I had been looking to purchase another set of trucks for several months. It’s not so much that I needed new trucks, I am just a guy that is interested in trying out new gear to see if the grass is indeed greener on the other side.
I had heard great things about Thunder Truck Co. from the homies that ride them, and I pushed around on a few setups, and I liked how comfortable they felt, even though I wasn’t used to riding them.
I had also been going up incrementally in board size over the past while, and my favorite pair of Royal Crown Raw 5.25”, which are perfect for a 8 – 8 1/8” deck, were too narrow for the new 8.5” I was riding. I decided to pull the trigger and seek out a set of Thunder 149s. I scored a hell of a deal at a local skate shop on a set of Polished Thunder Hollow Lights, and couldn’t be happier.
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Pretty rad trucks and they just feel so light. Compared to my old thunders it’s a huge difference. To be fair, these are really old and the shape has changed over the years.
- They are very light. Not as light as the Titanium Lights, but lighter feeling than any other truck I’ve found.
- They turn really well. They turn very quickly, and as sharp as I need without having to “two-wheel”
- Very smooth grind. It could be because they are polished, but they grind smoothly on anything.
- They look super sick!! The metal is shiny, the bushing is bright white, and the hollow axle and kingpin look really cool.
- Wheel bite. Because of their geometry, Thunders may give you some wheel bite. This will happen more often with the lows than the highs, but even the highs. Either add some shockpads or wax your wheel wells, kids!
- No Baseplate contact on slides. The hanger on a Thunder is more perpendicular to the deck, so only the wheels touch on a slide The bottom/side of the ledge needs to be waxed so you don’t stick, and die
- Not great for manuals. I’m not great at manuals. I found I could balance as well as with any other truck, but I ride flatter decks. People say steep decks and Thunders suck for manuals.
Weight – Are they actually lighter?
Let’s compare the posted weights of the most common truck brands in the 149 size range. (The weight of one truck, not a pair)
|TRUCK BRAND||TRUCK TYPE||TRUCK WEIGHT (GRAMS)||DIFFERENCE TO THUNDER POLISHED HOLLOW LIGHTS (+/- GRAMS)|
|THUNDER||POLISHED HOLLOW LIGHT||330||–|
|INDEPENDENT||STAGE 11 STANDARD||394||+64|
|INDEPENDENT||STAGE 11 HOLLOW||369||+36|
|INDEPENDENT||FORGED TITANIUM STANDARD||340||+10|
As we can see from the chart, there are only 2 trucks, out of some of the most popular brands, which are lighter: Thunder Titanium Hollow, and Tensor Maglight. Both of which are made from lighter metals than the Thunder Hollow Lights. By just holding the Indy Titaniums and the Thunders Hollow light, you can feel a slight difference.
Also remember that these numbers are per truck, not per pair. A set of Thunder Hollow lights will make your setup 128 grams lighter than if you had a set of Indy Stage 11, but would be 108 grams heavier than if you had Tensor Maglights.
Interesting note: going from Indy Stage 11 Standard to Tensor Maglight would shave 236 grams off your setup!. Truth be told, a couple of grams less won’t really make you ollie higher.
Compared to Other Thunder Models
Thunder Hollow Lights work how you would expect Thunders to work: Ultra-responsive turning, excellent stability and control, and smooth performance. Thunder no longer offers a Hi, or a Low truck. There new lines all can be considered a mid standing at about 50-52mm tall. Which is lower than an Independent Standard (55mm) and quite a bit taller than the old Thunder Lows (47mm).
Given that they are all about the same build, the only real difference between the Thunder Models is weight, materials, and price. They offer (from heaviest to lightest, and least expensive to most expensive): Team Editions, Lights, Team Hollows, Hollow Lights, Titanium Lights. They are of course available in a broad variety of colors to suit your personal tastes.
Thunder vs Independent
The age-old debate: Thunders vs Indys: Which is better? Most of the skaters I know skate Indys, and like them. I am personally not a fan of Indys. To me, they don’t turn as well as I would like them too.
They feel very heavy and clunky under my deck. While they do seem to wear better, I feel like I am having work way harder when skating Indys. Indys are great for verts, ramps and transition in general but I can’t get used to them.
I have to pop harder and drag my front foot harder on ollies, scoop harder on Shuvits, turn my head more on 180s, even kick turns feel more laborious on Indys. Skating with Indys just feels like a lot more work for me.
I am definitely liking the feel of the Thunder Hollow Lights. I can notice that my whole set up, despite being on a bigger deck than I used to ride, feels lighter, and I get less tired during a session. As an older skater, physical activity is starting to take its tole on me.
The less effort I have to exert to pull off a maneuver, the longer and better my session will be. These Thunder Hollow Lights, seem to be allowing me to skate longer, and better without getting as tired as other trucks previously have.
My skating has never been considered good or consistent, and the Thunder Hollow Lights don’t magically make me able to land difficult tricks every time. I just don’t feel the tiring effects of the board as badly as I do with a heavier setup.
Thunders on the Streets
Thunders must be good for the streets given the stellar team they have, featuring the technical street stylings of Sean Malto, Mark Appleyard, Shane O’Neil, and Neen Williams. Can’t deny that the pinch on Jamie Foy’s crooked grinds is not about the most beautiful thing a skater can see.
The Thunder Hollow Lights feel like I get a more cushioned ride. I’m not really sure how to explain it. It’s not more bouncy, or softer, it just feels a bit more “forgiving”. It’s not as clunky, or rough when riding through pebbles, cracks or crusty ground. I have been using the same Spitfire Formula 4 101a that I have been with other trucks, yet, the ride feels a bit nicer.
Landing is also a bit nicer on the Hollow Lights. Not like a cushioned, squishy landing, you get with soft wheels, but a more supported and stable feeling maybe. And not just because they are a wide truck. They feel stable when landing. They probably would also feel good when landing an 8 stair gap, or coming off a handrail, but I won’t be testing that theory anytime soon.
Thunders in the Park
Transition is where the debate on Thunders really opens up. Many people claim that Thunders are no good on transition, and its Indys or nothing for the bowls. I have to disagree. Thunders turn like a dream, so carving the bowl is no problem. Sure the lows might be less suitable for transition, but the highs are doing a pretty good job.
The one thing that is a bit challenging, is that because the wheels stick out so much further from the baseplate on Thunders, compared to other brands, your wheels can stick on slides.
However, this is a problem you want to have when locking into nose and tail stalls. But, I have yet to hear anyone complain that skatepark coping is too sticky. Scooter kids usually wax the hell out of anything they can find.
The Stock Bushing Debate
The Thunder Hollow Lights have fantastic bushings. The stock bushings are 90A on the durometer scale, which is the softest that they make. I didn’t adjust them from the factory setting, I just skated them for a bit to break them in, before tightening them up, just a little.
I like to keep my trucks quite loose. I tighten them so the top of the nut is flush with the top of the kingpin. They felt good in this position.
The stock bushings didn’t seem to need a break-in period, unlike other trucks I have tried. They feel fantastic right out of the gate. I also really like the looks of the bright white color of the bushing on this model of Hollow Lights.
It’s nice that the bushings on the pro models come in all kinds of different colors, depending on the model. Thunder also sells aftermarket bushings that are harder than the stock bushings, up to 100A on the durometer scale.
I am really digging the Polished Thunder Hollow Lights 149s, they are excellent skateboard trucks. The performance I get from them is exactly what I am looking for in a skateboard truck. They are very lightweight but can take a beating. Their turning is responsive and smooth, they feel very stable and offer a very nice ride.
If you are looking to buy new trucks, especially if you want to try something light in weight, I would recommend you try Thunder Hollow Lights. It might be the change you are looking for.
Note: this review was written by a guest writer