Mountainboarding

mountainboarding

Mountainboarding is a well established, if little-known extreme sport, derived from snowboarding. A mountainboard is made up of components including a deck, bindings to secure the rider to the deck, four wheels with pneumatic tires, and two steering mechanisms known as trucks.

Mountainboarders ride specifically designed boardercross tracks, slopestyle parks, grass hills, woodlands, gravel tracks, streets, skateparks, ski resorts, BMX courses and mountain bike trails. It is this ability to ride such a variety of terrain that separates mountainboarding from other board sports.

Morton Hellig’s Supercruiser Inc. was the first company to manufacture and retail the ‘All Terrain Dirtboard,’ patented in 1989. The term ‘mountainboarding’ was coined by Jason Lee and the sport began in the UK, the USA and Australia in 1992. Unknown to each other, riders from other boardsports started to design and build, and eventually manufacture boards that could be ridden off-road.

Dave and Pete Tatham, Joe Inglis and Jim Aveline, whilst looking for an off-season alternative to surfing and snowboarding, began designing boards that could be ridden down hills. Inglis developed initial prototypes, and in 1992 noSno was started. Extensive research and development produced the noSno truck system which enabled the boards to be steered and remain stable at high speeds. NoSno boards utilized snowboard bindings and boots, with large tires for rough ground, and the option for a hand-operated hydraulic disc brake.

In 1992, after having snowboarded at Heavenly Valley Resort in Northern California, friends Jason Lee, Patrick McConnell and Joel Lee went looking for an alternative for the summer season. Not finding anything suitable they co-founded MountainBoardSports (MBS) in 1993 to build boards that they could use to carve down hills. The original MBS boards, known as ‘Frame Boards’ had a small wooden deck with metal posts to hold the rider’s feet, a tubular metal frame connecting trucks which used springs to enable steering and thus create the carving sensation that the MBS co-founders were looking for.

John Milne developed a three-wheeled version of a mountainboard in 1992 in his spare time during periods of very poor surf in Australia. It used a unique steering system to emulate surfing on land. It had 3 wheels and a skate-style deck with no bindings.

From the early days of invention there has always been a competitive element in mountainboarding. Encompassing racing, freestyle and downhill, competitions have been organized in the USA since 1993 and in the UK since 1997. In the same year the ATBA-UK (All Terrain Boarding Association), the national governing body for mountainboarding in the UK was born.

Mountainboard decks are the part that most of the components are attached to, and provide the base for the rider to stand on. They are generally from 90–110 cm in length, and can be made from a range of construction methods and materials. For example high specification boards may be made from composite carbon and glass reinforced plastics, possibly with a wooden core, similarly made to a snowboard deck. Basic decks are generally made using laminated wood pressed into shape, comparable to a longboard deck with larger dimensions and a different shape. There are variable characteristics such as flex, weight, shape, length and tip angle that can be catered for in custom or stock boards from a variety of manufacturers.

Trucks are the components made up of a hanger, damping and/or spring system, and axles which attach the wheels to the deck. They also have the mechanisms required to allow the board to turn.

Skate trucks have a rigid axle and a top hanger, with a single bolt and bushings, also called rubbers or grommets, that provide the cushion mechanism for turning the mountainboard. The bushings cushion the truck when it turns. The stiffer the bushings, the more resistant the mountainboard is to turning. The softer the bushings, the easier it is to turn. A bolt called a kingpin holds these parts together and fits inside the bushings. Thus by tightening or loosening the kingpin nut, the trucks can be adjusted loosely for better turning and tighter for more control. Skate-style mountainboard trucks are similar to skateboard trucks but more robust and with a longer axle.

Channel trucks are common on mountainboards, and are made up of an axles mounted to the truck bottom piece, which is suspended from a top hanger by a kingpin. They are mounted to the deck using nuts and bolts through the hanger part, on an angle, (usually 35°). When the board is tilted laterally the axles turn together to angle the wheels in the direction of the turn. Two polyurethane dampers sometimes known as ‘egg shocks’ are mounted between the hanger and the axle housing on each truck to provide resistance to the lean of the rider during turning. Springs are mounted in the same place with the dampers inside them.

The ‘shocks’ present in channel trucks are there to dampen the turning system, and help reduce the oscillations of the trucks on the board commonly described as speed wobble. The springs are there to return the deck to center after a turn has been performed, neither are there to provide suspension between the deck and axles. They have a kingpin that can’t move vertically which prevents this.

NoSno trucks use two ‘kingpin’-type bolts to create a floating pivot, an axle with a plate into which the bolts go, an angled base plate that attaches to the deck, and polyurethane bushings to dampen the turn. The amount of turn available in the trucks can be adjusted by tightening the bolts or by using bushings of different hardness.

Wheels are made up of plastic or metal hubs and pneumatic tires ranging in size of 8–13 inches. The 8″ wheel has evolved into the best choice for freestyle riding, and also an all purpose wheel for general riding. Larger wheels (generally 9″ and 10″) are more useful to the downhill rider; granting the rider access to high-speed runs and more stability when travelling at speed.

Brakes are generally reserved for big mountain riding where riders need an increased ability to control their speed over long runs. The brakes are most usually attached to both front wheels of the mountainboard rather than the rear to give greater braking efficiency and reduce the chances of the rear wheels locking-up and skidding. They are operated via a hand-held lever which when pulled causes both brake mechanisms to work simultaneously.

Tags:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.