Grip review

Dark Matter Grip tape Review

A new challenger has arrived – Dark Matter griptape. How will it stack up against the likes of Vicious, Cuei, and the undefeated champion Lokton grip? Check out the review below to find out more.

Contents hide

Specifications

  • Sheets: 3
  • Size
    • Length: 12.6inches
    • Width: 10.2inches
  • Grit: Unknown
  • Backing: Fibre
  • Price: CHF 29.00 / $29
  • Extras: One sheet with logo, stickers.

Small interview with Dark Matter

Below is a small interview with the guys behind Dark Matter! Was curious about some things and wanted to hear the answers from the source.

1. Why Dark Matter? What unsatisfied you in the market?

A big issue of most of the grip tapes on the market is durability. They lose their grip, start to chunk or peel off after some time. In my opinion, there was a lot of room for improvement. Many people in Switzerland have used different kinds of sandpaper with double-sided tape. We noticed that it hardly wears out. However, it was often not flexible enough, difficult to stick on and remove. That is why we were looking for a manufacturer who could produce a similar product that combines all the advantages without these disadvantages.  

2. Design goals?

The product had to have a lot of grip, be easy to stick on, and beat all other grip tapes in terms of durability. I think we have achieved that. 

3. How is this griptape different from what’s available? (what shortcomings did you address?)

It’s a completely different material than all other grip tapes. Different grains and most important a different backing material. That’s what makes it almost indestructible. The sharper grains also don’t loose a lot of grip when wet.

4. What type of glue is used? Is it pressure sensitive like Lokton? Or more like whatever is used by Cuei/Vicious etc.

It’s not a pressure sensitive glue. More comparable to a standard one. The adhesiveness is increased when the glue is heated. Normally, however, it is not necessary. We grip all boards without heating.

5. Any specific ways to use the griptape? And any specific ways users should avoid using it?

There’s not really a specific way to apply it. It’s actually quite fool proof. Just a little tip that we discovered by accident. Thanks to the fabric backing material, the grip tape can be torn in a straight line by hand. This is great when you’re on the hill and want to split or share a sheet. 

Oh, and the grip works best in combination with brake soles.

6. Are we going to see anything else from Dark Matter (sharper or mellower grit versions)?

It was quite an investment for a small company like us to develop this product and let somebody produce it. We didn’t plan other versions yet. First we need to see how the market accepts our current version.

7. Anything else you’d like to add?

Most of the people who tried the grip so far were really impressed. Since the biggest difference to all other griptapes is the durability, people will only realize how good it actually is over time. 

Big thank you to Dark Matter for answering some of my questions!

Disclaimer

**Dark Matter sent me this griptape for free, but my review shall remain fair, unbiased, and critical where it needs to be.

ALSO, I USE BRAKE SOLES, SO KEEP THAT IN MIND. THEY ADD A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF GRIP. YOUR EXPERIENCE WILL DIFFER FROM MINE IF YOU DON’T USE THEM.

Dark Matter grip tape review

Summary

Dark Matter certainly performs as advertised; it is sharp, grippy, flexible, durable, doesn’t flake (much), doesn’t tear easily, and sticks well. It ticks all the boxes you’d expect a high-performance griptape to, and it is competitively priced as well.

It’s not the sharpest griptape; it feels a little less sharp than 36 grit Lokton. That said, it is sharp enough to keep your feet locked in, and it also has that “bite” that I really like Lokton for. 

Because it’s not as sharp as Lokton, shifting your feet is considerably easier. I feel this grip has the right balance between sharpness/grippyness and still being mellow enough to let you move your feet with relative ease. I feel quite at home on this grip. 

Dark Matter has quickly become a favorite for me. That said, I can see it not being a fit for everyone – especially those who want as much grip as possible; Lokton 36 grit will be superior (Dark Matter does beat it in every other way though).

For me, this grip likely is going to be my go-to from now on.

What is Dark Matter grip?

Coming from Switzerland, Dark Matter is the new kid on the block! Unsatisfied with what was available in the industry, the guys over at Rocket Longboards decided to make their own griptape.

Dark Matter is coarse grip that has been designed with downhill skateboarding in mind.

Rocket longboards are known for their quality, top-of-the-line boards, so will this product be just as good? Let’s find out. 

rocket longboards

How sharp is the grip?

The grip is fairly sharp. It has this initial **bite** that holds on to your foot. 

dark matter grip tape - sticker and packet

This **bite** really digs into your shoe and doesn’t want it to budge. It gives you confidence that you will be locked into the grit and your foot won’t slip.

All Lokton versions of grip have this **bite**. Cuei does not. 

Cuei grip is certainly sharp, but it just doesn’t have that bite; I’ve never felt fully locked in and fully confident when skating with it. Though this is Cuei’s biggest shortcoming, it is a winner on all other fronts. 

I’m stoked Dark Matter has the **bite**. 

It’s not the sharpest grip

Dark Matter isn’t the sharpest of grips out there, and I’d place it somewhere between the 36 grit Lokton and 60 grit Lokton. 

It is a lot sharper than the 60, but not as sharp as the 36.

It’s almost like a 40 grit Lokton.

The perfect balance of sharpness?

So yeah, it’s not as sharp as the 36 grit Lokton, and in this case, this means it’s not as grippy. 

If you like how sharp and grippy the 36 grit Lokton is, then this griptape isn’t for you.

I’ve actually had some people DM’ing letting me know their foot slipped, and how they went back to Lokton, or how the Dark Matter wasn’t grippy, etc. 

screenshot of conversation - this dude didn't like dark matter

However, I’m of the camp that sometimes feels the 36grit is overkill, particularly when used with brake soles … It’s too sharp!

Why Lokton 36 grit is “too sharp” for me

My beef with the 36 grit is you have to be quite deliberate with shifting your feet. 

The 36 grit is so sharp that your feet are practically bound to the deck, and to shift them, you have to put in considerable effort to “unbind” your foot.

This often results in a forceful/sudden movement.

lokton grip

When you’re going fast, any forceful/sudden movement can unsettle your board a little bit (make it twitch, wobble, etc.). 

Because of this, I find I need a lot more space to set up for a slide at speed; I shift my feet, get into position, wait for the board to settle, and then initiate the slide. 

Instead of just quickly switching into the slide position, I need more time/space to shift my feet and keep the board settled. 

I do realize this might be a personal issue and won’t affect everyone else … also I’m making it sound like a huuge deal/ordeal – it’s not, but it is one of those things I don’t like all that much.

Do you need all the grip 36 grit Lokton provides?

And the thing is, I don’t need ALL the grip that the 36 grit Lokton provides; I do quite well with less grip and I tend to mix the 60 grit and 36 grit versions on various boards.

lokton grip on four different boards

The 60 grit is pretty awesome and I wish a lot of people used it more. You get that bite that locks you in, but you have a lot more freedom to move your feet. Not as grippy as the 36, but still super good (perfect for freeride, maybe popping some ollies, skating less grippy wheels, etc.). More about it here in my Lokton review.

And the 60 grit works well, I’ve skated grippy, fresh wheels on it comfortably. But when skating rougher roads, I just want to be locked in a little bit more – which is why I only use it at the back on the El Peligro.

Here is where the Dark Matter comes in.

With the Dark Matter, it’s not too sharp so I can move my feet swiftly without needing to be deliberate or too aggressive, but I still get the bite I need to keep me locked into the board and feeling confident and secure at speed.

It’s a perfect, slightly less sharp version of 36 grit Lokton.

A summary …

Lokton is too grippy and I sometimes have trouble shifting my feet.

Dark Matter is not as grippy but still locks me in. It is more friendly when it comes to shifting my feet. I really like that.

However, though it does lose on being the sharpest, Dark Matter beats Lokton in every other way that counts. More on this below.

dark matter logo on the grip tape

Is it durable (any balding)?

There is no balding.

I didn’t skate this grip for as long as I’d like, but I haven’t noticed any balding.

I was also able to reach out to others who had been using it for a lot longer than I had. They said the grip didn’t bald at all.

I’m not surprised by this. Other grip tapes (think Vicious/generic course grip) would quickly bald after a few sessions; especially with brake soles. 

This one has not. And if it hasn’t balded so far, it likely will not over time.

Does the grip stay sharp throughout? (any dulling?)

Other grips become duller the longer you used them – with the change only noticeable after a few months with the higher-quality grip tapes. 

Lokton does become duller from use, but only slightly. Cuei becomes dull and isn’t as sharp as new – but both are still worlds better than Vicious/generic grip which gets dull after only a few sessions.

Again, I haven’t used this grip for very long, so I can’t comment on this, but I did ask other users. 

Most said it didn’t dull. However, I do expect it to. It will still be quite sharp but I won’t be surprised if it mellows out a tiny bit. We may only notice this after a lot of months of use though. So … I will update y’all.

Does it flake?

Generally speaking, not really. I haven’t noticed any flaking or any grains coming off at all; it seems those stones are stuck in there and they are not coming out.

In comparison, Lokton flaked a lot, especially the cut-out version.

lokton flaking

The cutout edges would flake a ton and pretty much every exposed edge would as well. I can’t say the flaking affects performance (I didn’t notice a big difference unless it was a ton of flaking), but it flakes nonetheless. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if Dark Matter grip flakes on the exposed edge over time; but I do think it will be minimal. 

I did ask others if they noticed any flaking, and the resounding opinion was not really, or not at all.

It’s fair to say most grip tapes will flake on exposed edges over time (Lokton has it bad though). So no surprise if Dark Matter does too.

I will provide you guys with an update in a few months time.

Dark Matter flaked when I did this …

There is a bit of flaking when I wrapped the griptape around the rails.

dark matter grip flaking

It would be surprising if there wasn’t – this is a very stressful spot for griptape and in my experience literally all of them flake at this spot especially if they’ve been wrapped in the same way.

IIRC, Cuei held up the best in this spot, with barely any flaking but I can’t remember for sure …

Otherwise, I haven’t noticed other flaking – apart from the flakes I made when I scored the side of the griptape with my screwdriver to get a bald edge that would make it easy to cut the grip. 

Is it flexible?

It’s flexible enough that it will stick to most concave shapes and even wrap-around rails given there is enough surface area beneath for it to stick to.

Is it strong? (does it tear)

Yes. Very strong.

Lokton is very easy to tear apart with your bare hands, and worse is unpredictable when it tears. This is such a problem when taking it off – the griptape sometimes tears when you try pull it off the board.

The main issue with Lokton being easy to tear, is when a cutout/sheet unsticks in which case, any twisting motion from your feet will easily tear off that portion of grip. Fortunately, it’s unlikely for it to happen – just make sure all sheets are stuck on well.

You can’t tear Cuei grip with your hands cause it has a plastic backing that wants to bend instead of tearing – it will deform instead (IIRC). 

It is possible to tear Dark Matter, but it requires some strength and effort and is only possible when using your hand. When you tear it, it tears off in a straightline. Very cool.

I don’t think you’d be able to tear Dark Matter off with your feet and I don’t think it will unstick for any reason. If you dislike when Lokton does this, Dark Matter is the grip for you.

Is Dark Matter easy to apply?

Yes, it is. It stuck pretty well and I didn’t have to touch it up with superglue or anything. 

Does it cut easy?

It does cut surprisingly easily. You need to score the edge to get a bald spot so it becomes easy to cut … use a sharp blade/box cutter. But it is way easier to cut than Lokton – which is a nightmare to cut ngl.

Does it stick on complex concave shapes?

I had no problems sticking this board to the complex concave shapes of the Micro. No problem at all. I don’t see it being an issue on even more complex concaves and warping around awkward spots either.

How about wrapping around rails?

I tried to be cheeky and get it to wrap around the rails of the board – it managed this ok. However, it come apart where it was too thin to get a solid stick (not enough surface area to get a firm hold). 

grip tape unsticking

I expected this – I wrapped it around spots I knew it would have difficulty sticking well – eg, the very thin bit of rail at the wheel wells of the Micro. I wanted to test that sticking ability.

That said, on the other side that I did use and put my foot on and push into the grip, the thin strip stayed stuck.

grip sticking on thin rail

So uhhh, yeah IDK. I guess the other side came off because there wasn’t enough movement there keeping it stuck? IDK.

But yeah. It should stick as long as it has enough surface area to work with. 

For comparison, Cuei managed to wrap around the rails of my deck – but had more surface area to work with. Lokton with all the surface area in the world could not manage it – it would always need a touch of superglue to stay stuck to rails. The 36 grit was especially bad at this, the 60 grit was better.

Fabric backing … is it any different?

The fiber back is different and better for a few reasons –

  • Works better in the rain than paper backing (not tested this, no rain in Kenya sorry, asked other riders about this and about 90% confirmed it was good in the rain, others said no difference).
  • Better for the environment than plastic backing (more sustainable I believe),
  • More flexible – just as flexible as plastic backing, better than paper,

Dark Matter vs Cuei grip vs Lokton comparison table

36grit Lokton60grit LoktonCuei GripDark Matter grip
BackingPaperPaperPlasticFibre
SharpnessVery sharp and bitesKinda sharp but bitesSharp but doesn’t biteSharp and bites
DurabilityVery goodVery goodVery goodVery good
StickinessGood enoughGood enoughVery goodVery good
FlexibilityPoorPoorVery goodVery good
Rain performanceIt’s ok. Does get soggy tho. Edges can peel/lift-off deck when the board is drenched.I haven’t rain skated since May 2020. I can’t answer this sorry.I haven’t rain skated since May 2020. I can’t answer this sorry.I haven’t rain skated since May 2020. I can’t answer this sorry.

Do I like it a lot?YesLove itIt’s goodLove it
Price$25-$32$27-33.5$29.95 (you get 4 sheets worth though, good value)CHF 29.00 ($29)
Flaking?A lotA little NegligibleA little/negligable
Loss of sharpness?A littleA littleA littleA little (speculated)
BaldingNoneNoneNoneNone

Catch the in-depth review of Lokton Grip here.

Catch the in-depth review of Cuei Grip here.

What I didn’t like

Red/maroon isn’t the nicest color – I wish they had more color options. Might do some spray paint stuff.

Is it worth the money?

Yes.

If you’re looking for an affordable griptape that performs well and lasts a long time, (especially if you’re in the EU), this is worth it.

As well, if you want a griptape that uses environmentally friendly materials, the Dark Matter is right for you.

dark matter on micro board

Instagram questions

Here are some questions from Instagram that I didn’t answer in the review. Unfortunately, I didn’t wholeheartedly test some of the things below; I simply don’t heat grip or stack my grip so it’s hard for me to simulate these effectively. But I’ve tried.

Does it stack 

It can but you need decent surface area around whatever you’re trying to stack it over so it can stick and hold well.

Becomes more flexible when heated up?

Yes, it does become more flexible when heated up. But be careful, the glue can come off the sheet if you’re too forceful with it when applying.

Other questions

There were a bunch of other questions but I think I’ve answered them throughout the review.

Things I haven’t tested (incomplete review)

I didn’t skate Dark Matter in the rain. But it should work fine. Just don’t step in mud and then try to use your grip, it will not work.

Unfortunately, performance in the wet and durability are a key selling point of this grip. So ultimately, this review is incomplete. Hopefully, I will get the chance to skate in the rain at some point and will be able to update the review for y’all.

Did you guys enjoy this review of Dark Matter grip?

Dark Matter isn’t perfect per se, but it ticks a lot of boxes for me.

Big thanks to Daniel from Rocket for sending me this stuff to review! I appreciate it -(also got an Ian Friere Micro which I will be review soon too hehe). 

Big thanks to you guys for reading this. If you have any questions or a dissimilar experience with this grip, leave a comment!

Also, you can always join my Patreon to see all the product reviews before they drop publicly. There are always a handful available – I make more and can only post on Youtube weekly.

Big thanks to all my patrons for the support – David, Squirrels Adventures, Mike, Jed, Mowgii, Jan, Josh, Jay, Jay, Bryan, @owencampbell777, @dkwan, Alex, Kasajja, Domnik, Reuben, @pablo.vega.andrade, Vlad Helge, DeLacoste, Peder, Josh, Mike, Anthony, @issishreds, Greg, Jackson, Slipa, Louisa, Bill, Steve, John and Justin. I couldn’t write articles like this without you guys’ support.

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