Each of the trucks were tested enough to put them in order for follow-on testing. I was able to make a lot of distinctions by testing the trucks on Surfland, Flatland, Rock and Roll, and Rail Slide. In most cases, these tests were enough to place the trucks in order. (I did the Grind Box, too, but for reasons stated below, the Grind Box didn’t help distinguish among the trucks.)
The follow-on testing will consist of spending a week with each of the trucks at my local parks: first the indoor park to hit the mini ramp, then the outdoor park to try them out in the bowl.
First, the results:
Results (Reverse Order, from 5 to 1)
5. Destructo D2 5.75
4. Independent 149 Forged Hollow Stage X Mark II
3. Independent 149 Standard Stage X Mark II
1. (tie) Ace 44
1. (tie) Venture 5.8
Independent 149 Standard vs. Ace 44
Surfland: Having already tried to skate the wack stock bushings, I started out the Independents with black Genuine Parts bushings in back and yellow in front. With this setup, the Indys felt like Theeves with good bushings. Predictable, stable, carvy, quick. Next I rode the Aces. I was suddenly mad that I hadn’t known about Aces before now: the Aces were more stable than the Indys, quicker on the turn, deeper on the carve, surfy when wanted and stable when needed. This is with the stock bushings. I didn't even tighten the Aces: I rode them exactly as the factory had tightened them. They were amazing. They felt better than Theeves. They had the best, tightest, quickest carve and turn of any truck I'd ridden since Gullwing Grinders. The Ace 44s felt tall and leany but imminently controllable. With the Aces, I felt control and fluidity like I'd never felt before. The Aces had stability in the center, and two kind of "settings" on the lean: surfy and smooth through the center on slight leans back and forth, smooth and stable on the deep lean with only a little apprehension about wheelbite. I kind of went through a "click" between the slight lean and deep lean. Not a big deal, and easy to get used to. Advantage: Ace 44
|Left, Independent Standard 149. Right, Ace 44|
Rock and Roll: Both trucks performed well and admirably on my rock and roll device. For reentry, the slight edge was to the Ace, which felt more stable. However, the Ace yoke hung up very easily on the coping, though.The Indy's yoke is designed to resist hanging up on coping, and the design works very well, giving Indy the clear edge in this part of the test. Advantage: Indy 149 Std.
Rail Slide: Boardslides on a rail test the ability of a truck to pop a stable ollie at an angle with great precision as well as the ability to pop off the end of the rail and turn quickly enough to be able to roll out of the trick. The Indys were stable on the ollie and quick on the landing, but required concentration to keep my line rolling when I popped off. The Aces were a little unstable on the ollie until I got used to their quickness, but eventually I was mounting the rail easily. The pop off the end of the rail with the Aces was extremely easy: I rolled out of each boardslide with confidence and lots of rolling speed. After a few dozen boardslides with the Aces, I was confidently and strongly sliding the entire 8’ rail with easy precision and always, always rolling out. Advantage: Ace 44
Grind Box: All trucks grind the same. Seriously. Some grind down faster than others, but nowadays if the grind isn't right, you just wax or dewax until it does. Therefore, I decided that I’m not going to test this. Both of these trucks grinded fine.
Independent 149 Standard vs Independent 149 Forged Hollow:
Surfland: I did not expect to experience any difference between the standard Indys and the forged hollow Indys. I was wrong. The FH trucks were more turny than the standard Indys. The kingpins are longer, but the baseplate is also slightly thinner, resulting in a lower overall truck height. The FH felt good on the carve, quick on the turn, they felt a lot like the standards, just slightly quicker. Wheelbite on deep leans did affect the FH, but it didn't buck me off my board. If I placed my feet wrong and got wheelbite, though, the FH did throw me. But in carving, surfing, and turning, the FH performed better than the standard Indys. Advantage: Indy 149 FH
Flatland: Though they performed better, the FH Indys were less forgiving than standard Indys on flatland. The lower height and lesser weight helped on varials and flips. The FH felt stable on landing, kind of like low trucks. But they punished me for being tired by being twitchy and requiring tic tacs to adjust my line, just like the standard Indys. The lower height of the Indys felt different: the pop wasn't as solid nor as confident as the standard Indys. I couldn't get good ollie height like I could with the standards. Nollies were fine. When I wasn't tired, though, the FH performed better on flatland than the standard Indys. Advantage: Indy 149 FH
Rock and Roll: The FH Indys required a lot of concentration on rock and rolls. They didn't hang up, but the reentry required careful balance and foot placement. The FH Indys are not very forgiving trucks. Advantage: Indy 149 Standard
Rail Slide: The FH Indys were unforgiving on the rail. Getting on the rail required a well-timed ollie and a bit of a shove with the back foot to keep the rear of the board from hanging low. The lower height was part of this, but it was also a factor of the precision required by these trucks. Rolling out of the dismount required more concentration than with the standard Indys. My rail session with the FH Indys was frustrating. Jumping back on the board with the standard Indys, I immediately felt more confident on the rail. Advantage: Indy 149 Standard
Independent 149 Standard vs. Venture 5.8
Surfland: I did not know what to expect from the Venture 5.8s. I left them with their stock bushings and at factory tightness. When I first pushed off with them, I was expecting the nasty stock Venture bushings I'd come to expect over the years from Venture. But, surprise, surprise! The 5.8s' stock bushings were wonderfully compliant, utterly responsive, completely predictable. The trucks were perfect right as they were from the factory. DLX has certainly improved Venture trucks! The second surprise about the 5.8s was that they were very, very surfy! Wheelbite was nonexistent, the turns were deep and confident, the carves were stable. The lean was confident from end to end with no apprehension about wheelbite. There were no notches, no "settings", no sticking, just smooth, surfy, stable, and confident turning. The 5.8s felt a lot like the Aces, and carved lines through my slalom course as tight as the Aces. The 5.8s put the Indys to shame; I was immediately thinking about comparing the 5.8s to the Aces. I rode the Indys and the 5.8s side by side, just like all the truck comparisons, but the confidence I felt with the 5.8s was too hard to ignore. They were excellent trucks on Surfland. Advantage: Venture 5.8
Rock and Roll: The rock and roll obstacle should be a GO/NOGO station. Either the trucks perform well without hanging up and giving good reentry, or they don't. The Ventures actually made rock and rolls easier than with the other trucks. I could mess up the rock and roll in many ways and recover from every mistake. The Ventures had extremely high stability when compared with the other trucks. Advantage: Venture 5.8
Rail Slide: The Ventures are the first trucks that required no getting used to to ride the rail. The confidence and stability and forgiving nature of the Ventures made the rail a trivial obstacle. Roll up, mount, slide, dismount, roll out: everything went predictably and confidently with the 5.8s. Advantage: Venture 5.8
Independent 149 Forged Hollow vs. Destructo D2 5.75
Surfland: The FH Indys were turny trucks. The Destructos were stiff and unresponsive with not as much lean as the FH Indys. I didn’t get any wheelbite with the Destructos, but Indy upped their game and the FH Indys easily bested the Destructos. Advantage: Indy 149 FH
|Destructo D2 5.75|
Rock and Roll: Both trucks performed very well on the rock and roll obstacle. The FH Indys, though, had less of a propensity to hang up. Advantage: Indy 149 FH.
Rail Slide: Neither of these trucks performed extremely well on the rail slide. Both trucks were unstable heading up to the obstacle and iffy on landing. It was almost a draw, but the Indys did feel better on rolling out than the Destructos. Advantage: Indy 149 FH
Ace 44 vs. Venture 5.8
Surfland: This was an extremely tough comparison. Both of these trucks are surfy, carvy, stable, predictable. I can carve tighter lines with the Aces, giving me more time to think and plan between slalom points. With the Ventures, I could carve through the slalom just as tightly as I could with the Aces, but with less time to think. The Aces have 3 set points: 1. stable on-center feel, 2. smooth, easy surfing on shallow lean turns, and 3. tight turns on deep lean turns. There is no hesitation on the Aces when surfing through the center point on turns. The Ventures were smooth, too, they glided from coast to wheelbite-free coast with no hesitation, no clicks, and any set point you want. Ventures felt more stable on manuals. It is really a draw between the two trucks on surfland. Advantage: DRAW
|Left, Ace 44. Right, Venture 5.8|
Rock and Roll: The Ventures forgive all mistakes on my rock and roll punishment obstacle. The Aces' flat yoke and prominent lower washer definitely hung up on the coping, it stopped me right in the middle of my rock and roll. Both trucks performed well on reentry. Advantage: Venture 5.8
|Left, Ace 44. Right, Venture 5.8|
Mini Ramp: I needed something more to distinguish between these two fine trucks. The Aces dominate on transition. There's a sureness and confidence with the Aces. Both of these trucks performs extremely well on the ramp, but the Aces just feel completely natural. I feel like I can do tricks that I'm usually not as confident enough to try. The Ventures perform very well, too, giving me lots of confidence that I will neither wheelbite nor hang up on the coping. In the end, I still can’t confidently decide between one or the other when I’m heading out to the mini ramp. Advantage: DRAW
So, for now, the Ace 44s and the Venture 5.8s are tied for first. Flatland and Rock and Roll aren’t enough to declare an overall “versatility” winner. I’d take either of them anywhere. I’ll have to see if spending more time with each truck set for a week in follow-on testing will help me break the tie for first.