Friday, January 31, 2020

"My journey into the Tech Deck underground"

I became a fan of YouTube fingerboard personalities Kelsey Barker and Jeremy “ChubyMuffin” Pastor, and I kept finding references to something called “BRTs,” which I soon discovered was shorthand for a product called Blackriver Trucks. These tiny, immensely popular trucks are made by a company called Blackriver, based out of a small town in the German state of Bavaria. They cost $65 for a pair, more expensive than actual skateboard trucks (the company also makes fingerboard decks, wheels, grip tape, and “obstacles” to do tricks on). In pictures online, they glisten in colors of black, chrome, and gold. Many fingerboarders seem mystified by these coveted pieces of hardware. Reddit is full of posts asking if they’re worth the price compared to other types of fingerboard trucks; generally, the consensus seems to be yes.


On retail sites like Big Cartel and in the back alleys of Instagram DMs, fingerboard craftsmen like Vlad Ivanenko of Catfishbbq, John Cowart of Cowply, and Kalye Decks owners Christian Gonzales and Jude Lugtu sell handmade, five-ply wooden decks built to exacting specifications. Usually they feature original artwork applied to the board using heat-transfer techniques that allow for signs of skateboarding-style wear and tear. Other premiere brands like Joycult and Oak Wheels offer up urethane wheels with tiny bearings in them, while Blackriver, Dynamic Fingerboards, and Yellowood sell high-precision trucks that allow you to swerve and turn.