If you’re new to the longboarding scene there is a good chance you haven’t heard of Iliffe trucks. Iliffe Trucks, owned by Bill Illife, had a strong presence in the longboarding scene starting in 2012. Over time though, as we all know life can interrupt skating, and for the last few years, Bill has kept things low-key when it comes to Iliffe trucks. Now Bill is ready to get back to it and get Iliffe trucks on everyone’s radar again.
Bill is a rad skater who has been skating since the ’70s and loves the sport in all its forms. He also creates great stoke in the local North Carolina skate scene. On top of that, he is also an incredible mechanical engineer. Put these 2 things together and it was only a matter of time before he started creating incredible skate gear.
I’ve known Bill a few years now and every time I’ve skated a sesh at his bowl I couldn’t help myself from geeking out over his RKP and TKP trucks and pestering him with technical questions about them. I largely suspect he gave me these trucks to review so he could keep me occupied for some time to give him some room to breathe. With all joking aside Bill is always happy to talk shop and explain his design choices which is what I love. He’s also helped give me some tips when it comes to pressing and shaping my skateboards since he builds his own skateboards for personal use. He is hands down one of the most knowledgeable people when it comes to the material science behind boards and trucks.
Now with all this said I do want to make it clear that I received these trucks for free in exchange for my honest opinion on them. Bill is a friend of mine, but I do intend to do my best to keep this review free of bias. There are pros and cons to this truck, some of which Bill even warned me of ahead of time, that I will make sure you are aware of before the review is done.
My RKP Background
Before we get started I’d like to let you know a little relevant information that will be useful for this review. I’ve skated Paris, Don’t Trip Poppys, Bear, Arsenal, Randal, and Caliber reverse kingpin trucks. I’ve spent the most time on the Paris and DT Poppys so I will compare the Iliffe trucks to these during the review. For this review I setup the Iliffe trucks on the following decks and wheels:
- Moonshine Sidekick
- A Custom 42” Double Kick I made
- Subsonic Century 40
- Pantheon Trip
- Loaded Bhangra
- Powell Peralta Snakes 69mm
- Powell Peralta G-slides 59mm
- Seismic Speed Vents 80a 85mm
- Remember Collective Pee Wees 82a 62mm
- Rainskates Kaku 92a 62mm
Specs of Iliffe Trucks
- Cost :
- The trucks measure at 177mm wide with enough room on the axle to add 6mm worth of precision washers to bring it up to 182mm wide. The ride height of the truck is 80mm. Most of the time I rode them at 177, but I did try them out for a few sessions at 182.
- CNC Machined Precision Truck:
- For those of you that are unfamiliar a Precision truck is machined out of a solid block of aluminum. This allows for more precision in the creation than a cast or forged truck.
- The kingpin is a standard grade 8 bolt and is replaceable.
- Bushing Seat:
- The bushing seat provides a precise snug fit for your bushing which helps eliminate slop.
- Aluminum Type:
- Replaceable axles that screw in and lock with a set screw.
- 6mm of adjustable width with precision washers. And amish washers are available as options when you purchase.
- Flippable hanger:
- The hanger sits at a 0-degree rake at its normal position and is flippable to allow you to run a -2 degree rake for more stability.
- Pivot Cup:
- The pivot cup on this setup is a thick hard plastic, which is unique and I don’t know of any other truck that has a similar pivot cup. Most trucks use a flexible plastic pivot cup which compresses over time and creates slop in the system. This pivot cup is twice as thick almost acts as the economy version of a ball pivot you would find on other expensive precision trucks.
- The bushings that come with the truck are a custom 95a tall bushing. For this review, I was running 2 tall 93a Riptide bushings in the WFB formula with a flat Amish washer roadside and no washer boardside. Once again I want to reiterate that if you want to swap bushings you need TALL bushings which measure 0.75”(regular longboard bushings measure 0.6”).
- Ride Height:
- Iliffe trucks ride higher than some RKP trucks. In the picture here you can see they sit about a half axle lower than Paris RKP trucks which already run higher than most other RKP trucks.
Cruising and Carving
So let’s talk about how Iliffe trucks feel in general for cruising and carving. These trucks have no rake(axle offset) which at first I thought would make them feel less lively, however, this isn’t the case. I suspect it is because they have slightly more lean and turn than other 50° trucks. On top of that, the WFB formula bushings I was riding provide 10-20% more lean than other bushing formulas so that probably helped the liveliness of them as well. That’s my long-winded way of saying that these trucks are a blast to carve. Being precision trucks they are super responsive especially if you ride them with loose bushings for your weight.
The first board I slapped these bad boys on was a custom 41’ Custom double kick that I pressed and shaped myself last winter. I have giant wheel flares and wells on the board so I was carving deep and finding flow in no time. I was so focused in the flow zone that I got lost listening to music and carving in circles for half an hour. And as I was carving down my home hill I was reminded of the fun feeling I had when I was first learning to carve this same hill over 2 years ago.
Since they lean more, you may find that you get wheel bite if you don’t have a deck with wheel flares, wheel wells, or cutouts. This can be easily remedied with riser pads, smaller wheels, or dialing in your bushings. With that disclaimer out of the way, let me say that these trucks are fun at low speeds and great for carving so if you want a plush smooth carving experience that provides more lean and makes your board ride a little more like a snowboard I would definitely recommend these trucks.
Freeride is where Iliffe trucks shine, which you might expect since this is what they were designed for. I freeride anywhere from 8-25mph, but on average I’m mostly in the 10-17mph range. There are older reviews and videos of skaters riding this truck back in the day up to the 30-50mph range. I say this so that you can see that this truck is fun for anyone at any skill level.
Personally, my freeride style involves a lot of sliding, early grabs, riding off curbs with the occasional ollie thrown in, and sometimes a launch ramp. These trucks suit my style very much. They feel very flowy which makes initiating a pre-carve and then going into the slide feel second nature. Being precision trucks they are also super responsive which I find great for when I snap a little faster into position for low-speed standees. Part of this is the way the bushing seat locks the bushing into position helps eliminate slop. Even riding these trucks loose I felt they had plenty of stability when I was taking them up to 25mph to test them out. Keep in mind though a truck is only as good as its rider, If you don’t have a proper form you can get wobbles with any truck that turns.
Speaking about stability this hanger is flippable to give you negative 2mm of rake. This changes the angle of the truck by a few degrees and helps give it a slightly more stable feel. I tried this out on my trucks for a few runs. It was slightly noticeable, not nearly as big of a difference as if you were running a 43 or 42 angle base plate but still fun to play with. It’s a nice option to have if you want a more stable feel.
Before I wrap up talking about freeriding I just wanted to mention one more feature about this truck. And that is the fact that it uses a standard grade 8 Kingpin Bolt. This Kingpin bolt can easily be removed and replaced just like caliber and Don’t Trip trucks. The reason I’m highlighting this is that I’ve encountered a few trucks, one of them was a Bear truck(I don’t remember exactly which generation), that machined the Kingpin into the base plate so that it’s almost welded and can’t simply be replaced. And some companies don’t weld the Kingpin in but you need a specific Kingpin from the company.
With Iliffe trucks, you can simply go to your local hardware store and pick up a grade 8 bolt. This is super useful as I have had times in the past where I have lost control of the board and the Kingpin gets de-threaded by hitting the curb.
I just wanted to start this section by saying that the definition of techsliding varies within the longboarding community, depending on who you’re talking to. For me, tech sliding is when you are using harder wheels, usually in the 90a or higher range. Other than that the rest is pretty variable. Although most of the time it takes place on shorter wheelbase boards with TKP trucks. Part of the reason for this is that TKP trucks sit lower and when you slide hard wheels you don’t need as much leverage on the lean as soft wheels. On top of that, too much leverage on hard wheels can cause them to ice out, sending you scrambling.
With that said, the hardest wheels I rode were the Rainskates 92a Kaku Wheels. These wheels still give enough grip with RKP trucks but are hard enough to slide at slower speeds for tech slide tricks. Overall these trucks handle techsliding well, but I wouldn’t recommend them for a techslide the only setup rather a setup that you do both freeride and techslide on. If techsliding is your main thing I will say that Iliffe Trucks is working on a TKP that will be released later this year. Keep your eyes peeled for that.
Dancing and Freestyle
I had a great time dancing on these trucks with the deep lean. If you plan on dancing on these trucks though you need to keep in mind that they lean more than a Paris truck does. And in the case of dancing, this can be a con for some dancers as this can lead to wheel bite. This happened to me when I first put them on and I was even running a 1/8 inch riser. I solved this problem by tightening the bushings and running smaller wheels and it was no issue after that.
For some dancers, though this could be a bigger issue for especially those that like to mix and match freestyle tricks. Also, the extra turn is very apparent, especially when I was doing peter pans. This wasn’t a bad thing. In fact, I had a lot of fun with it. I just wanted to make that fact known so that if you wanted these trucks for dancing that wouldn’t surprise you. All in all, they make a fun truck to dance on.
As for freestyle, I don’t feel comfortable commenting on that since I do all of 1 or 2 freestyle tricks so I wouldn’t be a great judge on that. However, I can comment on the durability of the trucks from the impact caused by freestyle tricks, since I launched off a kicker ramp repeatedly and some ledges, and they take a beating without a problem.
I will admit that this is the area where these trucks surprised me the most. I’ve never really ridden RKP trucks on transition – the biggest reason for this is that TKP trucks are better for grinding on coping as the Kingpin takes less damage and won’t hang up. However, my town recently just put in a new pump track so I went ahead and took my free ride board for a spin there and I was pleasantly surprised.
The extra-deep lean that these trucks give make it feel like you are surfing on a wave when you hit the corners and berms. I usually run 98a-101a durometer wheels on the pump track when I am riding TKP trucks. However, since these trucks ride higher and the surface of my local pump track is skatelite I went ahead and ran a softer durometer wheel (82a) just so I didn’t slip out. I would be comfortable running as hard as 92a on these trucks for sure, possibly even 95a. It’s totally possible to ride these trucks in a bowl or skate park if you’re just carving. Just remember the advice I gave earlier about grinding RKP trucks – you probably won’t want to grind these trucks down considering the money you will have invested in them.
I tested out these trucks on my Pantheon trip to do a little bit of long-distance. These trucks feel great for long distances in terms of pumping and riding. However, if you’re wanting to set up an efficient pumping board you’ll want a lower angle in the rear around 35 degrees or lower. This is not an option since these trucks only have a 50-degree base plate. Also, these trucks are rather wide for most long-distance boards. So if you’re running them on a skinnier board like the pantheon trip which is 9 inches wide you run the risk of kicking your wheel on longer rides.
The width also makes them slightly more difficult to pump in terms of long-distance efficiency since most pump setups for long-distance have a front truck that’s usually between 100mm-144mm for faster pumping. If you have a subsonic Century 40 or a Landyachtz Evo this truck could be good for a more stable long-distance set up on either of those boards.
Pros and Cons
Just like good news and bad news, I prefer the bad news first, so let’s talk cons. Honestly, there is only one con to these trucks in my opinion. And that con is that the edges of the bottom of the hanger rub against the baseplate. This is very light and I didn’t notice it at all during the ride. I’d mostly forgotten that Bill had mentioned it to me until I went to flip the hanger to test it the other way. You can see in the picture where it has rubbed near the pivot and near the pivot cup. As I said this is very mild to the point where it wasn’t noticeable during the ride.
Over time though it can change the truck by a degree or two much like flipping the hanger. Once this happened I found if I added a washer boardside it bumped it back up into place and mostly solved the problem. Bill also mentioned to me that he is going to talk with riptide to get a urethane pivot option you could buy and that would solve the problem completely. Honestly, for me, it wasn’t a super huge deal so I’ll keep riding them like they are for now
So with that out of the way let’s talk about the pros. I’ve mentioned plenty of pros talking about how these trucks feel and handle earlier in this review so I don’t want to repeat all that here. The biggest pro these trucks have over any other CNC precision truck on the market right now is the price. At $120 for a set, it’s unbeatable. For some comparison, check out our truck guide.
The closest precision RKP truck I could find at a similar price is the Surf Rod RKP truck at $159 for a set. For reference, most Precision CNC machined trucks usually range between $300-1400 for a pair. And keep in mind that some companies(Aera, Arsenal, Rogue, Ronin, Rool) have cast or forged visions of their CNC Machined precision trucks for $90-200 per pair but these aren’t CNC Precision. Another great thing I love about this truck is the fact that the hanger is adjustable between 177mm and 182. This gives you some options on width depending on how wide your board is or what you like to ride.
To sum it all up, these precision trucks are great. If you love carving, sliding or you are curious about precision trucks but have been hesitant because of price, then I can confidently say that you should give these a try. I personally will be skating them anytime I am going out to freeride now. The one thing to keep in mind(for those of you who skipped to the conclusion) Is the only issue of the scuffing of the baseplate near the pivot. Even with this I still find that these trucks are well worth it and just all-around fun.
If you are interested in getting a pair of these trucks send a message to @iliffetruckco on Instagram or shoot them an email at [email protected]. If you have any questions that I didn’t cover feel free to reach out to me. Or if you just miss the sound of my prose echoing in your brain you can drop me a line too, I like friends. And lastly, remember, no matter where you flow, there you are.