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Monday, September 24, 2012

Review: Bear Trucks Polar Bears 155

UPDATE (Spring 2013): The Polar Bears are so good they make a lot of other TKP trucks feel like cheap toys. I have been to the concrete park near me twice so far with the Polar Bears, they are excellent carving trucks and they grind extremely smoothly on concrete. I have been improving my frontside carves on the flow corners; I am now going so fast that I'm flying off the coping on the exit. The 91a durometer stock tall barrel bottom bushings were too soft for a big fellow like myself, so I replaced them with some Venom 97a pink bushings. I kept the stock top bushings to keep the carving sharp. The trucks carve really well with the hard bottom bushings and I am getting absolutely no wheelbite with my 52mm Satori Linked Logo 98a wheels. Everything with the Polar Bears is fast and stable at the park.  The trucks are super stable; bombing some hills I quickly wore the Satori wheels down to about 50mm. The Polar Bear trucks are so good that I don't even bother to skate my other boards now. Wherever I take a skateboard, it is the one with the Polar Bears on it that I grab without hesitation. Traveling is so easy with these trucks, they carve well, they grind well, and it is so easy to ollie with these trucks that I barely set up anymore to hop curbs. Here are some more pictures of the Polar Bears:
Polar Bear 155mm trucks. I'm still grinding my locks in. The heat treated aluminum is so strong that it is taking longer than usual. The Polar Bears grind super smoothly.

Polar Bear 155mm trucks. They are a perfect fit for my 8.5" Powell-Peralta black light ripper, shape 181. The axle nuts are outside of the rails, but the wheels are right even with the rails.

Polar Bear 155mm trucks. Top view of the Polar Bears .




ORIGINAL REVIEW (8/31/2012):
Bear Trucks are formidable players in the longboard world. Bear Trucks the company started with a precision CNC-machined reverse kingpin truck called the Precision Grizzly. That model was followed by a cast reverse kingpin (RKP) truck, the Grizzly. The Grizzly model comes in angles of 40 degrees and 52 degrees, for downhill and carving, respectively. In keeping with the progression of skateboarding towards the fusion of longboarding and "trick boarding", many longboard truck companies are producing traditional kingpin (TKP) trucks. Surf-Rodz, for instance, has a precision machined TKP truck called the INDeeSZ, a truck that is giving Bennett and Independent a run for their money. For the last 2.5 years, Bear Trucks has been developing the Polar Bear, a TKP truck with some features that distinguish them from the rest of the pack.
Bear Trucks Polar Bears, in size 155mm (8.75" axle).
Here are the vital specifications of the Bear Trucks Polar Bears:
Hanger width: 155mm / 6.125"
Actual Axle width: 8.75"
Weight:
380g
Height: 48mm
Axle Displacement: dual 26mm / 36.5mm


Bear Trucks Polar Bears in size 155mm. Note two different mounting options for both old school and new school mounting patterns. Or, you can move your wheelbase shorter or longer on new school mounting holes.

First off, and most noticeably, the Polar Bear truck has 8 mounting holes in the baseplate. This allows the skater to mount the trucks where desired. This is a truly innovative feature, simple as it is, because longboard trucks impart a high leverage on the tail due to the axles being closer to the center of the board. RKP trucks typically have axle displacements around 20-30mm, while TKP trucks have axle displacements around 30-42mm. Higher axle displacement measurements mean the axles are more toward the ends of the board, resulting in lower mechanical advantage (i.e. leverage), which requires a higher force to pop an ollie or hold a manual. In short, the higher the axle displacement, the higher the effort needed to pop the kicktail. Something I find commonly happens is that I get a new deck and the tail is higher or lower than I am accustomed to, and I have to change the height of the truck to try to get a better feel from the deck. It isn't always easy to change the height of the trucks by changing out the wheels or risers. One of my favorite shapes, the Creature 8.88, has a mega steep tail that I like because it keeps my feet in place, but is too short to pop a good ollie. I always redrill the rear truck holes on the 8.88 to move the rear truck more inboard to give me a longer tail. With these Polar Bears, I will no longer have to redrill the deck. I just move the rear truck forward to the second set of mounting holes on the baseplate. Nice.
Tall barrel bottom, short cone top. Plenty of kingpin clearance for grinds.


The second unique feature is the bushings. The bottom bushing is a 15mm-tall barrel, the top bushing is a 10.5mm tall conical. RKP trucks have taller bushings than TKP trucks, and the bottom bushings and top bushings of RKP trucks is usually the same at 15mm. So, the Polar Bears have all the stability and shock absorption of a RKP bottom bushing with the carving and quickness of a TKP top bushing. The bushings themselves are 91a, and it feels like a true 91a. Independent Genuine Parts aftermarket soft bushings are nominally 91a, but feel more like 88a. I also really want to commend Bear Trucks on their pivot bushing, too: it is rounded inside and made of high-quality polyurethane.
Pivot bushing for the Bear Trucks Polar Bear. Rounded inside! Just like it should be. 
Reinforcing wing on the hanger of the Bear Trucks Polar Bear.

A third feature of the Polar Bears is the reinforcing wings on the hanger to increase the strength. We'll have to take Bear Trucks' word for it that the wings reinforce the hanger, but their word is fine for me: their Precision Grizzlies and Grizzlies are stunningly perfect trucks. These reinforced hangers will be put to the test by all the daredevils ollieing off of second story buildings and down 20-stair stair sets. The wings also impart a unique look to the trucks. There's no Independent cloning going on here. Bear Trucks started from scratch to design these Polar Bears, and the result is a truly unique TKP truck in a world of clones.
That's the skull of Ursus Maritimus, the Polar Bear. Gorgeous.

Another distinguishing feature of the Polar Bears is the cast logo on the hanger. Almost all truck companies paint their logos on the hanger, or, if they do cast the logo, it is in the bottom of the hanger, out of sight. (Bennett is a notable exception to this.) The Polar Bear trucks have an Ursus Maritimus (i.e. polar bear) skull cast into a recess in the hanger, and it is lovely. I feel most impressed because Bear Trucks did not take the easy way out and just put a bear skull there. They took the time to craft a mold of the skull of the namesake of these trucks, the polar bear. Bear Trucks thinks we're smart enough to know the difference, and I appreciate that. The polar bear skull is a little detail that shows the level of craftsmanship Bear Trucks has.

Just to get a feel for them, I skated the Polar Bear trucks around on my garage ramps, my flatland area, and my carving area. The Polar Bears don't feel like any trucks out there, and that's a good thing, it means there's truly a new player in the TKP truck world. The Polar Bears carve quickly and deeply, with a very high degree of control. A major difference with the Polar Bears, though, is that I don't get ghost taps from the rear truck when I ollie, because I have them mounted on the secondary truck mounting holes on the baseplate. This moves the trucks in and gives me a longer tail. My ollies are quick, firm, and high. Even though I have 1/8" risers and 59mm wheels on a 9" deck, I'm popping my ollies like I was skating a 8.0" deck with no risers, low trucks, and 50mm wheels. This is such a nice feeling that I can't stop popping ollies. The Polar Bear trucks might just take over from my Royal Four 5.5s as my go-to truck, and that is saying a lot, considering all the trucks I skated to conclude with the Royals.

With the Polar Bear, Bear Trucks has made a very high quality, extremely well-engineered traditional kingpin truck. The Bear Trucks team took their time and applied their intelligence effectively, and the result is a spectacularly well-designed and balanced truck. Do not be afraid to give these trucks a try.

Here are the rest of the high-res pictures. Enjoy!
Bear Trucks Polar Bears in size 155mm. No bottom washer, thankfully.

Bear Trucks Polar Bears in size 155mm. Faced hanger and high grade steel axle. 

Bear Trucks Polar Bears in size 155mm. Lots of clearance for grinds, still enough length for carving.

Bear Trucks Polar Bears in size 155mm. Impeccable design quality and manufacturing quality. 

Bear Trucks Polar Bears in size 155mm. Note recessed logo in baseplates to allow for drop-through mounting.

Bear Trucks Polar Bears in size 155mm. Top short cone bushing. 


73 comments:

  1. looking interesting... the US market got a lot of different/ new trucks for the folks... these ones looking really good and interesting what u're talking about.

    But I bet - you won't get these not soon on the German market, cause no one ask for these... I found some shops wo sells Bear trucks - but they are more longboard trucks and got only the longboard-version in their stores.

    Currently I'm doing really fine with my ACE 44 + Khiro hard pivot cup + Bones hc bushings 91a (with bottom + top washers).
    The "unwanted slides on grinds" that happens some times are fix... I think it was a mix of the reason that the trucks was new and didn't got enough "grind-marks" and also the loose-getting pivot-cup (maybe the bushings, too) was the problem.
    I'm excited how long the ACE will last - they seems to grind down faster (not really much) but than Indys and Thunders ;)
    But all in all: currently I'm doing really fine...
    If they last me a "longer" time and it doesn't comes to a fast ending... I'll buy 'em again with the modification (pivot, bushings) I did. If they won't last that long... next setup will be 8.75 deck (not 8.5") with some Indys 159ers (again).

    ACE or new/old Indy geometry is the only way for me to go :)

    Cheers,

    Chris27

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi – will you please post your Blog at Skateboarding Community ay vorts.com? Our members will love it.
    They include: Skateboarders, Skateboarding Fans, Experts, Teams, etc.
    It's simple just cut and paste the link and it automatically links back to your website… You can also add Photos, Videos and more…
    Share as often as you like.
    Email me if you need any help or would like me to do it for you.
    The Skateboarding Community: http://www.vorts.com/skateboarding/
    Thanks,
    James Kaufman, Editor

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, James, I just now saw your comment. Comment filters are likely to blame.
      So sorry it took so long! I'll check out Vorts. Thanks!

      Delete
  3. Do you know the hardness of Thunder stock bushings? I'm thinking of buying some 149 lights. Thanks

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    1. The Thunder stock bushings are about 92-94a.

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    2. i would say softer. softer than indy mediums to me, anyway, which claim to be 90a

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    3. Hmm. I found stock Indy bushings to feel like about 92a. But the aftermarket Indy medium bushings feel to me like 90a. The Thunder stock bushings on the 149 and 151 feel harder than the stock Indy bushings. The stock Thunder bushings on the 147 Lo felt even harder. Maybe the geometry makes them feel harder than they are? Given equal effort, Independent trucks exert more force on their bushings than Thunders.

      Delete
  4. Also are shorty's bushings and dod doh's the same the formula?

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    Replies
    1. Shorty's and Doh Doh's are ostensibly the same formula, but there are anecdotal claims that the Shorty's formula is more pliable than the Doh Doh's formula.
      I have found all Doh Doh bushings to be decent except for the hard/black, which are almost always dried out by the time they get to the end user.

      Delete
  5. I'm an old man (50 years old) getting back into skateboarding. I am now in the process of building a board together. I used to freestyle 360s, 1/4 ramps, etc. Since we now have a few small skate parks in my city (WDC) I'd like to learn the basic street skating tricks and skate park stuff.

    From your reviews, it seems like I'd be interested in getting either the Royal Four 5.5s, the Venture 5.8s or the Polar Bears. These Polar Bears really piqued my interest for some reason - would they be good for my proposed style of skating and an 8.25" board?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. WDC = Washington, DC? If so, you're in my area. I'll gladly lend you some trucks if you want to try without buying. Except the Polar Bears, for they're never available; I like them so much I skate them daily! You can also borrow my freshpark ramps to relearn/learn some transition basics.

      Three good reasons Polar Bears are so good for an older skater:
      1. low ride height (48mm) is kind on old knees/ankles/hips, yet still allow you to use risers if you need more height.
      2. eight truck mounting holes allow wheelbase adjustments to get rid of mega tail on days when your old knees/ankles/hip/back don't allow you to pop ollies like you would like.
      3. tall barrel (15mm) bottom bushing supports weight of older riders better than the medium cones on most trucks. Also, there are so many more choices in bushings in the tall barrel, tall conical, general "longboard" bushings - choices that are more concerned with performance than color customization.

      Another good truck for older skaters is the Gullwing Grinder, but you have to deal with spotty quality control. You can use tall barrel or tall conical bottom bushings on the Grinders if you like. Trackers are always friendly, but they don't have the quickness of street trucks, which have a straight pivot instead of Tracker's bent pivot.

      Let me know if you want to try some Independent trucks, I have 159 silvers and 149 forged. Indys are popular, but there's a lot of hype for something that is really only a "decent" performer. The height of Indy's all cast aluminum trucks is hard on older skater's bodies because of the tall ollie angle. The twitchiness of the forged baseplate Indys gets older skaters hurt, and when older skaters get hurt, they hurt for a lot longer than younger. People get the forged for either strength or to get a lower truck. But if you want Independent feel on a lower truck, try the Gullwing Shadow DLX.

      Delete
  6. Thanks so much for the Polar Bear review.
    As an older skater returning to the board as well ( 40 ) with over 20 years off the board I'm in a similar situation. I set these up on my street board and was very impressed with how much easier ollies are with just the small wheelbase adjustment these trucks allow you to make.
    I'll have to make a point to try them in the pool ( just starting to learn that as well.).

    Cheers!

    /Jim

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    1. The Polar Bears definitely make it easier to ollie. I find it amazing to be able to skate street again like I could when I was young. Having a solid ollie is so essential to street skating, and with an older body, a tall ollie height on the board makes it difficult to be consistent. And so many skateboard deck shapes nowadays have sub-7" tails, making it difficult to get a good ollie angle without getting low trucks and 50mm wheels. Smaller wheels without adjusting the formula generally means less ability to maintain momentum. Skateboard wheel formulas got faster long after the sizes got smaller, and some companies still sell wheels that squash too much because they are just smaller versions of wheels whose formulas were optimized for 57-64mm sizes. There is a whole procession of conditions that modern skateboard shapes have necessitated. Big props to the skateboard manufacturers who give us older, heavier skaters 7"+ tails on 15" wheelbases. Biggest props of all to Bear Trucks for giving us older, heavier skaters a truck that gives us a yet unseen combination of specifications: low and wide with no wheelbite (assuming you've set up your bushings right), ability to adjust nose/tail length by simply remounting in different mounting holes, tall barrel bottom able to support heavier skaters, reinforced hanger design to support higher loads (I've bent so many axles on other trucks!), and heat treated aluminum for higher strength. Polar Bears are simply awesome trucks.

      Once I got the bushing setup right for my preferences, skating pools became easier. I've been trying to get just the basics down in this nasty Wally Holliday pool near my house, and it is definitely easier with the Polar Bears than with any other truck I've skated. The bowl is 7' in the shallow end, 12' in the deep end, all with pretty tight transitions. It is the only pool I've ever skated whose waterfalls actually slow me down rather than provide the pump hump they're supposed to. I never even really noticed waterfalls in pools until I skated this pool and the first waterfall bucked me off my board because it was so steep and tight. A nasty pool it is that slams you in the bottom. Nevertheless, I've been able to skate it better with the Polar Bears.

      I will soon return to one of my favorite bowls: http://www.concretedisciples.com/skateparksdb/skateparks_display.php?id=3195
      We'll see how the Polar Bears help me out there. Last time I skated Greenbelt was when I was skating Theeve 5.85s and my 1031 Creepy Crawly deck - 2 years ago.

      Delete
    2. Greenbelt looks beautiful!
      A bit off topic, I've noticed returning to skating with an older body and attempting to learn vert that pads are essential. I've taken hints from the older gents I see skating the pools.
      I've settled on this for now:
      S-One lifer helmet ( not much reason other than the custom fit inserts they include)
      Pro-designed Elbow pads ( very beefy, no specific reason except for the most seen at the park)
      Pro-designed wrist guards. These are a lifesaver for me. Very impressive design. Far beyond others.
      DeadBolts kneepads. Very happy with these, especially the protection you get for the price..
      Just curious what other older skaters have discovered works for them.

      Delete
  7. Hey up. I really like the look of these. You mention you put a 97a venom bushing on te bottom as your a heavier guy. How heavy are you? 97 seems very hard or are Venoms not like other bushings?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yeah, the Polar Bears look awesome, like someone finally took the time to make the truck molds look good. They have a precision look to match their precision performance.
      I'm 220 pounds. The 97a Venom bushing feels about as hard as the Bones Bushings hard bushing. The Venom bushings have that same rebound to center as Bones bushings - no sticking.
      Skating the Polar Bears with the Venom bottoms feels stiff for the first 3 or 4 carves, then they loosen up to just perfect. I can tell I will have to use softer bushings when the weather gets colder this fall, so I have a set of Venom green 94a tall barrels standing by.

      Delete
  8. Thanks for the quick reply! Your about the same a me then and I quite like black bones. Apart from they are a bit tippy - much prefer barrel shaped bottoms like the venoms. Xmas present sorted!

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  9. Thanks man! 50 + from WDC here! Yes, WDC = Washington, DC. I got a chance to see the park you are talking about @ Greenbelt - wow! I'm working up the nerve!

    Back to the trucks - thanks for the advice. I will definitely give them a try. I was a little confused as I could only find them on longboard sites.

    I currently have two ratty skateboards that I found in the street years ago. The decks on both are pretty worn and so are the trucks. I upgraded the wheels, bearings, risers and bushings on the one board which turns out to have venture trucks. I still will feel more comfortable/confident when I set up a new board (I'll be keeping my new wheels and bearings).

    Another question - I'm an artist and I am attracted to the concept of my own art on my board. Boardpusher.com allows me to do this, but their widest board is 8.25 x 32.25 Inches. Is this a good width for a light 6'0" 155 lb'er?

    Thanks again, btw - and thanks for the offer(s). I may just take you up on 'em - - after I get a little more confident!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. That's awesome! Start slow and low, let your muscles develop, and you'll progress better than the youthful "dive in and get hurt until you learn it" method. Greenbelt is a good park to learn at.

      I love the concept of you using your own art. 8.25 is fine for your build, small enough to learn on, large enough that you feel comfortable.

      My mother is a starving artist, too, so I know how the artist life goes. Please just ask if you want to borrow any of my equipment. I've got decks, trucks, wheels, bearings, lots of stuff.

      Delete
    2. Have you skated Shaw on 11th St? That spot looks pretty cool. I noticed that safety equipment wasn't required there as opposed to Greenbelt. I did some lightweight riding at Shaw once - I was feelin' kinda shakey though!

      Delete
    3. Oops! Actually I was at Brook Manor Park in Olney, MD accross from Roll Skate Shop on Georgia Ave! I'm gonna hafta check out the Greenbelt spot...

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    4. Greg, I've been skating the Sunnyside Park (AKA College Park Skatepark) and the bowl there is a lot nicer than the small bowl at Greenbelt. No fence, either! So you can go skate when you're ready, not when the park nanny is ready.

      Delete
  10. Now I feel like I have to write my long delayed Surf Rodz TKP in parks review.

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    Replies
    1. The INDeeSZ? Please do! I am interested in hearing more about them. They are massively expensive.

      Delete
    2. Tom, I picked up a set of 159 TKP hex trucks. The kingpin is super long! I ordered some short kingpins so I can use short cone tops and get some grind clearance. But carving around the neighborhood with them, the Surf Rodz trucks are a preternatural combination of surfy and stable.
      Do you use speedrings with your Surf Rodz?

      Delete
    3. Ah... excellent. I've got my review about half-written and hope to finish it over the holidays.

      I hope you ordered a grind series kingpin. With a regular hex kingpin, I always felt like the whole thing was jerry-rigged, especially since if you mount a regular kingpin with the nut in the baseplate the threads dig grooves into the baseplate. This isn't an issue with the grind series kingpin, which has a short threaded area.

      I don't use speedrings on the inside. I do use precision spacers, and lock everything down tight. The squareness of the whole system with surf-rodz/rock'n'rons/rainskates/precision spacer system is noticeable (well, when hand-spinning, maybe not riding) compared to even my self-faced cast trucks.

      I have the hex series -- I got them for Christmas last year -- and they grind fine with the grind series kingpin. I'm curious about the new hangers, but I can't really justify the cost if I'm not having problems with the current ones.

      One other geeky point, with the grind series kingpin you can just run a Reflex top bushing, which is bigger than standard (.550" / 14.0mm) and a .650" / 16.5mm cone or barrel boardside with no washer. That's about the maximum amount of urethane you can jam in there for maximum carve and grind. I like the feel of the Reflex bushings, too.

      Delete
    4. I did indeed get the grind series kingpins. 2.25", and a perfect fit! I'm using Uber short cone bushings and they are doing really, really great. No washers top nor bottom.
      I have speedrings on them to prevent damage to the axle threads, but only one speedring per wheel on the axle nut side. I'm using Seismic Tekton bearings and I can get them square. They are fast enough.
      The Surf Rodz TKPs perform great. My bowl skating style is extremely surfy anyway, and the Surf Rodz give me a lot more confidence and speed in the bowls. They do really well on the 17" wheelbase deck, but they are a little squirrely on the 15" wheelbase deck.
      I am really looking forward to your review!

      Delete
    5. Surf-keeyz?

      I've actually ridden mine on a 14.5" deck (Black Label Hassan w/Blender art) in our local funky little flow park, but I can't trust it at anything higher than 4' or so. I've got them on a 15.5" deck now. They are pretty much the only trucks that make me think I might like a little longer wheelbase than that.

      I am intrigued by this thing: http://www.bustinboards.com/v/bustin_longboards_nyc_yoface_longboard.asp

      Also, have you seen these? http://www.sabretrucks.com/?page_id=902

      Delete
  11. Hey big guy,

    Excellent review on the Polar Bears. I ordered a pair from Octane Sport in the UK and I'm loving them on my Salba 8'6" for wooden and concrete pools. I had Ace 44's before these, which carved great but felt tippy by comparison, and didn't inspire confidence when setting up for ollies. I find the Polar Bears stable like Indys on a straight line but carvey like Aces when you lean in.

    I'm running them with green 93a venom barrels and the stock tops, I tried the 97a but they felt dead (I'm 85kg/187lb ish). Also bloody freezing here on Scotland, inside or out!

    Top reviews, and looking forward to your Park Formula test; I ride 58mm SPF's but I'd love to see how they compare with spitfires, S-type etc.

    Cheers!

    Paul

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    Replies
    1. The green Venoms are a good choice for you; you're lighter and you're skating in cold weather!
      The Park formula wheel comparison should be fun. The planned lineup includes: Spitfire Classics, Spitfire Park, Bones SPF, Bones 100, Type S, Landshark, Ricta Superpark, Ricta Speedring, Ricta White Lightning, Kontrol Eco, Kontrol blank, and OJ Power Riders.

      Delete
    2. Maybe throw Bones DTF in the mix if cost allows? I've read a few people who rate them over SPF for wood surfaces. What size are you going for? I'm mostly 58mm ish, as are my bowl riding compatriots from the frozen north...

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    3. Bones DTF might be a possibility. I'll try to include them.

      Delete
    4. SPF is not for wood, in my opinion. And Skatelite doesn't really count -- it's engineered to provide just the right amount of friction that real wood lacks.

      Wood at indoor parks is such a different, nasty beast with the inherent smoothness plus all the accumulative grit and grease. I really would like to hear your opinion on the best wheels (and trucks, too) for that terrain. The older, fatter DTFs might work (I'm about to order a set). Rainskates' 85As might do the trick, too. But honestly I have no idea if softer really makes a difference in that situation. Width certainly should.

      Here in Utah there are only two indoor parks, and neither uses Skatelite. I just got back from a measly one hour session because I couldn't fully adjust to the slipping. But they're the only skateable spots Dec - Feb, so I have to get better... and maybe get better gear.

      Delete
    5. I do a lot of my riding in an indoor masonite bowl (Skaters' Edge in MA). You can do it with hard wheels -- I don't think there's much difference between SPF, STF or any other 100-ish wheel. Going softer is just a question of how much precious speed you want to give up. Also, how much benefit you get from a *little* more grip.

      The bowl I ride also has big gnarly hand poured coping and lots of seams, so I finally just went with 65mm 98A Rainskates Hornets. This has worked out very well. I think if you go softer, you need to go bigger at the same time to help maintain speed (although you don't need to go all the way to 65mm if you don't want to). I wouldn't even think of going softer than 95A, and 97/98 can feel a LOT softer than 100+ on a wood surface. Also you'll get more grip from a bigger contact patch. Small and soft is terrible (insert dick joke).

      Also, my wife has been accepted to a graduate program at the University of Stirling, so I might be spending a year in Scotland starting in the fall!

      Delete
  12. Great reviews,

    I really liked this review on the polar bears . I ride bowls only and use 60mm wheels. Iam 6.2 225.

    Is this truck too low for me ? I have seen That you use smaller wheels with this trucks. Im not into ollies or flip tricks, I mostly carve and grind.Thinking about carving and a lot of speed, would you recommend these over indies 159mm?

    Cheers.

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    Replies
    1. You're my height and weight. To ride 60mm wheels on my Polar Bears, I would put 1/4" risers under them. That puts the height at 54.35mm, just about the same height as the Indy 159s (54.5mm).

      Indy 159s are good trucks. What the Polar Bears would give you that the Indys won't is a snappier ollie, the ability to adjust your wheelbase, and the ability to alleviate mega-tail. Accomplish these things by virtue of the double drilled baseplates. What the Indys give you that the Polar Bears don't is more grind clearance above the kingpin nut. Just like most trucks do when a heavier rider gets on them, the Indy 159s also benefit from replacing the boardside bushing with a tall cone boardside bushing.

      Hope this helps!

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  13. Whats up?

    Pretty good review on these trucks?

    What about bones hardcore bushings with this truck? No chance?

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    Replies
    1. Bones hardcore bushings would be fine with this truck. You'll have to use a bottom washer to keep the height correct - you want 15mm of bushing or bushing/washer boardside on the Polar Bear. A lot of longboarders use a Bones hardcore roadside (top) bushing with a tall cone boardside (bottom) bushing.

      Delete
  14. Hello,

    First off, I wanted to say, I've read many articles off of your blog and follow your facebook page too. I love reading your honest reviews and seeing your true passion for skating. What you have going is truly original and long overdue on the internet if you ask me.

    Your review on the Polar Bears caught my attention as I'm an older skater on the market for some new trucks. They seem very appealing to me as they seem to highlight what I'm looking for in a pair of trucks. I'm currently building a new board which is a 7 3/4" popsicle shape as I wanted to practice flip tricks (I'm 5'6" 155lbs). I see that the axle is 8.75" and that may be bit too wide for the deck. Any online search is leading me to this one size (155mm). I did manage to find some different sized models but those trucks were all black and looked nothing like these ones (possibly some older models?). Anyways, would you happen to know if this particular model is offerend in any other sizes? Even Bear's website doesn't mention sizes. Any info will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks man!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's great! I'm really glad that I can help other skaters.
      There are some photos of early Polar Bear trucks floating around the internet. These early prototypes were black and green, with planned sizes 105mm, 130mm, 155mm, and 180mm.
      Here is a link to a photo: http://i.imgur.com/TqChJ.jpg
      And here is a link to a thread on Silverfish about it: http://www.silverfishlongboarding.com/forum/longboard-skateboarding-trucks-bushings/249165-mystery-traditional-geometry-truck-polar-bear-maybe.html

      The current Polar Bear seems to only come in 155mm for now. That is an 8.75" axle, which is far too big for your 7.75 deck.

      Having a small deck to flip around is a great idea! I started a few years ago with 7.75" decks for my flip trick sessions, then gradually moved up to 8.25". On deck sizes 7.75 - 8.1", I skated Venture 5.2 Low trucks. From 8.12" to 8.25", I skate Theeve 5.5 trucks. I tried the Tork Trux 5.5, but I bent the axles quickly, I'm too heavy for them. But the Tork Trux were actually really nice trucks for flipping around a board. Thunder 147s are also very good trucks for 7.75-8.1 flip trick decks. You can start low and small to get your feel for the flip tricks, then maybe get wider or higher as you progress. Wider deck gives you more landing area, higher trucks give you more pop and a more "weighted" rotation once you've perfected your foot placement. For wheels, stick with anything 50mm or smaller. Try to get as skinny a wheel as you can, too, it really helps a lot. Skinny 48mm wheels will take far more weight off your flip setup than hollow kingpins and hollow axles. Although I also recommend hollow kingpins and hollow axles, double down on weight savings! I like my flip board to be really lightweight, so I use the Theeve TiH. Another thing I do for my flip board is I keep one set of 49mm wheels with really cheap, old bearings in them; when I'm learning new flip tricks, I put these wheels on and kind of crank them down so they don't spin as readily or as fast. This gives me a little more confidence that I won't shoot out a landing. You can also immobilize an old set of bearings by soaking them in bleach for a few minutes and letting them air dry. The bearings quickly rust together and cease rolling. Put them in some wheels and you can practice flip tricks with a board that doesn't roll at all - good for learning new tricks. The bleached bearings will never roll again unless you chemically break the chlorine bond, so don't use your favorite bearings.
      Hope this helps!

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  15. Thanks for the informative response! Much appreciated. You're right, a smaller and thinner wheel does make a world of a difference as I found out first hand this past summer. I think I'm going to pick up the Polar Bears for my 8.25 board because I'm still very interested in them haha. As for the other trucks you mentioned, I'm gonna try theeve 5.0s (sorry I know you don't like them too much), and if not, then maybe Thunders like you mentioned as I've heard good things about them as well. Definitely will go with a smaller wheel. Thanks again for all your help man, I really appreciate it. Take care

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    1. Quite the contrary: I do like Theeves very much, I just don't like the bones bushings in them. Indy bushings do well enough in them, though. The Theeves are really surfy with Indy Genuine Parts bushings. I skate Theeve TiH 5.5 on my 8.25-8.5 boards, and I do bowl skating and trick skating with those boards.

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    2. Thanks man, good to know. I'll keep a spare pair of Indy bushings around for sure then.

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    3. Also, try the standard barrel bottom bushing combos from the likes of Khiro, Deluxe. With a bottom cup washer, standard barrel bottoms correct the Theeve geometry.

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  16. First off thanks for all the reviews. I recently got back into skateboarding and never buy anything without first researching it. Im 38 and been off the board for a long time. After about 6 months of skating i have found a size 8 board to be my preference. I have been riding the krux mahallow trucks for flatland garage skating and do like them. However i am considering trying something new. I was considering tensor mag lights. My question is how much does truck weight matter in your opinion? I was wondering if a heavier truck might make flip tricks more controlled. I struggle with kickflips and heelflips in that sometimes the board flips away from me. I know there are alot of things that cause this, but would heavier trucks help with board control at all. Are there any real advantages to lighter trucks. I am a heavier skater at about 230lbs and i have the leg strength to handle heavier trucks. I also like lower trucks. Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated.

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    1. Thanks for reading! I'm really happy to help people get the most out of their skating.
      Krux mahollows are nice trucks.
      What you sound like you need is a quick snap with a weighted flip. If that's the case, Tensor Mag Lights, unfortunately, won't help you with your flip problems. They will probably make them worse. That is partly because of their light weight and partly because of their geometry. They require a high tap effort.
      Heavier trucks can indeed help with flip tricks because they slow down the flip. Independent low trucks in the 139 size are really great trucks for flatland. They are heavier trucks but they are just the right weight in just the right places. It sounds like you could benefit from a set.

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  17. do you think these would be good for a cruiser?

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    1. Yes, Polar Bears are great cruiser trucks. You'll want to use risers to get clearance for cruiser wheels, which are typically taller and wider.

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  18. I recently discovered this blog and have to say how awesome it is to have all of these reviews of such a variety of product. Especially that you seem very unbiased. Keep up the awesome work!

    I was wondering, now that it is 2014, has your glowing review of Polar Bear trucks changed at all? Did you manage to bend the axles at all? What was your final combination of bushings with these trucks?

    I usually use Bones hard bushings and was wondering how these might work with these trucks?

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    1. Thanks for commenting! Johnny and I work hard to share the knowledge. We have our biases, but we also approach equipment with an open mind, and we are not afraid to challenge our beliefs.

      Yes, the Polar Bears are still my favorite truck. They're low and quick on the street, stable and carvy at the park. I put 1/8" or 1/4" risers on them when I go to the park. I get a little wheel rub, but nothing that stops me. I'm embracing Johnny Ronci's small wheel revelation and skating 50mm wheels: Johnny's assessment is correct - "fast" is in the compound, not the size. At the park, I skate the 155 Polar Bears with 58mm wheels on a 10x38 Riviera Thai Fighter: I mounted the trucks on the "outer" holes, the ones nearest the ends of the board, to shorten the wheelbase (18.98" instead of the stock 19.75") and give me a little more tail and nose. When I skate street or flatland, I skate the same set of 155 Polar Bears on the "inner" holes on a 9x36/17.5wb Gravity Pool 36 with 50mm wheels. Bitching setups, either way.

      I'm skating the stock bushings on them with a cupped boardside washer. When the Polar Bears first came out, there was no boardside (bottom) washer. Nowadays, the boardside washer comes stock and really helps the trucks feel complete. With these Polar Bears, I don't change my truck settings at all, no matter what I'm skating. I skate them medium, just 1 thread showing above the nut on the rear truck, and about 1/2 a thread showing above the nut on the front truck.

      I haven't tried Bones bushings in the trucks. I'll try it and see how they feel, maybe today if the blizzard corpses in my front lawn stop peeing all over my driveway (East Coast, yeah!). I always find it odd how Bones Bushings are like a great equalizer when it comes to truck performance: good trucks stay good, trucks with shit stock bushings get better.

      I'm currently doing a full analysis on the Polar Bear geometry. I don't yet have any research goals, just a hypothesis that skateboard truck geometry can be classed into families. I hypothesize that Polar Bears and Thunders are in the same geometry family. We'll see if this thought holds out through the research and analysis. Should be interesting research. The "Indy" family tree is a large one, I hypothesize.

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    2. Thanks for the quick reply. I usually bowls, mini ramps and parks. I prefer a 15" wheelbase but what seems quite good with these trucks is the fact you can adjust the wheelbase without drilling! It sounds like you find these as good all around trucks, pools ramps and all!

      I usually ride 56-60mm wheels but am keen to try out Johnnys small wheel theory. Due to the slick surfaces I often ride I am thinking of trying out the Spitfire Formula Fours to see if they do provide a better speed to grip ration then Bones.

      Will be interested in seeing what you find with your geometry project!

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  19. first up, thanks for the great and considered reviews on this blog which I find myself coming back to and posting elsewhere

    Now, you have made me a problem :)

    I skate mainly 8.4" and 8.5" decks with 57-58mm wheels and need a set of all rounder trucks for park, bowl and street (yes, I mean the actual street, cobblestones and all).

    I can get Venture 5.8 Highs or Polar Bear 155s for about the same reduced price right now. Your review of the Ventures was good but you didn't have the Polars at that point. Up till now I've been skating Indy 149 Hollow Forged and like them fine, even though you say they are a harsh mistress :)

    The Polars look great, however I'm put off by the fact I'll have to use a riser as this is my trick deck, and also wondering if 155 is going to be too much for an 8.4" deck.

    Any advice appreciated. NB the sale ends in 48 hours :)

    Thanks,

    Toby

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    1. I find that the Venture 5.8 Highs and the Polar Bear 155s are really different trucks. Both of them have their charms, that's for sure. If you think you're going to be skating a lot of different types of terrain (like park, street, travel, flatland, banks, ledges, and so on), the Polar Bear 155 trucks are more versatile than the Venture 5.8 trucks. When I skate the Ventures, there are times I wished I had lower trucks, or lesser fulcrums, and there's nothing I can really do about it until I get home. With the Polar Bears, I can change them right there at the skate spot: add a riser or two to lift them up to ride the park, move them onto the alternate truck mounting holes to shorten my wheelbase and give me lower nollie/ollie snaps on flatland, put on a cone boardside bushing to get more carve for travelling, and so on.
      With your deck width (8.5"ish) and wheel size (57-58 mm), you'd probably ride the Polar Bears with risers all the time. Probably 1/8" (3.2 mm) minimum, maybe 1/4" (6.4 mm) or 3/8" (9.5 mm). This won't really change much As for size, the 155 will be fine even on an 8.4" deck. I skated them for a long time on two different 8.4" decks and everything went really well.

      Ha ha! Yeah, I perpetually feel that the Indy Forged Hollows definitely reward those skaters who have careful feet. I'm glad you like them, they're really awesome trucks.

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  20. also, have you had the chance to compare these to Mini Logos? I can have these for about €7 more than the Mini-Logos

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    1. The Polar Bears are very different than the Mini Logos. They're both fine trucks with modern designs that give you good turn AND good stability, a rarity among many of the older truck designs out there. But I can't really compare the trucks because they are so different. I will say that Mini Logo trucks do well on boards with wheelbases under 15", and Polar Bears do well on boards with wheelbases 15" and longer. You could easily skate Polar Bears on a 24" wheelbase deck and have great turning.

      Some skaters have remarked that the Mini Logo bushing quality is lacking - it has not been my experience, I thought the ML bushings were good bushings.
      The early Polar Bears lacked a boardside washer, making the bushings feel a little too soft. The later Polar Bears with the stock boardside washer eliminated this weakness, giving the skater more control over how soft or firm the bushings are.

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  21. How would you compare the PBs to Paris ST, Caliber Standards, Saber TKPs or Indeesz? I'm trying to narrow the selection for a board to learn pool/park and carvey garage bombing fun (Moracle). Your blog is one of the only existing reviews I can find online, good work! I realise Indeesz are not the same but I have 2 sets already so they are in the final line up. I also like the sound of the Polar Bear T's.

    I'm not a fan of Indys so far but really need more time on them. My skate history is pretty much all LDP (home made spherical bearings in everything and lots of wedging) so this whole area is new to me.

    Thanks.

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    1. I haven't skated Saber TKPs, but I've skated the others.
      The Indeesz are different than any other truck out there. Having skated Indeesz extensively, I know exactly why you like them for long distance pumping. Indeesz (known today as Surf-Rodz TKP) are highly configurable, precise, strong, and durable trucks. They're heavy, though, and I found that they don't like the low speeds of flatground street tricks - lots of unexpected lean when trying to do a low-speed or stationary kickflip, for example. But kickflips are not why skaters get Surf-Rodz TKP trucks.
      The turn on the Paris and Caliber TKP trucks are close to what you get from Independent trucks. The Paris are like Stage 11 Indys with risers and a longer kingpin. The Calibers are like Stage 10 Indys with harder bushings and more lean.
      At 49 mm, the Polar Bear standards are lower than the Paris ST, Caliber Standards, and Indeesz. The turning on the Polar Bear trucks is closer to what longboarders and pumpers experience if they were to run pretty stiff bushings. I can pump through a carve on the Polar Bears, for instance, and gain good speed, but I can't do the same with Indy/Paris/Caliber with also doing a few tic-tacs. I love the Polar Bears because of the ability to pump carves as well as be low and stable for street tricks. The Polar Bear Ts would eliminate the necessity of carrying around risers, at the expense of the low ride height. As for me, I try to get decks with wheel wells or, preferably, wheel arches molded right into the concave, so that I don't have to worry about risers and wheelbite on my Polar Bear standards.

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  22. Great reply, thanks. It sounds like the Bears are getting a lot more love than the rest. I believe Bustin are using them on their completes these days. For me it's all about the pump, if there's no pump I'm not skating.

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  23. Great review! Would polar bear 180's be too wide for a 2015 Rayne Catalyst? I would regularely go with the 155's but my buddy can sell me 180's for very cheap, just wondering if the set up would work or not. Thanks!

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    1. The Polar Bear 180s fit nicely on decks from 9.5" - 10.5". I currently have a set of 180s on a Bustin Yoface 9.5" x 39" deck and the fit is perfect with center set wheels. I'll say it again and again: Polar Bears are great trucks! They are definitely my favorite trucks.

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  24. Hello, great blog! Wich truck you like better? Polar bears or independent and why ? Is there a lot of difference? I'm on hightailer too and indys, do you think I should make the change to polar? Thanks!

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    1. Hey Marcelo, thanks for writing. I've had to think about your question for a few days. I always say in general that Independent and Bear trucks are both really great trucks. For the Hightailer, which is 10" wide, you would look first at the Independent 215 (9.96" axle) or the Polar Bear 180 (9.7" axle).
      The next size down for Independent would be the 169, the Stage XI of which measures 9.13" at the axle. The Indy 169 Stage XI would be a decent enough fit on the Hightailer, a little narrow, but wouldn't look awkwardly small on the board. If your trucks are tight, the extra leverage of the deck overhang might make your board prone to unwelcome lifting of outside wheels on carves and turns. But you could make the 169s work on the Hightailer if you wanted to.
      The next size down for the Polar Bear is the 155, which measures 8.75" at the axle. The Polar Bear 155 is definitely too small for the Hightailer.
      The Independent 215s are Mid trucks at 51.5 mm in height at the axle, the Independent 169s are High trucks at 54.5 mm in height at the axle, while the Polar Bears are Low trucks at 49 mm in height at the axle. The standard advice on height is if the geometry is comparable, High trucks can have larger diameter wheels. However, geometry is rarely comparable among trucks, especially when you start customizing bushings. I have skated over 100 different types of trucks and I have found that height and wheel size have relatively little effect on wheelbite and wheel clearance. Instead, geometry is the dominant deciding factor when it comes to ensuring wheelbite doesn't make you crash. Today (27 Sept 2015) I'll be posting a blog post about my observations on geometry.
      Independent 169s have a good geometry and come equipped with good bushings. Wheelbite is not a major factor with Indy 169s with wheels up to size 60 mm. Independent 169s are responsive and lively but are less stable (meaning they lack a definitive "center" and you generally have to concentrate more to maintain a steady state turn). The 169's stability is not affected much by the tightness of the kingpin: by the time the stability changes from tightening the kingpin nut, the bushings are completely squashed flat, something that should never happen. Harder bushings help with the stability, but the 169s have a relatively short kingpin, making it difficult to install roadside bushings with enough height to make a meaningful difference on the stability. Many skaters hammer out the 169's short 2" kingpin and put a 2.25" or 2.5" kingpin in to give more room for the roadside bushing. Alternatively, skaters use Core brand baseplates that have a longer kingpin but fit Indy geometry - a combination called the "Cindy".
      Independent 215s have an older geometry and also come with good bushings. 215s are responsive and fairly stable. I found, however, that wheelbite is an issue on the 215s, meaning you may have to use 55 mm or smaller wheels or start stacking riser pads under the trucks.
      Polar Bear 180s have a good geometry and come equipped with excellent bushings. Wheelbite is not an issue with wheels up to size 58 mm. Polar Bear 180s are responsive, lively, and have solid stability that you can increase or decrease with kingpin nut tightness.
      Long answer, I know. But it is a tough question. Please let us know what you finally decide on!

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    2. So, you're saying that indys are just as responsive and lively as the polars bears, but are less stable than them? Would the forged titanium indys be better than the polar bears?

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    3. I don't know, but I will find out soon, as I just ordered some forged titanium 169 Independents.

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  25. Thanks a lot man!! That was More that I could ever ask for a response! I appreciate the time you took to explain the details! Keep the good job on the blog !
    Ps: maybe you know or not but riptide and riot make special street bushings that I find absolutely beast to use on tkps (chubby, fatcone, blackwidows that are the same size as indy), worth giving a check =)

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    1. You were right, Riptide bushings are pretty nice. I have a few in rotation in my bag of bushings. They remind me a lot of Venom bushings.

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  26. Thanks for the review. I just bought the taller version of the Bear Polar 155 in black. Bought them for my Vision Jinx Mini Re-Issue. I've ridden Independents and old Gullwings, but this review convinced me to try something different this time around.

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    1. I now had the chance to test them. These are really the best wide TKP trucks I've ever ridden. The stock bushings are perfect for my weight of 175 lbs. Very carvy, yet stable trucks. I also like the various wheelbase options, because the different montage of the front truck enlarged the very short nose of my Vision Jinx Mini. This taller version of the Bear Polar enables me to ride my vintage 66mm SC Bullet Wheels with a little riser pad (about 5mm) without wheelbite.

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    2. Nice! That's good to hear. It would be nice if Bear made the T model in 180T as well.

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  27. Hi there,
    Following your SZ Grind TKP reveiw I bought them and really like their deep turns in the pool. Would I get the same turning with the Bear? Thanks

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    1. I'm glad you like the Surf Rodz Grind trucks. They have a different turn than the Polar Bears. The Polar Bears don't turn as deeply as the Surf Rodz TKP. The Surf Rodz are milled/forged and have a feeling of precision: they turn deeply and as quick as you like, and they feel like they make the bushings do the flexing and bending. The Polar Bears, which are cast aluminum, offload some of the flexing and bending to the metal pieces of the trucks. They have a fluid feel, but it feels fluid in many directions compared to the Surf Rodz which feel fluid only along the axis of rotation. These aren't negative attributes of either truck, just differences. I like Polar Bears when I'm doing wide, fast carves. I like Surf Rodz when I'm doing really tight carving.
      Interestingly, the Surf Rodz trucks, like other milled/forged trucks I've skated, feel better for technical work like ollies and varials and kickflips and stuff. I feel like the cast trucks are kind of always adapting to my foot pressure and weight shifts, which sometimes makes it difficult to have precise, repeatable foot placement. The Surf-Rodz, however, make everything feel the same when I put my feet in the same position again; it's like it's easier to duplicate the foot placement and hence the technical results with the milled/forged trucks. I notice the same thing but to a far lesser extent with Independent trucks that have the forged baseplates.

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    2. Based on this I think I will stick with SZ.
      Thanks!

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  28. hi, great review by the way. i have had these truck for about a year now and the person before me had them for a while. earlier today, i snapped a kingpin and was wondering of anyone knew where i could get a new one, or if other kingpins would work with it. i am going to try to take it to my local shop soon and see is the guy there can find a replacement.

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