Please take a moment to follow this link to complete a survey about skateboard sizes.

Alternatively, you can navigate to the survey by copying and pasting the following URL to your browser's address bar:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Product Reviews: Mullen Tonal Impact and Double Impact

During the cold winter months, I practice flatland tricks. As such, I prefer my skateboards low and small. 8" wide is about the smallest I can go before my size 13 feet start stepping all over each other. So, last winter, I skated a variety of decks. 2 of the decks were from Almost Skateboards, they were the Mullen Tonal Impact in 8.0 x 32 and the Mullen Double Impact in 8.0 x 31.9.
Almost Mullen Tonal Impact 8.0 x 32

Almost Mullen Double Impact 8.0 x 31.9
The shapes are practically the same. They are the Lewis Marnell shape. The nose and tail are very low, while there is medium concave side to side across the deck. The bolt holes are drilled to leave about 1" of flat in the back and .33" of flat in the front - by which I mean that there is a flat surface between the bolt holes and where the tail or nose starts to bend up. Lewis Marnell talks about this in his My Ride for TWS.  This makes
for a very responsive deck that, when paired with low trucks, is extremely close to the ground. This makes these decks a good choice for me in winter, when my body is not as agile as it is in the summer. Small movements are all that're necessary to get these decks to react. I started off skating them with Tensor trucks:
Tensor Magnesium Response 5.25" lows, with hard Tensor Bushings
These trucks were never right. They turned horribly, I couldn't get them tight nor could I ride them loose without them being all floppy. They were terrible to grind on - sticky and unpredictable. The kingpins were jacked up right from the start: one kingpin was threaded wrong with coarse threads! I replaced both kingpins with Venture low kingpins, and then I sawed those off to be short enough to be below the hanger height so they didn't catch up on grinds. The bushings were terrible. I was never able to break in the first two sets of Tensor bushings because the washers cut them up right away and they squashed to nothing. The third set of bushings (!) finally gave me enough time to break them in without getting cut up, and then the trucks were reasonable, but they still felt cheap and nasty. The height was good, but that's about the only good thing I can say about these trucks. They were terrible overall. The weight, according to my postage scale, was 296 grams each.
Next up were Thunder 147 high trucks:
Thunder 147 hi Night Lights
These trucks were pretty nice, I have to say. They turned nicely. Despite being highs, they were the same height as Indy and Venture lows. The stock Thunder bushings were just great for the trucks. The decks felt a little less responsive with these trucks, though, like the nose and tail were harder to press down. I also got wheel bite really easily with these trucks. Sometimes they were good, sometimes they would just flex all the way down to the board. Ultimately, I liked the trucks but not enough to keep them around.
Next up were Independent 139 lows:
Independent 139 Lows
These trucks were fantastic. No problems at all. I put hard Independent bushings in the back and soft bushings in the front. These were good trucks to pair with the Almost 8.0 shape decks. Everything just became "right" when these trucks were mounted. Willow thinks so, too. The decks now really came alive, and were responsive and predictable at all times. Now I could properly review these decks.
The Impact deck had a lot of flex in it. It was a little distracting to see it flex so much when I was getting ready to do a rail flip. It made the deck feel soggy a bit, but it performed pretty well anyway. My ollies were lower than normal with this deck, I really had to pop them to get them up. Flip tricks were, at first, a little difficult, because the deck spun so fast it took me a while to recalibrate my feet to not flick it so much. Heelflips were easier than kickflips with this deck. Nollie heelflips were easier, too, than on other decks. Varial tricks were nice, the board rotates well and is easy to catch. Boardslides were difficult, the board really flexed and grabbed the rail a lot. Manual tricks felt standard, the boards were easy to control and easy to hold in a manual. Crooked grinds were very easy with these decks. I ground a really nice crooked grind lock into my front truck because I was doing crooks so much with these decks.
Indy 139 lows after the winter of skating. Front truck on the lower right. Note crooked grind lock. Awesome trucks.

The Impact lasted about a month of winter skating before it got too soggy to skate anymore - a disappointing lifespan even for a 220 pounder like me.
The Double Impact had all the good attributes of the Impact deck and none of the bad. It was stiff as can be, and incredibly strong. This made the kickflips more predictable, while the heelflips were still as nice. Boardslides were more pleasing with this deck, as you can tell from the wear marks in the pictures, because the stiffness helped it stay where I put it on the rail. My ollies were closer to normal height, but still not as high as normal. Ultimately I think the ollie height thing was a factor of the boards' size - I think the wheelbase was just too short for me to get my feet in the right positions. Even so, the ollies I did do were easily controlled if not as high as on my summer decks (I skate 8.75" decks in the summer). The Double Impact board lasted me through the rest of the winter, and it was still going strong in March when I eBayed it to its next owner.
In summary, I recommend the Almost Double Impact decks. They are strong and responsive. I do not recommend the standard Impact decks. Even if you're short on cash, don't get tempted by the too-flexy Impact decks, just go for the all wood Almost decks and use the extra money to get better trucks or bearings.

29 comments:

  1. Excellent reviews! I'm going for a Double Impact next paycheck.

    How do you like those Indys next to the Theeves? How much did they weigh?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm confused. Aren't the Almost decks with the circles over the bolt holes all the same? I thought they were both wood decks with carbon disc inserts either way...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jared, the Indy-Theeve comparison continues at the 8.0" width in a future post, stay tuned...
    Shaken Veg, the Impact decks have the disc inserts around the bolt holes but the rest of the deck is regular Resin-7 Dwindle wood with the resin glue. The Double Impact decks replace the top wood veneer with a carbon fiber veneer, as seen in these photos: http://www.skatewarehouse.com/Almost_Song_Trip_Out_Double_Impact_Deck/descpage-ALTOSDK.html

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for clarifying that. I sometimes wonder about newer technology decks, esp. P2 etc. Problem is, I don't like the shapes on a lot of the boards I see and I'm not too keen on buying decks made in China.

    Going to try some U.S. made decks in the future, maybe even a custom made one. Also thinking about trying one of those formica bottomed decks...had one in the 90s and it was tough as nails.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Shaken, you may want to check out 1031 skateboards, they're Wisconsin made and extremely strong: http://www.1031skates.com
    And, to your point, they come in actual Shapes! This page describes their shapes and why they chose them: http://www.1031skates.com/downloads/1031_Consumer_Catalog_final.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  6. I had a P2 deck. It didn't fare well; I broke it on a not-especially-high kickflip that I landed with one foot on the nose and the back foot on the wheelbase in front of the back bolts. The P2 aramid insert easily bent while the board snapped around it. This was after only 5 weeks of skating. I thought the P2 had a lot of pop, but that the pop was more a function of the shape and not the insert.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh, one question for you, Shaken Veg: what are your chief complaints about the popsicle stick shaped decks? I'm not criticizing, just the more I understand the more I can direct you in the right direction if I'm able.
    I remember it took me a long time to get used to the short wheelbase on popsicle sticks; I duckwalked on a lot of landings, sometimes disastrously. Nowadays I bring my tape measure and reject anything with less than about 13.75" wheelbase. The warmer the weather, the longer the wheelbase I want. I prefer a wheelbase in the area of about 14.5" - 15.5", which is actually pretty hard to find. Longer than that, the front of the board starts feeling excessively heavy. My favorite old school decks all had around a 15" wheelbase. I remember Fickle Boards offered popsicle shapes with "real" wheelbases, as they would say.
    They had an 8.25 with a 15" wheelbase, I seem to recall. I can't find where to get those boards, though.
    Keep us posted about your deck choices, Shaken, I'm interested to see what you choose.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Jared, I found my weights database finally. The Theeve 5.25 TiAX trucks weighed 325 grams per truck. The Indy 139 Lows weighed 356 grams per truck. The Indy 139 New Lows weighed 369 grams per truck. I was able to duplicate the weights listed on Theeve's website by removing the bushings, kingpin nut and washer, axle nuts and speed rings. That meant I was just weighing the hanger, axle, kingpin, and baseplate. Don't judge Theeve too harshly - that's what everybody else does, too, when they list truck weights. Tensor does it, too, then compares their truck weights (minus nuts and washers) to the full weight of their competitors' trucks. http://tensortrucks.com/how-light/
    Which is unnecessary for Tensor to do, because even a fully assembled Tensor is lighter than a disassembled Venture V5, the next lightest truck I've weighed.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Glad I'm not the only one who duck foots a short wheelbase.

    And while we're on the subject of American made boards (with decent wheelbases), have you tried SkatePaige's blanks? I've heard some good things about them, and for ~$20 a pop there's virtually no risk in trying them out. The 8" has a 14" wheelbase, which is not bad.

    Re. shapes, I'm riding a beautiful Welcome Control Squid right now for pools and ramps (http://skate.5tein.com/2011/02/26/deck-welcome-control-squid/). It's got to be just in my mind, but I find my feet are always right where I want them to be on that board. It may be that the weird nose/tail help me visualize exactly where I want them to be.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Bertrand,

    It's not that I'm opposed to popsicle decks...I learned to skate on one and it's what I prefer because it's all I've ever really used. My issue is that I'm picky about the way my popsicles are shaped. A lot of decks these days are just flimsy and have very shallow, flat-ish concave. I like a decent concave. I also hate short tails, narrow tails, or tails that are too steep or too low. I like decks that have a somewhat even nose and tail. Very picky I know.

    In general I feel the quality of decks has gone down since the mid 90s when most of the big brands were still making boards in the U.S. I actually weigh less than I did then so I don't think it's all in my head.

    I never gave much thought to wheelbase until recently. A lot of big brand decks in the range I ride (8.25'') appear to have a 14'' WB. I wanted to try a 15'' WB so I have a Deckcrafters 3 Fish (8.5'') on the way. In the future I'd like to try a Deckcrafters or Five Points custom deck. DC does a custom board with a with a formica top AND bottom layer...looks very strong. Skaterbuilt also has decks with the formica bottom only that look nice.

    I'll stay away from the P2 decks...I could get a custom board for what they cost anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Ooh, I like Welcome's Big Jackalope 8.75" x 33" and their Owl Punk Point 8.5" x 32.63". Nice shapes. I wonder what it's like doing nollies on a punk point?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Bertrand,

    It's not that I'm opposed to popsicle decks...I learned to skate on one and it's what I prefer because it's all I've ever really used. My issue is that I'm picky about the way my popsicles are shaped. A lot of decks these days are just flimsy and have very shallow, flat-ish concave. I like a decent concave. I also hate short tails, narrow tails, or tails that are too steep or too low. I like decks that have a somewhat even nose and tail. Very picky I know.

    In general I feel the quality of decks has gone down since the mid 90s when most of the big brands were still making boards in the U.S. I actually weigh less than I did then so I don't think it's all in my head.

    I never gave much thought to wheelbase until recently. A lot of big brand decks in the range I ride (8.25'') appear to have a 14'' WB. I wanted to try a 15'' WB so I have a Deckcrafters 3 Fish (8.5'') on the way. In the future I'd like to try a Deckcrafters or Five Points custom deck. DC does a custom board with a with a formica top AND bottom layer...looks very strong. Skaterbuilt also has decks with the formica bottom only that look nice.

    I'll stay away from the P2 decks...I could get a custom board for what they cost anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Shaken Veg, I completely understand what you're saying about the popsicle shapes nowadays. It's weird, with most of the companies money doesn't seem to buy better decks. I hate short tails, too, I really hate anything under 7". I also hate steep tails and tails that are too low. I haven't reviewed it yet on my blog, but one of my favorite decks are the Think decks - they're cheap, come in sizes up to 8.5", are made of good wood in Mexico or the US, and have damn near symmetrical nose and tail, both long. But, see, I like a pretty flat concave side to side. I recently discovered that the DeathWish logo boards are the same decks as the Think decks, so I picked up one in 8.75". It is pretty nice. I think the WB is about 14.5.
    The quality of the decks today is still miles ahead of what they were doing in the 80s, but I think you're right, there are many low-quality decks out there. Many of them are made in China, which I'm not generally against, but I haven't really had tip-top experiences with the Chinese-made decks yet. US-made skate equipment, basically any skate equipment made in North America, I've had good experiences with. The best Alien Workshop decks are the price point ones made in Canada - good grabby concave, strong wood, high quality pressing and drilling (measurements all line up). I have enjoyed many a good Mexico deck, too. I haven't really had a great US-made deck, good ones, yes, like the 1031 decks, but they weren't great. There were drilling issues on one deck and pressing issues on another. One came out pretty nice, the 8" shape. But I only use that when it is really cold out, so that doesn't help me for 8 months out of the year. I thought the SkateOne products were well-made but the concaves, tail angles, and shapes were all wack. Flat concaves and narrow tails. Yuk.
    I found Fickle Boards on Facebook but still can't figure out how to order a deck. I would like to hear about your experiences with the custom decks you're looking at. I need wheelbase, dude, I'm so sick of duckwalking. My shoulders are 16" across the front, bone to bone, so when I'm riding 14" or even 14.5", my feet are just too dang close together to get good balance. I end up with my front foot on the nose to get my back foot in the pocket, and if I shift my back foot to ollie or something, I have to shift my front foot first. And when I push on these short WB decks, my foot is right over the front bolts, and if I toe it too much, like when I need a big push, the back wheels lift and I lose control. I'm not about to push mongo just so I can stay on the dang deck when I'm pushing. So, yeah, anyway, I'm interested in these decks. Thanks for naming them, I'm off to search the internet for them now. Keep us all posted!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Bertrand,

    I agree with you on the Powell shapes. Just looking at the shapes online they look silly. I had a Powell Mini Logo deck back in the late 90s that I could never get used to due to the weird shape.

    Looking forward to trying a longer wheelbase. My Deckcrafters 3 Fish is showing up on Monday. I plan to set it up immediately because I'm so sick of the short tail on my current board. I'll let you know what I think after I've skated it for a bit.

    You might also want to check out boards from Old Man Army. They have 15'' WB 8.5'' deck on sale for $25. Made in the U.S. by Pennswood, which is supposed to be a great woodshop.

    See here:

    http://www.oldmanarmy.com/productdetail.aspx?id=DEC3

    They also have a 9'' squaretail with a 16''WB here:

    http://www.oldmanarmy.com/productdetail.aspx?id=DEC401

    Duckwalking is dangerous. I've done it a few times and almost messed myself up pretty bad. The last time I did it I smacked my knee really hard on the concrete...it was on a flatground trick and I wasn't wearing pads. Still hurts a little a few weeks later. Just one of the reasons why I want to move to a bigger board. Also thinking of taking my wheels down to a softer 98A formula for more grip on slick concrete.

    How do you check the bolt holes for off centered-ness? Do you use a tape measure? I imagine just eyeballing it doesn't always work if they are just a hair off.

    I didn't know about the Alien decks made in Canada...all the Alien/Habitat boards I've seen are made in Mexico. I actually thought of buying a Think deck before but I just assumed they were from China since they were so cheap. You mean the big logo "tag" boards, right?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Yes, the Think Tag Logo decks. I like their nose and tail sizes, but I'll tell you now the wheelbases are pretty short, like 14" or less.
    I'd been skating the 1031 8.75" with the 15.5" wheelbase: http://store.beercity.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=BCOS&Product_Code=let875&Category_Code=1031decks
    I just ordered another one of these because I'm not enjoying the Deathwish deck as much as I'd like.
    I measure the centeredness of the bolt holes by measuring from the rails of the deck with a micrometer.
    I've actually learned to use the nose of the board, nollies, nose wheelies, and just coasting around with my front foot out on the nose and the back foot in the middle of the deck. This has helped a lot with duckwalking. Whenever I'm riding transition, though, my foot slides up to the nose. This doesn't happen on the 1031 deck with the 15.5" wheelbase.
    Softer formulas aren't always the answer - it depends on the compound, too. The soft Spitfires, for instance, are inferior wheels, they flatspot quickly and are slow. I've been skating the Satori Ecothane wheels in 101a and they are the grippiest wheels I've ever skated and they grip on every surface, even on smooth concrete. They even grip dusty masonite. Nice.

    ReplyDelete
  16. That's too bad about the WB on the Think boards. I don't understand why board companies don't proportionally increase the WB as the decks get wider.

    How is the concave on that 1031 deck?

    Spitfire's quality is horrendous these days. My last set was so bad I'm never buying them again. I've got Rainskates now, they're excellent. Very fast because they have a hard urethane core. You shouldn't have to worry about the core breaking either, it's done differently than the crappy cored wheels out there, and lots of 200lb++ guys ride them without issue. They have a lot of different styles and durometers. The ones I've got are 57mm, 101A. They do grip pretty well, but I don't think more grip would be a bad thing so I bought a set of 59mm 98As to set up on a "ramp board" down the line when I'm ready to learn to skate bowls.

    See here:

    http://www.rainskateswheels.com/

    Do you know what factory pours the Satoris? If it's Creative Urethane chances are they use a similar formula as Rainskates because that's where the RS wheels are poured.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Yeah, Creative pours Satori wheels. They're the best wheels I've skated since... well... ever! I love the 101a formula for the street and the 101a Ecothane formula for the park or all-around.
    That's awesome that Rainskates are likely similar to Satoris. So many skaters here who ride the Rainskates love their wheels to death.
    A lot of wheels available out there are like toy wheels, more focused on colors and graphics than on quality. The graphics come off pretty much right away, so who cares? Colors, meh, as long as the formula is still good, I don't care. You gotta really hunt for the good wheels.
    Have you ever tried Bones wheels? The people who make the SPF, STF, and so on formula wheels? I have my opinions, just wanted to hear yours first...

    ReplyDelete
  18. I have not tried any Bones wheels. I don't like extra slippery, plasticy wheels and I've heard too many reports that they tend to slip out a lot. Bones themselves say they're equivalent to a 103-104A even. 101A is *plenty* hard for my needs, so I really doubt Bones would be for me.

    I've also heard great things about Autobahn wheels (non pricepoint), which are also poured at Creative.

    I don't really care about wheel color either. I'll ride almost any color as long as it's not pink or something...

    ReplyDelete
  19. Agreed. I found Bones wheels to be like casters. Way too hard, and slippery, slippery, slippery. The STF wheels were too slippery on asphalt. Ummm... street = asphalt, right? Then they were too slippery on wood ramps. The SPF wheels were just bizarre: they were really plasticky looking, like department store wheels, and they didn't grip anything well at all. And the Bones wheels are extremely expensive!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Actually, Shaken Vegetable, I found out that Satori longboard wheels (softies) are poured by Bravo Corp, who pours Kryptonics, too. Now I'm not sure who pours their skateboard wheels, the hard wheels?

    ReplyDelete
  21. It's funny that a lot of people swear by Bones. Maybe they never flatspot, but what good is that if they're plasticy and slippery? Bet it would suck to hit a small rock on those things.

    No idea about the Satori wheels, I'd just ask them and see what they say. It's possible they use different factories for each since regular skate wheels and longboard wheels are kinda different.

    In any case, Rainskates are definitely worth a shot. Only downside for some is that the smallest size the 101A wheels come in right now is 57mm. They do have a 54mm 98A wheel...not sure if they plan to make that in 101A eventually or not.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Here are my initial impressions of the Deckcrafters 3 Fish:

    Concave is not as deep as I hoped. It's more like a medium concave.

    15'' WB feels different, but nice. At 8.5'', this is the widest deck I've ever had. Anything more than a hair wider would probably be too wide for me. It does feel nice and stable, and more roomy than my last deck.

    Because this deck is designed for skating pools, it has a somewhat pointy nose. Not a punk point though! More like a half oval shape. The tail is more blunt, like a rounded off square. Since I don't skate pools, I'm riding the deck backwards and it ends up feeling more like a regular street deck. The kick angles are neither too steep nor too low, but they don't curve up immediately after the truck baseplates like many modern boards. Somehow, they don't feel short despite this.

    Overall it feels like a nice deck but isn't quite what I was hoping for.

    Will probably try Five Points deep concave or Factory 13's Cereal Bowl concave next.

    ReplyDelete
  23. That's too bad about the Deckcrafters deck. Are you interested in trying a 1031 deck? I have one that's about 8.4" wide that has steep nose and tail angles (not too steep, just steep enough). And it has good concave. Send me your address and I'll send the deck to you for trying out.
    When I get home today, I'll measure the wheelbase of the 1031 deck.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I don't mean to say the board is flat or a bad deck, it just doesn't have that nice DEEP DEEP concave that I really want. The deck is rock solid and has nice pockets near the bolts to hold your feet. Plus I can land tricks on it better than my last deck, even though the board is bigger and takes more "oomph" to manipulate.

    I wouldn't mind trying a 1031 at all. Very nice offer. Thanks. How would I go about sending you my address? I can't find a contact/email link on your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I can't speak for the STF's but I find the SPF's to be very grippy on a smooth concrete park. Pretty much as grippy as my wider 98a Rainskates. My subjective impression of them is hard but "rubbery" rather than "plasticky." I think they are very sensitive to the surface though. They're more likely to be great or awful. Also, they seem to grip, grip, grip and then slide uncontrollably, which some people don't like for obvious reasons. Not good for easy, controlled slides.

    I actually thought my new Rainskates 101A RS57's felt a lot more "plasticky." Then again, I think sometimes we get a bad first impression of a wheel without really breaking it in.

    Anyhow, bitching aside, I appreciate your trying to review skateboard equipment, subjective as it inevitably is.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I could never get used to my P2. 8.5" Flip Arto with 14" WB.

    Too flexy. Super weird with loose trucks. Felt just like an old deck.

    Current favorite are 8.5" Black Labels. Way stiff. Even after 4 months. As solid as Eternal Life by Blind. But not oddball from texilium. Just great maple crossplied between two normal top veneers.

    The two models are Speyer Trucking and Duane Peters FTW. Nit sure if PS Stix or newer manufacturer. Either way, very good. I trust them fully.

    I weigh 185 pounds. DLX was the weakest imho. Snapped 3 in a row, one on first ollie down 4 stairs. Sounded like a baseball bat cracking in a fastball.

    Small Beating has an 8.38" you may like. Silk screened so no damage on heat transfer (see their site, they say that the 400 degrees necessary for heat tranfer compromises the strength). Not sure if BS or not. PS Stix presses their wood.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Anyone here knows weight and height of Thunder 147 HI (light, hollow light, normal)? Thanks in advance! S

    ReplyDelete
  28. i just bought an double impact board, great pop and very stiff i recomend

    ReplyDelete
  29. Pontus Alv shaped a Polar (named P2 but not that P2, all wood no aramid insert) in 8.6" wide by 32.35" with a real WB (14.5").

    It has a wider nose that is squared (similar to early 90's decks). Looks super functional.

    I think this may be a shape you like. And if you haven't seen it alrEady, look up "In Search Of The Miraculous" on Youtube. Pure awesome.

    ReplyDelete