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

Kiteboards vs Wakeboards

Kiteboards vs Wakeboards

When getting started kitesurfing or wakeboarding a lot of people seem to think they can use the same board for both purposes. Wakeboards are typically cheaper and more readily available on the second hand market. Kitesurfers are often keen on giving the cable park a go and want to use their existing board too. Whilst it is possible to use a kitesurf board at a cable park and vice versa it is far from ideal.

Rocker
The main difference between the two are that wakeboards have a lot more rocker. This in turn makes them sit deeper in the water and they displace more water as they travel. Kiteboards plane better. When at a cable park, you will find a kitesurf board travels too fast especially round corners. When kiting, wakeboards are very hard to go upwind on and you have to be very powered up.

Fins
Kitesurf boards have fins on the base to help them grip and track upwind, where as wakeboards have channels. The fins are obviously not great when it comes to switching and hitting obstacles. Without the fins the kitesurf board will feel very fast and skatey due to their lack of rocker. In turn kiting using a wakeboard will make getting upwind hard work as it does not grip so well.

Weight
Kitesurf boards are light and designed for riding at speed, in variable water conditions and kite assisted jumps. Wakeboards are heavy to help take the beatings involved with contantly hitting obstacles. They are also only ridden in flat water.

Bindings and straps
Kitesurfers use straps mostly. It provides greater freedom of movement and is much easier to get going with. You can also lose the board should you need to. Unlike wakeboarders, you cannot simply let go. The wakeboarder needs boots to hold more power and to be able to throw his legs back after releasing from the water. Jumping with a wakeboard is strenuous and fast – one foot coming out of straps can cause serious injuries very easily. Likewise kitesurfing with bindings can be dangerous if you get your board tangled in your lines. It is important to be very aware of how your safety system works and what you need to look out for.

Hybrid boards
As the crossover between the two sports has grown, and the wakestyle movement has gained momentum, brands have started to release hybrid boards. These are kitesurf boards, with more rocker and tougher construction, designed to be ridden with bindings. They work well behind a kite or cable. These often have small channels allowing them to be ridden with no fins or only with small fins too. A few major manufacturers including Liquid Force, Slingshot and Best to name a few have released hybrid boards in 2011.

Conclusion
It all comes down to getting 2 boards really. If nothing else it is a hassle swapping boots and straps round. Even kiteboarders who spend most of their time in boots need a board with straps too. If you are kitesurfing and into wakestyle we strongly recommend one of the new hybrid boards. If you are planning on getting heavily into wakeboarding either behind a boat or on a cable, then get a wakeboard. It will be worth it in the end!
Shannon Best riding the Profanity

Photo from Bestkiteboarding.

5 Things to Consider When Buying a Snowboard

5 Things to Consider When Buying a Snowboard

volkl snowboard construction
More people than ever are buying snowboards. Unlike skiers, boarders are less into renting and prefer to have their own set up. So much can go into the construction of a snowboard that the prices can soon start getting higher than you might have hoped. What board you buy should be in line with your size, ability, style of riding and of course – budget. Once you have an idea about those things any good shop should be able to help you choose the perfect board.


Budget

This is one thing you need to set early – you can spend from 250 to over 1000 on a snowboard. Different things affect the price but the major ones are the construction (mass produced vs handmade), materials (carbon stringers, fibreglass), and base material (extruded vs sintered). Once you know what your budget is you can start to shortlist boards.

1) Sintered or Extruded Bases
Sintered bases are harder and faster. As they are porous, sintered bases hold more wax too. Extruded bases however are much easier to repair. These days the only boards featuring extruded bases are cheap park boards. They don’t slide as well as a sintered base but if you are abusing boards they are considerably cheaper. Sintered bases cost 2 to 3 times more to produce. Durability is a tough one to decide as the Sintered base is more resistant to damage however the extruded is more easily repaired.

Top tip – if you don’t want to be the last one to the bottom of the hill every time get a sintered base.

2) Mass Produced or Handmade
Most quality snowboards are handmade – some brands take a lot more pride in this than others and different brands have different levels of control over the entire process. Mervin brands and Never Summer for example have their own factories in the US giving them complete control over quality and workmanship – the brands are both very proud of this. Most major factories manufacture boards for various brands. A lot of snowboard production is now carried out in China.

Top tip – Look for brands who over more than 1 year warranty – this is a sign of confidence.

3) Rocker and camber profiles
A few years ago everyone just made cambered boards but nowadays that is not the case. It is actually more complicated than simply rocker or camber with brands like K2 making flat boards and Never Summer making boards combining both rocker and camber. The general jist of it is that rocker creates a more fun and skating ride, whilst camber provides grip, stability and pop. Having rocker naturally lifts the tip of the snowboard therefore making it ride well in powder. The general consensus is that dual camber (both rocker and camber) provides the best of both worlds however this comes at a cost – these type of board are generally over the £450 mark.

Top tip – Test the boards. Many shops provide demo boards, and all the brands do a number of demos each year where you can test loads of boards out completely free of charge.

4) Standard width or wide models
For most people this is not really an issue however for those with a size 11 plus boot it is something that needs to be considered. If you are a heavier rider then the wide board might be a good choice. If you are light but have huge feet, then you need to test boards really, as the wide boards may be too stiff for you.

There is a trend in the US to ride wider boards as it provides float in powder whilst being able to get away with riding a shorter more playful board. It also provides a larger surface area to land on when doing rails.

Top tip – If you have size 11 boots look for low profile ones. If your boots are size 12 or larger, test a wide board.

Let us know any extra tips below and any questions you have regarding buying a snowboard.