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An overview summary of LDP equipment in 2024: Part 2 - Brackets, Wheels, Bearings, and Bushings


LDP Equipment 2024 Review - Part 2 - UK Ultraskate

Welcome back. Last week we explored decks & trucks, and in this week's dose of the UK Ultraskates Food for Thought Thursdays we will be exploring brackets, wheels, bearings, and bushings.


 

Brackets:

 

LDP setups, specifically bracket setups, as per the name would suggest, utilise brackets, forks, and zero-degree tails.

Brackets & Forks connect the trucks to the deck. Whilst Forks often offer a set adjusted angle of say 13 degrees and a marginal height benefit with the trucks being dropped through, brackets by comparison often offer a lower ride height, making it easier to push and subsequently increasing efficiency, and can help with ‘pumpability’, and on occasion reduce overall board weight. Moreover, certain brackets such as GBombs composite, DD-stubby, or DDR brackets offer truck angle adjustment.

Zero-degree tails, whilst offering some of the similar benefits of a bracket such as ride height, tails are a separate beast that allows the board to ride straight through varying axle movement manipulations (physics & geometry varies a bit between the designs on the market), that ultimately can substantially help improve the pumpability of the board. - But remember, to pair with a decent front truck (whether RKP or TKP) at the correct angle. (For TKP, typically 25 degrees, and RKP, typically between, 45-60 degrees)  


Brands for 2024: Brands for 2024: 


 

Brackets - New - 2023/24:

 

Brand

Product

Cost

GBomb

Zee Bracket - Gbomb x Loaded

£50 (Pair) - (ex. Shipping)

Note:

As previously mentioned, this is a Loaded x Gbomb collaboration. In essence, Gbomb redesigned their adjustable composite brackets to be fixed, giving us the Zee Brackets in 2023. Whilst intended for the Loaded setup, the Zees are available to be purchased on their own at a very reasonable price of £50 (UK). 


Brand

Product

Cost

Stubby Precision Trucks

The Claw

 £155 (Single) - (ex. Shipping)

Note:

As previously mentioned, following the release of the Stubby MK1 in 2022, 2023 brought about the release of ‘The Claw’. This bracket allows direct interfacing of the MK1 truck to the bracket through the simple removal of the baseplate, as such making it an integrated RKP bracket truck. This is the only product of its kind on the market, outside of a few brands who have copied this idea and produced fixed bracket truck alternatives. Overall, whilst only compatible with the Stubby MK1, this is a very adaptable truck / bracket that is ideal for someone simply looking to save money having a ‘swiss army knife’ truck that offers an abundance of options for experimentation. 

Possible new releases anticipated for 2024.


Brand

Product

Cost

SSS (Super Steady Skates)

S-Fork alongside the Drop I & II

S$149-210 (Single) - (ex. Shipping)

Note:

2023 brought about the release of an exciting line-up of products from brackets to trucks, and 2024 is likely to bring some new releases from SSS. Their brackets have certainly been well received by the community minus a few reported breakages on extreme loads. Overall, worth checking out 2024.


Whilst no new releases are anticipated from the following brands, they are still certainly noteworthy:

  • Exile - Fork

  • Black Dog - F-13 Fork


 

Zero Degree - New - 2023/24:

 


Brand

Product

Cost

SSS (Super Steady Skates)

S-Tail

S$299 (Single) - (ex. Shipping)

Note:

The S-Tail, released in 2023, has taken the community by storm. Following a plateau in new releases on this front, SSS provided us with a great product that truly is a delight to ride / pump. 


Brand

Product

Cost

Black Dog

Zero degree

€99 (Single) - (ex. Shipping)

Note:

2023 release. Decent price point. 


Brand

Product

Cost

LEPSK8

Zero degree torsion tail/truck

$80 (Single) - (ex. Shipping)

Note:

2023/24 release. Now this company has stirred up a fair bit of controversy within the community relating to the ongoing validity of some Chinese manufacturers. Whilst innovation can reside from anywhere including China, Intellectual property (IP), patents, copyrights, and design rights of many products has often been an issue in China, with enforcement of IP ownership being neglected, and where production can go unmonitored. Now of course this isn’t always true, but this is becoming increasingly noticeable within the community. With the increasing demand for better, cheaper products, there have been a number of products emerging from China, from both companies and individuals that appear to replicate designs from more established or ‘authentic’ LDP brands. 

As for the status of LEPSK8, I’m personally still not sure what to think?... Are they ‘authentic’ or mimics? I guess only time will tell. 


As for this tail specifically, reviews seem fairly decent, and for the price it's hard to ignore (being almost consistently over half the price of all other comparable products on the market, before shipping). Now you maybe thinking but how can the price be so low, is quality effected? I guess one could argue the price is reflective of LEPSK8's in house production capacity, and economies of scale, and equally their material selection of 6061 aluminium, instead of the superior, more expensive 7075-t6 alternative, but this doesn't necessarily mean its of 'worse' quality. As I said, people using these largely seem to be happy. But it is also hard to ignore the similarity and fusion of both GBombs TTX, with a single spherical tail like Ecolites & SSS’s.  


Finally, following my post last week I was contacted by a reader who pointed out to me that the reported breakages of some of their products may in fact be ‘falsely’ relating to another Chinese manufacturer copying LEPSK8’s products… Certainly, at this point, all I can say is that the waters feels very mudded at this point. Moreover, I feel this whole topic may have to be further reviewed in a later post.    


Brand

Product

Cost

Ecolite

T-Zero Bracket

$175 (Single) - (ex. Shipping)

Note:

The T-Zero Bracket, released in 2022/23 hasn’t made crazy amounts of noise within the community since its realise, but Ecolite's product appear to be well designed, feedback from users has been positive, and this was arguably the first company to introduce a ‘tail’/bracket that utilised a single spherical bearing and 2 bushings in this configuration. Following their release came variant designs with SSS’s tail, and finally LEPSK8’s this year. 

In addition to the T-Zero bracket Ecolite Longboards also produce a truck alternative, and decks. Product reviews since their release overall appear to be very positive. 


Moreover, we are excited to announce that Ecolite will be supporting this year's UK Ultraskate 2024 prize raffle with a T-Zero Bracket (Tail). So if you’d like to win this amazing prize, don’t forget to sign up for the raffle during the event!


Ecolite Longboards supporting this years UK Ultraskate 2024
Ecolite Longboards supporting this years UK Ultraskate 2024


Whilst no new releases are anticipated from the following brands, they are still certainly noteworthy:

  • GBomb - TTX & TTA Torsion Tails

  • Exile - Insania Zero Degree

  • DT (Don't Trip Skateboards) - Delirium Zero Degree


 

Wheels:

 

Wheels, wheels, wheels… Obviously, without wheels we’re a bit stuck, and we’re not going to get very far…

A topic of high controversy… Now before we get started and I elaborate, you may already be asking yourself ‘But aren’t wheels not just wheels? Those cylindrical things that allow you to roll?’ And of course you’d be right. But in the same way there are a multitude of options for car or bicycle wheels all intended for different terrains and purposes, at varying price points, there are wheels suited best for different criteria within longboarding.

The controversy within the community inevitably arises through varying product experiences of riders, and bold claims that spur week long debates on who's right, but ultimately it all often needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, and more holistically considered. Often reviews will disacknowledge simple contributing factors such as geography and typical weather, let alone, let's not forget we are all capable of experiencing things differently, whether as a result of riding experience, ride style, or personal physiology.


So I think before we get too sidetracked, it's probably not a bad idea we first clarify and consider the basic terminology:


  • Durometer (aka ‘Duro’) - ‘Durometer’ typically measured with a Shore durometer, is a self-referencing scale that compares the ‘hardness’ of materials, typically polymers | elastomers | plastics. Higher numbers on the scale indicate a greater resistance to ‘indentation’ and thus a harder material, whilst lower numbers indicate less resistance to ‘indentation’ and subsequently a softer material. Duro in wheels typically affects:

  • Traction - How well the wheel ‘sticks’ to the ground. The softer the wheel, so the lower the duro, the ‘stickier’ it gets. Whilst traction is important (particularly in wet and cold conditions), too lower duro (especially in warm weather) will lead to greater roll resistance. 

  • Roll resistance - All materials that are in contact with one another experience a resistance / friction. Roll resistance, sometimes also called ‘rolling friction’ or ‘rolling drag’, is the force resisting the motion when a body rolls on a surface. And as suggested previously, duro can affect roll resistance, as the softer the wheel the greater the resistance. But wheel width, aka ‘contact points/patches’ also contribute to this resistance. 

  • Vibration absorption - It seems intuitive and a bit of a given, but lower softer duros offer greater absorption of vibrations from the ground than higher harder duros. In turn, softer duro can offer a nicer smoother ride experience.  

  • Diameter - Effectively the wheel size. In LDP, we tend to like wheels to be bigger. The ideal tends to go from an 80mm ‘street wheel’ (suitable for a number of longboarding disciplines as well as LDP), to an average 85-92mm, through to a whopping 105mm. Now of course, wheel size effects roll, and often ‘the bigger the wheel the better the roll’, but the caveat is that often bigger wheels are heavier, and in turn often the benefits are balanced, if not out-weight but the downsides. Hence, why many of us will often stick to 85-92mm.

  • Contact patch - ‘Contact patch’ refers to the portion of a wheel that is in actual contact with the road surface during travel. As much of what I've highlighted so far, it's pretty intuitive. The larger the contact patch, the more surface area in contact with the ground, and one would assume greater roll resistance. But whilst this is largely true, this isn’t always the case in practice, as this will equally be impacted by material, duro, and subsequent ‘stickiness’. Equally, whilst we might think of these resistance to be ‘bad’, they are in fact an important element within the physics of how we can pump a board. But I would argue, for LDP, especially ultras, you probably don’t want to be running anything too wide with an ‘overly’ large contact patch as this probably will take more work to move, and ultimately become inefficient..

  • Material - Urethane, used to make wheels. Like many things these days, there isn’t just one type of Urethane, but many proprietary formulations produced by different companies. Examples include ‘Defcon’ & ‘BlackOps’ from Seismic, ‘Hemotox Pro’ from Boa, ‘Happy thane’ from Orangatang, alongside others. These formulations all offer different characteristics to wheels, that is individual to each company, and experience is different between riders.  Notes: Some formulations are more prone to ‘chunking’ than others. What is chunking? It's effectively where chunks of your wheel break off. Don’t worry, your wheels aren’t going to chunk apart spontaneously! Chunking only really happens with some formulations (such as soft Defcons), and it tends to only happen within the first month or two of opening a fresh pack as they take a little while to ‘cure’ to their finished state. To avoid this, simply ride your wheels, and be delicate with your board during the ‘curing period’, being careful not to drop your board on the ground. In the moment, when you're about to ride it can be tempting to think you’re Michael J. Fox in ‘Back to the future’ about to ride off on an epic adventure, and just simply drop your board to the ground, but chances are your wheels are going to hit the ground at an angle and chunk. So wait a month or so before doing that..

  • Core - Often to reduce weight, wheels will have cores. Cores allow the interfacing of wheels to the axles of a truck hanger, and don’t have to be made of urethane, reducing weight and cost (on otherwise expensive proprietary urethane). But cores can be designed to improve vibration absorption, and interface with motors for e-skate purposes.

  • Grooves - Whilst not typically found amongst most LDP specific wheels, some brands such as Boa and Orangatang, alongside aftermarket brands like ‘Harfang’ offer ‘grooved’ wheels. As the name would suggest, they have grooves or tread, which can offer greater traction (especially in wet conditions), whilst limiting roll resistance through a reduced contact patch. (Depending on the amount of material removed, there can be weight savings, but often these are negligible for most riders).     


Now on wheels for 2024: 


 

Wheels - New - 2023/24

 

Brand

Product

Cost

Note:

Pantheon

Karma 92mm & Hoku 102mm

$99-129  - (ex. Shipping)

New release for 2023. Great reviews. 




Brand

Product

Cost

Note:

Boa 


Constrictor 100mm, and the Race Wheels (Stage 5 Fangs)

$130-180 - (ex. Shipping)

New releases for 2023. Great reviews. 

Boa 

Hatchlings 90mm V3

$80 - (ex. Shipping)

New releases for 2023. Great reviews. 


Orangatang Wheels

Brand

Product

Cost

Note:

Orangatang (Loaded)

Dad Bods 105mm

£123 - (ex. Shipping)

New release for 2023. Great reviews. Big wheels… Maybe a bit excessive for some, and wheelbite may be an issue on some setups.

Orangatang (Loaded)

Caguama 85mm and Kegels 80mm

£64-72 - (ex. Shipping)

Not new, but great beginner wheels, and Kegels are suitable for a few different disciplines of longboarding such as dance. 


Whilst no new releases are anticipated from the following brands, they are still certainly noteworthy:


Brand

Product

Cost

Note:

Seismic

Speed vents and MegaWatts

$92-125 - (ex. Shipping)

Firm favourite amongst many riders.

Abec 11 

Flywheels 83-107mm and ReFly 90, 97, and 107mm

£99-190

- (ex. Shipping)

Great wheels. 


 

Bearings:

 

Bearings are an important element of your setup. They not only allow your wheel to connect to the axle, but they allow your wheel to roll ‘freely’ without resistance on the axle. But of course, there is always a resistance, and in the case of bearings, this often relates to the precision of their production. Moreover, the designs of the encasement, alongside the bearings material (steel or ceramic), and number of balls will all affect performance and wear resistance. The ABEC scale is an industry accepted standard for the tolerances of a ball bearing, and provides bearing manufacturers dimensional specifications to meet the standards of precision bearings in a specified class. But often in the practice for longboarding/skateboarding, these ABEC ratings are often negligible as this is not always reflective of performance. 

Simply put, stick to the reputable brands, and whether steel or ceramic, both are good. (Ceramics will last longer in principle, but this will be dependent on how the board is typically handled, and maintenance). 


No new releases anticipated for 2024, but great brands include:

  

  • Zealous - Fantastic quality sealed bearings at a great price, that will keep you rolling. 

  • GBomb - Again, like many GBomb products, their bearings are really well made, and will last, but of course at a higher price point. 


More known within skateboarding, but still good:


  • Bones - The OG Skateboarders choice. Whilst once upon a time I would have chosen these hands down over other brands (aka back in the 90s/2000s), and whilst I still have a few packs of these bearings amongst my gear, I have to be honest that for the same budget price point as Reds, you would be much better off buys some Zealous Classics. 


Bushings: 


Bushings… The basics: Firstly, bushings typically sit in the bushing seats on both sides of a truck hanger, and offer rebound to trucks. Bushings come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials (largely proprietary polymer formulations).


RipTide APS Bushing Guide

Bushing setup can be a highly subjective topic, but really it all comes to personal preference. The bushing durometer defines how hard the bushing is. The higher the durometer the harder it is, and vice versa. Typically bushings go from 60a - 100a. But different materials for bushings can ride harder or softer than they test and certain companies will provide indication of this. In turn, ultimately it may take some playing around with and experimenting with different duro bushings alongside mixing duros roadside (rs) and boardside (bs) to find what's right for you. (But as a general rule, if you're mixing bushings, place the harder duro bushing (bs), with the softer (rs).

Moreover, if you're new to the topic consider small incremental changes from what you are currently riding, and don’t make the mistake of dropping down to a too lower duro, as this will often lead to undue stress on the KP, and especially on RKP trucks, lead to quicker KP breakages.


As for products, I cannot honestly say there have been any new releases on this front that have particularly caught my attention, but I can say the only place I would recommend going for the best bushings on the market is RipTide Sports Inc.


RipTide has a longstanding reputation for delivering the best bushings on the market, bringing with them decades of experience in the sector, and offering an excellent variety of products. 


Moreover, we are extremely pleased to announce, our friends at RipTide our once again sponsoring this year's UK UltraSkate 2024, and will additionally be supplying us with a variety of prizes to be won at this year's raffle!


RipTide x UK Ultraskate 2024

 

Conclusion:

 

My conclusions for this week are, personally, as I’ve said before, I'm too broke to have spares wheels for every day of the week. So whilst there are a number of great options out there, I would suggest being frugal, buying intelligently, and thinking utilitarian. Do your research, and think about what's going to serve you best personally on a day to day basis. Unless you have the money to spare, buying wheels can become an expensive ‘hobby’. And the same applies for brackets and tails. I like 85mm Speed Vents (pink and mint), but I know a lot of people will have varying opinions, and equally I like the Stubby MK1 with the Claw in the front, and the SSS S-Tail on the rear. Ultimately, to find what you like, go with the norm to start with, and try as many setups as you can along your journey to help you find what works for you. 


As for bearings, ultimately, I would recommend going for Zealous Builtins (£18) if you're on a budget as these offer fantastic value for money, or if you have a bit more money to spare, considering the ceramic versions, or GBomb. 


And as for bushings, Riptide are your guys. And as I said above, if you're new to the topic consider small incremental changes from what you are currently riding, and don’t make the mistake of dropping down to a too lower duro. Nor equally, going so high your trucks feel dead. 


Thanks for tuning into this week's UK Ultraskate Food for thought Thursdays! Catch you next week.


(And always, If anybody has some suggestions, or if you feel I have missed something, please feel free to post in the comment on our FB group).

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