Moronga is Spanish for Slide — Orangatang Moronga Review

Moronga is Spanish for Slide — Orangatang Moronga Review

Hello Students of Radness,

The chipper group over at Orangatang recently dropped another wheel sensation; the Moronga. A bunch of people in the community are saying that Morongas are basically Balut 2.0 and they may be saying that with some good reasons. The Moronga and the Balut have the same diameter, the some contact patch, and use the same urethane formula. However, I think that saying Morongas are a just a tweaked version of the Balut is kind of a simplification and that it glosses over the fact these wheels are, in fact, better than Baluts in a variety of ways.

I was lucky enough to be granted not one but three sets of Morongas. Which has allowed me to shred one wheel in each durometer and therefore give you the most complete review and overview possible.

Let’s get into the technical specifications of the wheel. Morongas come in the three signature color-durometer combinations offered by Orangatang: Orange 80a, Purple 83a, and Yellow 86a. The lower number, of course, being the softest and the higher number coming in as the hardest. Unlike the majority of Orangatang wheels Morongas are poured with a Euphorethane formula and not the standard Happythane. The core of the wheel is very large, wrapped in thane, and topped off with a rounded but relatively thick lip. In addition, the bearing seat is centerset which means the wheels can be ridden in any direction. Morongas have a 72.5mm diameter and a 35mm contact patch with a width of 44mm.

Well now that we have got the techy stuff out of the way, let’s talk about how these bad boys handle in the field.

Commute
Morongas are a great wheel for cruising through town and impressing all the soccer moms with your commuting steeze. Coming in at 72.5mm they are a bit taller than your average wheel, which adds to your top speed, but they have a more narrow contact patch. This narrow contact patch translates to a wheel without a lot of weight behind it which means that you can get Moronags up to speed very quickly. I really like the fact that I can slide to a stop for a traffic light and push back up to my regular speed with minimal effort on these wheels. Unfortunately the Euphorethane formula in conjunction with that large core does have a little bit of a downside, that combination makes your wheels feel really hard under your feet. So if you commute over terrible pavement or lots of bumps the vibrations will start to rattle you after a few miles.

I have found that the Purple, or 83a, Morongas are my favorite hardness to push for a long time. Mostly because harder wheels are faster than softer wheels and soft wheels can eat up vibration. Purple Morongas are right in the middle and allow you to achieve a nice balance between speed and vibration dampening. This balance is great for pushing between classes or for my 2 mile push to work every day.

Freestyle
In my opinion, when it comes to freestyle longboarding the lighter the wheel the better. Which is why Morongas kind of rock for freestyle. That narrow contact patch we talked about earlier makes them a hair lighter than other 72mm wheels. It is really noticeable when trying to hit serious flip tricks like bigspins and kickflips. The first time I slapped my Morongas on my Chubby Unicorn,after rocking 4Presidents, I kept over-rotating all my tricks because I wasn’t used to how light my setup had become haha.

 

Another nice aspect Morongas can offer all you freestylers out there is how easily you can pop them into a 180 powerslide. When I freestyle and link tricks I like being able to throw my board in and out of a switch stance through slides (much steezier than pivots) and Morongas let me do that without a problem.

Yellow, or 86a, Morongas are undoubtedly my favorite durometer to freestyle on. Being nice and hard is just so nice for flatland. Mostly because, as I mentioned, I like to kick out into 180 slides like it is my job. The Yellows are definitely the easiest durometer to bust out a slide on the flats with and I dig it.

Downhill
I can tell you this much, while the Morongas are certainly not a downhill shape they can definitely get you from the top to the bottom. The 72.5mm diameter means that these wheels are going accelerate quickly and sustain a slightly higher top speed than your average 70mm longboard wheel. However, these wheels don’t have much bulk to them, which means they are not very massive, so they are not going to get as much momentum going as a wider wheel would.

I don’t think that Morongas are going to be anyone’s go to race wheel anytime soon (unless you’re racing some crazy technical course). That being said, I was very surprised at how much grip you can get out of Morongas when you want to, mostly with the softer durometer. I was surprised because the wheels are so slidey in general but if you really spend some time on them you can easily learn their grip-slide patterns. If nothing else Morongas are predictable, which is fantastic when going fast and you need to know exactly what your wheels are going to do.

If you are looking to downhill on these wheels then I highly recommend the Orange, or 80a Moronagas. They have the most grip out of the three and drift beautifully. I tried going fast on my Yellow Morongas a couple times, it was scary, haha, they cannot offer the predictability and smooth drift at speed that the Orange ones can.

Freeride
I think that we all know what Morongas were really meant for… slides on slides on slides. Morongas eat freeride for breakfast and poop out silly long standies. You might think that was a joke but I am deadly serious.

Having such a narrow contact patch give you less resistance against the ground when looking to hit slides. That’s just plain and simple science. In addition to that narrow contact patch Morongas are rocking a pretty sweet lip shape. The lip is rounded and thicker towards the outside of the wheel relative to the inside near the bearing seat. This allows the contact patch to remain consistent down to the core of the wheel (note: I have not been able to core these wheels yet because they are so durable. I know the aforementioned information based on the design of the Moronga itself). The core is very large, it is the same spoked core as the Balut, and works in conjunction with the lip shape to offer exceedingly minimal wheel deformation while sliding. Which all boils down to a very very consistent wheel and slide.

In addition to being inherently slidey due to their contact patch and lip shape Morongas are also poured in Orangatang Euphorethane formula. Euphorethane is definitely one my favorite thanes out there because it is so freaking durable. The trade off in durability is that Morongas do not dump thane like some less durable wheels on the market, but that is not a problem for me. I don’t need to measure my thane lines to have fun.

How do they slide?
Morongas slide fantastically all the time. However they feel different based on how you are sliding them. If you are using your Morongas without going very fast they are going to be a little noisy. Now, I think this kind of scares people off because they think noisy means chattery, but let me be clear in that they are not chattery. They may let out a majestic call, much like a hawk, when being slide at slower speeds but the slide is still smooth and consistent.

However, if you are going fast enough to hold a slide out for more than 5 feet or so they quiet  right back down. They jump from the noisy zone to what I call the sugar zone. What is interesting about Morongas is that when they truly break free after a few feet of sliding, into the sugar zone, you can hardly feel the transition. I have noticed with many other wheels that the transition between trying to grip and breaking free can be kind of jerky and weird. Morongas have no such problem and are very predictable under your feet.

When it comes down to freeride I think that any color Moronga would serve you well, it all depends on how you ride. If you are just learning how to hold out long slides go with the harder Yellow ones. For those of you who have been enjoying freeride for a while now but don’t hit slides over 25mph I would consider the Purples. People who love to hit a billion foot slides after going 45mph should definitely get the Orange. I personally rock the Purples and love them! However, always remember that I cannot give you a definite recommendation on durometer because in the end it all comes down to preference.

It cant all be good…
Nothing is perfect; and Morongas, although awesome, are no exception to this rule. I would say the only real downside I have come across with this wheel is on the commute. The large core and dense Euphorethane formula makes for a rough ride over bumpy pavement. Morongas can shake your teeth out of your head after a mile of rough pavement, haha.

The Bottom Line
Would I recommend Morongas to a friend?
I think that Morongas are fantastic wheel and that they suit the needs of a very diverse group of riders. If you are into freestyle grab yourself a set of the Yellows. If you like to freeride then either the Purple or the Orange will suit you at whatever speed tickles your fancy. If you havent taken the time to try Orangatang products then there has never been a better time than now. Morongas are killing it!

Thanks for Reading!
Any Questions, Comments, Concerns, Hatemail, Spam???
Send it my way!

Stay Awesome,
Wayne

My Current Favorite Setups:

Commute:
-Bustin Sportster
-Surf-Rodz RKP176mm 50*
-ORANGATANG MORONGA 83a
-Venom Bushings
-Daddies Bearings

Downhill:
-Loaded Chubby Unicorn
-Surf-Rodz RKP176mm 45*
-ORANGATANG MORONGA 80a
-Venom Bushings
-Daddies Bearings

Freeride
-Loaded Chubby Unicorn
-Surf-Rodz RKP176mm 50*
-ORANGATANG MORONGA 83a
-Venom Bushings
-Daddies Bearings

Freestyle
-Loaded TanTien
-Paris V2 180mm
-ORANGATANG MORONGA 86a
-Orangatang Nipples (soft)
-Daddies Bearings

An Illuminating Wheel — Northern Lights Review

An Illuminating Wheel — Northern Lights Review

Hello My Friends,
I have recently started riding a new set of wheels, Northern Lights by Balance Skate Products. Northern Lights are new to the Balance line-up and were designed as an all around wheel with a knack for all of your freeride endeavors. Something really cool about these wheels is that the cores actually glow in the dark. Yes, you heard me right, the cores glow in the freaking dark!

Which means as soon as these wheels arrived at my house, before I even put them on board, I let them sit under a lamp for a minute then turned off all my lights. Northern Lights lay no false claims. They totally glow in the dark, which is just plain old fun.

I know everyone is curious about how well these wheels handle, but before I get into that, let’s talk about the technical specifications of the wheel. Balance Skate Products’ Northern Lights are 70mm in diameter with a 38mm contact patch. The core, aside from being glow in the dark, is slightly offset. Northern Lights come in only one durometer of 83a. They are round lipped and the riding surface is stone ground or “pre-broken-in.”

Downhill
Northern Lights are not really a downhill specific shape, however, I have taken them pretty fast more than a few times and was happy with the results. Coming in at 70mm makes these wheels a very typical size for longboarding but not necessarily for super downhill mode which normally rocks wheels around 75mm. Bigger 75mm wheels have a higher top speed than 70mm wheels so you probably aren’t going to break any speed records on your Northern Lights.

However, these wheels are actually really fun if you like a little bit of slide in your downhill runs. The narrow contact path and the rounded lips make for a very drifty wheel when going fast. If you like to go fast and then slide through a turn the you will enjoy these wheels. That being said, Northern Lights are surprisingly grippy when you want them to stick and held some moderately turny lines when pushing some speed.

Commuting
I do a lot of skateboard commuting (despite the bitter winter cold) on my way to work every day. My commute to work is about two miles long with lots of hills, roads, sidewalks, curbs, cars, and people to maneuver through. I put Northern Lights through these motions every single day, two miles there, two miles back, on every dry day since I got them back in December. Two of the things I really liked when commuting on these wheels were the quick acceleration and the light weight.

Being a 70mm wheel means that you really don’t have to put that much effort into getting these bad boys up to speed. One or two pushes and you are well on your way. They don’t hold speed for a super long time, like a more massive wheel would, but since it takes so little effort to push them it is definitely a fair trade off. Additionally I really enjoyed how light these wheels were when I had to push them for two miles every day.

Freestyle
I mentioned that having a light weight wheel was great for pushing around town, well I think that a light weight might be even more applicable to freestyle skating. If you like to freestyle as much as I do then you probably already know how beneficial a light wheels can be. Northern Lights are great for flip tricks because they don’t weigh your board down very much, especially for a 70mm wheel, which means your spins or flips don’t require a Herculean effort.

Generally when I freestyle skate I throw lots of 180 slides in the mix when linking tricks. Northern Lights are really nice for quick 180 slides on flat ground. You can break the traction very easily and spin them around without a problem. The slide is nice and smooth and the transition is pretty quiet, which is always a plus.

Freeride
Like most people I have been getting more and more into freeride lately and am always questing for a fantastic slide wheel. Northern Lights have definitely hit a sweet spot for freeride. They break traction smoothly and consistently. These wheels do not drop an enormous amount of thane, which means they also do not wear stupidly fast. I can also say that they have been wearing very evenly and uniformly throughout my entire test phase with no flat spots or ovals. Now to answer the question on everyone’s lips, “are they buttery?”

Northern Lights do not have what I would consider to be a buttery slide, they have a very interesting slide that I have really come to enjoy. Once they break traction Northern Lights feel like what an icy slide would be like, however, they are completely controllable. The first time I held out a big slide on Northern Lights I could have sworn they were going ice out right away based on the way the felt under my feet, but I was very pleasantly surprised to find that their slide is super controlled and predictable. I don’t think I have ever ridden a wheel that felt so icy but remained so freaking manageable. Northern Lights are one of my favorite freeride wheels as of late because once you break traction and start sliding they just go without sacrificing control.

It Can’t All Be Good
Every product has a downside or two. I would say that the biggest downside to Northern Lights might be the fact that they look so similar to other wheels on the market. I have heard people say that they are just Metro Motion knock offs. There are in fact many wheels on the market poured in the very same mold as Northern Lights.

However, to these people I would say, “Don’t knock them til you have tried them.” Because while you may have ridden similar wheels I promise that you have not ridden thane like Northern Lights.

The Bottom Line
Would I recommend Northern Lights to a friend?
I wholeheartedly believe that these wheels are a solid choice anyone looking to freeride and freestyle on their board (which is most people these days). They are light, slidey, and very durable. What more could you ask for in a wheel? Northern Lights are a great all around wheel, however, I think that they are at their very best in freeride. If you are looking for a long lasting wheel that can handle pretty much any type of abuse you can throw at, then I would consider Northern Lights.

Any Questions, Comments, Concerns, Hatemail, Junkmail???
Send it my way!

Stay Awesome,
Wayne

My Current Favorite Setup:
-Loaded Chubby Unicorn
-Surf-Rodz 176mm RKP 50*
-Venom Bushings
-NORTHERN LIGHTS 70mm 83a
-Venom Bushings
-Daddies Bearings

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