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Monday, July 9, 2012

Preview of Upcoming Reviews plus some miscellaneous thoughts

Some reviews that are coming up:

  • Independent New 159s
  • Independent New 169s
  • bLind Eternal Life II (EL2) deck
  • Bones Wheels V1 and V2 shapes
  • Comparison among Theeve TiAX 5.25 Low, Ace 03 Low, and Royal 5.25 Low
  • Real Low Pro 8.5" deck

Facebookers have already seen my garage ramp setup. Here it is:
Freshpark quarterpipes set up in my garage. East Coast weather is no longer as huge a concern! I still have one more quarterpipe to put in.
I was skating the freshpark ramps today and several thoughts started going through my head. I don't often put more than two or three topics in a blog post, but getting back into ramp skating has really got me thinking. A full review of the Freshpark ramps will follow soon, these are just my thoughts:

I've seen boards go from noseless 10x30 pig boards with 1/2" risers and 63mm wheels to tiny 7.6x31 twin-
tail freestyle boards with low trucks and 50mm wheels. During that period, there was a gangly phase during which skateboards were about 9x33, shaped like a football, and the wheels were about 38mm. Nowadays, skateboards are on the grow again, with current trends being 8.25x32 popsicle boards with 149mm trucks and 52mm wheels. How much more will they grow? Last fall, lots of the pros (Chris Cole, Chris Haslam, Lizard King, and many, many others) were singing praises for 8.5" decks, but they have all since downsized (Cole - 8.4", Haslam - 8.25", LK - 8.25"). I'm a big dude (6'2", size 14 shoe, 220-230 pounds) with very broad shoulders and long legs (34" inseam). I was lucky enough to pick up skating in 1986 when most skaters were big dudes or were at least skating big boards. Now, 10x30 is a bit much, and I never liked that setup much, but I did enjoy skating between 9" - 9.5" boards with at least 7" tails, 15-15.5" wheelbases, and 7" long-but-not-steep noses. I remember doing varials, kickflips, shuvits, nollies, and more with these boards. I also had a freestyle board, a Kevin Harris, that was so small (7x28, I think) that it felt like a wee little toy beneath me. I wouldn't have dared do a downhill run or a vert run with the freestyle board - it would have been suicide. Yet I recall getting back into skateboarding in 2009, when boards were around 7.75"-8.0" at the high end, and they all felt like little toys. Duckwalking on the 13.5" wheelbases was common for me while I was learning again, and it took many years to get comfortable on the little boards.

Back to the present. I was skating my Freshpark ramps today and my 8.25" enjoi deck with Ace 44s and 52mm wheels on it felt positively toylike. Maybe it was the cramped garage (though the ceiling is about 13' up - no problems there). I don't know. But my front foot kept creeping up to the nose as my back foot stayed its position in the pocket of the tail. As I was skating back and forth, pumping and kickturning in a state of detached zen, my tail felt too narrow at the tip, my 13.75" wheelbase felt cartoonishly small, my nose felt cartoonishly steep, my board felt cartoonishly straight-railed and lacking any type of rocker in the concave. The trucks felt okay, the wheels felt okay. Just the deck felt like it was shrinking beneath my feet. The zen state led to some other deep thoughts, too. Like, time traveler thoughts that I've had since I got back into skating again but are only now becoming clear in my head:

  • Freestyle boards turn now - that's great, I guess? Oh, so you had to put two top bushings to make little trucks turn? Looks pretty strange, but okay. Hey! Why are my 169s getting wheelbite so easily? Oh, it must be the two top bushings. Let's just put a barrel in the bottom there, and... right, there we go! All set.
  • The tails now all taper down in an abrupt roundness. That's great for freestyle tricks, but what if I want to plant my foot on the end of the tail? What am I to do except place my toes on that popsicle tail and hope I don't slip out? Is that why my back foot is always resting right behind the truck bolts at the start of the tail? Once again: I love the popsicle shape when I'm doing flip tricks, but I hate it when I'm doing anything else!
  • Big popsicle stick boards (like the Creature 8.88) have noses that are ludicrously steep. When I ollie a big popsicle, the oversize nose tears a hole in my pants and eventually bloodies the skin on my calf. Any popsicle over 8.5" wide tears up the skin on my calf when I ollie. That ain't right. If I want to skate my big board switch, I can just give it a quick shove to get my front foot on the tail. Nollies are just as easy with mellow noses, and I think crack-nollies are easier with mellower noses. (If you know what a crack nollie is, you're definitely an older skater.)
  • Why do the big boards have such straight rails? Freestyle decks had straight rails because it made it easier to go to rail for tricks. Are people really doing railstands and railflips on 8.5" decks?!? I can actually do rail tricks, and I'll tell you right now there's no point in even trying it on any deck over 8.0" at the absolute tops. Besides, most big popsicles are wider at the front trucks by about a 1/4". It is difficult and frustrating to do rail tricks on boards that don't crack the rail flat on the ground. Here's a comparison:
Left: Powell-Peralta 8.5" deck. Right: Powell-Peralta 9.2" deck
One's got shape, the other doesn't. Feel free to railflip the deck on your left. Go ahead, I'll wait.

  • Why don't park/transition boards have rocker concave to help me stay on the board a little better? Freestyle boards were/are straight concaved (i.e. no rocker) because you're moving your feet all over them to get just the right angle. Funny thing, I've been reading testimonials about the new Real Skateboards "Low Pro" decks that have a bit of rocker to the concave, and skaters are saying that they flip better than the no-rocker decks.
And, one more complaint, this one about one of my local skateparks:
  • Olney Manor Skatepark is one of the best crete parks right around where I live. It is a pay park, $5 per visit, or they have some season passes. Olney Manor Skatepark opens every day during the summer at 4PM and closes at 10PM. That's great for the skaters aged 15-22. But young skaters and old skaters have more difficulty getting to the park. Young skaters need the park to be open around 12 noon-4PM for them, so they can get home in time for dinner. Old skaters, like me, need the park to be open around 6AM-9AM, before we go to work. The park is way too small to have young skaters, prime skaters (15-22), and old skaters all skating it at once. The real capacity of the park is about 4 active skaters at any one time, and even then only if the skaters work small sections of the park. If skaters are more into multiple obstacle flow lines, then the capacity of the park is 2 skaters at once: 1 on the flow course, 1 in the bowl. Pretty small! So, considering that it is so small, why can't Olney Manor Skatepark be open from sunrise to 10PM like most skateparks?


  1. What you said about skatepark hours is SO real. I'm going through the same thing at two of my locals. The one closest to my house is open from 3pm-dark which will be TERRIBLE during the winter and is littered with kids on scooters.

    The one near my job is NEVER crowded and in the suburbs and has a police officer camped there from 6am-9am ANYWAY, I have no idea why they don't just open the gates.

  2. No chance of adding the Indy 139 new low to your comparison?

    1. Ah, Indy 139 New Low: my favorite 8" lows. Believe me, all these trucks must compare to my Indys. I'll make sure I mention how they compare.

  3. The board size thing cracks me up. There is absolutely no need to follow industry trends. I grew up in the eighties skating the 10x30 also. When boards became smaller we (friends here in the NW), started cutting our own blanks. Why skate a 7.25 when you're into screaming smiths in a 10 foot bowl? Don't be forced into anything by the industry. Just DIY. Through much trial and error we have pretty much settled on what is only now becoming popular again- 9x32.5 give or take a half inch based on size of skater. It really is a do it all size. Street to vert it seems to work. Oh, and when cutting your own you can give it.....ghast....shape! I can actually go into a shop and grab a board off the wall that works for me, again. Check out Mike V's new company Elephant's shaped decks. Don't forget to watch the videos...he rips on them.