Silverfish Demystifies the Loaded Chubby Unicorn

 

Demystifying the

Loaded Chubby Unicorn

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When we heard the news of the release of the Loaded Chubby Unicorn, just like you, we were very excited. The word of mouth and online info about it really mystified the deck in a way very fitting to the name. Not only that, but Loaded did a very good job of building anticipation to the Chubby’s arrival - much earlier than it would be available, even to us. The unique, yet understated shape, which we could only see in pictures, combined with those blue rails really had our curiosity going.

 

The solution, for Silverfish Longboarding, was to get our hands and feet on one of these exclusive, new and frankly expensive decks and put it through the Longboard Consortium's paces.  We started with the Chubby Unicorn as a complete, gave it a thorough visual once-over with the cameras and then took it out on the roads.  It's been kicked across town, bombed hills, used to lay long slides and few standies, carved canyon roads at speed and loaned around for multiple views.  We checked it out, came up with some opinions and then, after all that, we read all the "professional words" developed about the deck by Loaded...and discovered we pretty much agree the Chubby Unicorn is indeed one of those elusive, pure beasts of legend.  Our review follows...

 

 

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Loaded Chubby Unicorn Specs

Length: 42.25” / 107.315 cm

Width: 9.75” / 24.765 cm

Wheelbase: 28.25” / 71.755 cm

Thickness:  .5625” (9/16”) / 1.43 cm

Concave depth (at either side of W concave): .4375” (7/16”) / 1.11 cm

Weight as built:  8 lbs 13 oz. / 3.99 kg


Setup:

Loaded Chubby Unicorn

Trucks: Paris 180

Wheels: Orangatang Stimulus Yellow

Bearings: Loaded Jehu

Bushings: Venom SHR – Purple (87a) top/Sea Foam (88a) bottom

Truck setup: Medium

 

First impression

When we saw the box delivered, our anticipation quickly turned into motivation to rip the box open and take photos in hurry to go ride.

We don’t, howeve,r let our giddiness have the best of us. Before we go anywhere, we take a real close look. We absorb the lines and try and get into the heads of the designers and riders who helped bring the shape to life. Remember, it’s not just a board. It’s a result of countless hours of prototyping, riding, testing and retesting. Some amazing riders and progressive minds are responsible for this shape and this build. We don’t take that lightly. There’s soul in any shape, in any deck. This one just so happens to have more soul than a Southern Baptist gospel choir.

What we can see is clean lines, a smooth, cohesive shape and a solid sound when we tap it. The grip tape is ultra grippy and it doesn’t have a bunch of die cuts like other Loaded offerings.

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On profile, the deck has some rocker to it, but it’s no banana. The deck’s perfectly symmetrical – looking from either end shows the same. There’s a W concave that’s evident by the lump in the center of the deck. Interesting.

Graphics are kept to a minimum with only a simple crystal decal of a Chubby Unicorn eating a rainbow. That’s cute. The bottom is simple white skin with a clear gloss texture that looks a bit like a wireframe graphic or a symmetrical wood grain pattern reminiscent of a blown up finger print. That bottom skin lies after a layer of triaxial E-glass/epoxy, but the skin itself Loaded says is “ultra high molecular weight polyethylene.” Sounds real techy and worded by a doctor in chemical engineering. Good thing we know one of those and he tells us it’s basically a very high-tech plastic. The entire shape is wrapped with a light blue edge surrounding - rail and kicks… which by the way, many wheels laid down their lives to create this rail surround. Yes, you guess it. It’s made out of Orangatang’s urethane. Now THAT’s cool.

Talking about the build

Ignoring the obvious - looking beyond the purpose, the color, the shape and the funny name, the Chubby Unicorn represents something more. Think about it for a second. This board is an ode to the fact that Loaded does not and will not rest in their laurels and simply make great boards. Loaded is simply not content making great boards, they have to constantly push the envelope and experiment with new ideas and construction techniques. This is what the Chubby Unicorn represents to us. Loaded didn’t’ tell us that. We gathered it by the mere fact that every Loaded skateboard we test seems to offer some kind of new and oftentimes outrageous new construction technique.

 

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There is a guy in our group who is a kiteboarder. He had to point out how similar the construction of the Chubby Unicorn is to a professional level kiteboard. In fact, the similarities are uncanny. We have to wonder if Loaded dissected one of these even though they have only made cross-reference to snowboards. This guy just so happens to have ridden professionally for one of the most well known kiteboard companies in the world. His pro-board of choice also happened to be sandwich construction and was wrapped along the rails by a similar bumper surround. It even was light blue.

This is also where the complexity in the build of the Loaded Chubby transfers to COST. Layered wood can be glued together and shaped for under 100 bucks. For the guy who is used to riding wood, paying the kind of money the Chubby Unicorn commands will sound absurd. But it’s apples and oranges. There is a reason kiteboards are not made of plywood anymore. The benefits of composite construction, epoxies, carbon and glass fibers are just too great to not move in that direction. Specially when you’re aiming and building the best of the best. Yes, you need to be able to sell it, but cost cannot be a deciding factor. Otherwise, you’ll never get it done. And before you continue whining about the price, the Chubby Unicorn might cost close to half a G, built. But a kiteboard built the same way, costs roughly $200 more and it’s not much bigger, and it doesn’t have wheels or trucks. Just fins.

Oh, and before you feel you completely have to wave goodbye to wood, the Chubby Unicorn does have a basswood core.

 

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The ride

The Chubby Unicorn is an ultra responsive board. The “fat part" is all for fun, because this board rides like a lean Pegasus. Our immediate impression was that the board feels and rides a lot smaller than the looks might have you believe. It feels light and nimble. It’s very forgiving and easy to ride. For a high-performance board this is a lot to say. Many times you lose ease of use when you aim at an ultra high-performance design.

The Chubby is crazy fun to ride! It’s so full of energy and feedback that the ride is as far from dull as any board we’ve ever ridden. It’s long enough to offer stability at speed, yet short enough to be fun at cruising speeds.

The board was clearly designed around reverse kingpin trucks. As a top mount downhill freeride board, this is to be expected. What was surprising though was how perfectly well the board felt with the initial setup. There’s no funny business of multiple wheelbases, or anything like that. You can tell that Loaded coaxed this design to perfection over lots of R&D. There are boards that are designed around RKP trucks, yet never feel quite right. They just track funny and carve worth crap. You’re constantly battling the feel of the trucks rather than having a harmonious collaboration between deck, trucks and wheels. Some of these boards require all kinds of bushing changes and tension adjustments to get them to feel better. Some never quite get there, but the Chubby just feels right.

The design of the wheel wells and truck placement is also very interesting. The truck bases actually sit in recesses on the deck underside. While many boards end up on stilts because they require risers to avoid bite, the Chubby Unicorn takes a whole different approach. The bases are actually sunk into the body making the deck lower. Not as low as a drop deck or a drop through, but definitely much lower than typical decks of this girth. The Chubby makes up for that drop with very clever wheel arches and wheel wells. Ladies and Gentlemen, with 70mm Stimulus we got ZERO bite out of the box. Zero, zip, nada! We can’t tell you how tired we are of companies that half-ass their wheel wells. Most of the time, they are simply not deep or big enough. You end up having to put risers even when the board has a set of wells. That, to us is just plain wrong. If you are going to put wheel wells, you might as well do it right. We are happy to report the wheel wells in the Unicorn as the bee’s knees. Low deck, no bite, no fuss.

The W concave on the Chubby is definitely a Godsend for the purpose it was designed for. This deck is the most aggressive piece of equipment made by Loaded to date, and it shows in the shape. Yes, there are no sharp angles and gimmicky bits to make it look fast, but the aggressive nature is all there.

And then there’s that grip tape. Combine that super coarse tape with the W concave and this board offers the most lock-in of any other Loaded model. While a board like the Bhangra has cutouts in the tape along the center to allow your shoes to spin on top of the deck and save your shoes, the Chubby is gnarly for a reason. It’s purpose-built to grip and will literally eat your shoes. No holding back there. It doesn’t have grip tape. It has teeth.

In fact, the tape barely has any of those funny die cuts Loaded seems to put on every board. We say barely, because it does have 4 tiny cutouts at the outer edges over each wheel. In the past, Loaded has always said their die cuts on grip tape are meant to allow the board to flex properly (without poppping or breaking the tape). We can see that, especially on flexy decks like the Tan Tien. But on the stiffer Chubby, we’re glad to see a full no-nonsense layer of grip tape. In our opinion, the little cutouts are cosmetic and to help trademark the board as a Loaded. Luckily, they are small and not an eyesore. One neat bit about them is they reveal a small section of the deck where the blue rail surround meets wood – probably the only wood you can actually see in the whole deck.

The Chubby makes everything feel easy and effortless. It’s one of those rare boards that offers a level of control that some decks lack. The build was seriously perfect. Paris 180 combined with Orangatang Stimulus. The only thing we changed was adding Purple and Sea Foam SHR double barrel bushings and flat washers top and bottom. This board is stiff and has lots of leverage. We didn’t want to mess with cone bushings, so we immediately changed-out the stock ones.

This proved to be the right move. The board feels incredibly progressive and controlled. With this hardware combination slides are predictable and fun. They’re not a scary balancing act of not knowing precisely when the release is going to be and when it’s going to hook back up. We felt we could easily push the board into a mild drift or much harder into a full standup slide all the while feeling like it was no big deal.

The size of the board and the wheelbase seem be ideal for the business of sliding. Like we hinted earlier, there are no multiple wheelbases. It’s clear Loaded found the sweet spot on this deck and gave it a predetermined wheelbase. Done. No messing about trying to change that. The balance between wheelbase and deck length is spot on. The positioning for leverage into slides is ideal. It’s long enough to feel drifty and loose, with the wheels clear past your feet. Yet, it’s short enough to aid in control and accuracy where the wheels don’t feel like they are a mile away from your feet.

 

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Other high points

The Chubby’s got more kicking power than a karate-ninja. Ninja, because an initial look at the kicks is deceiving. You simply don’t realize how useful they are and how much leverage they actually have. They are definitely stealthy.

Some decks have really sharp and angled kick tails that immediately draw your eyes to the usefulness of them. However, sometimes the looks don’t follow suit when it’s time to get down to business. Not the case with the Chubby. These kicks are the biz. There is tons of leverage in them and the length, size and angle are ideal.

The Chubby is a soft-looking board. It’s good-looking, but in an understated kind of way. Not simply a Chubby Unicorn, but it’s also like that Chubby cute girl that’s somehow still very good-looking and inviting. There’s a reason it’s not called the Fat Unicorn – cause that’d just be weird.

Anyway, the shape is deceiving. It doesn’t look like a rocket, yet it rides like one. It doesn’t look like it can flip, ollie and kill it – but it most certainly can. Put this board under the feet of a talented rider, and you’ll be able to see things nobody could even fathom seeing from a longboard 10 years ago.

Wait, there’s more!

Call us crazy, but we have a feeling the Chubby might be an ideal rain board. We know, we know, the price tag doesn’t equate to a board you want to get wet –so don’t quote us here. But, given the construction and materials used here, we feel it might be able to deal with the elements a lot better than a standard wood-ply deck. We would like to hear from Loaded on this subject, but we feel that as long as the deck is not compromised to leak, like us curbing it, it should be fine. The only real weakness would be the holes for the hardware. But as long as those don’t got straight through wood without a wall of resin…

Then there are the 2 channel grooves on each side under the deck. We’re bet they add stiffness and focus the torsional flex – but man they are great to hold on too as well! Plus, there are 2 of them. How cool is that?

The downsides are the upsides

The only downside we found to the Chubby Unicorn comes in the form of its very bold characteristics.

Mainly, because of the awesome W concave that gives you 3 pressure points for your feet for increased grip (both rails plus the raised center) it makes it a bit of a chore to push. Don’t get us wrong, it’s not horrible to push, but it’s certainly not the most comfortable. You get the sense of it being a bit of a balancing act when your foot is centered over the board as you push. You don’t get that sense of perfect balance you get when pushing on a regular concave board.

The rocker certainly helps the situation, but no matter what, you don’t get that leisurely feel you get from the rocker + concave of the Bhangra for example. But again, it’s a necessary evil if you want that extra bit of grip and control that comes with a W concave.

The other bit was the sandwich construction itself. Another feature that makes the Chubby awesome can be a bit of a downside if you just so happen to curb it in the worst way.

Here’s the deal, one of our guys messed up and curbed the Chubby. In hindsight, he actually did you all a favor. It allowed making this review even more in depth.

See, the board hit a very low curb which sent the Chubby right over it after the impact, instead of to a dead stop. We reckon it was probably the worst way to hit this board. A dead-on hit would’ve likely been absorbed by the urethane-carnival-bumper-car rail that surrounds the board. Unfortunately, the angle of the hit delaminated and peeled off a small section of the bottom skin of the Chubby under one of the noses. The break was enough to unglue that small section of glass skin off the layer it was sticking to.

The break isn’t big. It’s only about 1/8 of an inch. We also don’t think it will continue delaminating. The board is clearly well made and everything is stuck together well. We’re simply going to sand that bit of glass down and fill the gap with a white epoxy paste and it will be as good as new.

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We wrote this review without reading Loaded’s literature on it. Don’t get us wrong, we read the initial stuff when it came out, but it had been weeks and not fresh on our minds. After weeks of riding it and not paying attention to any of the marketing material, we feel we had completely forgotten anything we had read about the Chubby Unicorn. Yet, we had gotten to know the board. We had gotten to really know what it’s all about. No amount of text on paper will equate to the feeling of knowing a board first hand.

Having said that, after we were done writing this story we went back to Loaded’s site and read all they had to say about the Chubby. In between all the technical text there was something that really struck a chord. We have gotten to know the Chubby Unicorn and gotten to really know her character. In Loaded’s literature describing the Chubby, they make multiple references to downhill - Downhill this, downhill that. That’s great. We see the thought behind this deck and understand the design philosophy. The parallel we drew however was very interesting. Between paper and board, literature and actual riding we feel the Chubby is so much more than a downhill freeride board.

The defining factor for us is this: The Loaded Chubby Unicorn is more fun than almost any “downhill” board we’ve ever ridden.

Most boards meant for speed are simply not very fun at cruising speeds. Somehow, the Chubby manages to be an absolute joy riding down mellow hills. And of course, it is a blast when taken to speed down steep ones. Removing all the technical aspects of the Chubby is a bit sacrilegious because along with the experience that’s gone behind this design, it’s what makes the board what it is. However, when you strip away all this information and simply focus on how this board makes you feel you truly understand what the bottom line is. You can read about it all you want. But you have to draw that parallel between information and feel on your own. They only way you are going to do that is by riding one for yourself.

 

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