You can't accomplish long distances on any old board. Two factors deemed necessary for endurance skating include a low-standing deck to reduce knee-bend therefore inceasing the efficiency of each push, and large wheels to make a mockery of spin resistance and rough road surfaces. Of course, there are other factors that can make a longboard suitable for distance riding, like trucks, bushings, bearings and deck flex, but many of these can be adopted for all boards, so it's the basic concept of low deck and large wheels that I was looking for when hunting down transport for the UK and Australian journeys.
In 1999 German designer Peter Sanftenberg visited California and was wowed by the young natives riding longboards. To Peter, a longboard seemed like the ideal short-distance commuter and on his return to Berlin he bought his first skateboard. He was astonished at how badly it balanced, like it was on a ball, he thought. The engineer within was challenged and the concept of rollsrolls was born, large diameter wheels and a low standing platform which lay below the axle. At the time Peter worked in the aircraft industry and he borrowed expertise from the construction of aircraft wings, which were optimized in stength and weight by using carbon fibres. Three years of testing, discarding and improving passed before the first serial rollsrolls board was completed, and the next year it became a world-record breaker.
Had Jack Smith, Nick Krest, Scott Kam and Josh Maredy not used rollsrolls sportsters to relay their way across the 3000 mile width of the United States in 2003 I wouldn't have noticed the picture of three of them pushing hard along a US highway (inset), and may not have heard of rollsrolls at all. Luckily for me, I did. Following my first email Peter had a test board sent, instantly I fell in love, and that very board I named Elsa. It was the one that took me the length of Britain and the width of Australia.
For me, there is no other board to ride on if your skate journey is about more than just the skating. For myself and the BoardFree team, who wanted to accomplish so much as we crossed countries, the dominant and unique shape of the rollsrolls Sportster was a blessing. It added a wow factor to the project, something your stereotypical skateboard-shaped board wouldn't have done. This board had mudguards, big green wheels, it had headlights! It didn't really look like a skateboard, people thought a motor was hidden in there somewhere, so smoothly it rolled. It was a headturner and a lot of the time Elsa did all the hard work for us, she showed onlookers that BoardFree meant business.
The bright yellow rollsrolls sportster deck was complimented by Holey Trucks, Swiss Bones trucks, Khiro risers, 97mm Flyweels and Sunrisers. The set-up remained the same throughout both journeys. We changed wheels five times in Australia, once on each State border. The Holey Trucks were tightened once in 4500 miles, and their custom-shaped bushings lasted the distance and still looked like new at the end.
Following the Australian journey Elsa took up residence at the SurfWorld museum in Torquay, Victoria, Australia. Unless there's been a break-in, she's still there.
To find out more about rollsrolls, visit www.rollsrolls.co.uk