Christmas has finally come and gone. I can now ride the Phase One (P1) dropdown longboard (specifications and price also listed) that my dog ‘gave’ me for Christmas. I took the longboard for a 9 km ride this morning with my trusty dog running alongside. Initial impressions of the dropdown board were very good.
My understanding is that dropdown skateboards were originally designed for downhill speed work. This skateboard, while being relatively cheap, fits that role.
Let me start the discussion with the speed issue. Given my experience with my Phase 1 42″ longboard, I had been concerned about the wheels/bearings being slow. The eBay seller, eskatestuff, states in the listing, “these wheels are truly fast”. I was doubtful.
In fact, the wheels/bearings on the dropdown longboard are deceptively fast. While pushing across flat ground I knew they were much faster than the original wheels on my Phase 1 42″ longboard, I had thought that they were still slower than the ABEC 11 70’s Flashback wheels and Bones Reds skateboard bearings that I had custom fitted.
The first run down my test hill showed that the wheels/bearings on the Phase 1 dropdown boardÂ were equal to the ABEC 11 70’s Flashbacks and Bones Reds bearings on my 42″ longboard. I will need to do further testing, but I am in no hurry to replace the wheels/bearings at this stage.
I noticed that at the end of 9 km the wheels were not warm like the original 42″ longboard wheels, perhaps indicating that they had not absorbed as much energy and were indeed a more efficient wheel.
Now to the stability of the Phase 1 dropdown longboard. Yes, it is very stable downhill with absolutely no sign of speed wobbles on my favourite hill (and my test hill). However, initial impressions are that the carve-ability of the board has been sacrificed for stability. Why should this be when the trucks/pads are apparently identical? — T282 7″ (180 mm) 50 degree raw aluminium trucks mounted on 8/14 mm TPR angle pads.
There are two obvious reasons for this. Take a look at the photo below showing my Phase 1 dropdown longboard (front/left) and Phase 1 42″ longboard (rear/right). (The 42″ longboard has custom ABEC 11 70’s Flashback wheels and Bones Reds bearings fitted.)
Firstly, the dropdown longboard places the centre of gravity lower, meaning a more stable board. This is a feature of the design. If you do not like it, you should not have bought a dropdown skateboard!
Secondly, look at how the trucks/pads are mounted. While the 42″ longboard is practically flat (in fact, pointing slightly downwards due to the board’s convex) at the mounting point, the dropdown longboard is at a significant angle pointing upwards. This means that the trucks are raked well out on the dropdown board, providing increased stability.
I have not bought these boards for high speed downhill work. As long as the boards are stable at speeds as fast as my dog can sprint (which is much faster than I can run!), then I am happy. What I do value however, is the ability to carve the dotted white line down the road at lower speeds.
When I take off the trucks to remove the remaining pieces of plastic the board was wrapped in, I am going to rotate the riser pads so that the fat end is towards the outside of the board. This should increase the steering angle, providing increased carve-ability. When I have done this, I will post a comment about the results.
Those with a keen eye may notice in the above picture that the trucks on the Phase 1 42″ longboard (right) appear to be wider than the trucks on the dropdown longboard (left). This is simply because the wheels on the dropdown longboard have offset hubs, moving the wheels inwards by about 1 cm from the position of the 42″ longboard wheels with sideset hubs.
The offset hubs give the dropdown longboard a slightly narrower wheel base than the 42″ longboard. This means that you do not have to step out quite so far when pushing to clear the wheels. This is definitely an advantage.
And while we are on the subject of pushing, the dropdown longboard is close to the ground, making it really easy to push the board. This makes the board great for someone using it for transport or to commute on.
Overall, I think that the Phase 1 dropdown longboard is great value for money. With its better quality wheels, it is perhaps even better value than the Phase 1 42″ longboard.
Update 6 April 2008: It appears that eskatestuff are no longer selling these skateboards under the Phase 1 name. Their current boards are branded Vault.