(To skip straight to the Paragon surfboard review, click here)
A little while back, I wrote a post on how to get started surfing in which I recommended the Costco Wavestorm as the perfect beginner’s board. Based on that post, I usually get asked one of two questions:
“Once I’ve perfected my foamie skills, what’s the next step?”
“I want to skip the Wavestorm and go straight for a hardtop. What board should I get?”
Up until a couple weeks ago, I would advise people to scour craigslist for a while until they could find a longboard in decent shape for around $200. However, this presents a few problems. First of all, used longboards at this price point are almost always in pretty bad shape. It’s definitely possible to snag a deal, but it’s becoming harder and harder to do. Second, people usually ask this question when they’re ready to purchase. They often don’t want to wait for weeks or months until something shows up on craigslist.
A couple weeks ago, I found out about a local company (based in Huntington Beach) that has brand new longboards for $450. That price is pretty insane, considering new boards are often in the $900-1100 range. On top of that, these boards come standard as epoxy which is great for beginners because it’s more durable than classic polyester construction.
The only remaining question was this: how does the board actually ride? Thankfully, the guys at Paragon were kind enough to lend me a Retro Noserider for a few weeks so I could test it out. After two weeks of the most arduous testing known to man (read: lazy summer days at Leo Carrillo and Malibu First Point), here’s my two cents.
Paragon Retro Noserider Review
- Great looks – In the past two weeks, I’ve gotten more compliments on this board than anything else in my quiver. The blue/green/orange style is pretty rad.
- Paddling power – This thing can catch anything. Because of its relatively low rocker, wide tail, and 50/50 rails, I was catching anything and everything that I wanted. If you want to increase your wave count, or if you just want something for those microscopic summer days, this is the board for you.
- Stability and Glide – This board is designed for a smooth, traditional style of ride. This makes it perfect not only for beginners looking to transition to a nice hardtop, but also for soul-surfers looking for a taste of 60’s style surfing.
- Nose-rides for days – It’s crazy how easy it is to walk up to the nose on this board. The waves have been less than ideal the past few weeks, and I’ve still been able to get some nice, extended nose-rides.
- Durability – while I can’t speak to this board’s longevity (because I’ve only had it for a couple weeks), there are a few reasons that I think this board will be very durable. First, it’s epoxy so it’s just naturally going to be more ding-resistant than poly. Second, while a friend and I were dismounting from a party wave at Malibu, our boards bumped together. His got a nasty little ding, but mine was completely unscathed.
- Probably not for Zuma – even though the low-rocker is great for point breaks like Malibu, it’s not ideal for steeper beach breaks like Zuma or Huntington. If you catch the wave early enough, you’ll be fine on these steeper waves, but often it’s tough to drop-in without nose-diving.
- Flex/Feel – epoxy has its pros and cons. It’s super durable, but it doesn’t have the same flex that a more traditional poly board has. It didn’t bother me, but if you’re really into the poly feel and flex, I would recommend trying out an epoxy board before you buy one.
- Not hand-shaped in the USA – One of the things I like best about Paragon is that they’re very open and honest about their shaping process. These boards aren’t handmade in the US, but I would argue that’s almost a good thing if this is going to be your first hardtop. If you’ve got $1000 to spend on your first board, then go ahead and buy a log from Almond or Mollusk. But if you’re like the rest of us and have a tighter surfing budget, I would recommend starting on something like the Paragon Retro Noserider and then moving up to something more expensive later on. Although honestly, this board isn’t going to limit anyone but the most advanced longboarders out there.
I think there need to be more people on boards like the Paragon Retro Noserider. If everybody surfed on a wave-catching machine like this, a lot more people would be having a lot more fun, and that’s what surfing is all about; sharing the stoke and riding some rad waves. Everything about this board points back to a time when surfing was less about competition and more about party waves and riding parallel with your buds.