At first, the term "Lean skateboard" seems like it could refer to any board. After all, pretty much every skateboard relies on a leaning action for turning. Usually that turning is controlled by the rubber bushings in the trucks, but the Lean replaces the standard truck with a multi-link truck that allows the wheels to tilt into the turn, which the Lean's creator claims adds power and stability.
"I love having big wheels on a skateboard because they allow you to go faster without compromising the smoothness of the ride," explains Lean designer and Pramash LLC founder Enzo Prathamesh Shinde. "However, the problem with having big wheels on a regular skateboard is that it raises its center of gravity, producing a higher risk of tipping over while making sharp turns. This makes big wheels particularly not suitable for downhill."
To get past this inherent design problem, he developed an alternative truck. The sprung four-bar linkage trucks allow the wheels themselves to tilt when the rider leans into a turn, which is meant to create quicker, smoother turning and prevent the wobble and rollover risk introduced by the larger wheels. By making the board easier to turn, it is purportedly more responsive to the rider, providing a tighter, more fluid connection with the ground below, similar to surfing or snowboarding.
Of course, the average skateboard wheel isn't designed to tilt, so Pramash has developed a spherical design for the Lean's 120-mm wheels. The company says that each wheel has the ability to turn in three dimensions thanks to each wheel having its own individual axis that moves in a conical shape. This design lets the wheels lean and rotate smoothly at the same time.
The Lean Skateboard's design also has a low center of gravity, which enhances its handling and control. The bigger wheels, meanwhile, offer faster speeds and roll more easily over cracks. The spring in the trucks can be softened for quicker turning or hardened for a stable, high-speed ride.
After working through several prototypes, Pramash has landed on the final design and is moving toward production. It's turned to Kickstarter in an effort to cover the initial tooling and manufacturing costs. A pledge of US$215 gets a set of truck and wheel hardware, which you can mount to your own deck. The company says that the trucks are designed to fit standard boards, but some board shapes may cause mounting issues. A complete board starts at the $275 pledge level. Estimated delivery is October 2014.
The Lean Board is far from the first spin on skateboard wheel design we've seen, a fact we were reminded of by the mention of snowboard/surfboard-style feel. Many other designers have attempted to give the skateboard a more fluid feel with elements such as SurfSkate rotating trucks and Aris carving wheels.
You can watch Lean testers push the board to a claimed 35 mph (56 km/h) in the video below.