NORMA IBARRA PORTFOLIO // 11.3
— Along with a smile as big as her camera bag (it’s massive), Norma brings so much originality to the table. She...
Last week on Instagram, we asked: what trucks are you currently skating, and why? An impromptu straw poll of sorts. Polls obviously carry a bias, firstly that you’re only getting responses from the kinds of people that would respond to such a poll in the first place. We can assume that the majority of responders are Canadian as well. Beyond that, we won’t go into any metrics of measuring the socio-economic backgrounds of responders. A vote is a vote, and we’ll aim to consider not much beyond what the people have spoken. We mulled over what we read in the comments and dropped it into our story, but now let’s take this loosely collected data and further extrapolate some insights into skateboard truck preferences from it.
Independent had the majority of votes, and responders demonstrated that they are hands down the most fervent fans of their trucks. Whether its through true belief in their products, or years of indoctrination to the brand through the emphatic marketing slogans that users love to recite, or a likely combination of both, Indy riders prove they’d rather fight than switch—or hear about any other brand of trucks. Overwhelmingly, Indy voters were the only sect that regularly made negative comments about other trucks while touting their own. While sales of Independent trucks are presumably declining steadily after moving production to China, not committing to distancing themselves from controversial ramblers, and an ongoing exodus of long-time riders, the die-hards that continue to set-up the trucks that were “Built to Grind” will most likely become even more convicted in their choice of axles as public opinion shifts.
Next up in the ad-hoc voting was Thunder. The most common reason given by choosers-of-Thunder is that they’re lightweight. Many specifically mentioned riding some version of Thunder Hollows. If any truck company is poised to take over the throne should Indy continue losing ground, it’s Thunder. Their typically middle-of-the-road advertising, showcasing a wide variety of skateboarding and pros, offers a broader appeal than the Indy advertising found near-or-on the back cover of the Thrasher, which tend to present a photo dominated by a round handrail, most often viewed from the perspective of a fish out of water. Notably, routine attacks on Thunder cite their alleged-but-unproven inability to turn, which a recent “Welcome (back) to the Team” video for one of the greats did little to quash.
Despite a general inability among users to properly denote their size preference, Ace came up next in our polling. Most responders sung praises along the lines of Ace’s ability to be ridden loose as a goose—leese as geese if you prefer—without having to superglue the kingpin nut on. No mention was made from either the yayers or nayers about bent axles, optical illusions or otherwise. Given their origin story and the clear influence of vintage Independent trucks on their designs, could we ever see Ace take the top spot in the truck market? Could “Loose Trucks Save Lives” become the rallying cry of bowl trolls, rail-chompers, and tech-line stringers alike? Will Aces eventually look exactly like present-day Indys? Could the checkered flag of top truck sales ever go to the wavers of a checkered flag? Common sense points to a resounding “no”, mostly due to a marketing approach that wavers between dormant and in-your-face, but with their sights set on globalizing the brand, anything could happen.
Next in line we have Venture, which is probably the brand we’ll see the biggest spike in if we conduct this poll again in the next year. Interestingly, a few Venture responders were the only people to cite a professional skateboarder as being the main influence in their decision to try out a set of Vs. Not since Andrew Reynolds and Eric Koston signed on with Independent to lighten the load and rebuild the mould have we seen interest in a truck brand rise like we did when Bobby Worrest decided he’d rather switch than fight, while claiming the change was just a desire to do something different. While the days of seeing the likes of Dan Drehobl crushing all terrain on a set of Vs attached to some rather large wheels, and watching influential pros indulge a backyard pool phase on “The Only Trucks That Matter” may be long gone, Venture, more than any other brand, seems in a position to ride the ’90s nostalgia wave and make strides in both the hard and soft goods markets, particularly for those that would rather be “Awake” in this woke time, instead of hiding behind an iron cross.
Fictionally-forged Sternum popped up next, demonstrating that social media, star power, and strong satire can help a modern truck company thrive through softgood sales alone. Sternum drums up the fervency of Indy fans without ever having to answer the all-important “but where are they made?” question.
Z-Rollers are either the kinds of trucks that only old skateshop owners skate, or the kinds of trucks that only old skateshop owners find funny as a response.
As we near the bottom of the list, we discover that people are still tracking down sets of Krux, Silver, Tensor, Grind King, and Royal. Are these mere outliers? Or are there small-town strongholds across the country where sales reps are truly punching above their weight, taking on Big Truck with steady sales of trucks that double as bottle openers, while raking in repeat orders on axle tip guards, slider replacements, and kingpins that require an Allen key? Can a truck company exist as only part of a Crailtap rep-flow package?
There we have it, a microcosm of truck tastes compiled in a most unscientific manner and mulled over by a most unscientific writer. Will we see former heavyweights and now extremely-niche-nostalgia brands like Tracker and Gullwing pick up any steam in the future? Will Film trucks brave the Atlantic crossing, shipping rates be damned? Only time will tell if it’ll remain “Time to Grind” forever. — Jeff Thorburn