What is Street Luge?
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I learn to street luge?
Just released (2004) is an instructional DVD called
"Street Luge 101". The video teaches the new rider about safety,
road selection, board design, Internet resources, ride techniques and more. Learn
more and order.
There are several resources on the Internet for building a street luge board. If you would like to build your own luge I have gathered construction information from all over the web. Check the construction list out by clicking here. As always, use your best judgment before getting on a luge made from plans found on the net. Try them out on a slow safe hill first before bombing the fast twisties.
If you just want to purchase a street luge be prepared to spend between $500 and $1,800.
Check back often as the list (at right) will be updated as new sources
of boards become available.
3. Wood or Metal - what should I use to build my board?
I love this one! Wood or Metal? As usual, it depends.
Wood boards are easier to build as they use more available tools and materials. They can also be much less expensive to build (I built my 1st wood board for less than $200). The flexibility of wood boards can be changed rather easily while changing the flexibility of a steel board (especially making it MORE flexible) is tricky if not impossible. The down side of a wood board is the durability of the finish. Paint chips and the soft nature of wood make gouging and scratches a real issue.
Metal boards are.... well I guess more accepted. I get funny looks bringing my wood board to many US events. They let me ride, I just have to endure the ridicule. I actually enjoyed this when I road the wood a lot because winning was more satisfying. Don't get me wrong, my metal board has served me well. The only real issue I have is the that when things go wrong with it, I need to call someone. I almost didn't finish the 1997 X Games because my handle bars kept bending. My wooden board might not have faired any better but I could have repaired it myself. Luckily, during the 1997 X Games I found a bicycle shop that helped me make new handle bars for free. After the 1997 X Games I needed a friend to repair (weld) a big crack in the front nose section.
On the plus side, if you get or build an aluminum board, the finish is durable and easily fixable. You will also be race ready in most organizations. Most tend to look at materials more than craftsmanship.
Bottom Line: If you're comfortable working with wood then
build a wood board. If you're comfortable working with metal, use metal.
4. Where can I get street luge specific gear?
There are only a few places to get Street Luge specific gear but any skateboard, leather, Home Depot or motorcycle shop can get you 95% of the way there. Trucks & truck accessories, wheels, bearings and lubricants can all be found at your local skateboard or sporting goods store. Motorcycle shops sell leathers, gloves, pads and helmets. The local home improvement center is a great place to get hardware such as nuts & bolts, gloves, tools, padding for bumpers and your butt, and flashlights (night riding anyone?).
Street Luge specific gear can be found at the following:
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Going faster than the speed limit is speeding regardless of what you're riding. You are a pedestrian. Pedestrian laws apply. You can get a ticket for being in the roadway or blocking traffic. I've heard a recent story about a rider getting a ticket for being a pedestrian on the wrong side of the road (supposed to be on the side that opposes traffic!).
The only specific California law that we know about is in LA county and they prohibit riding a skateboard on a grade greater than 3% and faster than 10 MPH. Some riders we talk with have discovered that riding a street luge on public roads is totally legal, others find that it is totally illegal (Wisconsin for example). Check city, county and state laws. Most states have their vehicle codes posted on the Internet.
Since 1994 I have encountered numerous police officers but have never received a ticket or had my board confiscated. If a law enforcement officer asks you to leave the road you are on, leave. There's always tomorrow.
6. Do I need to join a street luge organization and if so how?
No, but some organizations do require membership or a guest fee in order to race. As of 2004, the only US organizations putting on events are the IGSA (International Gravity Sports Association) and GSI (Gravity Sport International). The NSLA (National Street Luge Association), EDI (Extreme Downhill International), and RAIL (Racers Association of International Luge) have put on events in the past but have not done so in several years. The yearly membership fee is about $50-$150 but most organizations will let you race in their events by paying a guest fee (usually about 1/2 of the yearly fee).
The links above should allow you to join the aforementioned organizations.
The IGSA recently (2002) and GSI (2004) updated their race fees.
7. Where can I practice?
Finding practice hills is usually a bigger challenge then getting ready to ride. Many factors are involved in choosing a practice hill. The most important of course is safety. Look for hills with low traffic, no side streets, no reflectors and smooth pavement. The ultimate practice hills are dead ends into idle weekend businesses (dumps, prisons, power plants etc...). The Street Luge Survival Guide has a complete chapter on scouting practice hills.
In general, you will find most street lugers keep their favorite
hills to themselves. Sounds selfish but their reasoning is "If I tell people
about my hill and some knuckle head rides it and gets hurt, that road will be
unrideable." Similarly, if a favorite hill gets really popular and the local
inhabitants start complaining, then law enforcement will make that road unrideable.
8. How do I get into the X Games and other televised events?
If your ultimate goal is to get on TV, be warned. The road will probably suck. TV's goals and rider goals are rarely the same and since TV has the money, they usually win. My experiences at televised events have been memorable not because the course was cool but because you are generally treated very well (volunteers loaded and unloaded our boards from the truck during the X Games!).
Entry into televised events is almost always by invitation; usually through qualifying at other races, knowing the right people and being respected as a safe rider.
ESPN's X Games entry was based solely on your IGSA World ranking and your finish in the X Games from all prior years. Alas, as of 2002, Street Luge is no longer an event in the ESPN X Games. There are entry fees to most if not all of these events and some will require a organization guest fee. Details about the specific qualifying events can be found in the event listing on the main page of this site.
There are other events that are televised (specials, TV shows
like Off the Wall, Adrenalina
TV and California Kinkin') and contacting organizers is the best way to tell if an event will be
televised. Other televised specials are usually organized by contacting
news organizations, sports shows etc. Get to know the top riders in the
sport and you will begin to hear about these outings.
9. What are the rules of street luge racing?
The rules of street luge racing differ slightly depending on the sanctioning body but there are many similarities. The IGSA (once sanctioning body at the X Games) re-posted their rules for 2003. Gravity Sports International (GSI) rules are here. Other rules can be had by contacting the other respective organizations.
Even though these rules seem pretty restrictive, you will
find that most organizers are fairly liberal. I've ridden my wooden 2x4
board at EDI races and my teammate Darren rode a short wooden board at the 2000
X Games qualifier. Check with the organizer about the rules that mean to
most to them.
10. Is there an age requirement for street luge?
No. If you want to start riding a street luge, age will not stop you. If you would like to race at organized events then age needs to be discussed.
There have not been a lot of young (under 16) riders at other
events so I do not know exactly how this would be treated but if you can demonstrate
your ability and have raced a couple of amateur races, I believe you would be
allowed to race. Of course, the ultimate authority would be the individual
event organizers so contacting them is your safest path.
11. Where are all the races?
There are street luge races all over the world from Switzerland, Sweden, Great Britain, South Africa, Eastern and Western US & Canada. I have compiled a complete yearly listing of these events on the main page of this site. Click on the links provided to learn more about the details of these events.
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12. How do I contact other street luge riders?
The best way to contact other street luge riders is to attend an event and introduce yourself. It really is that simple as we are a friendly bunch and enjoy sharing the information we have gathered other the years.
If you cannot get to an event but would like to practice with other riders there are several on-line methods. Checking out the three most active message boards (StreetLuge.net, NCDSA & GSI) will expose you to numerous street luge riders from around the world although mostly US. The UKGSA site has an active message board for riders in Europe.
13. Where can I get street luge photos and movies?
This is sort of a self serving question so I apologize in advance. I believe I have one of the most complete street luge photo collections (over 1,000 photos from over 40 events). I've tried to keep these photos unique and high quality. Other sources of photos can be found at Kent Kochheiser Photographic, Officer Sherms Photo Gallery and Chris McBride's site.
There are several street luge organizations and riding groups outside the US. The table at right lists organizations and clubs that gather riders or actually put on events. You will need to explore the web sites to discover the goal of each.
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15. Can I make money by riding a street luge?
Yes but don't plan on making a living at it. You can get paid by riding a street luge several ways.
Be a star:
Putting on events and covering the sport (books, photos,
announcing...) can also get you a paycheck but the title of this FAQ includes
the word riding!
16. What's the best way to travel with my street luge? (Thanks to Chris McBride for this one, pardon my edits)
There are many ways to transport your luge. Some folks have been known to put it on the plane with number plate, wheels and all. Some have wrapped it, others have put it in cardboard (still as one piece). One advantage to this is that you now have a wheeled instrument to move the rest of your equipment with.
Keep in mind that if what you check is
more than 72 inches around (longest dimension) the airline may not let you check
it, you may have to ship it freight (I've done this, it's not cheap!). Otherwise
they may charge you an excess baggage fee which is normally $50, each way! Also,
without proper protection, there is more of a chance that the luge will be damaged.
And from Pete Love...Traveling with your luge...
....is a ton of fun. I used to have a foldaway job that went in a 1m bag and was super easy to carry about. Quite often they'd make me pull it out of the bag just because it looked like a missile launcher on the x-ray machine. I never got charged however. Now I have a stupidly long one (luge, that is), and just carry it about unpacked. The really great thing about that is EVERYBODY wants to talk to you. Buy a T-shirt that says `Street luge. 70mph. With your feet. Mountain roads. Motorcycle leathers. Not yet.' which takes care of the 6 questions you'll be asked about 250 times. The customs guys love you, but the baggage handlers hate your guts.
The only time I got charged was flying out of Denver, and that came down to the fact that so many skiers fly through there they make a point of charging anyone who goes outside the rules by a millimeter. We had a lot of fun getting every single person in the airport hierarchy down there and going through the six dumbass questions with them, though.
International flights tend not to care about size (they use the big planes), but are really pissy about weight (overshooting the runway in a 747 makes a lot of work for the guys who mow the grass). The cool thing here is that the normal check in scales won't weigh luges unless you balance the luge on your baggage cart (in which case you move the cart until the reading on the scales goes below the limit). I once had a check in guy ask me what my luge was made of given that it was six feet long and only reading 4kg's. 'Carbon fibre, of course'. Sometimes they make you take it to outsize baggage, but the guys in outsize baggage assume that its already been weighed and are only there to run the super big X-ray machine, so you're sorted again.
The other rule used to be that they would assume your hand baggage was light as long as it was small, so all your trucks, tools, spares, lead weights etc. could go in there and you just had to walk through the gate nonchalantly trying not to show that you've just dislocated you shoulder carrying the bastard. However, in light of recent events I don't recommend that anymore unless you feel like being escorted off the plane by a swat team.
Good things to say
1) I'm an international athlete
2) I spoke to your head office (especially if you can get a fax out of them)
3) I fly with this all the time
4) Can you give me the first class weight allowance
5) I got here especially early so your staff could deal with the extra hassle
Bad things to say
1) It's a missile launcher (it's illegal to joke with customs guys).
2) I'm British, these rules don't apply to me.
3) You're pretty, will you marry me?
4) You remind me of my Butchers dog.
5) Talk English for gods sake, this is an airport, not a bloody sauerkraut factory.
6) Drugs are legal here, right?
7) Vous etes un gros pede comme Manu Antuna.
Ole, and Bon Voyage