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A Penny board is a type of plastic skateboard, known within the industry as a short cruiser. The term "Penny" is synonymous with "Penny Skateboards", an Australian-based company founded in 2010 by Ben Mackay. Penny is a registered trademark for skateboards, but has been widely generalised to describe all small plastic skateboards due to the brand's popularity. Penny Skateboards revived the plastic skateboard category by pairing a high quality plastic deck with cruiser wheels and trucks. This combination now epitomises a "Penny board" in generic terms. Penny Skateboards was named after Ben Mackay's sister, Penny.
Penny Skateboard at a skateboard and surf shop in Shibuya, Tokyo
|Length||22 in (56 cm)|
|Width||6 in (15 cm)|
|Curb weight||1.9 kg (4.2 lb)|
Penny boards are composed of several different parts, which are made separately. They can be purchased either as complete, fully assembled skateboards, or in separate parts. Because they are made out of plastic, Penny boards have a lighter weight, but are also incredibly strong. They are sold in three different deck sizes, the 22", 27" (the Nickel) and 36" longboard. Available in a variety of colours and designs, Penny boards are a popular fashion accessory for teenagers and young adults, influencing clothing styles, music and street culture. Penny boards are often seen in places frequented by young people, such as university campuses and skate parks. Penny Boards grew in popularity as a transport option for students as they were small enough to be left in school lockers. They are particularly popular in coastal areas, where people use them to cruise along sea-side boardwalks and footpaths. Penny boards can be ridden barefoot, a practice that Penny Skateboards has promoted via social media and with stickers and t-shirts.
Some of the earliest plastic skateboards were created in 1978 by Larry Stevenson, a former Venice Beach lifeguard, who developed a line of plastic boards for his brand Makaha. In the 1990s, other plastic skateboard brands such as Stereo Skateboards, Krooked Skateboards and Globe emerged on the plastic skateboard market. Ben Mackay created the Penny board in 2010, from which the brand Penny Skateboards was born. The idea behind the creation of the company was inspired by Mackay’s first ever skateboard, a small plastic cruiser his father bought for him at a garage sale, when he was just five years old.
Ben Mackay first started manufacturing and designing his own skateboards to sell to local skate shops. Drawing on woodworking and sales skills handed down from his father, he was determined to fulfill his dream of creating his own skateboard brand. Mackay began experimenting with different shapes and types of boards. He used a variety of materials, such as fiberglass and carbon inserts, as an alternative to timber. The signature durable and responsive characteristics of the Penny board was created by testing out plastic prototype boards. The strength and natural flex of Penny’s plastic formula is what sets Penny boards apart from other types of plastic skateboards.
Penny boards are distinguished by a plastic deck, offered in an array of colours. Due to their 'secret formula' the boards have its ability to survive the full weight of a car and return to its original shape. Different parts of the Penny board structure are available in a variety of colours and designs, which can be chosen by the buyer to create their own customised Penny board, based on personal preference. Penny boards are easier to carry around, compared to wooden skateboards. Penny boards can be ridden barefoot. Penny Skateboards sells t-shirts and stickers promoting barefoot riding, and have encouraged the practice via their social media accounts, particularly during the summer.
Penny trucks are made from high quality cast aluminum. The purpose of the trucks is to connect the board's wheels and bearings to the deck. The trucks are composed of two parts; the baseplate, which is screwed to the top part of the deck, and the hanger, which the axle runs through. Between the baseplate and the hanger are bushings (also commonly referred to as rubbers, grommets, or cushions) which function as a cushion for the truck when it turns. The stiffer the bushings, the more resistant the Penny board will be to turning. The softer the bushings, the easier it is to turn. A kingpin bolt holds these parts together, and fits inside the bushings. By tightening or loosening the kingpin nut, the trucks can be adjusted loosely for better turning, and tightened for more stability.
The hardness of Penny wheels, known as the "durometer" rating, is an important element of the Penny board's design. On a hardness scale of 65A to 100A, all Penny wheels are rated at 83A, making them ideal for cruising. In combination with the board's weight, Penny wheels naturally gather momentum and speed. The broadness of Penny wheels make them suitable for navigating slightly rough surfaces.
Penny skateboard decks are made from a plastic, designed to give the structure of the deck a unique combination of strength and flexibility. Featuring a non slip, "waffle top" texture, Penny skateboard decks are available in a wide range of different colours and styles, and can be purchased separately, or as a part of preassembled, complete skateboards.
A large number of skateboarding tricks are achievable on a Penny Board. The most common is the Ollie (a jumping trick) or the Manual (rolling on the two back wheels of the board while retaining balance). The Ollie is a fundamental skating trick. Other examples of fundamental tricks that can be done on a Penny board include the Kickflip, performed primarily with the toes of the leading foot, and the Heelflip, performed with the heel of the leading foot. Old-school tricks such as the "Boneless" and 'No Comply" are also popular tricks. Below are some of the best known variants of tricks that can be done on a Penny board.
Pop Shove It - This trick involves positioning your front foot on a slight angle, with your other foot placed on the back kick of the Penny board. Gather some momentum first, then bend your knees and scoop the tail of the board gently, using your back foot to pop it upwards. The board should spin 180° in the air before you try to catch it with your feet.
Fakie Bigspin - Involves spinning your Penny board in Fakie stance 360°, while rotating your body 180° in the same direction (Fakie stance means facing the opposite way on your board than you normally would). Snap the tail of the board down, then kick it forward and around. Use your shoulders to rotate in a clockwise direction if you’re doing a Regular Fakie Bigspin, or anti-clockwise to do a Goofy Fakie Bigspin. The board will spin 360° and you should be able to land cleanly and keep rolling in your regular stance.
Hippie Jump - You’ll need to find a target before doing a Hippie Jump. A good target is anything you can confidently jump over, that’s high enough for your Penny board to roll under. Approach the target at a reasonable speed and once you’re close enough, jump straight up into the air. The aim is to clear the target and land back on your board on the other side. Make sure you jump straight up rather than forward, otherwise your board will roll backwards and you’ll have nothing but pavement to land on.
Frontside No Comply - There are many different variations of the No Comply trick, but the Frontside version is one of the most universally popular. Begin by rolling at a reasonable speed. Your back foot should pop and glide the board round 180°, while your front foot quickly plants the ground before hopping back onto the skateboard.
A Hard Flip is a Frontside Shove-It and a Kickflip combination.
An Inward Heelflip (often called the Inward Heel) is a combination of a Backside Shove-It and a Heelflip.
Varial Heelflip (often called Varial Heel) is a combination of a Frontside Shove-It and a Heelflip.
These variants can be made still be more complex by changing the takeoff foot or direction of movement (Ollie, Switch, Fakie) or by adding a rotation of the skater in addition to the trick.
Caveman: On the same principle as the No Comply, the front foot down on the ground but the back foot pop at the same time that propels the board vertically. Then the skateboarder grabs the nose to make him a pendulum, launches his board under his feet to return the balance and jumps.
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