|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).|
Hanger width: 155mm / 6.125"
Actual Axle width: 8.75"
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.|