If you’re considering the Loaded Icarus, you’re probably looking for a high-quality drop-through longboard with serious flex, primarily for commuting and carving, yet versatile enough to let you do some sliding, freestyle, and perhaps some dancing.
With so many options on the market for commuting, carving, pumping longboards, exactly what makes the Loaded Icarus special ? These are the biggest strengths I found the board has to offer for someone like me :
- Its high-end, uncommon, technically advanced bamboo + fiberglass + cork construction
- Its special kind of flex, super springy yet multidirectional
- Its huge clearance allowing for very big carving wheels
- Its astonishing pumping ability due to flex, camber and wheel size
- Its unique and versatile rail contours and multi-part concave
- Its very lightweight, storable size, and highly durable deck
This isn’t your run-of-the-mill drop-through, this longboard is highly engineered and is the result of Loaded’s long experience in building high-quality carving longboards.
Of course, quality comes at a price, and the Loaded Icarus (check out Amazon page) is not a budget longboard. You pay for the materials and the engineering. I believe you really get your money’s worth, though.
Read on to understand the kind of riding experience the Icarus enables, and what makes the board so unique.
What is the Loaded Icarus built for?
In short, the Icarus is a flexible drop-through shape designed specifically for pushing, carving and pumping. Loaded meant it as the ultimate longboard for taking the snowboarding and surfing experience to the road.
Loaded’s carving legacy
Loaded was the first to introduce the flexible drop-through carving longboard shape in the market in 2007 with their Dervish model, followed in 2012 by the larger Tan Tien. Over the next years, Loaded then moved on to building a series of very stiff freeride and downhill models, and even a snowboard.
The Icarus marks Loaded’s return to its flexy carving shapes. The board is an evolution of the Dervish and Tan Tien, and Loaded’s most technically advanced performance board to date, made in the U.S with premium materials.
If you’re familiar with Loaded longboards, you’ll find the Icarus to be similar in shape to the Tan Tien and the Dervish, though shorter (at 38.4″) and with a wheelbase (28.25″) in between the two. The Icarus also has larger salient wheel wells allowing for bigger wheels.
Icarus riding styles
As I mentioned earlier, the Icarus is primarily designed for commuting, carving, and pumping.
Commuting: the drop-through mount makes it easier to push on than a topmount, although the cambered profile of the Icarus does increase the ride height in its middle section, making the deck higher off the ground than other drop-throughs.
For experienced pushers with established balance, though, the deck’s bounciness can actually help with the pushing by adding energy to kicks.
Pumping and carving: the deck flex and the cambered profile (and associated ride height), provide great bounce and energy return when pumping (gaining speed without pushing) on flat land or when carving deep turns down a hill.
In addition to pushing, carving and pumping, the Icarus can give you a very nice experience for some freeriding, freestyling and dancing, assuming you have the right skills :
Freeriding? while most freeriders consider strong flex a liability and would rather choose a stiffer board, some riders are big fans of the nice rebound they get on the Icarus which can be turned into an advantage for cutting speed corners.
Freestyling? the Icarus’s minimal kicks don’t make it a true freestyle board, but many experienced riders find them big enough to pull some shuvits and kickflips, especially since the board is so lightweight and durable – no scuffing on the bottom after doing hard tricks.
Dancing? the Icarus doesn’t have the length of a Tan Tien and is quite narrow, but the great flex invites you to throw in some cross-stepping along with your carves.
To recap, while the Loaded Icarus is primarily designed as a commuter and a carver, for intermediate to experienced riders it can also be a great board for all types of riding due of its flex, height, size, and weight.
OK, now we’re ready to dig a bit deeper into the Icarus’ features, to better understand what makes it such a good choice for the styles mentioned.
The Loaded Icarus deck
Size and weight
The Icarus is 38.4″ long, making it a compact board in between a typical city cruiser (e.g. 32-34″) and a classic drop-through commuter (40″+).
At 8.6″ in width it’s narrower than most boards of similar length, which helps keep the weight down – some riders say the deck is a bit too narrow for their feet and would prefer a wider deck, although the advanced concave somewhat makes up for the smaller width (see later).
Because of the very lightweight composite materials, it’s partly made of, the deck weighs about 2.9lbs, bringing the complete setup with big wheels to 6.5lb to 7.4lb – a surprisingly lightweight package overall.
The Icarus construction is quite astonishing. It embodies a new manufacturing process, dubbed “Icarus Composite Construction”, combining laminates from different high-quality materials.
More specifically, 5 plies of vertically laminated bamboo core are glued together using high-performance epoxy, and precision pressed into the convex and concave parts that make up the special-looking shape and sandwiched between thin triaxial fiberglass layers.
Carving out the Icarus’ arching flared wheel wells without cracking the bamboo core was a challenge, so Loaded inserted what they call “bamboo biscuits” into these areas to reinforce them.
The bottom part of the deck is finished with a cork laminate which allows dampening vibrations without losing much flex.
The deck’s nose and tail are also reinforced and stiffened by adding an additional fiberglass layer.
The overall result is a deck that feels very strong yet extremely flexible, returning as much energy as possible when riding.
The story on flex
So what’s the big deal with flex? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
Well, as I briefly mentioning earlier, more flex is good for carving at slow-ish speeds, giving you bounce and energy return and allowing you to lean harder into the carves with a nice surfy feeling. Flex also helps dampen the ride (hence the cork bottom on the Icarus).
Some amount of flex can also help gain more energy when pushing, although for heavy pushing you’ll want your deck to be firm enough not to lose too much energy bouncing. A bit of flex also helps initiate slides.
Stiffer flex, on the other hand, is typically better for high speed and heavy sliding, because of the increased stability and reduced energy loss. Stiff decks are also typically stronger for withstanding hard tricks. A very stiff deck is normally not as pleasant to cruise on – you may miss the springiness and softer, deeper turns.
The Loaded Icarus flex
The board’s unique flex comes from the strongly cambered shape in between the trucks (the deck flattens out when you step on it), coupled to the bamboo core and the fiberglass outer layers provide a lot of energy return when pumping.
As I mentioned earlier, the camber on the Icarus comes at the expense of ride height, making it responsive and tight turning but a little harder to push than a flatter deck.
Like other longboards in the Loaded lineup, the Icarus comes with 2 flex options – Flex1 (stiffer) and Flex2 (flexier). Which option is best depends on your weight, riding style, and personal preference. I know, that’s not very helpful… As a rule of thumb, Loaded says Flex1 is best for riders 170 to 250 lbs, while Flex2 is for riders 75-200 lbs.
I for one weigh about 180lbs so I’m right there in the intersection zone between the two. I personally like the higher flex (Flex2) because my riding focus is on carving and pumping rather than speed. A friend of mine who’s about 175 lb and likes to freeride fast still chooses Flex2 because he likes the bouncy feel he gets in speed corners.
If you’re really not sure though, assuming you want to ride the Icarus mainly to go fast or push long distance, or you weigh 170 lbs or more, then go for Flex1. On the other hand, if you’re really lightweight OR you mainly want to carve/pump, Flex2 may be a better choice.
I mentioned one of the Icarus’ most notable features is its huge flared wheel wells, providing clearance for big wheels up to 80mm (or even 85mm), and making for high turning ability without risk of wheel rub.
Besides clearance, the aggressive arched contours around the wheels give you additional grip and constitute reference points for your feet when riding, helping you know where to stand and push. In other words, the wheel wells greatly add to deck’s concave.
Since they are reinforced with extra bamboo material, the wheel flares also help make the mount points stiffer (vs the rest of the deck), increasing leverage over the trucks when riding.
Again, the hardened wheel well contours are part of the overall concave pattern of the Icarus. To make up for the stiffness of the wheel wells, the deck center needed to offer more flex.
This is why the Icarus deck has steeper concave in the center, allowing you to press hard into the board without folding it, getting high energy return from pumps and carves. Meanwhile, the concave lightens up around the edge near the flares.
Overall, the Icarus varying concave pattern allows for a nice riding stance adapted to the different riding styles – carving, pumping, sliding – depending on how you place your feet. The most comfortable position is probably when the feet are angled slightly, vs fully perpendicular to the deck.
Loaded Icarus setup: trucks and wheels
So we’ve looked at the Icarus’ technically advanced, high-performance carving deck. To take full advantage of the deck’s advanced features, however, you need to have the right trucks and wheels in your setup.
Loaded itself suggests 3 different complete setups, all using Paris V2 trucks. These trucks are loose, reverse kingpin 180mm 50º trucks with forgiving bushing seats which allow for deep, stable turns at both lower and higher speed.
Upgrading to double-barreled bushings will give you even more rebound when carving and pumping.
Other trucks you can easily fit on the Icarus are Bear trucks or Gullwing Chargers (Amazon). Loaded recommends fitting a 1/16″ shock pad between baseplate and deck, and adding washers underneath the deck.
Some trucks like Sabre, Holey, and Randall won’t work out-of-the-box with the Icarus’ drop-through construction.
Loaded’s default stock complete (their “go-to setup”) includes 80mm Orangatang Kegels with soft Nipple bushings. With these wheels, you shouldn’t experience any wheelbite.
The Kegels are wider wheels with excellent grip and roll speed, good for aggressive carving and pumping. With their relatively soft 80A durometer, they also provide a very smooth ride for cruising, as they can roll over everything from pebbles to potholes.
If you’re a heavier rider, you may want to choose a harder set of Kegels, e.g. 83A, with the added benefit of a slightly higher roll speed.
If your riding mix includes some sliding, you may want to go for medium size wheels, e.g. the 70mm 83A Orangastang Stimulus. Or, alternative quality freeride wheels such as the 75mm Durians which offer a nice mix of grip vs slide.
Or if you’re a more aggressive freestyler/freerider you may consider smaller wheels between 65 and 70mm in diameter.
It’s worth noting that for carving, the Kegels are a particularly good match for the Icarus, being so responsive and bouncy. You may find that other wheels like the 4prez or the In Heats don’t feel as lively on the Icarus.
The Icarus riding experience
We’ve seen that the Icarus is a great carving and pumping machine. It carves really hard for its length and allows you to really dig into turns, almost making the back wheels slide a bit as you carve. The natural spring returns lots of energy from your pumps and turns, providing great momentum.
Check out this 6 second excerpt (0:42 – 0:48) :
Of course, you can loosen or tighten the trucks to adjust the amount of turn.
The board is also a very comfortable board to ride long distance thanks to its above-average shock absorption capability – particularly with the 75mm Durian or the 80mm Kegel wheels – including on rough asphalt.
For beginners though, merely pushing on this board may be a bit challenging because of the camber and flex: as you’re pushing off with your back foot, your front foot presses down on the deck making it flex, which can make it difficult to balance on that leg.
So, while the advanced flex is the Icarus’ greatest asset and what sets it apart from other boards, it can also be a disadvantage depending on your level and style. It may take you a bit of patience and practice to tame the wild flex of the Icarus. You need to find the precise foot positions within the concave curves that work for you for each kind of riding.
If you’re learning to cruise, carve and pump, however, the Icarus may be a great fit for you as its bounciness can really help you progress. Expect to really start pumping comfortably on it after about 10 miles of practicing – including if you’re an older and/or heavier rider.
Finally, the flex of the Loaded Icarus also plays a big role in the freeriding experience it offers. Some riders wouldn’t think about riding down big hills on it, while others love the bouncy feel they get when carving downhill and speed checking corners.
Whether or not you like the Icarus’ special riding feel, it’s an amazing board with some advanced ideas, the result of Loaded’s renowned craftsmanship. At well over $300 it’s not cheap, yet everyone agrees you get your money’s worth.
While the Icarus’ goal in life is clearly geared at carving and pumping, including on long distances, its sturdy construction, relatively compact size, small kicks, and highly engineered flex and concave can be nice assets for exploring different sorts of freeride and even freestyle riding.
It takes time to get used to the Loaded Icarus feel, but once you do, chances are you’ll be hooked on the way it helps you discover new ways to ride your longboard.
Featured photo: “Crouching Tiger” by @ChristianRosillo – Rider: @camilocespedes (permission: Loaded Boards)
Photo: “Classic ’93” by @ChristianRosillo – Rider: @camilocespedes (permission: Loaded Boards)