Chroma Skateboards – Pilot

You know that we always love a new fledgling company- they represent growth and progression in our scene, as they’re the ones filling the gaps where there is a need for a new design. Small companies are also usually run by skateboarders who happened to have the skills and ideas to start a successful company, and that appeals to us, since we at Longboard Envy were just skateboarders who happened to have the skills and ideas to start a magazine. Birds of a feather, you know?

Chroma Skateboards has been in the hype machine for a little while now with their crisp graphics and unique, directional concaves. This year, they’ve released 3 variants on the same mold along with 1 street-inspired double kick.

The first Chroma Skateboards mold is a rocker-heavy, asymmetrically microdropped platform with a medium, cylindrical W pocket in the back. The rocker ensures that tucking is comfortable and that the legs are preloaded for standup slides and similar endeavors. There’s only one microdrops, which is in the front, and that’s well thought out because on many >35 inch boards, the back microdrop won’t be utilized by most people. A microdrop also makes it impossible (due to the folding/creasing properties of wood) to have continuous W. So Chroma took out a rear microdrop and added a rod of W that extends to the mounting holes. They have 3 boards cut from this mold, a topmount cutout, a kicktailed topmount, and a topmount with taper.

The Aurora features a small amount of taper towards the back of the board, and has a variety of mounting options to let you find your favorite wheelbase. Along with large wheel wells, this board is great for those who want to grip and rip and do some compact drifts.

The Aspect is basically an Aurora, with a straight rail (no taper) and a kicktail. This is a do it all board, usable for anything from city slashing, fooling around at the top of the run, and pulling some mad flip tricks.

The Solstice is a classic speedboard shape, with the cutout shape and partial wheel wells to ensure you can get as much lean out of your trucks as possible.

And lastly, the Quintara is an oversized skateboard with decent concave.

Check them out and get yourself one when they release more the next production run!

 

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.

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!

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 – 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 →

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!

Bustin Boards – Thermoglass Shrike

Double-kick quiver-killers have been the fad of the decade. Having a board that can freeride, downhill, and also kick around and do some freestyle all in the same session is definitely one attractive prospect.

Through the years, many board companies have tried and tried to create their best interpretation of the quiver-killer. And Bustin Boards is not an exception- the Shrike has been a part of the Bustin arsenal for many years. However, this year, Bustin really knocked it out of the park by solving many common problems with their new Thermoglass construction. Thermoglass includes fiberglass topsheets coupled with urethane bumpers and kicktails. It’s the epitome of durable board technology. 

With their new lightweight, fused fiberglass construction, the Shrike is newly advantaged for freestyle and dancing tricks- a lighter board means that airtime is increased and the setup is more responsive. When doing freeride and downhill, rider input is amplified.

The new 5-0 urethane bumpers are incredibly resilient and are able to take the worst of beatings- Will Royce is no saint to his boards and the shape and layout of the urethane bumpers focus on strength more than aesthetics. A truly utilitarian philosophy previously unseen in longboard production.

The new Bustin Thermoglass Shrike. Get it before it gets away!

Powell Peralta – Snakes

There’s always been a movement in the longboarding wheel industry to find a perfect balance between durability and thaney, sugary wear. Too much durability, and the company risks making a wheel which doesn’t grip the pavement enough to create an attractive slide. Too much wear, and the wheels don’t last long enough and become extremely expensive for the rider.

There’s people who prefer all points of the spectrum- racers enjoy wheels that are extremely durable. This way, they don’t have to replace wheels very often even if they must drift and periodically wash out. Some people, mostly freeriders, prefer wheels that leave thick, cocaine-esque lines behind them. These wheels wear quickly, but for freeriding hobbyists, the cost is worth it. For everyone else though, a freeride wheel that’s both durable and consistently slidey is an attractive prospect. And that’s what Powell Peralta has created this year with the Snakes.

Coming in 66mm and 69mm varieties, the Powell Peralta Snakes are a continuation of the These Wheels project, an initiative to create the most balanced freeride wheel on the market. The Snakes are a little different though, with a different, more durable formula this time, and a different shape and contact patch to alter the slide a little bit.

The shape is a little more square than previous iterations, to ensure a consistent contact patch through the life of the wheel. The core is the same proprietary PP core as previous These wheels, which gives it a firm grip on bearings to make sure they don’t chatter. The 38mm contact patch gives the rider a nice kick-out and a smooth hookup. The Snakes come stone-ground out of the box, for your convenience; an upgrade from These wheels. The wheels are deceptively soft- the 75a durometer feels like jelly under the finger, but as they slide, they feel nothing like jelly. They rather feel more like an 83a wheel.

 

Landyachtz – ATV Series

With the success of the Loco series, Landyachtz seems to have gotten hooked on creating skate-inspired decks with a slashing twist. The new ATV series, as revealed in the Landyachtz 2017 line, offers mellow concave with a durable longboard construction, matched in heaven with shapes that are ergonomic, economic and foot-friendly for all-around urban skateboarding. There are three variants in the 2017 ATV series: the Perfecto, the Laguido, and the Presdente. The names pull inspiration from the mexican-themed Landyachtz Loco graphics.

The Perfecto is the widest and one of the two longest in the series, at 32 inches in length and 9 inches in width. This seems to be the most cruiser-friendly out of the 3, with a tapered, retro-inspired shape. The wider front assists in reminding newer riders that leverage should mostly come from the front foot, leading to some naturally stable riding. The pointed nose gives the shape a directional-feel, all the while offering symmetrical concave for comfortable switch riding. While the front kick is shaped, the back kick is utilitarian and shaped like a street kick, maximizing pop and leverage for ollies, shuvits, and blunt tricks. The 9 inch width is comfortable for standing on for long periods of time, and better suited for people with medium-large sized feet.

The Laguido is the completely symmetrical, street skate-esque board in the 2017 ATV offerings. It’s similar to the Perfecto in its 32 inch length, but different in its 8.5 inch width. The 8.5 inch width is designed to be street-friendly; when doing flip tricks, kickflips and ollies, a narrower width translates to better responsiveness and easier rail accessibility. The kicks are symmetrical, so there really isn’t a front or back to the deck, not counting the graphic. It’s also comfortable for people with smaller feet, as the narrow width means the rails are closer to the toesand heels.

The Presidente is practically a Laguido, except with a directional shape. This is a board that’s fit for those who would appreciate a directional shape, but would still enjoy doing flip tricks with a practically symmetrical kicktail setup. The slightly wider width shouldn’t make too much of a difference, but the slightly rear-loaded taper is friendly for those who are surfing the street.

All in all, the ATV series is fit well for a do-it-all, fast-cruising/slashing setup. The stock set ups are also solid. Being the lowest cast TKPs on the market, Polar Bears are an awesome addition to some already incredible boards.

Voxel Boards – 3310

At LNV, we like and appreciate smaller board companies who are always innovating. Because they are smaller, small-time boardmakers have more wiggle room, being away from the prying eyes of critics and consumer bases. Instead, they have a clean slate to test their creations and work towards something unique that works.

Many starter companies however, begin producing boards without a strong base and footing in skateboarding and skateboard technologies. These companies never take off, as their constructions aren’t strong and they run into problems while operating the board. Shawn is an exception- a skateboarder for 7 years, Shawn at Voxel Boards knows how important it is to have a strong, tested construction and core before you can experiment with concaves and shapes.

We paired up with Shawn over the weekend and did a little interview with him to really get into the mind of a amateur-turning-professional boardmaker! Check it out below.

LNV: What prompted you to start making boards?

Voxel: The things that prompted me to make boards were all very personal. I had lots of experience growing up around tools, and I knew how to make things. I first wanted to make boards when I was about 14. It took me till I was 20 to realize “Okay, now I actually have the ways and means to do this. I’m not in school, my job sucks…Let’s do this.”

LNV: What do you think is your greatest selling point?

Voxel: I think our greatest selling point is that at our current size, doing limited releases and small batches let’s us improve quickly, and let’s us do weird and niche things that other companies can’t cater to. We have some really cool ideas for limited releases in the future, and the idea is to make sure that something stands out to you in every single one.

LNV: What sets you apart from other boardmakers in the industry?

Voxel: I think what really sets us apart is how we handle our graphics. We have more artists than we have board makers or business people in the company. So, when you go to order a board from our site, we prompt you with options for selecting your board. You’ll be able to choose “Custom Graphic” from those options, and actually work with our artists to commission something that goes onto your board. We also give people the option to upload their own image for use, but I haven’t seen anyone else approach it quite the way we have yet.

LNV: What are your plans for the future? Do you plan to upscale production?

Voxel: Well I recently got a job, and so far, it’s changed my life for the better. It’s also shifted my career to be more around woodworking, and craftsmanship. You’re going to see me trying a lot of new things within the coming months. Lots of unique materials and new construction. In terms of production, we currently only stock the 3310 on the site, so we’re going to be doing re-releases of a few of the old boards pretty soon. Lots of redesigns! I’m also going to be implementing a lot of changes to the manufacturing process, so we’re going to get higher quality, and hopefully try to get more recognition in the community.

LNV: What was your greatest inspiration for the 3310 and its shape?

Voxel: The inspiration for the 3310 came a lot from my desire to do better. I was on the like, 5th mould revision on another deck, and I knew that if I didn’t switch projects, I would get burnt out. I had a lot going on in the company at the time too, so I spent time sorting through that, and working on the new design. It took me a few days to design the mould, then I designed a shape. I spent a whole week just making the mould, and when I was done with it I slapped on the veneers a few layers at a time. Finally after two weeks, we had this giant, rectangular double-kick blank. It felt a lot like holding a certain, indestructible phone in my hands.

The Voxel 3310, as the name suggests, is one tank of a board. It’s been curbed, slapped, hopped and smashed, and yet the rails stay pristine as ever. The slightly square-ish, rounded off figure is utilitarian- maximizing the effective foot platform and increasing the amount of kicktail that has an effect on flip tricks.

The 3310 has a hefty tub concave which flattens out near the street-inspired kicktails for a high pop and ollie-able capability. The back comes with a minimalist, stylish wood-grain graphic with a stain to keep it clean and stickers an absolute possibility!

Pre-order on Voxelboards.com now!