We Need Weatherproof Bikes, Boards, Scooters and Skates

We know that cars are on the way out, at least in terms of local trips. We know that the climate has changed significantly already (we’re already above 1.5c compared to 1750) and it’s only going to continue getting worse for a long time to come. And that means more rain.

So therefore it stands to reason that people are going to be riding bikes and scooters much more for commuting and fun. And they’ll almost certainly be skating, skateboarding and long-boarding more as well. Every time you get rid of cars, everyone’s out on the streets with the skates or boards they found at the back of the cupboard and dusted off.

The problem is that all of these wheeled objects are incredibly badly suited to riding in wet conditions. There are some bikes that are much better suited to riding in rain and on wet roads, but even they are not perfect. Skateboards, skates and scooters are not even close to weather resistant. Ride any of them on a wet day once and your bearings will be shot. Now is the time for innovation from these industries. You could argue that people won’t skate on rainy days, but I think they will. Dry ground days are going to be few and far between in the wetter months. But even if that were true, people will be commuting on e-scooters, and many of them are currently not designed for wet weather riding either.

As far as cycling, this challenge means a rapid move away from exposed chain and derailleur systems and towards belts or chain cases (which I’ve argued for many times already). But there are many other parts on even the most protected Dutch bike that will still rust and go wrong very quickly when used in the rain a lot and kept in less-than-ideal conditions.

At the moment it’s hard to really see this change happening, especially for the more leisure equipment. But as the demise of the car becomes more obvious in the next year or two, we will start to see something happen. Sales of skates and boards will increase as people get inspired by empty streets, and that will lead to a bigger R&D spend, and hopefully the innovation we’re looking for.

It can’t continue to be the case that products are being sold that aren’t designed to be used in the way the manufacturers know people are going to use them. Just from a pure sustainability point of view this needs to change very quickly.


Is powerblading the future of aggressive skating?

Beijing First Day

Inline skating is something I tried when I was a kid, not taking it very far, I’ll admit, but it was something I enjoyed. I recently got back into skating in a big way, getting a couple of pairs of skates and really enjoying myself.

While I won’t get into fitness skating in this post, I will go into it soon, as well as other disciplines such as inline and ice speed skating, marathons, free-skating and roller-derby.

As with most extreme sports of this nature, there are many ways to set-up your skates for different styles or environments. Wheel sizes, number of wheels, frame shapes and more can all impact the way you skate greatly.

Rather than get into all of the different combinations and their pros and cons, I just want to get into what I feel is the future of the sport and inline skating in general. The larger your wheels, the faster you go. Powerblading is all about that notion. It takes the larger wheels of freeskating (80mm+) and combines them with the tough, rugged aggressive skates and frames that can take a lot of punishment. These skates typically have wheel sizes ranging from 55mm to 60mm with 65mm becoming steadily more common.

I think powerblading will remain a separate entity from aggressive due to the fact that aggressive skating is so grind focused, and 4 80mm wheels will make grinding extremely difficult due to the middle wheels rubbing the grind surface and sticking.

Most likely, powerblading will become an interchangeable term with free-skating. They will be similar skates but with some small differences in toughness / lightness and wheel size.

As far as aggressive goes, I think anti-rocker (two big outside wheels combined with two small plastic grind wheels) will become even more the go-to set up for most skaters. What I think will change about this set-up will be the wheel sizes. I think at least 60mm will be the minimum for this set-up soon and it’ll only increase from there to 65 and beyond. Whether you can get up to 80mm and still be able to grind comfortably is an interesting question and something the pros and experts will tell us at some point. There will come a point where the wheels just get too big to be beneficial. We’re around that point in speed and fitness skating right now with the 110mm wheels I would guess.

Freestyle set-ups work very similarly to anti-rocker ones in that they have the two wheels front and back and a grind space, albeit without the extra grinding help from anti-rocker wheels. That set-up style should also evolve to the big wheels.

Flat on the other hand is interesting. Riding flat in some ways you lose in terms of speed (smaller wheels), comfort and ease of grinding (wheels sticking), but you do gain control through having your feet lower to the ground. To me I don’t see the trade-off being worth-it for 90% of skaters. Plus, where I live the pavements and other surfaces aren’t smooth at all, and where you have bumpy surfaces, larger wheels offer far more comfort and speed.

I’m excited to see where aggressive skating goes. I don’t think powerblading is the future of aggressive inline, but I do think that a happy medium between these two styles of skates is probably where things are heading.


Personal Green Transportation, what are the options?

This is something I’ve been thinking about quite a lot recently. I don’t own a car and I don’t intend to any time soon but I do want an alternative to walking or taking the bus around.

The obvious answer would be to cycle. And while that was my initial thought, road / pavement cycling laws aren’t clearly defined from what I can tell, and generally speaking, I’d prefer to be away from traffic especially since the area around where I live always has heavy traffic. The stress of not knowing what’s behind you along with the petrol fumes really add up to make it a very un-enticing proposition.

That’s a shame because when I used to cycle to school and college for around 6 years when I was younger I really enjoyed it, and I’ve always had a love of mountain biking and extreme sports so it is disappointing that the local council don’t seem to be too worried about making permanent cycle lanes in order to make cyclists feel safe and get more people out there on bikes and getting fitter.

Once you get past bikes, the only real viable alternative that I can think of is inline skating. Skating is an interesting subject law wise. From what I understand, skaters aren’t classified as either a pedestrian or a road user. This means that technically they should be able to skate on the pavement as long as they are mindful of pedestrians and are courteous. Similarly, on an empty road it should be legal to skate along it while being very careful to watch for cars and bikes / cyclists.

While they aren’t as fast as a bike, they do provide an excellent workout and of course are a lot of fun too as well as being considerably faster than walking and comparable to jogging or running at a medium to fast pace, depending on the surface and effort being put in of course.

Not only that, but generally speaking there’s a lot less that can go wrong with a good pair of skates than a bike with all its brakes and puncture vulnerable tires, not to mention bikes are big and you most likely won’t be able to keep an eye on it all the time in which case theft or damage is a possibility. Skates can go in a bag to be replaced by shoes when you need to switch.

Aside from these options, there’s always things like skateboards but they aren’t very practical at all for anything other than tricks.

If you want to bring electrical based devices into the fray as well, then hybrid bikes are surely going to catch on in the near future and if they can store energy from braking or simply the wheels spinning in order to generate extra power for the battery, then that could be an excellent choice moving forward.

Unfortunately, things akin to Segways will most likely stay as a novelty and for police forces in city centres. They just look too ridiculous and too hard to control for the majority of people to get behind. Plus, Segways aren’t necessarily green depending on where they power used to charge them up comes from.

Maybe sometime in the future we might even see intelligent hybrid skates which store energy to give you a small boost in performance when you don’t have to slow down for a significant distance, or possibly cause lights to glow on the skate itself to improve night time visibility. There are lots of possibilities for the future of personal transportation and as technology continues to advance, we’ll certainly see these new advances applied to tried and tested products like bikes or skates.