Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Higher Caliber -- Caliber Truck Guide and Review

Hey Longboard Fans!!!
I know it, you know it, your best friend knows it... Pretty much anyone who drops thane knows that Caliber Trucks are the go-to choice for many longboarders. Caliber hit the market a while back and has since pretty much taken it by storm. It has been my experience that any group of longboarders is likely to have at least as many people riding Calibers as there are who aren't. When you consider how many different brands and styles of trucks there are out there I would count that as a win for Caliber. However, this leads me to ask the question; are Calibers really as awesome as people say or are they riding the hype train?

Calibers come in a couple different flavors in order to accommodate a wide variety of riding needs and styles. Which means that you can pick up a set of Calibers with 44 or 50 degree baseplates or you can grab a set of 9in or 10in hangers. On top of picking your baseplate degree and hanger width you can also choose from a number of sweet finishes: Raw, Acid Melon, Red Rum, Midnight Green, White Gold, Black Out, Purple Funk, and Blue Dream.
People often get kind of hung up on what the degree of a truck actually means, so before I start the review let me illuminate the dark depths of baseplate angles. The degree of a truck essentially indicates how responsive it is. Generally, a lower degree baseplate translates to a more stable truck and a higher degree plate gives you a more responsive truck. For example, a 44* Caliber truck will take more leaning with your body to make the board turn than a 50* Caliber; which will turn with less lean.

Alright, so how do Calibers actually perform? To answer this questions for a set of trucks is a little trickier than most other products because trucks are so customizable. To help with this I am going to recommend a Caliber setup with each style of riding.

Commuting Needs:
When pushing around town there are a couple nice features for your trucks to sport. I personally like having a very nimble setup when it comes to commuting. Having lots of agility allows you to hop curbs, bust quick little slides, and pop up manuals with ease. All of which is great for commuting and doing so with style.
Recommended Setup:
 9in 50* Calibers with Blood Orange High Rebound bushings for commuting.

This setup is super light, agile, and very responsive. I cannot emphasize how much of a difference swapping your bushings makes. Try replacing the stock Blood Orange bushings that come in Calibers with something that has a ton of rebound, such as my recommended high rebound Blood Orange series or Venom SHRs. Adding some really high rebound bushings helps when you want to pump around town and get a really snappy response from your trucks.
To get even more response out of your truck try riding a barrel shaped bushing boardside and a cone shaped bushing roadside.

Freestyle Needs:
Freestyle skating, by definition, can mean a lot of different things. Which makes choosing a specific truck for this type of skating very difficult. I wouldn't say there is a stark difference between freestyle longboarding and freestyle skateboarding, but I do think they have slightly different needs in a truck. If you are looking at Caliber trucks and are riding a skateboard or, what it more likely, a hybrid deck then you are going to love something compact and light, such as the 9in Calibers. However, if you are freestyling on a full fledged and full lengthed, beefy longboard then you are going to be looking for something a little wider and more stable.
Recommended Setup:
10in 50* Calibers with lively bushings

Just a reminder, this is really all going to come down to preference and some people will rock the heck out of a different setup than I am recommending.  That being said there is no doubt in my mind that 50* plates are the best choice for freestyle. Higher degree baseplates respond more quickly to you leaning on them which is great when you want a little more freedom at low speeds. As a skater who does a whole lot of freestyle on longboards I find myself gravitating toward the 50* 10" Calibers. These give put a nice stable base under your longboard (the smaller 9" hangers can make a board a little tippy) that is still agile and quick to pick up on your movements.
My favorite bushings for freestyle on Calibers is a high rebound Blood Orange double barrel setup.
Downhill Needs:
Now we're talking about hot, nasty speed. The biggest performance issue that most people are looking for with a downhill truck is something nice and stable. Going too fast on twitchy trucks can be really fun but it can also have disastrous results. Which is why most people opt for a truck with a low angle baseplate. A baseplate with a low degree requires you to lean more to make it turn, so when you are going really fast, some mild foot movements won't send you careening off your deck.  
Recommended Setup:
10in 44* Calibers with a big wide bushing boardside and a barrel roadside

I think that 44* 10in Calibers are definitely the way to go when it comes to downhill. These trucks are the most stable offering from Caliber because they are nice and wide with a baseplate angle that is a full 6* lower than the 50* Calibers. In a market full of varying angles, queen pins, and precision trucks I still know a ton of people who love to ride 44* Calibers when they're downhilling because they are very effective and very customizable.
If you're looking to go fast I recommend using a standard Venom eliminator or a Riptide WFB Chubby as your boardside bushing and a barrel as your roadside bushing.

Freeride Needs
Kind of like freestyle skating, freeride can mean a lot of things. Freeride can be tons of 180 and 360 slides, gloves down slides, or big standies all day long. Of course, more often than not freeride is a mixture of these things. The type of truck you might need to ride is going to vary a little bit based on what type of freeriding you do, however, I think one of the best indications might be how fast you are going.

Recommended Setup:
10in 44* or 50* Calibers (based on your riding style)

Whether I would recommend the 44 or 50 degree plates comes down to how fast you Freeride. If you are a more casual freerider, sticking to speeds under 25-30mph, then I think that the 50* baseplates would work fine. However if you like to go fast.... Well fist let me remind you that, much like a certain part of the male anatomy, people tend to exaggerate how fast they are actually going. However, if you know that you are freeriding with some serious speed then I recommend the 44* Calibers. They are slightly lower and let you lean into them a little more. The more stable 44* plates can be pretty crucial in setting up and executing slides at high speeds.
If I were to give Calibers an overall performance grade I think that I would have to give them at least an A- if not higher.

The option of choosing a hanger width and a baseplate angle really lets you choose a truck to suit your needs. In addition, I really like that you can fit pretty much any bushing size or shape into a Caliber truck so that you can take your customization even further.

Finally I have to speak to their durability. I have bent tons and tons of trucks and I have to admit that Calibers are very hard to bend. I do most of my axle bending when freestyling and early grabbing and, at least relative to other trucks that I would consider to be similar, Caliber have proven to be very tough.
The bottom line is that whether you just want to get from point A to B or you are a dedicated disciple of fast, nasty speed you can probably find a set of Calibers that will work for you. Caliber Truck Co. did a great job making trucks that are durable, functional, and comfortable. To answer the question we started with, yes, Calibers are pretty awesome.

Thanks for Reading!
Any Questions, Comments, Concerns, Setup Inquiries, Hate mail???
Hit me up!

Stay Awesome,