I’m getting older. As unfortunate as that is, it is still uncomfortably true. This year, Everything Skateboarding is once again hosting several long-distance longboard cruises in and around Phoenix. These cruises tend to be slightly torturous on the aging ‘ol knees. For some time now, I’ve wanted to get my grubby, product-geeking hands on a drop-through, lowered longboard in an effort to give my tired old knees a brief respite.
Thankfully, the folks over at Seismic helped my knee-saving dreams finally come true. This month, I get to review a setup that is truly exceptional. This is the Seismic Compass, in its shorter 36” length; the other Compass on the market is a slightly stretched, 39” version.
This skateboard is truly greater than the sum of its parts. That being said, you really can’t talk about it at all without breaking it down into its major components, and talking about them individually. Maybe they’re not “revolutionary”, per se… that is up for open debate, as always… but they are all strongly evolutionary in some key way or another. That said, let’s take a look at the components that make this board what it is: a fast, fun little urban rocket that can find a comfortable home just as comfortably in a bustling cityscape as it can on a wide-open mountain road.
The deck is, at first glance, a fairly standard drop-through platform. The shape, the concave… they don’t look too impressive right away. The graphics are rather understated, nothing too remarkable (although they are very attractive in their elegant simplicity). Basically, it looks like a lot of other boards on the market. It’s only once you stand in it, and examine it a little more closely, that the true strengths come shining through.
First of all, it is remarkably stiff. I am no small, skinny chap. What I am, is 320 pounds of all-American beef wrapped around some super big bones that form a 6’5” frame. Yet this board hardly buckled or budged under my mass. You can thank a composite structure of bamboo, fiberglass, and maple for that.
It is also extremely comfortable. That can be credited to the heavily rockered, medium-deep concave. The rocker enhances the truck geometry (making them a little more responsive than they would be if they were mounted on a straight-centered deck) while bringing your feet a bit lower to the ground, enhancing the overall stability. The concave is assertive enough to minimize foot slip, while not being overbearingly aggressive on the ‘ol feets.
Seismic calls this stuff “Lokton”, and it features a bunch of hex-shaped cutouts all over the deck. It looks unlike anything else on the market, giving it a unique aesthetic, while still being some of the best griptape I’ve ever experienced. The griptape is very, very aggressive indeed. It reminded me a bit of the old “Pizza Grip” from decades ago in its coarse sharpness. That means your feet aren’t going anywhere when they are stuck to this stuff. It is brute effectiveness.
Seismic is known for outstanding urethane formulas that are known for being highly resilient, but with lively rebound characteristics. The wheels it came with… the new 72mm, 80a tantrums… are designed for freeriding in mind. They are centerset, mid-wide wheels with rounded radiuses to facilitate easy, predictable sliding down fast mountain runs. This is not exactly my forte, so we’ll be recruiting a few downhillers to review those a bit more thoroughly. But for my pedestrian purposes… quickly commuting around town… they were far more than adequate enough.
This board is quicker than a greased bullet, and the wheel/bearing combo has everything to do with that. The bearings in this case were Tekton self-centering bearings with built-in spacers. I’ve loved the built-in spacer system ever since Biltin pioneered them several years back, and I’m still loving it with the Tektons.
The advantage of built-in spacers (and washers) is that the whole bearing system is optimized to work exactly as it was intended to work: in a self-aligning manner (where the bearings are always perfectly parallel to each other, regardless of how the wheel or axle might bend and flex around them) with no rub, no slop, no play, no shaking, and no shimmying. They are very precise, and very solid. That equates to jackrabbit acceleration and higher top-end speed. It also makes for a smooth, gliding, vibration-free ride, and some real long-term payoffs in the durability department.
The trucks were probably my favorite part of the setup. The Aeon truck is a true evolution in reverse-kingpin truck design, maybe the best on the market today.
The magic is in the bushing/hangar/baseplate interface, and in the shape of the bushings themselves. The bushings aren’t quite “conical” as we’d traditionally define it. They’re triangular in cross-section, which means that they have some pretty unique rebound qualities. Simply put: they offer just the right amount of resistance and centering, while also being soft and pliable enough to allow for snappy turns and deep carves. That makes them stable, yet responsive at the same time. Most truck and bushing designs tend to sacrifice one in order to maximize the other. Aeons simply don’t compromise; they do them both, and they do them extremely well.
Each piece is also precision-contoured to fit snugly and precisely into it’s mating part. That eliminates “bushing squish”, which is the unofficial name for when your bushings pop out of their retaining washers, and squeeze out of the hangar when you’re making hard turns. Everyone knows what I’m talking about, and it f’n sucks. Your board sticks to one side or the other, the bushings get chewed up (or split), and everything ends up feeling and riding like shit.
I tried with all my might to get the Aeon bushings to squish out on me, and they never did. They stayed in place, stayed snug, and snapped back to center with every single turn, without fail. How will they stand the test of time? Well, give me some more time, and I’ll tell ya in a few months.
The Final Verdict
What can I say? It’s fast, it’s responsive, it’s precise, it’s solid, and it’s fun. And it made my knees feel twenty years younger, to boot. It’s a dream machine that I’ll be riding, and loving, for a long, long time.