Spencer Smith: Your Friendly Neighborhood Speed Scientist
I’ve known Spencer Smith for more than a few years. We spent some time on the same team for a bit and Spencer was a grom and kind of geek with his setups. While more often than not most young riders are just trying to have some fun and core some wheels, Spencer was chasing down the best and trying to find his maxim velocity. If you want to go fast and win podiums, the science stuff can definitely help and Spencer has been investigating, tweeking, and tuning his setups with an eye for speed and competitive racing to some great success. With his need for speed also comes a search for new roads and an endless need to travel and Spencer has been crushing as many frequent flier miles as he has roads it seems. Lending his insight and experience to his sponsors, Spencer is at home with Northwest board builders DB Longboards and is shredding their newest release, the Keystone, all over the world. Peep the quicky interview and watch some rad footage from the Speed Scientist, Spencer Smith!
Spencer! How’s the summer going. Last I saw you was Maryhill and you were killing it!
Howdy Les, thanks! Summer has been fantastic, got back from an incredible European trip a few weeks ago, Maryhill was incredible, and the weather has been nothing but sun so I really can’t complain, although I’m sure some rain would help the west coast drought, we need that water.
Were you riding the keystone at Maryhill and then in Europe?
Basically, its a keystone just with the nose mirrored to both ends. I don’t use the tail enough that I’d want it on my race board so we made a symmetrical one, is quite rad.
Damn. Is that your go to board now?
Most definitely, its the first board in 5+ years that I haven’t modified/changed in any way before racing/riding it and knowing me that says a lot. It feels exactly right.
The #turnlefttrek has come to a close. Can’t say thanks enough to everyone that helped to make it happen and those that helped us out along the way! The trip was incredible and @adamlittleskates and @henningpat made for the best crew. Now that I’m back in the land of the free and home of the Internet I’ll finally be able to start posting things up from the trek, stay tuned! This shot is from our last day thrashing wheels on a wonderful Swiss hill. #homeagainhomeagain #murgedwheels
You’ve been known as a bit of a ‘Speed Scientist’, always having your strong inclinations to tech to help your game, what’s your current setup looking like? or does it change to the situation?
I’m riding the DB Longboards Keystone (sym-cut as mentioned above), with rogue trucks 43 front wedged +3 and a 30 back de-wedged -2, setup on the shortest wheelbase. I run venom urethane all around in my trucks with pink insert bushings, green and red tall barrels in front, and double glow in the dark tall barrels in the back. 78a Rad Advantages are my wheel of choice for everything, and I have Hondar Skate extra course grip on top with two wippermann spikes for added control. The setup doesn’t change except a few cranks to tighten things down if I’m going really really quick.
Setup is feeling quite dialed at the #kozakovchallenge 👌and qualifying starts tomorrow! @dblongboards #dbkeystone (sym cut), @radesigns 78a advantages, @roguetrucks 43/30, @venombushings tall barrels all around, and some @hondarskate super coarse grip tape #gearupgetrad #racecarundermyfeet #turnlefttrek A photo posted by Spencer Smith (@speedscientist) on
You’ve taken tech pretty far too, right? You had a pretty specific pro model for a while there?
Indeed, I started in slalom and love to tinker so tech is part of who I am on a skateboard. The Robot Special was/is? my promodel, an asymmetrical downhill beast that I still love dearly. I learned so much from being able to design a board like that from the ground up. Big thanks to Tim at DB for putting up with all that, without him there is no way that board would’ve come to fruition. Dialing it in was quite the process that I think non of us expected.
The most stoke and the most thanks going out to @dblongboards for the sick @skateslate full-pager. So amped on this Christmas gift, looking forward to the future, thanks for making the best boards, trying out my crazy ideas, supporting me! #stokedaf #fullpager #lookmaimonpaper #robotspecial #skateslate #catalinaislandclassic @khaleeqovision photo A photo posted by Spencer Smith (@speedscientist) on
After something so specific, not that the Keystone isn’t tech, but why the shift?
The Robot Special was designed with going fast in mind and that was mainly it. Its longer wheel base, deeper drop, larger platform, and asymmetric concave all cater to drifting and stability. All things I like but I found myself free riding a decent bit too and just wanting something more versatile and a bit smaller, since I didn’t love always having bumps under my toes while doing standup (hands down that board is a dream though). Thus it made sense for me to switch and the keystone is basically everything I would’ve wanted to change to the robot to continue riding that solely as my board of choice.
So moving from sort of ‘ergonomic tech’ to construction tech, the Keystone is pretty advanced right?
Yup we pulled out all the stops with this one, urethane tip and tail, fiberglass, carbon fiber, massive integrated wheel wells, its all there. These features had been seen in the longboard world before, but never were combined in a complete package like this until the Keystone came together. Dialing in the keystone actually took longer than the robot did and Garrett Creamer put up with a lot (DB team mate and the Keystone’s designer), the results of all this still blows my mind.
Does knowing you have all that science underfoot make you want to skate harder?
Not directly. With all the ‘science’ I don’t worry about my gear at all since the board is for most purposes bullet proof (Garrett through his off many buildings and even unleashed the ‘Dana Monster’ on it…but that’s a story for another time). Since I don’t think about it I just go, thus riding harder and pushing myself is the byproduct since nothing gear-wise is fighting me/holding me back.
You travel around the world and have skated some of the best runs, but you always seem so hyped on Washington, what’s great about Washington roads?
As lame as it sounds, probably pavement hahhaha. We have a climate with rain, but not much cold and hardly any snow/salting/plowing so we don’t get the frost heaves and mega chunder really anywhere unless the roads are super old. Even though our descents aren’t long and may not have as many wicked corners as some other locales, its almost always smooth and consistent.
After being away for so long, is it nice to come home to familiar curves?
Kinda, home hills are sweet since its where you’re comfortable, you know traffic patterns, and can skate with your closest buds. But the roads in Europe I was riding put most everything in the NW to shame in terms of technicality and difficulty. I felt like I could’ve stayed and kept skating the “blacks and double blacks” there for a few more weeks before coming home to the “blues and greens” of the NW. That being said NW hills have their own character that I enjoy and definitely allow you to dial in your skating and progress, it just takes more initiative to do so, rather than letting the hills push you you have to push yourself.
You travel a lot, so I am sure home is short lived right now, where to next?
Home was short lived earlier in the summer but now I’m back for a little while. The next adventure for me is a return to the Whistler Longboard Festival! School starts in a bout a month so I’m getting my ducks in a row for that, thus most of my travel was on the front end this year.
Thanks for the chat Spencer. Stoked to see you in a new video! Any shootouts? Last words?
Thanks so much Les, good to hear from you! A huge shoutout to my parents for their continued support in all that I do. Also Matt Mcdonald for his camera wizardry, he ran 3 angles multiple times while shooting this piece! He is a joy shoot/work with, is always good to talk to, and a quick study to skate culture and media. MATT IS THE MAN!