This time on Rad Rat Video, we’re talking about where skateboard trucks came from. Let’s get started. Welcome back to Rad Rat Video, the channel where you can learn something new about skateboarding three times a week. We talk about learning tricks on the Shred school, we talk about trick histories, we talk about skateboarding video games, all kinds of skateboarding culture and topics. Today we’re talking about trucks, where they came from, who invented them and why are they called ‘trucks’? Now I’ll do that last part first. Actually kind of interesting. The wheel assembly on a train, on a rail car, was called a ‘truck.’ At least in the US. And in other countries it’s called a ‘bogie,’ I guess, but in the US they called those ‘trucks.’ So when you adapt that onto a skate, or a skateboard, then it makes a lot of sense why they call it that. But who invented it? Well I’ve got that right here. It was invented in 1960… 1863 by James Plimpton. Yeah. So the truck, of course, was originally invented for rollerskates, and the first side-by-side wheel roller skate was in 1863. Inline had been around for about a hundred years at that point, but that’s where the truck came from in general. But obviously using roller skate trucks was not great for skateboards. First thing, they were only about two inches wide, so you know, it made sense. It had to fit the width of your foot, but putting it on a skateboard, that was nowhere near wide enough. So to make up for that, you had to have really wide wheels that would kind of cover some of that width, but there was also crazy products at the time like this truck axle width extender product. You’d screw this on instead of a nut on the end of your truck, and then you would put the wheels on those, and that would help add a little bit of extra width to your board. And these were actually 90 bucks on eBay. I don’t know what they cost back in the day. A couple other issues with the skate trucks were that there was no standardized mounting system. You know, a roller skate would come as one unit all together. You don’t need to be able to take the trucks off of this brand, and put them over on this brand. So having that standardized system was a big deal. Also, the strength just wasn’t there. They had a really basic T shape. In fact, my Indy 109s are still kind of similar, that you can see. You know, if I was doing a high-impact, jumping down gaps and everything with this, this would probably break no problem. So those are some of the problems that we were having with rollerblade trucks back in the day ,and we definitely needed our own. As we got out of the 60s and into the 70s, skateboarding got to be more and more popular. The first urethane wheel came out, which was a huge deal, and the first trucks started to come out at that time as well. But who was the first to make it? We’ve got three different options. The first one is Bennett. Bennett trucks definitely claim to be the first, although on their website, they also claim that their 70s releases are still cutting-edge. But they’ve been claiming that they’ve been the first since the start. You see it in old ads and everything like that. One problem with their design was that they’re still a roller skate sized. So they didn’t solve all the problems that skateboarders were having, but they were designed for skateboarders, and they solved the mounting issues and things like that. So they do have a good claim at being one of the first skateboard trucks. One of the other options is Bahne. And they don’t claim to be first themselves, but they are historic brand. Tony Hawk’s first board was a Bahne, and they do deserve be mentioned in the same breath as some of these other companies, but they never make the claim. The last one that does, though, is Tracker. Tracker trucks were named that because of the way that a train car: one truck would follow the other. It would ‘track’ the other truck. That’s where the name came from. And they say that they’re the first skateboard truck made by skateboarders. “Back in 1975, the tracker full track was the first truck in history made specifically for skateboarding by skateboarders.” Which is a much weaker claim. The more that you have to add on different qualifiers to it, it makes it a lot weaker. The first one in this city, in this whatever. You get more and more specific, it starts to get more of a weaker claim. So who was really first? It’s tough to say. So everyone wants to be first. They’re all gonna use the earliest date they possibly can. Bennett actually says that they started in 1974, tracker says in 1974, but both of them seem to have come to market around the same time in 1975. So who is actually first? Sources that say Bennett was, as if everybody knows. It’s not cited, it’s not proven. People just say Bennett was first. But I found a few quotes that say that it was at the same time. So there’s this one from Transworld, where they talked about how they all came out at the same time. This other one is from the Transworld business site, where they mentioned them coming out at the same time as well. There’s also this interview with Larry Balma, one of the founders of Tracker, says that it was at the same time as well. But one thing to keep in mind, you might want to take that with a little grain of salt, because Larry Balma also founded Transworld. So those first two articles may be a little suspect, and a quote from him directly is just his story. So if I had to guess, I would say Bennett was actually a little bit first, but I think a more interesting question is: ‘Who made the first usable truck? Who actually solved all the problems that made the first modern skateboard truck?’ And that’s when Tracker starts to pull ahead. “We introduced the four and a quarter inch wide Tracker Full Track truck constructed out of heat treated aircraft alloy materials, which was strong, lightweight, and the first truck built for skateboarders by skateboarders. The skateboard market was growing and they needed stronger equipment. They needed Trackers. Bahne and Bennett skateboard trucks came out at the same time, but they were still narrow, about two and three eighths inch wide. The Bennett broke and the Bahne was not as sexy. By the time they made wider trucks, Tracker had production, the team, the name, and the quality. We remained the number one selling truck brand for the next 15 years.” They didn’t get to be industry leaders overnight though. They had a lot of problems selling shops on their idea of having a wider truck. A lot of shops would tell them that you can’t have a truck be that wide, because the wheels would stick out, and then your feet would hit him when you try to turn. They tried to convince them that boards would get wider and wider to suit, but it didn’t really work. So they had some interesting marketing ideas. “And so I got everybody from their areas to rip the Yellow Pages out of all the phone books they had. And the idea was that we would call up the shops: “Do you have tracker trucks?” The people at the shops would say, “What are tracker trucks?” We’d all say, “Oh tracker trucks? You don’t have tracker trucks?” They’d say, “No, we have Excalibur, we have sure-grip, we have…” We’d say, “Oh, you don’t have tracker trucks? OK” Later. Click. This helped give them some momentum and get them started, and their triangular trussed design became more and more popular over the years, as this famous ad of theirs likes to illustrate. But Bennett was still really important too. Way back in 1978, they actually pioneered magnesium and aluminum trucks, and that fact blew me away. A fan of the show named Handywithshovels sent that little factoid to me, and that was the reason why I started to look into this topic at all. Because you think about Tensor. They have their Maglite trucks, and they brag about their magnesium technology, and all this stuff. And you might think that that’s actually new, but it’s a really really old idea. And Grind King would say that they were the first truck that really tried to be light, but Bennett was doing it way back then. And Tracker was also experimenting. They were doing all kinds of different stuff. They experimented with a polymer truck, and they never released that. But I did find this ad from an old Skateboarder magazine, of a different brand doing something like that. A one-piece truck that would just bend a little bit instead of having to turn in the normal way. So it’s very interesting. They definitely had a huge effect on skateboarding. But Bennett, Tracker and even Bahne are all still around these days. None of them are huge mainstream companies anymore, but they do still exist. So that’s what I was able to dig up on skateboard trucks. If you know anything I don’t, let me know about that below, and hit my logo on screen right here to subscribe so you can keep learning more things about skateboarding three times a week. Until next time, here a couple more videos to check out in the meantime. And thank you for watching.