Alternative Longboards: Notes On Designing Longboards
I first met the guys from Alternative Longboards back maybe 4 years ago at ISPO in Germany. ISPO is Europe’s largest trade show, had a renowned Longboard Lounge thanks to the guys at 40 Inch Magazine and was popping off. These guys were new to me, Polish [by that I mean not English first, from a small emerging community, warm and friendly, and super stoked to come together and meet people from other longboard communities], and they had some incredible board designs and constructions to show us all. Years later, they still have incredible design and construction, are helping build a Polish scene and have started carving out a reputation for themselves globally because they’re doing it right.
Check out their latest post on Designing their boards and be sure to check out some of their banging product and videos.
When 16 years ago I gave Szymon my old board, you can say that I kind of “infected” him with passion to skateboard. After 10 years it was the other way round – it was Szymon who in 2010 showed me his first longboard and since then I was hooked. I rode as often as possible, not expecting that eventually I will be the one producing such boards. I remember our beginnings, how we tried to bend first cardboard concaves, just to feel under feet the right curvature we wanted to get in particular board model. Then I would sit in front of the computer designing the 3D version that we could later mill using the CNC milling machine built by Michał.
The first shapes were designed based on our longboard experience. Due to the fact that we were riding longboard, we knew what we wanted in particular models. Prototypes of various models were built and then as a result we managed to get 5 board models.
Relating to company’s logo, we named each model with a name of a bird we thought best reflected the board’s “nature”. The first collection included: Junko, Seagull, Chauma, Bunting, Thunderbird. For some that may be an interesting fact – Chauma used to the board with drop through and it had flex. The first version of Bunting was a directional board with “aggressive” concave.
We wanted the whole collection to form one graphics which we cut into particular models. We were the first longboard company to have gone through with such project. Mateusz Kołek, the illustrator, took care of the accomplishment of said project.
After the first collection we got lots of feedback from the riders and users of our boards and soon afterwards I already started sketching shapes for our new collection.
It was that time when Chauma was completely changed from drop thru city board into freestyle-freeride top mount longboard. Wheel flares, which block the foot during slides and thanks to which you can install bigger wheels, were designed. There were 2 models more then: Fantaila – a directional board with one kicktail for downhill/freeride and Snowfinch – a classic model for tech slide.
When a new model is introduced, numerous prototypes are built. Changing the measurement even for just a few millimeters can make a huge difference and has the impact on the comfort of riding. When something is modified, each time a new form is milled on which another prototype is made – the process is repeated until we reach our goal and desired effect. The 2014 collection was named Haunted Woods and just like a year before, one graphic was designed and then cut into particular models. This time the author of the illustrations was Sebastian Skrobol.
Designing longboards is divided into few stages that integrate the board. Starting with designing the right wheel base through designing the surface of board’s moulding – whether it is going to be a rocker, camber, or maybe a flat board and then finishing with choosing the most suitable concave, plus sometimes things like kicktail or dropdown add to the whole process. In each of these elements, one needs to take into account technological capabilities and characteristics of materials.
Finally, the phase of designing board’s cutting. I look for an inspiration in various objects, trying to adjust the shape to the use of a model. The inspiration often comes from car’s bodywork. I’m searching for a car model that in my opinion best reflects the nature of a particular board model and I start sketching. For instance, Bunting’s shape was an inspiration that came from Lamborghini Diablo. This model had its comeback in 2015 in a totally new edition.
I designed the board model after discussing it with our rider, Łukasz Tomkiel. We spent hours wondering how to make this board perfect. The very same year Snowfinch model was also designed. We decided to make it oldschool skateboard. In 2015 season we added a completely new freestyle model – Flamingo. I worked on the first projects of this model already in the middle of season 2014. I did some first drafts, we made some prototypes and we sent them to our freestyle expert Kajetan Michalski. And that’s how our red-hot freestyle-dancing board was created. It comes in flex soft and medium.
In 2015 collection we also used the technique of cutting one graphics into several models, but this time 3 artists were in charge of the illustrations: Patrycja Podkościelny, Patryk Hardziej and Tomasz Majewski. We grouped longboards based on their use into 3 groups and each illustrator prepared a full-scale drawing that was cut into two pieces.
JOY OF DESTRUCTION | MOUNTAIN OF DOOM
Before launching each new collection we go through the whole line-up in terms of diversity of the models and we analyze each model all over again – what could be changed so that it suits its uses even better. In some models just the lifting changes are made, like it was in the case of Flamingo and Junko 2015 models, where the shape of the cutting was refreshed. However, some of the models are changed on a wider level. I’ll refer again to Bunting 2016 as an example. After discussing it with the riders, we decided to shorten the wheelbase, which consequently made the longboard 4 cm shorter. I designed a new W-concave and changed drop’s shape for Mushroom shape, which guarantees perfect foot holding even with the most difficult slides. Fantail model was also modified. In current model I’ve designed W-concave at the back of the longboard and I changed kicktail, so that it’s better suited for its use in this model.
Chauma 2016 is a good example to prove that we want our boards to suit clients’ needs perfectly. Thanks to the opportunity to express one’s view on a particular model through filling out a form available on our website as well as out riders’ feedback, we reached a unanimous decision that Chauma 2016 has to be in two versions. Chauma M (M- micro-drop) that is the continuation of 2015 model with a flat concave and slightly enlarged microdrop and Chauma W (W-W-concave), which is the version for all W-concave fans.
We added three new models to 2016 collection. Our shortest board is the Hummingbird, which was produced even before our first official collection and there were only a few pieces of this model. What is left from the old version is the name and the general idea of the function it serves. However, I have re-designed the board, so that it suits its use better. Another model is our longest board Ostrich – the model long-awaited by dancing fans. For a long time the drafts of this board were waiting to be brought into effect. We had to build a new pressing machine to be able to create such a long board. The third model in 2016 collection is the downhill board Wrobel, which is classic-shaped with a straight radial concave. It was designed for riders who like simplicity or for implant application under grip.
Just like in last collection, we chose exceptionally talented artists to make our boards look awesome. This time we divided our line up into two groups – the first group are the boards for mountainous areas, so the Mountain of Doom collection, whose graphics were drawn by someone you already know, Sebastian Skrobol, and the second group, meaning boards for flat, city areas, so that’s Joy of Destruction collection with the graphics designed by Przemek Kotyński.
I do hope that this year’s collection appeals to you and meets your expectations. While you’re reading this article, we’re starting to work on a new collection, so that riding longboard will be even more fun next year. Your feedback and suggestions are most welcome, because we want the next collection to fill your personal tastes even better.
And check out the Official video from Izdebki Camp – Release the Kraken – to get a feel for their scene!
Pirates diaries of Izdebki Camp 2016 just arrived! It’s a good opportunity
to refresh your memory troubled with crashes, moonshine and partying till morning to relive
Izdbeki Camp atmosphere!
Get ready for next year and enjoy the movie!