Features Skateboarding

Skateboard Inventions: A tribute to Larry Stevenson

Written by Ralph Lloyd Davis


On 25th March 2012, Larry Stevenson aged 81 lost his battle against Parkinson’s disease and signed off on one of skateboarding’s most important chapters: the creation of the kicktail.

A passionate surfer, Larry was quick to seek similar sensations a skateboard could provide when the waves were calm. Bitten by the bug, Larry started his own skateboard company Makaha Skateboards in 1963 and went on to sell hundreds of thousands of boards to fellow thrill seekers.

Even though Larry and Makaha were not alone in mass producing top quality skateboards, his love of carving through the ocean pushed him to create a feature that everyone takes for granted today: the kicktail. Awarded the US patent in 1971 for the kicktail and double kicktail, Larry’s vision and design had revolutionised skateboarding forever. Without it we would all be barefoot gorilla-gripping in a world of pain.

As homage to Larry Stevenson and first Makaha kicktail, we compiled a few lists of skateboard inventions and ideas that have hit the mark, missed the mark and have yet to make a mark (or not). Skateboarding is all about progression. Whether it’s tricks or trucks, the diversity and creativity on display make for an ever-evolving culture that throws the rulebook out of the window in search of the next high.

What you read here may not be your choice and we could have listed many more, but we will leave that to you, so leave a comment below on what you would have picked and feel free to leave a tribute message in honour of one of skateboarding’s biggest legends.

Top 3 failed skate experiments:

1. Powell Boneite – Despite being backed by the Bones Brigade, this soggy board construction had everyone disappointed as it soaked up ever drop of moisture and consequently fell apart.

2. Acme Single Bearing wheels – In a bid to make boards lighter, Acme removed one bearing from each wheel and half the speed and stability we desperately needed in the early 90’s.

3. Tracker Floater Trucks – Another brainfart in the undercarriage department that sought to axle slippage and shredded threads. All it gave us was a head ache and bent metal.

Top 3 successful skate experiments:

1. Double tail construction – Following Larry Stevenson’s lead, it wasn’t for another 20 years that World Industries introduced the Mike Vallely double tail board that provided an essential breakthrough for skateboarding’s progression.

2. Mega-RampsDanny Way is a legend and a pioneer. When he unveiled the Mega Ramp with DC he took transition to a whole new level and set a standard that separates the men from the boys.

3. Santa Cruz Everslick – You will always need wax to slide a lengthy curb, but Santa Cruz introduced an extra layer to our boards that sent us slip-sliding much further than before. It might have faded out of the limelight over the years, but Santa Cruz are bringing it back with couple of famous re-issues and more contemporary models.

Top 3 ongoing skate experiments: 

1. Pay-per-view webclips – A recent interview with media mogul Steve Berra has rung the bell for online video content. The video cassette and DVD are gathering dust and it’s time to find an economically sound service that separates the wheat from the chafe.

2. Urethane formulas – It’s been a game of catch-up since Bones introduced their Street Tech Formula. Period.

3. Board construction – Helium, extra plies, deeper concave, Epoxy glues, Teflon fibres… The search for the strongest (yet economically sound) board design is raging.

Top 3 extinct skate experiments:

1. Bridgebolts – Production costs are probably what robbed the infamous bridge bolts of their future alongside the allen key and crossheaded screws an bolts that dominate the market today. Either that or the danger of being sued for damages when kids placed the bridge bolts upside down in an attempt to ollie higher and further…?

2. RipGrip – RipGrip disappeared with street grabs and thumb tape. Today we leave it up to our shoes to do the gripping.

3. Osiris D3s – Probably the most incompetent skate shoe design ever manufactured yet undeniably the most successful cashcow the footwear industry has ever known. Today, fans of the D3 can be found crushing food for the fetishists or at a rave somewhere.

Raise a glass this week to the legend and innovator that is Larry Stevenson. Our thoughts go out to his son Curtis, his family and friends. RIP.

Skateboarding News

Police confirm death of missing Bristol skater Will Appleby

willapplebyWe are very sad to announce that Police have confimed that the body of the missing local West Country skater Will Appleby has been found after dredging a Bristol canal. Police were originally alerted after he failed to catch a bus home to Ulverston in Cumbria, he had just finished the first year of his media studies course at University of the West of England.

Will was said to have been very much into skateboarding and filming. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends dealing with this news this week, please look after yourselves out there this summer.

Will Appleby RIP.

Skateboarding News

Jackass star Ryan Dunn killed in car crash

ryan_dunn_jackassTributes from Jackass fans and skateboarders are flooding the internet following the death of Ryan Dunn today. The Jackass star reportedly crashed his black Porsche 911 GT3 just after 2:30am when it veered off the road, flipped railings, and tumbled into woods before erupting in flames. The impact of the crash has been reported to have killed Dunn and a passenger.

Many tributes via twitter and facebook are being posted online tonight including messages from the Dirty Sanchez lads. Lee Dainton tweeted: “sad news, RIP Ryan Dunn… thoughts going out to his family friends and fans around the world…” and partner in crime Matt Pritchard who says, “Terrible news on the death of Ryan Dunn, so sad. Thoughts go out to family friends and @jackassworld crew.”

Reacting to the loss of his good friend, Johnny Knoxville also posted on twitter. “Today I lost my brother Ryan Dunn. My heart goes out to his family and his beloved Angie. RIP Ryan , I love you buddy.” Bam Margera is yet to comment on his account although this afternoon his Mum was quoted on local radio station that “it was like losing a son.”

Our thoughts go out to Ryan Dunn’s family and friends. RIP.

Music News

TV On The Radio’s Gerard Smith RIP

TV On The Radio’s bass player Gerard Smith passed yesterday after suffering with lung cancer. The band have pulled 5 shows that were planned in the US and posted the following quote on their website:

We are very sad to announce the death of our beloved friend and bandmate, Gerard Smith, following a courageous fight against lung cancer. Gerard passed away the morning of April 20th, 2011. We will miss him terribly.


Music News

RIP – Phil Vane of Extreme Noise Terror

extremenoiseterrorphilvaneRumours that surfaced at the end of last week regarding the passing of Phil Vane have unfortunately turned out to be true.

The 46 year old founding co-vocalist of the British hardcore punk band Extreme Noise Terror and Napalm Death allegedly passed in his sleep last Thursday and will be missed by many in the punk scene.

Extreme Noise Terror were one of the flagship bands from the 80’s punk and hardcore scenes that had notoriety worldwide alongside Napalm Death and were also favourites of BBC radio presenter John Peel who recorded Sessions with the band for the show that introduced so many people to many underground bands that you would not hear anywhere else at the time.

I remember seeing them play Murder when I was 16 on music program covering independent music called Snub TV and it blew me off the fucking earth! My record collection was suddenly filled with the most raging music ever created including ENT, Electro Hippes, Jailcell Recipes, Napalm Death, Conflict and many others so without the likes of Phil’s raging vocals this site would have never have even been thought about. To that end we owe part of this and our lifestyles from the routes we took from people such as Phil Vane.


Skateboarding News

RIP Steven Bingo Binks – Five Bridges send off Sunday

steve_bingo_binksApologies for the lack of skate news yesterday but we felt as though it wasn’t relevant considering the news that had broke of Steven ‘Bingo’ Binks sudden misfortune.

For those of you who didn’t know Bingo, he ran the Mischief Skate Shop in Stockton-on-Tees for the last 15 years and was one of the most dedicated skateboarders in the UK. He was there for everyone, for whoever needed advice, facts, history or general feedback and doing what he could for the local community to bring them together. Bingo always had a positive attitude, would help anyone and loved posting his views about it on the internet and keeping in touch with us via our social networks.

His sudden departure shocked the skateboard community yesterday. It made everyone realise how important it is to enjoy what we have, whilst we have it. Reading through the tributes on the forum thread at Sidewalk yesterday and the comments on Steve’s Facebook page was nothing but heartbreaking. Today, people have reacted the only way they can and that’s by remembering the good times and creating an event to send Bingo off, the way he would have done for others. Hosted by the skaters of Teeside, this memorial jam will be held this Sunday 13th February at the Five Bridges spot in Gateshead from midday and go on throughout the afternoon into the evening. See the Facebook page here for full details and click here for a map.

The skaters of Teeside had this memorial graff up on the wall last night in honour of the great man that has been forwarded via twitter and facebook all night long. We are thinking of all of his friends and family down here in the South, celebrate his life this weekend to the full and remember, we have one life, enjoy it to the full.

Steven ‘Bingo’ Binks RIP.

Thanks to Ronny Calow for posting this portrait on facebook.