How Does a Skateboard Work?

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The Board

  • Skateboards are much more that just four wheels attached to a piece of wood. In fact, the science behind skateboards and how they work would likely surprise most people. To begin to understand just how a skateboard functions, you need to dissect it and focus on the individual parts. Skateboards tend to be made out of maple wood, which has the perfect mix of stability and flexibility for skateboarding. When the wood is pressed, it is also molded with concave curves at both ends and slightly on the sides. After pushing off and settling onto a skateboard, these concaves are where the rider can put her feet for extra control and for doing tricks.

The Truck

  • Once you have pushed off and the skateboard is rolling, find your balance and use the concaves to steer. The part of the skateboard that allows steering is called the truck, and it is attached to both the board and the wheels. When you lean to the right, its hinge forces the skateboard to turn right and it does the same for the left. You can tighten the truck to make the skateboard sturdier, but it will be harder to turn. If you loosen it, the skateboard will turn easier and faster, but the skateboard will be harder to control.

The Wheels

  • The wheels of a skateboard do much more than simply move the board along. They are designed to be slightly flexible, yet resistant to wear in order to last longer and offer higher top speeds. They are also made to allow a smooth ride when the skateboard is being used. A skateboard's wheels are made of urethane, which is a resilient material that is designed not to lose energy as they move along the ground. To do that, the wheels flatten slightly as pressure is put on them, but retain their shape almost immediately after. Other materials would not do that; they would either be permanently pressed or not at all, and either way would mean a loss of energy and, therefore, momentum.

They All Work Together

  • These three aspects of a skateboard combined reveal a highly scientific working. The board itself is neither too stiff nor too flexible, allowing it to offer the rider stability even when moving over rougher terrain, like gravel. The wheels are designed for maximum speed and durability and the truck allows the skateboard to be turned. A rider must make sure all three parts of a skateboard are in good working order to make sure it rides well.

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