The Slayer Speedboard

13Feb

We are super stoked to announce our first production speedboard for a long time… The Slayer is a partnership with longtime teamrider and UKDH legend Pete Connolly.

You can read more about the board itself here, but we thought it best to ask Pete himself to introduce it and tell us a bit about the (very!) long journey we’ve shared getting it available as an actual board that you can buy in the Lush Longboards lineup.

Take it away Pete…

Slaying Hills. Bombing Hills. Speed Boarding. When the speed is raw and the acceleration of gravity is kicking in.

A very steep hill, and very stoked Pete holding a very valuable certificate that says he is the fastest person on a skateboard in the world. The Slayer doing what it does best!

One of the amazing things about high speeds on a skateboard is that you feel every increment; the difference between 60mph and 62mph is very tangible when your feet are 10cm off the floor and wind is trying to grab at you.  Not all boards are equal, not all boards are built for speed…

Speed is the hook that sunk deep in me when I started skating in the late nineties. I literally started longboarding by bombing hills. I found my local hill, dropped it from low down, then walked up a few meters more and dropped it from there, then a few more meters higher. All the while getting faster and faster, while not having a clue how to stop. By the end of that day I was dropping the hill from the top, coming close to 40mph at the blind corner that goes under the railway bridge in my stinky ‘tuck’ with no helmet or gloves, but a huge grin on my face. Maybe the fact that I never came off while going through this high risk, high reward learning phase left me with an optimistic view towards downhill, maybe my optimistic view of downhill meant I never came off….   

Pete skating the deck that would eventually become the Slayer, this is the first prototype at Gurston in February 2009! Eleven years in the making.

Either way I had to find more hills to Slay! I had a great crew and we set out hill hunting. Driving around looking for hills, getting bolder as time went on, looking for more speed, a greater challenge, a mightier hill to Slay! As my skills progressed I learned how to footbrake to stop, and that welding gloves with chopping board melted onto them, made my hands impervious to damage. My quest to Skate Faster had begun, but I could not comprehend how far that road would take me.

Where it all started… way back at the end of 2008, this is the first uncut Slayer, with no microdrop, super tea tray concave, lots of Carbon Fibre and an aluminium honeycomb core. Prior to this Pete was on a Magun board… this is ancient downhill history!

The need to hunt hills and Slay them is a hunger that still drives me today, 20 years on in my life. Many, many hills lay in my board’s wake now, and my quest has become esoteric in its nature, I seek the extreme that most consider absurd. I haven’t found that hill that I can’t skate yet…

My board is paramount in Slaying hills. I have learned what I look for in a board that I can trust. Feel is everything, its nature is dualistic, feedback vs dampening, compliance vs stiffness, flex vs rebound, stability vs agility. All these things and more blend into a board’s overall feel.

Some of the different constructions we went through during development!

Whatever materials a board’s construction has, having a wood spine connect your trucks is, for me, what makes a board, a board. Wood has a particular dampening effect, and speed produces vibration. For my personal taste, fully composite boards with alternative core materials tend to resonate with road vibration and can get overwhelmed with this feedback, this sensation amplifying at high-speed. Wood is core.

You can see the Ash/Poplar core in this prototype, which was built to test the Twincore layout within the fibreglass. The layup was good, but frankly the finish isn’t black enough for Pete’s metal Tastes…

That said, composite materials bring much to the table. Speedboards must balance torsional stiffness to track high-speed corners, with enough longitudinal flex and compliance to deal with chunder and road surface imperfections.

We experimented with a lot of different layups for this, not all of them repeatable! This one is a Carbon CNC Foamcore with nose and tail bumpers.

Mass, for the board to carry its own kinetic energy, results in a stable feeling that steamrollers over cracks and contours of the tarmac, but not so much mass you are on a runaway train…

Materials matter. Layup matters. Construction matters. Precision matters. Characteristics of a board are formed of these components.

Another Slayer prototype on the cutting bench. Pete is a carpenter by trade, and pretty handy with a router – a lot of the prototypes were cut by him.

Shape is a very personal taste. There is no right or wrong. Styles of shapes come and go and then come back round again. Me, I’m a Speed Boarder, my board goes downhill, my board Slays. Being a speed-board, it has a directional shape, it points downhill with its very essence.

New concave and old concave… the microdrop has moved forwards quite dramatically as the Slayer has evolved.

My golden rule is no wheel bite, you should never find yourself ejected off your board like in a car crash with no seatbelt. I like hips for looks and feel, a nod in style to an era gone by. Microdrop concave is essential for board control and foot placement.  Width is critical, so as the rail is under foot, even in tuck, and it also relates to the location of your wheels.

Another earlier iteration of the concave. Pete’s skating has evolved with the different protoypes we’ve done together, both in shape and profile.

Lush Longboards have been shaping wood for several decades now and their roots go back to cutting wood first hand in a garage. Their boss man, Rich, still shapes boards by hand today and knows a thing or two about his trade. We spend more time than our wives can fathom talking about the nuances a material brings to a given ride; the impact geometry can have when assembling components and other countless variables. 

Here’s the effect of the front-loaded microdrop.

We approach our discussions from different hemispheres, Rich a manufacturer, me a racer; our language always unites in the vocabulary of “feel”. So many people produce products by specification, or aesthetics and forget that boards have a feel. We both gravitate to how the board feels, and shape our designs to achieve that.

In the many years I have skated for Lush Longboards, Rich has often given me a free reign to design my board with unlimited access to materials. The results have been exceedingly high performance boards that could not be put into mass production, but the knowledge gained in making them trickled down into the Lush production models. My last board, the board that I set the Guinness World Record of 91.17mph on was different. Rich met my request for a MicroDrop concave and provided me with a pressed blank of his specification to cut a shape out of myself. Project Skate Faster was born. The board evolved my riding style and let me progress as a skater. I can say with no doubt that I couldn’t have set my record on my previous boards.

Not many boards have both the 80mph and the 90mph club stickers on them…

Last year I approached Rich to talk about a new board. He had other things in mind. Rich wanted to make a production board born of all we had learnt. One that I would be happy to skate and push my personal boundaries on, no compromise, but still be the speed board in the Lush Longboard’s production line up…

It is possible that Rich may have come to regret that (nope!! – Rich), as I can be a fussy twat. Racing has given me an attention to detail that many others do not share. We started in our usual hemispheres, Rich the manufacturer with a budget in mind, me the racer, fixated on details that had significant manufacturing ramifications. I visited the Swiss factory personally and produced the board’s template by hand myself. While there, I changed the mould unexpectedly too…  Layups were discussed in detail, and then again; and then again, again. Samples were produced and thrashed. Possibly the biggest challenge of my specification in relation to the budget, was for the board to be CNC cut and drilled. In the end Rich drew the CNC template himself with me. To get the right feel, precision matters.

I am stoked on the board. The Slayer.

Weighing 1.9 Kg with wheelbase base options ranging from 28.25″ to 29.9375″, CNC drilled into an overall board length of 36.6″.

Wheelbase options will take this board from Gurston or Hog Hill to TopSpeed or Col d’Izoard…

A Width of 9.875″ accommodates narrower hanger widths.

The CNC rails dig sharp for foot placement and instant reaction.

Two ash/poplar cores with ABS bumpers, skinned in the finest fibreglass out there… Twincore rocks.

The Twincore composite V-Lam construction has a 3D Microdrop concave located aggressively toward the nose cutaways and front truck bolts, giving a fast response to rider input. The rear Microdrop is set early in the shape, into the hips of the board, giving a lock for the back-foot tuck/slide position and acting as a gas pedal during heel side turns.

The board’s mass is that it can absorb road energy, while not losing overall agility, its flex can contour road surface, while being stiff enough for a 90kg rider to still have performance.  ABS nose and tail bumper inserts bring durability to the design.  It’s finished in black.

Black… yes.

Here is a little clip of one of the final pre production prototypes being tested at speed on a rough and beaten road, the infamous Kop Hill. The Slayer takes it.

The evolution in board shape and concaves has taken place over thousands of miles of downhill, bridging decades. As equipment has improved and riding has evolved the board’s feel has been refined. Derived from this heritage, born of the fastest board on the planet, the Lush Longboard’s Slayer is dialled. Go Skate Faster, go Slay some hills!

Pete”

Check out the Slayer Speedboard Here.