Over the years, the evolution of the skateboard design has had many turning points. Today we discuss some of the top changes that have been made to skateboards throughout it’s history.
1. Wheels: Metal > Clay > Polyurethane
Did you know skateboard wheels used to be made out of metal? Imagine trying to catch air with those clunkers holding you down or how much you could tear up some floors.
The next innovation was later on in the 60’s when manufacturers started producing boards with clay wheels. I would imagine a hard landing could almost shatter these antiques.
Then came the newest in the evolution of wheels; polymers. Polyurethane wheels of these days are much more tough and resilient, with good traction and better shock absorption than the older metal or ceramic wheels. What will they roll out with next?
2. Design: Flat > Kicktail > Double Kicktail
Larry Stevenson made the first innovation to skateboard design when he invented the kicktail on a skateboard deck. Basically an upturned back end that provided a higher level of control over the board itself which allows for a wide range of tricks and a way to “brake”. In 1969 Stevenson patented the double kicktail which modern skateboards are designed after. Unfortunately, Stevenson just died March 25 2012 at age 81. Who will take his dreams to the next level?
3. Thrust: Loose Ball Bearings > Precision Bearings
In 1975 Road Rider wheels are created. They are the first skateboard wheel to use precision bearings as opposed to loose ball bearings. Road Riders succeeded in bringing an end to Cadillac’s wheels which still used loose-ball bearings. Precision bearings mean cleaner, smoother, durable, less deformed bearings.
4. Footwear: Normal shoes > Protective Gripping Shoes
In the 1970s Vans, waffle-cup, diamond shoe pattern puts an edge on skateboarding shoes by providing superior gripping and foot protection technology with their signature rubber. Since then, Skate shoe companies have enhanced their shoes with a number of new features. These innovations have a number of functions preventing bruises, increasing flexibility, and enhancing grip. In a new recent development Vans is taking it even further.
5. Trucks: Rollerskate trucks > Skate Trucks
In the 1950s and 1960s skateboard trucks were actually part of roller skates that people just mode-podged together. Unfortunately, the roller skate trucks did not give skateboarders any turning radius, stability, control or speed. You could pretty much just roll.
It wasn’t until 1973 that a skateboard truck was invented. Ronald Bennett of Bennett Trucks, known for its signature red bushings, was the first person to invent it. The Bennett Truck gave skateboarders the ability to turn and have better control on their skateboards. Skateboarders could adjust the tension on the bushings by tightening or loosening the king pin. The lower the tension, the easier the skateboard turns. There was also Tracker and Stroker trucks that made small innovations.
But it wasn’t until 1978, in response to the skateboarders’ demands, that Fausto Vitello, Jay Shuirman, Kevin Thatcher and Rick Blackhart got together and formed Independent Trucks. The Independent Truck Company then set to work manufacturing a durable truck that had a quicker turning radius as well as combining all the best features of it’s predecessors. The result was the Stage 1 skateboard truck that quickly surged in popularity. What will they come up with next?