The purpose of this topic is to share my experience of purchasing a new hand crafted longboard deck and enclosure, to learn from you all in requesting your advice, and to help companies improve their products and services.
I ordered a Custom Subsonic Century 40 from Subsonic Skateboards and have not been pleased with the quality and care of both craftsmanship and attention to detail in the fabrication, quality control, and shipping of my deck(s). My custom order was for a beautiful carbon fiber skinned Century 40 deck, eBoosted enclosure, pre-installed enclosure inserts, and pre-drilled eBoosted enclosure. After the shippers brought my board to me I was one happy girl before I opened the box containing my shiny new “Custom Subsonic Century 40”. After all I had high hopes for my 1st DIY electric longboard having researched Subsonic skateboards on this eSk8 forum, on other skate forums, and with the help of friends who also own Subsonic Century 40’s decks. In my mind Subsonic seemed like a deck solution for my DIY eSk8 dream board with their implied professionalism and focus on the idea of “Custom” built skate decks. On Subsonic’s website the first use of bold and italic formatting regarding product descriptions can be seen as:
Cool! Let’s break this sentence down, and never mind the stated “10 business day production”, as I fully support the health and safety of our friends over at Subsonic Skateboards; people first! However let us focus on Subsonic’s advertising words; “each is made to meet individual specifications”, which made me feel totally warm and fuzzy inside! The words “each is made” implies that my deck would be cared for as a specific unit of possibly many. The words “to meet individual specifications” implies that my deck would meet not only some type of specifications, but “Individual specifications”. One simple sentence implies and conveys the message to potential Subsonic Skateboard customers that their customers purchased and received decks would have both a standard level of quality craftsmanship, and would be guided by “individual specifications” in that matter. I thought, they sure must have their fabrication and business processes controlled, I thought this purchase and trust in Subsonic Skateboards would be an obvious success, just as I have seen many other examples of their quality boards on this forum.
I experienced receiving my Century 40 deck on two different occasions. On both occasions I received defective Century 40 decks. On both occasions I was dismayed at what my eyes saw. Let me tell you more about these 2 occasions, separated into different descriptions titled “Subsonic Century #1” and “Subsonic Century #2”, even though the boards are of mostly the same physical properties.
The first Century 40 deck I received had 3 issues.
Deck 1, issue A:
The 1st issue was that the Century 40 deck had a series of scratches on both the high side of the drop of the tail and on the tip of the nose.
Having ordered the Century 40 deck, an eBoosted enclosure, gasket and mounting hardware, and drill holes for the enclosure and board, it was obvious that one of the fabricators at Subsonic Skateboards had scratched up a brand new board when they were drilling the holes and fitting the inserts and enclosure to my brand new shiny and clean clear-coat covered carbon fiber skinned Century 40 deck. I do not know any of the fabricators of my Subsonic Century 40, but from my experience Subsonic Skateboards procedural deficiencies limit both the quality of craftsmanship and the opportunity to catch defective products from shipping to their customers. Bradley at Subsonic Skateboards said it best at the 4:09 time mark in Subsonic Skateboards official YouTube channel video called “How to Install a Battery Enclosure on an E-board”, where he can be viewed and heard stating: “It’s all about the prep work, actually drilling and assembly isn’t going to take very long”.
If the process of fabricating a custom carbon fiber skinned deck is indeed “all about the prep work” then this line of thought, mode of operation, and fabrication techniques clearly was not present on both of my Century 40 decks that were sent to me by Subsonic Skateboards. In Subsonic Skateboard’s YouTube video “How to Install a Battery Enclosure on an E-board” the fabricator did not properly pad both the tip and the tail of that Century 40 deck before measuring, fitting, drilling, and mounting the enclosure on the bottom of that deck. The opportunities to properly support and pad my deck to negate possible defects on a a clear-coat finished carbon fiber deck did not occur in that YouTube video at the times of 1:07, 3:27, 6:04, and 10:57. Bradley @Subsonic Skateboards did such a cool video and it is much appreciated to see traditional longboard vendors branch out into the eSk8 market, I was really stoked to watch that video shortly after it was posted to Subsonic Skateboards YouTube channel. However, after correlating my brand new scratched up carbon fiber Century 40 that I received, and after recalling that “How to Install a Battery Enclosure on an E-board” video on YouTube, I could not help but wonder if a Subsonic employee learned how to do those specific tasks from that video alone. Possibly that incomplete process in the YouTube video where there is no padding placed between the board and the workbench to properly negate creating new visual defects in the upside down deck while measuring, fitting, drilling, and mounting the enclosure on the bottom of that deck propagated to other employees that may have caused the fabrication errors on my Century 40 deck.
Deck 1, issue B:
The 2nd issue with the Century 40 deck is the very visible recessed indentions in the carbon fiber on the top of my brand new shiny and clean clear-coat covered carbon fiber skinned Century 40 deck.
Deck 1, issue C:
The 3rd issue with the Century 40 deck is the very visible blemish on the carbon fiber on the drop section of the nose.
I contacted Anne at Subsonic Skateboards and advised of the 3 issues with the Century 40 deck I received, and she confirmed with me that the fabricator that worked on my board did indeed scratch the tip and tail of my Century 40 because it was not properly padded before the enclosure mounting process. Anne was nice and offered either a refund or to send me a return label so that I could send my deck back to have it repaired. At that time I was optimistic that the repairs will be done properly. So off it goes back to Subsonic Skateboards, fingers crossed, despair fades as anticipation builds.
Send and Receive
I am once again stoked when I receive my repaired Subsonic Century 40 deck, giddy being armed with a new Lacroix Stormcore 100D and a future Winfly 21700 battery array, my 1st DIY board is coming to life… I thought.
I open the 2nd Subsonic Skateboards box shipped to me, the second Century 40 deck I received also had 2 issues.
Deck 2, issue A:
The 1st issue with the Century 40 deck re-issue is that thousands of very visible dust and dirt particles are perfectly encapsulated on the clear coat…. what, that’s clear-coat is also not so clear this time. There is no very visible shine, or polished appearance from the clear-coat. So now this board has introduced 2 new deficiencies that were not present in the first deck. Sigh.
The coating is hazy, looks like the deck sat on a floor or laid on a horizontal surface and fabrication dust fell on my deck, and clear-coat was applied over that dust and differently to account for the hazy look, or maybe that is just a bunch of dust and dirt perfectly preserved throughout the vertical clear-coat medium — suspended and capture in a way that visually frames the new materiality of my deck as dusty dirty carbon fiber.
Deck 2, issue B:
Just like the 1st Century 40 deck I received a month a few weeks earlier, the 2nd issue with the Century 40 deck is the same as last time. Please see “Deck 1, issue B” section and photos above. The very visible recessed indentions in the carbon fiber on top of my repaired hazy looking clear-coat covered carbon fiber skinned Century 40 deck were still present, with the added hazy clear-coat to visually subdue those once clear indentions. Now the indentions look different, hazy, hazy indentions with visible dust speckles and finger touchable dots to experience as you were invited to get close and personable to that beautiful carbon fiber weave. I feel tricked! What was once a shiny clear clear-coat is now a hazy prickly coat over carbon fiber. The materiality, visual communication, and visceral understanding of the previous multiple layers regressed substantially. Now I understand the follow up email sent from Anne @ Subsonic before my deck was sent back from me, asking if I would like them to install complimentary grip tape on the top of the deck. I had no interest covering up presumably fixed carbon fiber skinning with grip tape. What I received was a hazy looking clear-coat with prickly coated dust and dirt preserved over indented carbon fiber, this was not what I signed up for in my purchase or repair.
Observations and Thoughts
Due to the deficiencies of fabrication and operational processes at Subsonic Skateboards I begin to question the structural integrity of my deck. Were each of those “7 plies of maple with embedded fiberglass” selected based on optimal physical state? Were each of those “7 plies of maple with embedded fiberglass” evenly glued together with uniform and well distributed adhesive on each side? Were each of those “7 plies of maple with embedded fiberglass” pressed with optimal methodology so that they work as one uniform structural unit? Were both of the outer top and bottom plies of maple free of any defects or surface abnormalities before they were configured together with the carbon fiber weave? On the top side of the deck was the adhesive sufficiently spread evenly over the top maple ply before the carbon fiber weave was laid over to dry? When processes that help control the safety of fabrication are questioned due to abnormal defects and deficiencies in the final product received, I hope you can entertain my uneasiness with this deck that will support my body skating on earth at 45+ mph.
See how quickly a reasonable person can have thought opportunities that may directly contradict the companies original operating intentions?
Looking back at this whole experience with Subsonic Skateboards, I would have rather kept my 1st deck and fixed the scratches myself rather than sending the deck back for repair only to receive a second more defected deck that I cannot easily repair myself. From deck 1 to deck 2, the quality went down, time keeps progressing, and my 1st DIY eSkateboard is being delayed again. So here I contemplate sending this repaired deck, my 2nd defected deck, back to Subsonic, and hope I can get 1 of 3 decks fabricated, inspected, and shipped to me in a quality and uncompromised manner. Whew, trial and error Is wearing thin.
So is it “3rd time is a charm," or is it “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”?
While I learned from others experiences with Subsonic that ultimately made me feel comfortable in purchasing my Subsonic Century 40, as I continue to see the care and quality of other deck fabricators and deck skinners and companies on this forum, I realize I received the least quality deck from Subsonic Skateboards I have seen, and one of these poorest quality carbon fiber skinning I have seen. That makes me feel disappointed, the product I receive is the antithesis of what I believe I should receive, based on precedent provided by other friends and forum members experiences.
Any thoughts, feedback, or comments are appreciated?