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News from the world of bearings

Those who have been following this blog for a while will know that I am prone to blabbering on about bearings now and again. The difference they make to a setup is negotiable but still I love them. Apologies go out to those who will find this post akin to watching paint dry…

Seismic Tekton Bearings
Originally spied and talked about here and used at Goodwood 2011 in my setup, I’ve had mixed feelings about these.

Having raced them during two marathons (Goodwood,  Rabbit Race) as well as having trained on them, I believe that I have ridden them enough to give a pretty accurate opinion. I’ve also found some pretty interesting review online that I will try to summarise here.

Out of the box these bearings at least look great, they feel really sturdy and the blue trademarked dust shields look the business. Once on the wheel good fit and built in spacer really gives you the confidence to tighten these puppies down. I got a little too carried away and managed to de-thread a lock nut, thankfully not the axel…

Performance-wise I’ve found that they run well. Here is a excerpt from the Tekton thread on Silverfish:

I don’t know why but the fastest feeling bearings I’ve used, such as Tektons and Rockin Ron’s have always sounded pretty noisy and a little loose. I’ve used Rockin Ron’s (the same set) for well over 2000 miles and they’re still going strong. They outlasted my LBL Pusher anyway.

Regarding the Tekton rusting issue, I had a set sent to my friend and I asked him to clean out the Siesmic lube and but in some speed cream (there were reports of the Tektons running slow with the original lube)…here is what he had to say:

Also, I cleaned and re-oiled the Tekton bearings and the Garvers last night. Funny thing with the Tekton’s, I dried them as soon as I could after cleaning with a hair dryer, but there was still some thin rust forming on the spacers! Crazy! So, I dried them, oiled each of them with 2 drops of speed cream, spinning each one straight after dropping the oil in, then oiled the spacers and outer races to stop the rust. I’ve never experienced that with any other bearing, and I’ve cleaned a fair few kinds!
Another user had a worse experience during a trip…
The real test was the 2000 miles and 2 1/2 months of harsh riding…with Rain, severe heat, 4-9 hours per day of riding. For the first 40 days, I used literally no lube. None whatsoever. I just didn’t see the need because that little noise coming from the tektons never changed, and neither did the ease of pushing, even after they were completely submerged for an hour in a flooded tent. A few weeks after the flooded tent I decided to try some lube because, come on how could they not need lube after so long. There was a tiny bit of rust starting to form on the axel, so I lubed it all up. That was the last time I lubed the tektons because the lube was stolen a week later. The second half of the trip ended up being rainy as all tits, and everything rusted completely over within two weeks. The tektons were ruined and I couldn’t even change them because they were rusted onto the axles, permanently.
The result was this:

So it seems that they have a super-tendency to rust up – and quick! That said I really do rate their solid feel and will continue to use them as they feel better made than many bearings out there. At $35 for 8 the price isn’t bad either. We’ll see how they get on over the Winter.

Twincam ILQ X mr2
I don’t own these yet but they are pretty rated in the world of speedskating:

Here are some features:

  • 29% lighter than 608 bearing.
  • Exclusive design 7 ball nylon retainer with self-lubricated material.
  • Inner ring with exclusive design “SCRS” (S-channel Rubber Shield) and “DCF” – Double Contamination Free.
  • Provides the most maximum contamination free protection than any other in-line bearing in the market
  • The ‘top hat’ style adaptors which allow these to be used with 8mm axels act as an additional dust seal
  • Greater loading than standard 608 bearings
  • Lubricant: TK Ultra Light Gel gives better protection inside balls and nylon retainer.

A fuller review is available here and on the manufacturer’s site. There are also ceramic versions available but at increased cost. The non-ceramic version shown above are priced at $45.50 for a set of 16.

Twincam ILQ-9 PRO (6 ball)
The original feature of these bearing is that they each contain 6 not 7 ball bearings.

Why are 6 balls better than 7? Less is more! The contact area between the balls and the inner and outer rings has been reduced with 6 balls, so ILQ-9′s spin with less friction that any other inline bearing. With larger balls, there’s also less void space inside the raceway, so the bearing can be filled with less lubrication, allowing more free spin.

Additionally, the larger balls (4.5 mm diameter) allow ILQ-9′s to handle greater laoding rates. This means they are superior for heavier skaters, and for stressful activities like hockey, aggressive skating, or hihg-speed pushing and cornering. I know that Alex Bangnoi uses these and they seem to be working pretty well for him! More info here. $45.50 for a set of 16

Magic Bearings
Anti-abec rating and with seals that are “not perfect; just really, really good”…but also every bearing is purple and green giving rise to  a hard choice (steezy side out or speedy side out)…

They have been, ahem, comprehensively tested:

Magics are FAST!!!!  None of the current magic bearings have died, including the prototypes I’ve had since july. Rain, dirt, general abuse, they take it. I got rained all over yesterday, went through puddles of dirty brown road-rain-water and got all nasty and gross. This morning the bearings are still smooth, though a but noisier. Looks like rain for most of the week as well so we’ll see how they hold up. And I didn’t have the luxury of spinning the wheels at 30-40mph to keep the water out.

So in review people, you should buy them because:

1. They use Unicorn semen and angel tears as lube
2. They’re purple. The color of steeze and hustle
3. But they’re also green, the color of speed
4. B*tches love Magic
5. Seals and stuff
6. They’re centerset, so you can flip them.
7. I like to think they are made out of iron man.
8. They’re Magically self aligning. Even better than Tektons!
9. They make racecar sounds
10. The lube is pizza grease.
11. They are best for sliding
12. They will make you fast like K-Rimes
13. They’re magical duh

If the performance is anywhere near the hype surrounding these bearings you wont be disappointed…and at $8.95 these are probably worth a look. More information on the Silverfish thread and here.


Goodwood 2011 musings

Like most years the Goodwood marathon is one of the top, if not THE event in my longboarding year. It certainly is the longest and most competitive distance event in Europe to my knowledge. This time around things were no different – I’ve been focussed on how I can improve my time since I started training back in April.

Tim Pritchard and I arrived early enough to set up a camp and generally collect our starter packs and get ready. The couple of hours before the race went by in a flash. I made some adjustments to my setup and after some stretching was ready for the off.  Tim, Matt Elver and I made our way on to the track together and snaked through the masses of lycra-clad rollerbladers, many roller-derby girls and got pretty near the front. With a little bit of manoeuvring and some grumbling from those around us we managed to get our boards down. The race marshals counted down from 10 and we were off. After about 10 metres Matt got knocked or tangled up with another rollerblader but other than that the start was clean and problem-free.

Tim and I got into a fast pace and the first lap really flew by. During some sections of the first lap he pumped and I managed to keep up by pushing as hard as I could, but only just. I should have pumped too but didn’t want to loose valuable time changing my stance but I was already aching and didn’t feel like I’d warmed up enough. After crossing the line for the second lap we were soon passed by Matt who seemed on very good form. I was really taken aback by how fast Tim was pushing and really struggled to get into a rhythm. After turning into the section of the track where there was a headwind I was lagging further and further behind. Pausing to drink some water proved a step to far.  Tim put in a few power pushes and just pulled away, I couldn’t keep up.

My breathing was all over the place and I decided to pull back a little, in the hope that if I maintained a high average speed then I could possibly catch up with Tim again in the later laps of the race. I had successfully done this the in 2010 with Alex Bangnoi. Soon after, I then also got overtaken by Ben Williams on a rather funky LBL Pusher V2 and Moe Neve. Shortly after that I managed to get into a good zone.

For the next laps, I pumped on every downhill and  straight where the wind was behind me or in the downhill sections and and pushed the rest of the time. It is at this point that I versitality of the G|Bomb showed through. Being able to pump the board was a very welcome break from the pushing. I also found that I was much quicker when I was pumping compared to when I was pushing. This was most noticeable on the flat or gradual downhill sections of the circuit. Along these sections I maintained speeds of around 24+ kph (15mph) compared to 20-ish kph (12.5mph) when pushing normally. I felt really comfortable on the G|Bomb  and I was pleased that I had adjusted to it in such a quick time. I have found my ultimate race board.

As the counter on my GPS climbed above the 43km mark at around the 2 hour mark,  I started to wonder how many laps I’d done. One error was that I didn’t carry a pen with me and being focused on pace, I’d not really paid attention to the number of laps I’d done. I really didn’t want to be one lap out so decided to do another, in hindsight I did this perhaps unconsciously to honour Alex Bangnoi with whom I’d raced around with for an extra lap at Goodwood in 2010. ;-)

In the end I finished in : 02:00:15, in 4th place – not bad!

A great podium picture of the top 3 finishers – well done guys! Check out the funky Skatefurther banner!

Here are the readings from my GPS for both 2010 and 2011.

2010 :

2011:

You can see from the above pictures that I was 1.4kph (0.86 mph) off last year’s pace.

Since the race I can’t help wondering why I was slower. I’ve tried to change many things in preparation for this year’s race, from looking into different techniques by reading the Chi-Running book to uphill training with the aim of improving strength. I perhaps made too many changes and don’t think that I ate right on the day. The previous day I hadn’t managed to resist a couple of beers either – schoolboy error!

Additionally, given my time in 2010 I may have been a tad over confident, it may have also been the headwind too. Who knows. One thing is for certain, I really feel that I got the setup right this year with the  G|Bomb although I may tweak a couple of aspects. I will also look at the pushing and tucking method, especially for use in headwinds. I also want to train for longer distances and give up on the grueling short uphill strategy as this isn’t fun. Regardless of my performance I had a really great time with everyone and had a great day.

This is the complete setup I used:

- Board: Subsonic G|Bomb Illuminati in light flex
- Front truck: Bennet 5.0 with Lime 80a Reflex barrel bushing boardside and Orange 86a barrel roadside (with rounded edges), with bushing saver fix
- Front wheels: ATOBE Wigglers wheels 77mm 82a
- Back truck: Seismic 30° with red springs tightened to 2.5 turns
- Rear wheels:  ATOBE  Bonneville wheels 76mm 78a
- Siesmic Tekton bearings
- PSD FWD+ Short footstop

More importantly, Goodwood like the other longboard events that are too-few, is also an unmissable opportunity to meet and get together with fellow longboarders. It was great to see such people as, Keith O’LearyTom ParkerNick RandallZoltan NagyBen WilliamsMoe Neve  Jon SteelChris White Gary EwensMatt Elver and not forgetting Tim Pritchard. Laura Hatwell was sorely missed though as were the other members of the Skatefurther family who weren’t able to make it.

It was also great to oogle at some really very nice setups, mainly a brace of G|Bomb Illuminatis and the urban legend that is the Longboard Larry Pusher V2.

Another awesome aspect was that the PSD footstops was really well received and deservedly so. Quite a few people bought a one on the day and all feedback on them was great. Here are several in action.

It was really nice to have to time to chill with some of the others after the race. After a good rest Tim, Keith and I went for a chill lap in the Summer sunshine. The circuit really is an amazing skate…

Tim summed it up nicely in his write up, which includes his impression of the G|Bomb:

Keith, Chris and I took the opportunity to ride the super smooth circuit for one last lap. All 3 of us pumping and using my footop’s which was another great feeling. I took a ride on Chris’s G|Bomb Illuminati, extra low brackets, Bennett front 17* Seismic red springs -7* and AToBe Wigglers/Bonnevilles. It was far more stable than my top mount LDP and return to centre equally, turning equally and less like a fish weaving. The pump feels much more centred, you kind of make longboard type turns, and it pumps/accelerates and you can make tiny pumps with your toes/heals dipping. The height is really low which felt pretty normal, until I stepped back on my board which felt enormous. The G|Bomb certainly has potential for a true pusher/pumper, but, I may well stick with my Pulse? The mega quick alteration of angles on the G|Bomb is also a massive advantage, I’m sure we all agree, especially front and back for us LDPers. I’d love a G|Bomb, and I have no doubt that it could be my ideal board for a race, but, I may never know. 

New strategies, more training but the same board – bring on next year already! Tim’s write up of the day can be seen Pavedwave and all the results of the day’s racing are here. A big thanks goes out to the organisers for putting on such a good event!


New ride – G|Bomb

There is a thread over on Pavedwave that is almost certainly the longest that the forum has seen to date. It is called CAMBIAR- portable tweakable longboard under test — wicked!! and was started all the way back on Sun 17th Feburary 2008. The thread starts of something like this:
A buddy who lives in the city of Vancouver WA has quietly revolutionized the modern day longboard.  With one simple, unique idea, he makes it:1. quicker and easier to tweak and tune for different terrain,
2. even more portable for travel on airplanes, in cars, etc.,
3. just as high performing as other high-end longboards on the market.
The 33 (and counting) pages of this thread track the slow development that is the G|Bomb. The G|Bomb design is the brain child of a mechanical engineer and skater Mark Groenenboom, who set out to find if a drop deck could have adjustable truck angles without sacrificing performance.

At first there were no specific boards that were built for the new brackets and early prototype decks were simply cut from existing suitable shapes.

After some testing, the potential to create a full LDP board with the benefits of being lower for pushing was clearly seen by forum members and this avenue was then thoroughly explored by a handful of testers. The initial brackets although innovative and functional were not completely suited to pumping since the front truck was out in front of the board, meaning a loss in leverage for pumping. In order to correct this a new ‘bent’ front bracket was developed, but with it came a compromise. The increased pump-ability brought about by bringing the truck back nearer to the board meant gravitating away from the aim of  using a drop deck shape – although it was still lower than a traditional LDP deck.

Well back then when the foundations of this idea were being laid, I had barely started longboarding and the term LDP (Long distance pumping) meant nothing to me. As I started to get into skating distance, I got intrigued by the idea of efficient pumping and at that point it was only for the fun factor – pumping is first and foremost fun and feels awesome.

Having used a very low deck for pushing, I was (and still am) hesitant to invest in a LDP specific deck because I find them awkward to push when you have to because they are too high. Laura Hatwell on the Skatefurther site pointed me in the direction of the more recent developments to come out of the G|Bomb stables which were being talked about in the afore mentioned thread: the Illuminati. What grabbed my attention was that it was designed to be an “an all out pumper” , whilst obviously being nice and low. Another thing for me was that it was a colloboration between G|Bomb and Subsonic. A seemingly perfect fusion of two companies that I admire greatly.

Knowing that I was highly interested in it, Laura very kindly lent me her light flex Illuminati to test for a while. After setting it up (description here) I was instantly hooked. Back in May 2010 I wrote:

I was very intrigued by how this board would feel compared to a regular LDP deck like the Subsonic Pulse and also how well it would fit the description of a hybrid Pusher/Pumper.

I’m pleased to say that I’m instantly astounded with how good this board feels. If you are looking for versatile board that is as pumpable as it is pushable then look no further. It’s going to sound rather simple, but being able to adjust the truck angles the ‘on the fly’ really is a very nice touch. The metal brackets feel as strong as a tank and the quality of the board construction made by Subsonic is pretty much second to none. Purple to turquoise fade – awesome!

I wrote a couple of articles about trips I did on the board that can be read here and here. Another positive indicator is that this board is still in my possession one year on, and luckily Laura is willing to sell it to me – don’t worry she already had another one! Still, a big thanks and goes out to her for letting me initially borrow it.

The development of the brackets and G|Bomb mantra continued and soon came some tantalising picture of some lowered version of the brackets. After a review of these by Rob Thompson – I’ve had my eye on these ever since:

With the recent news that my LBL Pusher was nearing the end of it’s days, I got in touch directly with Mark to see if I could get some brackets…after exchanging a couple of emails I soon received extremely awesome pictures like this:

Once I received them, I wasted no time in swapping over the original brackets for the new ones – you can see the difference in the curvature of the bracket design:

As you can see the deck is very low, about 8cm at the centre (the Illuminati has some concave in it so is higher at the edges). With the new brackets and 75mm wheels it is now just under 80mm. Before, with the old brackets and 70mm wheels it was 113mm:

Here is a side view when put next to my LBL Pusher, there isn’t much difference considering it is a pure pushing deck:

Here it is fully built from the top. As I mentioned earlier I bought some rather nice wheels from Jeff Vyain at the LongboardLoft during my recent trip to NYC, I mixed the sets of wheels up back to front at first – doh!:

And here is the bottom, wheels on the right way, softer duro at the back :-) :

Awesome G|Bomb detail:

Here is the setup I am using:

- Front: Bennet 5.0 with Lime 80a Reflex barrel bushing boardside and Orange 86a barrel roadside (with rounded edges) ATOBE  Bonneville wheels 76mm 78a
- Back: Seismic 30° with red springs tightened to 2.5 turns and ATOBE Wigglers wheels 77mm 82a

I initially had problems adapting to the very turny nature of the front truck compared to my very stable setup on the LBL Pusher, but this was sorted out thanks to some experimentation with various bushings, more ramblings about which can be found here. The drop on the new brackets is set to around 30mm, and together with some bigger wheels, the whole package feels very stable and comfortably low for pushing whilst remaining pumpable. It certainly isn’t a pure LDP deck but more of a fusion. It does exactly what I want it to do which is be great for pushing whilst being really pumpable but at speed – this is key for me. Additionally, the thicker brackets have stiffened the deck substantially,  I really couldn’t be happier with this deck and setup. Last night I went for a cruise and came back grinning from ear to ear.

It is important to mention that there are future developments in the pipeline from G|Bomb about which more will be known in the next couple of months. Including: Drop-thru front bent brackets, improved original 10mm drop adjustable brackets and bumpers. I can’t wait to hear more. This is one of the things which I love about designers such as Mark – it is the forward thinking, via original and high quality products that help move this industry continuously forward. I have nothing but respect for all the long hard work, effort and time that is necessary to this process. Thank you Mark!

For more information, follow the thread on Pavedwave, or this one on Skatefurther or simply visit www.gbomblongboards.com. I will be using this board at the upcoming Goodwood Roller Marathon on the 14th July.


Adrenalina – watching from the outside

It’s 1pm (GMT+1) last Saturday, the 30th July 2011 and I am sitting in the Pschorr brewery in Munich, Germany, eating würstl and Fass-sauerkraut accompanied by a glass of their refreshing Helles beer.

 As nice as this all is, beer, smiling mädchen and all, my mind keeps on wondering how is everyone getting on at the Adrenalina marathon in NYC. I’m pretty sure that two names will be on the podium but as we all know, these events often bring surprises. When I finally saw the top three results I was not disappointed:

1. Jeff Vyain – 1:31:41
2. Paul Kent – 1:32:10
3. Robin McGuirk – 1:38:07

Both Jeff Vyain and Paul Kent’s times speak for the themselves, this was no doubt an epic race at an amazing location, perfectly described by Alex Bangnoi:

 Ideal (weather) conditions…a gorgeoous setting! Imagine: the starting and finishing in front of the Statue of Liberty! Classy! What better motivation!

Alex Bangnoi went on to set himself a new personal best time (I think!) of 1:48:20, placing him in a solid 30th place out of 110 starters in the male category.

With around 6 minutes separating 2nd and 3rd place this was clearly a dual for the last lap or so as apparently both the front racers were working together to maintain pace…the following pick captures this:

But the race was worth it from the expressions at the finish line:

1st place Jeff Vyain:

2nd place Paul Kent:

All this makes for a great podium: Epic!

Adrenalina photo credits: ShRED Magazine

Let’s not forget the women – woop!:

1. Cami Best – 1:59:16_Bustin
2. Sara Paulshock – 1:59:48_Bustin
3. Priscilla Bouillon – 2:04:42

The full results are available here - only one rider from outside the America’s…there’s bound to be more hidden talent out there!

Those of us who couldn’t get to the race got to have the next best thing, a live report by PushCulture News, all the videos which were broadcast live can be seen at by clicking here. There are great interviews with the winners and many racers including  an epic 5 mins with Alexandre Bangnoi at 14m32! Bravo!

Other noteworthy people who were also interviewed are Dan Gesmer of Seismic and Jack Smith, the first person to cross America on a skateboard, and founder of this wonderful sport.

Another thing which has stood out is the amount of attention that this event got from the media, national and international alike:

Yahoo:  Bustin’ Boards Jeff Vyain wins Adrenalina Skateboard Marathon’s maiden NYC run
ESPN: Skateboarding meets marathoning in NY
Sports Illustrated/CNN: Adrenalina Skateboard Marathon

Also, what could be better than a picture in Times Square!

Congrats to all the participants, the organisers and everyone who is playing their part in making what distance skateboarding is what it is today and for continuing to push things forward. Bring on the next races, with hopefully one in Europe! Failing that, I’m going to get out there to the States in 2012 for sure!


Bearing love

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have a particular affection for bearings, especially when there are new developments or if I discover small manufacturers. If like me you’re a fan of SKF, Rockin Ron, and the now unfortunately defunct Garver, you’re in for a treat!

A couple of years ago there was  a craze in France called Tecktonik which gave birth to some pretty crazy dance moves.

Although for me the birth of this dance actually was unknowingly created in the UK by Tim Pritchard of PSD footstops ;-) , I never found out if it made it to the States.

One theory might say that it inspired some serious creativity in a particular laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, or maybe not, we’ll never know. The reality is that after hearing some sneaky rumours in the recent issues of Concretewave magazine  I just stumbled on this gem on the new Seismic website and got pretty excited to say the least:

What we are looking at here are two Tekton ABEC-7 bearings from a set of eight, viewed how they would be inside a wheel. I can’t wait to get my hand on these puppies!

Here is all the information there is about them at the moment (taken from the product description).

Features:
- Set of eight (8) bearings with integral flanged half-spacers.
- Breakthrough self-aligning design corrects for flaws in bearing seat levelness, bearing seat spacing, axle diameter and axle straightness.
-  Integral spacers end in wide, flat flanges that square up and self-stabilize inside your wheels. This means superior alignment and less internal friction, so your bearings last longer and your wheels roll faster with better grip.

Credentials:
The bearing behind the Official Downhill Speed World Record – 80.83 mph (130 kph) by Mischo Erban!

Love it!

Why not join in the discussion on Silvefish?


Getting back into it…

A surprise package:

So last weekend ended very nicely as I received a lovely surprise package from Tim, a long time friend, distance trip partner and more recently creator of the very promising tickering factory that is PSD. After many prototypes, and a lot of hard work, the first footstop has seen the light of day: The FWD+

Just holding it in your hand you can immediately see the thought that has gone into this product. The plastic feels very solid and it is very grippy all over…apparently this is due to the fact that it is made with lasers or something!

After quickly installing it, on my G|Bomb Subsonic Illuminati, I took it out for a spin. During the ride it gave a really awesome locked in feeling and because of the adjustable bracket you can easily place it wherever you want it on your board. The FWD+ is now for sale here, in very limited quantities so hurry if you don’t want to miss out!

 

Soup ride

Tonight I went out for a quick ride to get some soup on my Insect Mosquito to make the most of the incredibly Summery weather we’ve been having. It was just a quick ride, and I’m still finding out some tasty longboarding routes but one of them is near to the Tribunal d’Arrondissement de Lausanne/Casino de Montbenon…the pavement is buttery and there is a nice incline but I keep going back for the view!

Some things that have caught my attention:

Baka Boards:
Back at Skaiti I had the chance to meet Edwin Drommel who has single-handedly created a storm in his home country: Holland. Check out his complete range of boards, including LDP boards at Baka Boards

Greenskate
I’ll definitely be out skating  during the Greenskate, but I haven’t had the chance to put anything together for it around Lausanne or Geneva. That reminds me – I have recently found a small group called Geneva Longboarders, hopefully we’ll meet up at some point. However, in Paris they’re having a Greenskate Weekend. With a longboard parade down the Champs Elyses on the Saturday general cruise session, followed by a Push Race in central Paris and a slide jam, I’m sure it’ll be one to remember.

Paul’s to the wall
I love this video as it captures the highs and lows of longboard training. I hope to meet this guy someday! You can watch the video here.

Secret product alert
Well, it isn’t that secret seeing as it has been in the Concretewave’s buyers guide but Mischo Erban, world longboard speeed record holder was riding special Tekton Bearings from Seismic…I need more info on these babies if anyone has any!

That’s all for now folks…I’m hopefully soon going to discover the secrets of the Vallée de la Jeunesse! Here is what I’ve heard about it so far… “there’s an awesome downhill in Lausanne, the Vallee de la Jeunesse… it even has signs telling people to watch out for speeding skaters! There’s a pool next to the road too.” Can’t wait…


Looks good enough to eat…

Makers of what has already been named as the distance longboarder’s wheel of choice, Seismic have a long history of bringing out innovative and top-quality products. Used on many a distance trip from my first UK trip (Bath 2 Bristol 2009 – pic below) to many hundreds of miles in South America and England the 85mm
Speed Vents have proven their worthiness…in the DH and Slalom world Seismic have a solid (more…)


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