This weeks review is on the Landyachtz Small Blind. I’ve been riding this egg shaped beast for the last few weeks and been getting to know it intimately. Check out the review to find how it rides.
- Length – 29.5inches
- Width – 9.25inches
- 9.25inches at the widest (around the middle)
- 8.5inches over the trailing mounting holes at the front truck mount
- About 7inches over the leading mounting holes at the front
- About 8.4inches over the back truck
- Wheelbase – 20-21inches
- Construction – 9 plys of maple, sandwiched by two plys of Carbon.
Landyachtz Small Blind Review
The Small Blind is a board designed to be skated at the highest level of downhill skating – I’m talking about racing specifically. It’s been designed to be used with Slalom downhill trucks, and big, thick, downhill wheels with the design goal of giving you the best possible performance down the hill. You can expect to see a lot of this board on the racing circuit.
… and admittedly, I kinda feel out of place talking about this. I don’t compete at the highest level of downhill skateboarding (I might one day) and I’m still very much learning and improving my skills as a rider. So on some fronts, I may not be able to give well-experienced riders the info they need or give any insight as to how this board will perform in a race environment. I will do my best to provide insight, but one or two things might be a miss. Please let me know, and I’ll see how I can help.
How I have my Small Blind setup
- Wheelbase – 21in.
- Trucks – Bear 2020 Smokies 45//17.
- Bushings – 74/78, 95/97.
- Washers – small flat RS/ flat BS, cupped RS/flat BS.
- Wheels – Cheetahs primarily – tested with various (Biggie Hawgs, Venom Magnums, Seismic Alphas)
Check out my review of the Hawgs Cheetah wheels here.
- Bearings – Bear Spaceball bearings.
- Footstop – Netherskate.co Marley knock-off or Riptide Mini i/o.
- I redrilled a hole on the side to support my foot. I have a lot of range of movement, but my foot is supported for both heelside and toeside “activities” whilst still being over that front truck.
- Griptape – Lokton front, Cuei grip in the back.
The Small Blind is a pro model by Dexter Manning
Before we get into the review, I thought it would be a good idea to talk to the designer of this board. I thought it would be helpful to get some information and insight on design goals, how he rides this board and how he recommends others to approach it.
*I’m happy I did this. Dexter gave me some clutch tips which allowed me to really understand how to ride and make the most of this board.
About Dexter Manning
Dexter has been on the Landyachtz team for a long time. He’s known around the community for putting down some heinous, balls to the wall raw runs – any media he puts out is usually show-stopping. Don’t believe me? Check out his Tuna run below. The fastest Longboad run down Tuna likely ever filmed.
He certainly is one of my favorite riders to watch.
Dexter is also one of the masterminds behind the Landyachtz Cheetah Hawgs and Bear 2020 Smokies (review on both coming soon).
Interview – Dexter Manning on the Small Blind
Why did you want to make the Small Blind?
“It largely came from wanting to focus a bit more on racing. I had spent most of 2015-2017 focusing on big mountain riding and The Gambler was the result of that. It does that stuff great but I raced most of the tour in 2018 and it was clear that tech for the race track had moved on quite some ways and we needed to develop stuff that could compete on that level if I wanted to really get after it. The board itself was part of a bigger picture thing where we knew we had to develop a coherent setup that worked together rather than just a new deck.”
What design goals did you have in mind for it?
“It really came from the dimensions I wanted. Starting from my foot position over the front truck, we set some points where the rail had to be to get proper leverage over both rails with each foot while in a tuck. Part of the advantage with a little board is that you barely have to move your feet to go from tucking to cornering to sliding, and if you design the board right you can basically eliminate it.
So the shape started from where I wanted the rails to be in those specific spots and went from there. All the other little boards I saw were real sharp and pointy shapes, and I’ve always liked simpler board shapes so we just joined up all those points in a round shape and I really liked it.”
What do you like most about it?
“It has more to do with the whole set up, but I really like that you can tune the whole thing for an oversteer balance. Historically downhill boards would be limited by front grip, meaning that if you took too much speed into a corner, you couldn’t get enough turn and you would “wash out” to the outside. These boards are wild because you can tune them so that if you take too much speed in, the front will stay planted and the rear will lose grip first, meaning that you can control the slip angle and still make the apex.”
**This is very interesting and a pretty awesome distinction between traditional downhill setups and the new Slalom DH setups. I haven’t seen it described this way before. Thanks Dex for that.
If you had an ideal way for others to ride it, what would it be?
“Quickly, they feel bad going slow.”
Any tips for picking up the board?
“Set it up right, pay attention to the track width of your front axle and make sure it roughly matches the width of the board.
Realize that if you have a lot of muscle memory from traditional DH setups, you may have to relearn some things. Everything on these boards comes off the front, rather than steering with the back as you can do with a big board. Experiment with technique to make it work and think about pivoting the board around the front axle in drifts rather than pushing it out from the back.”
How Dexter has his Small Blind setup
- Deck – Landyachtz Small Blind (his pro model)
- Wheelbase – 21in
- Trucks – Bear Smokies 120mm
- Baseplate angles – 50/20
- Bushings –
- 73/78a Venom barrels in the front truck
- 95/97a Venom barrels in the back truck
- Wheels – 76/85a or 76/90a Hawgs Cheetahs
- Bearings – Bones Race Red bearings
- Grip – Hardcore grip
*Thank you Dexter for taking time to answer my questions. You’ve given a ton of insight on how to ride this board and best make use of it.
Actual Small Blind Review
The Small Blind not as small as you think
A lot of comments I’ve gotten go like “that board is tiny” or “that board looks hilarious small”, and I gotta say I agree. Actually looking at pictures and at videos of myself and other people riding it, the board does actually look quite tiny.
Oddly enough it doesn’t feel that way. Whilst it is small (due to being designed around small trucks and a short wheelbase), when you stand on it, it feels just as big as other DH boards.
The best way to explain this is that it’s simply large enough where it needs to be – basically where your feet go. It simply doesn’t have any wasted space – you could say it’s a minimalist board almost. And I guess this lends to that “tiny” look …
… It might be best for riders with small-medium stances
However, it does feel a bit narrow the closer you get to the rear trucks, especially if you stand with your feet parallel to the trucks (or across the board). And this can feel a bit awkward. But ultimately, I don’t think it will be an issue as most people won’t ride the board with their feet exactly parallel …
I do think it might be an issue for people with wider stances who would like to stand directly on top of the back truck. The board gets super narrow over the back truck, and this isn’t a very comfortable place to stand – both because of the narrow width and concave (I expand on this below).
If you have a wide stance (wider than 21inches) the Small Blind might not be the right option for you. It will work well for everyone else with a 21inch stance and narrower. This is pretty key, as it could seriously affect your riding experience with this board. It certainly favours a shorter stance.
The concave is subtle but ergonomic and useful
I was quite impressed by the concave of the Small Blind. I found it to be mellow, subtle, but useful at the same time.
At the front over the front truck, you have wheel flares, you then have W running throughout the board, but stopping just shy of either mounting holes. And finally, you have slightly larger wheel flares at the back … and that’s it, pretty simple.
The concave is also relatively mellow, but the rails are a bit on the sharp side.
The concave at the back gives you a “pocket”
Where the W ends at the back is about the same point where the rear wheel flares begin. This gives you a sort of pocket for your foot.
I found this pocket to be nice to use for tucking and for toesides. It was also a great reference point so I never felt as though my back foot was lost. It was confidence inspiring, and I never felt the need to use any concave mods at the back for reference or to help with control/leverage.
The one issue I had with it was that it was further back than I would have liked it to be. I had to slightly lengthen my stance to use it, particularly for toesides slides. This wasn’t that big of a deal though and I quickly adjusted, but it is something to note.
Finally, whilst this pocket is nice to use for slides, it’s not the best to stand on directly with your foot flat. The wheel flares and narrow width of the board make this feel a bit awkward.
You don’t need a torque block with this board, but …
Because of the concave “pocket” and the wheel flares in the back, I don’t think you really need a torque block for this deck. However, if you have a shorter stance and would like similar support for your foot further up the deck, then a torque block does make sense.
A torque block would also make sense if you need a bit more leverage in the back. I find this to be normally true for toesides, but with slalom trucks I have all the turning I need.
I am choosing to run a torque block because it feels better for my back foot.
Where I stand on the Small Blind
I thought it would be good to share where I stand on the Small blind and why.
This position feels most comfortable to me. I get the best control over my trucks from here, and the best balance of lean and turn. It’s also natural to me.
The one thing that I did change was where my foot was upfront. Dex insisted that I have my front toe sorta over the front wheels and inline with the front kingpin. I was skeptical of this, but it ultimately gave me a ton of control over the front truck and slides and pretty much everything else felt smoother.
I don’t know whether that applies to other setups too, but it gave me a ton of control and really made the riding experience a whole lot better. I felt like I was now riding the board properly (I also made some tweaking to the trucks, so that likely helped too).
However, I did lose some toeside leverage because of how my front foot was. I was no longer able to use the front wheel flare as my toe was slightly ahead of it. I needed to make a concave mod to compensate for this.
The one concave mod I added
Because I could no longer use the front wheel flare with my toe, I had to add a concave mod. This was pretty simple. I just layered some duct tape so my toe had something to push against.
Finally, this was only an issue for me because my ankles are not flexible. They don’t allow me to get into an angled position comfortably and place my foot across the whole board rather than straight across as they usually are. So yeah, I needed to compensate for that. This may not be an issue for others.
The construction is high-quality
Like most brands these days, some Landyachtz boards are manufactured in China. This is to simply make them a bit more affordable for everyone and so that company can stay in business and compete against the cheap boards on the market today.
Even though they are made in China the quality of the boards are still pretty good – only because they use specific manufacturers. Some other brands that make their decks in China are Pantheon and Arbor.
The Small Blind is made in Canada
However, the Landyachtz line of race boards (the Small Blind, Obsidian, and El Peligro) are made in Canada by Berley Manufacturing (Jody Wilcox) in Kimberly, BC. The same factory where the hollowtech boards are also made.
The finish is amazing
I was really impressed with the finish of this board when I picked it up. It was super sleek, had no sharp angles (sans the rails), and the overall board was really smooth. I can confidently say that this is the highest quality board I’ve ever owned – and I don’t say that lightly.
I can confidently say that this board is gonna withstand anything I can throw at it. It’s likely going to last me years.
No torsional flex
Because of the smaller shape, the high-quality construction (9plys of maple and two layers of carbon), this board has very little torsional flex. I can only get it to twist if I try very hard …
The wheel wells are super deep
The wheel wells on the board are super deep. They’ve been CNC’d in and have a depth of about 1/4 inch.
Despite running huge wheels, dummy soft bushings and a 45* plate upfront, I didn’t not get any wheelbite when actually riding this board. I don’t think wheelbite will be an issue for most people.
How did the different wheelbases affect the ride?
I ended up primarily using the 21inch wheelbase. It felt quite right and felt more natural to me.
I barely used the 20inch wheelbase and when I did, it didn’t feel very natural … I admittedly did not spend enough time messing around with the trucks to get them dialed in for that wheelbase so I can’t provide a thorough overview.
I do think the 20inch WB could work well with a very low angle baseplate – maybe even 15*, but thats all speculation … I’ll get to experimenting with it one day once I feel completely at home on the 21inch wheelbase.
How to pick the right wheelbase for you?
Go with whatever fits your shoulder width stance best. But generally speaking, the 21inch wheelbase will be best for most riders.
What I didn’t like about the Small Blind
I really like “sitting on the board” especially for heelside slides. The rails were simply too sharp for me to do that as comfortably as I would have liked.
That said, it wasn’t really something I worried about when actually riding – I didn’t really feel like it affected my ability to ride. But I have to mention it as I feel a mellower rail would have allowed me to sit on my heels in a more natural way.
If you’ve been reading my reviews, you’ll know I’m not a big fan of taper on a board. Oddly enough though, it wasn’t an issue this time. I did not feel like the taper messed with my riding ability with this board.
However, this is only because I was naturally standing on top of the right points on this board. I had the right amount of leverage over my trucks at all times. But whilst it wasn’t an issue for me, I can see it being an issue for someone with a slightly wider stance than mine, especially in the back … but it should be sorta negligible tbh…
I thought I should mention it nonetheless.
Is the price justified?
Construction, finish, and where it is manufactured totally justifies the $250 price of the Small Blind. I believe this board is gonna withstand any abuse I put it through and then some. I know it’s gonna last me years.
But …that statement is incomplete without considering what the competitors have to offer.
What do the competitor brands offer?
In terms of slalom DH boards, you have brands like Decent, Rocket, Pantheon, Luca, Mids etc., all offering boards within that $230-300 price range. What’s different about their boards is that they come with a lot of bells and whistles – you have boards that have vertically laminated wood, foam cores, urethane rails, fiberglass, carbon, other exotic materials etc. with all of them being super lightweight …
So I kind of look at the simple Maple and Carbon construction of the Small Blind and I’m like “that’s it?” … “why didn’t they put anything exotic in it?”
Is more better?
But that’s more of a knee-jerk reaction more than anything. And having sat down and thought about it … the Small Blind pretty much does everything those boards with exotic add-ons do – It’s lightweight enough, strong, durable, feels good etc. … (ok it’s not waterproof, they got it there).
But ultimately because of that sort of thinking, I think it boils down to a question of preference, riding style, and taste, rather than feature quantity.
So I guess, it boils down to the rider in question to decide if the price is worth it or not. Either way, with whatever you choose you’d be getting a quality board which will help you do the thing.
I would be happy to pay full price for the Small Blind (and other boards in Landyachtz race line-up too). But thats just me I guess.
***I haven’t actually tried the other composite slalom boards (hit me up if you want to send me something to review). Above are my assumptions. So yeah my opinion might change as I try out more board shapes.
What I wish the Small Blind had more of
I think flush mounting is a good idea and here is why:
- I don’t get wheelbite on this deck presently. The wheel wells are deep. Flush mounting would allow me to get closer to my trucks.
- It would have meant a slightly more stable ride with a smoother slide (because you’re lower to the ground).
- Finally, it would have allowed you to wedge and dewedge the trucks without increasing the overall height of the board too much – I think this something ALL slalom DH boards should have tbh.
Dexter has teased that the next version of the Small Blind will have flush mounting on the front mounting point, so that is a bit promising.
What trucks will work best for the Small Blind?
The Small Blind is designed with precision Slalom DH trucks in mind. It will work best with trucks designed to work well with that small wheelbase. Trucks like these are:
- Bear 2020 Smokies,
- Rogue trucks,
- Valkyrie slalom trucks,
- Ronins (sub 134mm),
- Don’t Trip DH Cybins etc.
You can use them any trucks you want. But the trucks mentioned above will give you an appropriate performance as they’re designed for decks like the Small Blind.
What about truck width?
In terms of width, trucks between 106mm -140mm will work best. But you’re going to have to pair them with wheels that give the truck and wheel combo a tracking width between 8.4 and 8.7inches.
You should be ok with any width of truck and wheel combo that fits within those guidelines.
What wheels will work best for the Small Blind?
Most wheels between 70-80mm in size should work ok on this deck. You might get a bit of bite with 80mm wheels, but shouldn’t be an issue when you actually pick up speed and do downhill stuff on them – you’re never gonna lean deep enough to get bite when you go fast.
Who is the Landyachtz Small Blind right for?
The Small Blind might be right for you if:
- You have a smaller stance.
- You want a high-quality board.
- If my review makes it sound appealing to you.
Who shouldn’t buy the Small Blind
You shouldn’t get the Small Blind if:
- You have a very wide stance.
- You don’t think you’ll be comfortable on the 21inch wheelbase.
- If you don’t have trucks designed for a slalom board.
- If you like complete flat concave.
What do you think? Is the Landyachtz Small Blind right for you?
The Small Blind has thoroughly impressed me as a rider and I’m glad that this board has been my introduction to the world of slalom DH boards. With some experimentation and the tips from Dexter, I’ve been able to make the most of it.
Big thanks to my patrons, Jed, SuperbadJuju, Mowgii, Bryan, Andrew, Jan, Jay, Owen, Samil, Daniel, Alex, and Kasajja, and Justin for the support. Your continued support of me allows me to keep making things like this. Cheers!