Snowboarding and skateboarding are very different, mainly because a skateboard doesn't have that sharp edge for carving and the same degree of drift or controlled sliding behaviour. Until now! Two innovative Californian companies have designed skateboards offering the ride of a snowboard on tarmac.
Both cross-trainer boards come from Californian companies, Freebord Manufacturing based in San Francisco and the Flowlab based in Signal Hill.
Coming up with the idea around four years ago and after a series of inspired prototypes, Freebord has conceived the Freebord X80, a light, highly maneuverable board that allows for powder-style carving and controlled sliding, but on pavement.
The Freebord works by using four outer wheels which simulate the snowboard's outer edge and two inner wheels that simulate the snowboard's base. The spring-biased centre wheels are casters that can swivel a full 360 degrees. By adding weight over the board's edges you can carve turns. As you apply more weight to the base, your board will start to slide, just as you would on powder. Executing 180's and 360's is not a problem on the streets with this snowboard cross-trainer.
The ability to carve long runs and control speed on the downhills was "an irresistible idea" and according to its makers, the board also serves as an excellent tool to learn how to start snowboarding.
The Flowlab "Flowboard" also allows for carving and sliding, but the designers came at the problem from a different angle. With the initial concept of designing a board that simulates waveriding, surfing and snowboarding, years of testing and experimentation have culminated in the Flowboard's patented Deep Carve System (DCS).
Quite different to the Freebord, the Flowboard has a front and back truck not unlike a normal skateboard, but it uses several wheels lined up along a curved axle. The wheels which are similar to in-line skates have a flat thin profile. Turning is achieved by the curvature of the front trucks and those at the back, without the trucks actually moving themselves.
The curved alignment of the wheels means that essentially only two wheels are touching the ground at any one time. Carving at 45 degree angles without resistance and fluid edge-to-edge transitions are possible due to the geometry of the wheels. Also, according to its designers, most tricks that are possible on a skateboard are possible on the Flowboard, with the exception of grinds.
Both are highly recommended for anyone looking to do some snow-free suburban snowboarding.