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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Deck Review: Creature Stu Graham

If you'll recall from my review of the Zoo York Grimy deck, I sent a pair of Indy 149s back to Santa Cruz, CA for a warranty claim. NHS sent back a set of 169 Independents - the wrong size - in the Danny Way black on red colorway. I generally prefer silver or anodized Independent trucks, but I wanted to make the best of the situation. I had taken my street/flatland board to North Carolina on summer vacation and found that the skatepark near where I was staying was a concrete bowl park. I had never skated a bowl before, and my small board (the Krooked Krooklin I reviewed earlier) with its low trucks and small wheels would have made it even harder to learn. I vowed to return to skate those bowls.

So, not wanting to go through the hassle of returning the 169 Independents, I decided to assemble a skateboard for skating bowls.
Although at the time there were many retro decks in the 9" size, I wanted a popsicle stick shaped board. I had worked so hard to adapt to new school shapes that I didn't want to step back in time. Also, we called old school boards "pig boards" for a reason: the shapes were not as responsive as the popsicle stick shape. After much searching, I decided on a Creature Stu Graham Hesh Saints deck. I ordered it from Skate Warehouse and it arrived just in time for my 2-year anniversary of quitting smoking. I considered it my present for quitting smoking.
I put some 54mm Bones STF wheels on the board because I intended to break it in on the street course at my local skatepark. There was no way I was going to skate concrete bowls for the first time with a board I'd never ridden before. After a few weeks of riding the board, I put on some 58mm Bones SPF wheels and finally took it to the nearby bowl skatepark to give it a go in its natural habitat. Now, having ridden it in bowls for about 4 months, from September to December, 2010, I can write a review.
Right away, I will say that the Powerply concave on this Creature board is steep. The nose and tail angles are high; ollies on this board feel like an old school board, there's so much distance to cover before the tail taps. I did a lot of no-tap ollies before I got accustomed to driving my back foot into the ground to get the tap. I finally figured out to just move my front foot more towards the middle of the board, and promptly remembered that that was how ollies are done on old school boards: front foot right above the graphics cutout right between the 2nd and 3rd set of rail bolts. The 15" long wheelbase made this easier. On ollies, the very long nose often touches my calf muscle, the grip tape giving me little love bites all over my left pants leg and, when I wear shorts, on my calf itself.
The board is heavy, but it's huge, so who cares? With the Independents and the big wheels, I learned bowl skating in little time. Dropping in, carving backside and frontside, kick turning, it was all stable and solid thanks to the large size of this setup. The white bushings that come with the Danny Way Independents were too hard for a turny setup. I had Bones Bushings in the Independents at first, and they were okay, but the trucks really opened up and came into their own when I put new medium (orange) Independent bushings into them. They took about an hour to break in. The Bones SPF wheels do the job well enough, but I intend to mount some 60mm Spitfire once I can justify it. I use 1/8" risers on the deck to prevent wheelbite. The large size of the deck allows a wide stance and the large nose comes in handy when doing nose grabs.
This Creature deck is stronger than most any other deck I've used. The sturdiness feels just like the Santa Cruz decks I skated in the 1980s. There are still pressure cracks, but the board doesn't splinter apart like so many other boards I've ridden lately. After 4 months of serious park and bowl riding, the board is still stiff and compliant. It is still in service as my bowl board, waiting for warmer weather so I can hit the bowls again with it and hopefully carve up tile again and, eventually, coping.
All in all, I like this board a lot. It was good to see that NHS / Santa Cruz was still building good products. Creature skateboards is a great company. I love their graphics and their team, especially the chap whose board I reviewed here. Stu Graham rips it up with style.


  1. great blog keep it up !!! I ride a creature graham also , its a gnarly beast

  2. Thanks. I have a lot of updates to bring. Vacation starts in T-minus 3 business days, look for many, many, many updates starting July 20th.

  3. Hey bro, I know this is an old post but I came across it and wanted to ask you your opinion.
    You know me and my quest of going back and forth between decks and sizes and stuff right, well...
    I have been enjoying the 8.25"-8.5" decks that I've had over the last year. I went from skating an 8.5" ML popsicle w/ the K15 and a 15" wheelbase back in fall of 2011 all the way to now where I have had the most success with a board around 8.25-8.75 and an average wheelbase of a bout 14.25"-14.5". My question is this how super insane big do you think the 9" Creature deck shape would be for me?
    Ya see, the park I skate at has a shop and about a month or so ago and I took down the only deck over 8.25" that they have their which is a Stu Graham 9" deck. Stood on it, and I gotta say, it actually felt felt friggin comfortable. I thought it was going to feel like a giant ass thing for me being 9"x33" w/ a 15" wb, but I actually was surprised. I like my boards a little shorter, around 32", and a wheelbase not usually over 14.5", so is it weird for me to keep thinking about it? I can't afford the deck either way, but with my injury and everything and the winter being here, I know I kinda gotta except that the season has switched to indoor park ramp and bowl more than cruising the streets and playing on my curb that now has snow and slush covering it, so all I've been doing is thinking about gear, and day and night dreaming about blasting front and backside airs in the bowl and ramp when I get back. : )
    If anybody else has skated the 9" Creature popsicle chime in how you felt about it. Let's talk. : )
    I'm interested to here what you think. You have all my stats, all my measurements and stuff from the survey.

    1. First, the Stu Graham board, whether 8.8 or 9.0, is an awesome shape. I'm so stoked that you my brother felt the comfort when you stood on it.
      So, the Stu Graham 9" has a 15" wheelbase but the tail feels short because it's so steep. On the Stu boards I've had, I redrilled the rear truck holes about 3/8" to 1/2" further inward to give me more tail. It feels better on drop in, ollies (because I have that street skater ollie style), and it helps the board feel lower all around. If you redrill the rear truck holes, you can do math, you get the wheelbase right in your sweet spot. With 50-52mm wheels, low trucks like Mini Logo or Polar Bear, and the longer tail with the redrill, the Stu board will feel low and fast and super stable.