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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Introduction: Independent 159 Stage X Mark II

Earlier today, I received a set of Independent 159 Stage X Mark II trucks. I've been waiting to skate the Indy 159s for quite a while. I've skated just about every 149 on the market, and I've skated the major 169 trucks. The 159s are intended for decks in the 8.5-9.0" widths.

Brief history on the Stage X: In the Stage X Indys, the top washer would contact the inside top of the yoke cavity in the hanger. This contact limited Independent's turning depth, and the turning on the Stage X Indys was "on-off" turning: you were either turning at the limit of the truck's turn, or you were not turning. The Stage X Indys were quick for line adjustments, but the "bottoming out" of the top washer against the hanger was binding the deep turning ability of the trucks.

For the Stage X Mark II, Indy improved the hanger design to eliminate conflict between the top washer and the yoke cavity. This helped the Indys have deeper turns and, unfortunately, more wheelbite with the cone
bottom bushings. The Indy team riders suggested barrel bottom bushings, and Independent agreed. The barrel bottom bushings made the Stage X Mark II trucks both stable and turny.

From comparison tests, the Stage X Mark II trucks with the stock orange bushings turn as well as Theeves. This helped Independent gain back some of their devotees who had flocked to Theeve.

Enough chit chat. Here are the specs for the 159s:

Hanger width: 156mm / 6.125"
Weight: 397.5 grams
Height: 54.5mm with stock bushings.
Axle displacement: 35.5mm

Here are some pictures:

Independent 159 Stage X Mark II. Note barrel bottom bushing,  no hang-up yoke, and very low kingpin .

Independent 169 Stage X, shown here for comparison purposes. Note how much narrower the yoke cavity is; it is easy to see how the top washer would bind when turning. The hanger of the Stage X is also less beefy in the yoke area. The Mark II trucks have more metal around the yoke and a smoother curve to the axle area. 

Independent 159 Stage X Mark II.

Independent 159 Stage X Mark II. Here you can see how tucked in the kingpin  nut and top bushing and washer are in the no hang-up yoke.

Independent 159 Stage X Mark II. This top view shows the wider yoke cavity of the Stage X Mark II. This wider cavity is meant to prevent binding between the top washer and the hanger. 

Independent 159 Stage X Mark II. Made in the USA. Industry standard Grade 8  button head kingpin .

Independent 159 Stage X Mark II. Kingpin is nice and low, but there is still plenty of room to run the trucks loose or tight.

Independent 159 Stage X Mark II. Here's a closer view of the widened and reshaped yoke cavity. 

Independent 159 Stage X Mark II. 

Independent 159 Stage X Mark II. Typically high Independent quality.

Independent 159 Stage X Mark II. Hollowed-out hanger, excellent casting.

Independent 159 Stage X Mark II. This picture really shows the lovely, lovely silver in which Independent trucks look best. No other company's silver trucks look as nice as Independents.

Independent 159 Stage X Mark II. Here the 159s are mounted on my Creature 8.5 punk nose.  

Independent 159 Stage X Mark II. Here the 159s are mounted on my Creature 8.5 punk nose. They fit nicely, with just the axle nuts extending beyond the rails.

Independent 159 Stage X Mark II. I think - and this is just my opinion - that the stock Indy bushings are wack. For all my Independent trucks, I mount Bones Mediums in front and Bones Hards in back. With the Bones Bushings and no bottom washer, the trucks' height drops to 52.5mm - perfect.

Independent 159 Stage X Mark II. I think - and this is just my opinion - that the stock Indy bushings are wack. For all my Independent trucks, I mount Bones Mediums in front and Bones Hards in back. With the Bones Bushings and no bottom washer, the trucks' height drops to 52.5mm - perfect.

First Impressions of the Independent 159 Stage X Mark II trucks:
This morning, I was skating my Creature 8.5 punk point with some Theeve 5.5s mounted. This afternoon, I skated for about an hour with the new Indy 159s. With the Bones bushings mounted, the 159s are nice. Really nice. Having skated the Theeves this morning and the Indy 159s this afternoon, I like the Independents better. The159s are stable, turny, somewhat surfy trucks. The 159s feel really good carving and turning. The159s feel stable and predictable on my FreshPark ramps in my garage. I did some flatground work with the 159s, and they respond quickly on ollies and nollies, shuvits were nice and solid, and flip tricks were no problem. When I was flowing around, I was doing manuals, and the 159s were really, really nice on manuals - this was a little unexpected, but entirely welcome. All in all, I myself am incredibly pleased with the Independent 159s.
Lots of skaters are moving to 8.6-8.9" decks, and truck companies would be wise to offer some 8.75" trucks to go with them. With these Indy 159s, the entire truck industry has a new standard to copy. Independent: out in front, yet again.


  1. "Stage 10 design with newly reworked geometry based on Independent Stages 5-7" ;)



    1. Stages 5-7 were the second Golden Age of Independent trucks. I've been skating these 159s hard, and they fucking rock. They are such good trucks. I was bombing hills last night with the 159s, I shredded 2mm off my wheels, and I thought to myself that I wouldn't really want to go so fast with any other truck.

    2. I tested the Stage 10 version in bowl-/ pool- with bones bushings.
      I can't really tell something bad about them - all in all perfect.

      + grinds fast & good
      + kingpin is lower (I think) = no hang-ups etc.
      + turns like ACE's but (for me) more stable and with more control in turns
      + every trick works clean and stable
      + also drop-in's & kick-turn's without any problems
      + very durable (did grinds for hours)

      I heared the "new" / old geometry will be available for the 139ers, too.
      Hope there will be also an 149ers version with this good old geometry.



    3. Agreed. This new 159 is really, really fantastic. I liked the Ace trucks, but they were so unstable on ollies and nollies and manuals, too divey. The 159s are always just the way I want them.

  2. Do they make the standard 139's with the new "Mark II" geometry or is it just for larger trucks? I can't seem to find 139 Mark II.

    1. The 139s went to Mark II earlier than the bigger Indys. You have to look at the pivot cavity and the shape of the hanger on the kingpin side. Stage X Mark II trucks have a widened pivot cavity and flattened yoke area compared to the Stage X trucks. I'll add an illustrative picture to the blog post so you can see it clearer.

    2. Alright thanks, what really got me about the stage 10s was the kingpin clearance which seems to be better on these. Would you know if the 139 forged hollows have also been updated.

    3. The kingpin clearance is massive on the 159s. On the 129, 139, and 149, there is a good amount of clearance, too, just not as much as on the 159. I have never seen kingpin clearances this good on Independent trucks. Ace and Theeve have big clearances, too, maybe Indy felt some competitive pressure?

      The Forged Hollow (FH) trucks are a different story. The imported baseplates and kingpins on the forged hollow are distinctly lesser quality than the USA-made Indy components. The kingpin on the FH is too long for the truck, so you'll always have to use harder bushings than you normally would have used - or else suffer the unnecessarily exposed kingpin threads catching on everything until you grind the kingpin down. HOWEVER, the hanger on the 139 Forged Hollow is the same design as the the 139 standard, so you still get the new turning shared by the 129, 139, and 149. The 159's and New 169's turning is different than that of the smaller trucks. The 129, 139, and 149 Stage X Mark II trucks have a deepened and smoother turn compared to the Stage X, with no binding between the top washer and the yoke pivot cavity. Yet, the 129, 139, and 149 all share a turning that is distinct from the turning on the 159 and New 169.

      The Forged Hollow Indys are unforgiving trucks. They demand perfection from you in foot placement and body movement, and they readily and violently pitch you off the board if you're not absolutely perfect. They don't quite feel like Indys, they feel more like other trucks, that is to say, they feel like lesser trucks than Indy Standards. But if you master the trucks, they'll be pretty consistent with you. Just not as consistent or predictable as Indys, Theeves, and other 8" trucks.
      If lightness with an Indy feel is what you're after, try the Theeve 5.25s. If you're looking for top all-around performance in a pretty forgiving 8" truck, try Indy 139 Standard or Theeve 5.25. If you're more into tech skating, try the Thunder 147, Venture 5.2, or Indy 139 Low.

  3. What wheels size u are using on the set up above?

  4. hey man..awesome blog! i'm looking for some new 8.75 trucks and not sure to get the indy 159 or the polar bear trucks. Can you recommend one over the other? i'm looking for something nice and carvy but stable for ollie's

    1. They are both great trucks. They are both great carvers and both stable for ollies. The difference is in the individual preferences. If you like a quick, low ollie, the Polar Bears are for you. If you like a high ollie, the Indy 159s are for you. The Independent 159s are higher by 7mm - a lot - so the carve is deeper before you start to get wheelbite. The Polar Bears do well with wheels 53mm and smaller, whereas with the Indy 159s, you can ride up to 59mm wheels before you need risers.

      The large difference between the two trucks is the versatility. The Polar Bears are more versatile than the Indys. In the Indys, you can put different bushings in to change the rate of carve or the response or the stiffness, or you can add risers to skate wheels 60mm and larger. With the Polar Bears, you can get a really quick ollie response by keeping them low and without risers, or you can rise them up to get a deeper carve. With risers to bring the Polar Bears up to 55mm, they carve better than the Indys. And, with the ability to change the truck mounting in the Polar Bears, as you rise them up, you move the trucks in from the tail and you can still get a quick, low ollie even with risers and big wheels. Then again, with the Indys, you can always just redrill your deck to give your tail a little more length and to get a lower ollie.

      As far as quality, the Polar Bears are tip-top-notch for cast trucks. The Independents are top quality, too, coming in second to the Polar Bears. (In third place is, believe it or not, Tensor Mag Ten trucks.)

      Really, in the end, they're both great trucks. I myself have a pair of each in my personal collection. I use the Polar Bears pretty much all the time, no matter what I'm skating that day. I use the 159s when I go hill carving, mainly because I can use larger wheels without using risers.

    2. Thanks, this helps a lot. I think I'm going to try the polar bear trucks

    3. Hi, and thanks for a great blog! Do you know if the baseplate on the 159 x is the same as on the 139? Thing is I'm thinking of buying just the hanger and mount it on my existing baseplate on my 8.5

    4. The baseplate is similar enough that the 159 hangers will fit. You'll get a better feel with the 159 hanger when you use barrel bottom bushings. Let us know how it turns out!

  5. Great thank you! I'll run it with my bones bushings. One more, the geometry differences are they primarilly in the hanger? ie will I loose some of the handling caracteristics by not bying the complete truck?

    1. The differences are indeed primarily in the hanger. Aside from the old school + new school baseplate drillings that some 159s have, I don't think there are any differences in the baseplates.

  6. Hi Bertrand,

    Freakin great blog you have here,

    Do you think the new indies 149 (stage 11) are much better than the 149ers stage 10 mark II ?

    Can you really feel big differences from the these 159 compared with the markII trucks?

    I am asking because Iam thinking to get these new stage 11 149mm trucks, but my stage 10 mark II are still almost new( course I will sell them for someone)


    1. That is a really good question. The Stage 11s are higher by 1.5mm (a lot, actually) than the Stage 10 Mark II, and the pivot cavity is wider in the Stage 11.
      Performance-wise, if you have the standard (not the forged) Stage 10 Mark II trucks, you only have minor differences with the Stage 11 standards.
      First off, there is more hanger above the kingpin on the Stage 11, so grinds are a little easier. Everybody who grinds eventually grinds their kingpin, it will take longer to get there with the 11s than it would with the 10 Mark IIs.
      The turning with the Stage 11 is not appreciably different than the Stage 10 Mark II. They both turn fantastically, the Stage 11s are just a little more fluid and linear than the 10 mark IIs, which are stiffer and more progressive (that is, it gets harder to turn the more you lean). Either truck is a huge improvement in turning over Stage 10 mark I, and both trucks really turn awesome with Bones bushings.
      If you are going to get some Stage 11s, don't get impatient: wait until your favorite color 149 Stage 11 comes out. In the meantime, you can get most of the same performance in your Stage 10 Mark 11s, that should help you be patient.

    2. Thank you so much Bertrand.

      Just one more question:

      My deck is 9x33 being 8.75 on front and 8.25 in the rear.

      What do you say, 149 or 159?

      Thanks again.

  7. Great useful information included on your blog!!!

    Why is that so many skaters switch out their Indy bushings right away for Bones bushings?
    And you gotta know Independent is well aware of this issue; you think they'd put a high priority on getting their bushings right.

    What's your personal preference?
    I'm 99.9% of the time a tranny carver (flow area/bowls and bigger bowls). I haven't put in enough "board time" on Indys w/Bones bushings to know whether I like Indys with stock or Bones bushings.

    1. Some heavier skaters need a stiffer bushing than the stock Indy bushings, so they go with Bones or the black Indy bushings.
      But many skaters don't like to break in the Independent bushings. Independent instructions to break in their bushings are to skate the trucks really loose for 2-3 days, just carving around and stuff, then tighten the trucks to the desired tightness. I used to do that break in when I was younger and 40 pounds lighter, and the bushings would pretty much last the life of the trucks after such a break in. I almost never adjusted the front truck after that, but I would loosen or tighten the back truck by about 1 turn depending on what I was skating that day or what the temperature was.
      Another way to break in bushings is to tighten them down and skate them for a few days, loosening them as you go. However, this method often leads to cracked bushings, especially boardside barrel bushings, so I don't recommend it. I find the Indy method to be the best for pretty much all trucks.

    2. Give the bones a try, or even try the after market indy bushings. Somehow indy's aftermarket bushings feel better than the stock ones.

      I ride loose trucks and loose indys with the stock bushings just feel floppy and unstable. The stock bushings do not return to center.

      Bones bushings just make the trucks seem more alive. Trucks snap back into center position.

      If anything I think indys should already come with bones bushings in them.

  8. A quick question for you - I like to change my setup every now and again and as I'm just getting back into vert again I thought I'd try switching my Theeve TiH 8.85s for a set of Indy Stage 11 149s to see how they ride. Everyone changes the bushings on Indys. I have some sets of Bones hard (black) and also a couple of Khiro black barrel bushings. Would you recommend Bones or Kiro bottom/Bones top? I'm riding 58mm and 60mm wheels and no risers. Any suggestions? Thanks

    1. I recommend the Bones hard bushings for Indys. A lot of people like the Khiro bushings on Indys, but if you're looking at the harder bushings, the Bones hard bushings are more durable. I skate my trucks medium tight, and I quickly shredded 3 sets of Khiro black bushings on my Indy Stage 11 169s. The top bushings were shredded in one session. The bottom bushings lasted about 3 sessions. I have since replaced them with Bones hard bushings.
      With the Stage 11 149s, you should be able to ride 58mm wheels without a problem. 60mm might be a close fit.

  9. Landed here searching for your thoughts on the new stage 11s. Just bought a pair and love them.
    Got the polished version and painted them anodized red (which actually looks better than real anodized).

    1. ps: can't wait to read what you think of them. :) ...'cause I love 'em!

    2. Two years on, and the Stage 11 Independents are still great trucks. I skate Stage 11 169s when I am doing a lot of technical tricks. Otherwise, I skate Bear Trucks Polar Bears 180.

  10. What kind of wheels are those