| Expedition to Excursion...

I have recently decided to change my van for another model, the New-West Excursion. After a year of driving around and numerous memorable camping trips i now have a good understanding of my needs and travel habits, as well as the advantages/issues of the current vehicle, at least for my personal use. Here is a rapid summary of the differences between the 2 models:

- Expedition > Chevrolet Express 1500, V8 5.3L. All-wheel drive. Silver ice metallic paint. Special edition overland with bull bar, lights and roof lights, the last one of its kind because Chevy stops producing the 1500 series as of this year (no more all-wheel drive ever). I have only added a side awning and the trailer hitch, check some pics HERE and HERE. for sale now!

- Excursion > Same platform with a very different interior layout, less storage and furnitures but a modular philosophy. V6 4.3L. Standard white paint. Modern package, it was used as a demo for a TV show and was proposed at 66400$ (initial value was 71480$). I'm adding the center console table option which looks very practical.
Pros & cons (WIP):
Ok on paper, the exchange does not make much sense as the Expedition has more bells and whistles, it is certainly more powerful and can handle the bad conditions better (especially ice and snow). It does look great with its unique exterior features and is a definite head turner. The interior has more storage, plenty of lighting and a comfy dinette so why?
- The main reason is a need for more space inside when i go play on the outdoors and the Excursion can be stripped down to offer lots of cargo space. When going snowskating, paddling or biking, we usually are 2 or 3 people with quite a lot of gears and equipment which can get muddy/dirty/wet and the van's posh fittings don't seem to be made for those rough conditions. I always need to be careful and it could be annoying. The simpler yet more modular couch system on rails is definitely more appropriate, we also like the colors better which are a good reminder of the origins of the brand > New-West"falia", indeed those vehicles were designed as an homage to the German iconic camper van but built on a North-American reliable platform with a solid well tested engine.
- Stealth is important for boondocking and the Expedition is not discreet. Everywhere we go people are quite impressed and curious about it, on another hand, the current one looks like your typical delivery truck and won't attract any attention, i like that! it fits my current lifestyle better and we'll upgrade it later (small bull bar, stencil paint, roof vent).
- I own a newer vehicle with almost the exact same mileage (~ 17000 km), means it gets one more year of guarantee :) the good thing is i don't spend any money on this transaction (this model is already cheaper and had a price cut) although because we had to renew the loan with Desjardins the new fixed rate is slightly lower, about 20$ less per month which is not bad, thanks to the crisis. I guess i'll save a little bit on insurance too. This is a sweet deal for both parties.
- Even if the engine is less powerful and i will miss the AWD, there will be some savings on gas, the environment and registration taxes. The vehicle is lighter and more nimble too, i can feel the difference when braking and starting.
Well now let's get accustomed with my new shelter-on-wheels and i'll give you a thorough feedback later.
Adieu my loyal van and thank you NW for the smooth transfer and usual outstanding service :-)
#newwestvr #vanadventures #vanlife

| Harfang 2015...

Bye bye Lib Tech 43", we've had some really good moments but it's time for you to bring the joy to a new owner, have fun Edith and welcome to the family! I also had the pleasure to finally ride the Chillerdecks 135 at Sutton 2 weeks ago in some good conditions, it's a very well balanced board, as comfortable on the groomers as on a casual powder trail, it floats nonchalantly over the snow and goes fast. The funny thing is that it can ollie too, the deck is slightly too big for me so i have a new one ordered.
Lib sold, CD on sale!
I needed a good session with our ever growing crew to get back into the snowskate mood, until then my mind was still lost somewhere in the Keys. Now look at this neat new Harfang ski and trucks ^_^ review coming soon after tomorrow's testing ride!
On a different note, here are some pics of this late morning promenade in Verdun, i love this bike and it makes winter even more enjoyable. It's funny to imagine that it takes a good hour of paddling to reach the Rock island and today i could have covered the same distance in maybe 10mn of pedaling.
fishermen on the frozen river...

| New M7 Parkore...

Today i finally had the chance to go see the Rollin Boardshop and it is a great boutique, there is a good selection of snowskates and Boyd Hill sub-skis, i needed a few Extreme Grip packs to put on a deck and ended up buying a Triple Eight Bumsaver padded short .
On my way back home i picked up a package that Minus Seven sent me... a replacement sub for my warped Parkore. What you see here is a UNIQUE TWIN PARKORE oh yeah and i'm going to test the shit out of it to see what it's worth. This could definitely become the new shape for this model.
I've had some very productive emails and calls with Kurt at M7 concerning my review of this board and he decided to make some changes starting with my replacement (see previous REVIEW). This is really exciting and tomorrow we are going to St-Bruno for a good session. Thanks a lot Mr. Zapata!
You can see on the left the regular model, it is a very wide 43" (109cm) sub with an asymmetrical offset design, on the right you can see the "prototype" and its symmetrical design, there is a bit more length from the inserts to the tip which should help in controlling the board, same overall construction but different core (the Poplar seemed to cause some torsional issues). It came directly with some risers and new Rocker Trucks so again, thank you for this cool addition :)
newly gripped deck all ready to shred!
OK then, here are my 1st impressions after a very cold session last evening (about -20°C) with some friends. All our boards were painfully sticking to the snow and some areas were icy due to the wind, certainly not the best conditions (and not the right wax) but at least the resort was deserted:

- Control > The ski is warped again, it's very noticeable at the nose where the tip ends up very twisted, this definitely affects the ride negatively because it is not really possible to evaluate the quality of my turns and the overall board control objectively. Riding was simply difficult and there are multiple parameters to take in account here (weather, material, dimensions... etc.) it was clearly not as bad as the previous model it replaces but it wasn't pleasing.
- Flex > It is way too stiff, although the nose was barely more flexible than the tail. This means that you can forget doing manuals, ollies were very hard to pop in the contrary of the original 43". Nollies on another hand were quite easy and pop shuvits too (frontside/backside). I couldn't land any kickflips due to the difficulty to control a basic ollie. I think the stiffness didn't help in riding either because with such a large waist, you need to apply a lot of force on your toes/heels to initiate a turn and the board was quite bouncy when carving toeside, which can be scary at high speed.
I was able to carve well on mellow slopes and softer snow but with lots of focus and it wasn't possible to relax without bailing, steep trails were extremely frustrating. I was extremely tired after only 2 hours of riding. Playing with different thickness along the extremities and the center of the ski could probably help manage the flexibility.
- Following the width issue, it is now clear that there is a better balance to find between the deck size and the sub. Yan (Harfang rider) and i rode it and we do think it needs a larger deck so you can put more pressure on the edges (overhang). As soon as i got back on my Lib/Harfang everything seemed so easy which clearly indicates that the Parkore wasn't performing as it should be. As previously stated in the first review, the deck is nice and the proportions are good, increasing the width (~ 9.3") just a little wouldn't affect the feeling too much IMO but would definitely help controlling the skate. 
- Dimensions > Good, i definitely like the new shape of this ski, if it wasn't warped and had a more progressive flex i bet it would be really great. It is a short stiff stick and it does not absorb the shocks nor the distortions of the terrain very well for now. When doing tricks the new twin tip design makes more sense and is more pleasing to the eyes as well.
- Design and finish > This is a tough board, it can take a beating but despite the bulletproof construction there is room for improvements. The clear top sheet has some weird wrinkles near the inserts, the core layer and the cutting could use a little more polish. There are also some tiny gaps between the base and the edges sometimes.  It's nice to have the clear top sheet and base, i always liked the transparent construction where you see the core and different layers of a board however it would be even better with some cool graphics :-)
Kurt is probably a one-man-army so it's difficult to compare the control-quality of his products to a snowboard/ski company with hundreds of employees, technicians and super high-tech factories. It's very understandable that it's difficult to be perfect and i see similar things happening with other companies like Ralston, Predog... etc. Even LibTech has had lots of delamination issues on their snowskates, i'm very supportive of this amazing community and the efforts they are doing to create those products, that's why i spend so much time riding a warped board in freezing night skiing conditions!

So again this is a wrap up for the review of the twin version of the M7 Parkore and let's not forget it is a prototype which will probably evolve a lot. I really want to see this model reach its full potential and become a classic freestyle snowskate.

| 2015 Bonne Annee...

-38°C this morning and it hurts! the Florida trip seems like it was only a vague dream.
real mermaids...
I wish y'all a Happy New Year 2015 and more PEACE and WISDOM in this broken world!