Alternative Longboards: A day in Amsterdam 2018

Alternative Crew in Amsterdam – a new video by Mateusz Wiącek

Earlier this year, Alternative Longboards team riders got together at “So You Can Longboard Dance?” competition in Eindhoven, Netherlands. After the event, they decided to prolong their trip for another day and set off to explore Amsterdam on their longboards.

Riders: Alina Ruess, Mateusz Kodym, Robbert Van Haaften and Mateusz Wiącek.

Video by Mateusz Wiącek.

ISPO 2018 Longboard Embassy

ISPO 2018 Longboard Embassy Photo Gallery

We’ve finally settled down at home and it was time to go through the photos I took during the four days we spent at ISPO 2018 in Munich.

Watch the ISPO 2018 Longboard Embassy video here.

If you’re not familiar with ISPO, here’s the short walk-through. It is the biggest European multi-segment trade fair within the sports industry. With over 85.000 visitors from 120 different countries, ISPO is stretched out through 16 halls showcasing 8 segments that cover everything from winter sports, team sports, health & fitness to manufacturing & suppliers.

We mostly spent our time in Hall A5 at the Longboard Embassy organized by 40inch Longboard Magazine. Looking back to 2013, when I last visited ISPO, this year’s Longboard Embassy looked a bit smaller than back then, but it was still filled with a wall-to-wall skateboard and longboard products.

The Longboard Embassy view from the lounge area

Walking through the Longboard Embassy, one could try out surf skating, electric longboards, watched Legende Longboard chisel a block of wood, what later became a handcrafted and fully functional longboard, or rest their legs at the lounge area overlooking the Whitezu 12 meter long surf skate wave system.

In the four days of ISPO, we got a chance to talk with and interview 33 brands covering different skateboarding disciplines.

KebbeK Skateboards introduced their new watercolor lineup, Landyachts Longboards showcased the new freeride and dancer boards, ROCKET Longboards showed off it’s new Freak Show collection, Alternative Longboards introduced their new construction and Madrid Skateboards their Netflix Stranger Things collection…just to name a few.

The Longboard Embassy bar

Wheel and truck wise, we got a chance to check out Seismic’s new downhill race wheel, the European Walzen wheels, and the new Bolzen truck models and also talked with Bangfish about their new surf skate trucks.

There were also numerous surf skate brands showcasing their collection surrounding the Whitezu skate wave, like the Spanish YOW surf, Slide Surfskate, Curfboard, and Carver Skateboards.

Regarding protection, we saw the Triple 8 Certified Sweatsaver, stopped by at TSG and saw what’s new with Pro-Tec’s Full Cut skateboard helmets.

We also saw the Buggy Rollin suit by Jean Yves Blondeau. He’s most known for one of his stunt characters, the Rollerman, which we also got to see in action.

Jean-Yves Blondeau's Buggy Rollin suits

While we are still editing the interviews to show you what the brands had to say about their new lineups and products, here is a photo gallery from the ISPO 2018 Longboard Embassy.

I would like to end this article with an interview with Philippe Roose, a member of the Ministry of Stoke and their F*** Cancer Foundation. In the video, he said that the beer fundraiser at ISPO was a success and shares his personal story with everybody who takes the time to watch the video below.

A day in the Alternative Longboards Workshop

Alternative Longboards factory tour and production overview

It has been 5 years since Szymon Smialek and Michał Milewicz built the first Alternative Longboards deck in Michał’s apartment in Warshaw back in 2012. Soon after Piotr Dąbrowski joined them.

Since then the Alternative family grew and the project evolved massively. Nowadays it has a very impressive production line in Nowy Sącz where they produce top-notch decks which resemble a very distinguished look and outstanding quality.

Alternative never cut back on the community support and the brand quickly became known to most of the riders across Europe as well as Asia where the scene recently literally exploded.

During the past few years I got to hang out with Szymon a lot as Alternative is one of the regular supporters of our freeride event, KnK Longboard Camp.

We had nothing but the best times together. After many invitations Nadia and I were extremely excited about the opportunity to finally visit the Alternative’s workshop and show it to the world via live stream on our Facebook page.

After 12 hours of traveling through snowy Austria which impressed us with the improvements on the highway rest stops, especially the free WiFi…and driving on what was probably Slovakia’s worst road, crossing a high mountain area, we finally arrived to Szymon’s place in the middle of the night.

After Szymon eased my mind by ensuring us that the Slovakians actually have some good roads as well and that they shred a lot, we didn’t go to sleep as one would expect.

Instead, we stayed up having an interesting conversation and discussing ideas till sunrise. As the day brightened up, we finally decided to catch few hours of rest as we had two busy days ahead…

The Polish welcome party

As you can imagine, we woke up a bit later that same day. The weather was kind of bad all around Europe and Poland was no exception. We didn’t have the time to skate anyway.

As soon as we had a delicious breakfast, we drove straight to the workshop to meet up with the rest of the crew and check out the production line for the first time.

The workshop is located in a somewhat older industrial complex, but once we took the first step inside we were positively surprised as everything looked really clean and neatly organised.

The plan for the day was to get the tour of the workshop and prepare for the live stream which was scheduled for the next day.

We started out by making a very special announcement video with the help of Ja Rom and Łukasz and Aśka Tomkiel featuring an improvised flame-thrower and the famous Polish vodka Žibrowka.

For us, this was out of the ordinary, but the Alternative crew is used to this kind of shenanigans. As Szymon explained in advanced, they are like one big family and try to have as much fun as possible to keep the morale high during long working days which often turn into night.

Later we continued with the factory tour in a more casual manner, still thinking on how we didn’t burn down the building.

New at Alternative: Double wooden cores and Sidewalls

While preparing a new layup and cutting fibreglass sheets, Szymon was excited to tell us about their new double wooden cores.

The combination of a soft wooden core surrounded by hard wood makes their decks even more durable and impact resistant. This in turn also increases the wheels wells at any given board by double the amount as in previous collections, with a 6 mm height to be exact.

A new and exciting thing we got to see on the Alternative decks for the first time were the polyurethane sidewalls. After a long 3-year development stage and a lot of hardship to get it perfect, the sidewalls are a big step forward for the brand.

The sidewalls are mainly included in the City Shredder collection for cruising, dancing and freestyle, ranging anywhere between 8 to 10 mm, depending on the model.

As Szymon later explained, freestyle boards tend to get more abused while riding compared to downhill boards.

Including the sidewalls into the Mountain Freak collection for downhill and freeride would affect the decks’ end price, but Alternative wants to keep them as affordable as possible.

Patience, innovation and hand built machinery

Because the brand is already past the development stage, Alternative now has a chance to play around and focus on the board construction and other techniques that make their boards stand out.

During the first season of board production, Alternative scrapped around 100 decks in order to learn and perfect the lamination and pressing process.

To produce the final versions for their 2017 lineup which consists of 11 decks, they had to first produce around 40 prototypes per deck model.

Every deck model requires 3 moulds; 2 for pressing the concave and 1 for the CNC cut process. Thanks to the in-house designed CNC machine they are able to cut the boards and produce the moulds themselves.

As explained in the video, during the 5-year period they spent around 1200 working hours to get the milling process developed to the point where it is now 5 times faster then it was when they started with the tests.

Each of the four main rooms at the Alternative factory has a humidity and temperature monitoring system installed to make sure that the boards are being laminated and pressed in the most suitable environment. The information is then available in a mobile app or computer at any moment. Pretty impressive detail if you ask me…

All boards are being pressed in 5 custom designed and built presses which impress the most with their compact size and great power. All of them are controlled by a single computer station which makes it much easier and faster to operate.

Alternative longboards also uses a barcode tracking system in order to supervise the production of every board they produce.

As the boards go through the production process, they are scanned in each step which enables the company to have an insight in the current production status. All of this information is also available through the mobile app or computer.

Szymon explained that they like to say in a joke that Alternative boards are made with thunder

It took them 1 year to perfect the sublimation technology which is a process of transferring the graphics from a special paper to the foil.

Thanks to the machine which treats the foil with 10,000 Volts to make them more absorbent to the ink and the in-house designed sublimation press, they are able to produce colourful and scratch resistant graphics.

Nadia was impressed with “the thunder machine” the most as we could clearly hear and see the electricity (in a beautiful purple colour) as well feel a strange sensation in our bodies and heads due to the Ozone that got created around it, just like during a thunderstorm.

Coming towards the end of the production process, the boards are taken to the sanding room where they get as smooth as a baby’s bottom, currently thanks to Ja Rom.

The final stages of the Alternative board production include preparing the boards for their new lucky owners. This involves removing the unnecessary foil, placing a sticker on every board which includes information about when and who built it, plus wrapping it all with love in a protective plastic cover.

Factory tour wrap up and Live Giveaway

We finished our day in the workshop watching Szymon pack one of the boards to be shipped to the new lucky owner. This was my second tour around a longboard factory and I must say the Alternative crew really knows how to make you feel like a member of the family and are sure to leave a positive impression on anyone visiting their workshop.

The next day, we spent preparing for the Live Giveaway and Alternative factory tour we did via our Facebook page. If you missed it, check it below and stay tuned for the upcoming article about the new Alternative decks.

If you can’t wait for it, check out the decks at www.alternativelongboards.com and be sure to follow them via their YouTube, Facebook or Instagram channels.

[facebook url=”https://www.facebook.com/longboardmag/videos/1291444234237018/”]

Photos by Mihael Zadravec and Nadia Hozić (Longboard Magazine).

Lillian Barou enjoying Switzerland on his Wrobel Alternative longboard

Alternative Longboards Wrobel with Lillian Barou

Last summer Lillian BarouBen Pellet and Brian Scott Adkins travelled around Switzerland in search of new skate spots. They came across this epic run and couldn’t refrain themselves from filming it.

This is a 9 a.m. run, not long after we woke up. It was only my 2nd run on the spot, but as you can see it’s very long so I couldn’t really memorise the track. So I sent it as I can: shredding, chilling, tucking and having fun. Lillian Barou

[youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZDHRKmGt44″]

Lillian skates the Wrobel deck that is part of the current Alternative Longboards lineup. It features a classic directional shape, radial concave and a stiff flex. The length of the board is 90 cm with a width of 24.5 cm. Its design also provides multiple wheelbase options raging from 66 to 72 cm.

Alternative Wrobel: 1 Top graphic | 2 Fiberglass | 3 Carbon fiber| 4 Veneer | 5 Core | 6 Down graphic

Despite the simple design the Wrobel still performs great in different disciplines and riding styles. Its priced at 189 euro and available for purchase via Alternative Longboards website.

Stay tuned for the Alternative Longboards 2017 deck collection overview.