There's no doubt that Z-Flex is a name synonymous with the evolution of skateboarding, and now the company's series of longboards reflects this in both the thought put into the production and the name of this particular board, taken from the team's beginning in 1976.
Well, the Z-Flex 76 is a pintail board that is smooth running and extremely controllable. The deck is a 9-ply Canadian rock maple construction and the trucks are reverse 45 degrees with 87A soft cushions. The wheels are Z-Flex own branded 69mm 76A with high specification ABEC 7 stainless steel bearings which incline to prolong speed. These fittings make it a particularly sensitive board to ride, with a cornering ability that seems to belie its long 38 inches.
Its 9-ply construction is quite firm and one with a rationing of flex, which means you have a firm ride and can get a good feel of the ground. Together with its 9 inch width, we think this makes it easier to handle, particularly when mixed with the soft cushions, because the trucks respond immediately to body movement with little energy wasted on the flexing of the board. This is quite obviously a matter of taste, and riding different pintail boards, trying various manoeuvres, can give surprisingly contrasting results; but rest assured that the Z-Flex is a truly manageable, solid board that will not disappoint when riding.
The finish on this board is very specific. It is fully dipped in paint; ours is red, but the Z-Flex 76 also comes in green, orange and black. This method of painting means that the board is covered completely, with no sight of the ply around the edge, and a clean run right under the substantial grip tape. Within the grip tape, on top of the concave deck, there is the very distinctive Z-Flex logo which appears in a bright silver metallic hologram finish. On the base of the deck is a large 76, and both the trucks and wheels are clearly branded with the Z-Flex name, giving this board a great feeling of coherency, with everything being made specifically to give the maximum tolerances for the deck.
It's nice that the deck overhangs the wheels equally at both ends although still leaving a good 27 inch wheelbase, and the underside of the deck has the usual wheel arches cut out to avoid wheel bite: something probably more necessary for a board with such good turning abilities!
On tests we found the Z-Flex 76 great for cruising along on steady straights and excellent for carving. It is also able to cope with bombing downhill, although the soft cushions in the trucks make this a slightly more exhilarating and occasionally hair-raising experience, with more need to balance and control than would be the case with harder cushions. Sliding is possible but pintail boards are usually a lot harder to perform tricks on. However we've been able to dance and perform shuvits right from the start of jumping onto this board and with all longboards the more you ride them and get to know them the greater tricks that can be executed.
Generally you would be hard put to find a better pintail longboard in this price range, and by making a specific board with similar trucks and wheels, in four available colours, Z-Flex have come up with an easily accessible and very reliable all-in-one product.