Review: Chasing Dreams on the Loaded Chubby Unicorn[wptouch target=”mobile”][/wptouch]
Whoa Nelly, it’s finally here! The Loaded downhill freeride board; the fabled steez steed that was once just a myth and a far off dream. At long last, the Chubby Unicorn has made its entry to the longboarding world. After years of construction testing and manipulation, countless prototypes and tweaks, innumerable amounts of roadrash and oodles of myth and magic, all the factors have finally come together to give you the next level of boards. I remember first hearing about the fabled Loaded board when I first got my Vanguard flex 2 in 2008 and thinking about it now, there was no way I would have ever envisioned something like the Chubby Unicorn to be the final product—we’ve come a long way.
It’s hard to know exactly where to start with a board like this. Loaded has really raised the bar on nearly all levels of production. Likely you’ve already been drooling over the Loaded Boards webpage with all the tech specs, features and construction methods that went into this fine piece of shred equipment (if not, you definitely should!), but just in case, here is a quick laundry list of all the board has to offer. The board measures in at 42.25” long with two 7” long kicktails, 9.75” wide and a 28.25” wheelbase. At 4.9 lbs of deck, it weighs less than I expected for the length and stiffness of the board. Your symmetrical standing platform comes equipped with subtly concaved kicktails, wheel flares, a whopping serving of w-concave, and enough rocker to make a difference (but not too much to make the platform feel awkward). Underneath the hood you’ll find recessed truck mounts, massive wheel wells, and some fine feeling grab rails. Fancy features include a shiny layer of UHMW polyethylene covering the entire base of the board, extra high durometer Orangatang urethane sidewalls, and precision cut laminated basswood sandwiched between layers of triaxial E glass/epoxy. I’ll just let you soak all that in for a moment.
Do I even need to tell you that this board feels amazing underfoot? Well I’ll say it regardless. It does. This is the most comfortable and confidence inspiring board that I have set my feet on to date. Those years of research and development were put to good use to create the Chubby Unicorn, and here’s why.
We might as well start by looking at the concave, since it’s that oh-so-intimate place where you connect directly to the board. The sheer amount of topographical variance on the board’s surface is enough to always let you know where your feet are without ever looking down. In a tuck, you have your front wheel flare to wedge your to against (essentially a built in toe-stop), and if you have a wide stance like me, you can use the rear wheel flare as another comforting spot for your rear foot. If your stance is a bit shorter, no worries, you can find plenty of reference points to place your feet in the cushy w-concave the runs the entire length of the deck.
Let’s talk about speed. You get going fast and your feet want somewhere to go. Well, the huge effective foot platform and fancy board landscape gives you that, without a doubt. What else does the Chubby have to offer at high speeds? Well, for one, the grab rails under the board make great love handles to hold on to while predrifting or railing corners. Also, the construction of the board plays a huge role in making it ideal for ripping down your favorite hills. This deck is stiff and yet yielding at speed. There is hardly any noticeable flex when riding it, but due to all the layers in the boards build, there is a slight dampening effect that’s noticeable on rough pavement and when you’re in speed mode. This construction quality is a very welcome attention-to-detail that makes your ride just that much more comfortable and is part of the reason why I say Loaded has raised the bar with the Chubby Unicorn.
Now, when I first heard there was going to be W on this deck, I was a little put off (I’ve always been a bit more of a mellow tub or radial guy), but because the W is so exaggerated it really works with the board’s width to give you a really locked in feeling wherever your feet end up. When sliding, the concave cradles your feet and holds them close to the board’s surface. Whether you’re predrifting, whipping out colemans, or holding out obscenely long stand-up slides, your feet and the Chubby Unicorn will not want to separate and will perform in fantastic harmony. You can make use all the flares at the same time when holding out slides and most of the time you can switch from toeside to heelside without having to move your feet. Now, I have size 12 feet (Loaded says they designed this board with size 8-11 shoes in mind) and I do move my feet from time to time to take more advantage of key points in the boards concave, but that’s just me.
The sheer versatility of this board is something you will only truly understand until you stand on it, but I will do my best to articulate for you all. Check out those nose and tail kicks. They have such a subtle amount of concave in them, and yet, your feet stay right where you want them to. Use them to do whatever you please. Bored of a hill? Try to manual down the entire thing. Then try to nose manual it as well just for kicks (warning: may result in face plants galore). Nasty cracks on some of your favorite runs? Get your ollie into working condition. I’ll admit that the concave of the deck made a bit strange to ollie at first, but you get used to it quickly. The proportions of the kicks to the board are finely tuned so that yes, you can do flip tricks on this board if you’d like. This gives you something to practice while you’re waiting for your friends to finish up that last run. Kickflips, 360 flips, shuv-its, g-turns, hang tens; I really don’t know how you could ever go bored with this board under your feet. Add in the grab rails, and you can add all sorts of early grab variations to your arsenal of tricks.[sam id=”8″ codes=”true”]
As I said before, the construction quality of this deck really puts it in a whole new class of longboards, and I wanted to say a few more things about it. Firstly, the urethane sidewall is a fantastic idea. It acts like a built in insurance policy that will protect your board from some harsh impacts. Yes, I have curbed this board already at some decently high speeds, and even with a direct, nose-first collision, the board came out with no noticeable damage beyond a few scuffs. I mentioned how the layer of UHMW polyethylene on the bottom aids in vibration dampening at speed, but it does more than just that. When coupled with the triaxial E glass/epoxy on the top, these layers create an extremely durable waterproof seal around the board. The days of worrying about waterlogging your expensive downhill deck are over. I have heard people worry about the durability of these materials, but so far they have proved they can hold their own. I have purposely been riding down stairs, scraping my tail, and attempting board slides on this and I have not managed to break the UHMW polyethylene or the urethane from the board’s wood core.
I didn’t dislike much on the Chubby Unicorn, but the board does have short-comings in a few areas. First, I would have liked to see variable wheelbases. Now, I can see how it would have been difficult to make it work with the wheel flares and recessed truck mounts, but I’m sure it’s possible. After coming from a board with a 25” wheelbase, the Chubby Unicorn did not feel nearly as agile as my other deck. Also something to note, the Chubby isn’t exactly designed with commuters in mind. The fancy concave is great for freeriding and downhill but not ideal for pushing. If you’re like me, you’ll be fine pushing it from spot to spot, but you won’t want to use it as your everyday commuter. Finally, I know something that many of you will likely mention is the price. While it is the most expensive board on the market that I know of, I don’t think it is completely unreasonable. When you take into account all that you’re getting in this one deck—a deck that will likely outlive all of your other skateboards—I think it’s relatively fair. If you’re not convinced, head over to YouTube and listen to the last 5 minutes of the Push Culture News Holiday Wishlist 2012 where Brian Davenport gives a solid argument for the deck’s price.
I would describe this board as plush with love handles to spare, yet svelte and fierce like a snow leopard, ready to pounce. The Chubby Unicorn has an extremely well thought out design that keeps your skating confident and constantly progressing. Now that Loaded has raised the bar, I have the distinct feeling that we will see more companies using technology similar to what’s seen in the Chubby Unicorn soon. Now, this board will not instantly make you an amazing skater, but it will give you some serious extra confidence to try new maneuvers and runs that you may have felt sketchy on before. I tried to make this as comprehensive of a review as possible, but I’m sure I missed some things that some of you are interested in. If that is the case, feel free to ask any questions and I’ll do what I can to answer them![sam id=”9″ codes=”true”]