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.

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!

 

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!

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.

Lush Longboards – XTUFF 3D Machine

Surprisingly enough, it seems that downhill longboarding is actually popular in other places in the world! Who would’ve thought, right? The UK is no exception- and it’s been a thing for long while now! Lush Longboards is the UK’s premier supplier of rollyplanks and their reborn 3D Machine is both a nostalgic trip to their early days and a refreshing take on a classic shape that works.

The 3D Machine features a mellow radial/rocker combination concave in the middle of the deck that’s comfortable for your feet when you’re pushing to a spot, but also steep enough to lock you in for tucking and other related shenanigans. The concave also features blocky, geometrically-shaped wheel flares that are incredibly useful for creating toe and heel pockets for sliding and gripping the board in a number of different ways.

This board is also well-rounded for park and freestyle because of its steep, street-inspired kicktail. There’s no telling how much it pops, but it seems to be useful for pivots and steep enough to give you leverage for bluntslides and tail-drags.

The current 3D Machine is built with Lush’s new XTUFF construction, which is a traditional maple construction that incorporates diagonal fibreglass stringers in an attempt to reduce or eliminate torsional flex and make sure that only some dampening flex is left on the board.  

Hurtle Skateboards Stained Maple Deck

Stained Maple – Hurtle Skateboards

Hurtle boards are made either in limited runs or as special one offs. There is no mass production going on in their workshop. Each deck is individually pressed and hand shaped to get every detail as close to perfect as possible. The new Stained Maple deck is a product of Brad Mallett and DysfunctionalSoldier‘s creativity, combined with Hurtle’s skill. They’ve done a handful of artist collaborations previously, each with their own unique twist and this latest piece is no exception.

This deck is one of the most crisp, minimalist and appealing designs we’ve ever seen. The artwork has been burned into the deck using a laser etching process, creating absolutely explosive results. Hurtle views these collaborations as opportunities to push the envelope aesthetically while producing truly exclusive, artistic decks. Make no mistake though, Hurtle’s work can still shred after the picturesque photo-shoots.

Hurtle Skateboards Stained Maple Black and White

Close Up of the Hurtle Skateboards Stained Maple artwork in black and white

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