Review: Loaded Kanthaka[wptouch target=”mobile”][/wptouch]
As Loaded said in their introduction for the board, the Kanthaka has been “their little secret,” and man, I am stoked to have the chance to ride it. This is a tech-slide, freeride, city-oriented, double-kick, shredding machine that is meant to conquer the streets and any obstacle in its path. By no means should the release of this fine piece of skateboarding equipment live in the shadow of Loaded’s Chubby Unicorn—this board has enough gusto and character to stand wholly on its own when compared to its bigger brother. I tested this board in a whirl of different conditions including street skating, garage runs, steep hills, skateparks and commuting around town. This board has been a blast since I first stepped on it and has served me well for everything I’ve thrown at it so far.
Looking at the hard facts, the Kanthaka is meant to slay any concrete playground you might find yourself in. A symmetrical 36” board with 7.5” kicktails, a 17.5” wheelbase and two width options of 8.625” and 8.875” (I’ve been riding the 8.875” version since I have some big ol’ feet). It’s a lot of board packed into a fairly small package. Couple those stats with a snappy, light construction, some mellow rocker, elliptical concave, and integrated wheel well flares and you have yourself a board that is seriously addictive. This board fits 65mm wheels with ease with no risers on a fairly loose, conventional kingpin set up—man those wheel wells come in handy!
The Kanthaka rides snappy, quick, and agile under your feet. The layers of bamboo veneer, vertically laminated bamboo, triaxial E-glass and epoxy make for a lightweight construction that keeps you on your toes (figuratively, of course) while riding it. The extra layer of carbon fiber in the nose and tail seems to give the board some great additional pop, making lofty ollies, nollies, and flip tricks a breeze. Apparently the board is not entirely symmetrical since the nose kick is a tiny bit steeper than the tail, but this is hardly noticeable while riding which means you can ride switch and it will feel just as good as regular. The board’s overall rectangular shape, 36” length and 8.875” width means you have a solid amount of room for your feet to play around and feel comfortable on. There’s plenty of space for your feet to contact the board which gives you supreme control over the Kanthaka. This alone will give you a bit of self-assurance while bombing down those San Francisco hills, trying to hold out that nose blunt slide, conquering the bowl at your local skatepark, or even ollieing that one gap that you and your friends have always looked at.
A big plus of having the angled kicktails is that they give you some added control while riding around tight obstacles as well as extra foot space while sliding. Of course, they also allow you to bust out any flip trick you’re tempted to try. At first I thought that the wheel well flares were going to make technical tricks more difficult, but I hardly noticed them after trying varial and 360 flips the first few times. Perhaps it isn’t the best for flip tricks and maybe they will throw off your dialed kickflip a little, but you’ll adjust to the Kanthaka’s platform quickly and likely without complaints. Riding this board through my local skatepark was a blast and performed more to my liking that any other double kick I’ve ridden.
Like most double-kick boards, it takes some time to master the shorter wheelbase at higher speeds. The first time riding a deck like this can be a bit intimidating on a bigger hill, but have no fear! The concave rocker combo gives your feet a nice, locked-in feeling when riding as well as when sliding. This means you can slow down easily when you need to (so long as you are still somewhat in control). You can utilize the kicktails as well as the wheel well flares in a wide variety of ways to get just the right feeling for when you’re sliding. One of the most solid foot placements I used was from wedging my feet between the kick and the wheel well flare. Since the board is a little bit narrow for my bigger feet (I wear a US size 12), I found myself rocking some serious monkey toe on my toesides and really digging in and hanging my heel off the edge for heelsides. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and tends to be pretty normal when I ride narrower decks, but it is still something to watch out for if you plan on doing a lot of sliding. For most, the flares and kicks will provide plenty of control over a slide, but for me, I like having just a little bit more leverage going sideways.
One thing that I am interested to see is how the construction of this board lasts in comparison to a typical maple skate deck. So far, I have been riding the Kanthaka fairly aggressively and have gotten some solid dings in the sidewall as well as some quality razor tail on the kicks. The board is showing obvious signs of wear from the past few weeks of skating, but only time will tell how it will last in the long run.
Now I’m sure some of you are asking why you should spend so much money on a deck that looks like a slightly fancier version of a normal skate deck. Hell, why should you spend money on a normal skate deck at all? Well, this board, as well as any double-kick is all about freedom of expression while riding. As I said earlier, this board will essentially allow you to conquer any concrete obstacle you come across. The double-kick opens up a huge range of possibilities in skateboarding and longboarding; it helps you to see your terrain differently and engage in it differently. It reminds you that there are no rules in skateboarding and that you can skate anything and everything you want so long as you have the creativity and drive to accomplish it. So, even if you don’t think this board is right for you, I still urge you to pick up some kind of double kick and mess around on it.
What sets this board apart from your average double kick is the attention to detail given in design and construction. The shape, the size, the placement of the wheel well flares (something you won’t find on a normal deck), the proportion and angle of the tail kicks. When you ride it, you can really tell that it was designed by riders to be a high performance deck. And yes, the price is steep, but as with other boards in the Loaded line up, you get what you’re paying for. As I said earlier, I’ve ridden this board on a wide array of pavements and terrains to try and provide you with a comprehensive review. However, if I missed something you’re interested in, feel free to ask and I’ll try to answer as the best I can.