We've seen a number of off-road skateboards hit the market over the past several years, although most of them have little or no suspension, and many do have electric motors – the latter is fine if you want it, but just adds weight, expense and complexity if you don't. Industrial designer Chris Terpstra's new Gila Board doesn't have a motor, but instead sports a unique fully-adjustable independent suspension system.
Instead of being mounted on traditional trucks, each of the Gila Board's wheels is connected to its own set of pivoting struts and a coil-over shock absorber. This means that every wheel can move up and down with the terrain, independent of the others.
The spring rate of each of the shocks can be adjusted to accommodate different body weights or riding styles. It's also possible to tweak all four wheels' toe in/toe out (this determines whether the board looks pigeon-toed or splay-footed when viewed from above) and their camber (how much they lean in toward the middle of the board when viewed end-on). Users can also adjust how much force is required to lean the deck to one side or the other, relative to the wheels.
According to Chris, adjustments of these parameters will affect factors such as straight-line stability (toe in/out), cornering grip/straight-line acceleration (camber), and overall stability (deck lean). The Gila also features four-wheel steering, giving it increased stability at high speed, and a tighter turning radius when going slower.
The board itself features a 5-ply maple plywood deck, mounted on a powder-coated 6061 aluminum chassis. Users can choose between three types of bindings, on- or off-road tires (in different colors), and composite or aluminum rims (also in different colors). A complete Gila Board, not including bindings, weighs a claimed 10.2 kg (22.5 lb).
Terpstra is now raising production funds, on Kickstarter. A pledge of US$995 will get you one, when and if they're ready to roll. Planned retail pricing is expected to start at $1,250.