Choosing Wheels

img_20171125_104251.jpgOver the last year, we have used 11 different wheels, including various models from: Orangatang, Hawg, Walzen, Metro, Atom, Abec & Blood Orange, and thought it worth documenting our experiences and preferences.

First off, it is important to note, that all this is in the limited context of our cafe-cruising, street pumping and carving, limited trick ability and tentative deck foot-work (calling it “dancing” is a bit much). We don’t live with streets or paths where we can downhill safely or (yet) have the ability to do big dancing and tricks.

 

Info-graphic from w82.com

For what we do, I suspect just about any wheel would work, but our choice usually comes down to the following four characteristics:

  1. Larger diameter (70mm+) – to smooth out the local rough roads and pavements. We don’t push our boarding that much to notice any subtle acceleration difference from using smaller wheels (smaller wheels accelerate faster than a larger one), but do notice immediately when smaller wheels rebound against old rough pavements.
  2. Colour – hey, aesthetics are important to us; when cafe-cruising, it is important to have a cool board with colours that work together.
  3. Lip edge & contact width – either:
    • a square/sharp lip with a larger contact width, like the Hawg Mini Monsters and big Orangatang Kegels, for max grip in the turn when cruising; or,
    • a rounded lip with a smaller contact width, like the Blood Orange Liam Morgans and Metro Red Motions, for the boards we like to throw around and do basic tricks on.
  4. Built-in Lights – my 8-year-old son will only use wheels on his board with built-in lights 🙂

I initially thought that the durometer rating would be a big factor for us, but have ended up happily using wheels from 78a to 84a with no issues.

None of the wheels we have used have given us any problems and I would happily buy any of them again.

Kegel
big 80mm pavement-crushing 80a Orangatang Kegels

 

 

 

King Louis ready for fancy footwork

img_20171125_110507_bokeh.jpg

Our dancer (well a board to do some fancy footwork on) named King Louis, a custom-made from the ever excellent Hecs Deck, is now up and running with the addition of the Blood Orange 70cm Liam Morgan 82a wheels – new wheels to us, so interesting to see how they perform.

Wheelbase: 59cm
Length: 100cm (39”)

Beautiful top and bottom veneer, a blue-tinted fish-scale patterned wood.

IMG_20171125_110518_Bokeh.jpg

King Louis Arrives

image1The new custom deck from Hecs Decks arrived (as ever, thank you Hector), with its very unusual and beautiful fish-scale wood pattern. I have called it King Louis.

Not sorted some trucks and wheels for it, but will probably go with some 70cm+ cruising wheels in dark blue, as the top and bottom wood has a slight blue tint to it, something like the Liam Morgan Blood Oranges may work well with it.

liam-morgan-blue-longboard-wheels-blood-orange-pro-series-70mm-84a.jpg

As usual, the issue with really nice wood on the top of the deck is to grip it or not. Since trying clear grip-tape on the Hecs Fish, and hating it, I am left with spray-grip if I want to show off the wood pattern or some intricate cut-out grip-pattern; however, I don’t think a grip pattern aesthetically would work with the King Louis.

Trucks on the Fish

 

IMG_20171104_095242.jpg

Put on some new slightly shorter 9″ Gullwing trucks on the Hecs Fish, alongside my favourite cruising wheels, Hawg Mini Monsters, and Oust Moc7 bearings. Shorter, for purely aesthetic reasons, given the deck is slightly narrower. The 50º Gullwings are well made and feel very similar to my usual Paris V2s.

The standard Gullwing bushings (90a) were too soft for my liking, so am trying out some Mindless 94a barrels (the blue ones) matched with some Bones Medium 91a hardcore cones (white/yellow).

 

 

Ordered New Deck: Hecs Decks

hecsdecks-skateboard

Sometimes the stars align and you have to seize the day (to mix as many metaphors as I can) – I contacted a few makers over the last few days looking for a new deck with a single or double kicktail, including the small UK maker (are we supposed to call small makers “boutique makers”?) Hecs Decks, who shared that they have just started making an evolution of their short cruiser; yet to be named, but with a kicktail. So, hey, seize the day and ordered one with a gloss Bubinga finish. 🙂

hecs decks hector

Details from the very helpful Hector (hey, just got it: Hec’tor):

  • 835mm length (33″) with a wheelbase of 505mm.
  • Big round tail with a mellow angle.
  • Mellow concave which curves towards a peak just forward from the centre of the board.
  • 12 ply with thin layers (“so that it’s stiffer”)

Photos of his stunning walnut first cut (and what convinced me).

Have a spare set of Paris 180cm V2s and some 4President wheels to try on it when it arrives, but may drop down to some slightly narrower trucks. Will see what it is like before deciding on what to do with the face/top; which is probably just leave it and only ride it easy and dry, like the Hackbrett, although I do have some ideas on fancy grip patterns after gripping the Kaliber.

So that’s a Zenit AB, a Jungle Board pintail and now a Hecs Decks all to come and join the growing family collection… wupps 🙂

 

Decks with a kicktail

kicktail 1

Time to find the next deck… it struck me a while back, while negotiating up a small pavement, that none of the longboards we have currently in the family have a nice big kick tail; hence, time to search for one. Classic skateboards excluded, it is interesting that most longboards rarely have them, especially when you consider how many longboards are used for simple urban cruising.

Some of the big US makes, like Arbour, Landyachtz, and Mindless, make models with good sized kicktails.

landyachtz peacemaker

My main interest, however,  is in the rarer European boards, and preferably something that does not look like a stretched-out skateboard. A few that I have found, and that have caught my eye, are a King Lui Native, Skate Timber’s Shred Sled and the Hecs Decks Cruiser.

Hecs DecksCruiser
Hecs DecksCruiser

 

king-lui-native21.png

King Lui The Native

 

 

 

 

 

Changed the Bushings

IMG_20170802_175748488

The Paris trucks for the Kaliber deck came with Paris’s own black 90a bushings which, for my 85kg (187lb) weight, is too soft for my liking with the board tipping too easily and feeling overall less stable.

My understanding is that Paris use the following bushings on their trucks:

  • Blue – 81a
  • Orange – 85a
  • Black – 90a (which mine came with)
  • Red – 93a

I am not sure for certain, but it seems to be a bit of lottery what bushing you get with Paris trucks – my last set came with the red 93a and this set, an identical specification 50° V2, with the softer black 90a.

With a view to trying out some new bushings, I put in 94a Mindless JuJu Race barrel+cones bushings (wanted to try a new make), which firmed up the board significantly – a night and day difference from the default softer Paris ones; although it does not feel as perfect (which could be down to the deck as well) as my Hackbrett-Paris set up with white Venom94a SHR barrels combined with Red 91a SHR cones.

IMG_20170802_175323588

Try some out…

If you are unhappy with your board or never tried different bushings, I highly recommend having some fun trying ones with different durometer ratings and see how your board responds.

Buying replacement bushings also highlighted how much some people charge for them online. I initially looked on Ebay, and Amazon, and some sellers were selling the same ones, you can get from skate shops, for more than x5 the cost. The biggest rip-off was £13, and £2.95 postage, for just a cylinder and cone; which I can buy at my local skate shop for £4. Beware folks, there are unscrupulous people out there ready to rip off the unsuspecting.

A good post on silverfish on bushings: bushings-different-types-how-set-them-up

Durometer Guides

Below are the charts I use for guidance on weight and riding style.

longboard-bushing-durometer-guideVENOM BUSHINGS CHART

Alfie finally built

Finally got to complete Alfie, top and bottom.

IMG_6435.JPG

Added the stunning red 50° Paris 180cm trucks and big Orangatang Kegel wheels (with Bones Race Red bearings); although I am not sure of the wheels, they aesthetically dominate too much for my liking. I may replace with slightly smaller and darker wheels like the Hawg Mini Monsters on my Hackbrett.

The grip tape work is my own with a bit of help from some pre-cut shapes (the black pieces) which were meant for a Loaded Dervish.

Now let’s see how Alfie rides; it will be nice to have some grip with the wet weather after the ‘too beautiful to grip’ Hackbrett.