Tuesday
Apr302013

Sector 9 Punta Lobos Longboard Review

The Sector 9 Punta Lobos is the name of this longboard within the European market. Within the USA and rest of the world it's known as the Lookout, they are the exact same boards with different names and similar but differing graphics.

The longboard is named after the Punta De Lobos beach in Chile, an area that is world famous for delivering fantastic waves for surfing. The inspirations of this beach have vividly been captured on the board's bottom graphic. A highly detailed wave splashes across the bottom of the deck with some of the board's bamboo used to depict the scene. The illustration establishes the theme of the longboard.

The W concave deck measures 42 inches in length and 9.5 inches in width, and has a 31.5 inch wheel base, it's large and has a perfect foot platform to dance on. Our feet were clamped onto the W concave when riding and we haven't ever experienced any discomfort or cramps from it. The deck tapers in width from the front to the back which is passably aerodynamic. It has a cutaway nose, a flat tail and heavy weight of 8 Ibs making tricks restricted. Trying to accomplish flips is just too much of an effort. It's constructed from ravishing 5ply laminated 100% bamboo that has proved itself to be very resilient so far. We haven't experienced any cracking or splitting but the edges of the board are delicate and chip and scratch easily. Overall it's a sublimely constructed board.

Sector 9 have decided to use clear sand-like spray-on grip tape upon the deck. It allows the bamboo to be visible through it and is definitely a more natural and organic look over traditional grip tape. The retro sunny Sector 9 logo printed on top of the deck is especially angelic. We've actually been bathing in the grips glory; it performed equally well as very grippy coarse tape which it isn't. And the grip has continued to be strong after prolonged usage. It also doesn't severely scrape up hands when they come into contact with it, like traditional grip tape would. Looking at the board from every angle while it's being ridden will always show the attractive bamboo, a detail we are fond of.

Our stock complete setup came with drop through 10-inch Gullwing Charger 50 degree mounted trucks which forbid any wheel bite. These trucks were equipped with no shock pads and we feel that Sector 9 should have included these. It means the metal trucks directly press against the bamboo deck, heavily increasing the likelihood of cracking. We were unable to find out the hardness of the cone styled bushings within the trucks but we'd guess that they're of a medium hardness. By default they're very definite in response and provide quick conservative steering. But can be loosened for slightly more manoeuvrability, compensating some of the control in the process. The trucks are wide and will by default go in a definite straight line, ideal for downhill riding at the stock adjustment. The wheels are 74mm (about two thirds offset) Nineballs which measure 75a in hardness. They are rather soft so absorb rough textures well and perform excellently on asphalt. We all weigh around 140-190 Ibs and they stick to the ground as if they were magnetic; this means they don't sport the hardness needed for acceptable sliding but do present a dazzling carver. So if you're looking to do some serious sliding get harder wheels. The softness of the wheels haven't led them to crack from our usage though, something softer wheels are prone to do. The Abec 5 Greaseball bearings convey smooth and surprisingly sustained speeds, from one push on the flat this board goes on and on. If we hadn't known what Abec measurement they are, we'd have guessed they were around 7-8.

The bamboo deck showcases significant flexibility, favourable for pumping. Jumping onto the board repeatedly will whip it to actually touch the ground below. This is a characteristic for downhill riding that is highly debated within the longboard community. Is it better to have a stiff deck or one with flex? Well we think what really matters is whether the overall board's package rides steadily at high speeds - and we can certify that this does. The highest speed we've so far achieved on this board was around 40mph, which did develop mild but controllable speed wobbles, but when ridden up to around the 30-35mph mark it's peaceful. The Punta Lobos is a bundle that hugs mild-medium steep hills and eradicates any serious death wobbles. The deck is very flexible when necessary, but when it isn't it's tight and locked. It's a superb downhill board. A good board to contrast the style of its downhill performance is the Vault Smart Bomb Longboard. The Smart Bomb solely focused on downhill bombing performance, delivering for the most part, and at a retail price of half the Punta Lobos. However, the Vault is very stiff and skips over a lot of the fun downhill riding delivers. Whereas the Punta Lobos soaks it all up through the energetic bamboo, it's great fun!

On the flip side which is on the flat; the Sector 9 Punta Lobos Longboard harvests a pleasant not overly lively ride. It's steady and is a showy board for cross stepping and dancing. But for sidewalk commuting it's simply not suited. It isn't competent at zigzagging in and out of people or obstacles on the sidewalk and doesn't tear around corners. It's a board that is suited to whip out and ride down the local hills or cruise wide open spaces with. Its carving abilities are impeccable and shine through when ridden in such environments. The wide trucks, soft wheels and flexible deck cook up breezy, tireless and sprightly carving and downhill free riding/cruising abilities. It's a good stable longboard for beginners, and experienced riders will get an exhilarating ride too.

To sum up, the Sector 9 Punta Lobos is a highly stylised longboard, it takes the beach to the asphalt. It's well constructed and is particularly distinguished at having stable downhill fun. At around $200 in the USA and £250 in the UK, we think it's fairly priced.

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