ZAGREB November 19, 2020 – Noticeably bigger than a skateboard, longboards are a cool alternative to urban travel. Meet Croatia’s first longboard manufacturers, Crushboards, whose eco-friendly products are healthier to use and way more stylish than other green options
You can walk around some European towns and cities and wonder just where the future is going to fit in. The narrow streets seem to want to accommodate only cars, with pedestrians demoted to the narrow edges. Zagreb isn’t like that. Osijek and other towns and cities in Croatia are not like that.
With 220 kilometres of dedicated cycle paths, the city of Zagreb and its residents have been quick to adopt the latest green-friendly ways of getting around the urban environment
You only need take a glance at the generous cycle paths around Zagreb to see that this is a city that could easily take on the challenges of a future not reliant on fossil fuels – electric scooters, foldaway bikes, gyroscooters, electric skateboards and monowheels have joined bicycles on the streets of Zagreb as an easy means to get round the city. Could longboards be the next popular choice?
Started by three lifelong friends from Čakovec, Crushboards is the first company in the country to make Croatian longboards. Like a skateboard, only bigger, longboards are well suited to the urban environment of a city like Zagreb.
Čakovčani (l-r) Marko Hlebar, Davor Nikolic and Sanda Bogdan inside the Zagreb workshop of Crushboards © Vedran Pažin
“This board is longer than a skateboard – 100 centimetres in length.,” Crushboards co-founder Marko Hlebar told TCN when we went to visit their workshop in Zagreb. He runs Crushboards with Davor Nikolic and Sanda Bogdan. “It’s a bit heavier than a normal skateboard and uses different wheels. You can perform different tricks on each, dependant on the weight of the board, but the main thing for us is that a longboard is easier to ride on in the urban environment, in the city.”
Practising on a Crushboards longboard inside a Zagreb park. The boards are intended as much for a regular inner-city commute as they are for such trickery
“The wheels are larger so it’s easier to travel on one of these in the city than it is on a regular skateboard,” Marko tells us. “It’s better for travelling to work or to appointments, your feet get less tired.”
Rather than being the latest cool evolution in skateboards, it turns out that longboards have been around for a long time. In fact, the very first skateboards that were made probably looked more like the hip, eco-friendly product made by Crushboards than a regular skateboard.
Crushboards see their main product as part of a lifestyle choice – so, it’s little surprise to learn they also make their own super-cool t-shirts and accessories
Skateboards were first made in America during the 1940s as a practice board for surfers who were prevented from taking to the waves because of bad weather. But, during its infancy, there were few options available to manufacturers in the skateboarding industry – boards were made using rollerskate wheels, whose size demanded a board closer to that of today’s longboard.
The longboard was, therefore, the first popular urban skateboard and remained so until the 1960s. It has fallen in and out of fashion ever since – the development of ultra-fast wheels saw them rise again in popularity due to them being well suited to downhill racing (the bigger board better absorbs the vibrations produced from speed). The relatively recent phenomenon of longboard dancing has also increased the boards’ popularity in Asia.
Longboards and longboard dancing are a huge hit in some cities of Asia, in particular in South Korea
Like regular skateboards, several different types and designs of longboard exist for different uses. The ones currently made by Crushboards are specifically designed for urban travel. Their boards are made using several thin layers of different materials, which strengthen and provide flexibility when glued together. They are finished on the top side with either oak or walnut, with the other layers holding cherry, teak, fibreglass, carbon, kevlar and two veneers. The wheels and their mounts are currently imported, but Crushboards hope to eventually source as much of the materials required from sustainable sources within Croatia.
Inside one of Crushboards’ longboards
With 220 kilometres of cycle paths occurring throughout Zagreb, the Croatian capital is quick to embrace green modes of transport. Many Croatians are also health-conscious – a motorised scooter or skateboard might get around the city quickly, but they don’t increase your exercise quota. Perhaps there’s room on Zagreb’s streets for these cool urban alternatives to the skateboards of our youths?
All uncredited photos © Crushboards