If you know me and have looked at my skates, you might have noticed my awesome Laser plates. You probably thought “dummmmmmb. Magnesium is the way to go,” but I thought back “whatever. Mining that shit is a complete bitch.” And it is. Prepare for the discontinuation of magnesium plates, kids. You know how hard it is to mine nylon?
It’s not. It’s not even mined. Eat it.
- Are they light? Yup.
- Are they durable? Oh, my, yes.
- Are they awesome? Yup!
- Are the expensive? Yeah 🙁 You can get the plate alone for cheaper and skip the step of having nylon trucks laying around, though.
Laser was the first ever nylon plate. They look bulky, but really aren’t. Due to their thickness/size, I have no fear that I will break them (while doing anything normal). My skates are often lighter than many of my friends’ with fancy moon metal plates and what have you. They don’t have or require pivot cups, and there is a metal shunt inside the toe stop which allows you to adjust it with an allen wrench and your fingers, rather than loosening/tightening a nut.
They also come with nylon trucks, which might not be exactly what a derby skater is looking for. At WFTDA Ref Camp 2012, I saw two or three other refs wearing the nylon trucks, though I had read about them breaking in derby play (I believe on Skatelog).
The nylon trucks come in a single or double action and, unless you managed to find a set of Ultimate II (metal) trucks from back in the day, you really don’t have options for a metal truck. Worse, and something many of you haven’t understood when I have said it, is that the Ultimate II truck is a single action.
Above are a few shots of the Ultimate II single action trucks. These are off Ultimate II plates, which were made in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The metal is fairly soft and I’ve dinged them up and managed to even gouge a bit out without a lot of effort. Even so, they’ve held up through three years of my skating, and I don’t know how many years the previous owner used them. They also have 7mm axles (which means it will not be simple for you to trade wheels with friends without removing the bearings and putting in your own; it also limits your bearing choices to a degree).
Modern derby trucks? Double action (see how you have two bushings? That means double action. Don’t know what a bushing is? That’s why god invented Google).
I have been skating on Laser Hard Noses with Ultimate IIs for almost three years. I modified my bushing set up based on lengthy discussions at the Skatelog forums and got them to act as much like double action trucks as I could. It really did make a difference, and I love doing things myself, so I can know all the things about the expensive objects I own.
I used two 85A Sure-Grip Super Cushion cones to mimic the hourglass shaped bushings, which were once popular, cutting them down and edging them slightly to fit in the cap/truck, then about half a 93A cone inverted underneath. If you want more info on the technical aspects of this and some examples of similar setups, look into the “Cone Head” sections of Skatelog.
But, now… now Pitchit from Derby Supply has made my life happy. Derby Supply has, from what I can tell, the only DA-45 truck in existence that will fit a Laser plate. Costing about $30 more than would a regular DA-45 truck, these bad boys have a modified pivot pin which will fit into, not damage, and not snap off in Laser plates. They will even install them for free.
I opted to install them myself, because I am bullheaded and hate for my life to be in any way easy.
The set comes with four kingpins, four trucks (with 8mm axles, which are standard when it comes to derby), eight Sure-Grip Super Cushion barrels (purple 85A), eight bushing caps, and eight nuts (two sizes).
(kingpins not shown here, as I had already installed them on my plates)
Things you should know if you go the self-installation route: you need a metric allen wrench (I believe it’s a 4.5mm) to thread the kingpins into the plate. You will notice your kingpins have two sets of threads (and if you’ve played with most modern kingpins, this will be familiar). They are threaded opposite themselves, so one you have screwed it into the plate, you can adjust the bolts around the trucks without accidentally loosening the kingpin from the actual plate. You want to get the kingpin in as far as possible, which may mean employing what I call “man hands.” Yes, yes, yes, I am an independent woman and amazing and whatnot, but I have a weakened dominate hand from a rugby injury/surgery and will fully pouty face at a guy to get him to do this for me.
BTW, thanks, Jason 🙂
The larger, thinner nut which screws on first (i.e., on the threaded side that is going into your truck… and when I was doing this photo shoot, I fully forgot to put it on… sorry!) Once the kingpin is set up, you are ready to mount the actual trucks.
First, the wide cap, then your top bushing, truck, bottom bushing (they come with Sure Grip Super Cushion barrels, purple 85A, but I use a yellow 79A barrel on top and an 85A cone on the bottom; it’s a preference thing), cap, and a smaller/thicker nut.
There is a small, adjustable nut on the pivot pin which allows you to adjust to your own preference and after you have all this set up, you just treat it like any other truck. Tighten if you feel too wobbly, loosen if you feel to constrained.
The difference for me was fucking astonishing. After taking some laps and making some adjustments (I keep a pretty loose truck), I was amazed at the agility and responsiveness. Remember the first time you loosened your trucks and your brain said “son of a bitch! Cross overs are so much easier now!” That is how I felt about everything. It was like having new feet that were pre-trained. Some of the things I could do with ease using my previous set up were like reflexes with the new trucks. Mohawks, turning around, cuts, cross overs. It’s like flying.
One of my friends relayed to me that many people are changing over from the 45 degree angled trucks because they felt it made their stance “too high.” Again, this is a preference thing. I did notice I felt a bit higher, but I have also been skating on low, single action trucks, made essentially of pot metal, manufactured in the late-70s-early-80s. There’s going to be a difference. My advice: uh, get lower. When is “getting lower” not good advice, though, right?
Bottom line: if you love/have Lasers and want metal double action trucks, this is perfect. You will not regret this for a moment. Derby Supply will install them for free if you like, and, if you live in the lower 48 states, free shipping! I love free shipping.
Unnecessary Disclaimer: Derby Supply is run by two gentleman skaters, Pitchit and Mr. Awesome, both of whom are lovely individuals and are highly involved in the derby community. There is no overarching corporation and there is no guessing if they know what they are talking about; they do. They didn’t ask me to write this, nor did they give me anything for doing so. I bought these trucks, I love them, I’m telling you about them.
My stats, for reference:
- 5’9″, high-end middle weight
- Position: Outside Pack Ref (2.5 years)/Rec Skater (3 years)/Aspiring Blocker (if grad school ever calms down)
- Skate setup: Antik AR-1, Laser Hardnose, DA-45 trucks, Sure-Grip Super Cushions (79A barrel, 85A cone), Bones Reds (photos here show some borrowed Bones Swiss), Heartless Breakers/Stalkers (94A/88A), leather moldable “Muzzles” (discontinued), Gumdrop (not ball) stops, waxed hockey laces