MBS – The New Style (Part 1)

The biggest name in mountainboards has launched their new streamlined range and it’s bursting with innovative tech. Joel Lee chats exclusively to us about the most progressive changes since the early noughties… Part 1: spotlight on the new decks & trucks.

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The New Style MBS line-up is strong and simple, stripping it down after years of evolutionary journeys, consisting of 4 mountainboards (2 of them with variant models ie added brakes etc), and an All Terrain Longboard as well (more on that in part 2!).

There are multi-cambered/ multi-concave decks, the exciting Matrix II Trucks and much more; bindings, wheels and even bolts have been re-developed too. Let’s take a closer look with Joel Lee

MBS-Mountainboards-Range-2015-2016

The New Style: MBS Pro 97, Comp 95, Core 94, & Colt 90

 

All you guys at MBS must be super stoked to announce all this new gear. How long has it all been in development?

Twenty years!  Ha. In reality we’ve been working on the designs for the last couple of years and prototyping in the past year, but the reason I’m so excited about this line is that it really is the product of twenty years of experience designing mountainboards.

I’m definitely proud of some of the innovations we’ve introduced over the years, but as MBS loyalists will remember we’ve also made our share mistakes along the way. Somewhat ironically, those mistakes are what I’m most proud of now because what we learned from those mistakes is what makes this new line so awesome.

MBS-Comp95-MountainboardPhotoByBrandonJohanns
Cool so let’s break it down and look in more detail at The Concave decks…

They feature on the Pro 97 & Comp 95. What are we talking here, a bit like a skateboard deck, but with different areas affected by different concaves?

Yeah, that’s basically the idea.  We’ve always like the feel of concave in the decks but we were never able to do it successfully with our Reverse Cap Composite (RCC) decks. The vertical lam cores (think snowboards) just hate it.  Wanting concave is one of the main reasons we developed our new “powerlam plus” construction.  When I started thinking about new deck shapes I was skating a lot at the time, mostly just around town for transport like the good old days, and I noticed how good it felt to have the ball of my foot nestled in the tip bend of the deck when pushing.  That made me think, if our feet aren’t symmetric from toe to heel, why should concave be?

 So the low-point of the concave in the new decks is right under the ball the foot…

Yes;  In addition to allowing greater toe toe-side leverage and subtly wedging your foot into the binding from the heel side slope, it also eliminates the pressure point that forms under your heel with traditional concave.  But that specific concave profile is only really best suited directly under your feet so I transitioned that concave to a more traditional tub concave in the mid-section of the deck giving it a generous flat section for rail sliding with a bit of kick on the toe and heel side to increase deck stiffness and pop.

 It was so awesome having a clean slate to start with when designing this deck mold. I felt like a kid in a candy store.

Haha! Now what difference does all this realistically, actually make to the ride?

More toe leverage.  A more “locked in” feel.  More comfortable underfoot. More Pop.

The blurb says the new Pro 97 is apparently Powerlam ‘plus’… What’s the extra in that specific deck?

Just a different lay-up really.  We’re using sublimated PBT top and bottom layers for the first time on a powerlam deck and the composite lay-up is more aggressive than anything we’ve done in the past, more like the lay-ups we’ve used for our RCC decks.  We wanted to communicate this difference somehow so we added the ‘plus’.

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More on the Pro 97 set-up later… How have riders found testing the new molded decks in general?

Everyone has been super stoked, they’re loving the concave for sure.  That’s noticeable from the second you step on the deck.  The new shape has been well received too. Yeah, all good so far.  I’m really looking forward to hearing what the broader mountainboard market thinks once they get their feet on them.  That’s the true test.

 We have to mention Kolab Boards here, who as we all know have already produced awesome decks with similar concave. When we spoke to Kody recently (for an imminent Remolition Interview), he was happy that MBS were pursuing similar tech as his prototypes were just so successful…

Definitely.  Kody is such a rad rider and all around person. I’m really happy to see him making decks especially since I know he’s doing it first and foremost for the love of it.  I actually wasn’t aware of what he was doing when I did these designs.  I probably should have been, but maybe that’s one downside of living and working on the other side of the world.  But yes, it looks like a similar basic idea with having concave profiles in different sections of the deck.

While we’re chatting about this, how have you felt over the years when MBS products you guys have created have been ‘emulated’ by other companies? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?

It really depends on the exact example and who is doing it.  If someone is borrowing a few ideas and innovating in other areas because they love the sport and want to help develop it I’m definitely cool with that.  That’s natural progression in my opinion and I’d feel really proud to have been a source of inspiration in that situation.  On the other hand it definitely bums me out to see companies blatantly copy stuff designs just to make a buck without contributing anything to the progression of the sport.  Luckily, in mountainboarding right now I think the former is more common than the latter.

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Now onto the new Trucks…

The Matrix II looks like the biggest change to decent trucks since the introduction of the Matrix… What was the aim when you started looking at this evolution?

Over the past few years I kept a wish list of changes I wanted to make to the Matrix when the day came.  Some of the things on that list like the flat grind surface came directly from pro riders – others just developed from things that bugged me about the old design: weight, noise, … picky stuff like that. So when I started looking at this design in earnest I guess I just aimed to grant some of those wishes.

MBS-ShockBlocksHow does the ‘ShockBlock’ compare to the spring/egg combo?

The ShockBlock is probably the biggest change within the overall Matrix II design.  Compared to the traditional spring/egg combo it’s lighter for one.  I know it seems like these parts are small so that shouldn’t make much of a difference, but the actual difference is 220g per board.  That’s basically half a pound for the non-metrically inclined, and that’s a lot!

 True, especially when it comes to trucks; since they’re located at the ends of the board, any weight difference gets magnified when it comes to spin weight! And how does the turning response differ for non-freestyle say techey freeriding, or just carving it up?

Depending on how they’re adjusted this difference can be quite subtle or very obvious.  When the ShockBlocks are tightened down in their stiffest position the difference is very subtle in my opinion.  The majority of riders probably wouldn’t really notice any difference (apart from weight).  If they were to go REALLY fast they should find the ShockBlocks resist speed wobbles a bit better than the old spring/egg combo because they have a little higher damping coefficient, but to be honest I haven’t gone THAT fast yet haha.  But they do feel super stable at high speeds in their stiffest position.

The most obvious difference is felt in their loosest setting and just the fact that you can get such a wide range of adjustment out of a single truck system. In their loosest setting they almost feel like old twin-shock trucks. So carvey! Very nostalgic.

The block itself must be some super-tough yet flexi rubber-like material… Do they come in different strengths like the egg shocks? ie hard, soft etc, and do you dial them down & up to alter resistance?

The material is a specially formulated polyurethane.  Polyurethanes have come a long way over the years, and thanks to the explosion of longboarding in recent years good formulas are more readily available to work with.  I think our formula has found a nice spot on the spectrum of rebound vs. damping.  Ultimately it would be nice to have 100% rebound AND 100% damping, but that’s not how it works.  Right now we offer two hardnesses for ShockBlocks, soft (yellow), and hard (orange).  I originally thought about offering three like our eggshocks but found it just wasn’t necessary.  Given the ability to dial them up & down with the adjustment screw we found we could hit all the stiffnesses we wanted with a decent overlap in the middle with just the two options.  Keep it simple, right?  But of course that can change in the future if enough people request it.  Someday it would be cool to even offer different mixes of rebound/damping within the same hardness, but that’s getting a little ahead.

 

MBS-Mountainboards-Matrix2-ProTrucks 

And the top hangar is back to plastic…

Yeah, I know.  I’m sure some people are questioning this choice, but let it be known I’m a huge proponent of injection molded composites!  “Plastics” feels like such a dirty word, please forgive me if I don’t use it – ha!   Believe me, these materials are amazing when you get them right.  Design, material, and manufacturing process – all three of those elements need to be winners to get an awesome part.

 Over the years we’ve refined our processes, learnt from previous problems,  and I feel like over the past two or three years we’ve really proved what we’re capable of with injection molded parts.  A good example is our Rock Star II hubs.  Those hubs are so strong!  They’ve been in the market for over two years now and we haven’t received a single warranty claim.  I’ve personally never seen one break, even being ridden by pros.

MBS-Mountainboards-Core94-bThat’s good going, though it has to be said hubs are very different to trucks!?

Sure. In the case of our new Matrix II top truck, injection molding was just the best engineering choice.  They allowed us to achieve the low weight we wanted, the shape needed to work with the ShockBlocks, and the strength I feel is needed to allow riders to take their boards to the next level, not just keep up with where they’re at right now. They’ll take the abuse okay!

I’m not saying injection molding is the right choice for all components, but the Matrix II top truck is a good example of one for which it is.

Are the parts compatible with existing boards?

Yeah, that’s always really important for us.  The new trucks fit on old decks and vice versa.  Same with other components.  In fact we’ve made some changes this year to improve compatibility within the line.  For instance, we upgraded all our mountainboard axles to 12mm axles and all our hubs to work with standard 12x28mm bearings, so all our trucks, bearings, and hubs are compatible with each other.  No more bearing compatibility charts.  It all just works.  It’s a small thing but I’m really happy about that.

And does this mean an end to the MBS-stands-for-My-Board-Squeaks’ jokes we hear sometimes!?

Ha! Hopefully! The new trucks are definitely smoother and quieter which I love, but keeping hardware tight is always important for a nice dialed-sounding board.  

On that note, that’s actually another small change we made that I’m really happy about.  We’ve designed custom MBS truck mounting screws with large diameter heads that eliminate the need for deck washers and with 4mm sockets instead of 3mm which means you to crank down much harder without worrying about stripping anything, and the removal of washers just means eight less things that can rattle.

Cool nice touch, makes perfect sense.

And what about the ATS.12, the skate-style truck that’s on the beginner/intermediate boards the Colt and Core, how has that changed apart from turning white?!

The biggest change is the upgrade to 12mm axles which obviously makes them much stronger. We’ve also made a few minor changes to improve precision and given them the sweet gloss white paint job.  Nothing revolutionary here, but the 12mm axles really does mean good riders will be able to take these trucks seriously, making them a legit lower cost alternative to the Matrix.

 What are your thoughts now on Vectors, the intermediate truck that has been dropped from the new MBS range?

I really liked the Vector trucks, but their main advantage was that they were more precise than the ATS trucks and lighter than the Matrix trucks.  The gap between the Matrix and the original ATS was big enough to fill.  Now that we’ve improved the strength and precision of the ATS trucks a little and decreased the weight of new Matrix II trucks A LOT the gap is just too small to fit another truck into.  Did you know, the new Matrix II truck is even lighter than the Vector truck?  And these are full-fledged bullet-proof channel trucks we’re talking about!

Rad…

But decks and trucks are not the only new tech in the MBS line-up, oh no…

Coming soon to Remolition in more glorious detail…

Part Two: Bindings, wheels, deck graphics, The MBS All Terrain Longboard, and the Pro 97 in close-up!

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The MBS 2016 range will be shipping September ‘15 and is now available to pre-order.

Sign up to the MBS E-news for updates and see the full new line at MBS.com

Pics courtesy of MBS, shot by Jason Lee, Joel Lee and Brandon Johanns.

Interview by Dan Wilson for Remolition.com