Review Of The Loaded Kanthaka

 

Discovering the New Loaded Kanthaka Skateboard

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This is the Loaded Kanthaka, a longboard unique by its uncanny resemblance to a standard street skateboard. In the evolution of longboarding and skateboarding as a whole, sometimes history repeats itself. Riders revisit classic shapes and adapt them to their new and unique riding styles. This prompts companies such as Loaded to work on these shapes and help evolve them into something new and uniquely exciting. This evolution includes an infusion of new construction techniques and hi-tech materials.

One short glance at the Kanthaka and you could easily pass it as an elongated street deck, but you’d be wrong. But of course, you are a longboarder… and longboarder with a keen eye. So you know there is a lot more going on here - Probably something very special. Well, we’re here to find out just what that is. But let’s take a look at the numbers first.

 

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Loaded Kanthaka Specs

Length:                                                              36” / 91.4 cm

Width (available in 8.625” and 8.875”):                 8.625 (tested) / 21.9 cm

Wheelbase:                                                        17.5” / 44.5 cm

Thickness:                                                         .4375” (7/16”) / 1.1 cm

Concave depth (approximate):                            .25” (1/4”) / .635 cm

Weight as built:                                                 6 lbs 15 oz. / 3.15 kg

Setup:

Loaded Kanthaka 8.625”

Trucks:

Independent 149

Wheels:

oFirst setup: Orangatang Fat Free Yellow

Bearings: Bones Red

Bushings: Bones Hardcore - Hard

Truck setup: Medium

 

First look

First of all, a very interesting concept is that unlike a standard skateboard the Loaded Kanthaka is fully symmetrical. In theory, this allows the rider to completely concentrate on the tricks and slides without being concerned about getting the board back the right way forward. We think this is something very good in a board like this and we are happy Loaded thought it through well enough to design it this way.

The deck has very pronounced flared wheel arches that double as wheel wells and help deepen the concave exactly inboard of the truck bolts. The concave is deeper than on most street decks but doesn’t measure as deep as other longboards. This is because of the narrow width. Add more width to the board and given the curvature we can see, the concave would measure about as deep as most aggressive freeride decks.

 

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One VERY important shape feature is the bit of rocker the Kanthaka was designed with. Rocker is more obvious on longer boards, as you can really notice the banana shape at length. On a short deck like the Kanthaka, you have to look a bit more closely to see it. But if you put it next to a standard skateboard you can immediately see how the deck curves down a bit towards the center in comparison to the arrow straight profile of the standard deck. We are pretty excited to test this feature out.

Among other things, you can see the bamboo on the rails and the construction looks top-notch in typical loaded fashion. The standard grip tape, which feels like good ol’ Jessup, is not aggressively grippy yet feels just right for such a deck. You wouldn’t want to destroy a pair of shoes with just one ollie would you? Also in typical Loaded fashion, the grip tape features die cutouts. Unlike other Loaded skateboards however, they claim that in this case it was not to help the board flex naturally, but rather so the tape would stick to the compound curves of the pocket.

Incidentally, the pockets between the tail and the truck bases look nice, deep and wide. We bet those are the sweet spots right there!

Construction

The shape might be familiar in a way, but this is not a maple-ply-glued build like your average deck. Not even close.

The deck has bamboo veneer top and bottom. In between that, Loaded says is a layer of “triaxial E-glass in an epoxy matrix.” Sounds techy. But there’s more in there… “dual vertically laminated bamboo core.” Ok, we understand that. Then it also has, “an additional layer of E-glass/epoxy, and a carbon fiber layer in the nose and tail.” Ok, we get it. Sort of. Let’s translate that to layman’s terms:

The board has multiple layers of bamboo construction glued together in different grain directions to provide stiffness. To make the board stronger and stiffer, those layers are reinforced with epoxy glass that is also layered putting the glass fibers in multiple directions to add strength and stiffness. Carbon fiber is added to the tails for pop, strength and stiffness. Now THAT makes sense.

Of course, we may have not got that perfectly right… But if we didn’t, Loaded must not expect every rider to perfectly understand the construction process either, right? We think it’s close enough though.

So let’s get to building, so we can ride.

 

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Setup

Our board came accompanied by a set of Orangatang Fat Free Yellow wheels (86a) but no trucks. We were told a set of Indy 149 is recommended, but a set of Paris or Randal 150 would work fine too. We just happened to have all 3 of those on our shelves. However, just thinking about RKP trucks on this deck gave us stomach cramps… So we promptly installed a set of 149’s.

Now here’s something quite interesting. Loaded claims the deck is designed to fit 65mm wheels with standard trucks like our Indys and up to 70mm wheels with a pair of Paris 150. What they did not mention is the difference between the narrow 8.625” deck and the wider 8.875” option.

The reason we mention this is that in our experience, the wider 169 trucks push the wheels out further. That, combined with the increased upwards bend of a slightly wider deck as the concave continues outwards and upwards, allow for increased wheel clearance. Yes, it’s not a lot, just a couple of millimeters of difference. But, when you are actually talking about 2-3mm being the difference between wheelbite or not, the effect can be huge.

That said, we didn’t have a wide model to test with 169’s, but on the narrow board with Indy 149’s and 65mm Fat Frees, bite is almost imminent without risers.

We’re not trying to argue. We’re sure some guys are running them with no risers, probably kinda tight. But we found that with the typical medium to loose setup, Loaded’s recommendation of adding a 1/8” riser or shock pad may not be enough. You might find that out after locking a wheel and landing on your face.

When testing new boards, we usually err on the side of guaranteeing zero wheelbite and then work our way down. So, with that mentality, we fitted ours with ¼” risers to start things off and fitted the trucks with Bones Hardcore Hard (black) bushings. Just standing on it and putting the entire weight of a 160lb rider on rail put the inside wheel awfully close, but not touching. Good to go. It's worth mentioning that after publishing this article we were informed that an update on the Loaded blog indicates a 1/4" inch riser is suggested.
 

Note: Our eagle-eye readers will notice that in the photos our Kanthaka only has 1/8” riser pads. We initially put it together like that for the photography, but then decided that wheelbite would be likely at full-tilt… so we fitted it with ¼” risers.

 

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On it!

Ok, finally, after all the inspection and building we finally get to put it under our feet and feel what the Kanthaka is all about.

Upon the first push we immediately notice it feels nothing like a typical longboard deck. We were very surprised with the stiffness. It felt really stiff underfoot with very little flex that was only noticeable upon hard bouncing up and down on it. Still barely any flex.

However, after thinking it through it makes a lot of sense. The deck is shorter than what most longboarders are used to. It’s also quite thick and narrow and the complex shapes are really aggressive and add to the stiffness factor. Add to that the complicated construction engineering jargon we spoke of earlier and we can see why the feel is there.

If you have never put a lot of time on a street skateboard the narrow nature of the Kanthaka will feel a bit alien. Combine that with the 149 trucks, also much narrower than what most longboarders are used to, and the feel is COMPLETELY new. When you get up to speed you will notice how responsive and twitchy the board feels. This is both good and bad. Of course, it will take some getting used to.

Because of the stiffness, road vibrations are very obvious. The wheels are smaller and the truck axles are shorter. All these things contribute to increased vibration. The faster you go, the rougher the ride is going to feel. But this is not a cruising deck. It’s a technical deck that’s meant for tech sliding and tricks. Once you get good on it you can give the street skaters a run for their money.

One great feature of the Kanthaka is that it’s super fun at low speeds. Some longboards, mainly the long-wheelbase models with a wide track are dull and dead at low speeds. They feel like a door with wheels when cruising around at slow speeds. You push to turn and ten minutes later you are taking a corner using the turning radius of a limousine. But the Kanthaka is different. It feels alive and eager no matter the speed. Cruising down sidewalks feels fast, corners are tight and every tiny input of your feet translates into immediate response by the board. However, add speed and things can get a little dicey.

 

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Sliding was fun and rewarding, but it’s not effortless. It’s much easier to slide a longer board with a large standing platform and wide trucks. Most of you know that trucks with a wide track are very drifty. Your feet are not standing directly over the wheels when the trucks are wide. The longer wheelbase of larger boards puts the trucks further away from your feet increasing leverage… reducing the weight over the wheels thus increasing driftability. On the Kanthaka, your feet are right over the wheels, increasing grip. You have to commit to your slides much more so that on other longboards. After a while it becomes second nature. But if you are new to this type of board it’ll take some getting used to.

The pockets for your feet in between the truck bolts and tail are as great as we expected. Your feet fit perfectly in the pockets and aid in locking you in. But there’s more. We were surprised at how good riding with your back foot on the tail felt. Many longboards have long curvy tail kicks but they are only useful for when you need to do a trick. On the Kanthaka however, you could pretty much keep your back foot on the tail the whole time. This is something many street skaters transitioning to longboarding will greatly appreciate.

This is something that prompted us to hand the board over to a very competent street-skater friend that has recently started messing about on longboards. After riding it for a bit he was quick to point out, “This is what I would get as my first longboard! It feels so much like what I’m used to and it looks cool too. I love having a useful tail as well.”

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Many longboarders that transition to street skateboards for park and pool riding have the problem that the boards feel way too small. Most street and pool boards have a wheelbase of close to 15 inches. Many guys search out boards with wheelbases between 15.5” and 16.5” and quickly buy ‘em up because they are so hard to come by. In fact, even here on Silverfish we have some famous threads of riders discussing slightly longer pool decks. These are longboarders that keep overstepping the front truck bolts on street decks and are fed up with it.

Well, you see where this is going… The Loaded Kanthaka will likely be the perfect board for these guys. It has a the perfect shape for the job and with wheelbase at 17.5”, it’s 2 inches longer than the rare 15.5” wheelbase many longboarders turned park riders have to adapt to. The fact that it’s 17.5” make is awesome… As other boards on the market with, say a 20” wheelbase, are often adapted to park use but are usually just a tad too long.

Yes, with a long wheelbase you sometimes have to pick different lines and you will be scraping in sections where a 15.5” wheelbase board would simply roll over, but the results are worthwhile. It might be too big a board for a small park with tight sharp transitions, but is very much awesome for a big flowy park with long snake runs, wide transitions and big bowls.

One thing this board reminded us of was putting soft longboard wheels on a classic Powell Peralta deck… except the Loaded Kanthaka is purpose-built, sharper, livelier and of course fully symmetrical and a lot more fun.

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We didn’t have the wider 8.875”/169 model available for testing, but we expect that one to be just as good. A good way to select between the two would be…

If you are a smaller rider or are very much used to small street decks, opt for the 8.625”/149 model that we have. If you are a larger rider with feet bigger than 10 and/or come from a longboarding background rather than a street skating background, opt for the wider 8.875” Kanthaka.

Trick it out

The trick nature of the Loaded Kanthaka is a revelation. There are very talented riders that can kick-flip the crap out of a big longboard that weighs 50 pounds and barely has a kick-tail to speak of. Then there are those that do great things with smaller longboards with decent kick tails and a bit more stiffness. But, the things that can be done on such a purposeful deck as the Kanthaka can blow minds. It truly is a bridging the gap.

Then there are those who may argue that the Kanthaka may not be good at speed. Well, it really depends on the rider. We’ve seen kids bomb hills on tiny skateboards and not even stop to think twice that it would be easier and faster on a longboard. So, while it might be harder to bomb a hill on a Kanthaka than it would on a speed-board, for average speeds, the Kanthaka will do just fine. Just work your way up. This board however, is more at home in an urban setting rather than a clean open road. Ollie, kick-flip and slide your way to a good time.

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Reverse king-pin option

Are you wondering about Paris 150’s over Indys? Well, we tried that too. While we still prefer the Kanthaka with Indys, we were surprised at how good it felt with the RKP setup. So, if you decide to own this beast, do yourself a favor and try it with a nice set of reverse kingpin trucks at least once… even if it’s only as a learning experiment. You might be surprised at how much you like it. Plus, guys that have never ridden standard trucks and come directly from RKP trucks can just as well stick to that setup.

Shortcomings

You’ve probably figured out by now that when we review a board we present the facts in such a way where you can deduce the shortcomings of a skateboard from the first half of the write-up. So, if you are guessing that the shortcomings of the Kanthaka come from it’s short length and narrow trucks, then you’ve read this review right.

This is the only problem with specialized tools…

The more specialized you make a tool, the less well it will perform at what it wasn’t designed to do.

Some boards can do a little bit of everything “sort of well”. The Kanthaka is meant to be small, crisp and responsive. This makes it an ideal tech-slider and trick board. It also makes it a fun carver and park/bowl board. But, this very nature takes away at the ease of riding at speed. So, if you are used to riding long-longboards with wide trucks and you’ve wrecked all your boards and are looking for one to be your only board, the Kanthaka might not be the one.

However, if you are a tech or freestyle rider with a background in street skating, the Kanthaka could easily work as your only board.

And, if you are the type that builds a quiver, you already know that having specialized boards for each discipline is the way to squeeze more performance out of your gear. The Kanthaka is for you too.

However, we’ve warned you. This is a hi-tech specialized machine with the price tag to boot. Don’t expect it to ride like a speed board or a dancing deck. You wouldn’t expect a Porsche to ride like a Rolls. Both are awesome, but one’s a nimble sports car than cannot offer a comfortable ride. The other is a cruiser that’s plush and classy but cannot take a sharp corner at speed.

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And then there’s the price

We really don’t like to put price in the downsides section… Because we are believers in the bit that says you get what you pay for. Nonetheless, our pockets scream out in pain at the thought of the price. The Loaded Kanthaka deck alone will set you back $188. A complete setup can average between $280-$320 or so, depending on what you build it with. Our setup is right around $310 with the hardware and bearings used.

Yes, it’s a big price to pay… and a street skater used to paying $50 for a deck won’t believe it. But, the Kanthaka is not built like your average skateboard. It will also last much, much longer.

Conclusion

The Loaded Kanthaka is one of those boards that boldly bridges the gap between different styles of skateboarding. It’s great because it’s a purpose-built deck that caters to the riders that explore past the current boundaries of the sport and the realms that most average longboarders are confined to. In the process, these riders open the doors for longboarding to continue evolving. They also open the eyes of average skaters to see what’s possible and to see the boundaries blurred. Loaded has provided the tool to continue pushing the sport forward with the Kanthaka.

 

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