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