The Flowboard by Flowlab is a large skateboard-style deck with two unique trucks that each hold seven wheels fixed in an arch. The result is a skateboard that turns and flows in a different way than more traditional pin trucks with two wheels each. In fact, the feeling is so odd that you really have to try it to understand the difference. In this review I'll talk about the 36" Flowboard model.
Surf Without Waves, Ride Without Snow
My first experience with a Flowboard was a few years back at a skate shop, where the owner let me play around with it there inside the store. I didn't take it seriously, but all I was able to do was skate up and downthe aisles. Now that I've had the chance to ride a Flowboard down a hill, I have a whole new appreciation for uniqueness of this alternative skateboard.
The arch of wheels means there is no loosening or tightening your trucks - it's all about how much you dig in your heel or toe edge. Furthermore, it's not that the wheels change direction so much as your weight and the force you push with curve the board into a new direction. It feels far more like snowboarding than any other alternative skateboard that I've tried. The guys at Flowlab say the same about surfing. In fact, the Flowboard motto is, "Surf Without Waves, Ride Without Snow."
Deep Carve System
Flowboards are built around a special Deep Carve System (DCS) - that's the title for their patented arch-of-wheels trucks. These trucks have 7 wheels each, so there are 14 all together. That's a lot of wheels! The result is that you are always able to roll back and forth from heel edge to toe edge, and able to gain a much deeper carve than when on a skateboard with trucks. In fact, you can cut sharp enough to drag the edge of the board, if you need to!
Another bonus is the ability to check your speed while going downhill by transferring from wheels that are moving to ones that aren't. The entire system looks strange, but works very well.
Three sizes To Chose From
Flowboards come with three different sizes of decks. The 32" is great for smaller riders or for people who want to feel more like they are on a skateboard. It's a little more shaped on the sides, and comes gripped with a stripe missing down the middle. The 32" is just the right size to try tricks with. If you are looking for the smoothest transition from skateboard to Flowboard, I suggest the 32".
The 36" is the balanced size, and best for most people. It works well for general snowboard and surf training, with your feet at right about the perfect width. The board doesn't feel too large to manage, but nor does it feel like it might get away from you like the smaller 32". If you are a larger person, or if you want to ride a Flowboard to help hone your snowboarding or surfing skills, try the 36". The 36" Flowboard is also great for skateparks and pools.
The 42" is the large downhill bomber. It's a lot to handle, and I only recommend it for riders who feel that they are sure of themselves, and definitely not small kids. At least right not away. The 42" is designed for huge carving, and will truly use all of your snowboarding or surfing skills. The 42" Flowboard is the official board to be used at the Flowboard GS Race in 2005.
All sizes come with three different graphic choices.
The only problem with the Flowboard is that some hardcore skaters will likely not be able to get over how weird it looks. Flowboards have a funny profile, and the wheels are brightly colored - the whole thing does look a little hokey. Trust me, it works well for what it's made for.
When you buy a Flowboard, you also get a pile of support through the Flowlab website that a lot of new flowboard owners might miss. The Flowlab site is chuck full of instruction, help, and videos.
The Bottom Line
All in all I gotta say that these guys have impressed me. The flowboard is a strange monster, but it's fun to ride. It mimics snowboarding and surfing better than any other board I've used, and it provides a strangely natural way to carve. Add to that all of the support that these guys give, and you have a pretty safe bet. If you are looking for a board to cross train on, if you are looking for something fun to bomb hills with, or if you are looking for a new unique skateboard, I recommend trying out the Flowboard. You won't be disappointed.