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Maple: California Classic

The Vitals

Length:    44"
Width:    9.5"
Seven ply maple laminate with double kicktail, wheel cutouts, and lateral concave.

When I got this board, I was looking for a good all-around deck. I wanted something that would work well in all situations--bank riding, carving, or just farting around on the blacktop at the local school yard--and it came very close to living up to all of that.

The deck's biggest strength is its shape. The 9 1/2-inch width makes it turn real easy. It retains much of that width at the nose and tail. Three inches back from it is still almost seven inches wide. Similarly, it is quite wide at the tail. Throw a concave on top of all of this, and you get the leverage needed to make this 44-inch board turn much easier than you'd ever think possible.

This is where the cutouts come in handy. Equipped with Independent 166 trucks with soft bushings and large Kryptonics, it doesn't even come close to rubbing, so you can push as hard as you want in turning and not have to worry.

Another great feature of the California Classic is the double kicktail. Kickturns and 360s come real easy off both the nose and tail. Other tricks like walking the dog are easy as well, making it a good freestyle deck. The only problem in this respect stems from the width. While the extra width gives you more margin for error on walking tricks, a poorly placed foot can make the board turn when you're not planning to. Still this is a small price to pay for the superior turnability.

This deck works well in most situations. Set your feet and it will hold just about any line you want it to, and only slight pressure is needed to turn. Then step hard on the rail, and you'll be amazed at how fast it responds.

This brings me to my only serious problem with the board. There was too much flex or in my opinion sag. I recently read a post on the NCDSA from Chris Yandall on this. He was complaining about the "ironing board" technology used in many of today's longboards. He argued for cambered programmed flex decks which spring back into shape with each flex. There is no real spring in this board. It merely sags and rather severely.

In most situations, this is merely an annoyance, but it did occasionally affect performance. In bank riding, the flex seemed to absorb a lot of your momentum in the transition at the bottom, so you don't have that speed to use going up the next bank. Also at my weight (185 lbs.), I was very concerned that it was not strong enough in the middle and that one day it would fail on me.

I decided that I wanted to see how it would work without the flex. I think I've been watching too much Home Improvement lately. I got some oak strips at the lumber yard, made a set of side rails, and bolted them to the bottom of the deck. This effectively took out all of the flex. Unfortunately, it also flattened out much of the concave. Still, I think that it rode a lot better, but the oak against the maple made it squeak more than a tall ship in the high seas. Ultimately, the squeaking became more annoying than the sagging, so I took the rails off. Now I have a deck with lots of extraneous holes on the rails. Oh well, as I always say, "Nothing ventured, nothing screwed up."

In summary, I think that this is a good deck in spite of the flex/sag. It might be less profound for lighter riders. If you are concerned about this and can test drive someone else's noncambered (ironing board technology) flexible longboard, do so. If you like the flex, this may be the board for you. In all other respects, I found it to be a great deck. But if you do not like sagging flex, you should probably stay away the California Classic. I'm sure that it's worse than most.

For more info on the Maple Skateboards, check out the Maple Skateboards web site. I'm not sure whether this is their official web site or not, but it's all I could find. There's nothing on the California Classic, though.

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Nose Wheelie, except where noted otherwise, was written and created by Chris Sturhann.
Copyright © 1997 Chris Sturhann