Hello Would-be Street Lugers!
My name is Lee Wyke. I got into Street Luge in 2009 after accidentally coming across some California street lugers on You Tube. I HAD to do it!!! I skated of and off growing up...some pools and flats. I did not do it a lot...but I always thought a skateboard was one of the modern marvels of man. Still do. How many things are THIS simple and offer so much versatility and fun? Not many. When I got into my 30's and went out and bought a classic(re-issue) Powell-Peralta 'bones' pool deck and started riding it around my neighborhood...I got plenty of 'Grow UP!!!" looks. Which made it even more fun. I built a quarter pipe out front and rode it a lot. I think I had that board longer than I had my then girlfriend. Proof of a great board!
I got sidetracked a few times and nobody who matters in skateboarding knew me(Except by : "WHO???") but I was in it just for the great feeling of being on a board. I never lost that. So when I discovered street luge, I think time stopped a bit...and I did a HARD RIGHT turn into street luge land. I built a quickie and took it up to our Mt.tabor. it was fun enough to spur me onto the next build: a '2x4' Plus/Deeeeluxe! 'Stick luge. Cool...but not cool enough. So I build a ful on drop pan; rail that was oh-so AWESOME. Still my favorite to this day, though it has been modified since it's 2010 birth.
Then, as this instructable is about...I found a wakeboard at a local garage sale and immediately thought to myself: "that would make a great luge platform!" . I bought the WB and modded it into a luge. It worked GREAT! I then bought another one and modded it to fit higher speeds and performance needs(of Timberline Rd on Mt. Hood, Oregon. Great results. I liked this WB luge idea SO well, that had I thought of the idea sooner, I might not have built the drop pan(or drop deck)luges I already had. I am glad that I had built them as they have a different ride and value of their own. Each luge has helped me to appreciate and become better at them ALL, and at street luging in general.
So...you are starting in a great place TO start(building a wakeboard luge)AND you should have a platform that can be upgraded as you grow. I'd rather have one or two luges that can do it all...than four (soon five). BUT I am also into the aesthetics of my luge builds and one or two luges is not 'enough of a canvas to paint on'. I love having art that I can BOMB with!
For about five years now...I have been an unsung ambassador for this great sport. YOU will be alone, on some of the best rides you ever have. Believe me, it is WORTH it! If others do not understand or support you, YOU can know that you are worthy in your own truth and respect. And those who will respect you. THAT is the spirit that I luge and that is the spirit that I share my wakeboard luge design with YOU in.
When I get to the bottom of Timberline Rd.(TEN thrilling minutes!) and people cheer me and give me a 'thumbs up" or want to talk with me THAT too is a positive thing. It is all part of the STOKE!
It is the season man! Go build yourself a ROCKIN' street luge! I will help you do that!
Thanks for coming and hope this is all helpful to you. Appreciate it if you friend me on FB. AND YOU MUST SHOW ME YOUR LUGE WHEN YOU ARE DONE! YOU MUST!!!!!!(that there is a subliminal message).
Build it RIGHT...Learn it WELL....Ride it FAST!
Adrenaluge.com / GravityStreetluge.com / YouTees.com
Step 1: Before You Begin Your WAKEBOARD Street Luge Build:
THINK well, about where you will be using your street luge and what you want from it. A 'street luge is NOT 'just like the next' street luge, as there is a WIDE variety of safety; stability; speed/performance/weights and capabilities possible. A street luge is NOT(as in NOT)a toy. Even in a very cheap '2x4' Luge(which I do not recommend really)you can DRASTICALLY alter it's performance by changing even one or two minor details. In street luge...the DETAILS matter! A street luge does not have 'a whole lot to it' but what there IS to it, is very important to do right. From wheels to overall dimensions, You will discover this best as you ride and gain experience. "Go SLOW until you KNOW how WELL things work...is a good motto. The more you get right before it even leaves your workbench the better you will be on the road. You CAN think and build like a pro...even without much dough! (you can use that if you want.) IMO the Wakeboard based street luge is the best alternative to choosing either a full-on street luge...or (too far to the other end:) the basic butt-board or classic luge. The WBSL makes the best of both worlds.
The speed of a luge?...You can go 30 and get some kicks out of it(or kicked BY it)...but sooner than you think you may not be happy unless you are going 40...50...60 mph. I know. Greater rewards = greater risk. These luges are that road worthy(so YOU be too). An easy build but a BIG step up from the '2x4' 'STICK' type luge. Speed and safety MUST be your equal concerns. A luge gets to speed and FAST(if built right and the hill need not be all that steep)and you need to be mentally WITH-it(or even anticipating) before you lay down and push off a fast luge or hill. Before I share what I have made/modded, take these issues seriously. Some home-builts I see I would NOT ride on: even as a beginner. Take the extra time to build what is going to honor your fun AND your bones. Something that will give you room to progress in a sensible and safe manner. EARN your street luge skills. Just because a street luge is fast...does not mean YOU should be going 'that fast'.
The asphalt is just waiting for you to screw up. Not only do you NEED a HELMET...you will need great shoe brakes(car tire glued to good shoes is a MUST if you get any real speed. Do not use a regular shoe...even if it works good at first you will ruin it VERY quickly). If you cannot afford leathers(relatively cheap and work well can be had for $200 or so at topgearleathers.com)at least wear pads, good work or leather gloves and a thick sweater/jeans. I have some MX gear that is also great for luging...as in my site videos. leathers are hot and I do not prefer them...your call...don't take protection lightly. You are not done with your luge until YOU are well protected.
Here we go...
Step 2: Find Your Wakeboard; WHY a Wakeboard?
You are looking at two different(finished) wakeboard luges in these photos; the reason I am posting two is so that you can see what they have in common and what differences there are. They are not as 'caveman' basic as the nominally respectable '2x4' Stick type luge...but the are still VERY much easier to mod than to build a serious drop pan/drop frame luge. Which require serious thought; construction detail and time. I have built and currently ride two of that style as well. For right now, notice that these are both built on a WAKEBOARD platform. Cool idea...eh?! I thought of it in 2012, and they have proven to be VERY road worthy. So...before this Instructable grows into specifics is: Go online to Craigslist and look for an older wakeboard....such as (basically)the unmodded one pixed above. The average rider will want it to be from 57" to 60" or so long by approx. 16" wide. contours can vary a bit.
Older wakeboards are cheap(the old style long and rounded ends type...semi squared off ends...or one end semi-pointy/the other end semi squared ALL can work.....(UN damaged is key!)If you get one that is semi pointed at one end, that end will be the rear of your board. I prefer the boards that have symmetrical shape from end to end.
I found the TWO(pictured next to eachother) and paid $30 for one and $25 for the other(without fins or bindings, which you do not need to have nor pay for). I am 6' and one is 58" long...the other is 62" I prefer the longer one for my higher speed runs. The shorter one is used for 45 mph or less and is set up differently for that reason. Street luges are 'pegless'(for years) so there is some room to play with the length. If you are 6' tall I would not go less than a 57" to 61" board length. if you are at least 5' tall you should still go with a 145cm/ approx. 58" (ish) board. All mine are 16" wide so I am guessing that may be a standard(?)... a good width. If you are shorter than 5' tall...this might not be a project for you...unless you can find the rarer shorter WB's. I've not seen them...and even a 145 would be too long a board for you. You could ride it but the weight distribution and control geometry would not need even that much board, and I am not going to try to work every one of those scenarios out here. Too many. Your board MUST fit you. Effective turning, braking effectiveness, ALL depend on correct wheelbase and weight distribution. Your luges feedback at various speeds and attitudes will let you know if the particulars are right or wrong. It is NOT just a matter of laying down and launching into the wild gray yonder. Piloting an imbalanced luge is like wearing your shoes backwards. Not good.
If you find a board(period)that is cheapand in your size range, snag it up as it will be worth it to use. I still use BOTH of mine(correction...soon THREE)...as said....for different purposes. You just need ONE decent luge platform for now. I will be concentrating on the SINGLE truck(one each end) type. You do NOT need to go over 45 mph to start. Later you may consider adding a second truck in front(primary upgrade) and even a second truck in the back can have advantages. :D :D Lookout though...street luge is ADDICTIVE whether you are rolling on four wheels, six or eight.
Why specifically use a wakeboard as a platform...when plywood is cheaper. First off, a good grade of plywood is NOT likely to be cheaper or much. And requires more prep work. IN the case that you might live in a place with no lakes/wakeboarders(the MOON???)...you CAN substitute plywood cut in the basic (as in pix) wakeboard shape(more work and not as strong...I won't deal with that here)...but finding a well constructed and great condition older wakeboard is the cheaper easier way to a great platform that is both ready made and better than plywood. 'Rocker"...the rocker that is built into a wakeboard(to keep it on top of the water in it's intended use) ALSO will serve you on the wakeboard luge! Those building plywood classics and 'butt boards' do not have this incidental design advantage. Because of the rocker on a wakeboard you WILL have to adjust with wedge risers so that your truck angles are correct. This is very easy on single truck(per end wb luges).
Gets more challenging when adding a second truck(double trucking)due to the different rocker angles from one truck's base to the other's. I have included pix of, so you know it can be done...but I won't deal with that PRIMARILY here. Classic luges and 'butt boards' do not have this challenge as the truck mount plane never changes from end to end/ truck to truck. Just depends on what you want. For many years classics and butt boards were the mainstay and still are in the overall race side of luging(and it's sub-classifications)....in 2012....I came up with the Wakeboard Luge and believe it is a step UP from classic and butt-boards. that slight drop in the belly of the board gives it a lower center of gravity and allows a noticeable improvement in control; especially noticeable in curves at speed. THAT is an important advantage. Yet like many sports...change is not always welcomed! Kings love their thrones! My Wakeboards have been dismissed by so-called 'pros' who are comfortable with 'what is'. They have been 'sucking that thumb' so long that they cannot get it out of their mouths. YOU as a street luge FREE AGENT (I am!!!!)don't have to put aside logic to accomodate closed courses and minds. . I NEVER build/seek or want 'just what others do/did'. I am open to that new thing that has not been thought of. It paid me VERY well at times. YOU are too or you would not be here! When it is YOU and the gear and the road, you either know what you are doing or you do not. Asphalt is happy to grind into your ignorance.
TRUST me, ...there are particulars that you need to know to do this simple wakeboard luge mod right. It is easy to build a 'sorta luge' but SPEED and correct maneuverability will quickly show you what you did right or WRONG. One of these luges has been over 50 mph(see my website: gravitystreetluge.com...July 15th video, rear camera mount).and even though built correctly...I spun out when de-weighting the back too much in a turn at speed and wiped out. My heavier luge with TWO trucks on the back does not break traction as easy on curves. So even decent luges(both are)will act different on the road based on speed/components/road surface etc etc. My double trucked wakeboard luge never before broke traction in back...I believe that the cinder dust(an alpine road)played a part in losing my back end on the WB/single back truck luge..THAT is why you have to build for WHERE you will be riding. An awesome set-up might NOT be awesome under particular circumstances. Gasoline is GREAT for cars....it is lousy when barbecuing burgers!
So you do NOT want to have a board that was easy(too easy)to make...but will not honor the technical needs and challenges of riding in YOUR real world. Which is why I am NOT going to make a street luge out of the pool ladder(but I could!).
If you just want to roll down the slight hill in front of your house...not so important. Even then...a luge is not really a toy. Think of a 'toy' helicopter ...it is not so much a toy if you get your face in the rotor blades! Toys take kids OUT of this world all the time (Google: 'Tragic Toy Deaths'!!!!! :D :D) And if you are under 18 DO NOT TELL YOUR PARENTS THAT "LEE SAID I COULD!" NO I DID NOT. Check with them first.
Step 3: Finally!....the Overview Videos!
This is the point where we depart into VIDEO(s). So please watch these. I am SURE I will miss important notes and kick myself for doing that...but I will add whatever clarifications I later realize, to this build 'thing'.Also...I realize that many projects(not all)on this site are 'from scratch'. Even though I just today got a blank board(and could make this a from scratch build blog), I am not doing that. Unless I change my mind! I think there is a huge advantage to carefully explaining something that is already in full and so overall understandable form. So I will present the WHOLE (that you are aiming for) and be articulate/specific about what it is and how YOU get 'there'.
These are the companion videos for my Wakeboard Luge build:
4.) https://youtu.be/SMs_XAB78P BTW: I have NO idea how I got the above links to post here as the videos?? I cannot get the 4th one to do the same. Do you know? :D
I WILL BE ADDING PIX AS NEEDED FOR CLARIFICATION.
ENJOY! DON'T FORGET TO WATCH THE WAKEBOARD STREET LUGE IN ACTION ON MY WEBSITE: WWW.GRAVITYSTREETLUGE.COM Please sub and or friend me on FB if you dug this project.
There are multiple boards involved in these videos, so that you can see options and possibilities. Understanding them up front can make for a better build/mod experience AND, most important: a better RIDE. I love building these luges as much as I love to ride them. I will STOP at Five(!!!!)...most likely sell one of them this summer. WHO needs five street luges!!? EVERY build is worth it as it teaches you something new. And each is a bit different on the road; the variety of styles and rides keeps things interesting. YOU TOO...may find yourself with not just one luge at some point. The Wakeboard luge for me was the second style I made. for you just starting out, I think it might be the easiest and wisest choice for your beginning and even growth.
Have fun and hope to see your results. The RIDE is the most important tell of how good you did. but I also like the way they look! :D