Review of the Nexus from Pantheon

 

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Modern downhill skating made a gigantic leap forward when people started doing innovative things with how truck are mounted on a deck. Whether it was the extra-delayed response from the decks, the coolness factor that simply it’s never been done before, or simply because it looks way cooler to passers-by, the dropped platform deck is one which revolutionized downhill skateboarding. It may have fallen out of the “cool” in recent years, but let’s not forget what got you youngsters rolling down hills: those who paved the way before you.

Taking an updated and ergonomic approach towards a good old friend of a longboard is Pantheon Longboards, with their offering the Nexus. We sent our riders down hills and all over most things a skate wheel can roll over, and then documented our results. The Nexus Pantheon impressed us in more ways than one. With no further delay, let’s get to the good stuff.

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Specs

Length: 36”
Width: 10”
Wheelbase: 30”
Drop: 1”
Concave: Radial
Mounting: Drop Through

Setup As Tested

Trucks: Ronin Billet 40*/40*
Wheels: Orangatang Cages 80a, Orangatang Kegels 80a, Venom Cannibals 76mm/76a
Bearings: Zealous
Grip: Vicious
Bushings: 91a Venom SHR Tall Barrel top/92a Ronin bottom

Initial Impressions

We received the deck well packaged and wrapped from Pantheon, which is the operation of long-distance skating extraordinaire, outspoken skate ethics advocate, and general good friend of the longboard industry, Jeff Vyain. Jeff has been a big part of the skate world over the last few years and it’s folks like him who keep good things happening in the culture of this hobby we all have.

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The deck is a double drop mounted board, meaning it not only has a dropped standing platform, but it also comes with the option of drop through mounting the trucks. The ends of the board are chopped, which means two things: 1) one can mount up trucks on the board without having to disassemble them and 2) the furthest most point on the deck is going to be the baseplate of the truck. This can be an advantage when taking impacts on curbs because given a head-on collision, the baseplate is going to hit first and will probably hold up better than wood.

The bends in the wood are fun to look at. If you’ve never done any board building before, you ought to, if for no other reason than you’ll appreciate more what’s going on with drop decks and exactly how much and what kind of forces it takes to get wood to bend in funny ways. And there’s plenty of bending going on in this board. We talked to Jeff at Pantheon about the design of the board, he described it as “based off of bends that can be made with paper”. It makes sense that wood, as an organic material as well, can be twisted into similar ways. This kind of skater/designer insight really makes us appreciate thing thinking that went into this deck.

The board itself isn’t as long as you’d expect from a deck with a solid 30” wheelbase. It’s only 36” inches long, and not a lot of that is wheel cutout, so it looks very much stout and a little smaller than it really is. The concave is deep and radial, there’s no lack of it on the Nexus. The drop to the board isn’t gigantic, but definitely is steep and you know where it is. It’s the drop is over a very short area and creates for more riding platform than we thought from such a small deck. Additionally, the steep drop creates for a perfect place to wedge our feet against.

The graphic is striking, to say the least. We’re skaters, not art critics, but the work done on the underside of the Nexus is enjoyable. One could ponder the implementations of what the artwork means, but we’ll talk about what we know and go work on toeside checks.

Riding Impressions

We mounted up the board and went to a local freeride hill a few blocks from our house. We put on our trusty Ronin trucks on 40/40* baseplates with some fresh Orangatang Cages in 80a. The hill has some pretty beat up, drifty pavement that makes for plenty of smiles on a nice afternoon of skating with our pals. Gripped up, we pushed the Nexus to the spot and it was certainly a dream for scooting around on. The first thing we noticed is that the dropped platform really excels for transportation and commuting.

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It’s been a good minute since we’ve spent a serious amount of time freeriding a double drop deck and we forgot how much fun they are. The breakout of the slide is much easier than our topmounts, and not in a bad way. It’s fun having a drifty board, honestly. We appreciate the level of control we’ve gained from topmounts over the years, but without there’s still a reason to own and skate a dropped deck as well. The slides were bigger than we are used to with a slightly different feeling of not having our weight directly over our trucks.

However that being said, it was fun to have a deck where our form didn’t have to be “perfect”, as in, we could be a little sloppier with our form in slides and still sort of muscle our way through the last part of slides without fear of highsiding. The Nexus without a doubt is a deck which makes learning new slides a little easier, simply because there is that little bit extra wiggle room. Set up with the right pair of trucks and a slippery set of wheels, this deck can be a dream come true for any new skater who’s still having trouble getting Coleman slides to break loose. (Silverfish forum warriors be wary: we know you can slide on any setup, we’re saying this one slides easier)

Predrifts were honestly pretty dreamy. Wheels slide easier on double drops. While this does mean we needed a little earlier planning when drifting into a corner, it by no means implies you can’t go really fast on double drops. It was not long ago that a little skater named Douglas Dalua won a few pretty big races on a double dropped board. Admittedly, Mr. Dalua could outskate everyone on the Consortium Reviews squad on a scooter, the fact remains that great things can happen on any kind of deck. To say that the double drop is dead wouldn’t be doing it justice.

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So as we were saying before we were trying to justify our experience of having fun on a non-popular skateboard design (remind us to do that never again), the deck does the whole speed thing well. We swapped out the 80a Cages for 80a Otang Kegels. The cool part about big cutouts, of course, is big ol’ skate wheels. These puppies just roll and roll forever, and we put them sideways into some pretty tight little corners with about as much control as one can have while speeding on a skateboard down a hill. We swapped out the Kegels for some Venom Cannibals in 76mm/76a. These wheels are the grip forever wheel that we actually think matches up better than the Kegels with the Nexus. The extra grippy wheels plus the easier breakout of the slide actually made for a more enjoyable downhill experience for us as riders. The balance between a deck that wants to break loose and wheels that don’t want to break loose was a good place for us to ride.

The concave was uncompromising and just the way we like it: deep and constant. The drops make neat little pockets to jam parts of your foot into. Often we complain about not getting enough leverage over the front trucks with drop or double drop decks, but due to the drop being so quick, or over such a small distance, it wasn’t as big of a deal for us. It’s certainly not riding toes on the nose any time soon, but it better recreates the feeling of that leverage from a topmount than we’ve seen in other double drops.

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The wheel base is certainly lengthy, but running softer bushings than usual kept the feeling lively and fun. Going quick on this board was through and through enjoyable. Plenty of our skater pals who gave it a shot agreed.

Criticisms

We don’t have much to say except that if this deck isn’t for you, it definitely isn’t for you. If you hate double drop decks, then the Nexus is probably one of the best offerings to satisfy what you’re looking for, but let’s be serious, you probably just want a topmount anyhow.

Secondarily, the EFP is on the small side. We didn’t have any issue with keeping our feet on the board, but if your stance is excessively outside the norm, maybe look elsewhere. It’s not the hugest board in the world, so consider that.

Conclusions

The Nexus Pantheon is one of the finest double drop offerings we’ve ever skated. It’s clearly a double drop from 2014; it has elements of those speedboards which paved the way we race down hills, but it’s updated and finely tuned. Honestly it’s about as good as one can do on a double drop. We applaud Pantheon for this.

And it should be noted, we like Pantheon too! Jeff Vyain is skateboarding. He’s the ethics, he’s the athlete, he’s the enjoyment. We don’t think anyone should think twice about funding a good standing company like that. Pantheon is by skaters for skaters, and that’s still worth something today.

The Nexus is about as well designed a double drop board can be, quite honestly. We realize everything comes up to personal preference with a skateboard, but this one falls right smack in the middle of where we’d want everything. Keep it on your radar if you’re in the market for a deck to do a number of things really well on. 

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