Remember back in 1955 when Marty McFkly broke that kid’s scooter and created the very first skateboard? Or, technically that happened in 1985, so remember when in 1985 Marty McFly went back to 1955 and broke that kid’s scooter and… y’know, science was right: time travel is complicated. Let’s stick with history, instead.
According to (an admittedly painfully brief) review of the skateboard’s history, the hobby began in earnest sometime in the later 1940s or early 50s. Skateboards seem to have been developed by several different parties working separately but in the same region, lovely Southern California. According to lore, the creators were none other than surfers looking for a board to ride when the waves were low.
We may never know who created the first recognizable skateboard, but by the 1960s, the novelty had evolved into a sport. By 1964, there was even a magazine being published called The Quarterly Skateboarder (its name was later changed to Skateboarding Magazine).
Today, skateboarding has grown from a fringe sport practiced in the gloomy shadows of back alleys and smoke-filled basements (wait, is that illegal dice games or skateboarding? Well, whatever) into a globally respected sport enjoyed by all ages both for fun and in high level competition.
But there’s always gotta be someone for whom simply “shredding” yet another “560 Ollie” or “flip kick” isn’t enough excitement; there’s always someone looking for the next big thing. And in the world of skateboarding, the next thing involves changing the very skateboard itself.
Here are a few of the skateboards at the cutting edge of technology and design.
THE HENDO HOVERBOARD
Yes, this is pretty much a real, honest-to-goodness hoverboard. It genuinely hovers a few inches off the ground, floating effortlessly along with the slightest propulsion from its rider. Famed skater Tony Hawk took one for a spin last year, and in a few more years you might be able to buy and enjoy one yourself. But you’ll need a massive steel floor to enjoy it, for now: the Hendo Hoverboard is a “mag lev” engine, which means it uses the properties of magnets to create its levitation. (This same technology has been used on high speed trains for years.) So while it might be fun to slide around on one of these decidedly large, very expensive prototypes, don’t plan on any practical applications any time soon.
THE STAIR ROVER
A standard skateboard doesn’t do that well on a staircase: that’s why skateboarders tend to either jump over stairs, rail grind down next to them, or simply dismount and walk down like the rest of us. The Stair Rover is, however, not a standard skateboard. It’s more like an all-etrraoin vehicle that sort of looks like a skateboard. This intrepid little number has an eight-wheeled design and a remarkably pliant chassis that can help it keep enough contact with terra firm to go zipping over all sorts of obstacles without flipping over (or flipping you off, so to speak). Take it over rough road, off road, or down the stairs.
THE POST MODERN SKATEBOARD
If you’re more concerned with having fun than with looking cool, then by all means check out the Post Modern Skateboard. This “skateboard” is really two separate units, one for each foot, that consists of a wheel that smoothly rolls around a rim upon which perch a pair of footpads. You can attach the wheeled rings with a rod to create a single unit, but most riders prefer the freestyle fun that comes with using them independently. Zip around town, bust out some sweet tricks, and ensure that you don’t get laid any time soon with these babies. Nah but seriously, they’re fun, just funny looking. But hey, when post modern installation and conceptual art first hit the scene in the mid 20th Century, it seemed odd, too.
THE LONGBOARD STROLLER
For the dude who is now a dad but is still in fact also a dude, the Longboard Stroller is almost a must-have. Like the name suggests, it’s a longboard, and it’s a stroller. That means a fun, convenient mode of travel for its adult user (women skaters are also welcome, of course) that an exhilarating spot for a kid to perch as they are zipped around town. Just make sure your kid wears a helmet, and perhaps consider being at least a halfway competent skateboarder before you decide to use this thing as a method of toddler transportation.
When not busy exploding into a ball of flames thanks to faulty battery design, s0-called hoverboards are both fun and convenient. The product that has managed to clinch use of the word “hoverboard” really does no hovering at all; in fact, they are two wheeled devices that stay firmly anchored to the ground. But since they roll along at speeds nearing 10 MPH when you so much as lean forward, and as many have a range between 12 and 15 miles per charge, these are still pretty damned cool devices. Many of these Self Balancing Scooters, as they are also called, feature perks like headlights and tail lights, and most can carry full grown adults, even up gentle hills, with ease. The future is here! Ish.