Friday, December 7, 2012

Slope Stalkin' -- DB Stalker Review -- Matt Fagan Review

Hey friends,
I’d like to introduce you to my Stalker. It is a downhill/freeride board with a short wheelbase, interesting concave, full nose, and fat beaver tail. I have to admit, the Stalker and I didn’t hit it off that well (as is common with stalkers). The grom Wayne and I got it from took a bazillion years to ship the stalker (his half of the trade). When it finally arrived, the grip job was ugly and stupid and the board was drilled new school rather than old school. I initially set it up for slidey fun with some Independent 215s and Metro motions, but the wheelwells were a little disappointing for that. In order to run less than ½” of riser I had to kill the Indy lean that makes them great. Even on the shortest wheelbase the tail felt a bit small for not being kicked up at all.

Wheelwells can either be deep and narrow and thus only work optimally with a few trucks, or long and shallower and work with more trucks but not as well. I was hoping these would be both deep and long , which typically doesn’t work well as it makes for a part of the board that is structurally weak and really wants to break. As I said, I was slightly disappointed in the depth of the Stalker’s wheelwells when running Indys. They are deeper than most long wheelwells though. They are also really long. They look like they were designed to work with Calibers (notorious for having their axles further in) on the shortest wheelbase without bite.

After noticing this and riding around with the Indys on being angry with my Stalker, I took them off. I threw on my 46* Gunmetals and 74mm RAD Advantages with only 1/8” shockpad and double barrels. I fully expected wheelbite with double barrels, planning on using fatter bushings or a bit more riser to avoid it, but I wanted to try. I was wrong; not only was there no wheelbite, I still had a decent amount of clearance. I could probably even get away without the shockpad despite the leany trucks and massive wheels. The axle placement of the RKPs also made the tail a significant amount longer. All of a sudden, my Stalker and I were becoming friends.

Hop on the Stalker and you’ll quickly realize just how much it likes you on it. There’s a bulge in the rear big enough to scare off anyone suffering from ithyphallophobia. The “arch-bar W” is really steep and well contained. It rises up to its maximum height really quickly on both ends and is only from about 3/5 back on the board to 4/5. It stops right before the rear bolt holes. For this reason, the W bulge is more of a reference point than anything else. It really helps you find your back foot in a tuck and gives something to push against when tucking through toeside corners. I also use it for pushing against in toeside glove slides. It ends before the rear bolts, so it’s not in the way when in that wide cowboy stance for standup slides.

The Stalker is not designed to creep around the streets, although it does have a tail. The tail lets you pop over bumps and down curbs a lot easier, as well as letting you do kickturns. The board is 9-ply maple and pretty beefy so it is really quite a heavy one. I like to be able to push mongo (in addition to regular) on boards when commuting to save my other leg some strain, and the arch-bar makes it really difficult as you tip around when trying to push on it. Basically, the Stalker isn’t a board I would recommend for pure commuting, although the tail does help.

Again, the Stalker isn’t a freestyle board. Although it has a tail, it is a flat beaver tail rather than a real kick. It’s enough for manuals, shuvits, and such. It is heavy, making most freestyle tricks a little more difficult. Don’t expect to be popping huge ollies and kickflips, but you can. The board is a tank and can take the abuse of many failed tricks.
This is where the Stalker starts to shine. If you’re into freeriding topmounts on rkps, this is probably a good board for you. The wheelwells accommodate a variety of trucks, even Calibers on the shortest wheelbase, giving you the freedom to dial in your setup without worrying about wheelwell compatibility. This lets you get nice and loose with minimal riser. The concave keeps you nice and locked in when sliding. The W is usable for toesides if you have a shorter stance, but out of the way for heelsides. There is plenty of foot platform at the rear so you can get right over the bolts or even behind them for some nasty blunt slides.

The Stalker’s 9-plies of weight make sense when you start going faster. This board is really stiff with its thickness and short wheelbase. The wheelbase is long enough for going fast on, but short enough for the added grip and control. The W provides more grip and support for both toeside and heelside glove slides. The W is also a great tuck reference point in the back and not at all present in the front (where it is typically annoying). The wheelwells let you run leany trucks without too much of a worry of wheelbite. The nose narrows a little bit more than I would like, but then I am the kind of guy who likes to get his front foot right up on the bolts.
As far as recommended setups go, wheelbase-shortening reverse kingpin trucks are ideal. Road riders, Calibers, Gunmetals, Sabres, and Paris all let you get the axles further in without redrilling the deck. This makes for more leverage on the tail and the ability to get closer to the front axle while having your foot farther back where there is more width. I liked it on dewedged Surf-Rodz TKPs after I redrilled the front truck 2” in. The wheelwells are so long that they were still perfectly effective. As for wheels, that’s going to depend on what kind of riding you’re doing. You can get away with big wheels without too much trouble, so setup options are pretty open.

Favorite Setup:
46* Gunmetal Mac10 Trucks
Venom barrel bushings 87a bottom, 85a top
Zealous Bearings
RAD Advantage 78a wheels

Questions? Comments? Ideas as to what a jumbo hat snake is?
Dragon Captain,