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.

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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!

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!

 

Pantheon – Sacrifice

When it comes to community involvement with a company’s creation of a product, Jeffrey Vyain of Pantheon is one of the best. Ever since the founding of Pantheon, Jeff has always been active online on Facebook groups, writing posts and comments engaging his local community and riders spread far and wide about the validity of his concaves and shapes. He posts in-progress pictures more than any other company we’ve ever seen before, and he takes the comments from under these posts into consideration- much of the time, you can pinpoint the exact comment that inspired a shape change that made it into final production.

Jeffrey also understands that although concave can be similar across a few boards, that the shape can have a significant impact on the function of a board. For this reason, Jeff sometimes releases different shapes that are made from the same mold. Surprisingly enough, the decks ride and handle differently from each other.

A prime example of this is the Pantheon Sacrifice, a kickless, taperless re-imagination of the 2017 Sage mold, with previously unseen W-concave that spans the whole board, minus for a few inches surrounding the quarter inch drop in that trademark Pantheon crescent shape. The W placement juxtaposed against the drops creates a supreme lock on the arches of your feet, as the W digs into your arch, while the drop supports the outside of your feet. The crescent allows for more efp into the edges of the drop, where there’s an incredible toe/heel pocket to really dig that foot in for stand-up slides and glove-down drifts.

Along with a gnarly brand new graphic and tons of wheel clearance compared to older-generation Pantheon decks, the Sacrifice is one board that you won’t want to miss this year.

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.

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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!

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.