By STEPHEN KRCMAR
“Take a ride on it, you’ll love it,” said the friend of a friend as he handed over his skateboard. Cambered from tip to tail — the board is shaped like an upside down “u” — and with wheels completely visible when standing on the deck it looked different than any board I had ever seen. The trucks were even mounted on the top of the deck.
And this guy wanted me to ride the board down Heliotrope, a crack-laden road in Los Angeles? The road’s pebbles and rocks would stop a typical skateboard instantly in its tracks and send the skater flying.
But caution and flesh be damned, I hopped on the Dervish longboard from Loaded Boards Inc. (http://loadedboards.com) and took a few long kicks.
My lost love of skateboarding returned with an evolved vengeance: this board was the perfect balance between skateboarding and snowboarding. It was the perfect ride to get a former skateboarder rolling again.
First released in 2007, the board’s idiosyncrasies define its superlative ride: the camber absorbs vibration, the lack of wheel wells make wheel bite impossible, and the top-mounted trucks translate into a lower center of gravity, making it more stable at speed as well as making sliding (the longboarder’s version of the four-wheel drift) easier. Soft wheels matched with performance bearings steamroll over just about anything in their path, maintaining speed and a stealthy quiet roll.
Available in two flexes, the Dervish board performs like a traditional cambered snowboard. Compressing when you enter a turn, the stored energy helps spit you out of the turn, allowing you to maintain your speed without ever putting your foot down even on flat ground.
Built from fast-growing bamboo and non-toxic proprietary epoxy, the Dervish is a responsible product. The price for all this innovation? About $315 complete.
But despite the high price tag, the lifespan of these decks is usually much longer than a short board. The company claims that if it’s run over by a car, the trucks will crack before the board does. (I didn’t test that theory.)
The best part of this board is how fun it is to ride. Getting from point A to point B is a mini-vacation. Soon, after picking up my own Dervish I was leaving the bicycle at home for short trips (about 3 miles or so) and skateboarding instead.
And it’s the perfect multimodal transport for urban dwellers. Meeting up with friends to go out? The board fits easily in a car trunk. Getting on a plane? You can usually sneak it on as carry-on luggage. Want a fun way to explore a new destination but don’t want to pack and pay to take a bicycle? Explore away: faster than walking, slower than cycling it’s great for flat cities. Just be ready to answer questions about it.
Whether I was in Brooklyn, Boston, Los Angeles or Las Vegas this board piqued the curiosity of strangers and let me bust out a line I recently learned: “Take a ride on it, you’ll love it.”
—Based in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., Stephen Krcmar regularly writes about cycling, board sports and gear for publications like The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Bicycling.