Review: Loaded Fattail

Rider Stats: 5’11, 190lbs; Regular stance

Board Stats: Loaded Fattail Flex 1 with Paris 150’s and Orangatang 83a Stimulus wheels (with 86a Durians pictured)

Having owned a Tan Tien since June and having ridden friends’ Dervishes and Pintails before I thought I knew what to expect when I first heard of the Fattail: a flexy and rather flat board that I won’t have much fun with. Going into it with such low expectations I wasn’t at all prepared for the experience I had instead. I can say, without a doubt, that the Fattail completely changed the way I look at commuting on my longboard. In all honesty, riding the Fattail has produced some of the most fun experiences I’ve had on a longboard — period.

I’ll address the usual “Loaded haters” right up front: no, this board isn’t a perfect freeride or downhill board, but it’s not meant to be that. Introduced at the end of July and actually in stores at the beginning of April, the Fattail was meant to be a replacement for one of Loaded’s classic boards, the Pintail. For what it was designed to do, I think Loaded hit the nail right on the head in creating a super fun and super well done commuter/cruiser board.

It might sound corny but within a few pushes I had a huge smile on my face and felt like a giddy little kid, I was shocked at how much fun I was having. Being a top-mount the Fattail puts you up much higher than the Tan Tien or Dervish would, and mixed with a little bit of flex to dampen road vibrations makes for a very smooth and stable ride. Because one of the main advantages of a top-mount is the added grip, going fast around the streets and walkways on my campus, weaving in and out of people, cars, bikes, and other obstacles was never an issue and never gave me too much of a scare. Loaded is known for making flexy boards, something I experienced plenty with my Flex 2 Tan Tien that I’ve had since this summer, so I didn’t expect anything different from the Fattail, especially since it’s meant to replace the cruiser/carver Pintail.

I’m generally not a big fan of flex, as someone who likes to freeride and downhill I see it as the enemy, something that wants to make your wheels hookup when you’re not expecting it or buck you off your board at high speeds. To my chagrin, however, the amount of flex on my Fattail wasn’t nearly as drastic as I expected, and ended up being a friend, instead of an enemy. As I mentioned above the Fattail offers an extremely smooth ride, even over our cobblestone sidewalks, thanks to the flex that I was just talking about. The use of bamboo and added camber (where the board arcs upwards when unweighted) act as a sort of suspension system for the board, creating a very fun, floaty feeling while riding it. Pushing and pumping also became a bit easier once I learned how to use the flex to my advantage, saving energy by getting more power out of my pushes and easily pumping the board to maintain speed or even accelerate when on a slight decline.

The shape of the Fattail is pretty awesome and is what really makes it fun for me. At 38″ long and 8.63″ wide the Fattail provides you with ample standing space and an ABSOLUTELY AWESOME kicktail. While the front also features a slight kick, the proximity to the front truck, for me at least, made it tough to really get leverage and use it for anything too fun. The Fattail’s kicktail is a bit beefier than what you’d find on the Tan Tien, allowing me to place a good amount of my foot on the tail while still hanging just enough over each edge. Since first stepping on this board I haven’t been able to stop manualing. Everywhere I go I find myself trying to manual even further than before or just adding one in for fun. It’s the kicktail, in my opinion that really puts the Fattail at the head of the commuter/cruiser pack since it adds a bit of flair that absolutely never gets old and turns even the easiest and shortest of rides into a ton of fun. It also allows you to add in some ollies and flip tricks (although I’ll be the first to admit I don’t mix well with flip tricks) that would be impossible, or at the very least much harder, without such a big tail.

Because Loaded put out a video showing Dane Webber and Dustin Hampton absolutely SHREDDING this thing, I had to take it out and try to freeride it a little bit, right? Safe to say, this is not going in my freeride quiver. These guys are pros for a reason and made it look far too easy. I’m not a slouch when it comes to sliding by any means, but the narrow board and very very mellow concave mixed with the added grip from the topmount and my small Paris 150s, it wasn’t a pretty sight. While I’m sure it can be done, and we’ve seen it done, in my opinion you’d be better off going a different direction for a freeride board.

So that’s it really. If you’re looking for a super fun board to get around town or campus with that’ll absolutely never get old, this is it. Enough flex to make the ride super smooth and easy and a kicktail to spice up even the most dreaded commute to early morning class or work the Fattail is a more than worthy replacement for Loaded’s Pintail and will fill the commuter/cruiser spot in your quiver perfectly. Pick one up online directly from Loaded or get out there and support your local skate shop!

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Rock Creek Picnics Making a Comeback in D.C. — 1/28

Washington, D.C. riders listen up, Marc Ondrejko is bringing back the Rock Creek Picnics for 2012, and picking up where former organizer, Buono, left off. The idea seems pretty simple, a gathering of like minded skateboarders for afternoon sessions of shredding, spreading stoke, and making new friends. No prizes, formal competition, or anything fancy, just some good old fun get togethers with area skaters.

The event on Facebook says to “leave the alcohol, drugs, and bad attitudes at home,” and to come stoked, sounds like a good time for everyone!If you’re in or around D.C. it sounds like something to hit up for sure! By the looks of it there will be plenty more, especially as the weather gets nicer, so if you can’t make this one keep your eyes peeled for the future.

Meetup is on Sherril Drive in Washington, D.C. (which I’m assuming is also Rock Creek Park but I’m not from the area) at 12:00 noon and should run until at least 4:00PM, or whenever daylight goes away and people can’t skate anymore. For more information hit up the Facebook event which already has a fair amount of people saying their going and a few more listed as maybe.

Eden Racing Precision Spacers Give-Away and Video

I think we can all agree that few things are better in this world than free stuff. Quality free stuff is even better, which is why I felt the need to turn your attention to a give-away our friend Russ at Eden Racing is running right now.

The precision spacers that have been gaining quite a name for themselves throughout the Northeast for killing chatter have been back in stock for a couple weeks now, and Russ has decided to give away sets to 5 lucky people who “Like” their page on Facebook and share the contest post. The contest is going to run for a week, meaning you have until Thursday (1/19) to share the post with your friends — make sure the privacy setting is set to “public” so that they can see your entry! If you click on the image below it will take you to the Facebook post to share!

You’ll also probably remember me mentioning that I got a chance to shred with Eden rider Josh Wright along with Lauren Suchocki and Russ for a couple days last week in Western Mass. Josh and Russ ended up getting some helmet cam footy and posted it on YouTube last night. The last run was quite a surprise, especially for Lauren and I who saw it live, and we’re stoked Josh and Russ got it on camera! If it looks similar to the video that Lauren and Douglass Schmidt did not long ago, it’s because it was filmed at the same location. Peep it below:

Lifelong Longboards Announces Chris O’Brien as a new Team Rider!

Our post earlier today showing off Team Tangy’s new video couldn’t have come at a better time since we just got news that Chris O’Brien has officially been added to the Lifelong Longboards team! A warm and heartfelt congrats goes out to Chris, who we had a chance to skate and film with this past weekend.

Lifelong, while a fairly new board company, has already been making a splash with the insane amount of talk surrounding their freeride/light DH deck, “The Seeker.” In fact, Lifelong has had so much talk about “The Seeker” they decided to offer a “pre-sale” version with only a stained-wood finish and white “Lifelong” logo on it which, in my opinion, looks beautiful. Something to make them even sweeter? They’re a local East Coast company based out of Massachusetts meaning they support the East Coast stoke and scene hard! We posted a video featuring the Seeker by Douglass Schmidt not long ago showing its prowess with some downhill and downhill freeriding and recently were shown another video showing it’s freestyle capabilities!

I asked Chris to answer a few questions for us after we heard about the announcement which you can find below:

Skate The East: How’d you and the guys from Lifelong link up?
Chris O’Brien: A lot of facebook groups and friends informed me about Lifelong even before they released the Rebel. I had been following their progress for a while and had been talking to a few team members. Finally asked them and it was a yes!

STE: What’s your current setup? Future setup? 
CO: My current setup is a comet voodoo d2, SZ indeesz 177mm, Pink Powerballs
Future setup is same thing but with a Lifelong Seeker deck.

STE: What or who influences your skating the most? 
CO: I think my good friend Jake Wade influences my skating the most. We work very well together and end up pushing each other’s limits through competition.

STE: What are your goals for this upcoming season? 
CO: This season i basically want to go faster, go bigger, and have fun in the process!

STE: What’s next for Team Tangy? 
CO: We’re gonna keep doing what we’re doing, making edits and improving our skills!

STE: Simple question, Kool Aid or Tang? 
CO: Despite the similarities to Tang, I’m going to have to go with Kool Aid, classic drink.

Video: Gliding not Sliding with Team Tangy

I finally got to skate with Chris O’Brien and Jake Wade of Team Tangy on Saturday for a full day of skating and filming in the unseasonably warm 63*F weather. Our first stop of the day was at the infamous “Freeride Heaven,” a 12% grade hill with perfect pavement that, mixed with the temperature, allowed for some buttery slides that left ‘thane lines for DAYS. After getting some footage and our fill of freeriding, we headed over to East Rock for a few downhill runs (unfortunately the helmet cam footage got deleted…) to close out the day.

Make sure you watch it in the full HD goodness for full effect. Also, shout outs to East Coast extraordinair Bruce Clark who makes a quick appearance in green during that tripple standy scene.

UPDATED: Guajataka Downhill 6 — Quebradillas, PR 1/20-1/22

You asked for it, so we’re giving it to you — more downhill news and events. Over in the categories you might (or might not) notice that I added two new categories, one under the “Events, Competitions & Group Skates” category relating to Downhill Events and competitions here on the East Coast. The other new category is simply “Downhill.” It will focus on the East Coast downhill scene as a whole, not just events and competitions. Of course we’ll also be adding a category for Freeride, Freestyle, and LDP when articles come about, something we’re really excited about. RSS feeds are available, if you still use them, for both of these new categories in case you really only want to hear about DH on the East Coast! And, as always, if there’s something you’d like to see here on the blog, shoot me an e-mail at mike [at] skatetheeast.net or comment on our Facebook Page and I’ll do my best to get back to you quickly!

If you’re in the Southeast, especially Florida, in the middle of the month (January) then you’re in the sweetspot for the two biggest downhill competitions in taking place all season. Starting a new year of downhill off right will be the always exciting King of Clermont race in Clermont, FL on January 14th and 15th, followed quickly by the 6th Guajataka Downhill Race in Quebradillas, Puerto Rico on January 20th, 21st and 22nd.

Both of these races will showcase some unreal East Coast talent and give people a chance to see what the downhill scene is looking like in some far-away places. Guajataka, which has gained quite a name for itself since it’s inception in 2006, already has 100 racers registered and is filling up quickly! I’ve reached out to event organizers to find out what the registration limit is, but I can’t imagine it being much higher than 150 racers which means spots are VERY limited and are likely to fill up quickly as the race looms closer. If you want to enter online you must e-mail rstack9669@aol.com to get a race application and waiver, I’m not sure what the entry fee is but they can tell you when you e-mail them.

UPDATE: We got some more details about the race and wanted to share them with you. There are 200 spots for registration total this year which means that at the time this was first posted, around 6 days ago, the race was already half full. Registration is $30 for the Downhill Race Amateur race, $60 for the DH Open Pro race, $80 for the DH + DH Open, and $20 for the Slalom/Slide Jam (WITH LIMITED SPACE!). Rob (one of the event organizers) told me that last year they had 10,000 people show up for the festivities — THIS IS SOMETHING YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS!

Because it’s the biggest downhill event not only in the Southeast, but in the entire Caribbean as well, it’s not just your average race, but an entire weekend of stoke-filled fun and sun with not only some great longboarding, but also some cool music and get togethers with other skaters.

It all begins on Friday the 20th with an  Event Briefing and Welcome Cocktail followed by a big party being put together by the fine folks at Sector 9, since it’s a thing in the works we’re still waiting to hear more details as to what exactly that will entail and what times the Event Briefing and Welcome Cocktail will begin. We aren’t sure if the course will be open for practice runs earlier in the day, but again, are trying to find out. So far it appears that Friday has the loosest schedule of the weekend since Preliminary Heats start at 9AM on Saturday.

Saturday the 21st begins at 9AM sharp with Preliminary Heats expected to run until about 4:00PM. While those heats are running, starting at around 2PM the Graffiti Contest, Slide Jam, and Slalom Events will begin and run until around 5:00PM, at which point skating for the day will close and the afterparties soon begin…at 8PM the music show will begin (unsure about what or what type of act) and run until around 1AM, although I have a feeling most people skating Sunday will be heading to bed a little earlier than that.

Sunday the 22nd marks what will most likely be the most exciting day of the competitions as the Quarter Finals, Semifinals, and Finals will all be held back to back starting again at 9AM and running till approximately 4PM. Some of the fastest skaters from not only the East Coast, but across the entire country and Caribbean will be going balls to the walls in the first international race of 2012, looking to take home the crown and the second set of DH bragging rights on the East Coast this year.

The sponsor list is of course swag and stoketastic with names such as our friends at Surf-Rodz, Loaded Boards,  Orangatang and Rayne as well as other heavy hitters such as Randall Trucks, Venom Bushings, and Sector 9. For more information you can also check their Facebook Page or e-mail them at guajatakadownhill2012@gmail.com.

This is an event I really wish I could make, it’s going to be an unreal weekend with not only some of the best skaters in the world, but lots of fun and warmth for everyone. Bustin’ rider and friend of Skate The East Solomon Lang will be making a trip down to the isle to compete, so hopefully we’ll be able to grab some updates from him as the weekend wears on. He’s also looking for a place to stay still, so ladies, let him know ;-). In all seriousness though a bunch of the guys and gals from the Bustin’ Boards Crew including Jeff Vyain are looking for places to stay so if you can accommodate, or know of someone that can get in touch with them and let ’em know!

Also, check out the video from last year’s Guajataka event if you need any more convincing about how sweet it should be:

Review: 80a Stimulus wheels by Orangatang

Ladies and gentlemen, with the New Year upon us Skate The East is also trying to ramp it up for 2012. I know I’ve said thank you many times before, so I’ll refrain from rehashing too much of what I’ve said so many times, but your support really does mean so much, so thank you. 2012 is going to be a big year, and as we race towards our first birthday we’re going to continue to produce quality content and expand our offerings even further. You might have noticed some increased activity on our YouTube account lately, I’m learning a lot about filming and editing and promise you’ll see some very very cool videos soon! We’ve also been promising more reviews and wait no longer, I’ve got a whole slate of them lined up for 2012 so you can expect new reviews pretty frequently! Enough talk about Skate The East, though,  let’s jump right into it…

Rider stats & setup: 5’11 190lbs; TR Custom Blitz w/ 176mm Surf-Rodz 45* RKPs & 10mm Surf-Rodz bearings

The Orange Orangatang 80a Stimulus wheel is a 70mm offset wheel with a 42mm contact patch. Like its big brother, the Durians, the offset core creates a nice rounded lip that gives the wheel a little more grip through corners than you find with most centerset freeride wheels. Since they’re one of Orangatang’s freeride wheels they’re stone ground when you get them, making them easier to slide out of the box and break in without having to wear the mold-release off. These are the softest urethane wheel that Orangatang offers and are advertised as “buttery and cushy.”

I can’t lie, I really didn’t know what to expect when I first got these wheels. Owning a set of the 86a Durians that never seemed to play nice with our East Coast pavement I had my doubts about the 80a thane starting out. With much of the negative feedback surrounding the wheels having to do with bullsh*t skater politics and less to do with how the wheels actually ride, I had to get a set and see for myself to see if the haters had solid ground to stand on, or if it was all hot air. I’ll start it off by putting it this way: all the negative things I said about the 86a Durians I reviewed a while back, get rid of all of those, add an absolutely buttery slide and you’ll begin to get an idea of what the 80a Stimulus wheel is like.

The wheel itself is soft enough to provide ample grip when needed, even at speed, but are still easy to break into slides and hookup with the road very easily. The offset core creates a nice, rounded lip that will last until the wheel is far through its life cycle and already close to coring, it’s this lip that allows the Stimulus to have an unreal amount of grip for your average freeride wheel, but still break out into buttery smooth slides unlike it’s square-lip cousin, the 4President (which we’ll have a review on in the coming weeks).

The 80a “Happy ‘Thane” that Orangatang developed is the other major component making this wheel so nice. While it’s soft enough to leave nice orange ‘thane lines and provide the grip you’re looking for through corners, it’s hard enough to still resist flatspotting and coning too fast. They are stone ground before getting to you, meaning they don’t have the nasty mold release you find in other wheels and greatly reduces the break-in time of the wheel. I’ve been steadily riding my Stims on my light downhill/freeride setup for the last month without any flatspotting and only a mild amount of coning, which I’ve been able to manage through rotating wheels. While at slower speeds they’re a little harder to break into slides, at speed they’re responsive and easy to go from grip to slide when you want to. They do not ice out, and provide a very buttery slide that will shave speed but still allow you to retain enough momentum to continue your run at full intensity. The soft thane also makes the wheels a pleasure to push, they’re super smooth on pavement and, thanks to their 70mm size, are able to roll over most obstacles that lie in your path and accelerate quickly.

While I’m a huge fan of these wheels overall, they have been somewhat disappointing in the cold. While we’ve been fortunate to have a rather warm winter here in the Northeast, these wheels seem to under perform when they’re cold, loosing their buttery slide and becoming much more unpredictable and even chattery. It’s been warm enough that after a few runs the wheels start acting a bit more normal, but will have to give them a try in the much colder weather we’re due to have soon. I’m most curious to see if below freezing temperatures and super cold asphalt will allow them to warm up enough, or if they’ll stay cold through an entire session — a real concern for the long winters we usually have. I’ll be post an update when I get a chance to give them a try in some much colder conditions, but it’s something that has really stood out on colder days so far.

Bottom line? I really am truly in love with these wheels. The slide is buttery smooth, predictable and hooks up with the road with ease, allowing you to shed enough speed through corners and still maintain enough momentum to finish the next slide or trick. I know I mentioned it before in brief, but the orange ‘thane lines the wheels leave, especially in warmer conditions, are absolutely steezy as well. If you’re looking for an all around wheel, this might be the perfect one. Enough grip to still go nice and fast down technical runs, a smooth and predictable slide, and soft enough urethane to feel great while riding, they are extremely versatile and will definitely remain my freeride wheel of choice for the immediate future.

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! Thanks again for all your support so far, 2012 is going to be a huge year and we’re stoked to be a part of it!

We’ve got a whole slate of reviews coming up and more videos on the way. We decided to see 2011 off with a large Stone Garden session below are two of the videos that came out of the day.

Happy 2012, to progress!