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>How to get started in Streetluge

Streetluging is not for the faint hearted and although to so some it may seem like kid stuff, streetluge is damn dangerous and people have been seriously injured and killed in this sport.

If you are mad keen to become involved in streetluging its probably best if you initially go to an event to watch the action and speak to those who are racing/participating. If after watching what goes on in real life you are still interested... it might be advantageous to have a chat to the lugers or the race organisor to find out if they know of any local clubs, schools, or upcoming taster days.

Steering a streetluge is done by leaning from side to side and often the riders shoulders and elbows make contact with the road surface. Streetluges don't have mechanical brakes, so in order to slow down the rider must use his or her feet which. Trying to slow a luge down from say 60 or 70 mph is physically challenging and damn exciting. The photo on the right shows some riders scrubbing speed off just before the big hairpin at Aviemore. The smoke is coming from the soles of his shoes.

Most of the rolling components (i.e. wheels, axles, bearings...) have evolved from the skateboarding industry and perhaps not surprisingly we have experienced numerous incidents where our equipment has failed because it was unable to cope with the high straight-line speeds or loads administered while cornering.

Failure of equipment usually happens at high speed and if say your bearing overheats and seizes or your tyre melts and leaves the rim you will probably wipeout in a very big way (not good).

 
Kit list:
Buttboard
£170 to £270
Helmet
£100 to £300
Race leathers (with armour)
£200 to £500
Gloves
£40
Footwear (modify existing boots)
£25
Transport catch a lift with a pal!
 
Summary of the sports...
There are 2 main er... categories for streetluge. There is 'Streetluge' and 'classic luge', which is now commonly referred to as 'Buttboard'.
Streetluge  

Streetluges are usually about 8' in length, are constructed of steel and aluminum, have 4 or 6 tyres. This is a photo of a Rogers Brothers luge... their luges are superb.

   
Classic streetluge / Buttboard  

Buttboards are very basic in design with a simple wooden deck (which can not exceed 12 inches wide by 48 inches long), they have 2 axles and 4 wheels (70mm diameter). This is a photo of a Lott Classic which is one of the best boards you can get. One of the great things about this board is that it is used at beginner, intermediate, advanced, and professional levels. Wow what a sport!

   
Start street luge with a Buttboard...
Having 'been there and done that', we suggest that the best way into streetluging is to opt for a 'classic luge' (i.e. a 'buttboard'). A top quality buttboard will set you back less than 200 all in (which is much less than if you were to build a decent alloy streetluge) and since buttboards are so basic and light-weight you'll develop a much better feel for riding techniques such as drifting, hanging-off and carving through the turns which are fundamental in streetluge.

If you were to try and construct your own luge (i.e. a 'home-built') you will likely wind up with a luge which is not very sophisticated (especially when compared to the professional equipment) and limited in its performance. If this is the case you'll find that a great deal of your time is spent carrying out endless redevelopment works to your luge instead of spending your time riding the damn thing which after all is the only way you'll improve your riding technique.

Buttboards are also much smaller and easier to transport than a streetluge (which are usually about 8 foot long) so once at the bottom of a hill its very easy to chuck a buttboard into a car (in order to catch a lift to the top of the hill) therefore you tend to get more riding time.

Gear: stuff you wear...
If you streetluge you should be prepared for some big off's (i.e. wipeouts). Although luges are very low to the ground, it's not uncommon to be spat out of the luge during a highside. During the Highlands Wheels Extreme 2001, I was drafting in behind Mark Warrender when he picked up a speedwobble, which developed into a highside. Cripes, he was chucked out of his luge in a big way doing about 60mph and when I over took him he was flying a couple of feet above my head and because he was wearing some top quality gear he managed to break just a bone in his hand. Hmmm... if there is a moral to this story it is... always wear quality gear, or may be the moral is to always keep Mark behind you... er whatever.. he's some of the gear you'll need:

Helmet: a full-face motorcycle helmet with a visor. Most of the professional luge guys wear luging helmets with a narrow chin protector which cuts down on the aerodynamic drag coefficient and increases the range of sight. I personally don't trust those luge helmets (they look damn dodgy) and I always wear my Arai motorcycle helmet with its big chin piece because I wipeout A LOT and require all the protection I can get.

   

Leathers: Luging is really hard on you leathers. We recommend one piece motorcycle racing leathers with some really good CE approved body armour (spine, shoulders, elbows, knees, hips...) because you'll need it! Don't use two piece leathers because they can separate in a big wipe-out and avoid older well used motorcycle leathers because stitching is subject to rot (especially from lots of wet weather riding) and will weaken the seams.

   

Elbow protection: in addition to internal elbow padding, wear some external elbow pads or knee sliders mounted to you elbows which will help protect both you and your leathers from holing.

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Gloves: sturdy leather motorcycle gloves which fit over top of your leathers are recommended.
 
   
Footwear: we use boots or sturdy running shoes (preferably covering the ankle) with a truck tyre section glued to the base. There are powerful forces acting on your footwear under heavy breaking so don't wear anything flimsy. Truck tyre rubber is good for most surfaces we've tried and because it's a fairly hard rubber which slides and brakes in a progressive manner (soft rubber can cause foot juddering - not good). (see photo of shoes)
Equipment:

The Luge: OK, its not too difficult to build a basic luge... after all we managed to build one (our project feature: 'build a streetluge' is under construction), however it is difficult to build a luge that performs and handles well. Just have a look at this photo of the Rogers Brothers luge - it is superb. It's pretty much impossible for most ordinary folk to produce a luge that will perform as well as this.

   

Randal Street Luge trucks are top. They handle extremely well, and have a floating axle to further reduce friction. It dosn't get much better than this... See our feature on trucks and wheels...

   
Wheels often fail as they are regularily pushed to and beyond their limit and soft wheels although provide good traction can flair up (catch fire) at high speeds or become separated from the rim (not good) We use quality tyres such as Cherry Bombs (72mm) on the streetluge and Kryptonic 70mm on the buttboards and they have never let us down. Top products. See our feature on trucks and wheels...
   
Bearings: Only use high quality bearings (at least ABEC 5 rated). Crappy bearings can seize at high rpm, causing loads of heat which can quickly melt plastic rims or heat up metal rims causing the tyre to separate from the rim. Either way it usually ends up in a wheel-off situation and you could find yourself bouncing down the road - not good. Ceramic bearings are the best but very expensive.
Tips section:
  • Walk the course a few times and look for dangerous sections corners with unforgiving run-offs (i.e. fence posts, lampposts, curbs...) and take note of any imperfections in the road surfaces (potholes, sewer caps, lumps...) or areas where traction could be lost (shady and damp sections of the road, fallen pine needles, gravel tracked on to the road...)
  • Check your luge thoroughly before each run. Ensure the trucks and wheels are correctly tightened.
  • Go slow on your first few runs to bring the adrenelin levels down and to give yourself time to get a feel for the geography of the course