Author Topic: Wheelbase history  (Read 1469 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

goodatmeth

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • SLAP Pal
  • ******
  • Posts: 2119
  • Rep: 614
Wheelbase history
« on: August 10, 2023, 03:50:59 AM »
How, why and when did we end up with most skateboards having a wheelbase between 14" and 14.5"?  (Or more general, something between 13.5" and 15").

Have "street style" decks been around the 14" wheelbase range from the start? Because I'm guessing the vert boards that came right before were much longer.

And even for the vert boards, someone had to figure it out at the start. I imagine there must have been a short era of experimentation with all kinds of weird wheelbase lengths?

In case anybody wants to get into it, maybe a skateboard spec history topic would be better? Basically how did everything end up the way it is? Truck height, wheel size and all that.

I'm thankful for any information. Have a good one guys and girls

Frank and Fred

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • SLAP Pal
  • ******
  • Posts: 1370
  • Rep: 770
Re: Wheelbase history
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2023, 09:22:04 AM »
Back in the mid 80s. They started introducing 'minis' A lot of kids were starring out and street skating was slowly becoming  thing. These boards were slightly narrower with shorter wheelbases or adjustable wheelbases. For example I was super into the Claus Grabke decks. The first one was 10" x 15.5 "WB I think and the next one was the mini and was just under 10" with 14.75" and the shape was smoothed out a little. We intuitively knew the mini would suit us as kids, smashing around on curbs way more than the original.

Then, the double drilled noses became a big thing and we always placed the trucks with the smallest wheelbase. For me, it wasn't because I understood what a smaller wheelbase could do, it was because I wanted a bigger nose. As street skating developed it became really apparent having a longer nose was going to be key.

That doesn't answer your question but that's what was going through my mind at the time.

To this day I love the shape of boards in the few years just prior to popsicles. The transition from giant 10" decks with 15.5" Wheelbases, with a massive amount of taper into what some people call "fish" tails down to functional shovel noses, with less taper and eventually eggs/ footballs was super exciting. It was also super quick considering it was pre-internet.

And_so_it_goes22

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 57
  • Rep: 26
Re: Wheelbase history
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2023, 05:11:13 PM »
I agree with the comment above. In the late 80s, none of us were even thinking about wheelbase. It wasn’t something that was considered. Everyone wanted a longer nose, and we were redrilling our decks at least six months to a year before the companies started catching up and offering decks with adjustable front truck holes.  During that era the only time we really thought about wheelbase was when we moved the front truck too far back and things got a bit squirrelly.

The ads and board specs back then did not include wheelbase.  It was length, width, and the length of the tail and nose. 

I also remember a bit of frustration because very few of the companies were offering decks that were much longer than 30 inches. Industry standard back then was 10 x 30. There’s an interview out there somewhere with Lucero, and he was talking about how he got a huge pushback from Schmitt stix because he tried to get a shape approved that had a really long nose but the deck was like 32 or 33 inches. And Paul Schmitt told him the market wouldn’t want it.  That board would have been a top seller. 

I also agree with the comment above— those 90-92 era shapes are still my favorite. 

Mean salto

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • SLAP Pal
  • ******
  • Posts: 6548
  • Rep: 857
Re: Wheelbase history
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2023, 10:42:04 PM »
I think there's also a story of gonz wanting a longer nose with the same wheelbase and Schmitt saying they can't do it because the plys they use aren't long enough.



As far as hardware sizes I've heard things like bearing size and axle with are just the sizes they are simply because that's what rollerskates came with there's no scientific reason or anything. In the early 00s there were these Mullen almost completes where they came with thicker axles, bigger bearings and wheels with big aluminium cores. You'd assume they were better but it would never catch on because you'd need the entire industry to change and shops prob don't want a bunch of old stock etc

Sketch Hitchcock

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 693
  • Rep: 166
Re: Wheelbase history
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2023, 10:47:09 PM »
This is all fascinating!

j....soy.....

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • SLAP Pal
  • ******
  • Posts: 18215
  • Rep: 1576
  • SLAP OG SLAP OG : Been around since SLAP was a mag.
Re: Wheelbase history
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2023, 03:47:07 PM »
Two words…..shin length……

And_so_it_goes22

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 57
  • Rep: 26
Re: Wheelbase history
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2023, 05:08:32 PM »
My apologies in advance if I’m waxing nostalgic about 80s era bullshit that nobody cares about.

I started skating in the mid 80s and worked at a shop from 87-91 when I was in high school.   All wheels were generally around 60 mm, ranging from 60-66 mm.  97s were for vert, 90-92 were marketed as street and 95s were a combo. 

Similar to the adjustable noses, the industry was also six months to a year behind on street wheels. At best, you could get 57s or 58s but they were still pretty wide.  We all wanted smaller wheels that were harder and with less contact patch.  We’d figured out that this just worked better for tail slides, nose slides, lip slides etc.  We also stopped using the massive half inch risers that were the norm—lower was better.  So there is a chunk of time where almost all my friends were riding Powell freestyle wheels. They were way smaller (I wanna say 54mm but I could be wrong), 97a and had a much narrower contact patch.  And it was kind of this underground thing. You’d travel to another city and all the kids in that city also were re-drilling their decks and skating freestyle wheels. 

Redrilling truck baseplates started the same way.  People were doing it DIY style for a year or so until Venture and New Deal took the industry plunge on the modern bolt pattern in the early 90s. 

Easy Slider

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • SLAP Pal
  • ******
  • Posts: 2731
  • Rep: 692
Re: Wheelbase history
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2023, 06:43:49 PM »
There was no such thing back then, son. We were not as spoilt as you young whippersnappers.
why come?

Life is too short to be angry at the Shrimp Blunt intro

goodatmeth

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • SLAP Pal
  • ******
  • Posts: 2119
  • Rep: 614
Re: Wheelbase history
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2023, 07:18:47 AM »
Thanks for all these answers, super interesting!

There was no such thing back then, son. We were not as spoilt as you young whippersnappers.
Makes sense that most skaters didn't even know what a wheelbase is, but somehow the board company/manufacturer had to decide where to drill the holes.

Chavo

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • SLAP Pal
  • ******
  • Posts: 1605
  • Rep: 219
Re: Wheelbase history
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2023, 11:39:17 PM »
It wasn't unusual to see wheelbase measurements in ads during the '80s. 15"-15.5" was typical. The first "street style" decks had similar specs. As was mentioned before, it's just the remainder after determining the length of nose and tail.

Sedition

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • SLAP Pal
  • ******
  • Posts: 1153
  • Rep: 681
  • Fuck the revoltion. Bring on the apocalypse.
    • ThePastParticple avatar image
Re: Wheelbase history
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2023, 12:10:57 AM »
...So there is a chunk of time where almost all my friends were riding Powell freestyle wheels. They were way smaller (I wanna say 54mm but I could be wrong), 97a and had a much narrower contact patch.

Thrasher, Dec 1986. Add for freestyle wheels being used for street. 57mmx35mm. These were 97a.
https://www.thrashermagazine.com/images/image/Features/2009/1986/8612/800t/8612p62-p63.jpg

Thrasher, Sept 1987. Powell ad for new "streetstyle" wheel, 57mmx37mm, 90/95a. These were just a re-branded freestyle wheel.
https://www.thrashermagazine.com/images/image/Features/2009/1987/8709/800t/8709p82-p83.jpg

And remember, the industry was behind what was actually happening in the streets--which is to say people were riding freestyle wheels long before Dec 1986.
IG: ThePastParticiple

DLX 8.25  |  144 Forged  |  53mm Classic  |  Super Swiss 6

"Everything has been figured out, except how to live." -Sartre


Frank and Fred

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • SLAP Pal
  • ******
  • Posts: 1370
  • Rep: 770
Re: Wheelbase history
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2023, 08:33:20 AM »
OJ Freezstreets were my absolute favorite wheels.

Natas noted how when he left Bones wheels for Speedwheels he's snag the freestyle OJs as they made way more sense for what he was trying to do.

Sedition

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • SLAP Pal
  • ******
  • Posts: 1153
  • Rep: 681
  • Fuck the revoltion. Bring on the apocalypse.
    • ThePastParticple avatar image
Re: Wheelbase history
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2023, 08:34:48 AM »
OJ Freezstreets were my absolute favorite wheels.

I have an original set, 92a.
IG: ThePastParticiple

DLX 8.25  |  144 Forged  |  53mm Classic  |  Super Swiss 6

"Everything has been figured out, except how to live." -Sartre


Frank and Fred

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • SLAP Pal
  • ******
  • Posts: 1370
  • Rep: 770
Re: Wheelbase history
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2023, 09:53:43 AM »
Expand Quote
OJ Freezstreets were my absolute favorite wheels.
[close]

I have an original set, 92a.

I'd offer you my first born for some 95as.

Out of curiosity what color? And I know this sounds crazy but do you mind sharing a photo of them?

Sedition

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • SLAP Pal
  • ******
  • Posts: 1153
  • Rep: 681
  • Fuck the revoltion. Bring on the apocalypse.
    • ThePastParticple avatar image
Re: Wheelbase history
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2023, 10:28:04 AM »
Expand Quote
Expand Quote
OJ Freezstreets were my absolute favorite wheels.
[close]

I have an original set, 92a.
[close]

I'd offer you my first born for some 95as.

Out of curiosity what color? And I know this sounds crazy but do you mind sharing a photo of them?

Just DM'd you.
IG: ThePastParticiple

DLX 8.25  |  144 Forged  |  53mm Classic  |  Super Swiss 6

"Everything has been figured out, except how to live." -Sartre


djoekr

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 678
  • Rep: 294
Re: Wheelbase history
« Reply #15 on: August 24, 2023, 02:01:54 AM »
This thread is golden, I love reading about the early days of skating, even though I was born in '94 and only started skating in 2019. I'd love a history containment thread if there's enough interest to start one.

Edit: Took matters in my own hands, here's the thread: https://www.slapmagazine.com/index.php?topic=127587
« Last Edit: August 24, 2023, 02:18:56 AM by djoekr »
Quote
Skateboarding is a joke
And if you think otherwise
you're fucked in the head

It's not that serious -
Go fast, catch a frontside
And remember why you love it

j....soy.....

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • SLAP Pal
  • ******
  • Posts: 18215
  • Rep: 1576
  • SLAP OG SLAP OG : Been around since SLAP was a mag.
Re: Wheelbase history
« Reply #16 on: August 24, 2023, 09:44:15 AM »
Wheelbase really started mattering when skaters got old, anxious and self important……

Chavo

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • SLAP Pal
  • ******
  • Posts: 1605
  • Rep: 219
Re: Wheelbase history
« Reply #17 on: August 26, 2023, 02:22:40 PM »
Wheelbase really started mattering when skaters got old, anxious and self important……

It's also a good scapegoat for atrophy of skill. In a related note, I wish they hadn't reissued Stage IVs as I can no longer blame my suckiness on Indy's new geometry.

formula420

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • SLAP Pal
  • ******
  • Posts: 1942
  • Rep: 81
Re: Wheelbase history
« Reply #18 on: September 07, 2023, 09:09:15 PM »
Expand Quote
Wheelbase really started mattering when skaters got old, anxious and self important……
[close]

It's also a good scapegoat for atrophy of skill. In a related note, I wish they hadn't reissued Stage IVs as I can no longer blame my suckiness on Indy's new geometry.

Yes it is a scape goat. But there was a point in my skating where i would buy the same width boards but they would all feel different. Wanted to figure out why and thats what led me to learning about wb. Figured out which one felt best for me and now i just get that same shape over and over for the consistency.

I can skate other boards and enjoy trying my friends setups too, but 360 flips might take more effort on something im not as familiar with.

Ok

  • Trade Count: (+3)
  • SLAP Pal
  • ******
  • Posts: 5098
  • Rep: 1109
Re: Wheelbase history
« Reply #19 on: November 04, 2023, 09:17:02 PM »
It wasn't unusual to see wheelbase measurements in ads during the '80s. 15"-15.5" was typical. The first "street style" decks had similar specs. As was mentioned before, it's just the remainder after determining the length of nose and tail.


lately i’ve been looking into shorter tails and noses. this remainder notion is helpful

geezer

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 141
  • Rep: 37
Re: Wheelbase history
« Reply #20 on: December 08, 2023, 01:00:45 PM »
I think there's also a story of gonz wanting a longer nose with the same wheelbase and Schmitt saying they can't do it because the plys they use aren't long enough.



As far as hardware sizes I've heard things like bearing size and axle with are just the sizes they are simply because that's what rollerskates came with there's no scientific reason or anything. In the early 00s there were these Mullen almost completes where they came with thicker axles, bigger bearings and wheels with big aluminium cores. You'd assume they were better but it would never catch on because you'd need the entire industry to change and shops prob don't want a bunch of old stock etc
The bearings we use are the standard size for vacuum cleaner rollers. We adopted a bearing that already existed and made wheels that fit. I would assume that most bearing companies (aside from bones swiss) are just buying from manufacturers that make them for vacuums.

biaherl

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 971
  • Rep: 263
    • Why So Sad avatar image
Re: Wheelbase history
« Reply #21 on: December 10, 2023, 12:58:45 PM »
Lance taught me this back in 1990

13:55

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZC4UdUfolQ

Uncle Flea

  • Trade Count: (+1)
  • SLAP Pal
  • ******
  • Posts: 7739
  • Rep: 970
    • Aural Buthcheryers avatar image
Re: Wheelbase history
« Reply #22 on: December 10, 2023, 02:44:07 PM »
My 80s my experience was if you were riding a mini you was getting kooked and Kooked hard.

Fools was on some.
"Nice board kid too bad it's a mini." And your Board goes into the trashcan again.

I feel like when we started drilling noses back it became clear. Longer nose isn't the only benefit of drilling it back.

Later I became aware of the fingers of flat area.
That was always my chief concern going forward. I had suffered a few accidental purchases of no space between the bolts and the kicks. It was terrible.

I realized that it helped with board control in every way.

That Hawk board was super easy to control for a big board. If it starts to get. Away from you you could really snatch it. It was all concave with like massive shoulders right before the elongated nose.

I bet 5 were sold.
Plz stop killing each other
(A)pl(E)




Ok

  • Trade Count: (+3)
  • SLAP Pal
  • ******
  • Posts: 5098
  • Rep: 1109
Re: Wheelbase history
« Reply #23 on: December 11, 2023, 08:12:28 AM »
My 80s my experience was if you were riding a mini you was getting kooked and Kooked hard.

Fools was on some.
"Nice board kid too bad it's a mini." And your Board goes into the trashcan again.

I feel like when we started drilling noses back it became clear. Longer nose isn't the only benefit of drilling it back.

Later I became aware of the fingers of flat area.
That was always my chief concern going forward. I had suffered a few accidental purchases of no space between the bolts and the kicks. It was terrible.

I realized that it helped with board control in every way.

That Hawk board was super easy to control for a big board. If it starts to get. Away from you you could really snatch it. It was all concave with like massive shoulders right before the elongated nose.

I bet 5 were sold.

which hawk board