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      Hopkin Skate Blog — Longboard reviews

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      DTC Wheel review

      The Batt man introduced us to the DTC  wheels at Keira and Newtons. He won the top ten shootout on them, which was very impressive. These wheels have been around for a while, the Hopkin team first saw them on the 2008 European Tour, Alex Ulrich, founder of DTC, placed on the podium at Almabtrieb (watch to the end to see podium). We were impressed in 2008 with his performance on DTC wheels, and we spoke about selling them in Australia, however the quantity required was just not possible back then. How things have changed. DTC Wheels are exactly what the market is looking for, skaters want a high performance longer lasting wheel. We have high performance decks, trucks, bushings but why not wheels? Why is there not a premium wheel. A wheel designed to out last and out perform any other wheel. Would you be willing to buy a wheel that cost twice as much but lasted ten times longer? We know there is a market for these wheel, purely because everyone that works in the Hopshop wants at least one set. They will be in stock soon. Patrick Hurel reviews the DTC Wheels These wheels come in a 70mm (Victory), 80mm (Concept), and now in a 75mm (Gecko). Each size comes in three types:  The Grip (all rounder), The Speed, and The Drift. If you want to know the Duros for each of them you will need to interrogate Alex the DTC mastermind, but from the man himself the actual duros for the thane are soft almost super soft. Since the cores are so hard they feel normal. They are offset. The contact patch increases with the diameter. The wheels have a beveled lip on both sides. These wheels grip like Centrax, no lie I swear. Slide like butter and grip back up very smoothly (even during the first slide). For all those non believers and wheel skeptics out there, listen up. I took these to Beat the Bastard (BtB) freeride up on Mt Stuart, Queensland. This track is well known for destroying wheels, I had not ridden these wheels apart for one run down Newton's and they gripped like a mutherf@ckr. I decided to ride a more familiar wheel my 83a InHeats, at the start of the BtB freeride event. They died within 4 runs.

      83a Inheat (on the right) after 4 runs at BtB freeride, next to a fresh inHeat

      I pulled out the DTC's out (Victory Grip 70mm). After about 5 runs Mathees asked me if I had been sliding, the wheels showed no wear. At 37 runs later ( a whopping 42 runs in total) the wheels had been finally worn! I was stoked at the damage I had managed to do to the wheels.

      DTC Victory Grip wheel after 42 runs at BtB freeride (on the right) next to a fresh wheel (on the left)

      Height profile of the same DTC Victory wheels

      The concept behind the wheel is simple, a super strong and precise core that supports the urethane and therefore does not allow for deformation of the wheel at high speeds and through corners. Okay, I can hear all the people yelling out saying if the wheel can't deform at high speeds through the corner how can you get that super grip that you get with wheels like your InHeats, Bigzigs and Centrax. Well because of how strong the core is they can't have a square lip or otherwise you will get thrown off your board, this info from the Batt Man and Nicholas Robert, this is due to the amount of grip they gave. So with the bevelled lip, they slide smoothly and still grip like hell. Now due to the super strong core the wheels don't cone. The wheels just stay true like a freeride wheel, and they don't wear since you are sliding on the urethane, not shearing off urethane to scrub off speed. We also found out something really cool at BtB, the lips on these wheels sharpen as you slide. When you go for a heelside your toeside sharpens and therefore when you get to the next toeside corner you have a clean lip to grip with. This can be verified by Sakamoto himself, we couldn't believe it! So I know these are going to sell at around $120 (Australian) a set, this seems like a lot but when you think about it these will last infinitely longer than your average set of wheels, and these should be considered like premium wheels. The world's first precision wheels have arrived.

      Tunnel Krakatoa Freeride wheel review

      Review by Ben Hay A few weeks ago I was in the Hopshop, hanging out and picking up some goodies when I noticed Robbo unpacking a box that included some wheels I hadn’t seen or heard of before. They were Krakatoa freeride wheels made by Tunnel. Anyone who knows anything about the history of skateboarding knows that Tunnel have been around for a long time. With that in mind and after a quick chat to Robbo about them I decided I had to try them. I chose the 81a and a few days later Tim Day, Steve (Finn) and myself met at a new found hill that was ridiculously gnarly and technical. After a few mobster runs on square lipped wheels I felt it was time to shred some centreset freeride styles and see how the Krakatoas stood up in some ideal terrain. Immediately I was amazed at how easy they slid fresh. I had ridden most pre ground, and a few centre set wheels before but these were insane. It wasn’t long and I was holding out long standup slides with ease. Since then I have ridden these wheels several times on more mellow terrain and have really taken a liking to them. The wear has been minimal in comparison and they have already outlasted my last set of freeride wheels. All the specs are what I look for when choosing a freeride wheel. At 70mm and a contact patch width of 40mm, a pre ground surface and your choice of 81a or 84a its no wonder they feel ridiculously good to throw around. They also are a bit cheaper than some of the other freeride wheels allowing you to shred more for less! Next time your in the shop, check them out and give them a go, you will be floating out steezy slides of sikness without doubt. Go shred. Benbro

      Rayne Vendetta review

      By Jackson Shapiera If I could use one word to describe this board, it would be: Perfection.

      The vendetta is everything that a longboarder wants in a freeride board. The concave is deep, but not too aggressive, the standing platform looks small but there is plenty of room for your feet: be it pumping, carving or throwing down some big stand up slides, and the deck is thin and light but strong enough to take skaters' abuse. Overall this board is a dream platform for freeriding and general longboarding. I set my Vendetta up with Kahalani 184s and Orangatang 86a Stimulus wheels, and it only took me 5 minutes to realize this is the board I've been wanting my whole life. I have the Kahas set up with purple Saber bushings to allow for maximum lean and hard carves, which made the board come alive. I was really astounded with how agile this setup was considering the fact I set it up with CNC downhill trucks. My feet felt so locked into the concave while pumping down the street and I had so much control over each rail to perform tight turns and throw the board around. The light weight of the board coupled with the drop-thru mounting made it really easy to push around, and I had no problems pushing up to top speed in no time at all. The next test was to see how this bad boy stood up to some fast hard sliding, and let me tell you it stood tall! The deep concave gave so much leverage with each turn I made to initiate slides, and this made pushing out the tail a breeze. The board seemed to glide effortlessly over the road as it is so light, which made holding bigger faster standup slides so much easier. Throwing this puppy around from regular to switch and back seemed like it took no effort at all. The next session I smashed this board around in a sweet little alley session. Pumping down the line, hitting bins and carving driveways felt so smooth. The board was so nimble and responsive. Cruising through the alleys near the shop has always been a favourite for me, but on the vendetta it was a whole new realm. Quick sharp carves into hard slashes and stand up slides were all this board wanted to do, like it had a mind of its own. It was so easy to control with the deep concave and the drop-thru mounting made the slashing so much smoother. I think this board is a must-have for any longboard quiver, its extremely light yet strong, its a small neat little package yet it has enough wheelbase and standing platform to handle faster downhill runs, and most importantly, it has a kick-ass graphic...
      Good on ya Rayne, you've done it again!
      Rayne Vendetta is not always in stock at the Hopshop. Numbers are always limited, this is not a mass produced deck, it a piece of fine Canadian craftsmanship, worth being patient and waiting for. To be notified when they are in stock, add your email address using the big red button on the product page. If it says it is in stock, your in luck, grab one before your luck runs out! Rayne Vendetta longboard

      Landyachtz interview with Ryan and Mike

      We ask the questions you want answered The 2010 Landyachtz range is speeding it way to Australia, available in the next month at all good skateshops. What started out with Hop asking questions about the new range has turned into an interview with Ryan Theobald and Mike McGoldrick...and a cast of thousands. Sit back, grab a cold drink, and enjoy.

      Ryan Theobald Interview

      Hop: The Drop Speed disappeared at the end of 2009 fairly quick. There was a lot of talk it was getting redesigned. Has anything changed on the shape? Different concave? Improvements on the shape? Or just cosmetic with a new graphic?

      Landyachtz: Our original intention was to replace the Drop Speed with the Nine Two Five. Once we finalised the 9-two-5 shape we decided that they are pretty different boards and having both in the line was a good idea. No changes to it, just the new graphic.

      Hop: There has always been a bit of talk around about the flex on the Drop Carve I have heard skaters say they have seen super flexy versions with LY crew and riders. Has the flex been modified in 2010?

      Landyachtz: We started with the ultra super flexy version. We tested a ton of different stiffness prototypes, and everyone here loved the super soft feel. Bouncing the board off the ground while carving hard and ripping around was a blast. We had never done a board that soft before, so we went for it. People weren't as stoked as we were about bouncing off the ground, and it didn't work for guys over 200 pounds (90kg) at all. So we stiffened it up. Most of the guys at the shop with a drop carve still ride the nice gooey ones.

      Hop: Dually has disappeared from Landyachtz website, is this deck gone or in re-design or in graphic update?

      Landyachtz: The dually proved to be too big. There just wasn't the demand to warrant pressing another batch, so it's been axed, for now. We're keeping track of how many people are still interested, we'll see what happens. (Hop's note: It never came back)

      Hop: Does Landyachtz have a list of credits for the artists or contributors to your graphics?

      Landyachtz: We do, we'll publish it on our website soon. We're really stoked on the graphics this year, some of the major contributors are Jeral Tidwell, Gord Bruce, Ewok, Nathan Wilson and in house here, Tom Edstrand (Meatball) and Greg Nicholls have done a lot themselves. We will likely be seeing some work from Chili Thom as well, who has done several graphics for us in the past. All of these guys are great, we couldn't be more stoked to have them all be a part of the 2010 line.

      Hop: There definitely seems to be a ocean/aqua/fish theme on the new graphics. Has this been done on purpose? Is there a single artist influencing the whole range? If you have the whole range in your quiver can it be called a landyachtz aquarium?

      Landyachtz: You know, I just noticed that. We've been talking about putting a Chinook Salmon on the Chinook for years, Nathan Wilson came through huge there. The Drop Speed killer whales came from Greg Nicholls in the shop here, his design took influence from traditional Pacific North West art. Once we get a few major graphic concepts or ideas, Tom and Greg will show them around and tweak them until most of us are stoked. You can never please everyone. I think the fish and birds are another extension of being from Vancouver. Most of us are closely tied to an outdoor active life style, that creates a big bond with nature, without really thinking about it.

      Hop: Is the Evo getting a graphic change in 2010?

      Landyachtz: Yes, it's a bad ass sugar skull style design by Jeral Tidwell. His work is some of my favorite, check him out at Human Tree

      Hop: Any race team decks in prototype? A Scoot model? Team Green model?

      Landyachtz: Besides the foam core, Carbon Fiber 9-two-5 and Switch Blade, nothing.

      Hop: Any news on the Switch Blade?

      Landyachtz: We were aiming to release the Switchblade or the beginning of the 2010 season, but we've gone through more prototype stages than we anticipated. Rather than rush the product out in its current state we figured we'd take the time to refine the shape and make the board the best it can be. Its nearly there, and everyone here is very stoked on the current prototype. The Carbon foam core version should be available in a few weeks. Once that's nailed, we'll get the bamboo version rolling.

      Mike McGoldrick Interview

      Hop: How long was the prototype period for the Nine Two Five and how many different versions did you do?

      Mike: I can not remember exactly how many but there were about 6 different versions made. The last proto had a large cut out with multiple holes for the base plate so we could play with the wheel base and get it perfect. During the prototype process we experimented with different concave, rocker, widths and lengths. Tweaking the nose and tail areas was a huge focus for us. We wanted to give maximum foot room while still keeping the wheelbase as short as possible. I feel like this is an overlooked part of most drop through boards and is the real design flaw in a lot of boards. Working with the designers and board builders at Landyachtz we came up with something that really is the best of both worlds, they managed to slam the trucks back into the riding platform while adding more material around the truck to give strength. At the end of it all we came out with something that we are all super happy with.

      Hop: Did you have a big influence on the graphic? Does it have a meaning,can skaters read anything into it?

      Mike: To be totally honest with everyone I had very little to do with the design process of the graphic. I had been working on something else for the board when Greg Nicholls showed me some stuff he was working on. I basically lost my shit when I saw his work. It took me all of 1 second to decide on the graphic. It's super quirky, random and really played into my sense of humour. I am into cut and paste style graphics with multiple layers right now so he pretty much nailed it for me. Can skaters read anything in to it? I guess that depends how deep you want to get and what meaning you want to take out of it. To be super literal I enjoy that style of design right now and when no one is watching I have a secret fetish for very dry books on economics, business and global politics. I have also download lectures and debates on the same topics. I am a nerd, so the business theme kinda works on that level also. All that aside, I just thought it was awesome, so me and Greg hi fived on it, and it was decided.

      Hop: There is rocker in your new board, I'm a huge fan of rocker, it featured in a lot of old school boards I use to skate, is that where you got your influence to put rocker in your board?

      Mike: I don't come from an old school skate back round, about 12 years ago I got an element Vert deck and put soft wheels on it and started bombing hills in West Vancouver. I skated bowls and banks but that is the extent of my "old school" influence. The rocker is something I have wanted in a board for a long time. The rocker has a two part job; Locking you in to the board, And aligning your legs and knees for better power transfer and stability. I have been on the production version for a few months now and the rocker feels so natural to me now, I am not sure I will ever go back.

      Hop: This deck has a new type of concave, gas pedal/wedge down the side. How does that come into play when a skater is freeriding?

      Mike: The gas pedals are something I have been rambling on about for years. I use to make them out of hot glue and shape the glue with ice cubes. I will go out on a limb and say that 90% of people hang their heel or toe off the side of their board when free-riding so I wanted something to stand on when we did. The gas pedal is new and its cool to be the first to implement it in to our board design, I think that in the future we will see it on a lot of boards.

      Hop: A lot of new longboarders will be looking at this deck carefully. Maybe it will be their first deck, getting into downhill and freeride. Most want to know if this deck is a good beginners deck or is it more for an experienced longboarder? Will the design help them master different types of sliding and cornering?

      Mike: I hope they look at the deck carefully as there is a lot to look at. The builders and myself picked apart every element of the board and tweaked it until we were happy. Once the board is pressed with symmetrical W concave, it gets CNC cut, 3 router passes to get the shape we want on the nose, tail, wheel wells and the wedges. Then they get seamlessly blended by hand. Making the board is a very complicated process, but we all feel that it is worth the trouble, the product that comes out, is something to be very proud of. I don't think that this board is something for experts or beginners only, good design just works. Any rider who rides the board will benefit from all the features. The Free-ride movement is a pretty new thing to to the longboard and is constantly evolving. Right now there are two big trends in free-riding. The first being slower speed tech stuff like shove-its, stand up pendys and slashing. The extended foot platform and wedges help pop and stomp the tech stuff. The second trend is the amplitude, over the last year the speed of free-riding has gone through the roof. The added length (.75") of the wheel base gives a little extra stability at higher speeds and helps lock in big, fast and scary speed checks and lets the rider have more control to drift through corners, as apposed to doing a revert before it. I feel that anyone who rides the board will get some use out of all the features. I really wanted one board for DH and free-ride. As long as the rider wants to get in to the downhill side of longboarding then this deck will meet their needs whether they are a beginner, expert or racer.

      Hop: What is your favourite set up for your new board (ie trucks wheels bushings)

      Mike: Well going back to the one board idea, the Bear trucks have been re designed and I am currently on the prototypes. The hanger has a "step-up " design giving the truck a constant turn and eliminated any dead spot when the truck is at center. The hangers can still be flipped to give positive of negative leverage on the bushings giving greater or less torque depending on how they are set up. The bushing seats have zero play with the bushing and has an ovalised lip to let the bushing perform as it was designed. I have mine set up with stock Pumpkin bushings on the bottom and yellow Venoms on the top. As for wheels, I am really stoked on the new Zombies right now. They rule. The thane in them is butter smooth at speeds. When doing some faster slides on other wheels, you can heat up the wheel and it starts to melt and get slipy. The zombies don't gloss over during big slides. I am also really feeling the stone ground finish as the wheel performs right away and is constant through the wear.

      Hop: Anything else we forgot?

      Mike: Yea I just want a chance to give some credit where it is due. Everyone asks me all these questions about the board and I don't want to take all the credit. Landyachtz has an extremely talented group of board builders and designers, and an equally talented skate team. Larry, Sean M and Mike P were a huge help to get my ideas built into deck. Once we had the prototypes made they were put to the test under the feet of some thrashers like Wolf Coleman and Dylan. Long story short it may be my design but it was a huge process involving a lot of talented people. Without the recourses and talent that we have access to at landyachtz this board would still be just an idea. Thank you.

      Huge big thank you to Ryan and Mike for taking the time to answer all my questions

      This interview was originally published in the Hopshop newsletter, send out to subscribers. It was also put on teh original Hopkin Skate Blog. We have kept it online for historical purposes, and the Nine Two Five deck is still made, so it is still relevant.