Dougie George talks us through the finer details of his set-up in our new ‘My Board’ feature. Dougie is a Brighton to London transplant who rides for the Slam team and also helps staff our East London shop. His insights into what he chooses to skate and why were interesting to hear. They have led to him fine-tuning the perfect skateboard for him, something his ever mesmerising technical brand of skating attests to him achieving.
Words and interview by Jacob Sawyer. Dougie George sets up a new board at our East London shop
“I’m always interested in other people’s takes on these sorts of things, because I definitely feel like I’ve figured out what I need in a skateboard, for myself”
There are some enigmatic characters in skateboard folklore—like Tom Penny—who are famous for being able to borrow someone else’s board and instantly bend minds on it like it was their own. For most of us, however, we want and need things to always feel just right, and have likely spent years finding out what works best under our feet. Working in a skate shop means many daily conversations about exactly that, and this new interview format is an expanded version of those very hardware-based conversations.
When he was first asked about this interview, Dougie told us: “I’m always interested in other people’s takes on these sorts of things, because I definitely feel like I’ve figured out what I need in a skateboard, for myself”. His considered approach to the set-up he puts together made him the perfect candidate to kick things off. We’re just as happy that he’s in the shop offering valuable advice to people as we are that he’s out there on the streets killing it. We hope you enjoy finding out what works for Dougie. It may even inspire you to switch things up a little.
You were gripping a new board just before we spoke. What board are you riding right now?
Right now I’m skating an 8.5” Chocolate Jordan Trahan board. Crailtap do a load of different shapes which is really nice so there are a couple of different shapes when it comes to an 8.5”. The one I’m skating is the GO33. It has a square tail and a round nose which I really like at the moment. I’ve been skating 8.5’s for a few months now.
Dougie’s complete on the Ben Raemers Foundation bench outside the shop
Are you a stickler for a specific size or do you switch it up?
I like to switch it around with boards. I was skating 9.2” eggs for a while or 9” eggs. Crailtap do a bunch of different egg shapes which is really nice. It’s good to switch up your board a little bit. I go through little stages. Right now I’m working on having two set-ups so I have a 9.2” bigger egg board I can skate when I want to as well as the 8.5”.
What’s the reason for having each of those?
When lockdown hit I just switched to a 9.2” egg board or shapes similar to that for almost a year. I was skating skate parks whenever I could. It’s fun to have more board underneath you if you’re not desperately trying to flip your board really fast onto things. I didn’t feel like it ever changed how difficult things were, it just feels nicer to have more underneath you sometimes, more hope of having something to land on.
But when it comes to things like the nose manual nollie backside flip at Southbank you’d opt for the 8.5”?
That was just before I switched to trying out the egg boards so I actually did that trick on an 8.25”.
Would you ever switch down from an 8.5” now?
Does wheelbase factor into your decision?
It doesn’t factor in loads for the popsicle shapes I skate, I think the wheelbase is about 14.25”. But when I skate those bigger boards, the widest eggs also have the shortest wheelbase, it’s 13.8”. For bigger boards like that it’s sweet, it makes it a lot easier to get the whole thing around if you’re doing tre flips or tricks like that. It spins faster because of the smaller wheelbase.
“That was just before I switched to trying out the egg boards so I actually did that trick on an 8.25.”
Dougie takes his technical wizardry up the cheese at Southbank. Nosewheelie-nollie-backside flip from Dan Fisher-Eustance’s Free Skate Mag part. Filmed by: Quentin Guthrie
Do you prefer flat boards or more concaved?
Pretty normal, I don’t love it if it’s too flat or two concaved. I’m really happy with the boards I get which are perfect, somewhere in the middle.
So you stockpile boards so you can ride the same shape?
Yeah, I just skate that same shape all the time now which I get sent by the guys at Form distribution. It feels good to not be switching the shape up every time and having a constant flow of the same deck.
Now you’re getting Chocolate boards a lot of decision-making is out of the equation. Do you still check out what else is on the board wall?
Yeah, working at Slam I’m still always doing that. If a board arrives with a cool shape I’ll always pull it down and stand on it. I’m always interested in seeing what other people are doing but I’m never swayed into thinking I need a different shape.
Growing up did you have a brand loyalty, or a specific woodshop you’d always purchase?
No, to be honest I don’t really believe in that. Some people come into Slam who will refuse certain brands because they think the wood isn’t good for some reason. I just think that sometimes boards snap faster than other times and that’s just the way it is, all depends on how you treat it.
Any graphic superstitions?
I don’t think so. Sometimes there’s a colour on a board that I don’t really like. If it’s a bit too baby blue for instance or another colour I don’t love then I’m prone to getting some spray paint and covering that bit, no superstitions as such though.
Top stain preferences?
Not really, I never think about that too much but when I get one with a nice top stain I always enjoy it. I couldn’t tell you what the ideal colour is though, it always depends.
Do you skate boards till they’re dead or switch them out before then?
It depends on what I’m doing. I usually skate a board until it’s pretty destroyed. If I was going somewhere on a certain day to try something specific and I know I’m going to be putting a lot of effort in then it’s different. To make things the easiest for myself that’s when I would switch out my board for a new one.
Sticker job or straight clean graphic?
Usually I like just a straight clean graphic.
Dougie’s Hollow Forged Independent 149’s on the griptape mat
“My first board was a Speed Demons complete which is the only time I skated any trucks other than Indy’s”
What trucks do you ride?
I skate Independent 149’s on my 8.5” board and on a 9” or 9.2” egg shape I skate Independent 159’s. I have the Forged hollows. ‘Big Dog’ Alan Glass sends me them from Shiner.
Have you always ridden Indy’s or tried out everything to see what works?
I have always ridden Indy’s. My first board was a Speed Demons complete which is the only time I skated any trucks other than Indy’s. I don’t think I’d ever want to change that.
Standard bushings or have you got another formula?
I just leave the standard orange Indy bushings in there and I’ve never had a problem.
Both trucks loose or tight?
I don’t have them super loose at all, I know a lot of people who have way looser trucks than me but I wouldn’t say mine are tight either. They’re just manageable for my weight. When I put a new set of Indy’s on I don’t really change anything I just skate. They are usually perfect as they come, maybe I will tighten them a tiny bit at first.
Do you skate them until you’ve ground through to the axles?
Yeah pretty much, I’ll keep skating them until they’re gone, I rarely break them.
WHEELS AND BEARINGS
Spitfire 55mm 99DU Formula Four Tablets on Dougie’s latest set-up
What’s your wheel of choice and what size do you usually roll with?
Right now I’m skating 55mm Spitfires, the tablet shape. Usually I skate 56mm Conical Spitfire Formula Fours and I like the 99A hardness. I tried to skate the 97A durometer before but I couldn’t handle it. That extra grip made it feel like I couldn’t slide.
You settled on Conicals as the best overall shape?
I’ve always liked the Conical shape. I feel like you can lock into ledges or coping way better. I prefer it to skating the Classic shape. Maybe it’s just me or because I’m thinking about it but with a more rounded shape wheel it seems way more likely to slip on or off a ledge when you’re locked into something. For that reason I like a squared off wheel so the Conicals, Tablets or Lock-Ins from Spitfire. I chose 56mm as my size of choice because the streets are rough, it’s easier to get around crusty streets on a bigger wheel. That extra bit of diameter makes navigating cracks a bit easier.
But you tried out a bunch of shapes and sizes to get there?
Yeah I’ve tried a few different shapes and sizes. I skate my wheels for quite a while though so they get down to being about 54mm or 53mm which is when I really start noticing they’re smaller. Then when I put a new set of wheels on I really notice the difference.
The Formula Four urethane is the best for you?
Formula Four always, there’s nothing better.
Matt [Warder] said you would spend some time in the cabinet checking out different wheels for specific tricks.
Maybe yeah, also during lockdown there was a Spitfire drought where it became more and more impossible to get them. I’d been skating these 56mm Conical Spitfire’s for a long time at this point and they were super small. I didn’t want to skate any other shape though so I was on a serious hunt for Conicals.
“during lockdown there was a Spitfire drought where it became more and more impossible to get them…I didn’t want to skate any other shape though so I was on a serious hunt for Conicals”
Graphics in or out?
In, it’s just cleaner.
Do you have a tolerance for coloured wheels?
Yeah I’m kind of down. I don’t have any coloured wheels at the moment and haven’t skated some for a while but I’m into it, I think they’re back. I’m down for some swirly wheels.
You don’t switch your wheels out each time you set up a board?
Wheels and trucks stay for quite a while on my set-up. I’ll change boards more often.
Do you have a cruiser set up for shop runs or soft wheels as a stand by?
I don’t, right now I just have my 8.5” and I’m trying to build the additional bigger board. They are both just going to have hard wheels though and the wheels are big enough anyway. I do want to get some softer wheels for skating street though, some Ricta Clouds or something like that.
I do these camping trips with the Orwellian World Landscape guys in Brighton and I’ve been on some trips with them where the spots are so crusty that some of those wheels would make spots more than they are.
What bearings do you skate?
I skate Modus bearings, the Titanium ones and I have no complaints, Dom Henry from Keen sends me them. I’ll skate them until they’re done, leave them in until they have got noticeably slower, and then switch them out.
Shields off or on?
I just leave my shields on and I’ve never really taken them off. Maybe I took off one set when I was a grom in the belief it was going to help. Maybe it makes them spin faster but then you get stuff in them and they break faster so I don’t see the point.
Traditional MOB griptape job and 1″ bolts from Statue Hardware
What griptape do you prefer?
MOB always. Traditional grip job, slap it down.
Nothing to differentiate front and back?
Not really because with those boards I skate the tail is blunter and they have a big round nose so I kind of always know where I’m at.
Do you have any bolt preferences?
I skate for Statue and use their 1” bolts, they make black ones and gold ones. Usually, I just set up all black ones. If I do put in the gold bolts I don’t like having one, I have to have two. So I’ll put one of the gold ones at the top left and the other one on the bottom left. That way my strange mind believes that all my kickflips are going through the gold bolt and also my switch flips are still going through the gold bolt. You can see which way you’re board is going and it looks the same each way when you look down on it. Right now I’ve just got black ones, shout out to Braydon Slezak for the bolts, he’s the best.
Any other tweaks when setting up new stuff?
I recently started putting more washers on my truck axles. I’ll put two on the inside of the wheel and one on the outside. You get a little more wheel to edge meaning there’s more truck and the truck bolt on the edge of the wheel isn’t so far on. If you end up in primo it doesn’t completely destroy the thread. I’ve been doing that and I like it, I’m not sure it makes the biggest difference but it’s nice for my mind to believe there’s more truck there. I thank my friend Davide Holzknecht for that one.
Dougie George guiding an 8.5″ through a tail drop to 50-50. This ad for our Thrasher collaboration officially welcomed him to the Slam team as one of our newest team riders
Is that new set-up going anywhere other than London anytime soon?
It is actually. I’m going to Athens on Saturday with the Independent guys so I’m stoked.
Any advice to kids reading this about getting to know what works best for them?
I think switching board shapes and sizes is really helpful. Different things vary in difficulty on different boards. You may find a certain trick easier on a bigger board and think you need a smaller one to just learn kickflips or something. You may even gain more board control and power by skating on a bigger board and then come back to a smaller one.
“I think switching stuff around and trying different things is good when you’re starting out…switching out sizes and shapes of boards is what has really helped me.”
I think switching stuff around and trying different things is good when you’re starting out. There really is no size set in stone for a specific age, switching out sizes and shapes of boards is what has really helped me. I also experimented with a bunch of different wheels before finding a favourite. Moving to a bigger truck also helped me with different ledge tricks by having more to get on there.
Anyone you want to thank?
I want to say thank you to everyone who gives me things. I’m more able to play around with this stuff than other people are so I’m really grateful and lucky in that aspect. Thanks to Smithy at Form for the Chocolate boards, Alan Glass at Shiner for the Independent and Spitfire hook up, Dom Henry for the Modus bearings and Braydon for the Statue bolts. Also thanks to Quentin Guthrie and the guys at Butter Goods for clothes, Josh ‘Manhead’ Young for sending me Vans shoes, and everyone at Slam City Skates.
Thanks to Dougie George for taking the time to talk us through the different elements which make up his rig and the thought process behind all of them. We hope to bring you more ‘My Board’ interviews in the near future so stay tuned.
Previously by Jacob Sawyer: First & Last: Jarrad Carlin, Paul Shier Interview: “There Was never a dull moment in that three-year period of our lives…”, Daewon Song Interview: It’s never too late to progress and never too late to come back when you think that’s it”, Benjamin Deberdt: London / Paris / New York, LIGHTBOX: Karl Watson by Mike Blabac, Catch Up with Pontus Alv, Ode To Victoria Benches with Dan Magee, Nick Jensen and Toby Shuall.