Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Clash of the Titans: Thunder v. Indy

Snow in Boston. Temps in the single digits for the next week or so. Not much skating going on. Hence, here comes a bunch of blog posts. Let's dive in with Indy v. Thunders.

Trucks Compared
-Indy 144 8.25” Forged Hollows (53.5mm), with Bones Bushings
-Thunder 148 8.25” Team Hollow Lights (49.78mm*), with stock bushings

Well, despite this post, I am riding Indys again. I had written a much longer review/response, but I’m just stripping it down to the basics. Here are the main points I figured out after riding Thunders for 6 months or so.

(1)  I like Thunders better for transition because they are lower to the ground.** They feel much more stable/predictable, and much more “sensual” on lip tricks. I feel like I can lock-in to grinds better on transition with Thunders. I was mostly riding tranny the day I said “Indys, you are dead to me,” so that explains how that came about. Had I been riding more actual street that day, I probably would have had pro-Indy results.

**2018 Update: How times change. I am no longer riding Thunders on transition. A few months back, I ended up at a ramp, and only had my street board with me (e.g. Indys). After skating the ramp for awhile, I thought, “Wow, I really like the way these are feeling.” I put Indys back on my ramp board, and have been riding those ever since. Today, I decided to revisit Thunders on transition. I didn’t like them. While the board felt slightly more stable (lower to the ground, wider wheelbase), it just seemed to lack some non-tangible item that I couldn’t put my finger on. Soul, maybe? Indys certainly have that. I have now come full circle with Indys. Somehow that seems fitting. 

(2)  Thunders have a weird baseplate that does not clear the distance of the wheels. This causes problems for me on nose/tailslides (e.g. my WHEELS lock-up on vertical side of curb/ledge unless there is a turbostupid amount of wax). Look at these two photos below. One is an Indy, another is a Thunder. Both have Spitfire 53mm wheels. On Thunders the WHEELS hit the edge, and the baseplate does not. On Indys (and every other truck on the market), the edge of the baseplates hits, and the wheels don’t. As a result, I can nose/tail slide much better on Indys than I can on Thunders (e.g. because there is no “wheel bite” on Indys).

Indy. Baseplate touches the wall. Wheels do not. No "wheel bite."

Thunder. Baseplate does not touch the wall, but the wheels do. Nothing but "wheel bite."

(3)  Indys are taller than Thunders. Thus, they give me more pop. Watch this video with Prof. Paul Schmitt, as he explains the science of “pop” as it relates to board height. When Prof. Schmitt talks, you should listen. For me ANY ollie/nollie trick on Indys feels like it requires less effort and is more controlled than with Thunders, DESPITE Indys being noticeably heavier than Thunders. Yeah, I could add a riser, but then I’d have trucks as tall as Indys, with weird baseplates, that don’t turn as good as Indys…so, what’s the point? The height difference between Thunders and Indy is small, but combine that with the shorter wheel base of Indys, and I can absolutely notice a difference.

(4)  Nothing turns / feels as good as Indys. Nothing. I missed that while riding Thunders. I am always surprised to hear some people says Thunders turn better than Indys. Thunders have a longer wheelbase, by almost ¼ inch, which is a huge amount in wheelbase terms. I found Thunders to turn noticeably slower than Indys. I accredited that to the longer wheelbase.

I am not some pro who can rip on any skateboard. I need to pick and choose equipment that works best with the skill set I’ve got, and plays to my own strengths and weaknesses. Thunders weaken my nose/tail slides because of their “shorter” baseplate. I don’t seem to have this problem with Indys. Thunders don’t seem to “pop” as good as Indys, due to their lower height. Indys simply turn better.  My dream would be a Deluxe-made truck that has Independent height and geometry, but with reduced metal (like Thunders) to make them lighter. Why Deluxe? Because they are concerned about a lot more than just profit margins. Not sure I can say that about NHS.

Ben Degros does a good Thunder 149 v. Indy 149 review on his YouTube channel. If you watch Ben’s review, you will see he and I agree on some of the exact same points, and differ on a few others (granted, we reviewing slightly different trucks).  

*This Thunder add claims that Team Hollows are 49.78mm high. Tactics claims they are 50.78mm high. When I measured my pair, I found them to be 51mm high. There is no such controversy with Indy forged--they are 53.5mm high, and everyone claims that, even my tape measure (standard Indys are 55mm high).    


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