Sustainable Skateboards and the Aluminium WalkCar

Skateboarding has been a popular pastime for decades and has become a truly global trend.
15 December, 2016
Far from being toys, skateboards can set new sustainability standards and change urban transportation.
Their company name may be a clever play on words, but the Southern California company Aluminati Skateboards is serious about the region's surfing and skateboard culture.

The Aluminati company launched in 2015 with a product line that seeks to change skating-world tech while keeping the best of its traditions – and central to that mission is a commitment to sustainability.

"All Aluminati boards are made from recyclable aircraft-grade aluminum, for strength, stability and sustainability," the company explained in its very first message. "Our decks flex like wood, but have a higher strength-to-weight ratio and will last many times longer."
Since then, Aluminati has built its name in its niche with new board and feature releases. In September, the company introduced glow-in-the-dark LED wheels on its Freestyle Cruiser boards. In August, it launched its back-to-school line for USC students.

The latest offering is a Surfer Magazine series, a limited edition run of five skateboard decks that feature spectacular surfing photography by South African native Grant Ellis.

The Ellis images from the world's best surfing locations capture California's connection between surfing the waves and surfing the street, but the real bonding – according to Aluminati – is the one used to permanently apply the image to the aluminium through its own proprietary method.
The company reflects a trend toward new technology in skateboarding, and there is a little competition involved too.

Beercan Boards, based in Georgia in the American southeast, makes boards out of recycled aluminium. The skateboards are created from 100 percent recycled aluminium decks, with 100 percent recycled plastic features. Beercan takes their effort one step further, so that skating enthusiasts return to the business when they are ready for their next board.

"We offer a service to recycle any previously purchased Beercan Board. You get a fresh, brand-spanking new board for only $40, and you're not adding to a landfill," the company explains. That compares with a price range of $129 to $269 for complete boards, all of which are named after brews and beverages.
Canadian entrepreneur Luis Duarte is working on an even more radical design, one that combines the skateboard, scooter and roller skate into one wearable mini-skate shoe called the Rockit Single Foot Skate. The prototypes in wood and in aluminium have advanced a project meant for urban settings.

The reason skateboard manufacturers have gravitated to aluminum is because it's a precision material made for precision use, as the Aluminati team explains. Plastic has had its day, but it is not environmentally friendly. With warping and wear, it does not last as long as aluminium boards either. Tossing more plastic into landfills doesn't align with the more progressive values of much of the skater clientele.
What may turn out to be the big winner in the aluminium "skateboards" market, though, is an invention by Japanese designer Kuniako Saito. Saito introduced the WalkCar, which works something like a cross between the traditional skateboard and the motorized Segway without all the weight. The WalkCar is a motorized aluminium platform board that starts and stops automatically once a person steps aboard.

Instead of the people-powered models, it can move people at up to 10 kilometers per hour for a distance of 12 kilometers with a three-hour charge. Like other skateboards, the WalkCar responds to shifts in weight for steering and direction, and slips into a bag when you've finished your commute or a quick errand.

By embracing the nostalgia of skateboard traditions and leading at the cutting edge of urban commutes, aluminium plays the starring role in next-generation boards with real promise in sustainable transportation.
Banner image: WalkCar/Cocoa Motors