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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tracker Dart 149

Lordwhimsey requested that the Tracker Dart 149 trucks be added to the 149 comparison. I'd always thought of trying out a pair of Tracker Darts. The last time I rode Trackers was in the 1980s: I skated the terrible Tracker Six Tracks for about a year.
Tracker claims the Dart "has been described as more of a surf feel". I'd read about Tracker's Superball bushings and thought they sounded good. So, I picked up a pair of Tracker Dart 149 trucks.
The quality of the Tracker trucks is on par with the Aces and the Gullwings. I've made an interesting observation between the quality of the trucks in this comparison. There's an "old school" quality standard, typified by the Ace, Gullwing, and Tracker trucks. And then there's a "new school" quality standard, typified by Independent, Thunder, Venture, Destructo, and, as of late, Tensor trucks. One quality standard is not better or worse than the other, it just depends on what you as a skater value in your trucks as far as quality.
"Old school" quality is marked by the following characteristics:

  • Lateral alignment of axles in hangers not always perfect; one side longer than other or both sides longer than needed. The nut will barely fit on one side, meaning you can't use the speed washers, and on the other side, the axle will be so long that many threads will show when the nut is snugged down to allow just a little lateral movement of the wheel.
  • Kingpins are hex head and often longer than needed.
  • Hangers are thick and heavy.
  • When polished, the trucks are highly polished with few to no imperfections.
  • When painted, the paint is smooth with no drips or discolorations.

"New school" quality is marked by the following characteristics:

  • Axles have close tolerances; they're well-centered laterally and both sides are perfectly long enough to snug the axle nuts down and not expose any threads.
  • Kingpins are button head and the length is just right for snugging the kingpin nut down and not expose any threads. 
  • Hangers are hollow body and light weight.
  • When polished, the trucks are lightly polished, and some imperfections are noticeable. 
  • When painted, the paint is sometimes globby and overpainted on the axles. 
So, the Tracker Darts are definitely "old school" in their quality. The axles on one side of each truck are so short that the nut doesn't snug down all the way; the loctite is only half on the threads. I took off the speed washers and put one thin washer on the hanger side: now the wheels fit well. Then, on the other side of the axles, there are 2-3 threads showing past the axle nut when they're snugged down. Oh well, the trucks still work. 
The vital specifications for the Tracker Dart 149 trucks are:
  • Weight: 365 grams
  • Height: 52.5 mm
  • Axle length: 8.4375 inches
  • Hanger width: 5.875 inches
On an initial ride around the neighborhood and on my quarterpipe in my driveway, I have some initial impressions of the Tracker Darts. The bushings are stiff. Tracker claims the bushings are 88a, but they feel like about 93a-95a. There is no surfing to be had with these stock bushings. Ollies feel pretty good on these trucks. No ghost tapping and a stable pop. On the quarter pipe, the trucks are sticky on the coping. Truck grinds were difficult. Stalls didn't "slide" a little, causing me to really pay attention to my balance. Kick turns and pivots felt nice. Rock and roll was fine, no hangup. I'm a little disappointed, I really expected the Darts to feel surfy, and they most decidedly do not. I'll try to break the bushings in and see if they soften up, but I have some soft bushings ready just in case. 
So, enjoy the high res photos below, and stay tuned for a longer term test of these Darts. 

Tracker Dart 149. 

Tracker Dart 149. Note the hex head kingpin and strange cutout under the pivot cup.

Tracker Dart 149. The pivot point is really steep and greatly recessed toward the center of the truck.

Tracker Dart 149. The black dot in the middle of the underside of the pivot cup is the pivot cup bushing showing through the hanger. This should make it easier to replace the pivot cup bushings. 

Tracker Dart 149

Tracker Dart 149. The "T" shape on the hanger looks kind of like the Ventures and Tensors, except the Tracker's "T" is recessed, not raised. 

Tracker Dart 149.
Long term testing coming in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned in the meantime to hear more about the other trucks in this comparison!

17 comments:

  1. Hurrah! Thanks Betrand; you're amazing. I'm looking forward to the long term test! Will I be tempted back to Trackers...?

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    1. They're pretty amazing trucks so far. Much better than I had expected. Since there isn't a whole lot of demand for the Gullwing long term test results, I'll skate the Tracker Darts next week and post more interim thoughts on Saturday.
      Now if I can just get them to turn a little!

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    2. One more thing, too, lordwhimsey. In the 1980s, the primary complaint Indy riders had about Trackers was that "Trackers don't turn". I can say that the Sixtrack trucks from the 80s did not turn very easily at all, but that's because Tracker made them for half pipes, which at the time, were new inventions. Half pipe skaters no longer needed to carve, and they wanted high stability out of their trucks. Tracker came out with the Sixtrack. Independent riders just tightened their kingpin nuts when they skated the half pipe. Tracker Sixtracks were terrible for street skating, they just weren't designed for high impact landings like from stairs and stuff. I broke 4 Tracker hangers before I just gave up on them and started skating other trucks.

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    3. Interesting; this must be where the “Trackers don’t turn” rhetoric that is still around today comes from. I’m looking forward to seeing if you can debunk this, maybe with the addition of some Bones Hardcore medium bushings!

      It seems to me that a company that has been manufacturing and selling trucks for 37 years and is credited with building the first trucks designed specifically for skateboarding, should be producing a product that has something going for it!

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    4. Still interested in how those Gullwings compare, especially to the Ventures.

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  2. "Lateral alignment of axles in hangers not always perfect" - I owned some pairs of Tracker Dart 161 in the past and I noticed that the diameter of the axle is different... so it happend 25% of the Trackers I owned (also a friend of mine got the problem - from different skateshops) that you can't get the bearing easy on and off... it seems that you need a lot of strength to get them on/ off :/

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    1. Yeah, I've noticed that with Trackers, Gullwings, Aces, and, at one time, Tensors. Tensors got better about this.

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  3. P.S. try some bones hc medium bushings in to - I started, in the past, to use this ones - before Khiro Barrel reds ;)

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  4. I have skated many pairs of trackers during my time in skateboarding. And I for one enjoy the tracker geometry!

    I would recommend trying the trucks with riser pads. As the tracker pivot does not come straight from the hanger, but at an angle, so the hanger has a longer range of movement. This is because the angled pivot rotates inside the pivot cup, rather than tilting.

    So when you lean a little the trucks do not turn much, but when you lean a lot you can do deeper carves than with a lot of other trucks. Hence they are often referred as "surfy" trucks, because it's all about leaning with your whole body :=)

    It will be nice to find out what you get out of these trucks!

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    1. I will try this. I like deep carving, fast turning trucks. These Darts are pretty awesome, but the wheelbite thing is a no-go. I'll try risers on them and let you know.

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  5. So if I ride a 60mm wheel on a 161tracker dart
    Do I have to put a riser? Cause, with Indy trucks in don't use any riser as its a hi truck.

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    1. If you're skating Indy Stage 9 or 10, then you'll be fine with your 60mm wheels on your Tracker Dart 161s. Just to be sure, I'll try it today and let you know.

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  6. I will attest to the fact that the axles are off. "...axles on one side of each truck are so short that the nut doesn't snug down all the way; the loctite is only half on the threads..." Yeah, that describes my Darts exactly. Love them despite their quirkiness, I find that they turn well (I am riding the 149s on an 8.88" Skatepaige Side-G shape with 1/4" risers and 60mm wheels)and grind OK once the kingpin is worn in. I also have a set of Dart 219s that I ride on a mini Big Kahuna.

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  7. I have just put some new Tracker Dart 149s on my 8.5" board, I was using 161's for the last 12 months which have now gone back onto my 10 x 30 80's deck. One thing I have really noticed is the 149s are so much more turny than the 161s on this 8.5 deck. Both sets of trucks have the superball bushings and in fact I have the king pin nut down further on the 149s than the 161s and they still feel looser and turn better.
    So, I guess the question is, should there be this much of a difference between the way the two sizes feel and ride?? I know the 149s are slightly lower, lighter and obviously narrower but I didn't think it would make much difference to the handling.
    Any thoughts on this are greatly appreciated.
    Cheers, Jon.
    P.S. Love the page, so much helpful info.

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  8. Try wedging the trucks and adding softer bushings. They surf really well actually. I've got mine to pump almost as well as Carver CX.2 trucks... I hate Trackers stock bushings BTW; swap them out for Bones Hardcore Medium duro double barrels and you'll really crank out turns.

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    1. Thanks! I will definitely try the Darts with some wedges. Did you wedge just the front or both front and back? And, for the back, did you wedge so it had a unidirectional tendency (i.e., both wedges facing the same way) or the bidirectional tendency (each truck wedged the same respective)? Here's this diagram I always refer to when it comes time to wedge trucks: https://www.silverfishlongboarding.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=110770&d=1362440132
      Now that I think about it, I wonder why I didn't think to wedge the Darts? I guess I get so fixated on testing them without risers that I forget there are riser options out there that fine tune geometry. Thanks, BrekanArts, for reminding me of that.

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  9. I wanted to comment on this because I skated the Darts for about 4 years. I have found that I like the way the Classic SixTracks turn a lot better than the Darts. The Darts have a extra 5° on them to make them turn quicker and (to me) it just makes them have a unpleasant, unstable feel. I was thinking of putting some 5° wedges on the Darts the opposite direction to give them that classic 45° Pivot but it's like putting on almost a 1/2" riser. I have a lot of love for Tracker Trucks but there's a reason hardly anyone rides the Darts and I wish Tracker would go back to the 45° pivot on the trucks (remember the "big three" truck companies back in the day? Well two of them (Tracker and Gullwing) had a 45° pivot on them. Please keep in mind I mainly skate pools and vert ramps. I just think it's funny how a truck design that was so successful has disappeared. Maybe it's time I start my own truck company lol!


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