Venture V5 5.2 lows - 326.33 grams
Venture 5.2 lows - 355 grams
Thunder 149 Light - didn't weigh
Thunder 147 Hollow Light - didn't weigh
Ventures and Thunders have a good build quality, on par with Independents, better than Tensor or Royal, not as good as Theeve or Destructo. This is actually no surprise, as Ventures, Thunders, and Independents are all cast in the same factory.
Venture Trucks http://venturetrucks.net
I rode the Venture trucks in three configurations. The standard Venture Superlight in 5.2 low, the Superlight in 5.2 high, and the V5 in 5.2 low. The Venture superlights in both high and low weigh 355 grams. It is common for low and high versions of the same truck to weigh the same. When I weigh the trucks, I weigh them with all their hardware and bushings. 20-30 grams of any truck is taken up with the hardware and bushings.
|Venture V5 5.2 low|
|Venture V5 5.2 low|
|Venture Superlight Low 5.2|
|Venture Superlight High 5.2|
The two variants of Superlights performed remarkably differently. The low Superlights felt like, well, like Ventures. They are highly stable thanks to the geometry that puts the axle almost directly over the truck bolts nearest the ends of the board. This gives a long wheelbase to the board and also increases the force necessary to lift the nose or tail of the board. The board generally feels "stiff" when you're doing ollies or nollies. This is comforting when learning tricks, because if you duckfoot the landing or land with only one foot on the board, the board is much less likely to shoot out from underneath you. If you already know the trick, though, the Ventures make your board feel slow to respond. The Venture lows with the stock bushings are, once again, stable and slow. Perfect for learning tricks. Frustrating when you actually want to turn. Replacing the stock bushings with Bones Bushings and flat washers on the top make Ventures really turny and predictable.
The Venture V5 low trucks felt a lot like the Superlight lows, just a lot lighter and slightly lower. The forged baseplate is thinner and lowers the truck ever so slightly. I also think the forged baseplate doesn't flex as much as the cast baseplate, because the V5 trucks felt more secure and responsive against the deck. I skated better with the V5 trucks than with the Superlights, as the V5s were more predictable. With Bones Bushings mounted, the V5s become the perfect Ventures.
The Venture Superlight High trucks, on the other hand, felt like they were made by a completely different truck company. They were nice on the grind, like normal Ventures, yet with no kingpin interference. However, the highs had none of the stability of the Venture lows. The tail and nose snapped quickly and erratically, it was difficult to balance on the strange pivot angle. I went and skated some Independent highs for a few weeks and returned to the Venture highs and still found the same observation. I got a second set of Venture highs, identical in every aspect, and still found them to be twitchy, unstable trucks. With Bones Bushings, they turned nicely and became more stable when cruising. But the shortened wheelbase imparted by the highs still made the board feel unstable when having anything but all four wheels on the ground. I didn't like the Venture highs one bit. They don't feel at all like Ventures.
All Ventures grind really nicely. You can form your locks really quickly, and on the low Ventures, the kingpin juts up a little bit. This is a good thing, because then you know where the center of your truck is on hand rails and grind rails. In the 80's, I skated nearly every type of truck, and I generally liked best the trucks that had a prominent kingpin. It just felt more stable to have that point of reference.
I liked the Ventures enough to get a pair for myself. I got a set of V5 5.2 lows and some medium Bones Bushings. Nice trucks for skating in the garage in the winter.
Thunder Trucks http://www.thundertrucks.com
I skated 2 variants of the Thunder Trucks, the 149 Light and the 147 Hollow Light.
|Thunder 149 Light|
|Thunder 147 Hollow Light|
Thunder trucks are interesting. Whereas Ventures push out the wheelbase by placing the axle nearly over the truck bolts nearest the ends of the board, and Independents pull in the wheelbase by placing the axle nearly in the center of the baseplate, Thunders fall somewhere in between. They're stable, like Ventures but not requiring as much force to pop a nollie or ollie, and turny, like Independents though not quite as responsive. The two sizes of trucks had different handling characteristics.
A note first about Thunder trucks: there is no improving on the stock bushings. They're perfectly designed and shaped for Thunder trucks, and you will really find no aftermarket bushing that performs as perfectly as the stock bushings. When they wear out, buy a Thunder Bushing Rebuild Kit and keep going. Now on to the review.
The Thunder 147 Hollow Light trucks felt like modern trucks. They were extremely light - too bad I didn't weigh them, I hadn't gotten my scale yet. They felt on par with the weight of the Venture V5 lows. Although the 147s were nominally high trucks, I found them to be much more like low trucks. They were as low as Independent lows, not quite as low as Venture lows. They turned fairly responsively, but not smoothly. They felt a bit "notched" in their turning, even after the wonderful stock bushings broke in. I became accustomed to the notchy turning after the first day of skating them, so it wasn't too big a deal. I just had to accept that I couldn't go deep carving with these trucks. The trucks felt stable in flip tricks. I learned heelflips with these trucks, landing my first one at age 36 with these trucks. So they were good in that respect. It was really easy to get wheelbite with these trucks. I was skating 50mm wheels that wore quickly down to 47mm, and they were still wheelbiting hard enough with these trucks to cause me to bail. I tightened the trucks up to compensate, and they were so tight they felt like freestyle trucks, which pretty much made the trucks useless to my style of skating. And, in hindsight, probably helped me learn those heelflips, as that was after I tightened them up. They ground like Ventures, smooth and predictable, but with no kingpin touching.
The Thunder 149 Light trucks were completely different than the 147s. I skated a set of Thunder trucks in 1989, and these 149s felt almost exactly like those trucks, only lighter. Firstly, the 149s turned well. Unlike the 147s, I didn't have to tighten them up to prevent wheelbite. I still had wheelbite, but it didn't seem to affect my riding much. I still had to be careful if I landed with too much front foot heel on nollies, but that was the only time they would throw me on wheelbite (Theeves do this too, as well as most other trucks except Destructo). They weren't super carvy like Indys or Theeves, but had a different kind of tight, responsive turning that came in extremely handy on street courses and miniramps. They were a little twitchy until the bushings broke in, which took about 2 hours of hard skating. The trucks were lighter than the Thunders from 1989, and they were lighter than 149 Independents, but they weren't as light as a lot of modern 149s, like Theeve or Destructo. But they handled extremely buttery and predictably, which made up for their middling weight. They were good on the grind, feeling more like older Independents and classic Thunders, yet not as smooth as other trucks like Destructo or modern Independents. The kingpins did not touch the grinding surface on normal 50-50s. The trucks took a bit of force to pop the nose or tail. It was a long trip down to the tap, and I often ghost tapped an ollie or nollie with these trucks. I remember this very same phenomenon with the Thunders in 1989.
Which should you ride?
Out of the trucks in this review, I would recommend the Venture lows to beginning skaters or skaters seeking ultimate stability for learning new tricks. The V5 is the better variant of Venture low. I wouldn't recommend the Venture highs to any skater, I can't think of a style where that kind of instability would come in handy. Skaters who do technical flip tricks and don't mind tight trucks should try the Thunder 147s. Skaters who want a classic street skating truck feel should try the Thunder 149s.