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.

 

Loaded Boards – The Blood Slayer Cometh

Once upon a time, downhill longboards were bland and boring. They were made of things like wood, wood, some more wood, maybe bamboo, but it turns out that that’s wood too. So a lot of wood. What’s more is that they were ALL made of wood. There was not a single downhill longboard in the world made of anything other than wood.

And then the Chubby Unicorn came.

The Chubby Unicorn was this big, long thing made of otherworldy materials such as UHMW plastic and urethane and super-light basswood cores and fiberglass and oh my god so many new materials! It was revolutionary- it was years ahead of its time in terms of concave, and construction, and basically, the skateboarding community couldn’t justify a board of such potential awesomeness because rider skill just wasn’t there yet, among some other factors. So it inspired a new board- the Loaded Tesseract (a still widely skated, composite board of cork, bamboo and fiberglass with similar concave features). Then all was calm once more- the Tesseract was fairly priced and well-made for people of all skill groups and demographics. The Chubby Unicorn continued to sell well domestically and internationally- but it was later taken off the line for a while for production reasons and the introduction of some new boards to the line-up. 

But then people began to hunger- other companies started to come out with Chubby Unicorn-esque constructions of various plastics and urethanes and light wood cores, and people started to ask, “Loaded, where’s the Chubby Unicorn? Wherefore has’t thee f’rsaken us?!” And the dudes and dudettes at Loaded smirked, because Loaded never leaves the scene behind. And lo and behold, the Chubby Blood Slayer- a gory, elevated version of the fat, happy-go-lucky Chubby Unicorn. This time in red and black! (It’s the new blue and white.)

 

The Chubby Blood Slayer is to an extent, extremely similar to the original Chubby Unicorn. It has the same kicks, the same shape, same grip design, same recessed truck mounts and the same width and length. But what you may not notice is that Loaded made a few changes after listening to the community for the few years that the Unicorn was away. The W is a little mellower, and the board is practically completely waterproofed due to the addition of urethane truck mounts. Also, after so many years, you can expect an overall improvement of quality from Loaded, as they’re always innovating and improving their production methods.

This is a very limited run of boards- so be sure to find out where they’re available and pick one up as soon as diddly-doodly possible!

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!

 

Writer’s Picks: Rayne – Deep Sea Exorcist

I know I write reviews of various longboarding products for Longboard Envy all the time and it seems that I’m always jumping onto different gear every week- you’d expect me to change preferences all the time as I go through seemingly better gear. Thing is though, I’ve been on the same downhill board for around a year and a half now- I’ve raced, freeridden, and whenever I’m on another board as I’m reviewing it, I always miss the familiar feel of a Rayne Exorcist underneath my feet. I’m so into it in fact, I have two, even though both of them are completely fine.

Some history for you- the Exorcist is birthed from a former Rayne board, the George Mackenzie (or GMack), pro-model board of western  ripper and legend George Mackenzie! You can see him in the iconic Rayne video, Step Back to the Forge and the historic series, Greener Pastures. The Exorcist takes the intense concave features of the GMack and cuts away the extra meat to make a racy, sexy board. 

The Exorcist’s concave is probably the most aggressive concave that I’ve ever spent an extended amount of time on- and that’s coming from someone who rode a Loaded Tesseract for a good 2 years. Some people might say that aggressive concave is painful to the feet and that it inspires terrible form, but I’d beg to differ, especially on the Exorcist. It’s a highly well thought-out board. It eliminates W in places where you don’t need it, while having it in places where it’s crucial.

The Exorcist has steep-ish tub concave which is supplemented by an equally steep bubble drop to create a true 360 degrees of concave surrounding your feet. There’s something to support your feet longitudinally when tucking, and something laterally when sliding. In addition to the deep tub, there are pleasure domes- islands of W in the middle of the board which don’t impede foot placement during a tuck, but are there for use during slides as soon as you lean back to initiate.

Continue reading →

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!