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Monday, October 1, 2012

Sota No Rip Grip tape

Sze Chan from NY wrote on the facebook page about this grip tape from Sota Skateboarding, a company in Texas. Sota has developed what they call "No Rip Grip". No Rip Grip is applied just like grip tape - well, almost like grip tape - and is meant to provide grip without ripping up your shoes.

Sze's experiences with the No Rip Grip were not good. He had trouble putting it on his deck, trouble cutting it around the edges, and trouble with it staying stuck to his deck. Now, Sze knows full well how to grip a skateboard deck, so his technique wasn't to blame. Still, though, his experience got me interested in why the No Rip Grip was so difficult to install and whether or not it even worked.

No Rip Grip looks like really rubbery asphalt, like the kind of material you'd find on outdoor ball courts in Manhattan.
No Rip Grip. Just like the track around the ball court at Asphalt Green.
Let's take a moment to view Sota Skateboarding's pitch video:

So, I received a sheet of the No Rip Grip in the mail today.
No Rip Grip. 
The sheet was folded in thirds - interesting - but it wasn't creased when I pulled it out of the envelope. Just folded gently.
No Rip Grip. The bends smooth out quickly after I unfold the sheet.
The No Rip Grip is about twice as thick as normal grip tape, and feels textured but smooth to the hand. I rubbed my shoe against it, and the rubber of my sole stuck pretty well. Time to install it and see.
No Rip Grip. About to be installed on a Santa Cruz 8.2 Sid Melvin Gone Fishin' deck.
Installing No Rip Grip was different from normal grip tape. I peeled the paper away and stuck it on the board just like normal grip tape, smoothing it down as I went. Smoothing was easy because I didn't have to put the backing paper on the grip to protect my hands, I just smoothed it with my hand. I poked the air bubbles gently with my razor blade and most of the bubbles went flat without even pressing. Some bigger bubbles required a few more pokes from the razor and then some pressing with my thumb to get them flat. No biggie. The No Rip Grip clung to the deck very well, better than most grip tapes out there.
No Rip Grip. Sticks to deck fine.
When it came time to trim the grip tape to shape, I recalled that Sze had said that no matter how much he filed the edges from above, he couldn't get a white line to appear in the grip. Most skaters use that white line as a guide to cutting the grip tape to the shape of the deck. Since I razor my grip from below, I don't file my edges first unless I'm using Black Diamond or Jessup grip, both of which tend to get ragged when trying to cut without filing first. I recently put some Bullet grip tape on a deck and just razored it right around with no filing. I like Madrid Fly Paper, too, and I just razor that grip tape right around, too. So, I have a good "cut from below" technique that I put to use when razoring the No Rip Grip. I first put a new blade in my razor, to eliminate any potential for errors there, and then razored the grip.
No Rip Grip. I recommend a "cut from below" razoring technique.
There were no problems. The No Rip Grip cut smoothly and quickly. No hitches, no grip tape dust all over my legs, no grip rising on the bends of the nose and tail, no problems. Just a smooth slice all the way around, and I got the remains off in one piece.
No Rip Grip. Smooth edges after razoring.

No Rip Grip. I got the remains off in one piece.
The No Rip Grip on the deck, I put the trucks on. Finding the holes was hard. My technique I developed in the 80s and still use to this day is to press the bolts through the tape from the top, just ripping the tape as I pushed the bolts through. This technique was not feasible with the No Rip Grip. Instead, I switched to an alternate technique. I pushed a bolt up from the bottom to put a little raised dimple in the grip. The grip stretched from the bolt. When I pulled the bolt out, the dimple promptly disappeared. Ugh. I pulled out my drill, put on a phillips screwdriver tip, pushed up from the bottom to place the bit, pulled the bolt away, and spun the drill a couple of times to break through the grip. This did the trick. When I mounted my trucks on the board and tightened the bolts down, 2 of the bolts partially disappeared under the No Rip Grip as it closed up like The Blob over them.

No Rip Grip. My front indicator bolt started to disappear as the No Rip Grip oozed over it.

Top, Black Diamond grip tape on an Enjoi deck. Bottom, Sota No Rip Grip on the Santa Cruz deck. There is a shiny part near the front truck bolts (to the left in the picture) that looks like something hot rested against the No Rip Grip temporarily. The shiny part does not negatively or even noticeably affect the grip performance of the No Rip Grip.
Time to skate.

I was not too surprised to find that the No Rip Grip allows for normal skating. Everything is a lot quieter, but it feels otherwise normal. I can ollie, nollie, kickflip, shuv it, whatever. I can Chubby Checker (twist, ya'll) my feet into position just like with normal grip. For the most part, No Rip Grip just feels like normal grip tape. Tricks that involve sliding the feet, like flip tricks, were easier, because the grip was just the right amount of grippiness. The pop of the deck was consistent with NHS decks, so there were no losses there. I landed one kick flip on the dark side and the board did not slide out from under me like with normal grip, it just stuck there and prevented me from doing the unexpected splits. My hips thanked me for that. I made sure to do a lot of flip tricks, because those are the tricks that tear up shoes. I left white streaks on the No Rip Grip, but my shoes were still doing very well. With the No Rip Grip, it would be difficult to even approach the rate of wear at which normal grip tape tears through shoes. I like the way the No Rip Grip skates for street skating and technical flatland skating. I do not feel that No Rip Grip is grippy enough for my ramp/bowl board, though. I usually skate Bullet or Madrid Fly Paper on my ramp/bowl board, otherwise my feet creep out toward the ends of the board as I'm pumping. However, ramp and vert skating are not that tough on shoes, so the No Rip Grip isn't even really necessary there.

My final assessment of the No Rip Grip is that it is an attractive alternative to normal grip tape for street skating and technical skating. In using it, I find that No Rip Grip presents a strong business case: all the features of normal grip + some beneficial extra features (quieter, easier flick, longer lasting, dark side landings aren't as iffy) + significantly less wear on shoes, pants, fingers, calves, and shins. The only challenge is actually installing the No Rip Grip onto the board - it requires advanced techniques to get it right. If No Rip Grip takes off as a product, skate shops may need to do some additional training on how to install it correctly. If you're a skate shop in the DC/Baltimore area, write to me and I'll be happy to come by and teach you how to install the No Rip Grip.

Lastly, I think the primary customers of this No Rip Grip would be parents of skaters.
PARENTS, LISTEN UP: demand No Rip Grip on your child's skateboard - they'll skate like a champ and won't go through a pair of shoes every 2 weeks. At $15, you'll spend 3 times the amount for the grip tape, but how much are shoes again? Exactly.

32 comments:

  1. I've been skeptical about this product for the longest time. Seeing as you back it, I might just have to spend the extra cash. Right now I'm rolling with Jessup on a 8.4 Zero P2, Jessup on a Krooked Brite Eyes 8.25, and I'll be throwing some Grizzly Grip on a Real R1 8.18 soon.

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    1. I like it a lot for technical flatland. I honestly feel that most skaters who do tech tricks won't notice the difference between No Rip Grip and regular grip tape - except that their shoes will last a lot longer.

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  2. I'll stick with MOB Grip... perfect for vert & bowl/ pool :)

    Cheers,

    //Chris27

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    1. Agreed. I like extra grippy for ramps/bowls/parks. In the park, I'm not doing tricks that touch the upper parts of the shoe that much, anyway. It takes me months to wear down shoes if all I'm skating is park.

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  3. Can you post a video review of you skating the grip?

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    1. I'll see what I can piece together over the next few months.

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  4. Do you think that you will continue using this stuff? It certainly sounds interesting but I guess I'm wary. It just seems...wrong. I'm probably just a luddite.

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    1. I like the No Rip Grip a lot for flatland. I always liked really worn out or really crappy grip tape for technical flatland, I hate when I can't move my feet around the board. It is definitely a vestige of my freestyle days; when I would set up a freestyle deck, I would use the extra grip tape to wear down all the grip so I could move my feet around better. Doing a walk the dog on new grip tape was difficult and dangerous. Conditioning the grip was a necessity. More recently, I once went grip tape free on a technical board for about 2 weeks, but found that droplets of sweat created hazardous conditions on lacquered hard rock maple. And, for a while, I cut a circle out of my grip in the middle of my board so I could do freestyle tricks better.
      With the No Rip Grip, the grip tape feels like normal grip tape, kind of like Jessup grip, Mini Logo grip, Black Magic grip, Black Diamond grip. But, when I shift my feet, it feels like grip that has been conditioned (as I mentioned above) for technical flatland, aka freestyle. It grips when I need it to and lets go when I need it to. With the No Rip Grip, tricks where I toe hook the darkside release exactly when I intend to, very nice.
      So, short answer: yes, for technical flatland. I will still use Bullet or Madrid for my park boards. But my technical flatland board is doing really well with the No Rip Grip. I'll save so much damn money on shoes, too. It is hard not to like the stuff.

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  5. I'm sorry if this is off topic, but I would like to know your opinion on Bones bushings. It seems I have had a lot of trouble with them lately. The yellow cap starts to come off of the bushing. Also white part will swallow the cap after awhile.
    P.S.
    I like medium loose trucks and have been putting them on Indy 149s.
    Thanks, Ben

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    1. I've ridden the core out of quite a few Bones bushings. Theeve trucks are the worst perpetrators when it comes to de-coring Bones bushings. Indy 149s are generally easier on Bones bushings, but they will chew them up, too. If you're in the USA, and you want some extra Bones bushings to tide you over, write to me at rlouisd@gmail.com and I'll send you a lightly used set in your favorite hardness.

      Independent 149 trucks do really well with the aftermarket Independent Genuine Parts bushings:
      http://www.nhsfunfactory.com/item/33531090/independent/Genuine-Parts-Standard-(90a)-Pk4-Cushions-Soft
      The red (soft) Indy GP bushings say they're 90a, but they feel more like about 93a. In any case, they're very nice if you like medium-loose. The orange (medium) Indy GP bushings feel about 95a, the black (hard) Indy GP bushings feel about 97a.

      Another good bushing for Indy trucks are Venom bushings. Get the bushings that say "conventional" that have a medium cone and a small cone. They're expensive, but they'll outlast Bones bushings. The durometers are true to nominal, too. They are whatever hardness it says they are. Since I discovered Venom bushings, I have stopped skating Bones bushings. Venom bushings are pretty awesome.

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    2. Thanks for the info. I bought some medium Indy bushings recently and they were way too hard. You are right they are not a 92a. I think I will have to buy a set of reds now. I wish Bones would make a bushing without a core. I think their urethane is amazing.

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    3. Agreed, Bones has awesome urethane. Coreless Bones bushings would be pretty nice. Until then, I'm skating Venom bushings.

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    4. Would you recommend Venom bushings for Theeves Tiax 5.5s as a fix for your well documented Bones issues.
      I've swopped to Khiro Hard pivot cups which has taken away the clicking you describe and have put in black Bones bushings.
      You're in depth review of the Theeves is really amazingly helpful.

      As an old(...er?) man trying to get back into skating (I cannot yet call myself an old man skater) your blog is both hugely entertaining and informative. Much has changed since 79/80. Many thanks for all your effort.

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    5. The black (hard) Bones bushings do a lot towards resolving the bulge issue. Venom bushings might help if you get the conventional style. I really like Venom bushings because the quality is so high: 94a is really 94a. I prefer the regular Venom formula over the Super High Rebound formula.
      I'm glad I can help older skaters. That is my primary goal.

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  6. Interesting blog man, shame about the no rip griptape only being available in the USA, I can't find it in the UK. I have bones bushings in my Royals too Ben and they are starting to fall apart a little too. Me and my friends have started a skateboarding blog, and if you'd like too check it out it'd be much appreciated http://mundellsskate.blogspot.co.uk/. Cheers

    ~ Jamie

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    1. Nice blog! I love the British-ness of the writing style.

      It seems Sota is currently running domestic operations only.

      I've browsed the UK-based online skate shops - they are sparse! I feel for you brits, I really do. Amazon.com here in the USA is rich with variety and have a dedicated skateboard store. Many of the big East Coast and Midwest online skate shops are on Amazon.com. West Coast shops generally have an older business model and they run their own online websites.

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  7. Hi Bertrand

    Do you know there are a new royal truck available the royal v?
    I would love to know what your favourite trucks are at the moment, also bearings?
    I have a great ride on 85 d spitfires and bones ceramic reds, but a poor ride on kontrolls and reds steel bearings, but one is for the road and the other for the skatepark.

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    1. Where's the website for the Royal V?

      My favorite trucks right now are Bear Trucks' Polar Bear 155mm. They are awesome for so many reasons, but mainly because they're really good for older skaters. The Polar Bear trucks make all my other trucks feel like cheap toys. http://oldmanskater.blogspot.com/2012/09/introduction-bear-trucks-polar-bears.html

      My favorite bearings are Swiss bearings from any company. I have Element Swiss bearings in my favorite 8.5 all-around board, Pig Swiss in my longboard, Rush Swiss in my flatland 8.2 board, and another set of Element Swiss in my spare set of wheels. Element, Pig, Rush, Bones, Zero, all these companies offer great Swiss bearings. Just get the cheapest Swiss bearings you can find of those companies. Any Swiss bearing is better than either bones ceramic reds or bones reds.

      If you're riding 85a Spitfires, then you're getting a pretty soft ride. Kontrol wheels, on the other hand, are about 100-102a, much harder. Even in the skatepark, that's going to be a very rough ride. If you like how your Spitfires feel, I recommend you get park wheels that are 98a or softer. Spitfire park formula is 98a, for instance, and it is decent but despite the promise it does flatspot. Satori makes 98a wheels that are great all-around wheels that I have never been able to flatspot, and I've worn about 8 sets of Satori 98a wheels down from 52mm to 48mm (at which point I send them back to Satori to be recycled). Powell-Peralta's 95a formula (known as Ditch Tech Formula in the Bones variant) is a nice one for parks, too, but they don't grip wood ramps as well as other mid-duro wheels. Pig Multi-Logo 95a wheels are really awesome wheels, too, but they're hard to find.

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    2. I was reading some of the old comments and saw that I mentioned Element Swiss bearings in this comment. It is now November, 2013, and I'm still skating that exact same set of Element Swiss bearings from my all-around board. They're faster than any other bearing I have. I skate my all-around board with those bearings pretty much every day, and they're still great. I haven't yet felt the need to use the spare set of Element Swiss bearings. So, big ups for Element Swiss bearings!

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  8. Do you ever visit The Chrome Ball Incident or Vert Is Dead blog? Also I used to live in Berlin for a couple of years and toured Germany pretty extensively. Where are you from originally?

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    1. Yes, I visit both of those blogs! Vert is Dead has a lot of interesting articles. The Chrome Ball Incident seems to me more insider stuff, but is nevertheless interesting even if I don't know the full backstory.

      I lived in Frankfurt, Germany, and my mother lives now in Ulm, Germany. Frankfurt had a lot of good skate spots. My favorite place to skate in Europe is Paris.

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  9. Bertrand,

    Haven't seen a post in a while, everything going ok? You guys getting snow too?

    -Andy in Boston

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    1. Yes, everything goes well. I've been skating as much as possible at the concrete park before it closes for the season. The Polar Bear trucks are freaking awesome! They do everything well. I've been going bigger and bigger on my decks, too. I'm up to 9x33, see my latest post for more info. I've been burning through wheels so quickly, though! They cone up and get soft so quickly in the skatepark. They speeds and the heat are really hard on the polyurethane, causing it to break down quicker. Satori wheels last about 2-3 sessions in the crete park. Kontrol wheels, my favorite for street, lasted about 3 sessions, too. I'm skating some Ricta Superparks right now and they're doing pretty well. Maybe a Park wheel comparison is in order?

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  10. how long did yours take to ship? i ordered mine over 2 weeks ago and its still not here.

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  11. How long really did it take for Sota's 'No rip grip' to be received in the mail?

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    1. A few days, maybe 4-5. It came from Central Texas.

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  12. Hi Bertrand,

    Thanks to your review, I've been skating on the Sota tape for a little over a month now. Short of Sota going under, I don't see myself ever going back to sandpaper grip tape. Yes, it is slightly dodgy in the bowls, BUT, from my experience so far, it only bites you when your form is bad and you're too light on one foot or the other (usually in frontside 5-0s or backside rock-n-rolls for me), but that's just encouragement to improve your form and balance. If you do the trick right, you'll be fine.

    On more street oriented stuff, it's ideal for everything except trying to stretch your ollies to their maximum: you still get your pop and leveling, but it cuts back how much you can drag out for distance. Small price to pay since everything else feels better. Just the ease of getting your feet right where you want them when you want them there is worth any downsides.

    My friends are all officially tired of being shown the sole of my front (right) show and its lack of wear (I started a new pair of DVS Daewons and a new Danny Way mega ramp board at the same time as the Sota tape). But I've got over 20 hours of skating in those shoes now with no structural wear to speak of (in my experience, DVS suede is durable to regular tape, but the soles wear just a quick as any other vulcanized shoe and 20 hours is enough to wear through the sole on the ball of the front foot).

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    1. Awesome! Thanks for the feedback. It is helpful to hear that you had similar observations as me and others who have tried Sota griptape.
      My form in the bowls is generally bad, so I need all the help I can get there. I grew up street skating and ditch skating and rarely saw or used a ramp or other rounded transition until I was well into my 30s. However, now that I'm skating larger decks, I think I might try Sota grip on my scaled up skateboards.

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    2. Hey, Scott, where did you get your Sota grip? From their website or somewhere else? Thanks.

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    3. I bought it from Sota's website. I couldn't find a shop locally that carried it.

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    4. Ok, several months on and I've got a few more observations:

      1. It isn't overly sensitive to temperature until you get down into the 30's. Then it loses grip rapidly.

      2. Worse than cold is dirt and dust. We have a very dirty indoor skatepark in St. Louis (100 year old former warehouse for a brewery) and when the tape gets dusty, it might as well be iced over. Seriously ruins any fun, but it cleans pretty easy with a damp rag, so once you figure out why you're falling on every single trick, you can fix it.

      I have some DVS Daewons with the vulcanized sole that have upwards of 30-40 hours of skating, lots of ollies, lots of kickflips and the shoes show no more wear than 2-3 month old non-skating sneakers would. I'm still sold on the Sota tape.

      Also, and this might have been a bit scumbag of me, but I started looking up the various 3M tapes with that sort of rubber construction. It's impossible to tell for sure without comparing samples side-by-side, but it seems to be one of the safety-walk tapes. But it doesn't look like you can realistically cut the middleman out because they sell it in sizes and quantities that won't work for an individual skater. And it's expensive, so it doesn't look like Sota has a crazy mark up. So I'll keep buying it from them.

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  13. Great to see a running commentary of product and such.

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