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Review

REVIEW: DVS Chico Brenes Nica

For each of our reviews we try to sift through the hype and give you our honest feedback on products before you shell out your hard earned cash on something you’ve never tried before. For this installment, we review the DVS Chico Brenes Nica shoe.

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This shoe was released in 2014 and is Chocolate Skateboards’ Chico Brenes’ pro model.

Overview

Chico Brenes has been killin’ it on the board for so long, so it’s somewhat an understatement to say that I was hyped to slide my feet into a pair of Nica’s for testing. The Nica has a cupsole construction reminiscent of skate shoes past with a more traditional late ’90s-’00s design aesthetic but updated to the present day needs of modern skateboarding (read=slimmed down toebox but not too pointy). You get a durable suede upper, with a mesh tongue that offers breathability, an ortholite footbed, and a flex feel Herringbone thread patterned sole. The grey model’s sole also comes in sticky gum rubber, perfect for that all round grip, so you don’t get that unwanted slip. Just the right amount of grip, with no noticeable slip both on worn down grip tape and on smooth skate plaza surfaces (Stoner Plaza tested).

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Feel, flexibility and flick

The Nica has a moderately flexible sole, definitely in between the flexibility of a typical vulcanized shoe and the stiffer cupsoles on the market. The ortholite insoles are good to go straight out of the box, and definitely a step up from the usual stock insoles that a lot of models tend to come with nowadays.

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The flick on the toebox is excellent, and the mid-sized silhouette makes it pretty easy to get the perfect flick on those kickflips. Another plus is that the lace placement is pulled back enough to stay out of the way from most griptape damage from kickflips. One very interesting feature here is that the toe box is actually encased in a rubber shell that lines the inside of the shoe’s upper below the suede outer. This gives the toes a good amount of protection from 360 shoves gone wrong, and also adds to the shoe’s lifespan. This rubber toe box shell does take a little getting used to as it feels a little bit stiffer.

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I really liked that the heel cup is very sturdy, with sufficient rigidity through a hard thermoplastic insert in the heel that greatly reduces the chance of a rolled ankle due to a breakdown in the shoe’s structural integrity through prolonged use. There’s also a nice little touch with the heel loop and the little yellow peeking through the grey suede cutaway. Great attention to detail.

Score: 9/10

Breathability

One aspect of the Nica that might be improved is the breathability in the upper. While the breathable tongue is amazing, the rest of the upper could do with more ventilation holes, especially during the hot summer months. The shoe did heat up pretty quickly as each session progressed.

Score: 7/10

Cushioning and impact absorption

I generally prefer cupsoles, and given the choice, I typically skate cupsoles more often than vulcs. That being said, the Nica, while a cupsole, still has some of that vulc flexibility in its sole while not sacrificing too much of the support as often characterizes really thin cupsoles. Nevetheless, the outsole itself did seem to pack out a little quick (after about 10 hours of cumulative skating), and this could be due to the higher density rubber used (which offered better durability). It would have been nice to have a slightly softer outsole too, for better impact absorption, as the impact of each landing started to become more clearly felt at the 10 hour mark. But compared to typical vulcanized shoes, the Nica has a tremendous amount of cushioning and impact absorption characteristics. Bottom line, this isn’t the most cushioned cupsole on the market, but neither is it any where near the worst.

Score: 7.5/10

Durability

Wear pictures after 15 hours of skating.

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The Nica really excels in it’s durability. As mentioned earlier, the toe box has an underlying rubber shell below the suede surface and this adds considerably to the shoe’s lifespan. After breaking through the suede outer in the 5th hour, the underlying rubber/thermomesh layer takes up the slack and takes a long time to wear down. So this is a definite plus for all you kickflippers out there. This rubber layer will probably last a good 10 hours beyond the 15 hour mark, based on the current rate of wear. The outsole bumper is also of a slightly higher density rubber so it wore down gradually and well during the shoe’s life. The gum sole also held up excellently to griptape abuse, and was still plenty grippy even at the 15 hour mark.

Score: 9/10

Overall conclusions

The DVS Nica is a great all round shoe if you skate a lot of ledges and jump down smaller stair sets. The Nica has a relatively flexible sole, in between that of typical cupsoles and vulc offerings. With it’s fairly decent amount of cushioning, the Nica will probably hold up to the demands of smaller stair and rail chompers but the outsole does tend to pack out at around the 10 hour mark. The Nica really excels in the durability department with it’s rubber/thermomesh underlayer in the toebox (which also doubles as a protective shell for those errant boards landing on one’s toes). I really liked the gum sole from the grey colorway, which stayed plenty grippy through the 15 hour mark, and this was a HUGE plus in my book. Overall, this is a great shoe for the ledge aficionados and small stairset/drop crowd, and totally aligns with the kind of skateboarding Chico Brenes is known for. I give this shoe two thumbs up! -HK

 

 

 

Review

REVIEW: Andale Swiss Bearings

For each of our reviews we try to sift through the hype and give you our honest feedback on products before you shell out your hard earned cash on something you’ve never tried before. In this REVIEW, we look at Andale’s Swiss bearings which were tested over a 6 month period.

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Andale is Joey Brezinski and Paul Rodriguez’s foray into the skateboard bearings market with bearings offered in ABEC 5, ABEC 7 and Swiss versions. With a stacked team, a strong social media push and pretty eye catching branding, Andale has definitely created quite a buzz in the industry.

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Andale’s Swiss bearings come with a one-sided non-contact blue shield and semi-translucent plastic retainers (crowns). The bearings come pre-lubricated with a low viscosity oil and are pretty much good to go straight out of the box. The one-sided plastic shield is non-contact and installed on the side of the bearing where the balls sit in the crown. Note that the Swiss bearings do not come with bearing spacers, so you will have to purchase them separately. The bearings rolled true in the races when new and were pretty quiet when rolling.

Overall impressions

Having ridden these bearings for the past 6 months (with the shields on) for approximately 200+ hours, these bearings have been smooth, fast and required very little maintenance. They were skated in the streets as well as in smooth concrete plazas and bowls.

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Here’s how they rated (10 being the best, and 1 being the worst):

Speed: 9

Durability: 8

Ease of maintenance: 9 (how easy was it to clean the bearings)

While the bearings were definitely fast and modestly priced for a set of Swiss bearings (Andale Swiss retails for approximately $36-$40), 2 of the retainers did break during the testing period, which was a little surprising (granted that skateboard bearings typically undergo a fair amount of abuse from repeated ollies, impact with various obstacles and also drops of various heights) since spacers were used in every wheel and the largest drop attempted was landing off a 1.5 foot high ledge. There also wasn’t a systematic pattern to which bearing (or in which wheel) the retainers typically broke. The initial breakage in the retainers usually started with a hairline split accompanied by a slowdown in the bearing plus some tell-tale noisiness in the spin. While this wasn’t a deal breaker, this did mean that either the retainer or the bearing had to be replaced which would be a minor inconvenience if you were in the middle of a session.

For maintenance, the bearings were oiled with 1 drop of speed cream once every 3 months, and this definitely kept them rolling smoothly. The blue shields were also pretty snug in keeping dirt out of the bearings and certainly prolonged the life of the bearings. The bearings were also easy to clean and reassemble. Overall the bearings remained satisfactorily fast and smooth over the 6 month trial period.

Overall, Andale Swiss Bearings are a modestly priced, fast Swiss bearings that are also fairly durable. They are definitely worth trying and I like these bearings enough that they are staying on my go to board! Do you want to see some Andale bearings in a future KrakBox? Let us know what you think! -HK

 

 

 

Review

REVIEW: Autobahn Wheel Co AB-S Series

For each of our reviews we try to sift through the hype and give you our honest feedback on products before you shell out your hard earned cash on something you’ve never tried before. First up in our REVIEW series is Autobahn Wheel Co’s AB-S series wheel in 56mm.

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The AB-S wheel is one of Autobahn’s flagship lines and comes in a 99a durometer pour of their AB-S SuperPerformance urethane in what they term a “slim shape.” The AB-S series comes in a variety of sizes, with 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 56, and 59mm and also in a Limited Edition 52.5 mm diameter. You’ll pretty much be able to find your choice in size of wheel, sans problem.

Dimensions and characteristics

We tried the AB-S in 56mm, and the relevant wheel dimensions/characteristics are as follows:

IMG_3112Diameter: 56mm

Riding surface (width): 18.5mm

Wheel width: 29.5mm

Durometer: 99a

Color: white

Most wheel durometers nowadays typically fall in the 99a-101a range on the A scale or 80b-83b on the B scale. Without going into a debate on the usefulness and appropriateness of each scale, the harder the wheel, the higher the rebound which gives a generally faster wheel as momentum is better maintained as the wheel rolls(less energy lost due to structural deformations) but is usually accompanied by a more “bumpy” ride on rough surfaces. Softer wheels are typically grippier (although certain brands also have some harder wheels which have above average grip for their high durometers), and also give a smoother ride over rougher terrain, but as a consequence tend to be slower, and can tend to compress a bit more on landings(mush out), so rolling away from tricks may require a bit more effort.

Overall impressions

We rode these 56mm AB-S in the streets, on slippery concrete skate plazas and also in various concrete bowls. Here’s how we rated the wheels(10 being the best, and 1 being the worst):

Speed: 9 out of 10

Speed retention for its durometer: 10 out of 10 (this gauges whether the wheel feels fast/slow for its durometer)

Durability: 10 out of 10

Grip: 9 out of 10

Flatspot resistance: 9 out of 10

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Conclusions

We definitely liked these wheels and skated them for a total of 18 months(yes, you read that right). And after all the abuse we threw at them, the 56mm wheels had amazingly only worn down to 52.5mm.  Trust us when we tell you that we’d ridden them on some really rough streets while street skating. They were fast, predictable on the slide, and didn’t seem to slip out on sharp carves and turns even in slippery skateparks. They’ve kept their speed throughout this entire time, and haven’t given us any real problems with flatspots from powerslides or various slides on ledges. These wheels were definitely also pretty grippy when we tried frontside ollies on slick quarterpipes and dusty street plazas (we originally picked these wheels up specifically to skate slippery skate plazas), and also slid when you needed them on nose and tailslides. The wheels also worked really well in slicker bowls so if you’re looking for a lightweight, slimmer transition wheel, these might be worth considering. The crazy thing is these wheels are still going strong, and we actually picked up another set(see picture below)! We’re really amazed at how long these wheels have lasted after more than 300 hours of skating. These wheels are awesome, and definitely get the thumbs up from us!

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