The simple pleasure of carving around on your longboard has never been more popular. At the cheaper end of the market there's a lot of "me-too" longboard completes without much to choose between them. Spend a bit more on a dedicated carving/cruising longboard setup, and things start to get a lot more interesting.
The Loaded Icarus and Lush Samba are two dedicated carving setups to come out for the 2017 summer season. They both aim to provide the best carving feeling out there, emulating the awesome turning sensation that you'll know if you surf or snowboard.
At face value, there are quite a few similarities between the two boards. As well as the price tag, they both aim to give a deep, carving turn and springy flex via a composite construction.
Deck and Construction
The Loaded Icarus features a complex CNC'd five-piece bamboo core, machined and pressed between two layers of fibreglass to create a vert technical concave and flex pattern. The team at Loaded have clearly spent a lot of time refining this deck to give as much energy return as possible.
A cool feature of many Loaded boards is a choice of flex, so you can pick the correct deck flex pattern to suit your weight and riding style. The Icarus is no exception to this, with two flexes to choose from.
Like many Loaded boards, it uses a conventional drop-through truck mounting to minimise the ride height (more on this later...).
The 3D wheel arches give you some small points of reference and a little more grip for your feet, whilst giving a little more clearance for bigger wheels.
3D wheel flares on the Loaded Icarus give tons of clearance.
There's a whole lot of camber pressed into the deck which helps with the bounce, too... although this comes at the expense of ride height as we'll see later... The deck is surprisingly light, too.
The Samba is a more conventional maple/fibreglass composite construction, with a fairly decent "ping" to it, although the flex doesn't quite match the bounce and return of the Icarus.
It's got a bit less concave than the Icarus, giving a bit less grip for your feet. However, given that we're carving and cruising, and too much concave can hurt your feet over longer distances, the lack of concave isn't an entirely bad thing.
Large cutouts give clearance for big, grippy wheels, so you don't need to worry about wheelbite on this board either. The most noticable feature of the Samba deck is the angled nose and tail with the drop-up truck mounting, which leads us too...
Truck and Wheel Setup
If Loaded have focused on the deck during the development of the Icarus, then it's safe to say that Lush have spent their time on the truck setup.
The Lush Samba has a very unusual truck arrangement, with the low-angle Sabre baseplates dropped into (but not through) the deck, mounted at an angle, and assembled with very soft bushings. The deck is actually cut specifically for the Sabre trucks, and as such the board is only available as a complete.
The Lush Samba is all about lean from that crazy truck setup!
Lush have designed the whole package using the trucks as the starting point, with the thinking that the trucks are the bit that does the turning. And they certainly do turn - a lot!!
The Loaded Icarus on the other hand adopts a more conventional approach, suiting a loose truck like a Paris. It'll take most other brands of truck too, although it's not entirely without compatibility issues - Sabre, Randal and Holey truck baseplates won't fit dropped-through.
One cool thing about the Icarus is the size of wheel you can fit on it - it'll take up to 80mm, even with super-loose trucks.
You can see how much lower the Samba is than the Icarus. Both these boards flex a bit when you stand on them though.
As well as being able to turn well, a cruising/carving board needs to be easy to push. Here's where the Lush Samba has a clear edge - it's a lot lower to the ground than the Icarus, despite the drop-through truck arrangement of the latter.
Usually a super-low ride height gives an unsatisfying turn, as lower deck means less leverage over thr trucks - and the Icarus is certainly a great example of how a higher ride height gives a very nice turning feeling that's very easy to pump.
However, with its super-loose unconventional truck setup, the Samba manages to turn extremely well and give a low ride height.
How do they skate?
Both of these boards are designed to carve, and they both do just that extremely well indeed. There's two areas where the board feel differs though - sliding, pumping and leaning.
The Samba is insane for standup slides. Even with super grippy wheels like the Cult Rapture, the super-low ride height combined with that crazy truck geometry makes it very easy to learn to slide on this board.
On any other setup, a wheel like the Rapture is very difficult to break traction and control. Put on the Samba however, and the same wheels magically become not only very slideable, but also very forgiving.
This board won't suprise you as it steps out - it feels very smooth and predictable compared to any other longboard we've skated.
You might be reading this and thinking that you just want to grip all day, and that the Samba isn't the right choice for you. However, think abut snowboarding and surfing... a lot of the turning that you do on snow or in the water is a sliding motion rather than a gripping turn.
The other thing that the Samba does very well is lean. That low-angle truck setup gives a lot of deck lean compared to a regular longboard like the Icarus.
In this regard, the Samba is possibly a better surf/snow simulator than the Icarus, which provides a more conventional longboard-style feeling.
The Icarus excels when it comes to pumping - the art of generating speed without pushing. The higher ride height and very springy flex make it very easy to pump along the flat, and you will love the bounce you get in and out of turns.
Pumping is really the strong suit of the Loaded Icarus: once you get the hang of it, it's a very fun board to skate and you can really feel where your money has gone.
Firstly, if you're wanting to do any tricks or dancing, get the Icarus as it has a nose and tail where the Samba doesn't. Although if dancing is your primary focus, there are better setups out there - check out our longboard dancing section for some ideas.
If you're going to skate any kind of distance, then we'd go for the Samba. That low ride height makes pushing a lot easier... your calves will thank you after a few miles!
If you're a surfer or snowboarder chasing the ultimate carving feeling, then things are a lot more subjective. Both of these boards have a very tight turning circle, and they both feel awesome in and out of turns. However, if you're addicted to the waves or powder, then we think that the Samba comes closer to replicating this feeling than the Icarus.
If pumping is your thing however, whilst both boards will do it, the Icarus does it better. You'll need to pay attention to your truck and bushing setup, but once you get this right the Icarus really flies.
We get a lot of customers in the shop telling us that these two high-end longboard completes are out of their budget - but we pretty much guarantee that everyone who sets foot on a board like this can immediately feel where their money is going.
If you're using your longboard on a regular basis then you'll really appreciate the difference a few extra quid makes. Composite contruction and a fully engineered board feel isn't cheap, but it that doesn't mean it's not good value.
If you buy a cheap complete you'll get an inferior experience, and you'll be back to upgrade the trucks and wheels anyway... by cheap, buy twice!
The Lush Longboards Samba is available here:
The Loaded Longboards Icarus is available here: