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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Theeve Trucks Review: Part 2

I reviewed the first version of the 5.85" Theeve Trucks in March. Those trucks held up extremely well, but with two minor faults: bent axle and popped bushings.

The first problem is that the back axle bent. I don't often bend axles, I've only ever severely bent Tensor Magnesiums and Tracker 6-Tracks (with hangers also of some kind of funky alloy). The axle was bent enough to make the truck height go from a Mid to a Low and the truck started turning a little strange. I contacted Hayley at Theeve, who said the original design of the 5.85s had some manufacturing defects here and there, and she promptly sent out a new pair of 5.85 TiAX trucks. This time, I had my choice of colors and requested black. The new trucks are the new hanger design: it is a lot beefier and the build quality is very much improved over the already high quality of the 1st version. Just from looking at and handling the trucks, I will say the build quality finally matches or surpasses Independent. I already think the performance bests Independent trucks, as I said in my March review. I was as surprised as anyone else, having ridden Indys for years.
In this next picture, the improved hanger design can be easily seen.
5.85 Theeve TiAX Trucks, new design on left in black, old design on right in raw
I think the new Theeves look more contemporary and look unique enough to be more easily identifiable just by shape. Judging by a makeshift pendulum I rigged up, the weight of the trucks is the same, and both being very light. I'll wrap up the 4-month update on the old Theeves and in my next post I'll get on to my preliminary review of the new Theeves. 

The second fault was I noticed that the ride height of the old TiAX trucks was low not just from the bent axle but from some serious bushing and pivot cup compression. It looks like the pivot cup compressed first, then that caused a funny angle of pressure to be put on the bottom (deck-side) bushing. The front truck, with the original Bones medium bushings in it, fared the worst, as seen in the next picture. 
First version of 5.85 Theeve TiAX. Front truck. Note bulging bottom bushing. 

I put Bones hard bushings in the back truck only a month ago, and although the pivot cup is heavily compressed, the bushing hasn't yet popped from its cup. What's really amazing about these trucks is how little they've worn down despite 3 months of grinding. Metal coping, which is all I've skated with them, isn't that hard on trucks, true, but it is enough to cause deep V-shaped furrows to be ground into the Venture trucks I ride on my small board. I never even ground good locks into these Theeve trucks. They've worn well, and needing new bushings and pivot cups in trucks after 4 months is pretty good: I usually swapped out bushings and pivot cups in Independent trucks every 1-2 months. I tried Bones bushings in the Indys for a season and they only ever lasted 1 month because of the uneven pressure the truck geometry put on the bushings. In that respect, the Theeves start to put that same kind of pressure on the bottom bushing, eventually causing it to pop out, but only after the pivot cup has worn down. Despite the compressed bushings and pivot cups I actually didn't notice any difference in the ride of the trucks aside from how low they were and the strangely muted turning on the bent rear axle. 

Aesthetically, I thought the first version of the Theeves looked a lot like Ace trucks or Indy 215s, a design I was never very fond of. The performance of the Theeves made me forget about their severely outdated look. The trucks just felt right. Street tricks were easier with them, everything felt more confident on ramps, and they really, truly are the best turning trucks I've ever ridden. And I've ridden nearly all the trucks and tried all of them tight and loose. My two favorite features of the 5.85 Theeve TiAX trucks are that 1) they're stable like tight trucks but turn like loose trucks - a feat of pure engineering magic, and 2) tricks are just easier, my favorite improvement is the consistently perfect 180 ollies I can pull with the Theeves - no other truck lends as much consistency to my tricks as the Theeves.

So, in review, a manufacturing defect caused one of the axles to bend, but the new design and improved quality should prevent that from happening again. My final verdict is that the 5.85 Theeve TiAX trucks were good, very good trucks. I'm officially a convert. Now, what to do with all those Independent stickers I've put on my gear, including my car? And does anybody want to buy a pair of used Indy 149s?

In my next post I'll review the second version of the 5.85 Theeve TiAX trucks. 

24 comments:

  1. On the new theeve trucks you have, are the bushing areas shaped differently(to the older set you reviewed) to stop the bushings popping out?

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  2. I bought a pair of Theeve CsX trucks and had all the same problems you had with your first pair you reviewed and my trucks are the new fatter looking ones.

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  3. Nic, yes, there are some problems. I think the Bones Bushings only last about a month, really. People with really loose trucks use the same bushings for years sometimes (like Corey Duffel and Daewon Song). But anybody whose trucks don't rattle because they're so loose will wear out bushings. I actually don't notice performance difference when the Bones bushings bulge. So I ride them for as long as I can.

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  4. Also, I will say that Theeves have just as many (or few, really) problems as Independents. Other trucks have relatively more problems, like with Tensors I've always had kingpin problems. And the problems the Theeves have aren't as serious as with other trucks. I've had slipped axles on my Indy trucks, and so far none of that with the Theeves.

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  5. Anonymous 8/30 10:09, the bushing area on the new design seems the same, but so far with about 10 hours of riding I've not had bulging bushings. I actually think the problem is with the pivot cup. The truck's pivot sinks really far into the pivot cup, and it changes the truck's geometry somewhat. I have some hard Khiro pivot cups on hand, maybe I'll try them and see if it makes a difference. I'll keep you updated.

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  6. ok, I turned the bushings around and left the trucks back to factory tightness, it took about 40hours of skating before the bulging started again. I think it was a little slower than the first time. This time I am leaving the trucks less tight(after turning the bushings around again) in hope that this will slower the bulging even more. The trucks are lot of fun for steering, i am enjoying the lack of tightness as a result. I have also accepted that even if the bulging does start again, its ok, as a small bit of maintenance every couple of months is no problem and worth it for trucks which are otherwise perfect for me. Another thing ive noticed is the lack of wear from grinding, seems impressive. I will report back soon with an update and also send theeve an email to discuss the bushing problem-i cant believe they didn't discover it in testing and it would be easy to make the lip bigger on the truck hanger to prevent what seems to be the only problem with these trucks.

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  7. @russ, good information. I, too, am experiencing a lot of bulging bushings. I ride my front truck pretty loose and that's where I'm getting the most bulging where the deck-side bushing (bottom) bulges out toward the middle of the deck. On my back truck, which I ride tight and which has Bones hard bushings on it, there is minimal bulge. Changing out $10 bushings every month can get expensive.
    I'm also hearing a lot of noise out of the trucks, like creaking from the pivot cup, lots of squeaking and creaking from the bushings, and cracking and popping where the baseplate meets to the wood deck. When I was carving down a hill the other day I put 1/8" risers on and the cracking and popping stopped and I was just left with the squeaking from the bushings and the creaking from the pivot cups.

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  8. I also find that I get too much float when I ride the trucks ultra-loose. I put in some Bones soft (blue cap) bushings in the front truck and mediums (yellow cap) in the back truck and went carving at the local park. The board felt too floaty under my feet, and there was difficulty in feeling the "center" of the truck action. I skate Thunders sometimes and I ride them super loose, and there's a good solid feel of the "center" of the turning action that is easy to find when I need to ollie or shuvit or kickflip or whatever. I can't find a solid "center" with the Theeves on full loose. After 20 minutes of trying to skate the flow section of the park with the loose Theeves, I put the bushings from my original setup back in: black in back, yellow up front. The board felt better but again felt stiff in the bowl pockets. I'll say it now, my draft final assessment is that the Theeves feel like lightweight Independents. I am giving them one more week of hard concrete park usage before I write my final review of the trucks. I'll also carve that hill once more with the Theeves set on super loose.

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  9. I got theeves and liked them at first too. But they show their true colors after a while and I went back to indys and got me some stage 10s and put in some bones bushings, like I always do, and they are awesome no problems at all.

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  10. I've just recently got the TiH's and after about 5 hours of skate time I needed a new set of bushings for the back truck. Bushings usually last me a long time so it's a bit of a shock to have to replace them this quick.I've moved up to the black for the back truck but if they go again just as quick lll be looking to experiment with other bushings and cups to see if that works any better.I cant really afford to replace the bushings that often these days.
    Still i love the trucks as there great.

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  11. I saw a guy running Theeve TiAX trucks with medium (orange) Independent afterstock bushings - he said he'd had bulging problems with the Bones but the Indy bushings have lasted him a couple of months so far.

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  12. Hey can i have your old theeves?

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  13. Sorry, Jun, I've already passed them on to somebody.

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  14. I've had the same problem, and what I don't think you mentioned but should be pretty obvious is that the constant bulging = looser trucks, which cause me to tighten down a bit, which caused more bulging, etc.

    So I've put in two Bones hard bushings in my Theeve Tiax, and will see...

    If the Theeves do have problems with this bushing bulge, it's gotta be remediable by Theeve, by changing the angle or something of the hanger or base cups?

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  15. You know, I have some Khiro bushings I can try in the Theeves. When the weather warms in April I'll put them in and see how it goes.

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  16. I have shorty's doh doh bushings 93a without bottom washer and everything's perfect. no problems at all :) (my trucks are tiax 5.25 V2)

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  17. hey, are they lows or mids and if they are is the difference very noticible?

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  18. They're definitely Mids. But this is a confusing area, truck height. I'll say this: they don't have that "teetering" feeling of highs, especially not in the Theeve 5.85s that I ride. I've ridden the Theeve 5.25s and they are lower than Indy standards. The Indy Hollow Lights have forged baseplates that make them a little lower than Standards but not quite as low as Indy Lows (Indy Lows are so low the top bushing looks like it's cut in half). The Theeve 5.25 and 5.5 are lower than Indy Hollow Lights. They're kind of like where Thunder highs are, which are pretty low. But height is just one factor of "low" trucks. There is the idea of pivot force: the location of the axle in relationship to the truck bolt holes determines the force needed on the tail or nose fulcrum to pivot the board for ollies or nollies, respectively. In other words, to lift the nose of the board, you push down on the tail, right? Well, with some trucks, and assuming you're using the same deck shape, it takes more downward force on the tail to lift the nose of the board than others. Venture lows require a lot of downward force, it feels like the board is "stiff". Independent low trucks require less force than Ventures, which makes boards with Independent trucks feel a little quicker and easier to lift the nose. Thunder low trucks are in the middle between Indy and Venture, with a little bit of downward force required, more than Indy but less than Venture. The high versions of those same trucks require respectively less downward force, but there is more distance to move the tail downwards until it strikes the ground, so less force, but more time. With regards to downward force required, Theeves require less force than all those trucks. The geometry is curious, because you have a good attribute of high trucks: mechanical advantage on the fulcrum resulting in lower downward force required; combined with a good attribute of low trucks: it takes less time for your tail to hit the ground. So, you can pop your tricks with less effort and a more resounding tap. But, astonishingly, the trucks still feel solid and controlled when you do this. You'd think with such responsiveness they would be squirrely, but they're not, they're buttery.
    I actually think that it's possible that Theeves dominate because they were designed on popsicle stick shaped boards, while Indys, Ventures, Thunders, and many others were designed on square-tailed board shapes. One thing I don't miss about the old square-tail shape is having your tail tap sooner or later than you expected because at that particular moment you were turning the truck slightly, thereby shortening or lengthening the distance. I remember that Independent trucks seemed to take that square-tail effect into consideration, because Indys would always give you the same pop whether you were turning the truck or not. With Tracker Six Tracks, I remember, you had to be right on center to get a good pop out of the skateboard, otherwise, you hit too early on the "corners" of the tail and messed the whole timing and feel up. Some board manufacturers, like Alva, actually had a "V" concave in the tail to account for this square-tail effect. I had a Fred Smith III that was like that, and with my Trackers mounted on that, I finally learned to ollie consistently because it didn't matter if the trucks were turned. Later, Gullwing Street Shadows also accounted for that square-tail effect, because you could mount those on normal square tails and get a good pop whether or not the trucks were centered.

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  19. random truck question, i ride boards 8.38 and i seem to be going wider with every deck i buy. if you were buying a new trucks would you buy 8.25 or 8.5 wide trucks knowing that its possible you will be riding a 8.5 deck in a month. also so, all in all if you were buying new trucks now knowing what you know about the bushing problems with theeve would you buy indi 149 or tiax 5.85?

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  20. If you're getting Theeves, and if you're sure you'll stop at 8.5", I would go with the 8.25" trucks, AKA the Theeve 5.5s. I had an 8.38" deck, moved to 8.5", and found that the 8.25" Theeve trucks fit better and behaved better.
    The Theeve 5.85's axle is actually about 8.6" wide. I mostly skate an 8.75" deck with 5.85 Theeves and they are a perfect fit.
    I went back and forth between the Indy 149 and the Theeve 5.85 for a long time, and eventually just felt like the Theeve was just far more intuitive and responsive a truck, and I sold my Indy 149s on eBay. I don't miss the Indys at all.
    Another tip: Theeves are mids, and with the 5.85s I find they act perfectly when I put 1/8" risers under them. I was using Thunder risers, but eventually got some Theeve risers and those are a better fit but still feel just as nice. For some reason, with 1/8" risers, the Theeve 5.85s turn sharper, they're quieter if that matters, and the bushings break in faster and are springier. Go figure. Maybe the 5.85s should be manufactured as highs instead of mids...
    With the 5.5s, I didn't like the risers, the trucks feel unnecessarily tippy with them and don't turn any better.
    So, yeah, if you're going to stop at 8.5", the 5.5s are a good bet. I love my decks sized 8.75" - 9" because my size 13 feet fit so nicely on them.

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  21. Any update on the khiro or indy bushings? my bones hardcore black bushings are also ripped.

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  22. I'll mount some Khiros and Indy bushings and see what happens. Stay tuned, it will take about 2 weeks to properly review them.

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  23. i have theeve csx and ive tried soft medium and hard bushings and they all bulge quickly with me because i like super tight trucks for some reason, inafct the blackones started bulging as soon as i put them in so im going to put my old venture bushings in as they are the only spare ones i have and i rode them trucks for years and they're still in fair shap. ive also tried stuffing my pivot cups with a bit of tissue to get rid of that dodgy angle where the hanger and the baseplate arent parralel like youve been talking about and it works for about a week and the went back to how it was before and i found some super compresed tissue inside my cups. crazy.

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  24. I just realized I forgot to update on this! The Khiro bushings were crap in the Theeves. The kingpin was too short and the trucks were either too tight with the medium (yellow) and hard (black) Khiro bushings or the bushings squashed and cracked with the softer (red) Khiro bushings. The Independent Genuine Parts bushings were the best in the Theeves. I like the Indy soft (red) bushings on my surfy carvy board with the 5.85 Theeves and Indy medium (yellow) on my flatland 8" board with the 5.25 Theeves. The Bones bushings are all excoriated from their hard cores - so disappointing.

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