Holesom: A Peek at the Pucks

(w)Holesom(e): adj. conducive to moral or general well-being; beneficial; healthy.

Laurenzo, photo credit Mike DiPietro

Healthy indeed. Bacon, blueberry pancakes, bubblegum… not only are the flavor-scents fit for your health, but the mission behind Holesom and the utility of their new slide pucks are as well. After chatting with the owner of Holesom and man behind the smelly pucks, his down-to-earth demeanor and contribution to the community helped me understand the company. Without drawing too much personal attention to this humble dude, let me tell you more…!

A Laguna native, he runs Holesom from Lake Forest, just a few steps inland. Being such a small company with a tough launch and no other employees, Holesom released these scented pucks in August 2011 and manages to keep a team of spectacular skaters on hand. The owner decided to direct the company’s light and attention purely towards the products and the team riders.

So speaking of team riders, I had the chance to talk to Jesse Breiman about the pucks he is sporting. Jesse got involved at some point in space-time when he received a set of pucks to try out.

Skate The East: What excited you about Holesom and their pucks?

Jesse Breiman: The smell, the freshness, and the pure style of colored pucks.

STE: What do you like about your pucks?

JB: The different variety of smells, the nice slide, and all the different colors for supreme mix and match capability.

STE: What’s your favorite flavor-scent combo?

JB: I like the pinks and the bacon.

Jesse Breiman, photo credit Dustin Damron

Yes, Jesse. The freshness is high. For those wondering if the smell is too potent, cease the worry. The scents are really low-key and pleasant. Only with really fat and long slides have I noticed them, otherwise you have to bring them up to your nose to smell their scents.

Why scented slide pucks? How many times do you pick something up and sniff it first? Back in February 2011, he picked up a bar of surf wax and immediately went to smell it. Memories are often logged with scents; Aside from sweaty kneepads and burning urethane, Holesom adds more smells to skateboarding.

Amanda Powell, one of the team riders and a pal of mine, tossed me my first set of Holesom pucks in January when I visited LA to flee from New England’s winter. The moment my hand was put down for a slide, a faint whiff of sweet bubblegum found my nostrils…as if the hot pink color wasn’t fabulous enough. I thought the holes (actually used for weight AND resistance reduction) would catch on some gnar-pave, but the butter smooth and icy Delrin formula is molded into a round-edged “squircle” shaped puck to be reckoned with.

Holesom makes Glowsom (glow-in-the-dark), Coco Butter, Bubblegum, and Blueberry Pancakes/Bacon as a breakfast pair. With an obvious passion for our four-legged fuzzy friends, he arranged to have $1 donated to the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter for every pair of Blueberry Pancakes/Bacon set sold. Even though this project has only been a few weeks old, it is a very respectable one.

With new scents of Orange and Lime set to release for this summer, I foresee smelly fun and growth for this little company. Great smells, great vibes, great slides.



Review: Landyachtz KM FSU Hawgs

The new Landyachtz wheels that have everyone talking are none other than the new KM FSU Hawgs designed from the ground up by Landy team member and Greener Pastures star Kyle Martin. The FSU’s feature a large core, deep urethane, and center set design to maximize the wheel’s life span, make it easy to break out into a slide and still allow you to shave off as much speed as you need.

Pretty early on into the testing process Henry, Thomas, and I all realized there was a learning curve to these wheels and a necessary requisite: speed. The KM FSU’s are rather unforgiving unless you’re really going fast, being a bit too grippy and bucking all of us more than once until we realized that speed really was the key. Once you’re going fast, however, these things feel great. Slides are incredibly predictable and easy to initiate and the wheels shave just enough speed to get you back into your comfort zone and allow you to set up for your next slide before you’ve picked up too much speed.

The super wide contact patch in addition to the center-set core help with a secure feeling during slides, meaning you spend less time working about your wheels coming out from under you and more time focused on what’s coming up next. The center-set core makes slides super easy to initiate still, though, meaning you get the best of both worlds.

Despite being white and 80a the KM FSU’s don’t leave the chalkiest of thane lines, although once they’re broken in they do thane a little. On the plus side, they’re super durable and should last you a while. If you’re going to be doing some fast free riding then the KM FSU’s are right up your alley and might be exactly what you’e been missing in your wheel quiver, if you’re thinking about keeping the speeds on the lower end, though, you might want to look elsewhere.

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Review: Triple 8 Brainsaver Helmet

To continue with our “Spring Safety Series” this week we’re going to take a look at Triple 8’s classic half shell helmet, the Brainsaver. The Brainsaver helmet comes in two distinct flavors, EPS Hard Foam and Sweatsaver, which are designed to withstand different types of impact and have slightly different fits.

The EPS Hard Foam version of the Brainsaver is CPSC certified, the bicycle standard in safety, meaning your head will be safe even if you take a spill going very fast. While it’s safer when it comes to harder impacts, there are some drawbacks that you should consider, especially if you’re going to be mostly freeriding the helmet at speeds under 30/35. Because of the hard foam liner the helmet is designed as a single impact helmet, meaning if you take a spill and hit your head, chances are the helmet is toast. Why? Since the hard foam absorbs a lot of the impact it compresses and cracks, making it much less effective for subsequent impacts. Even if you can’t see the damage there’s a good chance that if you slammed your head, it’s time to replace the lid. The other drawback is the fact that unlike the Sweatsaver version of the Brainsaver, the thin pads that come in the EPS Hard Foam version get soaked easily and don’t wick the moisture nearly as well as the terrycloth found in the Sweatsaver.

For your every day freeride helmet the Sweatsaver version is awesome. It features a terrycloth liner that wicks sweat and keeps it from running down into your eyes very well, even after you’ve been skating in it for a while. It’s absorbant and comfortable and doesn’t hold any incredibly nasty odors, extremely helpful if you’re commuting and storing your helmet around other people. The Sweatsaver is also designed as a multi-impact helmet since there’s no hard foam to crack and deform, meaning you can take multiple spills and as long as the shell looks good, you should still be safe to ride. The Sweatsaver version also comes in almost any color you can imagine, meaning you can not only be safe but look great while you ride, too. I wear my Sweatsaver every time I ride and absolutely love it, it has a super comfortable fit and manages the moisture better than many of the other soft-foam helmets I’ve seen out there.

One thing to note, though, is that the sizing on the EPS Hard Foam version is definitely a bit smaller than the Sweatsaver. Maybe it’s just me, but I also had trouble fitting into the L/XL hard foam Brainsaver despite wearing a L/XL Sweatsaver lid as my primary helmet, so it’s something you’ll want to be aware of if your head tends to be a bit on the bigger size.

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Review: Triple 8 T8-Racer Downhill Helmet

Welcome to the first edition of our 2012 “Spring Safety Series”! This is where we’ll take a look at various pieces of safety equipment and safety techniques to help make sure you have a long and fruitful season through minimizing unnecessary risks and reckless behavior that could result in serious injury for you or the skaters around you. To kick it off we’re taking a look at one of the newest and hottest full face helmets out there, the Triple 8 T8-Racer Downhill Helmet.

Ever since Triple8 announced the T8-Racer Downhill Helmet I had been dying to try it out. Unlike many other full face helmet options, many of which are bicycle or paragliding helmets repurposed for downhill skateboaring, the T8-Racer has been specifically designed for downhill skateboarding, allowing for a very wide field of vision even while in the deepest of tucks. The biggest drawback: the helmet is kinda small in my experience. The L/XL I wore either left the majority of my chin exposed and the helmet sitting dangerously high on my head (not really on) or I stuffed my chin in and was unable to talk, with my jaw stuffed in there without any room to move. I’ll say it right away: if you have a big head this helmet is most likely not going to work for you, plain and simple. If you don’t however, this thing is purdy sweet.

Available in white or black the T8-Racer comes with a tinted visor that opens and closes with ease (even while wearing gloves thanks to the tabs on the side) and seamlessly blocks wind at high speeds, giving you an oddly quiet zen-like atmosphere to skate in (like many other full-face helmets do). While I personally can’t attest to the helmet’s comfort, other friends that I allowed to wear it said it fit nicely and wasn’t awkwardly heavy to wear, even when casually freeriding. One drawback we heard from Henry our tester though, was that without a hole in the front near your mouth, the visor tended to fog up at times, forcing him to lift the visor a little to clear it, other than that he was quite stoked.

As I said earlier, because the helmet was designed with skating in mind it offers a very wide field of vision, making you feel comfortable holding your tuck nice and tight without feeling like you’re sacrificing eye contact with the road in front of you or peripheral details around you, allowing for added confidence at high speeds.The helmet is also cut a little higher in the back to allow for maximum comfort while you’re in a full tuck, without the helmet digging into the back of your neck at all. The helmet also drops a lof of the added weight of some full-faces by opting for a slimmer back, making it light enough to comfortably freeride with, our tester told us.

Overall the T8-Racer looks like it’s right at the front of the pack along with Predator’s DH-6, which has been on the market for much longer. For a first attempt Triple 8 did a damn good job, anyone in the market for a new full-face DH helmet, especially one that’ll be just as comfortable for freeride as intense downhill the Triple 8 T8-Racer might be the ticket. The average price we’ve seen for the Triple 8 T8-Racer is $299, making it slightly cheaper than some of its biggest competitors.

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Review: Orangatang 80a Balut Freeride Wheel

This is a particularly exciting review for me, not only because of how friggin’ excited I’ve been to talk about the 80a Baluts I’ve been freeriding since the end of January, but because it’s also our first stab at a video review! When it comes to discussion about wheels right now the conversations seem to be talking about one of two things: the bad batch of ‘thane and the aftermath that Abec-11 has been dealing with for months, and the new freeride wheel from Orangatang: the Balut. Original Skateboards rider Billy Wilson and I got together yesterday to talk a little bit about what we think of the 80a Balut so far, check it out below and read on after the video for some additional info.

Mike: Original Apex 40 w/ 10mm Surf-Rodz INDeeSZ (also the test setup for below)
Billy: Original Apex 40 w/ Caliber 50 Cals

So, even after you’ve watched the video you have some questions? Didn’t have time to watch the video? I’ll do a short written review, too — just to cover all our bases.

These wheels are different. Don’t throw these on your board and expect them to ride like the Stims, Durians, 4Prez, or InHeats — they just won’t. On this project Orangatang set out to reinvent the wheel as they knew it (bad pun, I know) and scrapped almost everything we’ve seen released from them thus far. Instead of building a new variation of one of their already successful wheels, the Balut is drastically different. Let’s start in the middle, shall we?

The biggest change you’ll notice right away is the big exposed blue core that Orangatang is using for the Balut. The bigger core means that you’ll have a more consistent wear pattern right down to the last bit of ‘thane. It will also help keep your slides feeling super consistent. (If you remember my reviews on the 80a Stims and 86a Durians you’ll remember me talking about how much the slide changed once I started really getting them small, something that I have yet to experience with the Baluts.) Orangatang didn’t just stop there, however. They also decided to change the placement of the core within the wheel. Unlike any of their other wheels, which are all offset (not side-set like I said in the video, that was my goof), the Baluts feature a center-set core. This means you can flip the wheels when you notice you’re getting some coning and don’t have to worry about them riding any different, it also drastically changes the way they ride. And for the record, these are not the same cores used in 4prez/Inheats.

Instead of the “grip/slip” control that the Stims and Durians brag about with due to their fat, rounded lips, the center-set Baluts offer a very different ride. The first thing you notice when you get on the Baluts is just how easy they are to break out into a slide. You really don’t have to put a whole lot of “umph” into them to get them to break out. That being said, I have yet to really experience a situation where I’ve been ultra worried about them icing out from under me. While I haven’t been skating any technical downhill with them (…that’d just be silly) that would require me to take sharp turns at speed, hard carves and corners feel like you have just enough grip to keep you from going over the edge. A big part of that might be the new ‘thane they’re using and the fact that these are the softest Orangatang is offering, the 80a.

The new ‘thane, dubbed “Euphorathane,” is probably where I got most concerned when I first heard about these wheels. Why? Because I’m quite in love with 80a Happy Thane after I got intimate with it for the review I did a little while back. Fear not, though, because the new ‘thane really rocks. It’s tough to really tell just how different the Euphorathane is compared to the Happy Thane wheels because we haven’t seen a Euphorathane Stimulus yet and the Baluts are SO different overall that it’s like comparing apples and oranges at this point. How does it skate? Super smooth, as I said before the wheels break out exactly when you want and offer what I think is one of the most buttery slides I’ve ever experienced. Unlike what we’ve been hearing about the 83a Baluts (I have yet to ride them myself), the 80a duro is soft enough to actually shed some speed and leave some ‘thane on the pavement, but not to the point where you loose too much momentum. I’ve noticed the new ‘thane to be a little more durable too. Coning has been more than manageable and I haven’t had any significant problems with flatspots (so far…), although I know Billy has had a little trouble with them. I’ve actually had less issues with preventing/getting rid of flatspots and coning with the 80a Euphorathane than I did riding the 83a Stimulus wheels.

I’ve really enjoyed these things so far and have had a much easier time learning some new tricks because of how easy they are to break out and how consistent and predictable they are. The 80a ‘thane is soft enough to kill some speed when you want it, grip enough when you need it, and still leave some ‘thane lines while actually being pretty friggin durable. Orangatang addressed a lot of the qualms people had with the Stims and, in my opinion, hit the nail on the head with the changes.

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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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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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Review: Orangatang Durian 86a Yellows

Rider Stats: 5’11, 190lbs

Board: TR Custom Blitz w/ Surf-Rodz 45 degree RKP trucks @ 196mm, Loaded Tan Tien w/Surf-Rodz INDeeSZ @ 200mm; Organgatang Durian 86a (Yellows)

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while but have held off for various reasons, mostly because I kept telling myself I wanted to ride them a little bit longer and learn a little bit more about them before writing a post. After riding these since late June I finally feel like I can give some honest insight into these wheels and give them a good, thorough look at.

The Yellow Organgatang Durian wheels are 76mm w/a 45mm contact patch, they’re offset which means that you have a fat outer lip, but still have a nice sized inner lip as well. As advertised they are stone ground and lack the out of the mold feel associated with some of the grippier wheels, meaning they’ll slide much easier out of the box. The lips are also rounded, instead of square, allowing you to initiate slides easier and with more predictability with little to no break-in time and with less effort. The Yellow Durians are an 86a duro, the hardest Orangatang offers and are advertised as “nice and slidey.”

First and foremost I have to say these wheels are great if you want a set that will last. I’ve had these on my free ride boards since getting them in late June with pretty heavy use and am far from seeing any serious signs of coning or wear. I’ve also had to throw them on my commute board a few times and rode them extensively, despite being such a hard duro they still produced a smooth ride, in fact I rode these wheels for the 8.9 mile Broadway Bomb in New York this past October and didn’t have problems with road vibrations at all. They are responsive and grippy enough to make fast, sharp turns, but will also slide predictably and easily for speed checks and slides.

Because they’re advertised as a free ride wheel their ability to slide and behavior while doing so is paramount. While videos and reviews from the West Coast show and talk about a buttery smooth slide I’ve been largely disappointed up until recently at the amount of chatter they’ve produced, most of which is found while first initiating the slide. Once sliding they are predictable and for the most part smooth, although stickier pavement can cause some chatter and make for an unpleasant ride. Although they have a tendency to chatter while initing slides and on stickier pavement — especially in their younger days — for the most part it’s mild, and can be managed pretty easily by slightly changing your weight management during slides. The beating our East Coast pavement takes from nasty weather and winters just doesn’t seem to play as nicely with Oranatang’s hard hard thane as it does out West it seems. The fat lips make them easy to hook back up with the road when you’ve finished your slide and give you enough grip to make sharper turns and carves at higher speed. I have yet to have any issues with them sliding out from under me unexpectedly thanks not only to the large lips but also the large contact patch. While it provides a lot of grip I can’t help but wonder if the 45mm contact patch also contributes to the chatter but haven’t tested the 86a Stimuluses or Fat Frees to get a direct comparison yet.

The two best parts about the Yellow 86a Durians, in my opinion, have been the versatility and the durability. For a rider as heavy as me to skate, slide, and ride these wheels almost daily for the better part of 5 months with minimal signs of wear is unbelievable and can be attributed to the hard duro that the Yellows use. Despite being hard, as a commuting wheel they still are very comfortable and with their nice lips on both the inside and outside of the wheel they turn and respond nicely with the large contact patch giving you extra confidence in them gripping the road. If you’re looking for an all around wheel that you’ll have for a while, the 86a Durians are a great choice — just don’t expect them to automatically make you slide Kyle Chin or Adam Colton, and don’t be surprised if you run into a little chatter along the way.


Review: TR Custom Longboards “Panty Dropper”

The following review is written by guest contributor Bill Steinbacher of Nagatauck, CT. Check out our post on TR Custom Longboards here. Here’s a little bit about the rider/writer:

“I’m 29 years old and I have been skating since I was 13, however there were on and off periods over the years. Life happens, you get busy and wrapped up in bills….and money for skate equipment is nowhere to be found. I spent too much time looking at broken boards wishing I was skating. However skating has become a much more permanent fixture in my life over the past few years though, I picked up my first longboard about a year ago and have been hooked from the moment I laid down my first successful smooth slide. My favorite aspects of longboarding are simply going fast and getting sideways! Although I also do quite a bit of long distance pushing which I also love, but there is just no way to describe the feeling you get ripping down a nice smooth hill, and busting out few slides in the process. I recently attended the Central Park Race 2011 in NYC, this was my first skate event that I have attended/competed in and it was an amazing experience. I am looking forward to competing and being involved in as many events as possible, longboarding has become a true passion and I’m going to keep shredding until my legs no longer work! I recently picked up my first set of Surf-Rodz IndeeSZ, and I absolutely love these trucks. I could go on forever picking apart all the fantastic details of the truck itself, but for sake of time….just get some!”

Board stats:

  • TR Custom Longboard “Panty Dropper”
  • 39” long/ 31.5” wheelbase/ 10” at the widest 9” in the middle
  • 9 Ply/ No flex; stiff
  • Symmetrical
  • Aggressive concave
  • 1.25” drop
  • Slight kicks on nose and tail

If you are looking for a board that can do it all, TR Custom’s Panty Dropper will end that search. I have been riding this deck for a couple of months now and it really is a perfect all around board! I have used it mainly for free ride/sliding, however have done some light downhill with it as well. For free riding I set it up with Surf-Rodz INDeeSZ 177mm, Abec 11 Freerides, and Venom bushings 90a board side and 88a SHR roadside. Even with a hard bushing set up like this the INDeeSZ still turn super easy and make this set up perfect for free riding and light downhill. The combination of the aggressive concave and the 1.25” drop makes your feet feel glued to the board for slides. The board is a perfect size to whip around for all kinds of slides while still being able to keep the board under your feet and maintain control of your slides.

The symmetrical design also makes this board great for free riding. No matter which direction you come out of a slide you are set up for the rest of the hill or next slide, in other words you are never riding this board backwards. The slight upturned kicks on the nose and tail are another nice addition for free ride capabilities, however they also add to the stability of the board. The slight upturn helps deflect the force of curb shots which results in much less damage from a direct impact. Mine has taken quite a few heavy duty impacts and the nose has sustained very minimal damage, much less damage than any other board I have ridden previously. The Panty dropper also serves very well as a downhill deck; the 9 ply design makes the board super stiff and stable. The 1.25” drop also aids in the boards downhill capabilities, the drop brings you lower to the ground helping keep your center of gravity nice and solid. I really cannot say enough good things about this board, I have been more comfortable and progressed more using the TR Custom Panty Dropper than I have any other board to date.

The only somewhat negative feedback I have received from taller riders is that it felt too small for them, so if you are vertically blessed and looking into the Panty Dropper you may want to discuss a longer model option with TR Customs. I’m about 5’6” and the Panty Dropper fits me like a dream.


Review: TR Custom Longboards’ “Peeping Tom”

This review comes from Skate The East friend and guest writer Cory Medlar. I got the chance to visit TR Custom Longboards this past weekend so I was more than excited when Cory told me he had written a review on one of their boards. TR is capable of doing some unbelievable things in his shop, I was pretty blown away. I’m going to write a Local Spotlight post for TR Custom Longboards sometime this week to give everyone some more information on the man behind TR, how the boards are made, and what makes him different from other longboard makers, until then enjoy Cory’s review of the “Peeping Tom.” You can also find Cory’s last review of the Surf-Rodz FreerideSZ and a quick bio about him here
Board Stats: 39.5 X 9.5 Drop Through, 7ply, Mild Concave, Two .032” thick exotic wood veneers/inlay
Tested on the following setup: SZ INDeeSZ 10mm (197mm), 10mm SZ Precision Bearings, Red Cone Solidz (roadside), Black Barrel Solidz (boardside), ABEC11 70’s Flashbacks 88a.
Rider Stats: Cory Medlar, 155lbs., 5’7″, Regular Stance

Where to start with the TR Custom Longboards “Peeping Tom”? This deck is a twin, 7ply, drop through, Freeride deck. The deck is 9.5” wide at its two widest points and has a slight taper towards the middle; this allows the deck a mild amount of torsional flex under my 155lb frame. Being a 7ply deck it also has a very mild flex for my riding weight, as I am not a heavy rider you may see different results in flex as you get near the 180-200lb range, if that is where you find yourself then I would ask for a 9ply version to add rigidity. Another thing you will notice about the “Tom” is that the beautiful veneers/inlays are not covered with grip tape but rather silica sand (much like that of deck paint on sailboats), this grip feels much like that of Gator Grip. I was skeptical at first as I had not ever ridden anything like this before but was pleasantly surprised when I threw some slides at higher speeds my feet held fast to the board with ZERO slipping! Since picking up the Board from TR for testing I have been particularly abusive to the silica grip to ensure its durability and I can say that I have had none of it begin to flake off (Even after riding it in the rain)(I will update the review later on the LONG TERM durability), so if you HATE re-gripping boards due to either the hassle or price of grip look no further (I even heard rumblings in the Halls of the TR shop that they are thinking of packaging it as a separate purchase so you can do it to you own board at home).

I have been riding the “Peeping Tom” for a few weeks now and have put it through its paces and found that the “Tom” excels at Freeriding but can crossover to be a Mild DH as well as a nice and low cruiser deck. When I took it freeriding I liked the small amount of torsional flex as it helped me to control my slides a bit more by independently leaning more or less over the rail with one foot over the other. (It almost felt like a snappier spin on the way out of one). I also felt that the mild concave of the board cupped my feet well, not allowing them to slip off during longer, held out slides (25-30mph) as well as the concave almost telling me where to put my feet. When I took it out for a good Long Distance Push I loaded up (no pun intended) my 80a Durians instead of the 88a Flashies and found it’s a fairly good push deck as well. The small amount of flex in the board was able to absorb more of the road bumps and vibrations; I also enjoy a small amount of flex to allow your non-push leg some give with each kick as to not cramp up your thighs and calves. (Almost like a small amount of suspension) This board also runs very low to the ground making it a breeze to push, especially when mounted on SZ INDeeSZ (ZERO RAIL BITE on this set-up). The other thing that really stood out to me was the overall weight of the board being very low. This makes it much easier to push long distance, to carry multiple times up a hill, and for me it’s easier to control a feather under my feet than a dump truck. In the mild DH testing I did (25-35mph) the board held up well and did not feel too springy under my feet at speed on rough pavement. This board prices out around 200 dollars depending on inlay/wood choices and is worth every penny.I am currently working on a modification of the “Peeping Tom” that would see it hit around 10” wide rather than the 9.5” as well as the addition of small kicks just past the trucks to add to the Freeride capability of the board (Mannys, Curb Jumps). Once the mold is finished I will add that as well to the review.

One of the hallmark features on each and every TR Customs Longboard is the exotic wood veneers and inlays. These are the top and bottom sheets of the board and each veneer is .032” thick, not really adding to the overall weight/flex of the deck. This look can be achieved using many different types of wood creating complex and beautiful designs out of the natural grains and colors of the woods. This is where the boards really begin to shine as they become more than just a piece of high performance wood and more a functional work of art. When I look at TR Custom Longboards I see a “Beautiful Form with Beastly Function”. These boards are made by hand by Tom Rutledge with pride, he is an engineer with a true passion for woodworking and creating the right deck for you.