Downhill Skateboarding

This is an article I just wrote for CoolTools, the best thing since the Whole Earth Catalog.

Downhill skating is like surfing; carving back and forth on long downhills. Note: you guys who skated as kids and have quit. The technology is way advanced these days. Decks, trucks, wheels, designs. It’s a different skating world. If you’ve ever skated, you’ve got the motor skills (due to “muscle memory”), and you’ll be surprised at how much fun you can have skating downhill with today’s boards. Here are three unique skateboards meant for downhill, as opposed to acrobatic street and ramp skating.

Loaded Carving Systems

This is my board of choice, after maybe 20 boards. The decks are made of 1/2 cm strips of vertically laminated bamboo (with the grain running truck to truck,) sandwiched between layers of fiberglass. The decks are convex (from end to end) and you can pump to accelerate, gaining speed from the flex of the deck and rebound from the truck bushings and wheels. They produce a graceful and flowing ride. I’ve got a Dervish model with Orangatang wheels. Check out the film clips on their website.

Dervish complete board w/wheels


Available from Loaded Boards


This is a whole other animal. Surfers love them. They’re heavy, have adjustable air pneumatic tires, and the deck tilts off springs so you can carve insanely tight angles. I use one with tires deflated to about 10 lbs. pressure to be able to skate a steep local hill that I can’t handle on any other board.

43″ Carveboard


Available from Carve USA

Landyachtz Evo 2008

From British Columbia, land of heavy-duty mountain bike riders and downhill skaters, come these downhill racing boards. The drop-down decks give you a lower center of gravity and great stability at high speeds. Being closer to the ground makes it easier for skaters to get a padded glove on the ground for sliding (to slow down).

Evo 2008 w/Gumball wheels


Available from Landyachtz

Safety Gear

1) Loaded sliding gloves — best ones available. When you fall face down, these save the skin on the palm of your hand. They are also used for sliding.

2) TSG Force 2 knee pads.Top of the line; you can put these on over long pants.

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

2 Responses to Downhill Skateboarding

  1. Nice Post. I don't downhill many big hills anymore, but I used to drop alot growing up in Hawaii. I've always been a fan of bombing on regular boards. I like to be able to powerslide through turns. When I was a little kid in Arizona we used to wear shoes on our hands to slide. Here's a downhill video you might like,
    Thanks for the posts! I'm looking forward to the new book.

  2. It's awesome to see you skating, Lloyd. You're right- today's boards are so safe, responsive, fast and smooth that there's no reason why people can't keep skating in their 50's, 60's and 70's – and maybe even older than that! If a person pads up and wears a helmet, the sky's the limit! I'm 47 and I still get out and cruise at least a few days a week – and don't plan on stopping anytime soon. Rock on!

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