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!

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 →

Writer’s Picks: Rayne Reaper V3 Shipwreck

As a skateboarder, I’ve spent most of my time on Rayne decks. I enjoy the steeper concaves, light construction and the longevity of stiffness that comes with Rayne’s signature vertically laminated bamboo construction. I’m aware that the last writer’s pick was a Rayne Exorcist, but that’s only because well, I hopped onto a Rayne Reaper after the Exorcist and feel that I’ve progressed tremendously because of it. Other boards will come, I assure you. But today I wanted to speak a bit about the Rayne Reaper and why I feel that it’s one of the best double drops on the market today. 

(There’s no Reaper video, but the Nemesis is very comparable.)

A little bit on the history of the Reaper- the first double drop that Rayne made was the Demonseed. It was introduced as a push board for long distances- but it soon gained popularity as a downhill deck and so the Nemesis and Reaper were introduced as size alternatives for people with different sized feet and leg lengths. The Nemesis was massively popular for a few years for its large drop and drifty attitudes- but the Reaper was swept under the rug a little when it came to the double drop scene because it was small for a lot of people. 

It’s the perfect size for me though- I have a really small stance (I mean, I used to ride a 34 inch downhill topmount) and I hate having extra board outside of my stance. So large double drops like a Nemesis are a no-go for me- I feel sluggish and sloppy having an extra 4 inches of board all the time past my back foot. The 36 inch nature of the Reaper gave me a compact, defined standing platform for my feet and I could comfortably stand drop-to-drop without feeling too spread out. It was really confidence-boosting as I have trouble finding a comfortable place on a lot of boards. I had the issue on my Loaded Tesseract, Omen Airship, and Vandal. But having a HUGE drop that both my feet could contact comfortably was a source of unremarkable confidence that led to me sending it a significant bit harder in the following weeks. Also, having tiny feet (size 8 mens) meant that most decks are too wide for me, but the 9.5 inch width of the Reaper was perfect for me to keep my back foot in a position where I could go rail-to-rail for comfortable sliding and cornering.

Continue reading →

Rolling Tree – Lotus

There are companies out there that we’ve talked about (Pantheon for example) who take a lot of their design inspiration from direct community involvement. Whether it’s through word of mouth or through the scouring of facebook pages and forums, the latest concave and shape trends actually end up on the next iteration of whatever board. Rolling Tree is another one of those companies- but Rolling Tree is a tad bit different.

Rolling Tree has this program where skaters- just random skaters from anywhere, can design a deck and upload it to a facebook group where people are able to vote for their favorite designs. When and how a deck is produced is up to Rolling Tree and their schedule, but any random Joe can put up a sketch and have a chance at it. (That being said, it’s advantageous to have CAD mockups and models ready to show and present- that’s a lot better than a notebook sketch.) Anywho, when your design gets approved, Rolling Tree figures out production, does some prototyping, does a run of the decks and slaps them on the page, and slaps one into the designer’s hands. Pretty wholesome process and project overall. The previous one was the Acedia- which sold so well that they even made a carbon version of it.

But now the Lotus.

The Lotus is a directional drop deck that seems to be designed purely for utility and less on aesthetics (even if the graphic is incredible). It has these blocky cuts to accomodate a clean, even taper from 9.7 inches wide to 9.2 inches wide, large, ergonomic drops with clean wheels wells and what seems to be comfortable, crescent-shaped drops. The deck is overall a very manageable length at 37 inches (small dropped decks are the best, you can go drop to drop without stretching!), and a very comfortable but nimble wheelbase of 27-28 inches variable. Anything between 26 and 30 is generously drifty and stable- nimble and responsive, and not long enough to be sluggish and hard to stay on top of.

The concave is very different from the simpler things coming out on the market currently- people seem to be into simple radial concaves and featureless tub concaves these days (see Valhalla Skateboards, Rayne and Landyachtz). And if there is W to contend with, it’s a simple bump in the middle or a strip down the length of the board. The Lotus has something radically different- double W in the back, and bacon cave in the front and back of the board. Lots to work with, so your feet will never really slip off if you don’t want them to. There’s definitely a market though- some people (like me, 2 years ago) really enjoy lots of concave features. Some feel naked without them, and I totally understand.

 

All in all, the Lotus is a lot of experimental concave features packed into a board, pulled off in a seamless package. Rolling Tree does it again! Also remember that Rolling Tree does truck chops and a lot of various custom work that you can pay for.