Rayne got on the brick train with their latest pro model release, the G-Mack. The deck is team rider George Mackenzie's brainchild, featuring continuous rocker, those rad radial bubbles you saw on the Darkside, W bumps in the middle creating awesome pockets, fat bottom construction, and very functional flat tails. The deck is fully symmetrical with an asymetrical chop at both ends. It"s 38" long and 10" wide with an effective foot platform of around 24" between the radial drops. The board has a variable wheelbase of 25,5 or 26,5 inches.
Stepping on this board for the first time, the bath tub like, deep, rockered platform felt a bit short for my 25"-26"-ish stance, and I wondered why such a long deck limits the stance so drastically. After a few days however, as I got used to the board's curves and valleys, the G-Mack unveiled it's possibilities. This deck is Rayne's most forgiving, most easy-to-ride release that offers more than it's primary functionality which is of course downhill and freeride.
My first session with the G-Mack was on a steep neighbourhood hill. First I did some quick 180 slides and small checks to shave off the somewhat unpredictable stone grounded finish of my new 70mm, 80a Envys, that Rayne was gracious enough to gear me up with for the review. Immediately I noticed the obvious benefits of the symmetrical shape of this deck. Riding switch for me doesn't come as natural as it does for George Mackenzie, so riding a symmetrical brick with tons of leverage on the trucks definitely made me more comfortable doing so. Throwing continuous 180 slides downhill felt amazing on this board and I found myself going faster in switch than I usually do.
Heavy Hitter Fitter showcasing the G-Mack
Once I felt my wheels ready for some longer, faster slides, I found the 80a Envy-s easier to slide than their 77a brothers, which I already got used to. The softer version shaves more speed and has a bit more resistance when sliding compared to the harder duro. For riders weighing around 190 lbs I recommend the harder Envy-s. They are very sugary, don't tear up the pavement, but still predictable and controllable even at higher speed slides.
Riding faster, my feet started to explore the board's surface searching for reference points. The G-Mack's radial bumps are somewhat smoother, rounded, not as aggressive as the ones on the Darkside, but they still offer you amazing sweet spots on each side of the bump as well as behind them, where your dropped pockets nest. For toesides, you can stick your back foot into the valley of the radial bump and the concave, while your front foot stays stable in the pocket between the front W bubble and the front radial bump.
Kicking out heel side checks and powerslides, I found the effective standing platform a bit strict: my front foot was solidly planted in the front pocket, while I was kicking the board out having my back foot on the top of the rear radial bump. To my surprise, this was not uncomfortable or unstable at all. Since those radial bumps are pretty mellow, and the concave around them is steep with sharp edges for your shoes to push against, slipping off was not an option. I realised that the G-Mack has a very forgiving foot platform, and allows you to use it's features creatively.
This relevation just got stronger when I had a flatland session on this board. I took the G-Mack to a weekend family trip and had an unexpectedly awesome time on a flat street. Having my trucks mounted on the inner wheelbase (25.5"), the deck's asymmetrical tails (or noses) have proven to be fully functional. I found myself practicing my manuals and even some sweet cross steps on this deck, and I didn't give a shit about fact that I was wrongboarding big time. At one point I started ollie-ing the G-Mack with my second attempt already being successful. And I enjoyed every second of it.
Having replaced the Envy-s to some ultra slippery Metro Micro Motions, the fun factor doubled. These slightly harder, smaller wheels were made for slower speed freeriding mayhem and the G-Mack proved to be a great partner in crime. When you don't need to kick out the board hard to get sideways, and wheel resistance is low, you just forget about the limitations of the smaller standing platform and enjoy the symmetrical shape of the board. Kicking out steezy slides and holding them as long as I wanted was absolutely effortless and very comfortable.
After a few weeks riding it, I see this board as an overall quiver killer rather than a strict race deck - a genre Rayne is most famous of. It's fun to carve it downhill, nesting your feet in the pockets with tons of leverage for quick slides. It's fun to wrongboard due to the lightweight fat bottom construction. It has very useful and functional flat tails, and when it comes to riding fast, the board is stable and stiff, slashing like a Japanese blade. The relatively short standing platform gets more comfortable when riding downhill: tucking and hands down slides need a less surfy stance than freeriding. The platform offers tons of reference points for your feet.
To be honest, I missed the rocker from some earlier big hit Rayne DH/freeride decks like the Vandal or the Avenger, and I am happy to see this feature in the G-Mack. It makes the ride feel compact, even more locked in and stable even for beginners. The graphics are really nice, scratch resistant, tattooed under a layer of transparent fiberglass - Rayne style. The mountain themed artwork doesn't only reflect George Mackenzie's style of riding nicely, but it's also a good metaphor to describe the board's surface. This deck has a lot of valleys and peaks, a platform where there's a lot going on, still you can feel free to just ignore all of that, and use it's entire 38 inch of bamboo and fiberglass.
All in all, the G-Mack is Rayne's response to the brick shape trend, and it does take the genre to the next level. It's a fairly simple yet smart board that organically continues Rayne's evolution of features and signature concaves. The radial drops - introduced in the Darkside in 2013 - became smoother and better, the thin wheel well flares (that need no sanding thanks to the fat bottom construction) are effective but not too aggressive. Like every Rayne DH race board, it's speed stiff, and the overall quality is industry leading.
Riding the G-Mack I could not escape the thought that this board is Rayne's own Next Level Shit, a true Unicorn, an all around top notch flagship product that is aimed to go fast and sideways, but it's also good for having fun on flatlands. For a DH/freeride board, the G-Mack provides unmatched freedom for the rider to find their own way of riding and have tons of fun doing it. I wouldn't be very surprised to see a G-Mack V2 getting released in the future featuring more traditional, bent kicktails borrowed from the Darkside. That would be just rad.