Thursday, August 26, 2021

The Big Four: Ace vs. Indy vs. Thunder vs. Venture

 I recently revisited the four major trucks brands. 

Below is a ultra stripped-down product review/comparison of each. But don't take my opinion as dogma. Try them and find out what works best for you.

Ace 44 AF1 (8.25")
"Squirrel Tanks." These are heavier than standard Indys. I could not get passed this. I constantly noticed it. The stock bushing are mush. Combine that with Ace's shorter wheelbase, and these things ride like "squirrel tanks." Due to non-standard sizing of Ace bushing, there is no easy swap-out for aftermarket bushings.* Some fawn over how Ace trucks looks. I am not one of them. I think they look like something you'd get on a Wal-Mart board. Oh, the sound. How could I forget that? Something about these trucks (the pre-oiled pivot cups??) made my board sound like it was just pulled out of a swamp--a horrific water-logged, deaden, thud. I can't deal with that. Oh, they are really expensive, too. And I'm not even going to touch on the fiasco with with their sizing catastrophe. Different is one thing. Dumb is another. Lot of the latter going on over there. All this said, Ace trucks do turn really well, and have a nice surfy feeling. I can see why people like them. I, however, am not one of them. I should also note that since they have the shortest wheelbase of the group, they have the "worst" pinch (e.g. krooked grinds).
Squirrel turn.
Sound like Swamp Monster.
A lesser pinch.
*Ace now makes a "hard" aftermarket bushing if you want your trucks a bit tigher....but they still ride quite loose. 
Thunder 148 Team Hollows (8.25")

I didn't totally hate these. Wait. Yes, I did (but not as much as Ace). They are tad lower than my Indys, and have almost the exact same wheelbase. The turn, however, is very different. It's a much stiffer turn (at first), but then goes kind of quick at the end, and then snaps back to level. Even with softer bushing my trucks felt "tight." I found myself doing lots of tick-tacks. No fun. I tried a few different bushings types and hardnesses in these. Nothing felt really good. They had a decent grind. The slightly lower truck height made my pop feel a little more...flat. These might be better suited for a deck with steep kicks, but I am not about to switch out trucks based on the deck I am riding. The real deal-breaker on these is the baseplate issue. Even if you were to assume that I could make these turn/pop like my Indys, I'll never get passed the Thunder baseplate problem. Yeah, you can nose/tail slide on Thunders. That said, there is less room for margin of error and/or you need a lot more wax, and it becomes a lot more like a power slide (e.g. wheels rubbing) than a nose/tail slide. Hard pass for me. Thunders, however, have some of the best pinch on the market.
Souless turn.
Wonky pop.
Absurd baseplate.
Killer pinch. 
Venture Hollows 5.6 (8.25")
The lightest of the bunch (but only by a tad). Oddly, I liked these more than Thunders, despite Ventures also having the longest (by far) wheelbase of the group. I put stock 90a Indy bushing in these, and they felt...meh. Certainly not a super-quick turn, but a turn that felt decent. Venture are notorious for a stiff "turn." Weird grind. Metal seems harder than any of the others. Ace, Thunder, and Indy all have a round metal encasing around the axle. Venture does not. Theirs is more of a "straight wall" of hanger. I feel like the rounded axle encasing of the others helps with grinds, whereas the "wall" of Ventures has a tendency to catch more (esp. on chunky ledges/curbs). Best kingpin clearance of the bunch for Feeble/Smith grinds. I also think these trucks look a little...weird, almost 1960s SciFi-ish (which is normally a great look). And again, weird baseplate issues. There are two problems with Venture baseplates. First, is the outermost hardware mounting holes are so far under the hanger (or the hanger is so far out over the baseplate) that it makes its really difficult to get a skate tool on the mounting hardware bolts. This is just absurd. Second, is the exact opposite problem of Thunders; Venture baseplates stick quite far out*--more so than any other truck on the market. Thus, the extended baseplate gives you a smaller effective nose/tail (e.g. less space to balance on). I mean, we are talking small amounts here, but it's enough that (a) I can notice it, and (b) it occupies space/causes mental doubt in my head about nose/tail slides. Last, Ventures with their long wheelbase also have great pinch.
Weird grinds.
Meh turn.
Meh-er looks.
Baseplate calamities.
Good pinch.
*NOTE: The forged Venture baseplates are the ones that stick out kind of far. The cast/regular baseplates are about the same size as Ace/Indy (e.g. normal). Also, the forged plate Ventures have a longer wheel base (.25" longer) than the cast plate Ventures. There is also a height difference between the two. I think forged was around 52mm and cast was around 54/55mm. 
Indy Titanium (or any forged Indy) 144 (8.25")
I saved the best for last. No baseplate issues. Not too heavy, not too light (these are actually a few grams lighter than the Thunder Team Hollows). Smooth consistent turn (with lots of aftermarket bushings to get exact turn feel you want--super loose, to super tight). Mid-sized wheelbase. Mid-sized height. Every truck listed above has some kind of "problem" with it (weight, turn, grind, baseplate, appearance, etc.). Indy has none of those, at least for me. Everything else always gets compared to Indys, for a reason. A friend said it best, "If you are trying to get your trucks to ride like Indys, then just ride Indys." Pinch is better than Ace, but not as good as Thunder/Venture.
Note: Forged Indys are 53.5mm tall. Standard Indys are 55mm tall. Standards are too tall for me, and get a little ghost-pop at times. The forged ones are a great mid-level height, on par with most other trucks. The mid-Indys (mIndys) are 52mm tall, but those things have a host of other problems I'm not getting into here.        


  1. I am no an Indy fanboy at all. I hate their historical use of fascist imagery to appeal to adolescent minds. Most people who blabber about how good Indys turn don't have the slightest idea how to set up their trucks, often having the locknut so loose the hanger is about to fall off.

    BUT -- they work, and I see no reason to ride anything else at this point. I like them.

  2. Here's another thing about Thunders. If you want to use a riser pad, normal one's don't fit the footprint of the trucks. Because they baseplates are done stupidly. You have to get Thunder-specific risers.

    1. DLX does a lot of good stuff, but they have a real blind spot when it comes to baseplates.

    2. Generally, skate parts should be universal.