Sector 9 Longboards Review – A Premium Brand for a Beginner?

Since its inception, Sector 9 has built its reputation on producing quality longboards that riders can be proud to own. This review features some of the best Sector 9 boards available, but the company continues to push boundaries as it manufacturers ever-newer models.

The completes that follow represent only a snapshot of this time in longboarding. Whatever the future holds, you can be sure Sector 9 will be right there in the middle of it.

Best Sector 9 Completes

Lookout – Drop Through

sector 9 lookout

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A Decent Deck

Sector 9’s Lookout is a drop-through deck set up for commuting and carving — with an emphasis on the carve. It is composed of five plies of vertically laminated bamboo. The Lookout measures 42 inches long and is 9.6 inches wide. The taco-mold concave shape gives this board a slightly cambered profile.  

The combination of bamboo and a cambered profile produces a deck that flexes in the centered, which alters the steering geometry of the trucks and produces tighter, sharper turns. Sector 9 Lookouts compare favorably to off-the-shelf computers like the Atom drop through.

The Lookout’s materials offer more longevity and a more artisan look than the Atom, though perhaps not quite to the level of boards such as Arbor’s drop-through models

Premium Trucks


Purchasing a Sector 9 complete automatically means a truck upgrade over cheaper beginner boards like Quest or Yocaher. While the improved quality of Gullwing trucks over generic offerings might be lost on longboarders with zero experience, it will not take long before their superior workmanship becomes apparent.

The Lookout comes equipped with Gullwing Chargers, which are reverse-kingpin trucks with 50-degree baseplate angles. Reverse kingpins are normally considered stable, non-turning trucks, but they combine with the steep baseplate angles on the Chargers — helped by the flexy deck — to produce subtly sharp yet predictable turns.

With its combination of stability and maneuverability, low ride height and large cutaways (preventing wheel bite), the Lookout is likely the best Sector 9 longboard for cruising.

The Chargers bushings also play a role in the Lookout’s maneuverability. The cone-and-cone bushing combination produces a quick turn-in, amplifying the effects of lean on turn sharpness. Riders who find the carving ability of the Lookout too pronounced have the option of switching to a less-whippy, cone-and-barrel bushing setup, but a change to stiffer bushings (boardside, roadside or both) might fine tune the turn enough.

Overall Good Cruising Wheels

The Top Shelf wheels on the Lookout measure 74mm tall and have a 78a durometer. The Top Shelf formula is Sector 9’s do-it-all urethane mixture. They are soft and smooth-sliding, though not until their smooth riding surfaces wear away with a bit of skating.

Top Shelf wheels are more of a cruising and carving wheel than a freeride wheel. They also have offset cores, allowing for a bit more grip on carves than center-set wheels offer.


Sector 9 Highline

sector9 highline

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PRO Level Deck

Sector 9’s Highline is a top-mount pintail cruiser with a mellow, taco-mold concave. The deck has a slightly cambered profile to allow for a bit of flex. The Highline is composed of seven layers of maple and includes grippy ERG grip tape.  It is 34.5 inches long and 8 inches wide, with pronounced wheel wells for the prevention of wheel bite. This is a perfect commuter board, especially for those who like to carve it up on their commute or on relaxed downhill runs.

The taco-mold concave keeps the feet locked in when carving, producing a feeling of control that may be unfamiliar to riders used to the flatter decks from beginners’ brands like Atom and Quest.

Noticeable concave and cambered shapes are definitive signs of better, more professional-level longboards. Once you get accustomed to it, you’ll never want to ride a flat deck again.

PRO Level Trucks

The Gullwing Mission trucks included with the Highline complete are lively carvers. They are conventional, in the sense that their kingpins face the center of the board. Mission trucks have extremely upright kingpins and 89a durometer bushings with a cone-and-barrel configuration.

Despite their looks, though, these are not street skateboard trucks. They are ideal for their application on the Highline, producing as they do extremely sharp turns.

Typical Cruising Wheels

The Sector 9 Nineball wheels on the Highline are 64mm tall with a soft, 78a durometer. On a pintail cruiser such as the Highline, the centerset Nineballs produce a smooth roll with tons of grip. They track solidly in turns and allow for heavy lean-in when carving. At higher speeds, it is easy to trust the Nineballs not to slip out in turns, but anyone looking to freeride might opt for a swap. However, moving to taller wheels in search of more speed introduces wheel bite into the equation.


Sector 9 Rhythm

Sector 9 Rhythm

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A Sturdy Deck

The Rhythm is a top-mount cruiser with a classic pintail shape, reminiscent of both surfboards and of the first longboards in Sector 9’s storied history. They ride easy, and are probably the best Sector 9 board for beginners.

It is 38.3 inches long and 9.25 inches wide with a 27-inch wheel base. There is a slight tail, but it has no kick. The Rhythm has a mild, taco-mold concave with a cambered profile for flex.

Also aiding with providing flex is the bamboo construction of the Rhythm. These boards are composed of five layers of vertically laminated, sustainably sourced bamboo.

This material produces a board with great strength and with more flex than maple or other hardwoods. This flex allows for tighter turns and provides the ability to pump more during hard carving.

The Rhythm has more flex and is more maneuverable than some other bamboo longboards, such as the Quest Supercruiser or Atom and Rimable drop-through boards.

Aftermarket Trucks

The Gullwing Chargers on the Rhythm complete have 9-inch wide axles and 50-degree baseplate angles. While this severe angle will normally produce extremely tight turns, when coupled with a reverse-kingpin configuration, the result is a bit more subdued. With 89a cone-and-cone bushings, Chargers are set up for carving, but their arc is a bit wider than conventional-kingpin trucks.

Regular Wheels

The Sector 9 Nineball wheels on the Rhythm completes are 70mm tall and have a 78a durometer. The cores are centerset, and the urethane is Sector 9’s Top Shelf formula. These are good all-around longboarding wheels — soft and smooth, and able to roll over debris and cracks easily.

They will slide if coaxed, and will do so more easily than offset wheels, but it’s not really their thing. These Nineballs are carvers that hold a line and are trustworthy around fast corners.


Sector 9 Aperture

sector 9 aperture

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A Maneuverable Deck 

Part of Sector 9’s Sidewinder series, the Aperture is a drop-through deck that is made of eight plies of maple, producing a rather stiff deck with only a minimal amount of flex. It has a symmetrical shape, so it can be ridden switch without any complications. The taco-mold concave is mellow but noticeable, and it really works to keep the feet locked into position.

The Aperture is 36 inches long and 9 inches wide, and its wheelbase is just over 26 inches. It is considerably more maneuverable than longer drop-through decks like Santa Cruz’s Rasta Lion, but equally well-made. Apertures are great for cruising and carving, and would also work well for limited downhill use were it not for the extreme turning action of the included Gullwing trucks.

Apertures are great for cruising and carving, and would also work well for limited downhill use were it not for the extreme turning action of the included Gullwing trucks.

Trucks – Carving Machines

The 9-inch-wide Gullwing Sidewinders that Sector 9 includes on the Aperture complete are carving machines. They have a dual-kingpin design that makes them turn abruptly and severely. As the lean angle progresses past the first kingpin and into the second one, the turning radius never seems to stop getting tighter.

These trucks excel at carving and cruising, making them ideal for commuters who want to have a little fun as they get from point A to point B. They are inherently unstable at speed, though, so riders would be wise to limit the steepness of the hills they attempt to ride on any board that has them.

Sidewinders may not be ideal for the greenest beginners, as they really dive into carves. After a while, though, the sharp turns become normal and the Sidewinders begin to shine.

Extra Grippy Wheels

The Nineball wheels included on the Aperture complete are 69mm tall and have an 80a durometer. They utilize Sector 9’s Top Shelf urethane formula, which is a good all-around mixture. The sharp edges on their lips make these Nineballs ultra grippy — hence the Slalom moniker.

They aren’t the best for sliding, but then, the Aperture isn’t set up for freeride. It is a carving cruiser with the trucks and wheels to suit that style of riding.


Sector 9 Fractal

sector 9 fractal review

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Cruiser Shaped Deck

Sector 9 fractal is one of the brand’s most popular boards. It is 36 inches long and 9 inches wide, and it is composed of eight plies of hard rock maple. It is a drop-through-truck design, but it is asymmetrical in shape. The slightly cambered profile adds a bit of flex, but the Fractal is by no means overly flexy. It will pump into and out of carves, though.

The 26-inch wheelbase helps mellow out the Fractal’s turning radius, but it is still a tight-turning setup. Ideal for the commuter or the weekend cruiser looking for maneuverability at modest speeds, the Fractal continues to inspire copycats from the likes of Rimable and SCSK8.

The Fractal is the real deal, however: a solid cruiser/commuter from one of the originators of longboarding. It is the best Sector 9 longboard for cruising sidewalks, boardwalks and mellow hills.

High Quality Trucks

The Gullwing Sidewinder II trucks on the Fractal are some of the tightest-turning longboarding trucks available. The double-kingpin design makes for the most severe lean angles in the sport, but they are also some of the most difficult trucks to master.

The 10-inch axles on the Fractal’s Sidewinder IIs do loosen up the turns somewhat, and with four bushings per truck, the opportunity exists to play around with the cushion configuration more than on the generic trucks found on brands like Ten Toes or Yocaher. Gullwing paid attention to its customers’ concerns when it redesigned the Sidewinders, and gone are the twitchy responses of the earlier model.

They are targeted at experienced longboarders who have already learned to keep their weight inside the arcs of more mellow-turning trucks, but the novice can learn to use them with a little patience.

You’ll Love The Wheels

The Top Shelf urethane in the Sector 9 wheels on the Fractal are a cushy 78a durometer. They are 69mm tall and have offset cores that give them noticeably more grip in tight corners. That said, they will break free if forced, and they produce a silky-smooth, predictable slide. They might even make decent downhill wheels, but not in conjunction with the Sidewinder II trucks. As cruising wheels on the Fractals setup, though, these wheels shine.


 

Sector 9 Brandy – Downhill Division

sector9 brandy downhill longboard

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Pure Downhill Deck

The Brandy comes straight out of Sector 9’s Downhill Division line. Like its stablemates, the Brandy is a purpose-built downhill speed machine. It is 40 inches long and 10.2 inches wide, and it has a unidirectional shape. Sector 9 drills multiple truck-bolt holes into the Brandy to allow for fine tuning of the wheelbase, and its eight plies of cold-pressed maple produce the stiffness that most downhill speedsters prefer.

The Brandy’s mild concave and coarse-grit Jessup grip tape help to keep the rider’s feet planted on the deck at high speeds. There are deep wheel cutouts, much deeper than on most off-the-shelf downhill completes.

These keep the wheels from digging into the board, allowing for the rider to loosen the trucks and use the Brandy for more carving or freeride-type longboarding. But the Brandy’s true mission is life is to blast down hills at maximum speed.

Typical Downhill Trucks

The Gullwing Chargers on the Brandy complete are reverse-kingpin trucks with 50-degree baseplate angles. Their cone-and-cone bushings are far from ideal for the highest downhill speeds, though.

Faster longboarders may want to opt for a cone-and-barrel or even a barrel-and-barrel bushing replacement. Even as they come, though, the Chargers are stable at all but the fastest downhill speeds.

Aftermarket Longboard Wheels

The included Race Formula wheels are some of Sector 9’s fastest offerings. They are 72mm tall with a 78a durometer. These Race Formula wheels have a sharp lip profile and a thick edge, which combines with the sticky urethane formulation to produce wheels that grip at high speeds and on sharp corners.

The offset cores do allow these wheels to slide, though, so speed checks and drifts are a definite possibility. The Race Formula wheels easily outperform the wheels on more-generic competition such as Quest’s Formula One.

Conclusion

Sector 9 continues to innovate, and new models come out all the time. The Downhill Division has moved on from the Brandy, for example, so interested buyers should snatch one up while they exist (Check out this video of Jackson “Jacko” Shapiera on his new Downhill Division model.) The classic completes on this list will never go out of fashion, though. Once a longboard reaches perfection, it is nearly impossible to improve upon it.

Sector 9’s only true competition is in the ranks of finer longboards. Generic, off-the-shelf completes may be fine for the newest of the new longboarders, but they don’t compare to Sector 9’s offerings. Once the originator, Sector 9 continues to drive longboarding into the future.