Posts Tagged ‘gear whore’

Expensive Bearings

Posted: 2019-11-11 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Another post from the Silverfish archives (every time I do a deep search on my laptop, I find more and more of these).  This time, discussing my thoughts on expensive bearings.

My original post was as follows:

Your mileage may vary, so bear with me on this. Having tried out a few sets of expensive bearings in the past year, and comparing them to cheaper bearings , I definitely feel like expensive bearings can make a difference in roll speed. Furthermore, I feel like the adage of “buy cheaply, buy often” as it pertains to bearings is somewhat misguided. While bearings won’t make or break your setup (your Krown board won’t win an IGSA race just by slapping some uberbearings on it), there’s a LOT more to it than just buying as cheap of bearings as possible. Now, we’ve all known ‘that guy’ whose hacked-up S9 board and uberbearings rides like sh!t, but that goes back to keeping your bearings properly maintained. ‘That Guy’ doesn’t take care of his board , so any bearing that he swears is the best is going to be better than the beat-to-hell bearings he had before. But, I’m honestly wondering if anyone has legitimately bought, ridden, and taken complete care of any ‘uberbearings.’ I’m madly in love with my Tekton bearings because I feel like they hold speed better in the flat sections of some downhill runs I do, and I can say the same for Element Swiss and Ceramics, as well as Ninja Ceramix and Boss Speed Ceramics. Obviously, wheel size, shape, duro, formula, core, etc. have a greater impact on rollspeed than bearings do, but at least according to my experience, bearings do have a positive impact on things.

User Metaldestroyer seemed to agree:

In my experience a well-maintained set of nice bearings lasts a hell of a lot longer than cheap bearings . Reds die on me in weeks of skateboarding, swiss last up to a year. And my ceramic super reds are a whopping two years old and still just as fast as my brand spankin new magics, so there you go.

My buddy Hiersgarr also agreed:

This is a topic worth discussion as longboarding reaches new levels, with people pushing the lines and progressing all the time. I say let’s have a serious, real discussion about the finite detail of bearing quality and roll. This discussion would do nothing to challenge the established, accepted fact that it is absolutely pointless to get the speediest, priciest bearings for most disciplines of skating (it’s okay to have this discussion). I for one, could say that yes, a fine, small detail to racing at as fast speeds as possible is the quality of ones bearings . Basically, bearings are very susceptible to slowing through any number of means. Proper maintenance is the answer, but when that is controlled for, the properly maintained high quality bearing is worth testing under such circumstances. Without getting too ahead of myself I would believe Mischo Erban has an opinion related to the quality of his bearings . He is an engineer who holds the longboard downhill speed record*, hard to imagine he hasn’t thought about it by now.

*this discussion is from 2013, when Erban did hold the longboard downhill speed record, and right before the industry kicked it into gear and began putting actual effort into bearings.  Mischo used, I believe, Seismic Tektons…shortly after, Kyle Wester broke the record on Bronsons

Incrediboy729 offered a slightly different opinion:

I can definitely feel a difference in my Bones Swiss Six as compared to my Reds. Whether or not it’s worth the money is debatable, but there is definitely a difference. I believe this kinda summarizes it. there is NOTHING wrong with bread and butter bearings , (reds, magic, zealous, mhs) but if cost wasnt an issue, id be running custom-fit 6 ball tektons in every setup, because they are probably a tiny bit faster. Not enough for me to warrant purchase, but enough to be acknowledged. I think we collectively adopted the “never buy expensive bearings ” mantra because of the annoying Swiss-Ceramic noobs, and the fact that 90 percent of us cant afford/dont need anything fancy

The point I was trying to illustrate was that there’s a difference more than enough to just be “acknowledged,” but Incrediboy posits that only if cost weren’t an issue, he’d go for better bearings.  It’s still cheaper to buy one set of $30 bearings and maintain ’em than it is to buy one $10 set a month to throw away when they wear out or break prematurely.

And finally, TestMonkeyUnlimited offers another differing opinion:

Bearings have been adopted from standard applications; Abec ratings were, and still are, created for the industrial applications they are subjected to. The lateral side-load forces they are exposed to when skateboarding doesn’t correlate. The best bearing is any with double side-shields, that are maintained regularly; the equivalent of the “3,000 mile oil-change”, if you will. Running ceramics is akin to only using synthetic oil in your vehicle. But even more costly, comparatively. So just clean them often, because even at 10 bucks, you still wouldn’t chuck & replace them every couple of weeks… Lube really is the cheapest component, so clean & re-lube often. I can’t make that any more clear. And ditto on the placebo effect; unless your trying to shave hundredths off of race times. But for street? No.

He’s absolutely right ABEC rating doesn’t matter.  But, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t seek quality when buying bearings.  Stick with offerings from skateboard-specific retailers.  Find a budget and stick with it.  Know what you’re looking for in a bearing, and find one that fits within your budget.  That’s all part of being an informed consumer, and that was my job when I was working at the skateshop…and, of course, a huge reason I started this blog in the first place.  That’s what I’d add to TMU’s post:  There’s a point of diminishing returns when you look at price point in skateboard bearings, but you can’t automatically say that expensive bearings are “the exact same” as the cheaper ones.

Various tidbits collected from around the internet and curated right here.  Direct quotes from NCDSA.com are italicized, my notes are in bold, and the plain print are attributions to the sources of the quotes:

Per Chris Chaput on NCDSA:
It appears that TA has a tendency to pick wheel duros that work better on the round wall than the flatlands. As a matter of fact, he really likes the VertZ (96a). He put them onto some boards that he brought onto the set of Lords Of Dogtown and Fox Studios. So if you see the green wheels in the TA/Stacy interview that appears on the new special edition Dogtown & Z-Boys DVD, or you saw the Best Damn Sports Show with TA and Stacy, you know where they came from.

There were a bunch of 3dm wheels made to look like Road Riders and/or Powerflexes. You can see them in some pool scenes, HB and LB. What I still don’t get, is why the book, the trailer, and even the movie featured this shot of Adam Alfaro on a concave double-kicked deck with little white radiused wheels. Adam rips, but this was the biggest lapse in “authenticity” that I could see. maybe they just wanted to see if we were paying attention…

96a Vertz and the translucent red 3dm (Seismic) wheels were made as movie props for Lords Of Dogtown

 

From Jack Smith:
I coordinated the production of the original run of “prop wheels”, which were supposed to be poured in a low to mid 80’s durometer. However, at the last minute TA told the props department that wheels should be in the mid 90’s. Thus creating the slipping and sliding that Chris writes about.

3DM Cambrias were also poured in translucent colors for use in the film. My friend Adrian Pina and I spent many hours in my garage lathing the name off the wheels. Actually, I watched, while Adrian did the work.

Dan at 3DM just poured a bunch more of these in translucent red.

Mark, I’ve seen the film numerous times, the “wow” wheels you speak of, clearly have loose ball races.
A number of different wheels were used in the movie. It’s difficult to say for sure from the pictures and movie clips, but I believe that the wheels in the Zephyr shop that are being held up do have loose ball races in them. Other “reissue” types of wheels were used, some of which had loose balls and some of which had precision bearings. Whenever precision bearings were used on a board in a closeup, we’d have the shields removed from the bearings and the cages orientated to resemble loose ball bearings.

The prop wheels were pretty hard and slippery, making it really difficult to perform some of the tricks on the ramps at Del Mar and Huntington Beach. I had choreographed routines for the freestyle competitions, and I wanted us to be able to carve and spin without sliding out. I made the first Retro wheels by cutting down some 60mm NO SkoolZ in 81a and dying them yellow, which had them turning out a brownish amber color. I showed Alva how we were able to stick the turns on the slippery freestyle area, and he asked to try my board. After a couple of laps he came back and asked me if I had any more for Victor and Adam, the actor and double who play Tony. “I just happen to have a couple extra sets in my bag”. The next day, I was distributing wheels for the Stacy’s, the Jay’s, and the props department. They’d use the hard wheels for some of the slides, and my wheels for everything else. They even spray painted mine to look like clay wheels for the early scenes including the one behind the bus.

Trust me on this point, NO ONE MISSES LOOSE BALL BEARINGS. Or stripping out baseplates, or solid oak cracking down the bolt holes… II coordinated the production of the original run of “prop wheels”, which were supposed to be poured in a low to mid 80’s durometer. However, at the last minute TA told the props department that wheels should be in the mid 90’s. Thus creating the slipping and sliding that Chris writes about.

3DM Cambrias were also poured in translucent colors for use in the film. My friend Adrian Pina and I spent many hours in my garage lathing the name off the wheels. Actually, I watched, while Adrian did the work.

Dan at 3DM just poured a bunch more of these in translucent red.

Mark, I’ve seen the film numerous times, the “wow” wheels you speak of, clearly have loose ball races.

 

More from Chaput:
A number of different wheels were used in the movie. It’s difficult to say for sure from the pictures and movie clips, but I believe that the wheels in the Zephyr shop that are being held up do have loose ball races in them. Other “reissue” types of wheels were used, some of which had loose balls and some of which had precision bearings. Whenever precision bearings were used on a board in a closeup, we’d have the shields removed from the bearings and the cages orientated to resemble loose ball bearings.

Somewhere on NCDSA, there’s a post about how NoSkoolz were a modern reproduction of the Bel-Air Lip Bombs, which were Chaput’s pro model wheel from the 1970’s.  Above, we learn that those were used in 81a urethane for Lords Of Dogtown.  I was unable to find the direct quote, but I found some pictures:

Darn close, eh?

On the wheel that became Retro Bertz:
They are going to be ready in one week, barring any disasters at the factory. The molds are done. The artwork is done. We’ll commit to the color and pour enough for everyone.

These work really well with older and/or narrower trucks like a MidTrack, Indy 101 or Invader. That setup is really fun on a single kick deck with little to no concave. They make for really “zippy” little cruisers. You can do old-school tricks and slalom on them too. I’ll report back when I have them in my hot little hands.


Also part of that conversation was a little blurb about how Tony Alva himself commissioned the old amber 95a Cadillac wheels that were reissued up until about 2009.  And, for those who haven’t seen LoDT a thousand times like I have, the wheels that Mitch Hedberg presents to the shop in the “urethane…it comes from oil…and it grips,” are Abec11 Bertz.  The Cadillacs are seen in a few of the scenes where Alva is getting pictures taken for a magazine.

And the post that started it all:
From the webmaster..

The Lords of Dogtown movie will be released to widespread distribution on 03-Jun-2005, and I believe it will have a significant impact on old school skateboarding, possibly (and finally) upsetting the undue dominance that street and vert skating have enjoyed of late.

This forum will serve as a space to discuss the movie and its impact.

www.sonypictures.com/movies/lordsofdogtown/
Lords Of Dogtown debuted in 2005, in the swirling flotsam of a bunch of stoked old guys getting together and forming all these skate sites and forums that we all grew to love (Mile High Skates was opened as a source for old guys to buy pool boards and LoDT reissue gear), which of course set into motion the events that led to LONGBOARDING as we knew it in 2014.

More reposting of my document backups to this blog.  Enjoy!

Howdy y’all! I had the fortune of winning some of those Veloz trucks in their online giveaway thingy they had a while ago. So, since I couldn’t find any good information about the trucks when I was researching, I thought I’d balance out my skate karma (skarma?) and give a little back to the community by way of a review!

 

So, the trucks were Veloz trucks…the 3 pack, with a 50 degree front, a 50 degree rear, and a 0 degree rear. I mounted the 50 front and the 0 rear on my Dregs Race, and the pair of 50’s on my CLB Eleanor. The Dregs, of course, is a topmount; and the CLB is a sort of topmounted Demonseed with a wedged front and dewedged rear. The Dregs had 66mm Earthwing Superballs (the old black ones from a few years back), Speedy Lunatic bearings, and the white OEM bushings that came with the trucks. The CLB had the old 76mm Earthwing Superballs, Element Black bearings, but I actually had to dig out some Bones Hardcore bushings to throw on top since the bushing seats are really restrictive. The course that I tried the setups on wasn’t much compared to some of the roads I see on here; it was a bike path with a beautiful S-curve to it that tightened up as the path went downhill. It’ll kick you up to 20-25mph with a good tuck. And, it’s the course that I did my Zig vs. Otang review thread on.

 

Now for the fun part…the actual review

 

On the Dregs, I thought the 0 degree rear felt really damn cool…kinda like riding on a Porsche or something. A lot of people really, really dislike the 0 degree, but I thought it felt good on a topmount. They felt, to me, kinda snowboard-ish where you kinda have to lean forward into the turn. They also gripped like Lindsey Lohan grips a kilo of coke (she can afford that much). I rode them in the rain, and stuck the lines like nobody’s business. That is, until I actually tried pushing them to slide…Then, it was like *grip*grip*grip*grip*HOLYSHITI’MGOINGBACKWARDS*

Apart from the uber-restrictive bushing seats, I could actually see the 0 degree rear being sweet in something like maybe a GS or LDP setting…it’s got a surprising amount of lean; so much that if I bent over and grabbed the rail, the front trucks would actually lift up and the rear would stay planted. Usually, on my setups, the rear lifts before the front.

 

The CLB…ah, yes…the CLB. I didn’t touch a thing about the bushings before mounting the 50’s up on the board, but when I stood on the board in my room, I could not get much in the way of lean out of them. So, I took the OEM top off and threw some Blue Bones bushings in their place. Even still, when I rode the board, the trucks felt bound up like a fat man after am all-you-can-eat cheese buffet. They turned well enough, but felt like they could really come to life at a faster speed. The 50 degree rear also had a rather rough, abrupt transition from grip to slide as well, although not nearly as harsh as the 0. For my money, on a dropped deck like that, Randals are better. That said, I do wanna try the Veloz trucks (with both the 0 and 50 rears) on a dropthru.

 

All in all, they’re good trucks. The painted finish is smooth…I don’t think they’re powder coated, although I may be wrong. Randal hangers will fit on Veloz plates, however Veloz hangers will not fit onto Randal plates without a little pivot cup modification. The Veloz pivot pins are about a quarter inch longer than Randals. Speaking of more Randal vs. Veloz, the old yellow Randal bushings are the same size as the OEM Veloz bushings. However, due to the tight bushing seat on the Veloz, you probably can’t fit anything like a Stim or Eliminator in there…I even had a little trouble with an old Abec11 bushing that was cut from a wheel. It may be just the black color, but the area of the hanger immediately around the bushing seat kinda reminded me of a Gullwing Charger. The axles don’t seem to be a true 8mm; they seem to be whatever the imperial equivalent is (5/16?), but they do look really good and really high quality with almost a machined look to them. The threading looks a lot cleaner than Randal; again, very clean and almost machined. One odd thing I noticed was that the nuts were hard to loosen and tighten…So hard that I felt like I was cross-threading them at times (I wasn’t, for the record).

 

Overall, they’re stabler than a 50 degree Randal, have tight bushing seats, and grip like a mofo. I give 9/10 on a topmount, just for the Porsche factor, and a 6.5/10 on a dropdeck, just because inherently stable trucks don’t bode well on inherently stable boards. However, I must reiterate that I’m dying to try these on a dropthru or on a pumping board

After trying these trucks in the context of the review, they lived on my Dregs Race for a little while until I mounted them on a luge.  The luge was a setup such that I could use the two 50 degree trucks on the front, and the 0 degree on the rear.  It worked decent enough, I suppose, but I never really rode the luge.  I was able to eventually throw them onto a LDP board, with the 0 degree rear, and it was everything I expected…but, being 180mm trucks, they felt wide and sluggish on the 36″ Sk8Kings Maximus.  The quality on these trucks is fantastic; they’re likely from the same foundry that made Gullwing Chargers, Paris (for a number of years), SayShuh, and Road Rider.  But, as it keeps coming back to in these equipment reviews, results are results:  These, sadly, never found a permanent spot on my boards…which is something I blame on my own neuroses; all of my boards have a “theme,” and these Veloz trucks never really fit into any theme.

My CLB Eleanor is my Stealth Bomber:  A carbon fiber board with black Randals, black bearings, black bushings, and…well, they had black wheels, but there are currently some blue 85mm Kryptonics on it.  My Creep Show is my modern ditch board, on Paris Street Trucks and Cult Ism wheels.  My Flip Tom Penny is my period-correct 1998 board, hearkening back to my first memories of skateboarding.  My TVS, Dregs, and Sector9 Race are all set up circa 2002, a’la the Gravity Games and the X-Games.  My Earthwing Hope and my Rolling Tree Nimbus are set up for downhill tech-sliding.  My LVBC 8.5″ is similar to the Creep Show in that it’s a ditch/slide/bomber board.  And, my Tunnel Comp is a modern (well, circa 2012) interpretation of a 70’s board; the board itself is a clone of a 70’s board, Road Rider  is a resurrection of a 70’s nameplate, and Chris Chaput founded Abec11 after being a pro skater in the 70’s.  So, what I’m getting at is that…well, the Veloz Trucks never fit my styles.  My justification for being a neurotic gear whore is that each and every board is different…

As mentioned in a few previous posts, I was fortunate enough to be able to compare 70mm 80a wheels from both Orangatang and Abec11, on identical setups, on a controlled course.  Couple of key notes from my head-to-head comparisons:
-Abec11 Reflex urethane has a LOT of residual energy in the wheel.  With Urethane, as noted in one of the “Hi Kids” articles, you’ve got compression and rebound.  Compression, in a wheel, is how soft the leading edge is.  This’ll help you ride smoother.  Rebound is how quickly the trailing edge pops back into shape, and helps you hold speed better.  During carving and sliding, compression will let the sharp lips lift up and let you slide easier; rebound will keep those lips firm and maintain their structure, giving you tons of grip.  Abec11 Reflex urethane is VERY rebound-forward, to a point where it almost feels out of control compared directly to Orangatang.
-Orangatang urethane is the opposite side of the coin:  Very compression forward and drifty.  The shape is grip oriented, but the urethane is drifty.  The leading edge of the wheel deforms more than Abec11 urethane, and softens and mellows the ride…It’s a lot more forgiving on urban sidewalks, but gets a little weird when you try to push it onto drifts and slides.

And now, onto the main event:  My actual words that were posted on Silverfish circa 2008 (shortly after Orangatang wheels hit the market):

zig vs. otang…70mm, 80a for both…that’s lime zigs and otang 4-prez for you unsofistimicated folk

 

first impression…just kicking around, the otangs feel less “squirrely.”  to me, on zigs you have to consciously maintain your foot position on the board, or else it might go a bit wonky if you have a less-than-perfect kick in there.  with the otangs, i didn’t feel that…i felt like i could comfortably throw most caution to the wind and kick like a fool. also, the otangs seemed to roll farther on the shitty stretch of road on my commute…bear in mind, the road still felt just as shitty and rocky, if not moreso, but the board rolled farther with every kick.

 

my conclusion:

the otangs feel big and smooth like a luxury yacht; the zigs feel fast and nimble, like a ski boat.  if you’re stuck between lime zigs and 4-prez just on a STRICTLY cruising board, it’s not really worth the extra money for the otangs.

 

further reviews and conclusions to come

The comments on “squirrely” were about the rebound-forward feel of Abec11.  And, mentioned in my Orangatang Equipment Review, these posts were written through the lens of me being bitter and jaded at the Silverfish Hype Machine, and not making Orangatangs be the best wheel I’d ever ridden.  As I’ve grown and matured, I realize the shortsightedness of that perspective, and have tried to change my way of thinking.  And, I’m diggin’ way back here, but if I’m remembering right, the first review was kicking around town for an hour or so with each wheel.

welp…just got back from a little ol’ DH seshy-sesh.  like everyone’s been saying, the o-tangs are easier to drift out…but, it seemed to me like the zigs held their speed a bit better.  the o-tangs felt like they accelerated quicker, but skived off more speed in the turns (a product of the drift, perhaps).

 

one weird thing i noticed was that it seemed harder to keep control in turns with the otangs.  it’s kinda hard to describe; like the otangs didn’t want to turn. idk what was up, but i found myself consistently nailing lines through the turns on zigs, but on otangs, i was all over the turns (one time even touching a wheel into the grass on the inside of the turn then swinging way wide).  i guess it makes sense, as the zigs are slalom wheels, and therefore meant to be as “turny” as possible, and the otangs were designed just to be a fun wheel.

 

i thought the o-tangs felt a little more enjoyable altogether, but apart from a few small differences like i mentioned above, both wheels did feel quite similar.

 

conclusion?

zigs:

-hold speed better

-hold lines in corners better

-don’t slide as well

 

otangs:

-accelerate quicker

-weird turning (???)

-easier to drift, and control the drift

Part deux!  There was a quarter mile downhill S-curve I’d go to when I wanted to test gear in a controlled environment.  It topped out at maybe 25mph, and had progressively tighter turns; as you got farther down the hill and faster, the turns got tighter…just fast enough to have most every piece of equipment come to life and give just enough insight into how it would react in a downhill setting.  The best description I’ve come up with for the O’tangs being hard to control (especially on those tighter turns) is understeer:  The front wheels (presumably due to the drifty nature of the wheel) had a hard time staying planted, and wanted to go straight.

It’s funny, what you’re saying about the ‘tangs feeling less twitchy [I]sounds[/I] a bit ridiculous to me, but that’s exactly what I first noticed when I switched to purple 4prez from lime BZ’s on my Dervish. While the BigZigs seemed to turn really deep and quick, the 4prez really narrowed up my carves and seem to turn much more gradually.

And that’s a cool bit of insight from Kyle Chin, former brand manager of Loaded Longboards, and was sponsored by Orangatang wheels.  He agreed on the first few points that Zigs felt rocky and a little weirder to push on.  Carving down a hill, like he noted, is where O’tangs shine, as when you’re carving, you’re balanced and centered on the board…My hitch with a more downhill/racing oriented position is that your entire weight is above the front truck.  With all your weight on those front 2 wheels, they’re gonna drift out and pull you straight.

And, a final thought:  My reviews and forum posts are negative towards Orangatangs.  But, results speak for themselves.  I put the 70mm 80a Orangatang 4Presidents onto my commuting board and rode them every day…to and from work, to and from classes, all the way through college.  They got a LOT of love from me.  I sold my 70mm 80a Abec11 Zigzags to a friend and never replaced ’em.

Excellent board, i regret getting rid of mine

 

Very good deck, it’s a good length if you like longer boards for tech sliding…otherwise, the size is GREAT for cruising…also, it’s great for “freeriding”

 

Longboard Review

How long have you ridden the board

A year

What is your setup like?

Tracker sixtracks and Slide A’s for sliding, Indy 169’s and soft noskool clones for cruising

Typical Session Discipline

Sliding or drifting

Where did you purchase it?

MHS

What were the strengths of the deck.

Great beefy size, easy to lock into hands-down slides, multiple wheelbases, VERY versatile and durable

What were the weaknesses?

a bit flexy, if you’re into standup slides…the concave was a little weak too

Similar decks you have ridden?

Faltown 3.2, 34″ blank pool deck

Would you recommend it?

Yes

 

The Earthwing Drifter of this generation was made with Watson Laminate’s Fiberlam technology, seen on quite a few brands, including Tum Yeto (Foundation, etc.), Earthwing, even Sector9 and Arbor.  In the context of this board, a 38″ double-kick, the Fiberlam layup allowed a sort of diagonal torsion on the board, which was great for sliding as it allowed for a little sloppiness; it was very forgiving, as it kept all 4 wheels on the road at the same time.  I had the limited edition colorway from Milehighskates, which was green and turquoise, as opposed to the ‘standard’ version which was red and orange.  To this day, more than a decade later, I still regret selling this one…it was really THAT good.

I’ve saved a metric fuckton of these small snippet reviews from the Silverfish forums, so I thought I’d begin posting them up here for posterity.  I’ll title each post with the piece of equipment, then copy/paste the brief review that I posted, and maybe a few notes at the bottom.  Did I mention I was once a top-10 reviewer on Silverfish?  Because I totally was.

Equipment Review

How long have you ridden them?

4 months

What Setup are you running them on?

CLB eleanor, bear grizzlies

Typical Discipline?

DH (bear in mind I’m a complete scrub, and never really got these above that 35mph threshold.  I’m not gonna bullshit you and say I took ’em up to 75, since truth be told, I may have broken 40 once, and 95% of my skating on these was done in the sub-30mph range)

How much did you pay for them?

came with a complete

Where did you buy them?

chicagolongboards.com (now defunct)

What are their weaknesses?

their large size makes them too big for a lot of boards

What are their strengths?

great shape, great urethane quality, the ride quality was AMAZING, very driftable but still really grippy, the large core made them feel fast where other similar-shaped/sized wheels would feel slow

What similar equipment have you ridden?

81a gumballs, 76mm earthwing superballs

Would you recommend them?

Yes

 

Flywheels were a game-changing product in their time.  Abec11’s Classic urethane is badass.  This is one wheel I truly regret selling.