Posted by:on January 9th, 2007
You heard right. Want to revolutionize the skateboard industry? Then start bidding on the patent rights for this Easily Steered Skateboard, which near as I can tell, aside from already being in production elsewhere, is essentially a shopping cart wheel, or a rotating caster. Fug. This was supposed to be a quick and dirty post, but instead it turned into a dissertation on the variety of caster wheel type truck systems. There are more than you’d think. Catch patent details and the most shopping cart action with skateboards seen since CKY. Seriously. This sounds dumb but it’s worth reading.
The seller for this patent appears to be in Albania.(?!) Here’s the description and a detailed view.
This invention presents skateboard apparatus with higher turning capabilities. The skateboard apparatus comprises a board for supporting a user, a first wheel assembly coupled near the back end and a second wheel assembly coupled near the front end. The wheel-supporters in the second wheel assembly are welded to worms and a nut is attached to the lower surface of the board. When the user gives pressure on a certain side of the board the nut tents to move downwards rotates the worm and changes the rotational direction of the wheels.
The drawing and explanation aren’t totally self explanatory. I see one part that doesn’t make sense, but it looks like a shopping cart to me.
This idea isn’t even new. There’s a guy making boards by hand in Lakeside California. His operation is called Bladeboard. He may not be much of a web designer, and say what you will about the concept, but all his parts are made in the U.S.A. and they appear to be well constructed. There’s a patent link on the website but it’s broken right now. Perhaps in dispute with the next company?
A bit more polished than the Bladeboards and billed as the Ultimate Snowboard Trainer, Tierney Rides T-Boards are based out of Palatine Illinois of all places. Must be the proximity to Four Lakes in the skiing mecca of Naperville Illinois. What are the ski conditions in west suburban Chicago? Awesome! Anyway, Tierney has lots of pictures, boards and movies. It’s almost as if they are in it for the long haul! There’s even a pro rider. One thing Tierney has that nobody else does is a training wheel system. Check it out at the bottom left. Still not convinced? They’ll even rent you a board for $20 and deduct the fee from the purchase price if you decide to keep it. That’s another first for a factory direct skateboard. (Insert Stacy Peralta Bones Brigade Video Show intro reference joke here.)
Also vying for the title of ultimate snowboard trainer in the caster-wheels division is Freeboard. These guys have been around for a while. Their web site changes a lot and it looks like they dumped a bunch of money into Flash development. The most notable part for a company at this level is the detail they go into about the design process and all the early test and failures. Freeboard also has the distinction of having bindings. Sound frightening? Don’t worry, they are just sky hooks made from aluminium instead of cheap plastic like the originals.
And whenever you find a small handmade manufacturing facility in North America, you’ll also likely find a plant in Asia making the same thing, only crappier. Bordway Entertainment is in Korea, but who knows, these boards may be imported from China. Actually, they aren’t entirely without innovation. Check out the funky breaking system. It’s like the skateboard equivalent of a stick wedged against the wheel. Any company with the word “entertainment” in the name has got be high quality. Surprisingly, they have videos of guys actually doing ollies and high speed carves. Even more of surprise, they have a video of two guys skating around some sort of oval track holding hands for some reason. it looks like there might even be some sort of contest circuit. The video links are spotty. Right now the only ones working are on the Korean section, and they aren’t even all in order. Skip the crappy Korean R&B video for I Do. The skaters make a blink and you miss appearance rolling down a sidewalk.
The S-Board is manufactured from high quality ABS, which makes it tough and durable, no matter how rough you treat it. The unique twisting motion is acheived by the high tension steel torsion bar.
Errr, yeah. So these are similar in nature to the Bladeboard and Tierney Rides with the added benefit (?) of having the lateral axis of the board twist as well. In the video clips the end result is that if you squint your eyes, the riding motion often looks more like some sort of backwards disco rollerskating than skateboarding. The SBoard is a UK phenomenon, but has also shown up in the US as The Wave. The video intro on the web site is worth watching for the comedy value of the over dramatic voiceover. If you can’t imagine hearing “360’s!” in the voice of those drag racing commercials, you don’t have to try anymore.
Getting back to more serious contenders, we have Carver Trucks. Basically a regular truck with a limited motion and tension adjustable caster on the baseplate. I met a surfer kid at a skatepark in Florida recently who was riding one in a big park and I asked him how he liked it and he said he loved it but couldn’t ride for shit on regular trucks anymore. Watching two guys in the Sarasota park using that board confirmed my impression that it although you can maneuver in a tight fashion, they can get squirrelly at the drop of a hat as well. The top of the line truck with a traditional rear truck runs $80. I’m sure there’s a patent on this too. I wonder if they know about the next guys.
How to wrap this up? These guys do it all. RTR has a regular truck with a caster-like base as well as offering a single wheel caster truck too. you can buy skateboards fully set up in any combination of these trucks or with a traditional truck. Quick, someone calculate the possibilities for equipment configurations to slam on. Price? Who knows. Although the company has a U.S. address, they only list a dealer in Japan. On eBay they have a buy it now price of $41.95, but it’s hard to tell if that’s for one or two trucks.
Whew. That’s the wrap up of Frankensteined skateboards and shopping carts. If you know of another company making something similar, drop us a line. It seems to me that there are some old boards from the 40-50’s that might have a fixed single wheel. I don’t know about a rotating one.
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