Kicking it with the Kanthaka — Loaded Kanthaka Review

Kicking it with the Kanthaka — Loaded Kanthaka Review

photo (41)Along with the long awaited Chubby Unicorn Loaded released a second new addition to their line-up. While this deck appears to have a pretty standard popsicle shape, popular in street decks and tech sliders, it definitely has a few stand out features that require a closer look. The Loaded Kanthaka draws from multiple riding styles to create one board that can perform exceptionally well for pretty much anything.

The Kanthaka is a freeriding, tech sliding board with a flare for street style skating. While it may have the appearance of a typical tech slider the Kanthaka handles a little differently due to its dimensions and some subtle construction characteristics. In addition the Kanthaka is a terribly versatile board that can handle parks and traditional street style skating like a champ due in no small part to its fat kicktails and small wheelbase (for a longboard).
photo (39)The Loaded Kanthaka actually comes in two sizes. The sizes on this deck are dictated by the width of the board and not the length (as is typical with most longboards) and gives you the option of a 8.625 in or an 8.875 in. I went with the 8.875 deck because I like to have a nice wide platform for my feet to stand on. Now before we talk about how the Kanthaka handles on the pavement, lets get into the technical specifications:

Loaded Kanthaka

Length

36 in

Width

8.625 in8.875in

Wheelbase

17.5 in

Kicks

7.5 in

Special Features

Rocker, Wheel Wells and Flares, Foot Pockets

Commuting
A first instinct would suggest that the Kanthaka would be very similar to a traditional skateboard when commuting; however, it has these nice wheel wells which allow you to run larger wheels than you would otherwise. Wheel wells can make or break a setup, especially on a longboard, because you generally are riding this type of board with larger wheels than a traditional skateboard would allow. Interestingly, the Kanthaka doesn’t have traditional wheel wells (where there deck is just sanded down for extra clearance); instead it has integrated wheel wells. This lends to a few distinct benefits. First, the board is actually molded up to allow more room for your wheels. Second, the molded wood creates flares on top of the board. Third, by molding wheel wells rather than sanding them out of the deck there are no discontinuities in the fiberglass skin on the bottom of the board; this keeps the deck thick and strong on the wheel well flares. These flares actually end up being super useful, but we’ll talk more about that later.

photo (47)The Kanthaka can take it to the streets like few other boards. It is super light (thank you, bamboo and fiberglass construction), agile as a mongoose, has a little bit of rocker to lower your ride for easy pushing, and has tails that would make even the most spectacular of peacocks envious. The nature of this board lends to equipping it with small light wheels that accelerate quickly and are easy to get off the ground. This translates to a gnarly commute where you can zip through people or cars and then pop up or down a curb with the utmost steeze.

Downhill
Believe it or not, this is not a downhill board. I can already tell you that if you are looking to break the sound barrier on a skateboard the Kanthaka is not the direction you would want to look in (although Loaded has the hookup with the Chubby Unicorn). However, if you live somewhere very hilly you don’t have to necessarily rule the Kanthaka out of your quiver either. photo (13)The wheelbase on this board is small for a downhill board, like really small (17.5in), so it will get relatively unstable at high speeds pretty quickly. I personally have not brought it anywhere north of 30mph for more than a few seconds. However, if you get comfortable on this board I can see people pushing it a little faster. Once you learn the ins and outs of the Kanthaka you can really lock yourself in with the pockets produced by the wheel wells. These pockets and the rockered platform produce a much more stable ride than boards with comparable wheelbases when getting fast.

Freeride
Here is where Mr. Kanthaka really starts to turn heads. Whether you like to spin around with never ending 180 slides or you like to pump out 1000 ft switch toeside slides, you will find something you like with the Kanthaka. Those wheel flares I spoke about earlier make for a great way to lock your feet in place for slides. In conjunction with the kicktails the flares produce a very comfortable pocket for your feet to rest in. When I slip my feet into this pocket hitting slides toeside and heelside without monkey footing (hanging your toe or heel of the edge of your deck) becomes much more manageable. This is an enormous benefit for producing quick spinning slides. I wouldn’t say my 360 slides are by any means beautiful and fluid, but on my Kanthaka they are definitely easier and at least more fluid than on other boards.
photoIf you are more into hitting big long standing slides than just spins the Kanthaka still has you covered. You don’t see many people hitting big standies on most of the boards in its class, however, this isn’t “most” boards. The first and most obvious advantage this board has in fast freeride is the length. Coming in at 36 in the Kanthaka is a little long for an average tech slide or hybrid board which keeps you feeling a little more stable. In addition the rocker-concave combination on this board adds even more stability and lets you get the leverage you need to dig deep enough to hold out slides comfortably by slightly lowering you to the ground.

photo (4)The small size (compared to your average longboard) of the Kanthaka lets you stand comfortably at either kicktail while in the pocket created by the wheel flares and kicktail with your other foot. This leads to one my new favorite things to do when freeriding… Blunt slides. You can blunt slide the living heck out of the Kanthaka on its big ol’ tails. Unlike many longboards (which have smaller tails) where your foot has to hang off the tail, you can rest pretty much your entire shoe on these fat tails without a problem, which I find really nice when trying to hit anything from the tail. Additionally, the tails on the Kanthaka are reinforced with a layer of carbon fiber that actually does make a difference in its durability. If you are just learning how to blunt slide and manual (or if you just know that you tear boards up) the tails on this deck will last a little bit longer due to the carbon reinforcement.

The Kanthaka is one of a rare breed of boards that is just as comfortable on hard wheels as it is on soft wheels. This was my first venture into hard wheels, and I have to admit:  it takes a little getting used to, but it is a whole bunch of fun. I have taken this deck tech sliding on many an occasion and it has handles wonderfully, you feel very in control despite having the iciest wheels possible under your feet. If you have never ridden hard wheels and are interested in trying it out, then the Kanthaka has you covered (worst case scenario: switch back to soft wheels).
photo (1)Freestyle
It was really hard to choose a favorite style of riding with the Kanthaka because it was meant to be such a versatile board. However, I would venture to say that freestyle skating is this board’s bread and butter. The Kanthaka is easily misidentified as a typical popsicle shaped skateboard to an untrained eye because they share so many common characteristics. I have never been very good at traditional street style skating, but this board sure does make me wish I were better at it. Something about the Kanthaka makes you want to start hitting stair sets and rails like it’s your job.

photo (9)With the skills to back it up, the Kanthaka is more than ready to handle this type of skating. The symmetrical shape lets you hit shoves from either tail and feels just as comfortable when the board is backwards or riding switch. The Kanthaka does have a tiny bit of asymmetry to it, but it is not in the shape of the board, but rather in the steepness of the tails. The nose of the board is a little steeper than the tail of the board, however, it is hardly noticeable until you have spent some serious time on this deck.

Everything about the Kanthaka screams, “I want to ollie,” and man alive can this deck get some air. The tails make really solid contact with the ground to generate a very substantial pop that you don’t often find in a longboard. Which is great because while it may take nearly all of my coordination and energy to ollie my TanTien an inch or two high I can get a foot high on the Kanthaka without a problem. Additionally I have ridden quite a few other hybrid decks and none of them generate as much pop as the Kanthaka.

photo (7)The last great thing about the Kanthaka is that it is truly a hybrid deck and can hit the parks and bowls quite nicely. As I mentioned I am not very good at traditional skating but I grabbed the Kanthaka and took it to a makeshift skate park here in Carrboro. Despite feeling incredibly out of my element and kooky the Kanthaka is definitely a good choice for ramps. I was able to drop in and hit the transitions just fine. I let regulars to the park try the board out, and after getting used to my loose trucks, they loved it!
photo (16)Setups:
The Kanthaka is an interesting deck to get all set up. Lots of people prefer reverse kingpin trucks these days, but I think that the spirit of the Kanthaka matches traditional kingpin trucks. I initially ran my Kanthaka with Indy 169’s and didn’t like how restrictive they were, to remedy this I got some of the new Indy hybrid baseplates. These allow me to run a wider array of longboard bushing which I prefer. I am a little biased, but my favorite setup of all time is with Surf-Rodz traditional kingpin trucks; they really suit the board and line up with the wheel wells very nicely.

It can’t all be good
While I think the Kanthaka is a ton of fun, every board has its ups and downs. The biggest downside I would say that the Kanthaka brings to the table is that it has a bit of a learning curve (or at least it did for me). If you are used to riding longboards, which generally have larger wheelbases and smaller tails, this deck will take a little getting used to. It is easy to describe the pockets on the Kanthaka with words but I honestly think that they are something you need to put your feet into to fully understand. I found that the wheel flares and kicktail combination felt very foreign initially and wasn’t sure that I even liked it. Which means it took a little bit of persistence for me to get a feel for these pockets; however, all at once they suddenly felt great! Really, this is only a downside if you don’t want to take the time to get to know the Kanthaka. The good news is that once you get used to the deck you can really do pretty much anything with it.

The Price
The Loaded Kanthaka carries a much higher price tag than boards that would appear similar at first glance. However, the devil (or angel in this case) is in the details and the Kanthaka’s subtleties raise it a cut above the rest. The Kanthaka has carbon fiber reinforced tails, thick durable wheel wells, and a high strength-to-weight ratio thanks to its bamboo and fiberglass construction. These combine to make a board that is not going to give out on you after a few months of serious riding. People may not agree, but I believe that the quality and durability of the Kanthaka merit the slightly higher MSRP.

photo (10)The Bottom Line
Would I recommend the Loaded Kanthaka to a friend?
I would whole-heartedly recommend this deck to anyone looking for a hybrid, tech-slider, or freestyle board. In addition I think that anyone who is looking to make the transition from street style skating to longboard would be smart to consider the Kanthaka.

All in all the Kanthaka is a light, compact, slide machine that can handle whatever may be thrown at it. I commute with this board on the daily, have taken it to parks, tech sliding, and everything in between. It has held up beautifully to all the abuse I put boards through and has helped me learn a few street style tricks. Plus, I really cannot over-emphasize how nice it is to ollie up a curb.  Thank you Loaded for producing another incredibly fun and versatile deck.

Stay Awesome
Wayne

Current Favorite Setup:
-LOADED KANTHAKA 8.875 in
-Surf-Rodz TKP 176mm
-Orangatang Nipples medium (purple)
-Orangatang Fat Free 86a (yellow)
-Loaded Jehu Bearings

Talk about a Good Omen — Omen TKO Review

Talk about a Good Omen — Omen TKO Review

Hello There World of Skate,
Omen Longboards was recently kind enough to send me over one of their new decks the TKO. The Omen TKO is a topmount freeride board with double kicks that is designed to meet the challenges of a rider who wants a board that can do everything. However, this isn’t just your run of the mill commuter board with kick tails, this board is meant to do everything and do it FAST! This isn’t your Mom’s do anything board, it’s more like Evel Knievel’s board if he is feeling reckless and dangerous. Yeah it can go that fast.

The Omen TKO comes in two flavors, a topmount and a drop-through. It’s nice having some options and being able to choose between a topmount or drop-through because most riders have a preference. I am personally a topmount kind of guy, especially when they have a drop, so that is what Omen sent my way.

However, before I get any further into this review let’s talk about the technical specifications of the Omen TKO.

Specs:

Omen TKO

Length

39.75 in

Wheelbase

28 in

Width

9.5 in

Concave

0.45 in

Drop

0.5 in

Special Features

Double Kicks, Drop, Flat W Concave

Commuting
The TKO is an interesting board to commute on. I mentioned that my board was the topmount version of the TKO which makes commuting on it a little strenuous because, like with all topmounts, you are higher up off the ground so each push takes a little more work. Which is why I feel like if you know that you are going to be doing a whole bunch of commuting on your TKO you should consider the lower the ground drop-through version. However, both the drop-through and the topmount versions have that 1in drop which is great. It helps the board ride lower and keep you a little more stable since your center of gravity isn’t way up in the air.
I normally find commuting on boards with W concave to be a little awkward. However, the team over at Omen had the right idea with the flat W concave. When I am pushing around town the flat W is nice and comfy and doesn’t make me want to die like most do.

Freestyle
I mentioned that the Omen TKO is a symmetrical double kick board, which makes it nice for freestyle applications. You can flip your board around and it will feel the exact same as when you started, which is great for all sorts of freestyle and freeride applications. The kicktails on this board  were obviously well thought out. They balloon out so that you get that nice compromise between wheel clearance and a big tail to put your foot on. They really are quite big tails for a board that has a narrow neck, not to mention the fact that they are about 3in long. I haven’t been able to actually ollie the board very high (just like an inch or so) but the tails do actually generate lots of pop. They are mega functional and I am quite a fan of them.  Finally, if you are into doing any kooky dance moves on your longboard then you may like the TKO. The platform has that nice flat W concave which makes it easy to move your feet around on and get groovy.

Downhill
The TKO does not have any flex to it and is nice and thick, making it pretty freaking stable when going fast. The drop in the platform is great for keeping your feet in one place. The unique platform on this board is really nice because you can tell where your feet are without ever looking down, this is due to the way the W concave, the drop, pockets, and waist all fit and work together. If you ever get in a bind and need to footbrake while downhilling the nice waist on the board makes it just a little bit easier because you don’t have to spread your legs very far apart to get your foot on the ground.  I have taken this board down some of the steepest hills around and haven’t had any complaints.

Freeride
This board was literally designed as a freeride board. No matter how long I talk about how good this board is at other disciplines of riding, where the TKO truly shines is in serious freeride. The pockets lock you feet in place so you can slide from the platform. The flat W concave gives you just enough of a lip to slide your board toeside and heelside very easily without having to reposition your feet. It is nice and thick so it doesn’t warp under you feet when sliding. The drop in the platform also doubles as a footstop which is just another great way to lock your feet in place. If there one thing I can say about this board is that if you don’t want to move you feet you do not have to. Finally, you can even bluntslide this board all day long with no problem thanks to those lovely kicks.

It can’t all be good…
The biggest downside I have found with the TKO is the weight of the board. It is definitely not a light board and it can make freestyling kind of difficult. Being so thick definitely made the board nice and stable but it is one of the heavier boards I have ever ridden. That being said, weight is in no way a bad thing for all types of riding. For example, if I am downhilling or freeriding the weight of this board is inconsequential and all I care about is how it performs when going fast.

Bottom Line: Would I recommend this board to a friend?
I would recommend the hell out of the board to anyone looking for a serious freeride board. If you like to go slideways then you will not just like this board, but love it! I have really been enjoying this board and it has helped me step my freeride game up considerably.

The Omen TKO is a board that is meant for stepping your freeride game up. Not just stepping your slides up, but really kicking your fast and long slides up like 10 notches. This board has the platform and stability that allows you to push slides out with repositioning your feet, heck without even having to look down at your board. If you are interested in a board that can really freeride like a madman but also has the versatility to be useful in your daily commute then check the Omen TKO.

Any questions, comments, concerns, dialogue, hatemail???
Send it my way!
Stay Awesome,
Wayne

Current Favorite Setup:
-OMEN TKO (TOPMOUNT)
-Surf-Rodz RKPs [50* Plates]
-Orangatang Baluts 72.5mm 80a
-Daddies Board Shop Bearings
-Orangatang Nipples (Medium)
-Holesome Slidepucks and Helmets
-of course my party shirt

Ascending to the Apex — Original Skateboards Apex 40 Review

Ascending to the Apex — Original Skateboards Apex 40 Review

   Have you heard the news? The news… the news I’m talking about, the news is that there is a new Sheriff in town in the Original Line-up. That’s right, there is a new Apex hanging around and it goes by the name of the Apex 40.

Let’s get into the technical specifications of the new Apex 40. This may be mildly confusing to some people, especially those newer to the sport, but the Apex 40 comes in two different varieties and it is important to understand the differences. Your two Apex 40 options are the AVRockerConcave and the DoubleConcave, which is the one I have been rocking. The difference between the two boards lie in subtle changes to the platform and kicktails.

The Apex 40 AVRockerConcave is the board devoted more to freestyle and commuting. The AVRockerConcave has taller kicktails than the DoubleConcave board and not as much as much of a drop down. Making it a rockstar for freestyle, hitting those big spin tricks, and taking on some smaller hills. This Apex is constructed with 3 plies of maples and carbon reinforced quad-axial fiberglass making it one tough son of a gun.

Board Specifications AVRockerConcave

Length

40.75in

Width

9.5in

Wheelbase

27.5in or 29in

Shape

Symmetrical, Topmont

Concave

.58in

Special Features

Dual Kicktails, truck mounting options

That was about all I can tell you about the AVRockerConcave because I was actually given the DoubleConcave Apex 40 to review. This board is meant for a little more freeride than freestyle, although either board can do both. The DoubleConcave has a tiny drop platform (a quarter of an inch), gas pedals, and as the name suggests, some nice concavity.

Board Specifications DoubleConcave

Length

40.75in

Width

9.5in

Wheelbase

27.5in or 29in

Shape

Symmetrical, Topmont

Concave

0.55-0.62in

Special Features

Dual Kicktails, truck mounting options, 0.25in Drop Platform, Gas Pedals

The Apex 40 series has a rather unique construction. The boards are very thin for their length with only 3 plies of maple. Seeing how thin they were made me question their sturdiness, however, once you stand on one of them that question is cast from your mind, they are clearly built to last. In addition to the maple the Apex 40 has quadaxial fiberglass and carbon holding everything together. This added a huge amount of durability to the board because carbon fiber is damn near impossible to break. The flex on my Apex 40 is not necessarily bouncey but it can definitely pop you in and out of hard carves and what not, but more importantly I think the flex helps it absorb impact shock. You can bottom out the deck if you really try, but its not super easy.

I was super stoked to take this board out and put it through some runs around town, so I set it up right away with a combination I haven’t beat since then (except a wheel change).
-Surf_Rodz 177mm Indeesz
-Orangatang Stimulus 86a wheels
-Orangatang Nipples Yellow (board side)/Venom SHR Barrel 86a (road side)

The reason I like this set up so much is that Indeesz have a similar geometry and surfy feel to the S-Series trucks that Original produces and design many of their boards around. Although I don’t believe that Original necessarily recommends S-Series trucks for the Apex 40 because it is more of a freeride oriented board I DO think that they obviously consider their own trucks when making boards. Anyways, I just never found a set of reverse kingpin trucks that I felt suited the board as much as the Indeesz, they made the board lower, super pumpy, and really really slidey.

Now lets get down to how the Apex 40 performs in different styles of riding. This bad boy excels in that middle point right between intense freestyle and crazy freeride. Which means that it is super fun on both the flats and on the hills. Its not your typical super heavy stiff downhill deck or your featherweight flexy cruiser.

The Apex 40 is rocking some nice gas pedals, which are rails you can wrap your heel or toe around to get extra torque on slides, and they really add a lot of additional UMPH to your slides both 180s and long standees. The microdrop in the deck locks your feet in a surprising amount for being so little. You feel really confident in your stance when riding in the pockets. However, since the drop and concave are pretty mild holding long glove slides takes some getting used to, but once you figure out the positioning of your feet, it gets kind of awesome. The deck is a little light for a typical freeride deck which, in my opinion, made it much more agile on the hills. Throwing the board around for a slide takes very little effort and even more challenging tricks like slide shovits were smooth on the Apex 40.

Taking the Apex to the flats for some freestyle time is awesome, and possibly my favorite riding aspect of the board. The board is symmetrical with two mounting options for your trucks. I tried both and I very much preferred the inner mounting option for freestyle because it gives you a little more pop off the tails. The apex is a little heavier than the majority of freestyle boards, but what it loses in weight it makes up for in awesomeness. The damp flex makes it so you never bounce off your board, I have taken it off pretty high ledges and didn’t bounce off or bottom out. The concave is mild enough and the platform is long enough for some serious board dancing and the concave actually locks your feet in nicely for peter pans. Flip tricks are also super sick on the Apex 40 because you have so much room to land on your board and you have dual kicks. Kicks are literally the best addition to any freestyle board in my opinion, they have opened a whole new dimension of freestyle riding to longboarding.

Commuting around town on this board is pretty rad. It is not the light bouncy commuter many people think of when a commuting board comes to mind, however, the Apex 40 is sick at getting you from point A to point B. What I liked about it was that you could pop the board into a tigerclaw over a curb and immediately tuck and flew down your every day hill with an equal amount of confidence and ease. Mentioned above the board locks your feet for standies really nicely, which basically means you can add style points to your commute by busting some 180 slides all over the place.

Of course it can’t all be good. I’m going to take a second to talk about some of the weaknesses of the board. The Apex 40 is not a dedicated downhill board, which does not mean it can’t go down hills very fast, it does mean that there are better boards out there for strictly downhill longboarding. Having a lower drop down deck and deeper concave is generally desired for a downhill board. Additionally I think I would have liked to see the tailed dropped a little lower so tricks like ollies, which are better with some serious pop, would be easier on the board.

Would I recommend the Apex 40??? I totally would! Like I mentioned, I wouldn’t recommend to someone trying to win DH races. I think that beginners would really like this board if they rode it too, however, I don’t think that is the demographic of riders who would truly get the most use out of it. I think this board is exceptional in that it hit the perfect middle point between serious freeride and nasty freestyle, so those riders who are good at both and love to switch in between them should consider this board. It will hold those long slides, it will flip around in tricks, and it will stand up to a beating.

Thanks for Reading!
Any comments, questions, concerns, letters of Admiration?
Hit me up!
Wayne

My Current Set-Up:
-Apex 40 DoubleConcave
-Orangatang Balut 72.5mm 83a
-Surf_Rodz 177mm Indeesz
-Bones Reds
-Orangatang Nipples (purple)