Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Anything but Traditional -- Surf-Rodz Traditional Kingpin Trucks (TKP) Review -- by Matt Fagan

I’ve been riding Surf-Rodz TKPs for over a year now and have thoroughly enjoyed them. I’ve spent those many months trying them on a variety of boards with a variety of bushing shapes and durometers and they have been the single hardest truck to get dialed in that I’ve owned. This isn’t due to anything wrong; they are just very sensitive to different mountings, wedging, wheelbases, and bushings. This means they could be adapted to a variety of preferences and riding styles. It also means that you probably won’t get them set up perfect on your first try. I’m here to help point you in the right direction in tweaking them to perfection.

First off, Surf-Rodz TKPs used to be called INDeeSZ. Surf-Rodz changed the name from “IndeeSZ” to “TKP” in the “Hex” and “Grind” varieties. This makes a lot more sense and removes some confusion as “IndeeSZ” sounds exactly like “Indys” which was obviously intentional and clever, but having to specify which one when talking about them is annoying. Also, the two trucks feel very different. This is down to the bent pivot vs. straight pivot difference, among many other things. IndeeSZ do not feel like a precision Indy. They feel completely different. They are more like a 45* RKP truck with a massive amount of rake and a really low axle. All current TKPs come with a grind kingpin, which has a built-in washer and reduces the risk of catching a kingpin significantly. I snagged mine pretty often on all sorts of crap in the road/bumps until I got grind kingpins, but haven’t had any problems since then.

TKPs come in two hangar styles: “Grind” and “Hex.” The Hex TKPs are hexagonal, whereas the Grind TKPs have a rounded hangar for smoother grinding. There are also quite a few different widths available, as well as the option for fixed 8mm axles or adjustable 10mm axles. I went for the fixed axle 177mm hex hangar, as I like the convenience of 8mm axles and knew 177mm was the right width for what I wanted. The hangar and bushing seat are two separate pieces that are bolted together. I haven’t had any issues with it coming loose or breaking. I check the bolts every once in a while, and they’ve always stayed tight. The two-piece design reduces cost quite a bit.
Wedging and dewedging make a huge difference with SZ TKPs. I’m not going to try to pretend I understand the million factors of truck geometry that make a truck feel the way it does (kingpin orientation, baseplate angle, hangar width, bushing seat, axle offset, rake, axle height, wheelbase effect, etc.), but, subjectively, they don’t all respond the same to the same changes. Run at their stock angle, TKPs turn like crazy and lean a lot. Dewedge them and they lean like crazy and turn a lot. Dewedging reduces the pivot angle (making for a lower angle truck) and is done with wedge risers putting the fat end out. I like my TKPs dewedged at least a couple degrees, but then I also like lower angle RKP trucks as well. Flat, they are very responsive (‘twitchy’ to some). They have a very solid center point, but any bump in the pavement with a little speed and they move a lot. I’ve really enjoyed them both dewedged ~7-8*, and having a split of a slight dewedge in the front and more in the back.
I’ve found that I like both barrels and fatcone-shaped bushings on the bottom, and either a barrel or cone on top. I typically ride topmounts without wheel cutouts (just wheelwells) and like a Venom Freeride or Riptide Fatcone on the bottom and a Reflex 650 barrel on top. When riding microdrops with proper cutouts, I like a barrel/cone setup for some really sketchy slidey fun. Cupped washers and larger flat washers don’t work on top as they hit the hangar, but the built-in washer of the grind kingpins is perfect. If you have older TKPs without grind kingpins, you should seriously consider getting some. Some bottom bushings require a washer and some don’t. Venom and similar-sized bushing need a washer, and Surf-Rodz and taller bushings (like Sabres or Reflex 650) do not. Particularly deep cupped washers on the bottom can also dig into the bushing seat at maximum lean, So I’ve stuck to flat washers on the bottom.

Drop-through + TKPs = no grip. The ride height was completely silly but hard carves were sketchy. Super wide and grippy wheels (Bustin Royce wheels) helped, but still broke out a couple times when I didn’t want them to. I couldn’t dewedge them enough to reduce oversteer as they got hangar bite (a board with rocker didn’t help either). There are people who ride TKPs on double-drops and love it, but I am not one of those people. I like mine on topmounts and micro-drops.

All Surf-Rodz trucks don’t use speed rings as they have them machined into the hangar. This didn’t seem like a big deal until I did a wheel swap. Not having to mess around with speed rings made changing wheels so much easier, faster, and cleaner. A small point I know, but it is nice.

Downhill on TKPs is not for me. I find them very responsive, which gets twitchy at higher speeds. I like them most on short wheelbases, which doesn’t help. There are people who downhill on TKPs, but it’s a case of, “They’re what I’m used to and most comfortable on.”
They aren’t too heavy, they come in a good assortment of widths, they are quite resistant to bending, they are low, they are turny even when run tight, etc. TKPs are great freestyle trucks.
Again, TKPs are: low, not too heavy, turny, pump well (especially with split angles), and come in many widths. They’re fun at low speeds and not too tall even when on a topmount. Make sure you have grind kingpins to clear rocks, cracks, and pavement transitions.

I love dewedged TKPs for freeride. They lean a lot, they turn a lot, and they don’t grip a lot. They’re my favorite and are fun sliding even at my putting speeds.
Bottom Line
You will have fun on some TKPs if you’re willing to put in the effort to get them dialed to your preferences. Don’t get Surf-Rodz TKPs just because you want precision trucks and they are some of the cheapest. Stupid, I know, but I’m sure it happens. Get them if they are what you want in a truck and because they are awesome. If you’re only raging fast mountain roads, they probably aren’t for you. If you are that lucky, they will at least bring a little sketchy excitement to your runs.

My Current Favorite Setup
Clutch Big Bacon – orange flushcut B-side – longest wheelbase
SURF-RODZ TKPS – 177mm hex – dewedged with Khiro soft wedge risers (8*)
85a Venom Freeride bushings on the bottom, 86a Reflex 650 barrels on top
Mile High Skates Bearings and spacers
Cult Classics

Peace, love, and stoke,

Dargon Captain Fat Megan