Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Choppin' Hills -- Jati Chop Suey Review

Everyone knows the bigger names in the industry: Landy, Comet, Loaded, Rayne, Original, Bustin, ect… But not everyone has heard of one of my favorite companies Jati. Jati Boards is a smaller operation working out the Southeast and really putting out some great work. Most of their original decks were strictly focused on downhill (and crushing it) but more recently they have been making some great skate-anything decks.

On top of having an array of interesting and functional boards, I think it is worth mentioning that Jati also has one of the coolest teams around. The Jati team is chocked full of positive and exciting riders like Mason McNay and Possala Wang who are constantly doing big things and growing the scene down here in the south. Tip of the hat to Jati for putting together such a fantastic group of riders/people.
Because Jati Boards is a smaller operation it took a while for them to have a board they could send my way. Interestingly, I asked for a blem, because I didn’t want them to waste a board they could sell on me, and it took them a few months to find one. Which I took to mean that it took them a few months to produce even one blemished deck. Talk about quality control.

Anyways, let’s talk about the board they sent my way. Jati released the Chop Suey back in April of 2013 and I think it is one of the coolest shapes they have put out to date. The Chop Suey sports two fat kicks, a symmetrical concave pattern, wheel wells and flares, a micro-drop, and flush mounting.  It was designed to be a downhill, freeride, do-it-all board with a ton of potential for getting creative.

Before I get too involved in the review let’s go over the technical specifications of the Chop Suey:
Chop Suey
26 and 27in
Kicks, Micro-Drop, Flush Mount, Wheel Flares, Wheel Wells, Mounting Options, Composite Construction
I would say there are two types of boards that can make a good commuter. There is the efficient pusher (you know the type: double drops and giant wheels) and then there is the fun type. The Chop Suey definitely falls into the latter category.
Taking the Chop Suey with you on a commute is a freaking blast. Anything with kicks is always fun to commute on because you can turn getting from point A to B into a little adventure of creative skating. The Chop Suey is a little longer than your typical campus crusher/city slasher type of deck, but what it lacks in agility it makes up for in functionality. 

The micro drop and flush mount bring the platform a little lower which makes pushing easier. While the wide platform itself gives you a nice stable base to push on. The wheel flares and drop work together to lock your feet in for pumping, which I personally always think is fun to do in my commute. To top it off the kicks are great for dropping curbs, tiger claws, and with enough practice some pretty high longboard ollies (at least tall enough to get up a curb).

Upsides: Kicks, Nice Platform, Low for a Topmount
Downsides: Long Wheelbase, Not Super Low

As I mentioned above the Chop Suey has some sweet kicktails. Although they are very similar, the two kicks are not actually identical. The nose comes to a subtle point while the tail is flat on the end. I found that this difference is not simply cosmetic but that each kick design is slightly more useful for different applications.
The kick with the flat end (the tail of the board) is a little more suited, at least in my opinion, for tricks that you normally hit from the backside of a board anyways. Simply being flat makes it great for manuals because it gives you a tiny bit more wiggle room than a pointed nose does; a flat kick doesn't hit the ground as early as a pointed kick would. In addition, I found that the tail of the board is easier to get air on than the nose.
The nose, the kick with the pointed end, I found to be great for all sorts of kooky tricks like tiger claws. The slightly different shape really helps the deck pop all the way up to your hand making it super easy to catch for any grab trick variation. However, let be 100% clear that the tails are definitely so close to being identical the difference between them is a very very subtle nuance.  
The wide platform on the Chop Suey lends itself to the all but forgotten pastime of board dancing. I know that when it comes to cross stepping and all that fun stuff I like a wide board... It just leaves a little more room for activities. Because the Chop Suey does NOT have insane foot breaking concave or anything like that, the platform is very comfortable for dancing and landing any number of freestyle tricks. 
Upsides: Kicks, Comfy, Wide
Downsides: Heavy

I feel like just as with any number of the many topmount downhill/freeride boards on the market... how you feel on the Chop Suey for downhill comes down mostly to rider skill, preference, and confidence on the deck. That being said, the Chop Suey has pretty much everything you need for some downhill fun; it's stiff, has a nice wheelbase, rocker, and a micro drop platform.
That toolbox of board features coalesce into a very comfortable board for downhill. The rocker and micro drop lower the board for a little bit of added stability. While the drop and wheel flares act together to give you plenty of reference points for your feet so that you can feel where your feet are on the board without having to look down at them.

Finally, when I say that this deck is stiff I don't mean "oh it doesn't flex very much at all" I mean that it is actually stiff. I can stomp down on this thing with all my weight and it doesn't flex at all. I know, as with most people, having a nice sturdy board under foot not only provides me with a nice stable base but also inspires a lot of confidence in my board which translates into confidence while riding.
The only major downside I could find to this board for downhill was that while it has plenty of clearance for a large variety of wheels (70mm and under) when you slap on some larger wheels you might run into some wheelbite issues.

Upsides: Stable, Comfortable and intuitive at speed
Downsides: Wheelbite on larger wheels, Some people don't like kicks on their downhill boards

There are a ton of double kick freeride boards out there with every conceivable concave combination and technique. With a market so flooded I feel like it can be hard to come up with a board that is truly unique. Let me emphasize that I don't think that Jati reinvented the wheel here, but I do think that Jati found a very special combination with the Chop Suey that really works.
In my opinion, freeride is the Chop Suey's bread and butter. The drop and the rocker lower the board (as I mentioned above) which helps you sink into your slides a little more. The wheel flares and the "bubble" formed over your trucks (from the micro drop) give you something that you can really dig your feet onto for big slides both heel and toeside. I found the Chop Suey to be kind of inexplicably nice for toeside slides. I say inexplicably because I can't put my finger on a single feature that makes it great for toesides... I just liked it a lot.
Another fun freeride feature are those huge ass tails! If you like to slide from the tail or hit any sort of blunt slide variation then the Chop Suey will have you covered.

The only possible downside I can think of for freeride with this board is that people have been slowly gravitating towards smaller and smaller wheelbases over the past couple of years. If you like to rock super narrow wheelbases then you might not find the Chop Suey to be the best fit.

Upsides: Locked In, Feels nice for toesides, Tails
Downsides: Could feel long for shorter riders (although I am 5'9" and it felt great for me)

On their website Jati says the Chop Suey "is an aggressive multi-discipline freerider comfortable in any skating environment." While the Chop Suey may be comfortable in any skate environment, kind of like the common cat (which is literally the world's most ubiquitous and effective predator, look it up!), it is most at home with Freeride. The Chop Suey will handle pretty much anything you throw at it without a problem and, by the way, it is built like a freaking tank. I didn't mention it up above, but the composite construction on this deck made it super durable.
Jati did a bang up job with the Chop Suey. It is very well thought out, damn near indestructible, and versatile. I hope that this post gets one of my favorite smaller companies some much deserved exposure. If you haven't looked into Jati yet... you're blowing it.

My Current Favorite Setup:
-Surf-Rodz 176mm 45* RKPs
-These 66mm 727 wheels
-Zealous Bearings
-Riptide Bushing (WPS Barrel/Barrel)

Thanks for reading!
If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or rare coins...
Send them my way!