I’m feeling positive today. The sun is shining. Maybe it’s a good day to write a far fetched blog post about how a new celebrity trend MIGHT, just might, kick off another surge of interest in rollerblading.
Here’s the background:
If you’ve not been keeping your ear close to the ground then you might not know what a Swegway is. It’s a craze, a fad. No doubt about that. I can’t imagine in 10 years from now we’ll all be riding around on weirdy, wheely versions of this toy instead of walking, like some sort of Sci-fi depiction of the future. Regardless, it’s kind of cool, if you like fun things with wheels… which you probably do if you are reading this.
How it started.
A company in the states invented this thing in 2013. Some people are saying that company is called IO Hawk, others say that it was someone else (and that IO Hawk is named so because it simply copied the logo of that brand which looked like an ‘I’ and an ‘O’). Fast forward a few months and there was already a handful of factories who had copied the design of this ‘Electric balancing board’. That’s what Chinese factories do best, make copies. Patent laws in China a still very lax, so they can get away with directly copying other people’s inventions. Off the back of that, companies like Phunkeeduck, Monorover and many more companies with strange un-catchy names started marketing their own versions of the board which are all made at the same few factories. The name ‘Swegway’ seems to be the name of preference here in the UK because Grime MC/Producer JME got himself one (and started selling them) and coined the phrase on his Twitter.
Why people love them so much
It’s a mini segway with no handles. They use a gyroscopic technology and each wheel (left and right) is powered independently by putting more or less weight on the left or right footpad. The result is a board which moves in a really unique and futuristic way. They are super smooth and turn on the spot. They reach 10kph. Doesn’t sound much but when you are balancing on a light up board going down the street it certainly feels like enough.
There’s a video on Instagram of Brooklyn Beckham being a bit of a panzy, mouthing the words to an R&B song while dancing around on a board and another of Souljaboy (remember him) using one while appearing to just be generally obnoxious and brag about his money. Not the best Sweg-idols admittedly but any exposure is good exposure I guess. Other high profile names to have contributed to the sudden rise of this mini segway include Lily Allen puffing on a fag and cruising New York, Lethal Bizzle performing live on stage with one and your man Alfie rocking one, you know, off of Alfie and Zoella and their V-blog, you know? Right? No?
Why I’m buying into it
We’re selling these at LocoSkates. We’re a core rollerblading shop and we try not to get too involved in the short-term craze’s, but without Heely’s we couldn’t have made the Valo Roll skate and without the scooter boom we’d still be in our old dark shop (and you’d have about 200% LESS new skateparks). Recreational skates were even a bit of a Taboo for us when we first started and then Richie Eisler and Dustin Werbeski told everyone that it was ‘Powerblading’ and everyone realised it was just super fun. The best thing though is the similarities between these new boards and rollerblading…
What Swegways can do for Blading
Here’s the problem with rollerblading; it’s been discarded by the mainstream as uncool. When I skate down a busy street I feel judged. All the history and stigma from over the years definitely has me self-conscious. But wait a minute… what’s that coming over the Horizon? By jove, it’s your favourite grime MC on a Swegway!! Along with his crew of mainstream idolised pop star mates… and of course none of them look douchey on the Swegway!
My point is, IT’S EXACTLY THE SAME. If idolised public figures are posting themselves riding Swegway boards all over Instagram and the public are lapping it up like it’s the new ‘cool’ then just exactly how uncool can rollerblading be by the same measure?? When Lethal Bizzle’s fan base see me on MY ‘independently controlled balance wheels’ but going three times the speed are they really going to single me out as a douchey outcast?
The other point worth making is that the motion and movements of this board are extremely similar to rollerblading. I’d argue infact, that riding an Electric Balance board is FAR more similar to inline skating than it is to skateboarding (even though, of course, it’s a board). Each side is controlled independently like rollerblades, you can turn on a pinpoint like rollerblades, change direction swiftly and easily… you guessed it, like Rollerblades. Could it even be slightly fathomable that when the novelty of the Electric board wears thin and the user realises that standing on the platform of monotony is not keeping them very fit they MIGHT just consider inline skates as a viable form of transport and/or keeping fit? Plus, you know how these things work, people get a taste for it and then want to step it up to the next level and do tricks and before you know it aggressive skating just had another boom.
I know. I’m being WAY optimistic. Maybe I shouldn’t have had that second coffee, but I’m a sucker for a Rollerblading boom fantasy and what better gateway than a celebrity endorsed Electric two wheeled scooter board thing to inspire it.
Even if no-one makes the connection between these and rollerblades, these Micro booms are all good fun and mean skate shops have a new something to sell which allows them to put back into rollerblading. Argue with that. JE.
Evolution Swegway Boards are available to buy at LocoSkates.com