b.loftin2's skateboarding journal

My essential skate gear

My friend @TheLoneSentry did a series of posts on his essential skate gear. I decided to do the same thing, though it will only be this one post.

Before I get started let me mention safety gear. I do own safety gear. I used it when I feel like I need to do so. As I get older that will likely be more often. If I’m skating a park, any sort of transition, or downhill, I used it. For my current everyday skating, I usually don’t. I understand this is a risk, and it is risk I am aware of and manage as I see fit.

First, the boards, left to right.

Mode Skateboards 8” symmetrical freestyle board. This is maybe the biggest official freestyle board on the market. Sorry, the Andy Anderson board is not a FS board. I’m not really into super technical tricks, so I got this board last year and haven’t even had a chance to ride it. Indy 126 trucks and Mode Freestyle wheels are the undercarriage, and it it perfectly for rail stands, etc. I perfect setup. Mode tail skids on each end, and grip tape under the tail/nose for doing Caspers. I use a variety of hard bushings in the trucks, depending on what I have available. Normally I’ll have a gray Venom Eliminator in the bottom spot on each truck, and maybe a purple Khiro or other hard, short top bushing. Honestly, My skate style has evolved to where a true FS board isn’t really necessary for me. I concentrate on rolling lines, wheelies, spins, and footwork. Oh, this boards has a 14” wheelbase, which is very long for a FS board. They usually have more like a 12.5” wheelbase. The pandemic really kinda took me out of the world of dedicated freestyle boards, as you will see in the next two entries.

Super-8 Skateboards 8.5” Werewolf graphic popsicle. 14.5” wheelbase. Indy 159s and 54mm Bones Street Tech Formula 99a. 1 thin riser under each truck. Lil Jawn rails. Hard bushings. I like to have a board that is a little bigger for certain kinds of terrain and skating. This is a nice board. Truth is that for the kind of skating I’ve been doing the last couple of year I could ride this one, or the next one, nearly all the time. Sometimes I just like a little more board under my feet. I got the rails because they look cool. I don’t really use them that much.

Mode 8” pops. 14.25” wheelbase. This is a very standard modern street shape with a relatively mellow concave and nose and tail angles. For the kind of footwork tricks, wheelies, and spins I do, I HATE sharp, abrupt bends in the nose and tail and steep angles. A nice, mellow curve and somewhat shallow overall tail angle allow the kind of subtle application of pressure you want for freestyle footwork. You don’t want a concave that locks you in. You want to be able to move your feet around easily. I’ve found this deck does that quite well. I’ve been riding it for well over a year. The nose and tail skids make it last a really long time. Seriously, I’ve switched the front and rear skids around once, and when they are used up I’ll just put new ones on, and the board will be fine. The way I skate just isn’t very destructive to boards if I use skids. I have a pair of Indy 149s on this board that are nearly 20 years old. Still going strong. Bones Street Tech 103a 54mm wheels are my wheel of choice for the kind of skating I do here in north Dallas. Right now I don’t have any risers under the trucks as an experiment. Normally I run 1 or even 2 thin risers under the trucks to help prevent me from scraping the tail when I’m spinning 360s, and to give better clearance for nose wheelies. I will likely go back to that.

If I’m going out to skate my freestyle practice spot or the Pandemic Parking Lot I will typically grab the Mode pops. If I go to the little ditch I enjoy skating or a skatepark, I’ll grab the Super-8 or whatever board is currently filling my “big board” spot. I rarely deviate from the Indy 159s for the big board, but some boards can be wider in the middle and still work if they are the right width over the trucks.

Oh - bearings. I use either plain old NMB double shielded precision bearings with proper spacer and speed washer setup, or some Daddies Board shop “built-in” bearings that are double shielded and have built in spacers/speed washers. I like a solid bearing setup, with no sideways play in the wheel, the way they are actually designed to work.

While you can’t see it, on all my boards I leave a hole or square in the grip tape in the middle of the board. I leave tape at the edges, but I have a big un-taped area in the center to help with footwork. It is easier to do some tricks like Walk-the-Dog if your foot doesn’t have any friction there. The lack of friction also means I don’t wear out the sole of my front shoe in one week simply from doing footwork. Freestyle is really hard on shoes. So the tape-free zone serves me well. Some say it’s better to just sand the tape down in the middle. I think they are wrong. But whatever works for them. I’ve been doing this for 47 years, so I’m not really going to change. Doesn’t that affect my ollies? No, not at all, because I rarely do ollies. Also, the tape hole is really in the middle, and not really where you drag for an ollie.

Next, the rest of my essential gear for a skate session.

I normally skate alone, at spots where I can play music without bothering anyone. I prefer it that way. For me, my skate sessions are a meditation, and I really need my music. I need it so bad that if I show up to my spot and I’ve forgotten any part of the music setup I get pissed enough to ruin a session. Silly, but it is that important to me.

So below you will see my red JBL Extreme (or whatever it is called) bluetooth speaker. It is pretty loud. I have an iPod touch with whatever the max storage was at the time (256 gigs?) that I use with it. In the old camcorder bag, besides spare bearings, bushings, and parts, I keep a nicely charge big spare USB battery and cable for the iPod as well as a speaker wire to plug into the bluetooth speaker with. Why? Because I find I can get the music louder via cable than via bluetooth.

I also take my tripod with mount for my iPhone, which I use to shoot video, a wide-angle attachment for my phone, and a White Sox ball cap (flex fit - not a damned trucker hat), to protect my balding scalp. In the bag you will also find sunscreen, a couple of bottles of water, maybe some powdered donuts. So yes, I have an iPhone and and iPod with me when I skate. The iPod has no social media apps on it at all. It is stripped of nearly everything but music.