Green and glittery, this griptape looks great on the store shelf and makes your board pop (well, appearance wise) without being too distracting like other colored griptapes can be.

Product Review

How long have you ridden the product?

4 years

What is your setup like?

Royal 4.0 Trucks, Speedlab Moonshine Siren wheels, Toy Machine T-Sect bearings, Shake Junt griptape

Typical Session Discipline

Flatland freestyle, dinking around the driveway, mostly 70’s style footwork

How much did you pay?


Where did you purchase it?

RIT Music Skate Casa, Holland Michigan

What were the strengths of the product?

The grit is pretty good and lasts a long time. It’s a cool dark green color which is deep enough to not be as distracting as other neon colored tapes.

What were the weaknesses?

The adhesive sucks. It began peeling up from inside the kicks within a summer of riding. I put some scraps on another board that peeled up and fell off before they even got ridden!

Similar products you have ridden?

So many griptapes – MOB, Sk8kings Hardcore, Black Diamond, Grizzly, Minilogo, Edger, Jessup, 3M Stair Tread

Would you recommend it?




Classic Wheel Diagrams

Posted: 2022-09-18 in Skate Diagrams

Unearthed from the archives at, I’ve found several cutaway diagrams of classic skateboard wheels:

This is the classic Sector9 Nineball shape, seen on many of their OEM completes in the 2000s. As of this writing (September 2022), you can still find these at
The classic Kryptonics 70mm shape. If we take the bearings as 22mm diameter and the spacer at .300″ wide, this should scale up correctly.
These are the Kryptonics Classic K’s that I learned – purely sideset, with that inner bearing smacked up at the inside edge of the wheel
This is the Classic K shape in a centerset hub. I’m really reaching back here, but I think these were in the Kryptonics Hawaii K’s of the late 90s and early 00s.
The icon Road Rider 4s
I’m not gonna lie, I have no idea what these wheels are. Black Twenty-nine Snake Eyes, obviously, but I don’t know anything of their significance or historical value.
An advert from the 70s showing the size differential between many of the most popular wheels of the time. OJ’s were reissued in a near-identical form by Santa Cruz sometime around 2010 or 2011, Yoyos were still being produced a few years ago, but I can’t find them anywhere. The Bones shape lives on at Powell/Peralta. And, the Kryptonics shown here are not the shape in the diagrams above, but are reissued as Kryptnics Star Tracks.

Purchased from your local hardware store!

What will you need?
-5/16-18×2″ bolt
-5/16-18 wingnut
-Two old skate bearings
-Skate Tool

But why?
Sure, you could just mash the wheels into the bearings using your trucks…but that has the drawback of putting all of the force onto the inner bearing races, which can cause brinneling, and lead to increased friction, premature wear and tear, and ultimately, slower speeds and less longevity. A commercial, shop-quality bearing press works on the principle of pressing the outer race into the wheel core, which means that there isn’t any inadvertent wear-and-tear on the innards of the bearing, and that the bearings will be properly seated, as perpendicular as possible to the axle. Oh yeah, that’s another thing too: Mashing the wheels onto the bearings, especially when using high-quality wheels like Spitfire or Bones can mean that the bearings don’t sit perpendicular to the wheel core. Using a press will alleviate that concern, at least a little. I like buying quality and taking care of my goods, so I devised this bearing press of my own accord.

Take your old bearing and slide it onto the 2″ bolt…This will act as a support for the new, good bearing that you’re going to install:

As pictured above, when the old bearing is on the bolt, get your good bearings (the blue ones) ready to go. We’ll be including a spacer here for good practice. Slide the good bearing onto the bolt, so that the blue part is touching the old bearing, then slide the bearing spacer onto the bolt as well. This provides an interface for the wheel to slide onto as well. Don’t worry about tightening the wheel too much at this point.

Once you get the wheel snugged onto the first good bearing, slide the second one onto the wheel, as pictured above. If you spend some time getting these lined up properly, that’ll provide a good, solid, secure interface between the wheel core and the bearings. What this translates to is faster speeds and less wear and tear on your bearings.

Get your second old bearing set up in place on the bolt, then get the wingnut snugged into place Shouldn’t be too hard, the length of the bolt should allow a thread or two to stick out and grab onto the wingnut.

From there, bust out your skate tool. My trusty Alpha Micro helped out taking these pictures. Use the leverage from the skate tool on the bolt’s head as well as the wingnut to press those good (again, blue) bearings in place. When they’re properly seated, remove the wingnut and enjoy your handiwork.

There’s been a global health crisis for the past 20 months or so, driven by a viral respiratory infection that’s got an alarmingly high mortality rate when compared to things like seasonal influenza. It has led to hospitals and health systems being overwhelmed with patients, and as of this writing, 247,075,178 infections worldwide with 5,009,378 deaths (741,135 in the United States).

There was a call in early 2020 from several movers and shakers in the longboard industry advising skaters to take it easy – the idea being that there’s no need to endanger yourself and get injured, taking resources away from CoVid patients (or exposing yourself to a CoVid infection if you had to be in a medical facility for a skate-related injury).

I’ve been doing my best to respect this call, but that’s unfortunately, come at the expense of my comfort on a board. I was out skating just today, on some very familiar boards, and just couldn’t get comfortable…I feel compelled to exercise and work out over the winter off-season to regain my confidence. Pair in some personal things (my skateboarding tapers off when I’m unemployed, which I’ve spent a *lot* of time as over the past year and a half), and the idea that I’ve been focusing more on golf this year, and the summer has flown past – any days I’ve had free to skate have been poor weather days. That being said, I made an effort to take time to skate on Go Skateboarding Day, rolling around a church parking lot while my dog chased me, and I daydreamed at work about skateboarding (something which I haven’t done for the past 3-4 jobs).

Peace, Love, and powerslides

I’ve often wondered about the impact of The Great Recession on longboarding – in Local Flavor, I touch on a few Michigan-based hardgood companies that existed at the time. Companies like Rey Trucks, famously, began production during the Great Recession as a way to keep their guys working and to keep money flowing during the downturn (and ceased production when their main business picked back up). Chicago Longboards was a cabinet manufacturer who, likewise, turned his efforts into longboarding to keep some money flowing. Malibu Longboards, out of Grand Rapids, MI, was run by a husband and wife who were experienced in far-East supplier relations, and were able to leverage that into their own longboard brand. Zealous Trucks and Confederate Trucks were both designed by out-of-work engineers. Tactis Skateshop was started by a financial guy.

Rey and CLB were implemental in bringing affordable, high-performance gear to the marketplace – Rey with their CNC trucks, and CLB with their composite-based boards. Zealous and Confed had groundbreaking innovations in their trucks – Zealous had an infinitely-adjustable kingpin, making their hangers usable on any RKP baseplate, and Confed had easily-replacable axles. Plus, Zealous was able to transition into being the bearing powerhouse that they are today. Tactis (and you gotta go back to 2009 for this) spread the stoke by sponsoring guys like Calvin Staub, Keith Henderson, and Peter Ramirez (Immortalized in the Cash L3wis song, Skateboard King).

But, we saw this play out in the Gearsplosion of 2009: Everyone and their duck was selling longboard stuff during that time. Small time board builders were coming out of the woodwork, the floodgates were opened on far-East companies selling private-label bearings, urethane manufacturers such as AEND loosened up minimum orders which allowed a ton of wheel brands to enter the market (using stock shapes and urethane formulas). While the brands above were important and influential, there are other variables at play.

Locally to me, around West Michigan in the summers and around the Upper Peninsula of Michigan during the school year, we had scenes reminiscent of the 70’s drought leaving pools wide open for skaters to go vertical…though, instead of empty pools, we had winding ribbons of asphalt weaving through the undulating terrain of subdivisions that weren’t filled because of the crashing real estate market. There were skate crews tagging culs-de-sac in subdivisions like Summerset West in Georgetown Township, Shiras Hills in Chocolay Township, and Odovero Hills in the City of Marquette. Other areas around Boyne City became Michigan Downhill hotspots. Elsewhere in the country, abandoned industrial parks became locations for outlaw races. Countless other subdivisions sat as empty monuments to man’s materialism, and promised miles of smooth pavement where skaters weren’t likely to be harassed by neighbors or police. The only reason I feel comfortable in naming specific subdivisions in this post is because I know they’re nearly 100% filled…as of this writing in 2021, and having skated a bunch of ’em while they were being built in 2007, 08, and 09.

I’d like to offer the supposition that The Great Recession was at least part of a factor in the longboard boom of the late 2000s and early 2010s – as shown above, a sudden glut of hardgoods pulled the top end up, while the bottom end was girded by plenty of openly available terrain to utilize.


Well, this is unique

Posted: 2021-02-19 in Uncategorized

I wrote a review of the Venom Skate Podcast a few years back, and wrote in there about a “hot take” that the first guest had about the urethane at AEND Industries used to make skateboard wheels. The assertion was that Abec11’s Classic Thane was the same stock formula as what Seismic used – any differences were due to dyes and coloring. I’ll attest to my own experiences that both urethane formulas feel different, though the podcast said otherwise.

Through Teh Intarnetz, the supposition listed in my previous entry landed under the eyes of one Mr. Dan Gesmer, owner of Seismic Skateboard Products. Says Mr. Gesmer, “Absolutely not true. Same factory, but customized formulations that are distinctly different.”

As I’ve stated before, it’s not my aim to stir up shit. It was, but I’ve changed and so has my focus. Life’s too short to hate. I simply found it weird to have gotten a statement directly from a skate industry expert on an incorrect statement I’d written about.

Peace, love, and powerslides

I bought this a few years ago with the intent of learning some flatland freestyle maneuvers; footwork and such to help improve my balance and physical awareness on the board. Decomposed has a great thing going, and they’re super helpful in guiding newbies into what they need to get started.

Longboard Review

How long have you ridden the board

2 years

What is your setup like?

Royal 4.0 Trucks, Speedlab Moonshine Siren wheels, Toy Machine T-Sect bearings, Shake Junt griptape

Typical Session Discipline

Flatland freestyle, dinking around the driveway, mostly 70’s style footwork

How much did you pay?


Where did you purchase it?


What were the strengths of the deck.

Great shape, great construction

What were the weaknesses?

The board was advertised as 7.5″ wide, but actually measures out at a full 7.625″, a full 1/8″ wider, which is where I ran into difficulties in getting a wide enough truck/wheel setup

Similar decks you have ridden?

Capital/East Coast Skates Chessboard, with how wide it is it’s also similar to any of several street decks I’ve ridden

Would you recommend it?


There’s a few oddities with this board – noted above, the width discrepancy. Also, I have no idea what sort of finish or clearcoat is on this board, but I’ve noticed that the griptape peels up, and stickers on the bottom sorta “melt” into the finish, making them difficult to remove.

Royal Trucks Review

Posted: 2021-01-30 in Gear Reviews

Purchased from a discount bin at Zumiez, I originally bought the Royal 4.0’s for a mini cruiser, although these days, they’re living on a Decomposed freestyle board. The axle width is 6.5″, and the hanger width itself is 3.875″

Equipment Review

How long have you ridden them?

8 years

What Setup are you running them on?

Originally on a handmade board with UFO wheels, as a 70’s sort of knockoff. Currently sitting on a Decomposed Yoyo deck with Speedlab Moonshine Siren wheels.

Typical Discipline?

Flatland Freestyle

How much did you pay for them?

I don’t remember…on clearance, so it might’ve been in the $30 range

Where did you buy them?


What are their weaknesses?

They were sold as 4.0″ wide, but the hanger width is only 3.875″, which makes it a little tricky to dial in on a freestyle board.

What are their strengths?

They turn quickly and snappy while using soft bushings. Because they don’t have a bushing seat casted into the baseplate and rely on cup washers to hold the bottom bushing, they’re incredibly easy to tweak. Cupped washers give you a little more rebound on the back end, flat washers give you a little more initial lean-in, flipped cup washers enhance the turn all the way through. Royals are generally pretty good, though a touch underrated in the grand scheme of trucks.

What similar equipment have you ridden?

Tracker Midtracks, Tracker Fulltracks, Bennett 4.0’s

Would you recommend them?


Video Games

Posted: 2020-11-29 in Uncategorized

Like so many other 30somethings, one of my first exposures to skateboarding was through the Tony Hawk Pro Skater videogame series. The 90’s were a pretty magical time with things like the X Games bringing extreme sports to television on a regular basis; videogames like 2Xtreme and Cool Boarders making extreme sports simulations attainable as a playable feature; and the whole World Industries domination of skateboarding as portrayed in the movie The Man Who Souled The World, talking about how Steve Rocco usurped the whole-ass industry. Big Brother magazine gave way to Jackass on TV, which was tangentially related to Viva La Bam and the Camp Kill Yourself series, which spawned a band. Everything was exciting, high-flying, dramatic, and most importantly, EXXXTREME!

The Tony Hawk Pro Skater series captured the essence of the exiting, extreme, high-flying drama in a way that earlier games hadn’t. You could watch the X Games on TV, then go play as those skaters in a video game, and the game *felt* like you were controlling characters on the TV broadcast. To this day, over 20 years later, the Warehouse level still feels exciting – smashing the glass, rolling down the big hill, then doing a sick grab and getting the “Over The Pipe” and “Secret Room” gaps while grabbing the hidden VHS tape in the secret room. THPS2 introduced combos; building up massive lines by doing reverts into manuals and carrying on without bailing. THPS3 introduced flatland tricks, giving you time to rack up more points while manualling. By THPS4 and Tony Hawk’s Underground (THUG), a mechanic was introduced to get off of your board, and an element of free-roam was introduced as a storyline.

The point is, though, that each of these progressions felt epic. The climactic trick in THUG, for instance, was doing a trick over a helicopter. Ridiculous, sure, but words cannot describe how amazing that sequence felt as a player! Then, Activision stuck with that formula for a while, releasing THUG 2, Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland, and a few other games.

Out of the wings, Electronic Arts debuted the Skate series in the mid 2000’s. Focusing instead on realism and being a true skateboarding simulator, Skate gave the player precise control on tricks. It was no longer just tapping “X” to do an ollie, you had to move the analog joysticks in a certain way back and forth to have your character move his feet to do an ollie in the game. You couldn’t just hit Circle and do a grab, you had to manipulate your character’s arms. You couldn’t just hit Square to do a flip trick, you had to use both joysticks while in the air to move each foot individually. This amount of control was, once again, revolutionary.

While the Tony Hawk series was aimed at synthesizing the extravagance and spectacle of extreme sports, Skate was aimed at putting the player in the game. There are reasons that people who actually ride skateboards are drawn to the Skate series: It feels less fantastic, and more real.

With all that being said, I miss the extreme over-the-top feeling of the Tony Hawk series. While I can truly appreciate the real feel of the Skate series, and it is incredibly satisfying to play, there was just something about jumping over a helicopter or flying totally over a halfpipe.

I dunno…I recently got into playing Rocket League and got to appreciating the feel of high-flying aerial maneuvers, and missing the feel of that in skateboard games.

This is an article I’ve wanted to explore since 2005 and 2006 when I was a staff writer on the Jenison High School newspaper. We’d have pitch meetings with every issue, and go over the articles that were to be featured, length and word assignments, and which articles would be written by whom. I’d always pitch articles about urban myths and legends, but consistently got shot down in favor of current events and topical articles such as sports games, school spirit events, and local youth events throughout the Greater Grand Rapids area. The urban myth that intrigued me the most was the one of a hardwood roller rink under the floor at Field’s Fabrics, that was still intact. Questions bounced around my head: Tarry Hall was only a few miles away – were roller rinks popular enough in the 70’s to sustain 2 businesses that close to each other? What was meant by “under the floor” at Field’s – did they build some joists or supports to raise the current store floor, or did they just carpet over the hardwood? How does one go about seeing this hardwood roller rink? 

After graduation from high school, I went to college, and got heavily involved in skateboarding and longboarding as hobbies. My main exposure to the sports were through online sources, such as discussion boards, forums, and other forms of social media. The question still smoldered in the back of my mind, until the knot began unraveling: I’d found a group of “old guy” skaters, affectionately referred to as Fossil Night at the Modern Skatepark in Grand Rapids, and the forum that they maintained. They’d posted a list of old skateparks that used to be in the area, that some of the guys skated at “back in the day.” Wind, Waves, and Wheels skatepark was in Rockford; Purple East had a skatepark in Grand Rapids; Cosmic Wave in Kalamazoo; and The Astro Speedway in an unspecified suburb. I was curious about the stories they told. Wind, Waves, and Wheels had moved to 29th Street in Kentwood and became more of a lifestyle shop; Purple East became a headshop; Cosmic Wave was in Kalamazoo and I couldn’t find two cares to rub together about Kalamazoo; but what the heck was the Astro Speedway? 

While it wasn’t an obsession, it was a favorite topic of mine to Google during late nights in college. Through the wonders of Teh Intarnetz, I met a guy on the chatrooms at named Chris Yandall, who had spent a decent amount of time in the Grand Rapids area during the 1970’s. Stoked like you wouldn’t believe, Chris loved sharing stories of “the good ol’ days” especially with youngsters like myself. It was through a conversation with him that all these pieces began falling into place: He mentioned the Astro Speedway, and said that it now housed a JoAnn Fabrics in Jenison. It clicked as I realized that he’d actually meant Field’s Fabrics, and that the rumored hardwood roller rink under the floor was actually a concrete skatepark in the basement of the store! 

Fast forward a few years, and I found myself working with a young lady who had just recently married into the Field’s family, and confirmed that as of 2013, the skating terrain was still intact, though most of it had been filled in with sand. I was floored. This time frame coincided with when I started my skateboard blog, and the Astro Speedway moved from mere fascination to insatiable curiosity. It wasn’t a full-on obsession yet, as I didn’t have a Pepe Silva-esque corkboard with yarn and diagrams, but I learned to do some deep dives using Google’s search engine in conjunction with a few other online search tools to find some nearly-forgotten primary sources (in the form of magazine scans and old blogs). 

That’s how I got to where I am today. Reaching out to several sources on Instagram, I found myself in contact with one Michael Early. Mr. Early was generous enough to spend about a half an hour on the phone with me, sharing his stories of skateboarding in and around West Michigan in the 70’s and 80’s. In fact, Michael and a buddy, Jon Bishop, designed and built the Astro Speedway. 

He talked of the big names that had skated at the Astro Speedway throughout the years: Wentzle Ruml, IV, of Dogtown And Z-Boys fame; pioneering skateboard photographers Glen Friedman and Ted Terrebone; the Sims Skateboard team, including Brad Bowman, Bert LaMar, Doug DeMontmorency, and Dave Andrecht; the Haut Skateboards team (Haut being the H in NHS Distribution, of Independent Trucks, Santa Cruz skateboards, Creature Skateboards, and many other brands); and the early Variflex team including 1980’s Skater Of The Year, Eddie “El Gato” Elguera. 

The park itself was set up with the main pool in the center area. Michael mentioned that when it was initially dug out and built, it was a little shallow, so they added some vert pieces to the outside making it a sort of ¾ pipe. When he visited the store a few years back, it was still there, and looked like the vertical pieces had simply been broken off and pushed into the pool before being covered in dirt. There’s another, smaller pool in the back that he said was still useable. This confirmed what my former coworker had said; that crews simply filled in the skatepark with sand or dirt when they converted the building to a retail store. 

During one of the online conversations I’d had with Chris Yandall, he mentioned an outdoor snake run in Grand Rapids during the early-mid 1970’s, in addition to the several indoor skateparks in the area. Michael elaborated on this, and said that while he didn’t specifically remember a snake run in the area that Yandall mentioned, there was a pretty solid skate scene all around the midwest: Astro Speedway, of course, being in Jenison alongside several others in the greater West Michigan area; but also out east in Detroit, Flint, and Columbus (OH); west into Chicago and Wisconsin, where the infamous Turf skatepark was housed in Milwaukee. Bill Danforth (“Mr. Hate,” “The Nomad,”) was from Detroit, and had skated in the Great Lakes Skateboarding Association contest in 1979 at the Astro Speedway. Also on Alva’s skate team were a couple other guys from the Midwest: Steve Dread and Jesse Neuhaus, both from Chicago. Between the east coast/west coast rivalry, there was a remarkably robust skate scene right in the Midwest. 

The skateboard industry is notorious for its heavy swings – ebbs and flows that create epic boom/bust cycles. By 1983, the Astro Speedway had closed down in the midst of one of these infamous industry declines. Michael Early moved to San Diego, CA, where he currently lives and operates Pool King Skateboards as well as Alva Skateboards. 

Shared blog with

Works cited: 
Early, M. (2020, August 11). Astro Speedway Skatepark [Telephone interview]. 

Kingston, Malakai. Michael Early Pool King Founder/Owner. 2007, 

Murphy, Jim. “BILL DANFORTH.” Juice Magazine, 8 Nov. 2014, 

Yandall, C. (1979, April). National Skateboard Review, 3(12), 3-4.