the adrenaline sport community for safe helmet usage, S1 has been continually looking to spread safety as their mission.

Being one of the most trusted helmet companies in the scene, S1’s lack of a fullface helmet offering was the source of a little bit of whining- but whine no more, as S1 has finally introduced their fullface! Affordable, but still fitted with the S1 half-shell, the S1 fullface promises to make protecting your noggin more accessible than it ever was before.

This helmet represents the epitome of all the current trends- anti-fog venting, swift visor action, cool colors and a smooth, aerodynamic shell shape. The design features ear holes to make it easier to hear things when you have it over your head. The helmet doesn’t have any external venting, but the shape of the foam inside the helmet directs hot, moist air out the bottom of the helmet to reduce fogging.

You can choose 4 different kinds of visors at checkout- the clear, tinted, iridium, and mirror finishes. Each have their merits for different lighting conditions. For clear and tinted visors are for bright and clear days, while the iridium and mirror finishes are for extremely bright, sunny days when glare from cars and shiny trucks might blind you momentarily.

 

Check them out at the link!