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Saturday, February 18, 2012

149 Truck Comparison Test, Part 1

A lot of street skaters are sizing up to bigger boards. The little mites who used to rock 7.5” are now on 8.0”, 7.75” fanatics are on 8.1”, and bigger skaters are moving from 8.0” to 8.25” - 8.5”. Vert vamps are still flying around on 8.38 - 8.6” boards. Bowl rollers are still on 8.6 - 9.0 boards.
With bigger boards comes bigger trucks. Last summer I noticed some skaters at my local parks running their old 129 or 139 trucks on 8.5” boards - they wanted to size up but their favorite truck company wasn’t helping them out. The size of truck many skaters are settling on nowadays is a 149 size, with an approximately 8.5” axle. This gives skaters the versatility to go all the way down to 8.1” and all the way up to 8.75” in board width. Some truck companies are offering “144” (a 5.5) truck size, which has an axle size of approximately 8.25”. Independent now offers - after a long and notable absence - a 159 truck in approximately 8.75” axle. I bemoaned a few months ago that Venture wasn’t sizing up their trucks. When Venture ownership switched from Street Corner to Deluxe, DLXSF promptly went about developing a 149 truck.


My readers love the truck testing the most. I put Theeves through the wringer and directly influenced their truck design and quality. Antics, International, Theeve’s parent company, both loves and hates me for my rigorous testing of their products.


With all the other trucks out there in the 149 range, and the popularity of the size, I decided a comparison was in order. Read about the equipment here. I tested the following trucks (alphabetical order):
  • Ace 44
  • Destructo D2 5.75
  • Independent 149 Forged Hollow Stage X Mark II
  • Independent 149 Standard Stage X Mark II
  • Venture 5.8
First, the similarities. All of the trucks in this comparison are great trucks. They all have good quality, are solidly built, and will last for however long high-end trucks usually last you. All have kingpins tucked down low, providing skaters with a smooth grinding surface and no kingpin hang ups. All of the trucks have the same front-back axle location on the trucks except the Ventures, which place the axle further out towards the ends of the board, increasing the wheelbase. All have the same axle length of 8.5" except the Destructos, which have an axle length of 8.3".

Here are the vital specs:

The results of the first round of comparison testing really surprised me. My beloved Destructos, whose design is only 3 years old, felt antiquated when compared against the other trucks in the test. And the top performing truck was a true shock.
I also want to tout the virtues of the Kontrol Wheels I used for this test. These are the best wheels I've ever skated, ever. Better than any wheels from the 80s and 90s, and better than any wheels today.They go on any terrain with no fuss, no muss, just predictable performance. They grip when you want them to, they slide when you want them to, and in all ways I never have to think about them, they just perform as expected with absolutely no downsides. I'm not trying to swing on Kontrol's danglies, I'm just saying I've tried nearly all the wheels out there at all price points and the Kontrol wheels just hand everybody else pink slips. Get them, you will truly not regret it.



Testing Methods
The side by side comparison tests brought out unique attributes of the trucks. Have you ever tried out someone else’s skateboard and felt how immediately different it was than yours? I noticed every little difference in the performance of the trucks when I did a run on one board and then immediately skated the other board on the same run. Preparing for the possibility that it may be difficult to distinguish among trucks due to intended uses (vert, street, so on), I designed the testing to bring out the best in the trucks in their intended environments. All trucks were evaluated on all the test obstacles, with consideration given for trucks that are being tested in an environment not wholly intended by their designers.
With that in mind, all of the trucks in this test are versatile enough that they can be used for most any type of shortboard skateboarding. I was able to kickflip each and every one of these trucks. All the trucks grind. You can take any of these trucks to your local park or spot and skate them on any obstacle you want. Your choice is only limited by your preferences. So how can the trucks be distinguished among? Well, these tests were designed to bring out the best of the trucks but also to value versatility and overall performance. In other words, trucks were ranked primarily according to their versatility. When there was a tie, I considered other factors, like price value and standard features.

The tests consisted of:
  • Surfland: skaters spend a lot of time traveling on their boards. One of the greatest feelings of freedom for skaters is surfing on land. If you have any respect for the craft, you won’t even know how to carry your board for more than a few minutes. You’ll slap that board down and ride it everywhere. And you’ll put style into it, too. You might as well learn it now. Think about it: when you get older, like in your 60s and 70s, Surfland may be your only way to get your skate fix. So you better learn the skills to make it fun now. Big carves, slaloming down hills, powersliding, ollies here and there to get up and down curbs, tight slaloming around those funny flexy orange sticks in construction zones, long manuals, and so on. This test evaluated the trucks on all those.
  • Flatland: quite simply, anything you’d do in a game of skate, Berrics rules or other. I tested the boards on varials, nollies, ollies, kickflips, 180 ollies and nollies, and manuals. Flatland tests the ability of trucks to respond quickly and predictably, flip and rotate predictably, stay stable on iffy landings, make course corrections quickly, and stay with you when you start getting tired.
  • Rock and Roll: I constructed a punishing rock and roll obstacle. On the top of a steep wedge, I put angle iron and a sheer dropoff on the back side of the obstacle. The wheels never hit the deck, because there is no deck. There are plenty of ways to hang up on this obstacle, and the reentry is difficult to pull off because you have to time it right lifting the nose and shoving the back end through the harsh transition at the bottom of the wedge. This obstacle was meant to simulate planters and other sheer obstacles you’ll find when you’re out street skating.
  • Rail Slide: You wouldn’t think a simple rail slide would test trucks, but you’d be wrong. To boardslide a flat bar, you have to come in at an angle, ollie and rotate, slide (duh!), and then dismount and turn quickly enough to be able to roll out. I see a lot of kids doing it really slowly and kind falling off to fakie, but that’s not how I do it. I do it at high speed, and snap off the end so I'm going forward again, and I like to keep my speed going afterwards to be able to keep going on my line. This requires a violent twist of the shoulders and trucks that will facilitate a sure landing and quick course corrections to keep my speed up.
  • Grind Box: I have a grind box that I use to simulate ledges. Wood with angle iron on the sides. This is to test how well the trucks grind.
  • Mini Ramp: Transition testing is important. Mini ramps test the ability of the trucks to make quick course corrections, be forgiving of sloppy landings from lip tricks, grind decently enough on metal, come on and off the coping on both kingpin and pivot side (i.e., for blunts), and be stable enough not to speed wobble you off your board in the flat.
  • Bowl: Later, when the outdoor park opens up on March 30, I will test each of the trucks in the bowl. Nothing tests trucks like the bowl. Bowls are unforgiving. It seems like you’re carving in four dimensions. Trucks must turn as directed, grind as directed, not speed wobble, not slow you down or halt you with wheelbite, and they must be stable even when they’re run really, really loose.
Using pairwise comparisons, I tested the trucks enough to rank order them in terms of their overall performance. Pairwise comparisons allow two sets of trucks to be compared with each other to be ranked relative to each other. Ties are broken by following up pairwise comparisons with new pairwise comparisons. This is kind of like the  bracket method in Battle at the Berrics, but modified in that it needn’t be as complete as a bracket competition. Just enough to distinguish the trucks and rank order them for the follow-on long term testing.
Here are the comparison pairs:

  • Independent 149 Standard Stage X Mark II vs. Ace 44
  • Independent 149 Standard Stage X Mark II vs. Independent 149 Forged Hollow 149 Stage X Mark II
  • Independent 149 Standard Stage X Mark II vs. Venture 5.8
  • Independent 149 Forged Hollow Stage X Mark II vs. Destructo D2 5.75
  • Venture 5.8 vs. Ace 44


Results and detailed findings to follow in the next posts. (Don't worry, the results of this first round will be published today, 18 February.) 
Stay Tuned!

2 comments:

  1. how did you measure the height? from baseplate to what? thanks

    ReplyDelete