Please take a moment to follow this link to complete a survey about skateboard sizes.

Alternatively, you can navigate to the survey by copying and pasting the following URL to your browser's address bar:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Full Review: Surf Rodz TKP skateboard trucks


Surf-Rodz precision trucks

159 TKP Hex 8mm Fixed Axle
159 TKP Grind 8mm Fixed Axle
177 TKP Hex 8mm Fixed Axle

Surf-Rodz TKP (nee IndeeSZ) 159 Hex. Blue things on axles are the  included spacers.

Overview

Surf-Rodz trucks are truly unique. Surf-Rodz trucks are precision CNC milled, aluminum, modular, and have high strength precision axles. There are three main components to the trucks - hanger, bushing seat, and baseplate - plus the interface parts - pivot bushing, kingpin, axle nuts. Surf-Rodz typically don't come with bushings, but lately Surf-Rodz have been shipping with their own in-house bushings. The Surf-Rodz bushings are a tall cone and a tall barrel, translucent blue in color, and about a 90a durometer. Surf-Rodz TKP trucks were once called IndeeSZ trucks, a moniker considered by many to be grossly misleading as to the nature of the trucks. Surf-Rodz changed the name to the elegantly simple "TKP" (traditional kingpin). Surf-Rodz TKPs feel nothing at all like Independent trucks, or any other trucks, nor should they. Surf-Rodz trucks are primarily for skaters who have a very surfy, fluid style, but they are also quite accommodating to pretty much any other style you have. The only real limitation to Surf-Rodz trucks are that it takes a little bit of tuning and a little bit of practice to learn how to control the speed wobbles they have on center.

Pros:

+ Strong. Low risk of axle bending, even lower risk of breaking. These trucks will easily last years if not decades.
+ Modular. If your hanger wears out from grinding, or you want a different width, you can get just replacement hangers, saving money.
+ Versatile. In addition to the variety of hanger widths offered, their height, weight, and axle displacement make them as comfortable on, say, a 31" long trick board as they are on a 45" long board. Many skaters will nonetheless have a period of time during which they grow accustomed to the unique dynamics of the trucks.

Cons:

- Expensive. Even the ready kits shipped to skateshops cost around US$100. Unlike many expensive trucks, though, the high price is well offset by the durability of the trucks.
- Steep learning curve for some skaters. If your style isn't surfy and fluid, you may experience a steep, but short, learning curve as you get accustomed to the trucks.
- Hex version hard to grind at first. The hex hanger TKP trucks are hard to grind at first because of the sharp hex corner right on the grinding surface. If grinding is your thing, get the TKP Grind trucks, which have a rounded and beefier hanger.
- Hex-head kingpin hinders usability. You may get an older model with the erstwhile stock kingpin, a 2.5" long hex head kingpin. Even if you're just surfing around, the hex head kingpin gets in the way. Surf-Rodz phased out the hex head in late 2012, replacing it with the Grind kingpin in lengths 2.25" and 2.5". This kingpin stays out of the way and, with short cone or smaller roadside bushings, even makes grinds easier.

Maybe Pro, Maybe Con:

+/-? IndeeSZ models (the older model) don't come with bushings. If you're in doubt, try Venom bushings first, then work your way out from there.

Measurements

Surf-Rodz TKP Hex 159 and TKP Grind 159, as measured
Hanger width: 159mm (6.25")
Axle width: 224mm (8.875") 
Weight: 410 grams (14.5 oz)
Height: 53-54.5 mm (2.09"-2.15"), depending on boardside bushings used
Axle Displacement: 38mm (1.5")
Geometry: 70° Kingpin, 45° Pivot to Center of Bushing Seat (Yoke), 80° Pivot to Center of Axle

Surf-Rodz TKP Hex 177, as measured
Hanger width: 177mm (6.94")
Axle width: 244mm (9.56") 
Weight: 420 grams (14.8 oz)
Height: 53-54.5 mm (2.09"-2.15"), depending on boardside bushings used
Axle Displacement: 38mm (1.5")
Geometry: 70° Kingpin, 45° Pivot to Center of Bushing Seat (Yoke), 80° Pivot to Center of Axle

Riding the Trucks

Surf-Rodz traditional kingpin (TKP) trucks reward a surfy skateboarding style with lots of slalom-like carving, cutbacks up the walls of the bowl, and supremely quick steering. It is sometimes difficult to hold a straight line, though: there were occasional speed wobbles on the flats of the bowl.
The versatility is amazing. Even mounted on shorter wheelbase boards, the Surf-Rodz are like magic. They are heavy, but they are solid and precisely responsive, making the board feel sprung and ready for anything.  Use the trucks on a 9x34 pool board one day, then mount them on an 8.4x32 street board for some mini ramp work and flatland the next day, then put them on your 39” longboard and go cruising.
No matter the board you're riding them on, Surf-Rodz' precision construction ensures that your bearings run as smooth as they're able. Matching the Surf-Rodz with precision bearings like Seismic Tekton bearings allows for full tightness on the axle nut with no binding in the bearings. This allows a stable, smooth, quiet, and fast ride. Read more about bearings in the upcoming bearing review.

Tricks

Surf-Rodz TKP 159 Hex on an 8.4" skateboard deck.
On a trick board, flip tricks were extremely easy, as were varial tricks. The precision and strength make the board ultra responsive, making foot placement respond consistently trick after trick. There is no slop, and, assuming they’re matched to a fresh high performance deck, foot placement and movements always yield the same results.


At the Park

Surf-Rodz TKP 159 Hex on a 9" x 34", 17" wheelbase skateboard deck.

On a bowl board with a wheelbase around 15"-18", the Surf-Rodz carve up and down the walls with confidence. With many trucks, there is a tradeoff between the ability to easily carve in a bowl and the ability to avoid wheelbite. Many skaters stack risers under their trucks to minimize this tradeoff, only to hinder their ollie height.  There is no such tradeoff with Surf-Rodz. Even tightened up enough to prevent speed wobbles, Surf-Rodz turn and carve with little to no wheelbite. I was able to ride the 159s with wheels 57mm and under with no risers. A 1/8" riser allows wheel sizes up to 62, a 1/4" riser allows wheels up to 66mm, and 1/2" riser pretty much goes the distance on any park wheel and even many center-set longboard wheels 75mm and under. I rode the Surf Rodz extensively in bowls and at the park. My style was already surfy and fluid, so my learning curve wasn't too steep, but I still had a period of time when I was getting accustomed to keeping them going at high speeds in a straight line without speed wobbles. As far as tuning the equipment to deal with the speed wobbles, I found it most helpful to 1) keep the axle nuts snug on the wheels (with the Seismic Tekton bearings or any bearings with good spacers), 2) use high-quality bushings of the proper durometer for your weight ( I used 95a and found them perfect for my 220 pounds), and 3) keeping the yoke bushing seat parallel to the  baseplate bushing seat through the use of right height boardside bushings or flat washers.  After that, reducing speed wobbles in the flat involved bending my knees to absorb shock and get a little lower at the moment when I transition from the wall to the flat , moving my back foot in towards the bend on the tail, and relaxing my body to not be so stiff and rigid.  Incidentally, moving my back foot in towards the bend in the tail also helped reduce oscillations when I was picking up speed on my longboards, too. Relaxing my body in the bowls was a challenge for me: I came up street skating, and the only bowl skills I ever had were bombing hills and working on banks and ditches. As an adult, learning how to carve bowls on trucks like Indys, Royals, Gullwings, etc, I always felt the need to modify my style to be stiffer and less fluid, more like the style I saw other bowl skaters using. Doing that, and denying my surfy, fluid style all these years, caused me to acquire the bad habit of being too rigid in the bowls. With the Surf-Rodz allowing me to surf the bowls instead of doing the "half-pipe back-and-forth" in the bowls, I had to unlearn the style I picked up from others and get more comfortable with my own style. I'm not saying Surf-Rodz are the reason I can stay true to my style. Wait, actually, yes, I am saying that! I am a surfy, fluid skater, and Surf-Rodz totally reward that style.


Going Long



Surf-Rodz TKP 159 Hex on an 8.75" x 39", 21.375" wheelbase long skateboard.

On a long board, the Surf-Rodz defy the folk wisdom that the only way to get a good carve on a longboard is to use Reverse Kingpin (RKP) trucks. Many longboarders believe that traditional kingpin (TKP) trucks in the longboard world are best left to sliding boards and non-serious cruisers. Surf-Rodz defy that convention, offering a surfy, carvy, predictable, and fast ride on most longboards. On my Gravity 39" Carve with a 21.375" wheelbase, the Surf Rodz 159 TKP far outperform the cast Paris RKP trucks I had on there before. Carving is easy, the Surf-Rodz perfectly complement the flex of the board, the lower height allows for easier footwork and tricks like ollies and shuvits, and the board just generally feels more alive than ever. 
Surf-Rodz TKP 159 Grind on a 9.4" x 41", 20" wheelbase long skateboard.
On my Earthwing 41" Yoni Ettinger double kick longboard with a 20" wheelbase, the Surf Rodz 177 TKP offer carving, stability, easy tricks (well, as easy as you can get on an 8-ply, stiff, 41" longboard), and a comfortably low ride height even with 64mm wheels.

Can't Drive 55?

Surf Rodz trucks don't blow away all the conventional knowledge, though. If you're riding a speedboard, the TKP might not be the best truck for reaching and stably maintaining high speeds. Speedboarders will want to go with the Surf-Rodz RKP or any other RKP truck designed for speed.


Bushings

My first set of Surf-Rodz were IndeeSZ, and they didn’t come with bushings, a fact made perfectly clear when I ordered them. I tried many and ended up with some Über bushings on them, but any short cone top / tall barrel bottom bushings will fit. Short cone is not the same as small cone: short cones are what the industry uses for the bottom cone bushings on most trucks nowadays. The shorter roadside bushing on most trucks is the one called a "small cone". Newer Surf Rodz TKPs come with Surf Rodz own in-house bushings, which are tall cone roadside and tall barrel boardside, about 90a in durometer (hardness), and are a translucent blue in color. Other in-house bushings are also available from Surf-Rodz. However you set up your bushings, it is critically important to the geometry of the trucks to select a boardside bushing or bushing/washer combo that will cause the yoke's bushing seat to be parallel to the  baseplate's bushing seat.


Grinding

Surf-Rodz TKP 159 Hex. Grinding is a little difficult to get started with the hex hanger.

The hex hangers are difficult to grind, but get easier once the hex corner starts flattening out. The standard 2.5” long kingpins are really sticky on concrete as well as being above the hanger whether you ride them normal or inverse. Surf-Rodz has changed their inverse kingpins and now offer Grind Kingpins in 2.25” and 2.5”, along with a nice Surf Rodz logo on top. I bought a set of the Grind Kingpins directly from Surf-Rodz. Nowadays, all the Surf-Rodz trucks come with the Grind Kingpins. The Grind Kingpins have a broad, smooth, dome-like top instead of a 9/16 hex, they don’t need a washer under them, and they grind really well on concrete and all the other surfaces.

A Few Brief Paragraphs about Surf-KeeyZ:

Surf-KeeyZ are little inserts that go on the kingpin and sit in the yoke between the roadside and boardside bushing. Surf-KeeyZ reduce lateral hanger assembly movement, putting more of the dampening burden on the bushings. On shorter wheelbase boards, the optional $16 Surf-KeeyZ make the trucks overly sensitive. The Surf-KeeyZ are for skaters skating boards with 19”+ wheelbases. On a long wheelbase board, I found that the Surf-KeeyZ decrease the turning radius of the trucks and slightly decrease the time to initiate the turn.

Let me put my engineering hat on for a moment. You may not feel it, but every time you start a turn or a carve on a skateboard, the hanger assembly moves slightly laterally towards the outside of the carve arc. This movement occurs until the inside of the yoke contacts the kingpin on both sides, and that is the point at which the rest of the turn is controlled and dampened by the bushings. The more laterally oblong the yoke is, the more lateral movement the hanger assembly will experience before the carve movement control rests on the bushings.  Surf-Rodz TKP trucks have a laterally oblong inner yoke shape, theoretically increasing the limits of the lateral movement. But we find that not to be the case; any lateral movement in a Surf-Rodz TKP truck (standard, without Surf-KeeyZ) is undetectable by me. This has a lot to do with the design of the bushing seat and the design of the pivot point. The Surf-Rodz truck has a bent pivot point, which controls movement along a set arc. The hanger assembly's pivot point rotates in the pivot bushing instead of leaning side-to-side in the pivot bushing as with trucks with a straight pivot. This takes some of the movement control burden off of the bushings and kingpin. Most trucks have a straight pivot with varying tradeoff between rotation or lean in the pivot bushing. Trucks that mostly lean in the pivot bushing are easy to spot because they tear up their pivot bushings relatively quickly. But there are bent pivot trucks that tear up their pivot bushings, too. Tracker Darts have a bent pivot design that has more rotation than lean. In the Tracker Dart's case, the hanger's wings contact the pivot bushing because not all the Dart's turn movement is rotation in the pivot cup. That little bit of lean in the Dart is enough to shred the bushing. In RKP trucks, because the angle from pivot point to axle center equals the angle from pivot point to yoke center, the pivot points of RKP trucks typically have all rotation and little lean in the pivot bushing. However, because of this flat hanger design in an RKP truck, lateral movement of the hanger assembly around the kingpin is more likely and will have a more noticeable effect of slowing the initiation of a carve or turn. The Surf-KeeyZ would, then, make a lot of sense on an RKP truck and less sense on the TKP, whose geometry alone already does a good job controlling lateral movement of the hanger assembly. A part of similar purpose is a spherical bearing in the yoke, used by some longboarders to control lateral movement of the hanger assembly. Now I'll put my skater helmet back on.

With the Surf-KeeyZ mounted in the Surf-Rodz trucks, and the initial lateral movement theoretically reduced, I found that the turning radius was tighter. I also found that putting more of the dampening on the bushings wasn't as desirable as it seemed. My carefully selected bushings did a poor job controlling the carve when the Surf-KeeyZ put more of the burden on them. Were I to keep the Surf-KeeyZ mounted, I would have to start the bushing hunt and tuning process all over again. If you're going to want the extra precision of the Surf-KeeyZ, make sure you tune your bushing setup with the Surf-KeeyZ mounted. I find that I personally have plenty of predictability and quickness from my TKPs without the Surf-KeeyZ.

Summary:

At 53-54.5 mm high, depending on the bushings you use,  Surf-Rodz TKP trucks are a good height for most any type of skating. Surf-Rodz TKP trucks inspire a lot of confidence in the bowls and ramps and handle well on the street course, too. Surf-Rodz TKP trucks are a really good all-around truck for skaters with a surfy, fluid style. Get the Grind hangers if you grind a lot: there is more material on the hanger and the hanger is rounded.

Price:

Surf-Rodz TKP trucks are expensive, but unlike some of the other expensive trucks, you really do get something for your dollars. Currently, US$150 will get you a set of Grind TKPs if you want to customize them, or you can pick up a set from some of the online skateshops for as low as US$99 per set of 2.  Price being no object, the Surf-Rodz TKP Grind or Hex are my top pick for outright performance, versatility, durability, and strength. 

My personal conclusion:

Even with the high price, Surf-Rodz TKP are my personal top pick for when I want to step away from my stiff technical style (I'm almost always stepping away from tech skating because of an injury!) and get surfy and fluid.
I grew up street skating. I get a sense of accomplishment from landing kickflips, grinds, and other technical skating tricks - and I skate my Royal IVs for that. However, I get a different, more peaceful sense of accomplishment from pulling perfect carves at top speed - that's when I ride my Surf-Rodz TKP.
At some point in my life, I will do my last kickflip, I will grind my last box, I will boardslide my last rail, I may even at some point pop my last ollie.  I know I will get too old to reliably perform those tricks without getting injured.  I have a feeling that the older I get, the more I'll want to get relaxed and peaceful in my skateboarding. I'll want to let go of the stress of ever-harder technical tricks and simply blast bowls, hills, the street course, and anywhere else as fast as I can. I have to admit that I have a feeling that kickflips will leave my repertoire long before other tricks. And I even feel, at 39 years old, that that moment of my last kickflip is coming soon. I used to stress about losing tricks, but I find I'm stressing a lot less now that I've figured out a board setup that will treat my old body well. Yes, yes, I have a feeling I'll be taking these Surf-Rodz into retirement with me. 
Ready to grow old skateboarding. Left, Surf-Rodz TKP 177 Hex on a 9.4" x 41" long skateboard. Right, Surf-Rodz TKP 159 Grind on a 9" x 34" skateboard.


Now, enjoy the rest of the photos!
Surf-Rodz TKP 159 Hex with the Grind Kingpin.

Surf-Rodz TKP 159 Hex with the Grind Kingpin. 

Surf-Rodz TKP 159 Hex on a 8.75" x 39", 21.375" wheelbase long skateboard.

Surf-Rodz TKP 159 Grind hanger. Rounded and with more material. Note  the washer under the boardside bushing to level the yoke  bushing seat parallel with the baseplate bushing seat as the bushings compress over time.

Surf-Rodz INDeeSZ 8mm Fixed Axle 159 Hex trucks in their package.

Surf-Rodz TKP 159 Grind on a 9" x 34", 17 wheelbase skateboard.

All the parts of a Surf-Rodz TKP 159 Hex truck set. Blue things on axles are included spacers. 

Unassembled (bottom) and assembled (top) hanger assemblies of a Surf-Rodz TKP 159 Hex truck set. Blue things on axles are included spacers. 

Bottom of baseplate of Surf-Rodz TKP 159 Hex truck. Although the fit of the kingpin is snug, there is no need to hammer or press kingpins in.

Top of baseplate of Surf-Rodz TKP 159 Hex truck. The pivot bushing is the large size. There is grease in the pivot bushing to ensure proper rotation of the truck in the bushing. Regreasing the pivot bushing is a maintenance requirement I perform monthly when I'm skating a lot, otherwise I just check the pivot bushings to make sure they're lubricated prior to skating. 

Surf-Rodz TKP 159 Hex skateboard trucks. Blue things on axles are the included spacers.



5 comments:

  1. Nice review. I definitely concur that Surf-Rodz make you skate better -- more actively balancing, smoother. That's one reason also I've tried to "tame" mine as little as possible without making them scary twitchy.

    I also agree that they are the definitive old man truck for maximizing the fun and progression in low impact bowl skating. That's not necessarily the best overall marketing image, but I've found it to be true.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I picked up a pair of the tkp grinds 177mm last week, based on your previous recommendations. The pair I bought included the grindz kingpin and black bushings (hard, 91a-92a according to surf rodz). The stocks bushing set up was too soft (as a point of reference, I tip the scales at 195 lbs). A white venom SHR 15mm barrel board side on each truck (94a, available by the pair as the Venom SHR downhill bushing) was the solution. The stock cone was left in place roadside. A little bit of adjustment and…simply amazing. They are indeed smooth, stable, and precise in bowls and rest of the park. There is a touch of wobble at times coming out of faster front side carves, but easily controllable. Lines that I’d never even consider before are now in hand. And as you note, they grind well. Thank you for the excellent site, comprehensive reviews, tips (truck/board size advice, handy) and data (who else has plots of truck axle displacement/hanger height). John

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love your reviews! Keep up the good work. What bushing setup would you recommend for a 27 year old surfer that loves to skate ramps and bowls and do fast carves and grinds ? I'm 5'9 and 180 pounds. Im currently riding a. 33 earthwing jailbird deck with 169 indys and yellow bones bushings. But I am thinking about swapping the indys for some tkp surf rodz. Thanks, Aldo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For Surf Rodz, I really like Uber bushings, but I trim the top bushings to get better kingpin clearance for grinds. Here are some other options:
      1. One option for Surf Rodz trucks is to use eliminators on the boardside (bottom) bushing and short cones roadside (top). With the eliminator boardside, you can use a softer bushing and not have to deal with speed wobbles as much. For your size and weight, I would recommend 87a-90a Eliminators with 92a-95a short cone top bushings. You want harder top bushings because the reverse kingpin on Surf-Rodz doesn't have a cup for the top washer. Riptide eliminators are called Chubbies: http://www.muirskate.com/longboard/bushings/13621/RipTide-WFB-Chubby-Bushings.html
      Venom eliminators are called eliminators: http://www.muirskate.com/longboard/bushings/2896/Venom-Eliminators-Longboard-Skateboard-Bushings.html
      2. Another option for Surf Rodz is to use a standard barrel/cone setup but add a large cupped washer boardside to limit speed wobbles. This way, you can use a standard bushing set like the Khiro barrel/smallcone: http://www.muirskate.com/longboard/accessories/1912/Khiro-Barrel-Short-Cone-Longboard-Skateboard-Bushings.html or Reflex's short conical (14mm) top and barrel (14mm) bottom: http://socalskateshop.com/index.php?l=product_list&c=1242

      Are you in the USA? Would you like to try a set of Surf-Rodz 159 TKPs? I have an extra set in nearly new condition that I wouldn't mind selling. You would definitely get a big discount. Email me at this page's email to get that set if you want it. They are black baseplate, black bushing seat, red 159 Grind 8mm fixed axle hanger. The hanger is brand new, never used, the baseplate and bushing seat show a few stray marks, nothing big. Let me know, I'm happy to share the Surf-Rodz love and offer a skater a bargain.

      Delete
  4. Excellene collection of skateboards with great price range.

    ReplyDelete