Online Questions

Posted: September 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

As I’ve alluded to before, I’m fairly active in a number of online communities.  Since I haven’t actually typed a post here in nigh on a year, I’ll do my best to keep this one as cogent as possible.  But, these communities have their ups and downs.  Every fall, there’s an influx of newbies going back to school.  Every holiday season, there’s an influx of parents or kids researching gifts.  During the doldrums, things get a bit nutty as users get stir-crazy in the winter months.  Every spring, a bunch of know-it-alls and Educated Idiots come out of the woodwork and argue with everyone.  Summer begins with more newbies asking questions, and then forum activity slows as folks are out skating.

This year, however, has brought out a new type of user.  Similar to the Repetitive Customer Quote entry I made earlier, there are a LOT of forum n00bs (used in a detrimental manner to show that one is unwilling to put any effort into research and helping themselves) asking the same darn question.  They’re not asking which wheel is best for sliding, what the best board is, why this board is so big/small, or if longboarders are poseurs.  No sir, they’re constantly asking which board is best for cruising.

Fact of the matter is, YOU CAN CRUISE ON ANYTHING!  The term “cruiser” as it applies to skate- or longboarding is simply a product of the mainstream skate market.  I’ve touched on it before, but to the mainstream skate industry, “longboard” is a 4-letter word.  Even though nearly every skateboard company under the sun has started making some form of ‘longboard’ over the past 5 years, there’s still an air of negativity.  I have no idea where all these cruisers are coming from…but, daily, there are at least one or two threads over at the ol’ Silverfish forums asking if this board can be cruised upon, which board is best for cruising, or what wheels are best for cruising, ad nauseum.  I can only speculate at this point.

In the days before longboarding was a thing, I had friends that cruised for miles on their “normal” skateboards, hard wheels and all.  A few years ago, distance skateboard races and skate marathons really took off…competitive cruising, if you will.  Then, Penny boards became en vogue.  The best I can tell is that Penny boards, and other nonsense plastic POS’s, ushered in a new era of retro ideology, and more people discovered what the rest of skateboarding discovered 40 years ago:  Tiny boards are fun, but really suck to get around on.  Couple that with a few trends within longboarding; symmetric drop-through designs, “bricked” boards, and double-kick designs that resemble a more traditional street skateboard; and everything about skateboarding seems to have come to a common intersection…being that longboards have evolved into a more traditional shape, and traditional skateboards have trended towards bigger and wider.

But, that’s just my opinions at this point…I’m just connecting the dots as I see ’em.  But still, the fact remains:

YOU CAN CRUISE ON ANY FUCKING SKATEBOARD YOU WANT TO!

This is the end…

Posted: October 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

My days at the shop have drawn to a close.  I had some fairly big personal events going on that required 3 weekends in a row off, and being that I was only there on Saturdays anymore, I decided it wasn’t fair to the shop to take that much time off, and I asked to be moved to the sub list.

I won’t go into specifics, but I just wasn’t feeling it anymore.  My “big kid” job is all about customer service, so going into the shop on weekends felt more like a chore than a fun side job.  Plus, with my daily schedule, I lost all of the time I had to skate, so it really wasn’t even worth it.  Then, to top it all off, the store owner kept asking me for input on how to improve things, which I gave him, but he then just ignored me.  I had given him advice on what brands to carry, how to set boards up properly, and even how to create a successful skate team.  He carried what he wanted, set up boards to look cool (rather than perform well…gotsa have dem color-matched wheels and bearings, homeslice), and absolutely hated the idea of a team that would require any amount of startup time or money.

As I mentioned in my Parents post, some middle-age folks are really cool to deal with.  The coolest are the Stoked Old Guys.

So, a guy came into the shop, who looked kinda like John Cardiel (and talked like him too, minus all the sporadic swearing).  The Stoked Old Guy (SOG) threw his board up on the counter and started asking me about building up a new cruiser.  The board was an OG Powell/Peralta Tony Hawk:

Image

I, of course, quickly snapped a picture, and began helping him.  He was looking for a reissue pig board, sort of an old-school board for him and his son to cruise around on.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have the board he was looking for, so we had to special order it for him.  Unfortunatelier, the one we got in wasn’t the right color.  Unfortunateliest, we couldn’t find the board he wanted from any of our distributors.

But, he was absolutely cool as hell, and was very impressed at all the random tidbits of knowledge I had about old-school skateboarding.  I even shared a few links with him.

Changing griptape

Posted: June 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

I don’t know what it is about longboard kids these days that think they need new griptape.  Like, they’ll actually want me to remove their existing griptape and apply new stuff.

 

Seriously, if your board outlasts your griptape, you need to skate harder!

This weekend brought out a new customer stereotype.  I don’t want to say they were Cluelessly Curious, because they weren’t really curious at all.  They were just plain clueless.  Not a big deal, since it’s my job to decipher what the customer wants, and set them up appropriately.  But, it was a bit shocking having two doozies dropped on me in one afternoon.

The first girl gets a bye, since she was 10ish years old.  But, the story’s a gem, nonetheless.  It seems her and her father had purchased a blue, cheap, Krown complete from us last year.  It wasn’t keeping up with her brother’s Z-Flex longboard, so she wanted something faster.  I gave my whole pitch, going over all the various shapes, and trying to get her a board she’d like.  Of course, dad was right there making sure she didn’t make a poor purchase, and over-analyzing everything about every board.  The girl had picked out a drop deck with purple wheels, since she loved the purple wheels.  But, the quality wasn’t much higher than the Krown board she already owned, and the board was vastly inappropriate for what she wanted to do anyway.  I showed her several options, but she kept going back to that board (that was nearly as large as she was) because she liked the purple wheels.  Naturally, she just couldn’t get the same Z-Flex board as her brother, so that was out of the question…And, her dad wouldn’t let her spend any more than that.  So, after much hemming and hawing, they settled on keeping her existing board, and upgrading the wheels and bearings.  This was a whole new ordeal in itself, since the girl wanted purple wheels.  We sell Orangatang wheels, which I don’t personally care for, but they come in purple.  The dad was asking me exactly which wheels I’d recommend, so I pointed them towards Abec11 wheels, which I absolutely LOVE.  But, that was a no-go because they were green.  By this time, I was growing weary of all the shenanigans, so I began fudging some things.  The dad asked if the purple O’tangs were fast, and I said that they were…When asked what made them faster than the aforementioned Abec 11’s, I sorta stammered something about how they’re higher rebound and give more energy.  By this time, the girl had decided on the complete board again, so her dad peeled her off of it, and they eventually did purchase the wheels and some new bearings, and left the store.

The second group consisted of 2 sisters, a mother, and a grandmother.  The two daughters looked all angsty, and didn’t say anything, so the grandma did most of the talking.  She simply asked me what wheels were the best.  “For what?” I replied.  “For just learning,” said the grandmother.  I asked “What kind of skating?  Are we doing tricks, or just cruising around?”  The grandmother retorted “Just learning,” before telling her granddaughters to pick out some wheels.  The one said “Oh, I want those blue ones,” pointing to some Bones SPF’s, which are some of the slipperiest wheels I’ve ever ridden, and not good for anything but the smoothest, cleanest surface out there.  I told her that, and the granddaughter said “Oh, I want those then,” as she pointed to some more appropriate Spitfires.  Again, I asked if they were going to be doing tricks, or just cruising around.  The granddaughter replied “Just learning,” which left me back at square one.  After going through about 6 different sets of Spitfires, and telling her the advantages and disadvantages of each, she finally settled on some Streetburners.  The mother was getting anxious and tired of being around that dumbass behind the counter that obviously couldn’t magically read her daughter’s mind and tell them exactly what they wanted, so it was great that the second daughter just pointed at “those blue wheels in the case.”  Unfortunately, we had about 3 sets of blue wheels, so naturally, it was the last set I picked up to show her.  The mother was getting more and more visibly irritated, so they all left, with the mother nearly in a huff.  I was sitting there, dumbfounded, at why these 4 ladies were so angry, seemingly at me.  I honestly don’t think they knew how deep the ‘rabbit hole’ of skateboarding truly went, nor did they want to hear it.  But, I had to remind myself that they weren’t angry at me personally, they were just angry at the idiot behind the counter.

Major Buzzkill

Posted: March 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

So, a customer came in this weekend with a longboard that he had purchased last year.  It’s a very nice Sector9 Cloud Nine (38″ double-kick that he had set up on some blank trucks and Arbor Sucrose wheels).  The kid is in high school and seemed a little socially awkward, like he may be picked on quite a bit.  Anyway, he said that he let some friends borrow his board, and they jumped on it weird, and now it wouldn’t roll.  He wanted me to fix it for him, so I gave him a cost estimate ($10 for new bearings) and he said he’d be back later to pick the board up.

Well, I took the one problem wheel off and couldn’t believe what I saw.  The innermost bearing was smashed to bits, with only 2 balls remaining inside the bearing.  Both shields were smashed off, and the wheel was just barely being held on by the one remaining bearing.  So, I wrestled with the bearing to remove all the guts from the wheel and put new ones in.  The actual aluminum that the truck is made out of was bowed out on this side as well…which is no good, no matter how you slice it.  Upon removing the second wheel, it became apparent to me what happened.  The second was nearly as bad as the first, except that all the balls and bits were left in the wheel.  His “friends” set his board up on edge, and stomped it as hard as they possibly could!  They were out to destroy the damn board!

I guess the most shocking part to me was finally seeing the manifestation of all this “longboarder vs. skateboarder” infighting.  Sure, kids can be huge fucking dicks sometimes, but Johnny Law is out to get everybody equally.  There’s absolutely no reason to destroy someone else’s stuff just because it’s different than yours!

Element Phase 2 Trucks Review

Posted: March 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

Having won a set of these from Element’s Search+Win,  I thought I’d do my thing and completely nerd out over ’em.  Comparing them to similar Independents, Ventures, and a few other brands I’ve tried, here’s what I came up with:

Initial thoughts I had:

-The paint is incredibly shitty. It feels like spray-on Rustoleum or something. Just taking the nuts off with a wrench scraped the hell out of the paint.
-Lined up side-by-side with Indys, the Elements are about a full axle width lower…which is pretty substantial if you think about it
-The mounting holes are drilled in the center of the baseplate…As in, the front/outer and rear/inner holes are equidistant from the edge of the plate. Kinda odd, considering most trucks I’ve ever seen have had the inner holes slammed to the edge of the baseplate.
-The bottom/baseplate/boardside bushing has about a 45 degree bevel around the edge that contacts the hanger. I’ve never seen an OEM bushing with a bevel like that
-Speaking of bushings, the bottom edge of the bottom bushing is squared up with sharp corners, and looks like machining marks on the bottom, almost like it might’ve been lathed into shape or something.
-They’re substantially lighter than Indys, if you’re into that kind of thing. They seem solid though; they don’t feel cheap

Long term thoughts:

-The bushings are weird…The initiation of the turn is very quick, but it quickly dies off, becoming very stiff and hard to turn.  It’s not as satisfying as a Tracker-like turn, but it’s not nearly as smooth as Indy or Venture.

-Popping ollies feels weird and mushy, maybe due to the fulcrum being weirdly placed in the center of the baseplate.

-Grinding is…nothing special, but nothing terrible either.  The metal on the hanger is a little thin, but I can’t comment on long-term durability, since I don’t do a lot of grinding anyway.  The thinner metal might cause issues.

Bottom line is:  They’re trucks.  Good enough to learn on, well worth the points/saving from Search+Win, and far from the worst trucks I’ve ever ridden.  Pick a set up for your kid, or for you if it’s the only option at a shop.

Quote of the week

Posted: March 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

Put yourself on trial, all the time, get out of your comfort zone. Feel depression, feel anger, feel happiness.
-Duane Peters

It’s not exactly skateboard related, but it is a very valuable lesson. Life is about taking risks, and mitigating those where you can. That can double back upon skateboarding as well, being an inherently dangerous sport. Push yourself, expand your horizons…that’s where true progression happens. But, don’t be stupid about it. Know your own limits, push them only when you’re comfortable doing so. For fuck’s sake, wear a damn helmet as well.

Quote of the week:

Posted: January 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

[Penny boards] roll faster and longer than longboards because they’re more aerodynamic.

Yep.  Had that little nugget dropped on me this weekend.

 

I hate Penny boards.

Choosing Your First Board

Posted: January 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

Choosing Your First Board.

 

A cool little article on the anatomy of a skateboard.