Tools for Possibilities: issue no. 93

Once a week we’ll send out a page from Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities. The tools might be outdated or obsolete, and the links to them may or may not work. We present these vintage recommendations as is because the possibilities they inspire are new. Sign up here to get Tools for Possibilities a week early in your inbox.


Surfing on hills

Downhill Skateboarding

Downhill skating is like surfing; carving back and forth on long downhills. Note: you guys who skated as kids and have quit. The technology is way advanced these days. Decks, trucks, wheels, designs. It’s a different skating world. If you’ve ever skated, you’ve got the motor skills (due to “muscle memory”), and you’ll be surprised at how much fun you can have skating downhill with today’s boards. Here are three unique skateboards meant for downhill, as opposed to acrobatic street and ramp skating. — Lloyd Kahn

Loaded Carving Systems

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This is my board of choice, after maybe 20 boards. The decks are made of 1/2 cm strips of vertically laminated bamboo (with the grain running truck to truck,) sandwiched between layers of fiberglass. The decks are convex (from end to end) and you can pump to accelerate, gaining speed from the flex of the deck and rebound from the truck bushings and wheels. They produce a graceful and flowing ride. I’ve got a Dervish model with Orangatang wheels. Check out the film clips on their website.

$328 Dervish complete board w/wheels Loaded Boards.

Carveboard

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This is a whole other animal. Surfers love them. They’re heavy, have adjustable air pneumatic tires, and the deck tilts off springs so you can carve insanely tight angles. I use one with tires deflated to about 10 lbs. pressure to be able to skate a steep local hill that I can’t handle on any other board.

$359 43″ Carveboard Carve USA

Landyachtz Evo 2008

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From British Columbia, land of heavy-duty mountain bike riders and downhill skaters, come these downhill racing boards. The drop-down decks give you a lower center of gravity and great stability at high speeds. Being closer to the ground makes it easier for skaters to get a padded glove on the ground for sliding (to slow down).

$252 Evo 2008 w/Gumball wheels Landyachtz


Skater’s pavement paddle

Kahuna Big Stick

The Kahuna Big Stick is a lightweight wooden shaft with fixed rubber wheels that allows a skater to push and pull while keeping balanced with both feet as opposed to pumping with one foot. On the level, it is way superior to foot-pumping. Even on uphills, I’ve found if I do a few foot pumps, then follow with a few paddles, it’s faster and smoother. On slight downslopes, I can now get a lot more speed by not having to foot pump. It’s got me skating a two-block section in town that used to be too slow. Plus, it adds an upper body workout to a sport that, traditionally, challenges your legs mostly. Surfers see me with it and invariably break into a grin; they instantly get it and are charmed. It really is incredible. The day I got my 5′ 6″ Big Stick, I tried it out in a parking lot while getting gas. Boy! After about five tentative strokes, I started reaching out as far as I could, zooming around. Later that night I decided to skate in the streets (no cars). I got in a bunch of half-mile downhills in an hour. It is insane fun. One disadvantage: You’re carrying this stick rather than free skating down hills. —Lloyd Kahn


Skateboard multi-tool

SilverTool

Here’s a tool I wish existed about 25 years ago. Silver Trucks makes this updated version of the classic skate key, with added functionality, so it works in a complete skateboard build-up and isn’t limited (as its predecessor was) to maintenance and adjustments. The SilverTool is a solid, straight, T-shaped tube that feels much better in my hand than other tools I’ve used and has more features than anything else out there on the market.

Like the old skate key tool that was the standard for years, the SilverTool has openings to adjust the nuts for the wheels, as well as adjusting the nut tensioning on the truck kingpin. What is revolutionary about this tool is that it has a reversible ratchet at one end and a removable Phillips/hex driver. These features allow me to install and adjust the hardware holding the trucks to my deck. (Rush makes a ratcheting skate tool that has a hinged ratchet socket, and a hinged pullout Phillips/hex driver. Rush’s tool is smaller than Silver’s, but I believe some stability/torque is sacrificed in exchange.)

The SilverTool is also equipped with a medium-grade file for smoothing out the grip-tape edges around the skateboard deck. This is a nice bonus, though it’s not quite enough for me to perform a complete setup. I still need to use a separate razor blade or Stanley knife to trim away excess tape.

I hope to purchase, or make, adapters for the ratchet that will allow me to use this tool for basic bicycle maintenance as well. If Silver were to think a little beyond just skateboarding, they could easily manufacture the tool of choice for those who are into both skateboarding and riding bikes. — Scott Singer


Customizable, easy-to-ride skateboard

ONDA Core Motion Skateboard

I’ve ridden skateboards for the last 20 years and the ONDA Core has something I’ve never seen before: two interchangeable bushings on either side of the kingpin. ONDA calls them torsion shocks. Basically, they’ve rethought how trucks should work and I really like it. They’ve created a simple way (without any tools necessary) to swap out the “shocks” to 9 different levels of resistance. It’s pretty brilliant, as you can adjust it based on your weight or average speed to be the perfect fit.

The deck is made of plastic, which was what originally kept me from trying it. I’m used to wood decks, but the plastic is more flexible and lasts much longer. It took a few days to get used to it, but now I’m a huge fan.

The wheels are extra large, which definitely gives it a unique look. But they’re coming out with a newer model in August which has smaller wheels and a shorter deck. It looks more conventional, but the wheels are still wider and larger than most skateboards.

This board may not be for hardcore skateboard enthusiasts, but it’s super easy to ride and a great fit for beginner and intermediate riders. I’ve owned mine for only 2 months and I’m hooked. — Nate H.

07/1/24

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