Chubby Unicorn (Freeride/Downhill Skateboard) by Danny Carper
2012 - 2013, Silver A' Sports, Entertainment and Recreation Equipment Design Award Winner
The Chubby Unicorn is a breakthrough board for Loaded, eight years in the making. The Chubby is the perfect example of form meeting function, striking an equal balance between technology, craftsmanship, innovation and overall rideability. As skateboard riding styles evolve so must the tools. The Chubby is Loaded’s answer for the downhill/freeride/freestyle hybrid riding our ambassadors are pioneering. This style resembles the movements one might make while snowboarding. Riders drift and slide their way around corners, tuck the straightaways, ride switch and throw tricks in for steez. The goal isn’t to get down first, but to get down with the best style and the most skin intact.
The Chubby is strikingly different than anything seen to date. The ultralight basswood core has a continuous perimeter of baby blue Orangatang Urethane and is sandwiched between fiberglass/epoxy skins. Complex contours and custom grip tape are both functional and beautiful, creating a topography with rises and pockets to keep the riders’ feet in place. Flip the board over and this landscape is detailed on the two tone white UHMW bottom sheet. The millwork adds strength, weight savings and supercar-like lines. All of these elements come together flawlessly and make this board look more like a space shuttle than a skateboard. Without trucks and wheels this could easily be the hover board we are all waiting for.
Design Challenges
Our conceptual ambitions were set high for the Chubby, which produced a number of unforeseen process challenges. Consequently, we had to expand our in-house capabilities to nurture the beast into production. We explored a number of software applications to address the tectonic challenges of the deck’s construction. Given the complex contouring, we had to resolve a number of issues from 3D unrolling to pre-machined cores to complex tooling alignment to mythical hatching. The primary challenge our design team faced emerged from our desire to pre-mill a flat core to account for the features designed into the 3-dimensional finished deck. The closest parallel that comes to mind is the unrolled maps of the world; due to the spherical curvature of the earth, distortion must occur to the surface area of land masses and bodies of water when viewed in a 2D format. The same holds true with the Chubby. We developed a program that would cast a field of points onto the 3D deck and then rebuild a flattened mesh based on the x-, y-, and z-coordinates of each point. Ultimately, the resulting mesh was not accurate enough when we pressed a set of test boards. We then shifted our approach to a process used by video game developers in which they take a 2D scanned image of a face and map it onto a digital 3-dimensional form of a head. We mapped the Chubby’s 3D compound surface to a flat core surface and the results brought tears of joy.
Production Technology
The Chubby’s basswood core balances rigidity for speed with just enough give to dissipate energy from vibrations and impacts. Around the board’s perimeter is a high durometer Orangatang urethane sidewall. Bonded to the wood and fiberglass skins, the sidewall provides vibration damping throughout the entire board. The urethane formula has been carefully selected for exceptional abrasion resistance, crisp pop, and resilience against hard impact. The Chubby’s base is also sealed with a layer of UHMW for additional damping, abrasion resistance, and protection against moisture.
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