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.
Now my favorite part. The technical double kicks! Oh boy, these look absolutely amazing. Especially the Morning Wood (no innuendo intended, probably), which is a full double kick with a retro-inspired concave which is heavier at the front than the back. It’s an almost idealistic representation of what a directional double kick street/slash/freeride/slide/everything hybrid should be. Also comes in 34.5 inches for maximum portability!
The Shred is leftover from last year’s lineup, and the little mini-cruiser maintains high status as a great selling mini for all purposes- college cruising, getting to work, the works.
It’s slowly becoming a trend these days to commute on a small double drop- take for example the Pantheon Trip or the Bustin Sportster 33. The Zenit AB is created with the same mindset- a compact double drop that’s as close to the ground as possible, surfy, and user-intuitive for people who can’t lug around a 40 inch all the time. It features a large 1 inch linear drop (meaning the standing platform is mostly rectangular), and large, well-engineered wheel wells. The rocker and flex create a round, cupping sensation on the feet when riding, and absorbs a ton of vibrational energy from the wheels to create a crystal-clear, glass-smooth ride.
Lastly, the Jig. Like we outlined in a past post, dancing and freestyle as a genre of longboarding is growing in North America. There are freestyle meets, competitions and whole city scenes dedicated to the discipline. LNV thinks it’s respectable and smart that companies are emerging with new dancer designs to promote a lesser known skate style. The Jig is quite a simple board- exactly what you’d want for a dancer board. It’s a classic banana shape, with rocker throughout the whole board and a platform that transitions slowly into the kicktails. A dream. We like the pink too!
With Zenit’s proprietary construction of layered maple and fiberglass and their clever tinted fiberglass graphics, the new Zenit lineup is sure to please.
Also from Zenit, their first run of proprietary wheels! There are two versions- they are engineered to slide the same and feel the same whether they are the 60 or 70mm. They’re white so they go with every color and graphic.