As a longboarder, experienced or new, you’re probably aware that Sector 9 is among the most popular and best regarded longboard brands throughout the world. Such widespread reputation is what drew my attention as I’m trying to sort through the longboard market jungle to choose my next riding vehicle.
Thing is, I recently purchased a Landyachtz Chief pintail which I love for chilling on the boardwalk, doing some relaxed cruising, and pumping surf-style. A pintail, however, is not ideal for pushing over longer distances and using as daily transportation.
So when I stumbled upon the uber-popular Sector 9 Lookout (Amazon) which has been around for years and is still as popular, I decided to take a closer look and give it a spin. In this post I will share what I’ve learned through both personal and second-hand (talking to other riders) experience.
Here’s a recap of what I’ve found out about the Sector 9 Lookout stock complete longboard :
- A pretty big and wide, low-riding, stable board ideal for pushing, dancing, and some downhill
- Bamboo deck is strong with good flex and pop for carving ability
- Light concave and big cutouts allow for deepish carving turns
- Trucks are wide and stable, designed for speed yet fairly responsive
- Large, soft wheels roll very smoothly over rough surfaces and obstacles
- Bearings, bushings, and hardware are basic but decent quality
- Some beautiful graphics
Again, I’m looking for an all-around longboard I can use for longer distance commuting and pushing, and more stable than my pintail for going faster downhill and sliding. Looks like a good candidate. Let me dig in.
What is the Sector 9 Lookout good for?
Riders and skate shop owners alike seem to agree the Lookout is one of the best commuter and pushing longboards on the market. One obvious reason is its drop-through construction which makes it low to the ground and thus easy to push on.
But of course, there are tons of good low-riding commuter longboards out there! What sets a board apart is the specific combination of features and components it has to offer.
In the case of the Sector 9 Lookout, I’ve found that special combination lies in the very flexy yet springy bamboo deck, the ample deck size for comfortable riding over longer distances and at higher speeds, the platform shape which allows fitting very large wheels (a commuter blessing), and the very stable yet responsive trucks.
When you get on the Lookout for the first time, you get an instant feeling of comfort and stability. You want to give it a big push immediately, and you feel the urge to take it to the nearest slope to get some speed – for the record, I’m NOT a downhill guy, I actually try to stay away from big hills as much as I can.
It’s so easy to balance on, so smooth rolling! The bamboo flex and the big wheels give the board a very dampening feel. The stability makes you feel very safe, so you just want to go faster and keep pushing.
As you lean onto a rail for turning, the deck flex sucks you into the turn, and the trucks respond nicely, yet in a sober way. The board has just the right amount of lean for faster rides – it hits the right balance between stability and turn.
Sector 9 Lookout platform
The first thing that strikes you when you look at the Lookout’s bamboo deck is how nice looking it is. But, let’s not get distracted…
Deck shape: designed for carving
The Sector 9 Lookout is a directional deck, being slightly wider in the front and slimmer in the back. Its large cutouts allow for very big wheels without wheel rub(see wheels below).
The platform has a subtle concave, with the ends of the rails lifted up a bit and a slight “W concave” ridge between the rails in the middle along the deck’s length – where the arch of your feet lies. When I push, the concave doesn’t get in the way at all, but when I press hard onto a rail for carving it supports my feet and keeps them solid in position.
The concave is also of great help for sliding – although I haven’t tried at higher speed.
The deck has a tiny little nose and tail – some say almost none, though others are able to do some nice popups and freestyle tricks on it. But of course, freestyle isn’t what the Sector 9 Lookout was primarily designed for.
Deck size: comfortable and stable
At 41+” in length and 9.6″ in width, the Lookout’s deck has lots of moving space, which makes it comfortable for a beginner to learn on and for a long distance skater to push on. It’s nice and stable with its long 31″ wheelbase.
It’s close enough to the size of a dancer deck, which are typically 42″-47″ long, so cross-stepping and dancing is possible on the Sector 9 Lookout if that’s what you’re into.
Some say the board is a bit too bulky for an all-around commuting and cruising board. Although it’s not that heavy at 7-8 lb – a relatively lightweight for its size thanks to the bamboo deck – it’s certainly bulkier to carry around than a city cruiser.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s the long distance pushing comfort I’m primarily interested in, which I find in the Lookout (standard version).
The Lookout is also a good choice if you’re a bigger rider with bigger shoes (I’m 6’1 /180lb and a size 12). Heavier riders up to 240 lb feel comfortable and safe on the Lookout, whose flexy deck can withstand such weight without a problem. I can easily jump on the board while it’s rolling.
If you’re a smaller rider, however, you can take a look at the Mini Lookout (Amazon), a shrunk down, more compact and agile version of the Lookout. The Mini may be a better fit for a shorter, lighter (e.g. a 120lb female) or smaller footed (< size 8) person. It’s also a more portable option if you need to carry your board around a lot.
If you mostly plan to ride through crowded city streets and sidewalks, though, a mini-cruiser like the Landyachtz Dinghy (check out my in-depth review here) may be a better choice.
Deck flex: great for carving and cruising on rough roads
The Sector 9 Lookout’s deck is made entirely of vertically laminated bamboo (5 plies), which takes a lot more effort to engineer and produce than most “bamboo” decks, often pressed using a few horizontally laminated veneers of bamboo with maple in the core for stiffness.
The result is a flexier and lighter deck compared to maple decks, yet very durable. Describing the amount of flex is not so easy: it sort of feels flexy and rigid at the same time, you might say springy and poppy. This results from the inherent flex of the bamboo, the number of plies used, and the camber profile (deck higher in the middle than at both ends).
One thing is for sure, the deck really helps me deepen my carves, bending quite a bit as I compress into a turn, popping up and pushing back significantly as I get out of the turn. The flex adds a lot to the energy and speed I create when I’m carving.
The Lookout’s bamboo deck flex is one of the key factors behind the Lookout’s strong carving ability – and one of the reasons why this longboard is considered among the best carving boards on the market.
The 5-ply bamboo also resists cracks and dings quite well – although it will chip more easily than a maple or hybrid deck. So avoid throwing the board against a wall if you can. Owners of the Lookout have reported the deck to be long lasting, though. We shall see.
The bounciness also helped my pushing a lot, adding to the effectiveness of my kicks – again, just the right amount of flex – too much flex would get in the way. Cruising is also very pleasant as the flex helps absorb cracks and bumps in the road much better than a stiffer deck. No wonder the Lookout is also a very popular setup among pushers.
Another good thing about bamboo is that holds its flex for a long time, so those should be lasting blessings.
Sector 9 Lookout trucks and wheels
The Gullwing trucks
The Gullwing Charger trucks that come stock with the Sector 9 Lookout are $50-60 trucks in and of themselves.
The Chargers have been known for many years for their stability, comfort, and responsiveness at higher speeds. Designed primarily for going fast downhill, they are also good for cruising and carving.
The 10″ axle length make the Chargers on the wider side, which gives them their stability. The 50º angle, however, grants them a relatively tight turning radius, and the double tall cone bushings allow for deeper carves.
The quality Charger trucks work hand in hand with the board’s deck flex, camber and concave to create that special carving feeling. The drop-through trucks (mounted through the deck) results in a low-riding, stable and smooth ride for pushing on rougher roads, or riding / turning at higher speeds.
Note that, since the Chargers are focused on speed, they may not be as tight turning as a more dedicated carving truck, e.g. the Gullwing Sidewinder, the king of carver trucks. While they felt very stable going down a small hill, I couldn’t pull a complete U-turn within the width of the street – a better rider may pull it off after some truck tightening.
Wheels and bearings
As I mentioned earlier, the Sector 9 Lookout’s large cutouts allow for really big wheels without suffering wheelbite. The stock setup takes advantage of this and comes with a set of big bad 74mm Sector 9 Nineball wheels.
These wheels are $50 wheels with high-quality urethane. Their size and formula results in fast rolling speed and a nice preservation of the push momentum, making the longboard particularly well-equipped for long-distance pushing.
With a 78A durometer, they are soft enough to provide a very smooth ride, but without being too soft so as to lose energy on smooth surfaces. They can roll well over debris and rougher terrain quite well – although for really rough roads you may want to get some Shark wheels or similar.
The 74mm Nineballs give the Lookout very good carving traction, being big and gummy with a decently large compact patch (50mm). Nevertheless, they’re not impossible to slide on if you have the skills because of their slightly beveled edges.
Most riders do agree, though, that they’re a bit soft for sliding. If you really want to slide on the Lookout, go for slightly harder wheels, e.g. the 70mm Orangatang Stimulus (Amazon) with their 80A duro and rounded edges.
With the right wheels, you’ll find the Lookout deck’s “rigid flex” and low ground placement really help the board break into slides easily and with less speed than other longboards.
The Nineballs are also very durable, many riders agree they will last forever.
The bearings inside the wheels are basic Sector 9 ABEC5 PDP bearings. These are decent quality and keep rolling for a decently long time. As always, a deep clean and lubing with Bones Cream (Amazon) can speed them up noticeably.
Of course, if you want to take the rolling and smoothness to the next level, and if you have the budget (these cost almost as much as the board itself), swap the stock Sector 9 bearings for a set of Bones Swiss Ceramics. With those on, the Sector 9 Lookout will simply feel like it’s gliding.
In my search for a versatile commuting, pushing and carving longboard I can use for transportation over reasonably long distances (10-15 miles) and ride on medium sloped hills, the Sector 9 Lookout seems like a very good candidate. Here’s a recap of the things I really liked about the board :
- It has an outstanding bamboo deck with special carving flex
- It’s low enough to the ground for effortless pushing (drop-through)
- It’s very stable due to its comfortable size and wheelbase
- It comes with big, high-quality wheels – and no wheelbite due to large cutouts
- It comes with quality, reputable trucks that are stable yet responsive at higher speeds
- It has good sliding potential (stability, concave) if harder wheels are fitted
- It’s decently priced (see Amazon price)
Caveats? it’s a bigger board, almost a dancer, not so easy to carry around – although bamboo is relatively lightweight. For more agile and nimble street riding, I would check out the Mini. It has almost no kicktail/nose. For real freestyle, I would look at something else, such as a street hybrid.
The Lookout could be probably turned into a good pumping board with different trucks.
One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is the board’s awesome looks. I find the ocean-themed graphics, created by artist Erik Abel, truly beautiful and inspiring. They add to the feeling of surfing the streets when riding the Lookout. The nature graphics also nicely complement the full bamboo look, giving the board that special appealing look.
Product shots source: Sector 9