Aluminum Longboards for Down Hill Longboarding
Most people are familiar with wood decks. But aluminum decks or aluminum longboards are now emerging onto the market. Why is this?
Aluminum has a number of advantages over wood and only a few disadvantages. We will discuss both.
In the picture above we see what happens to the deck when some one or some force is exerted on the center of the deck right between the two truck mounts. This picture is an exaggeration to show us how the forces distribute or spread across the deck. Blue means little force/stress and red means most or lots of force/stress. This is where aluminum longboards shine!
All construction materials are measured in psi strength. Aluminum has any where from 40,000 psi to 60,000 psi breaking strength. Wood however has a lower breaking strength. 20,000 psi or lower for pine based ply woods. 6061 T6 is the type of aluminum we use for our core. The core on our deck consists of 8 beams and can be varied to achieve different strengths and characteristics. The top and Bottom sheets are made of 3003 annealed aluminum. Together they are very strong. Our deck is safe up to 500lbs standing right in the middle of the board. We are not aware of any wood deck that can handle that much weight. This means you can hit the ground hard off a ramp and not snap the deck.
Aluminum is also very corrosion resistant. Water and most chemicals have little to no effect on the material. Wood is very easily corroded by wet conditions and falls a part over time. Wood has to be protected from the elements with coatings and sealers to get any decent life in harsh conditions. Aluminum Longboards are not your average deck so keep in mind that this board is meant for those who use the deck a lot in all conditions or are pushing the limits of the boards in competition.
Aluminum has a better yield characteristic that wood does not have. Which means that it bends when it is over stressed instead of just breaking. Wood dose not bend when dry. When wood is over stressed it breaks.
One obvious down side of aluminum longboards is the cost. The equipment needed to construct the decks is much more expensive. The equipment requires skilled labor and higher wages. Aluminum, especially 6061 T6, is expensive. The end result is a deck that can be up to five times the cost of a wood deck. This means that if you have a budget to buy a full board at $150 then aluminum longboards are probably not in your budget.
Lastly wood is a weaker material and that means it will flex more or give more under the same weight. This means a softer ride. Aluminum longboards are going to be stiffer by their nature. For downhill longboarding this can be good and bad it all depends on the conditions. The smoother the road surface the stiffer you want the board to be. A stiffer board is much more responsive and stable on smooth surfaces. On rough surfaces the stiffer the board is the rougher the ride will be. If the conditions are too rough then the board will be skipping off the surface and be very difficult to control.
One thing is for sure. Aluminum longboards are here to stay. We and a few other companies are seeing a growth in demand for high performance decks. Aluminum longboard decks are just one step in supplying what the people want. Who knows what innovation and demands tomorrow will bring.