First, I want to start by saying that this is one of the best looking skateboards you are going to find, anywhere. This has nothing to do with fancy graphics or outrageous shapes. It is simply a beautifully crafted wooden deck, and it is the beauty of the wood that makes it stand out. This one was ash with purple heart stringers and more ash completing the rails. Clear grip tape serves as a constant reminder that you are riding as much a work of art as a skateboard.
At first, I found this to be a problem, because I would cringe every time I scraped the tail on the ground. Eventually I put a plastic skid plate on the tail and that alleviated many of these fears, and from that point on, it became my favorite all-around deck. Once I started riding it harder, I found that I didn't have to be so concerned. It proved to be a very tough board. The dings I was so concerned about making were barely noticeable, giving character to a still wonderful looking board.
Mike Lorenzen, who handcrafts each deck, says that he wanted to replicate the feel of his old Sims longboard from the 1970s. He wasn't happy with the current ply laminate longboards, so a woodworker by trade, he started building his own. The results are spectacular. He currently has six different models, ranging from a flexible 43 x 7 1/4 inch model to a 60 x 9 1/4 incher. He will also build a deck to a custom shape on request. Each deck is hand numbered. Mine was No. 073, and he currently is in the mid-eighties.
The model I tried was 45 inches. It weighs about the same as my 42 inch Variflex longboard. Although there is some give, this is a stiff board. You only notice it give when you step on and look at the board's shadow to see that it flexes by maybe a quarter of an inch. The shape is somewhat reminiscent of the old Logan Earth Ski, Bruce Logan Model, rather narrow tail building width as you move forward and then sloping to a pointed nose.
Yeah, I know what you are thinking. You don't care what it looks like. You want to know how it rides. Okay, it is the bomb. I don't mean this in the hip-hop "da bomb" sense of the word. This board is a bomb. It maintains momentum and dampens vibrations better than any board I've ever ridden. This alone makes it a valuable addition to any longboard quiver.
Put a good-turning set of trucks on it, and it carves great, giving a nice stable ride. If you're used to a concave board, you're going to have to work a little harder to get it to do what you want, but personally, I like that. Plus, the board's inherent stability at speed more than offsets any slight turning deficits. You're probably not going to want to take it on the halfpipe, but that's probably true of most longboards. On banks and mellow skateparks, it's a blast, especially if you can find a fast carving run, where speed and line are more important than tight maneuvering.
There are two areas where the board really shines--first, as a commuter deck and second, as a freestyle hotdogging longboard. By commuter deck, I mean a board that you ride as transportation. On Fridays, I sometimes ride my skateboard to work, roughly 6-8 miles. This board is great for this type of trip. The stable ride that I keep coming back to over and over takes much of the worry out of skating over unfamiliar streets and sidewalks. The tank-like quality of the wood deck makes all but the very worst cracks and driveway transitions seem like nothing.
As a hotdogging board, the stiffness and the stable ride make almost any trick easier. On surf-style walking tricks, it's great. You don't have to worry about stepping too far to the side and turning when you don't want to. I find that I can take shorter faster steps, because I'm less concerned about it getting away from me. (Most times, I can take four cross steps to get to the nose.)
My only real problem with the board is the lack of a kicktail, but Mike says he can do one with kicktail. Even so, it has been intelligently mounted so that you have a good amount of leverage on the tail. This is a superior deck, and I can heartily recommend it. I'm sure all of the other models would be killer as well.
Old Growth Custom Longboards can be ordered as decks or completes (set up with Independent 166s or 215s, Kryptonics 70 mm's, and good bearings). Decks run $50.00 and completes are $125.00, plus another $10.00 to $15.00 for shipping. For more information, contact:
Old Growth Custom Longboards
7755 South Santa Fe Drive
Littleton, CO 80120
Nose Wheelie, except where noted otherwise, was written and created by Chris Sturhann.
Copyright © 1998 Chris Sturhann