Words by Jonathan King
Longboarding is one of those sports that crosses boundaries and tears down barriers. It's not a coincidence that people everywhere love to skate. We may not always agree on what's cool, and styles may differ by region...but at the end of the day something as simple as a piece of wood is enough to bring us together. I think most of us understand how powerful that is. So let's take a quick trip around the world and see if we can't get a little more cultured...or at least just drool over some of the coolest Brands from across the globe.
10) Acid Longboards
Chances are, if you've ever been on the internet, you've seen these gorgeous boards. The shapes, the construction, THOSE WHEEL WELLS! Even at a glance Acid Longboards can make a lasting impression. Look them up though, and you'll be even more impressed.
One of the awesome Acid Skateboards
Coming out of New Zealand, Acid Longboards has found an impressive balance between convenience and customization. Where some companies will occasionally cut a new shape from a familiar mold and slap on a random graphic for special edition decks, these guys openly encourage that same mix-and-match process with every board they make. Choose from several different cuts, read the description of various molds/concaves, select your favorite, then add the best looking finish (including your personal cloth inlay).
9) Premier Wheel Co
Aussies don't mess around. When you type "the deadliest animals" into Google, the first suggestion is "in Australia" (before even "on earth", which is second). So it's safe to say, not much scares the people of the Outback. Making it the perfect place for Premier to produce their crazy slidey wheels.
They may have some steep competition in the AU thane market, but with an ever expanding line up of wheels available in various formulas, they're more than capable of holding their own. In fact, Premier Blue Series are getting plenty of attention already for their incredible feel and world record setting performance. Needless to say, these are some wheels to watch out for.
Premier Wheel Co Blue Series
8) Rocket Longboards
There's only two ways Rocket Longboards could have possibly gotten their name (and I'm sure of this). Either someone saw their crazy designs for the first time and called them "rocket scientist", which just happened to stick...or the Swiss people simply love the cartoon Rocket Power.
Rocket Meteor Longboard
Either way, they aren't exaggerating. Between insane concave, asymmetrical rocker, a unique rib cage support system and carbon versions of both popular and custom designs...these guys have quite the bag of tricks. More skateboard engineers than just builders, Rocket Longboards is determined to reach new levels of quality and design in longboarding (and it seems they have tried everything short of installing tanks of nitro in their boards to get there).
Next we ship off to Germany to check out Quinboards. Like I said, styles change by region...and most of you may already be rolling your eyes at Quinboards' dancing/freestyle heavy lineup. With a long flexy topmount and a small drop through DK they manage to turn heads in the more flatground oriented areas...but they didn't stop there.
Quinboards Easy Rider Longboard
These multi faceted skaters didn't feel content with just one or two disciplines and weren't about to phone or in either. Their symmetrical freeride machine is as thoughtful and artfully crafted as their beautiful dancer. With unique but comfortable curves and two super functional kicks, the mountain dwellers are already frothing over this deck. Anticipation over the upcoming downhill deck is already palpable. Which will be the fourth and final board in this already well rounded starting lineup.
Quinboards Slideberry Side View
6) Slide Perfect
Not to be outdone, a few blokes in the United Kingdom recently released their own brand of wheels called Slide Perfect. For some other brands, giving themselves such an ambitious name may have been too much to live up to...but they seem to have embraced the challenge.
Slide Perfect Supremacy Wheels
Developing what they consider to be a perfect freeride wheel, the first limited-run batch of wheels quickly sold out. Now production is in full swing and this great brand seems to have already hit it's stride. If buttery wheels are good, and icy wheels are better...then Supremacys slide like fried ice. Which, coincidentally enough, is considered a delicacy in the UK. True story kids.
5) Myi Trucks
The next company hails from Africa with an interesting new take on precision technology. Myi Trucks is a race inspired truck conceived over several years of testing and rider feedback. The "slop tail" is both a familiar concept and a fresh (dare I say it) improved design. It has both a tighter allowance than support pins and a geometry that limits the pressure being put on the tail (making breakage less likely and wedging a less complicated option).
Add to that a more natural bushing compression than other secondary pivot arm trucks, and Myi is primed to be the new standard in the downhill truck market. Being that they're both more precise than current options and somehow also more flexible and user friendly at the same time...I can only imagine how many of you are already trying to figure out how to convert ZAR to USD.
4) Zap Boards
Tired yet? We still have four countries to go! Next we visit the Czech Republic to see what Zap Boards is up to. Recently we've seen a surge in popularity in weight reduction techniques like hollow and foam cores. Though the markets current offerings seem to excel in very different areas (that aren't necessarily mutually exclusive). Either a light but flat board sturdy enough to have kicktails or freeride boards with great concave and no kicks.
Zap Boards Pi
The guys over at Zap have had quite enough of this. They figured out a way to have light, strong, and snappy decks with aggressive concaves and functional kicks. Combining freeride with freestyle isn't even close to being a new idea...but being the first to do it with an airframe construction is its own kind of revolutionary.
3) Vault Skate
Vault skate is a pretty well known company. When I said there was steep competition in the Australian thane market, Fibreflex is probably what you thought of. They're the quintessential midsy wheel. Every setup wants to have them and every other wheel wants to be them.
Vault Skate Fibreflex Wheels
Then again, with so many copies, is the original really worth a trip around the world? Maybe not, but then you realize that Vault isn't just wheels. They make boards too...and not just any boards either. They have some pretty crazy but functional shapes and concaves on their lineup. Not many boards match the aggressive but intuitive design of a Vault deck...but even the few that might, don't come stock with fibreflex wheels!
Sweden is the next stop on our skate trip 'round the world. Here we find the elusive Kahalani truck company. For ages they have been revered for the mythical properties of their insanely light and low precision trucks. Which many claim can heal even the most severe case of the deadly speedwobs.
Once poached nearly to extinction, the Kaha has recently found new life in their beautifully engineered cast trucks. Which, needless to say, are getting some much deserved attention. Since, in all seriousness, Kahalani is one of those companies that helped make longboarding what it is today. You don't see many of the OG precision trucks hanging around as long as they have. When you do, there's a reason for it.
Kahalani Cast Precision Trucks
1) Bastl Longboards
Der Spitzenreiter ist...Bastl! Coming straight out of Germany, Bastl Longboards has long since employed many of the innovative manufacturing techniques that we are just starting to admire here in the states. From Urethane sidewalls to carbon fiber sandwiching to the ultralight waterproof wood core. If there is a unique material or a mind blowing way of applying it to a longboard...chances are, Bastl did it first. Not that they really seem to care about the bragging rights...they're too busy devising the next cool feature to be unleashed on the unwitting public.
Bastl Boards Discofox Deck Specs
Even before considering any special features, one look will reveal that Bastl has one of the most versatile line up of boards. With everything from dancers to hybrids to freeride boards all equally well thought out and flawlessly executed. Add that to endless scene support and the absolute nicest and most helpful employees you'll ever meet...and Bastl really is an international treasure.
Stoke out your friends!