Freebord’s a rotating caster wheel gives riders the ability to go sideways ?!
SUMMIT COUNTY — It started out as a dream, Freebord inventor Steen Strand says in a YouTube video explaining the birth of a new hybrid sport that’s just starting to appear in the Colorado high country.
“I remember being half asleep, thinking about skateboarding and snowboarding, and I realized it would be the coolest thing if you could ride like a snowboard on the pavement … I just realized if I could that snowboard motion on the pavement, that would be the coolest ride ever.”
So sometime in the mid-90s, a group of snow- and skateboard enthusiasts started working to make that dream a reality and after several attempts, put together a modified longboard with pivoting center wheels that enables riders to skid through a turn and even do 360s.
In the video, Strand says the pivoting center wheels mimic the base of the board, allowing riders to glide laterally, while the regular skateboard wheels function like the edge of the board, allowing riders to carve. You can watch the video here.
According to the Freebord website, Strand and Bayard Winthrop started making prototypes in a garage, with the first few models basically being standard longboards with a pair of caster wheels bolted to the bottom just behind the trucks. Next, the inventors widened the wheel base to try and simulate a snowboard’s steel edges.
The early boards lacked bindings and the caster wheels were prone to losing bearings, but continuous have helped bring the design to a level that’s going to start appealing to a wider set of riders. The technology is certain to improve even more in the next few years, but already, the most skilled riders are taking the sport of skateboarding to the next level.
So far, distribution is still limited, but after my son watched this Freebord video, he started searching the web, and it didn’t take him long to find Transition Sports and The Stash skate shop in Avon’s Chapel Square, the only Freebord dealer we could find on this side of the Continental Divide (there are several retailers in the Denver area).
Chuck Kraft and Stafford Turner opened Transition Sports in early June as a much-needed consignment addition to the Eagle Valley retail scene.
On the skate side of the shop, they carry a couple of Freebords in stock, but since the boards are used with bindings, they are size-specific, with different lengths for different riders. When I visited the shop with my son and another friend, Turner immediately took the youngster to the parking lot behind the shop, where they were able to try out the Freebord on a gentle incline.
Getting the right-size board is critical, because, just like on a snowboard, the stance makes all the difference when it comes to control, he explained.
Turner also gave us a rundown on the history Freebords, explaining that the San Francisco riders who developed the technology were riding on the city’s steep hills.
“They had to be able to stop and control their speed,” Turner said.
Along with the Freebord products, The Stash also carries a great selection of long boards priced well below what most other skate shops in the high country are charging. Several brand new boards were priced at right around $100 the day we visited, while most models on sale in Summit County are are retailing for about twice that.
Turner said they’re able to keep the prices down by carrying brands that aren’t as well known, but that still use quality parts, including San Clemente and Layback. The shop also lets you build your own board, selecting decks and other parts to help control the price point