Battle For The Net!

Today is the internet wide day of action for Net Neutrality. We’re passionate about a free and open internet where information and ideas are treated equally. Information should be free and you, not the ISPs, should decide what’s available.

Join us in the fight for net neutrality by visiting battleforthenet.com and telling the FCC that you support an open internet.

Harfang Wheels – Supreme

There are few wheel companies in the longboard scene that’s known for having their wheel technology to a science. Harfang wheels has been active for a long time in the longboarding industry, taking other companies’ wheels and using their state-of-the-art 4-axis CNC machine to cut rain grooves into them, and they’re popular and preferred by many racers for good reason because their performance is much beyond anything that’s manufacturable on a normal linear-axis lathe.

What you may not have known is that Harfang also manufactures their own wheels. First it was the Absolute back in 2016- a 73mm race wheel that comes in all varieties of rain grooving, and now it’s the Supreme, a freeride wheel born out of Harfang’s experience making and selling the Absolute.

The Supreme is 65mm in height and 46mm in width- this means it’s quick to accelerate, and is moderate-high in grip. For reference, Venom Harlots are 48mm in width. The wider contact patch means that the wheel performance will be snappier- a harder kickout, a consistent, speed-killing slide, and then a quick, aggressive hookup. The Supreme comes with Harfang’s proprietary Fiberglass Matrix race core, meaning the wheel is well supported for even wear patterns and slide characteristics. The core is centerset as well, meaning they’re flippable so that you can correct coning on the wheels halfway through the life of the wheel, for example.

Harfang Supremes come in a 78a and 81a durometer. As with any Harfang wheel, the Supreme comes in the Roman Candle variety as well! That is, wheels with flints inserted into the urethane, which makes the wheel spark when they are slid. They don’t change the way the wheel feels though, it’s just really flashy, if you’re into that aesthetic!

Jump on these quickly, because Harfang wheels have a tendency to sell out fast!

Cloud Ride – Storm Chasers

It’s been awhile since I reviewed a wheel! A couple weeks ago, I received a set of Cloud Ride Storm Chasers in the mail- they’re the new downhill wheel from Cloud Ride wheels, a popular urethane company affiliated with Atlas and DB Longboards. Historically, Cloud Ride has never had a grip wheel offering. The Freerides were grippier than most, but their shape and urethane was still engineered to give a nice, in-the-pavement slide. However, with the Storm Chasers, Cloud Ride finally has a fully fleshed-out wheel lineup, all the way from cruiser wheels to downhill-heavy grip wheels.

I had heard some rumors that the Cloud Ride Storm Chasers were the same stock core and generic urethane as some other downhill wheels on the market. But I was a little skeptical of these rumors, since Cloud Ride had been advertising their custom core for months now- and it’s true, they’re definitely custom. It’s called the Thunder Core, and it’s actually produced at a facility separate from the one where the urethane is poured; definitely a higher-end process, since many wheel companies just choose from the selection that the urethane company offers them. However, that’s not to say that the Thunder Core is anything ordinary- the recessed design is unique when compared to other proprietary cores such as the Cobra Core or the RAD Crown Core; those are large, but the Thunder Core is small, with support ribs closer to the bearing hub.

This allows for an incredibly gushy, soft-feeling wheel. The small core allows urethane to deform further than other wheels, and the difference is absolutely noticeable. In my time riding the Cloud Ride Storm Chasers, I’ve noticed that I’ve been able to grip drift corners and have difficulty putting down small bike paths where I would normally pull off drifts and checks on my other wheels. Naturally, I’ve been riding a lot faster than I normally would.

The slide is definitely in the pavement- the skin takes around 4-5 fast drifts to take off completely (I do wish it lasted a little longer), and the slide is a little choppy with the skin on, but afterwards, it’s wonderful for anything race-esque. They kill so much speed compared to large-contact-patch wheels such as Cult Raptures and Biggie Hawgs because they’re grippy (not to say that they’re bad wheels, they’re great too) and really dig into the ground. I’ve never felt safer going down a hill with cars coming up the other side. I know I’d be able to stop with only a moment’s notice.

Some auxiliary information- Storm Chasers are seriously, seriously heavy and carry a metric crap-ton of momentum. They make some very good commuting wheels if you can get some shorter hangars and make them stick out anything but an inch out the side of your board. Just a personal opinion, Cloud Ride should make a version that’s offset just for commuting purposes. They’re so cushy!

All in all, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Cloud Ride Storm Chasers; if you’re looking for a grippy, responsive, speed-killing, fast wheel, these might very well be for you.

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!

 

Ahmyo – Akasha FR

Ahmyo is one of those smaller companies that have a fanbase that’s much larger than you would expect- people run Ahmyo wheels at Maryhill, kill dozens of sets at Giant’s Head Freeride, and many use them to get around town because of their efficient, purpose-driven shapes. So it’s no surprise that the next wheel that they release will be heavily hyped as well, just like the Vibez and Protos before these ones.

One of the most ridden Ahmyo wheels is the Akasha- a large, inset grip wheel versatile for both downhill and long distance push alike. The drift is supreme, the roll speed is fast, and the contact patch is large. If only they made a version that was stone-ground and freeridable…. Continue reading →

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!

Muirskate – Podiums and Markers Insights and Impressions

A few months ago, LongboardEnvy HQ received two sets of wheels from Muirskate- the Markers and the Podiums, which are Muirskate’s most recent additions to their lineup of proprietary skate products, alongside their many washers, mini-cruisers, beer koozies and other plentiful accessories. We rode them extensively for an extended period of time- parkades, downhill, drifty downhill, and they were then shared with other members of our local community to get a taste of what they could do.

But first- the whole experience. Muirskate has been one of the leading shops in North America for every skater’s various skateboarding needs; they stock street skates, longboards, slalom accessories and various other soft and hard goods that are designed to enrich a skateboarder’s enjoyment of the sport. Scott, the owner, has been very cooperative and generous in our dealings with him. Even though the shop has grown exponentially in the last couple of years, the fact that Scott personally responds to all emails convinces us that the vibe at Muirskate is closer to that of a mom and pops’ ice cream shop than to that of a large corporation. No wonder they’ve created such great products. Look at how friendly they look!

The first product in the spotlight is the Muirskate Marker.

This is the larger freeride offering of the  three shop wheels, suited for long sessions on setups that feature a generous amount of wheel clearance. They’re made of the same urethane as the mini-markers, as far as we can tell. They feel similar to Zombie Hawgs- they slide well, the hookup is mildly pronounced and the slide is moderately deep in the pavement. There’s nothing extreme about this wheel- everything has been engineered in moderation. When sliding at low, 15-20 mph speeds, they feel almost as if they’re dragging into the pavement, but at higher speeds above that, they’re absolutely prime for long stand-ups and squat drifts. The core seems to be a standard Labeda core, but it is satisfactory in supporting the wheel and we haven’t noticed any heavy coning through the life of the wheel. The centerset core ensures that you can flip the wheels to combat any deformation of the wheels during heavy sliding.

I’ve also noticed that the Muirskate Marker is a great contender as a commuting wheel. The narrow wheel profile fits under most boards without sticking out of the side, and the fast roll speed ensures that the commute to work or school isn’t overly tiring. Personally, I use an oversized double kick to get to school, and the round lips have given me the ability to do some mediocre freestyle when I had the inkling to do so. They’re a great wheel to throw on a setup if you don’t know what you’ll be doing that day.

Second, the Muirskate Podiums, which are the downhill, grip wheel offering from Muirskate. These surprised me the most- they reminded me of Phat Deanz! (an older wheel that isn’t made anymore, but used to have a cult following.) They were pleasantly grippy and sticky to garage floors and smooth floors, extremely grabby in paved corners, especially. The large contact patch ensures a very solid, enunciated line between grip and slip. This ensures tight, snappy pre-drifts when the skin is fresh, and pronounced but long, speed-killing drifts when the skin is worn off. These are the epitome of finely tuned race wheels, and I can only imagine that they’re even better for San Diego-local roads. As the name suggests, both prototypes and production models have been on the podium at major races!

The Podiums are fast. They feel hefty under the feet at the initial push, but the weightiness definitely contributes to how fast they pick up speed and maintain it. I’ve noticed myself being shot out of parking garage corners than any of my fellow skateboarders on their grip wheels and rolling farther and faster on flats during long pushes.

All in all, Muirskate has emerged with two of the best shop wheels I’ve skated so far. They’re fast, durable and versatile. Get a set now!

 

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!