Skateboarding History: How Technology Has Been an Inherent Part of Skating

It’s ludicrous to say that skateboarding hasn’t changed. That it hasn’t changed in 50 years or that it hasn’t changed in five. Just like any other activity considered “cool,” skateboarding has molded to its surroundings and morphed along with its fans. Even its humble beginnings were deeply rooted in adaptation. Once surfing had migrated to California from Hawaii, the new street urchins-turned-surfers in Venice, CA became bored when the ocean was flat. With the ultimate desire to ride waves and the inability to sit still for an entire day, some of those urchins, later labeled “the Z-Boys,” were tinkering with roller skate wheels and 2x4s to create something they could use to carve down hills, sometimes looking out onto the very beaches they occupied with their surfboards.

When resources were low, these first generation skaters would disassemble roller skates, cut the bases in half, attach the wheels separately to a wooden board and scrap together skateboards for that day’s “sidewalk surfing.” When skating downhill (in one direction) became boring enough, they cut locks and jumped fences to pursue the embankments of schoolyards all over Los Angeles. And when their equipment couldn’t handle the speeds they desired, innovation took over to facilitate a higher level of performance. Around the beginning of the 1970s, the urethane wheel was invented and produced, essentially replacing its predecessor, the clay wheel.

Since then, trucks (the axles of a skateboard) have been engineered to take bigger impact and turn more efficiently, bearings have been designed to function more smoothly and decks have been made to facilitate more types of skating. In recent history, street skating became king. Jumping over gaps and staircases, grinding handrails and flipping the skateboard all became the most common modes of popular skateboarding. The level of performance has risen consistently and so has the involvement of industry in skateboarding. Professional skateboarders are being sponsored by large corporations, championship-level skateboarding competitions are being held in stadiums and more youth are being reached by skateboarding than ever before in its brief history. Particularly in the United States, but almost everywhere in the world, skateboarding has become not a crime in the eyes of many but more of an acceptable past time. It is almost as valid a way up in the world as being a professional basketball or American football player is. And with that cultural shift comes even more financial support and sponsorship.

With the incredible level of backing and encouragement received by skateboarders worldwide, the demand for a competitive edge is encroaching the community if not fully present. The chances of becoming a professional skateboarder are almost as slim as winning big in the soccer universe, and its more difficult than ever to differentiate from all the others in the crowd. The change won’t stop anytime soon, within or outside of skateboarding, so it’s important to heed innovations in either world. The evolution of demand for a product like RideBlock has been interesting to watch, as a skateboarder of 18 years. Its slow build has been inevitable but not quite obvious until lately. If five years ago there were a single piece of branded technology that could measure the speed, height change and movement patterns of a skateboard under one’s feet, I know many people that would be more more talented skateboarders today. The ability to increase pop and control of flat ground tricks, to observe the height of those tricks as they are being learned and to measure the distance traveled on a skateboard is unheard of. The fact that this is offered within a lightweight piece of hardware easily attached to the skateboard is mind-blowing. And the way that it can be controlled and read from a phone app in one’s own pocket is genius.

The skaters of the world might not think they need RideBlock, but regardless, they’re ready for it. They’ve been innovating for generations already. And now that the innovation is packaged for them in an easy solution, what’s not to love? Science rules all. And now it is here. For the skaters. By the skaters.

RideBlock. Ride With The World.

Written by Keegan Guizard