With a cult-like following Pantheon, longboards are one of the most popular downhill skate brands on the market. But are their boards worth riding? Today’s review is on the 2020 Pantheon Gaia. With its relatively affordable price point and attractive design, it’s almost irresistible. Is it worth getting though?
Read on below to find out what I think of it and how my experience with it went.
- Length: 37inches / 94cm
- Width: 9.6inches / 24.5cm
- Wheelbase: 24.5inches-25.5inches / 62.25 – 64.75cm
- Drop: 0.2inches 0.5cm
- Construction: 7ply Maple with Triaxial Fiberglass
- Shapes: Wider pintail shape with loads of taper
Pantheon Gaia Longboard review
*I didn’t get to ride this board a lot or spend as much time on it as I would have liked – the board belonged to a friend of mine who was visiting from the States. So whilst I do stand by the comments that I make in the review, I think some of them could have been changed if I had the chance to experiment and ride the board for longer.
Someone who has spent a ton of time on the board might also feel a little bit different about it and not entirely relate to my comments. So in that regard, consider this more of an over-review rather than the in-depth review you might be expecting.
When I stood on this deck for the first time I was impressed by how “right” the concave felt. The front drop didn’t feel too steep or too shallow, and the rails cradled my feet comfortably. The deck felt very natural underfoot. The board also felt super lightweight. I was kind of jealous that I didn’t own one … It was clear to me, why a lot of people felt this is one of the best downhill beginner longboard decks.
The concave feels natural
Looking at pictures, I was worried that this concave would feel uncomfortable. The rails look quite sharp in the images, and in my experience, concave-shaped that way didn’t feel good to me. I have flat feet and anything that makes my feet
However, the concave felt great and I didn’t feel that my feet were too restricted. I could comfortably shift my feet heelside and toeside use a bit of the drop without any issue. I also felt like I could push and skate this deck for hours without feeling uncomfortable.
This concave gets my approval, especially as someone who usually dislikes steep concave.
The drop was useful
The front dropped is quite useful. It’s not as steep as you’d think and you can comfortably step on it if you’d like. I also found it to be a nice reference point to apply pressure on when I was doing hard toeside turms. It did feel a bit unnatural sometimes but nothing I couldn’t get used to.
And because the drop isn’t super steep you can use a foot stop too. This can help as it adds a bit of security and gives you a more locked-in feel.
It’s very pretty
What first drew me to Pantheon was the graphics they had on their boards. They weren’t the run of the mill sort of graphics you get on most longboards. They looked well though-out and like a lot of work and love had been put into them. Beautiful looking things, and I think the aesthetic really appeals to me.
The Gaia is no different. Whilst the graphic on this isn’t the best in Pantheons line-up (imo), it does look quite nice.
The drop and flush mounting helps for an easier ride
Whilst the drop and flush mounting isn’t much, they do make a difference and you can feel it as you ride and when you’re executing slides. A full top mount feels a bit more tippy and has a bit more snap in and out of slides.
This made it easier to kick out slides and pull slides back in. And whilst not the biggest difference, it did make for a more comfortable ride.
I didn’t get to test how stable this deck was but I’m sure the micro drop and the flush mounting helped with that too.
It is strong and lightweight
Made with fiberglass and Maple, this deck is quite strong – despite being as skinny and lightweight as it is.
It does have a bit of torsional flex, but not something to worry about, especially if you’re not racing.
The kick feels great
Admittedly, most kicktails on longboards are unusable. You don’t get a lot of pop and it feels awkward in relation to the rest of the deck. However, the Pantheon Gaia kick felt good. Though it is hard to get a deck of this size and weight off the ground, I did find myself doing one or two ollies and getting decent air.
If you are going to encounter some curbs, some potholes, or any obstacles when you’re riding around you will find the kick tail especially useful.
Pushing around on this deck was comfortable
Because of it’s minimalistic concave, pushing around on this deck is a very comfortable experience. My feet didn’t cramp up at all.
On decks with more concave features – like wheel wells, steeper rails, W and simply steeper concave. Pushing is usually not an enjoyable experience and you can only push for so long before your feet start to hurt.
Though I doubt this deck will be used for long-distance pushes, it’s nice to know you can comfortably cruise on it.
The deck sounds amazing
You know that sound you get when you drop your deck onto the floor? On most decks, it’s usually a BANG/BONG sort of sound, and your deck sounds tortured.
But when you do that with this, you get a very baritone rounded sound, which is quite pleasing to hear. You get this sort of sound when you have a fiberglass and wood lay-up.
If there was an award for the best sounding deck this one would win.
The taper is ok
I’m personally not a big fan of taper and dislike it no matter which deck it’s used on. However, I didn’t feel that it affected the performance of this deck much, or at all.
So whilst it didn’t rail match with 165mm trucks over the mounting points, I didn’t feel much of a difference because my interaction with the board was limited to between the drops, where the deck was wider.
I think the price point of $150 is more than fair for this deck. Given the quality of the construction, the materials and the finishing, I think you’re getting a lot of value for the money you pay. Personally, I thought it would have cost more.
Finally, if you also decide to buy the complete from the Pantheon website, you can get the complete setup with 165mm Paris trucks, 43* baseplates, and aftermarket bushings. I don’t think they’re offering that complete rn, but they were before and likely will again in the future, so keep an eye out for it if you’re interested.
What I didn’t like about the Pantheon Gaia
The griptape isn’t the best
Whilst the grip tape is pretty and it comes with the dope laser-cut Pantheon logo, it’s really bad. The grip doesn’t last for too long and you’ll be replacing it within a few weeks of riding. If you plan on getting this deck I recommend you buy a spare bit of grip along with it.
A decent and affordable alternative would be MOB coarse grip. Check out Mob grip here on Amazon.com. If you want something sharper and longer-lasting, Seismic Lokton would work well. The downside is that Lokton is a lot more expensive!
The rails were a bit too sharp for my liking
This only mattered to me for toeside slides. I use a lot of the rail when doing toesides, particularly on my back foot. The rails didn’t inspire me with confidence as I felt my foot could easily slip off. I also felt like I didn’t have enough leverage – maybe because of the taper but can’t say for sure …
But to be fair to the Gaia, I’ve also had this problem with other decks. And it’s only an issue when the rails are sharp.
Wrapping grip on the rails could have sorted this easy enough. Never got the chance to try it as a solution though.
The backdrop felt awkward for toesides
I didn’t particularly feel confident doing toe sides using the backdrop. There’s a point on the deck where the backdrop joins in with the rails and it creates a sort of “square angle” which I didn’t feel locked me in as much as I would have liked it too.
It felt like it needed W
Though the deck does feel very natural and it felt very intuitive to stand on it, one thing that I felt was missing was w concave, especially in the back.
Though other riders say that the deck is too narrow to have W – I disagree. W would solve the above issue for me and give me something to push against during toe sides. And loads of other narrower decks have W as well.
Again, an easy solution for this would be a concave implant or to instead pick a deck like the Chase Hiller pro model.
Your back foot can feel lost
This problem is rather a combination of the other problems above. Because you don’t have many reference points with the simple concave, rail, and far backdrop, your foot can feel lost. Though this stops being an issue if your foot is on the backdrop.
If you’re just cruising around or going slow this isn’t an issue. You might have a second or two to look down to make sure your feet are in the right place. But when you’re going fast and need to set up to slide for a corner, this can make you feel uncomfortable and unconfident.
Again, this is easily fixable with a torque block and some concave mods.
The backdrop is too far for my riding style.
If you have a short stance you may suffer on this deck. Your back foot naturally wants to use the backdrop, so you find yourself standing with a longer stance. This can feel uncomfortable when you’re tucking and can mess up your positioning for the various slides.
Though it is subtle, my feet are wider apart when I skate the Gaia. Though you can also get used to it, it can feel uncomfortable and unnatural especially when you’re used to skating in a certain way. The deck in the second photo is the Rolling Tree Acedia. Another great deck for downhill and freeride.
Again this is easily fixed with a torque block. But it’s something to keep in mind if you do know you have a short stance and if you’re keen on buying this deck.
Finally, this was only really an issue with hands down riding, and transitioning from a tuck to the slide positions. When doing stand up stuff without tucking, it didn’t make so much of a difference for me. My stand up styles uses a wider stance so all good.
Who should get it?
If you’re looking for a new freeride deck you can’t go wrong with this one. Though I do think there are one or two points that could be improved on the deck, I still think it’s one of the better boards I’ve ridden. It has great construction
It will work especially well for riders who are tall or riders who simply have a longer/wider stance.
Who shouldn’t get it?
If you have a short stance you may struggle on this deck.
If you mind waiting a few months to get one, this isn’t the deck for you. Pantheon only makes decks every few months, and once an order is sold out you simply have to wait for the next batch. It’s a shame, but the state of the industry has forced a lot of brands to do this.
If you want to use this deck with 180mm trucks it’s not right for you.
Things to keep in mind if you do buy it
- Make sure you have a replacement grip ready. The grip on this wears out quickly! Don’t get caught out without a replacement.
- The best trucks to use on this deck are 165mm wide. If your plan to ride WIDE downhill wheels (like the Venom Magnums), 150mm trucks are more appropriate.
- A foot stop does go a long way, the drop on this does lock you in, but a footstop adds a lot more security. You can make your own with a bushing, washer, and long bolt. But aftermarket ones are usually better.
- If you do get aftermarket grip, consider wrapping it around the rails, especially at the back on the sides where your toes go. This might help a lot when doing toesides.
Where to buy it?
If you’re based in the states, you can get it off the Pantheon website or through Muirskate.
If you’re based in the EU, I believe Sickboards usually has them in stock. I think Sk8bites in Italy has them too.
Conclusion, what do you y’all think?
In my opinion, this might be one of the best freeride decks for tall riders or riders with a wider stance.
And though I have said a few negative things about the backdrop, keep in mind I’ve only skated this deck a handful of times and haven’t had the opportunity to experiment with it as much as I would have liked. If you can get the opportunity to stand on it and skate for a bit before you decided to purchase/or not purchase it, please do.
Thanks for reading. If you like this article and want to read more, let me know on social media! Getting feedback from people is how I know these articles are helping people. Alternatively, you can also support me through Patreon. Whichever works for you
Thanks to Patrons Jed, Mowgii, Kasajja, and SuperBadJuJu, Andrew, Jay, and Jan for the support so far.