After my Zoo York gave it up, I decided to go one size smaller based on my observation that I was essentially skating an 8.25" board because of the off-center bolt holes on the Zoo York. It was also nice that the manufacturers were making so many more decks in the 8.25" size than they were in the 8.5" size. In this post, I'll review two decks from Alien Workshop from PS Stix (Paul Schmitt of Schmitt Stix fame).
5. Alien Workshop Snakebird PPP 8.25"
I liked this board a lot. This was the best boardsliding board I'd had yet. I learned how to slide the whole length of the slappy rails at the skatepark. I could never get a lot of height on ollies with this board, and it felt narrow on ramps. Since it felt small, I replaced it with the next board in my review list.
I used this board later as a flatland board with some Independent 139 lows. I actually learned and could consistently land kickflips and railflips with this board. The deck, despite being a price point board, never ceased to amaze me. At some point it got a little old and tired, and the nose and tail were chipping, so I squared off the ends to learn 50:50s (the freestyle trick). 50:50s were easier, but after a day or two of skating with the squared off ends and not being able to land kickflips, casper flips, rail flips, and a host of other tricks, I realized I had ruined a really good flatland board. So much for older and wiser. It sits in my closet now, all sad with those Indy lows and no wheels (cannibalized for the bearings). I have thought about focusing the deck to force me to get rid of it, I feel such shame for chopping its ends off that I want to put it out of its misery. For flatland, I've moved on from this shape to the Dwindle 8.1 shape, but this deck will remain one of my favorites.
6. Alien Workshop Arto Saari Battles 8.375 x 32.5
After the Snakebird board, I knew I could trust Alien Workshop boards. This deck is really nice. The nose and tail are a little short, but they have mellow angles to compensate. The extra room goes to the extra long wheelbase (14.75"). This board is fantastic to boardslide - so much room. The nose is a little narrow. With this board, I learned how to ollie up onto obstacles and boardslide, things like benches and raised rails. Unlike the Snakebird board, this deck developed many stress cracks on the bottom and top of the board. The pop has vanished from it and the concave is getting flatter and flatter. Even so, this is a 6-month old board at this point so these changes are natural. With all the cracks and vanishing concave, I don't trust it anymore - I fear it will break one day when I ollie up onto a rail. Sad. I use it now as a "push board" with soft Spitfire 80D cruising wheels. I also retired the 149 Independents with this board. (I was never really fond of the Danny Way red/black colorway - Indys look so good in silver.)