It may be marketed as the most high-tech, futuristic looking longboard ever to exist, but hype can often be a raw disappointment. So since last summer we’ve been cruising and taking a bruising from the Original Skateboards Apex 40 DiamondDrop longboard to see if it delivers on the straights, hills and drops starting at $449 (complete).
This is a curious looking longboard. It wins us over for originality in eccentric shaping, which questions what longboards should indeed look like and how they should be ridden. The Original Skateboards Apex 40 DiamondDrop appears like it has just popped out of a black hole thrust down to earth, with space-like vibrant and colourful lightning flared bottom graphics. On the flip side we have what we’d describe as a double dipper, a deck that features raised sloping straight edges and a remarkably deep (0.66’’ straight through to a 0.925 inch peak drop) middle concave. Or as Original call it, the ‘Kinkycave’ - it’s a genuine innovation within the longboard scene.
You see, Original Skateboards have a fantastic selection of diverse staple boards to pick from. We’ve reviewed a few, like the sun soaked road surfing fun that is the Original Pintail longboard and the not so long Original Derringer longboard. What we’ve come to find is this is a brand that build boards to be knocked around and scraped up. The Apex 40 DiamondDrop is no different, with PK noseguards on each end and a combination of 3 Ply northeastern maple, quad-axial fibreglass and carbon to construct the deck; which sounds like a modern newly invented construction, as indeed it is. However, what we get is clearly a tried and tested tightly bound constructed board that has refused to split or crack from our frequent use.
Variants & Our Setup
Original have tweaked the Apex lineup over the years, but as of 2016 there stand 8 variants. All have altered deck designs, the DiamondDrop specifically comes in 37" & 40" inches and the differences materialise in recommended components. Although extensive, and we do mean extensive, customisation options are available, the precise measurements of our DiamondDrop deck are 40.75” x 9.75”, with a wheel base of 28” preset from the box. Nevertheless multiple mounting brackets make adjusting the wheelbase for varied slides and more darty commutes possible.
We have the 2015/2016 ‘top downhill slide longboard’ - which is the intended setup for sliding, downhill blasts and free-riding. Our complete setup differs from stock, with a combination of white Radius Sata Ride 65mm 80a wheels, Cell Selects bearings and black Bear Kodiak Forged trucks with conical bushing seats.
Downhill: When you hop aboard the Apex 40 DiamondDrop the first thing your body will feel is a sense of secure locked-in grip, enabled by the ‘Kinkycave' course grip tape and very low to the ground profile. Seriously, the wind blows up our jeans due to this lower profile, with our previous experiences of boards that boast downhill credentials featuring decks that are significantly higher from the ground - like the Vault Smart Bomb and Never Summer Motive. As our usage developed we soon became very familiar with our ideal foot placement positions, because the symmetrical deck and continuous concave design feed us with a definite point of reference. This is something the previous longboards mentioned fail in, lacking that level of detail.
On riding the Apex 40 at speeds of 30mph+ downhill, it pleasingly feels like it’s on your side and doesn't jar or wobble you off thanks to the particularly impressive Bear Kodiak Forged trucks. It’s a concentrated ride in a straight line, and transitioning your energy into carving takes very little effort; creating thrilling downhill blasts, where the deck, trucks and wheels are all moulding to you and the ground - leaving you feeling firmly in the driver's seat. We’d go as far as to say that this is a fantastic learners' carver board (possibly made better if the bearings were swapped with more sedated ones) judging from the usage of the setup we have - why should steering and controlling your longboard at speed be an effort? The board has a similar riding experience to the 33.2” Never Summer Motive longboard, but it really achieves more and does this in a longer package. You could argue the Apex is an easier ride because of the extended platform too, but regardless of this, carving is even possible in tight lanes due to the Sata Ride 65mm wheels being quite glassy - they break into slide super easily. Fortunately though, they’re compensated well by those nimble Bear Kodiak trucks - which are quick to reply to sudden movements.
Freestyle: When actually jumped on, The Apex 40 longboard springs exuberantly back; very different from the springiness in bamboo boards which are slower to react. So performing flips and spins is quite effortless, and helped greatly by the glassy wheels. The Apex 40 DiamondDrop is a bit on the heavy side, so free movement where the entire board is lifted from the ground can be hard work, but when the board is balanced in air using the ground as a base, it’s brilliant fun and is possibly our favourite freestyle/freeride longboard! As a comparison, the cheaper, although still premium in its category, Elixir Medusa Flex 2 longboard is a capable setup for freestyle movement, but the Apex 40 DiamondDrop offers greater complexity and creativity within this area due to the ‘Kinkycave’ deck design and modernistic sandwich of materials it’s constructed from. The cheaper Elixir Medusa Flex 2 longboard’s value cannot be argued with, but it does reassure us that the touted high end components found on the Apex 40 do serve a genuine purpose for an elevated experience.
Commuting: Despite being a board setup that has been crafted for freestyle movement, most longboarding comments and questions submitted to us ask whether boards are practical for getting to work or school? So we now try to make sure we spend time to cover this territory, as longboarding is definitely a practical method of transport. In this regard the Apex 40 is a smooth and useful travel companion, and the board to grab if your need to rush on the way to work or school. Importantly, all of what we’ve already mentioned about the Apex only supports its ability and character to slide you around corners, dash obstacles and jump ledges. It has the credentials to be an agile campus runner or weekend racer on the slopes. Of particular interest to us were the Cell Selects bearings - a brand we’re not at all familiar with. Here they prolong the travelling of the wheels on smooth level asphalt, making pushing a particularly casual affair. Furthermore the ride is made silky with the compassionate Sata Ride 80a wheels absorbing gravel pathways and gridded drain covers.
After reviewing a plethora of longboard types from many brands, our journey has taken us here to the avant-garde Original Apex 40 DiamondDrop longboard. While initially resisting all the marketing hype surrounding this board, it turns out it is indeed a fresh, fun and complex longboard, that is genuinely skilled in most areas within the art of longboarding, keeping smiles on both seasoned pros and well intended novice's faces.