Season Starter – Helmetposting!

Preface:

It’s been a while folks. I’ve been away at engineering school for a year. I’ve been too busy to function. But now that school is over, I am back at the keyboard, and I am ready to produce good content for you. Great things are coming! Don’t worry, I missed you too.

Even though we here at LongboardEnvy haven’t been writing, we’ve definitely been skating. We’ve used some great gear, amassed great experiences, and we cannot wait to share them with you.

Let’s have a great season.

-Ryan (and JC)


I think safety is important. More than any other boardsport, I’m proud that the longboarding scene puts such a healthy focus on helmet safety. I think it improves the public’s view of our sport, but also prolongs the life and stoke of the scene, since you know, people aren’t dropping from head injuries left and right. That’s morbid, but it’s true- there’s a reason why so many of us are able to stay skating for so long.

I also think it’s the first thing that should be on your mind when you get back into skating this season. Whether you’re cruising or blasting hills, helmets are so, so incredibly important. For that reason, I’m going to start off with an article about the helmets that I’ve been using recently- helmets that I wholeheartedly recommend to you.

The TSG Pass.

This is a relatively new helmet. It emerged onto the scene back in 2014 by TSG, a pretty large European helmet manufacturer. It’s known to the community as one of the safest, most aerodynamic helmets on the market. It’s got a sleek, moto-like appearance that’s a testament to its supreme fit and finish.

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I’ve had a couple full face helmets during my skate career. I’ve had a Predator DH-6 (the older model) and a Triple 8 Racer before the TSG Pass; none of the former can rival how tight and snug the TSG Pass is on my head. It’s a little bit of a pain to get on and off, but when it’s on my head, it’s on there for good. There’s no wiggle.

It’s incredibly light for how burly it looks. Lighter than the Predator DH-6, I’d say. When whipping my head around to look around me, I don’t feel like it’s really on there. It moves with your head and sticks to your head, so it feels like part of your skull.

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The field of vision on the TSG Pass is the best out of any helmet that I’ve had (short of a half-shell). I don’t have to move my whole head to focus on something- just the movement of your eyes will do. The edge of your vision isn’t blocked completely by the helmet either- the viewfield wraps all the way around to right beside your head, so you’ve got all that peripheral vision and some more to spare.

The one complaint I have about the helmet is that I can no longer find different sizes of fit pads! I’d like a smaller sized cheek pad, but I cannot source any of those. I’ve looked everywhere, and it’s completely out of stock. But that’s okay, I don’t wear it incredibly often and it’s comfortable enough when I do.

I would 100% trust a TSG Pass if I was to ever tomahawk off my board into a guardrail. It will save your life.

The S1 Lifer Halfshell.

Literally, the oldest thing I have in my skate collection. Everything else has been replaced, used up, cored. But the S1 Lifer Halfshell (used to be white, now it’s gold), has been a staple of my skate inventory for the past 4 years. It’s the first helmet I bought, and I still wear it on my head daily every time I go skateboarding!

 

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Wow, Ryan can skate?

 

It’s just comfortable. It’s dual-certified, it has an awesome track record for saving watermelons for street and vert skateboarding, and it comes in a huge multitude of sizes for your comfort. It has some great color options too!

That’s all I have to say about it. No complaints, nothing. Just a really good helmet.

Skate safe, skate hard!
-Ryan

 

(banner image by Devon Chambers [@devons_chamber])

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!

Earthwing Skateboards – Hope 34 and 36

You know that we always love the smaller companies because they seem more like loving family members than a business that you’re buying skateboards from. Earthwing is one of these wholesome companies that we at Longboard Envy enjoy so much- they’ve been around for so many years, and through all of those years they’ve only gotten better.

In times like these when there’s so much hate and unjustifiable animosity between humans, when the news is dirty with tales of vandalism and people hurt by the words of others, it’s unremarkably wholesome of Earthwing to come out and release a new deck called the Hope. The backstory of the Hope is just as innocent- it’s inspired the feeling of welcome and freedom that you feel when you’re on a skateboard. The way that skateboarding is a way to avoid being an adult amidst work stress, paying bills and having responsibilities. Brian writes in his piece called “And I Hope”, that the graphic is designed by one of his kids in a pen-pal letter to a soldier overseas. Two stick-figure kids holding hands, which has got to be the cutest thing that I’ve seen this week.

The Hope comes in two variants- 34 inches long and 36 inches long. It seems to be a slightly shaped street-inspired deck, with steeper, street-y kicktails and a flatter standing platform than decks designed for downhill, although I’m sure it’s perfectly usable as a street-slasher hybrid as well. It comes in a bunch of bright colors- everything from bright pink to orange! Prices are thrifty and fair as expected from Earthwing: 70 dollars for the Hope 34 and 75 dollars for the Hope 36. A handmade double kick in this quality range is rare at 70 dollars!

All in all, the Hope is an awesome street deck with a wholesome backstory, and it’s one of those things that you feel about buying after you’ve pressed the buy button. Get out there and get yourself one!

 

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!