Bamboo skateboards unite sustainability, performance

Front row Jacquelyn Purvis, and Luna (staff dog). Back row Brian Austin, Whatt Gregson, Geoff Consolacion, and Mark Olson. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — BambooSK8 manufactures sustainable skateboards with a high- performance design.“It’s a co-mix of the Gregson family father and son who are environmentalists and Jeff Cobolt who previously worked in action sports with Dark Horse Distributors and brands such as Grind King Trucks, Dogtown Skateboards and Termite Skateboards,” Mark Olson, BambooSK8 operations manager, said.The skateboards are engineered for high performance.“The first thing is performance,” Olson said. “If it’s not comparable with the best boards, kids are not going to buy it. In a blind test of skateboard it ollied three inches higher consistently.”The bamboo skateboard decks have the solid feel of maple boards.“Bamboo has the tensile strength of soft steel,” Olson said. “China and Japan use it for scaffolding on large 40-story buildings.”The ecological advantage is that bamboo is a more sustainable wood than maple wood, which is used to make most skateboard decks.

Maple is often cultivated by clear cutting forests. This leaves the land barren and destroys the forest habitat. It takes more than 40 years for maples to become mature trees.

Bamboo grows like a weed. When one bamboo plant is cut down, multiple new plants pop up in its place. The rapid grow back of bamboo combined with using bamboo from managed forests is a big benefit to the environment.

“It’s worthwhile to do what we’re doing,” Olson said. “Maple trees take 40 to 60 years to mature enough to cut down and use. Bamboo takes two to six years tops. That’s a large difference.”

At the Oceanside warehouse materials are received, short board and longboard skateboards are shipped to buyers, and staff takes occasional test drives on the boards. The warehouse facility includes a layout of wood boxes and ramps for product testing.

“Our typical customer is kids trying to learn how to skate,” Olson said. “There are tons of kids all over the U.S. that buy the boards off the website or at local skate shops.”

BambooSK8 also sponsors two amateur competition skateboard teams. One of their top team riders is 26-year-old Ryan Strader, who finished as one of the top 75 competitors in the 2011 Tampa Am.

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