A Loaded February: New Loaded and Orangatang Products

With their two huge product releases around the holidays last year we expected things to be quiet at Loaded until just before the 2013 season kicked into full gear, if at all this year.cooking_morongas Instead, the guys in sunny southern California decided to hit us with another 1-2 product release punch by first dropping the new Orangatang freeride wheel, named the Moronga, and following it up last week with the announcement of their new Advanced Freeride Glove.

Last winter Orangatang made waves by announcing their first centerset freeride wheel, the Balut. With their big, centerset, and exposed spoked core, new urethane formula, and unique size, the Baluts were extremely different from Orangatang’s established line-up and quickly became a favorite freeride wheel for many. As riders began using the Baluts for much faster speeds and bigger slides than originally imagined, Otang started taking note of what was and wasn’t working and went right back to the kitchen to cook something new up. The result is their new freeride wheel, dubbed the Moronga. The Morongas are using the same urethane introduced with the Baluts, known as Euphorethane, and feature a completely symmetrical shape and centerset bearing seat, meaning you can flip them any which way to ensure an even wear. They feature a narrow 35mm contact patch and the same 72.5mm height found on the Balut, making them very easy to break into a slide and predictable the entire way through. morongas_on_chubbyThey are built on the same core as the Balut, making them lightweight while ensuring a long and even wear, but addressed the issue of cores popping out of the wheels by pouring urethane all the way around the core (see update below). This also allowed for what may be the biggest change with the Morongas: the new lip profile. Much sharper and more defined than the Balut lip, Orangatang took extra care to ensure that the lip profile is maintained through the life of the entire wheel. This is accomplished in the way that the lip blends back down and into the bearing seat and is something we’ll explain more in depth in our upcoming first look and review. I’m excited to get to know them a little more and report back on what we think in the near future. You can find them at shops all over for around $55.

UPDATE: I actually got a chance to clarify this point with Kyle Chin over at Loaded. The reality is, while there has been lots of talk about cores popping out on the Baluts, there have only actually been a few recorded cases. As it goes, the internet tends to make things a bit more extreme. The real reason for the redesign was to create for the new lip profile and size when approaching a DH/freeride wheel.

me_MtTom_morongas

With the both Chubby Unicorn and Moronga releases it’s clear that Loaded is focused on upping their freeride game, something they reaffirmed yet again with their announcement of the Advanced Freeride Gloves. Gloves are a piece of gear that rarely get much love, but can make a difference in how comfortable you are on the hill and how confident you feel when putting a hand down. Loaded currently makes two glove options, the Freeride Glove and their Race Glove. The Freeride Glove is my personal favorite glove for any discipline of skating. I’ve rocked the last two versions of them and haven’t been able to find another glove that can match the breathability and support. Their main issue, however, is due to the fact that they’re almost all cloth. Because of this they’re susceptible to much more wear and tear from accidentally putting fingers down, crashes, and grip tape than leather alternatives. The Race Glove is a much beefier alternative that features a leather construction and carbon fibre knuckle protection. They look nice and provide the protection you want when going fast in an unpredictable downhill environment, but don’t breath very well for the casual rider on the hill for extended periods of time. loaded_AFG_pictureEnter the Advanced Freeride Gloves (AFGs). Designed as a middle-ground between the two gloves, the AFGs are made of premium leather and feature a Coolmax Fabric lining which wicks sweat away from your skin to keep your hands drier and cooler than they would be otherwise. They also have a fair-sized mesh patch on the back of the hand to allow for added ventilation. They’ve also got some additional padding not found in the Freeride Gloves, especially over the knuckles, for those unpredictable moments that you find yourself pulling a Superman through the air with no clear idea of how you’ll be landing. To top it all off these gloves actually look really sharp (and we all know style points increase your skating ability more than anything else, so make sure your swagger is right). They’re retailing for $68.00 and will be available through retailers on Tuesday, February 26th.

Dane Webber, photo credit to Loaded.

Loaded Chubby Unicorn Review

If you haven’t done so already head over and take a look at our first thoughts on the Chubby Unicorn. Instead of doing what I usually do in reviews, this post is going to compliment what was already said in our first thoughts, as well as what we talk about in the video review.

Side view of the Chubby Unicorn and its urethane rails.

As we said in the first post as well as the video review, the Chubby Unicorn is SUPER comfortable. The fat W concave mixed with integrated wheel wells create comfortable well formed pockets to lock your feet in during slides, and encourage good form while tucking. The thing I really like about the concave on the Chubby Unicorn is that I don’t need to move my back foot at all. At 9.75″ wide I’m able to keep my toes on the front rail and heels hanging off the back, making both the W accessible for toeside slides and rails accessible for heeslide slides without you having to shuffle your feet at all. The thing I can’t stress enough, however, is that despite the W being so aggressive, it doesn’t diminish the feeling of the rails like we’ve seen on other boards. This means you really do feel locked in no matter what you’re doing on it. I’m a big fan of rocker when it’s done well. The Chubby Unicorn’s rocker is subtle enough that you’ll forget it’s there, but functional enough to add to that stable, locked in feeling. One thing that I was pumped to learn was that the recessed wheel wells are angled so that the rocker doesn’t affect the angle of your trucks, meaning your 50* trucks stay 50*. Another big thing we liked was that the concave runs through the kicktails. This allows you to know where you are on the kicks without looking and keep your feet where you want them.

Jake gets steezy on the Chubby Unicorn in this still from our video review

Downhill on the Chubby Unicorn feels great. I expected it to feel a little too long to go fast on, but quickly adjusted my tuck and soon found myself more comfortable on the Chubby Unicorn than any other board in my downhill quiver. As I mentioned above, the pockets created by the wheel wells and W encourage good posture when tucking. As Henry mentioned in the video, the pocket created in the front allows you to angle your foot slightly forward, and the fat W concave gives your back foot a pocket to fit securely into, between the rail and W. The board is still agile and easily controlled despite it’s length, thanks to the 28.25″ wheelbase. While there is some dampening to remove some of the road vibrations, I wouldn’t say the board really has any “flex,” like you’ve come to expect from Loaded Boards. The thing really is quite stiff, even when standing in the middle, which helps make it feel even more stable at speed. Jake was able to rip down straightaways and still throw technical enough slides to get around a set of hairpins at one of the gnarlier downhill spots here in Connecticut, putting it through it’s downhill paces where it performed with flying colors.

The construction quality on the Chubby Unicorn is unparalleled to any board we’ve seen yet. Despite the complex design and new construction techniques, the board feels more sturdy than any “classic” board I’ve ever used. So far it’s holding up much better than I expected, as well. To be honest, I figured that with ollies, high-speed curbbing accidents, and collateral damage from failed putt tricks there would quickly be problems with the UHMWPE and urethane rails: I was wrong. The urethane that Loaded developed along with Orangatang is HARD. I mean really hard. I’ve been able to scuff it and scratch it a little, but it’s not chipping, peeling, or delaminating at all. I’m super stoked. It’s still too early to really tell how the UHMWPE bottom will hold up and when it will show signs of wear, but so far it’s just as we’d expect and have seen minimal wear and tear from ollies. Another thing to be noted is that the urethane runs about 1/2 inch from the edge of the board on the sides and about a full inch or more on the tails to ensure that you won’t run into delam issues and ensure that your pop stays fresh for a long time, even if you start to wear through the first parts of the UHMWPE.

UHMWPU bottom with a fresh Skate the East sticker on it.

One thing I’m super keen on is the fact that between the UHMWPE bottom and urethane rails this board is sealed to be waterproof. That means you won’t have to worry about it getting waterlogged if happen to be skating through the wet. I’m very impressed with how well Loaded did in putting this board together. It feels sturdy and really shows the attention to detail that Loaded paid to the small things, it really did beat my expectations. I think it’d be super cool if you could send the board back to be re-coated with the UHMWPE or urethane if something did eventually happen to them, to extend the life of the board. You can get your skis and snowboard resurfaced and re-railed, why not your longboard too? I think it’ll be interesting to see if Loaded ever offers anything of the sort since these boards are definitely meant to last a long, long time.

So, is there anything we didn’t like about the Chubby Unicorn? To be honest, not much. While I’ve gotten used to the length of the board, I wouldn’t mind seeing a shorter version with an even shorter wheelbase to allow you to ride over the trucks, instead of behind them — something I’ve heard from a few other people, as well. I also don’t think this board shines as a commuter. While the kicktails make it a bit more practical, the length of the board makes it a bit cumbersome to carry around in and out of stores, buildings, crowds, etc. I also had trouble finding the perfect foot position when pushing because of how big and aggressive the W concave was. That being said, the board was meant to go down hills and get sideways, so it’s understandable, although a bit out of character for Loaded.

Overall, though, Loaded really took their time in thinking the board out and creating one of the best constructed, highest quality pieces of longboarding gear we’ve seen yet. The Chubby Unicorn will surely be a game changer and will force a lot of the competition to think further outside the box and push board design even further. I also think we’ll see some of the innovative features found on the Chubby Unicorn find their way into new shapes and sizes both from Loaded and the competition as time goes on. Things like urethane rails and UHMWPE will become standard features for many boards in the near future due to their functionality and value added.

Check out the video review below and make sure you watch it all the way through to see Henry Lancaster-Goguen and Jake Wade put the Chubby Unicorn through a much needed workout.

Stats:
Name: Chubby Unicorn
Length: 42.25”
Width: 9.75”
Wheelbase: 28.25”
Kick length: 7” (tip to inner bolt)
Weight: 4.9 lbs

Head over to their website to read the full story of the development and naming of the board, and all the specs and features. Make sure you’re our fan on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe on YouTube to stay current with everything that doesn’t make it to the blog, too!

Video: Freezing Flannel Freeriding in CT

I won’t lie, I’m very excited to be posting this video as it’s one of the first videos that I’ve had a major hand in helping produce. Credit really goes to Original rider and friend Billy Wilson, though, who had the vision for most of the shots and did all the editing to make this video come out as well as it did. I learned a ton about filming through this process and can’t wait to keep working on videos in the future. Most of the riding is done by me (Mike DiPietro) and Billy with Jake Uterstaedt making a couple brief appearances as well.

I’m so stoked this edit came out so well and think it showcases how gnarly Billy is at mixing freeriding and freestyle  to make for some steezy tricks and all around amazing riding. Also a quick side note: Billy doesn’t wear slide gloves. Just something to keep in mind as you see him bombing fast and doing huge standies… For him, failure is not an option.

Setups and such:

Billy: Original Apex 40DC w/ Randall 45* trucks and Abec 11 Flashbacks
Mike: TR Custom Blitz w/ Surf-Rodz 45* RKP trucks and Orangatang 80a & 83a Stimulus wheels
Jake: Earthwing Hightailer w/ Caliber 50* trucks and Cult Classics (I think…)

Big shout outs go to our supporters at Original, Surf-Rodz, and Orangatang.

Merry Christmas & Give Away Winner!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from Skate The East!

As we promised, we’ve selected the winner of our Never Enough Presents Give Away and man are we excited! The response on our Facebook Page was absolutely unreal, thanks so much to everyone that took the time to enter! We’re stoked that people got so excited and are going to be running more contests in the future, so if you didn’t win this time be sure to keep your eyes peeled for another chance soon!

Without further adieu the winner is Nikolos Robinson from New York! Nikolos, you’ve got 24 hours to contact us (mike@skatetheeast.net) and claim your prize, otherwise we’ll draw another name and announce a new winner tomorrow.

Thanks again for everyone who entered and showed support! We’ve got a lot more in store for the future so make sure you check back often!