What Happened to Snakeboard?

A lot of people wonder what happened to Snakeboard. There are many versions of the story out there, although not many really look into the details, or tell anything factual at all.

What Brings YOU Here?

There’s usually only three reasons for anyone to be looking into this, and they’re all good ones.

Whatever reasons you came here to read this article, I’m glad you found it, and I hope you’ll find some value in reading it. There’s a lot of interesting background information here, not many people have seen or heard about before.

You could be an original snakeboarder looking for info on snakeboards, and found us here. If so, welcome back man, a lot’s changed. Let me bring you up to scratch on a few things.

Maybe you’re a pivotboard or streetboard rider, and you want to find out a more about the history of this sport, and the company that started it all. I can definitely help you find out some useful information about the history of snakeboard.

You could be brand new to all of this, and never heard of the original company Snakeboard, and the inventors behind it.

I’ll be adding a complete history of Snakeboard article, but for the purposes of this article, for that don’t know about Snakeboard, let me fill you in, but first, a little about who I am, and how I came to know all this stuff.

I’m Rick Lowe, aka ‘Tricklowe’, a former pro snakeboard / streetboard rider.

I started riding Snakeboards at the first ever world championships in 1994, and started skating pro within one year. I rode on the international pro circuit from 1995 -2005, when I moved to California, USA.

I’ve been an active part of the scene for 22 years today, and love this sport for all the opportunities it’s ever given me. I have a lot of lifelong friends, that I would never have met if it hadn’t been for this sport, and we’re one big arguing, disagreeing, skating, altogether awesome family.

There’s information out there about what happened to Snakeboard. To be honest, most of it is hearsay, guess work, or second-hand information passed down from one rider to another.

Most of the information out there is made up, guessed, or drastically changed from reality.

I think it’s time to set the record straight, so everyone knows what actually happened, from somebody close enough to all involved, that actually did the research to inform you.

By the end of this article, you’ll have an understanding of Snakeboard, and what happened to them.
For those that don’t know about Snakeboard, I’ll fill you in…

The Creation of Snakeboard

snakeboard-usa-inventor-james-fisher

James Fisher with the first ever Snakeboard

In 1989, two college students from Johannesburg, South Africa (James Fisher & Oliver McLoed-Smith) took two halves of a roller skate, some pieces of plywood, and a metal bar, and connected them together.

They figured out how to make the thing move, and bingo… …they had invented not only a completely new type of board, but had actually invented a new method of generating motion.

James Fisher says the ultimate breakthrough moment, was the discovery of being able to go uphill without taking your feet off the board.

Snakeboard’s Success

James and Oliver didn’t even know what a patent was, but a chance sighting from a neighbor involved in patent law, told them they needed to, right away, before anyone else sees it.

They patented their idea, the invention blew up overnight, went global, and led them to fame and fortune.

snakeboard-for-sale

The Snakeboard won the Popular Science Worldwide Product of the Year in 1992.

The first ever sport rider for Snakeboard was Ashley Morgan, who was the son of one of James Fisher’s staff.

In 1994, Snakeboard was an international company with distributors in many countries.

The first ever World Snakeboard Championships were held in the island of Guernsey, part of the British Isles, where I grew up, first saw the Snakeboard, and met James Fisher for the first time.

Fast Growth

Snakeboard continued to grow at a REALLY FAST PACE. Snakeboard was huge.

We had huge international events, and travelled on tours, etc. It was an amazing time, and tricks were progressing at an insane pace.

In 1995, James & Oliver sold their patents to their company, Snakeboard International, and then listed on the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM).

snakeboard-world-championships-1997

1997 Snakeboard World Championships

In 1997, we had a World Championships in Universal Studios, Florida. I was one of the 30 riders that was lucky enough to qualify to go. Things were just getting bigger and better.

Losing their Baby

James and Oliver were convinced by the market makers that they needed a prestigious board of directors, whom unfortunately, didn’t understand the product at all.
Fisher explained in this article in Entrepreneur Mag South Africa;

“At the end of the day Oliver and I owned 51% of the company but we had no control over it. We handed everything over. Amongst other things we wanted to target the sports market and they felt it was more a cheap toy product to drive volume and revenue without consolidating the product, brand and integrity. The spirit we created wasn’t carried through and our stock price fell quite dramatically. Essentially, we lost our baby.”

A lot of the bigger names involved in Snakeboard at the time (myself included) were a little frustrated with snakeboard wanting to make the board too much like a toy.

James Fisher was always at the World Championships. He talked to us and listened to our rider feedback, but it always felt like his hands were tied. The above statement explains a lot.

snakeboard-orlando-florida-world-championships

The last time I met James, was at the last Snakeboard World Championships, in Universal Studios, Orlando. We discussed board designs, and James seemed excited to hear our input, but definitely seemed unable to make many changes, which confused me at the time.

Ordering Issues

Around the time of the, 1997 World Snakeboard Championships in Orlando, or shortly after, it seems that snakeboard had some problems from some distributors rejecting orders on delivery.

Different sources indicate this to be either an Argentinian distributor, or Snakeboard Germany, or both. I specifically remember this happening with Snakeboard Germany, and have confirmed that with several people. The Argentina deal is as yet unconfirmed, but came from an extremely reliable source that was very close to Snakeboard USA.

It appeared they were somewhat unhappy with the quality or appearance of the then highly anticipated, but doomed, never-to-be-released, Spluge Snakeboard.

This left Snakeboard USA, the largest distributor, and head of the distribution network of Snakeboards, out a lot of money.

spluge-snakeboard

The Doomed Snakeboard – The Spluge

Rider Frustration

There was a lot of frustration with the riders at the chinese manufacture of the boards, board designs weren’t keeping up with the tricks we were developing, and often looked cheap, or toy-like, which we hated.

Boards weren’t ever quite what we needed, and it always felt like we were just using whatever Snakeboard were giving us, instead of what we really needed to ride. We often argued that snakeboard needed to license out the brand, and allow other companies to produce boards, but that never happened.

The Merger that Killed it all

With a drop in stock price and sales due to misguidance from a board of directors that didn’t understand the culture of their product, and a loss caused by the south American & German importers, in 1998, James Fisher bought MV Sports and Leisure Group, in a reverse merger in the UK.

This move enabled Snakeboard to diversify it’s portfolio of products, increase the shareholder price, and then allow James to bow out. A good exit strategy by any standards.

 

This was a great move for James, and the intelligent thing to do, I highly respect his decisions in this process as a businessman, however, MV Sports & Leisure Group had absolutely no interest in Snakeboard.

Companies wanting to list on the stock market will often merge with another company already listed, instead of going through an expensive IPO process. It was a win for James Fisher, and a win for MV Sports & Leisure Group, also, but a tragic loss for the sport of Snakeboarding.

When MV Sports & Leisure Group did the reverse merger with Snakeboard International, they acquired all the Snakeboard patents, simply sat on top of them. They had absolutely no interest in these assets. Snakeboard (the company) was over, and snakeboarding (the sport) was Left for Dead (pardon the pun guys).

When approached by riders wanting to start snakeboard companies, they refused to allow any other companies to license the product and make boards.

MV Sports could have let companies manufacture boards under license, and made money doing so, but had no interest.

Their reason? “We’re a toy company, we have no interest in sports.” Thanks guys.

The Underground Resistance

If this sport was ever going to die, it would’ve done so right then and there, but we weren’t going to take that.

From there, the scene since went underground, and has been kept alive by the skaters involved in it.

snakeboard-streetboard-pivotboard-sergi-nicolas

Sergi Nicolas – Top Pivotboard Rider – Frontside Nose Grab

There’s been an evolution in board design, too. Boards now look a lot more like actual boards, are made of wood instead of Zytel, and are called streetboards or pivotboards, in a move away from, and to avoid confusion with, the branding from Snakeboard.

The patents have all but expired. Myself, and a group of insanely dedicated skaters worldwide, now operate as one huge family, working together to elevate, and grow this small garage industry back into the sport it once was.

Thank you for joining us on this awesome adventure, you’ve arrived at the dawn of a new day.

Welcome to the new era. One I like to call ‘The Third Wave’.

See you out there.

Tricklowe

2016-10-19T11:41:11+00:00

40 Comments

  1. Adam May 15, 2016 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    Cool article, I had an early generation snake board and did some demos with team reps in NYC around 1994-95. Looking to get back into the sport on modern gear when I can afford it!
    Best
    A

    • tricklowe May 15, 2016 at 11:54 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the kind words! Welcome back!

  2. Fred May 15, 2016 at 10:19 pm - Reply

    Nice to finally hear the whole story!

  3. Francisco May 17, 2016 at 2:00 am - Reply

    Hi. My name is Francisco, a streetboarder from Kyoto Japan.
    It’s so fun to know history of Snakeboard , so can I translate this page into Japanese and upload to my website?

    • tricklowe May 17, 2016 at 2:57 am - Reply

      Hi Francisco,

      I’m super happy you liked the article. It would be awesome for you to translate it to Japanese and have it on your web site!

      I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. Have a great day!

  4. Emiliano May 19, 2016 at 3:12 am - Reply

    Esta en nosotros hacer las cosas bien para que el deporte no muera!
    Viva el streetboarding

  5. Linda May 22, 2016 at 8:03 am - Reply

    Hi, I’m Linda from Taiwan!
    May I know if you still have the old type snakeboard on sale?
    It looks really cool, but here we couldn’t find this type of snakeboard anymore.
    Or if you know somewhere I can get it please kindly let me know, I would sincerely appreciate that!

    • Susan kenny November 21, 2016 at 7:24 pm - Reply

      Hi linda. I have one I was going to put on eBay. Just need to know the value to start the bidding with. Email me if you or anyone would like to see it. sjkfluff@yahoo.com. Thanks . Susan

  6. Manel June 20, 2016 at 1:56 am - Reply

    Congrats for the good job and hope brilliant future to the third wave!!
    Greetings from Barcelona from one rider since 97 i missed it for long since left my plastic COMPETITION snakeboard till found Dimensions AS2 on internet’, and after breaking that trucks and bar, moved to Grossoboards PHI. Best sport i’ve ever rolled and 4ever. Love the Snowboard like sensation even before trying snowboard or surf.
    Only once world champs in Lyon 2005 as spectator, and absolutely enjoyed all that tricks and riders.
    If only could say missing more downhill and cross not only park and street at competition level but its sentimenntal thing.
    VIVA el SNAke-PIVOT-STREET-BOARD!

    • tricklowe June 20, 2016 at 6:52 am - Reply

      Thanks for the positive message!! I competed in the worlds in Lyon 2005, on my way to California to live here.

      Our boards are a further development of the Grosso style of boards, so you should like them.

    • tricklowe August 4, 2016 at 7:57 pm - Reply

      Hi Manel! I went to the 2005 World Championships, on my way to living in California.

      Our Boards are developed from the Grosso boards design, and are a further advancement on those boards, so you’d probably love them.

      Thanks for the kind words! I’ve been riding since 1994, and this sport has changed my life.

      Nice meeting you, come back soon

      Rick Lowe

  7. Drew Cox August 26, 2016 at 4:29 am - Reply

    Hey there Rich,
    Do you recall a rider by the name of Andy Rail from the UK? wayyyy back in 96 onwards for a few yrs?
    well 16yrs on and I’m back on a board with me old mate Kris Middleditch! I’m not sure you completed against him much but we did on a few occasions. glad to see your keeping the spirit alive.
    keep up the good work love the article.
    what happened to Guy and Andrew that ran SBUK?

    • tricklowe August 26, 2016 at 6:52 am - Reply

      Andy,

      Of course I remember you, dude, like yesterday!

      We actually just sold a board to a guy I first met you skating with, in New Malden, Mark Requena. He lives in Canada now.

      I don’t remember Kris.

      Not sure about Guy, but Andrew owns a healthy soft drink company. Look him up on LinkedIn.com.

      Good to hear from you, glad to hear you’re back on a Pivotboard.

      Speak Soon

      Rick Lowe

  8. Drew Cox August 27, 2016 at 5:07 am - Reply

    thanks for the quick reply lol marks back on it as well…..does he still have long hair??? eek!
    have you hard form anyone else from back in the day?
    are you getting much responge about your boards in the UK?

    • tricklowe August 28, 2016 at 10:00 am - Reply

      Mark doesn’t have long hair. Thomas Olanya died of a heart attack. Iain’s still around, not sure what he’s doing. Gadget lives in Wales, and does triathlons now. Marc is still heavily involved in the UK skateboard scene, I think he builds skateparks. D Cooper went missing, and is still a missing person. Aaron and Kenny are both still around, occasionally hear they might skate again.

      Saw Kelly Dean a few weeks ago here in SoCal. He just had a baby girl not long ago.

      Victor Rodriguez sells cars, Victor Murstig owns part of Dimension Streetboards, as does Brinton Gundersen. Ingo Foehre still skates, as does Thomas Keinle.

      We sell boards to the UK, and have sold a few over there.

  9. Drew Cox August 31, 2016 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    I’d like to have n off the web skype chat sometime n have a proper catch up you’ve got my email hit me up sometime?

    • tricklowe August 31, 2016 at 1:29 pm - Reply

      Sure. My skype name is Tricklowe, just like everything else.

  10. Danielle September 6, 2016 at 8:08 am - Reply

    Used ride as a teenager in the 90s. I told my son that mom used to ride a snakeboard, he was skeptical . So My husband found one ( an old school one) on eBay for me. Unfortunately the elastomers busted the same week we bought it. So disappointed ! Does anybody know how or where to get it fixed or where to buy a new one. I’m looking for the older original model. I live in San Diego. Thanks

    • tricklowe September 6, 2016 at 8:22 am - Reply

      Hi,

      Thanks for your enquiry! We’re also based in San Diego, so look out for out news soon of events and demos, coming soon.

      I have no idea where you could ever find any parts or snakeboards at all. If you find any resources, let us know.

      As far as I know, and resources available, sold out by 2000 or so.

      Wish you luck.

      We do have a new board coming soon that is aimed more at the beginner / cruiser / recreational market, that might work for you, so watch this space for details.

      Tricklowe

    • matt January 15, 2017 at 1:42 am - Reply

      i have two a brand new one in box that’s green and i also have a silver one with original straps any good to you i’m from uk?

      • Danielle January 15, 2017 at 8:12 am - Reply

        Hi Matt, I would be very interested if you would be willing to sell. My email is dmpenny23@aol.com. Could you send me picture
        Thank you!!

  11. Robbie skipton September 17, 2016 at 11:24 am - Reply

    Hi all
    I have just decided to get my old pro free style snakeboard back in the road in the uk after 15 years of been out the sport * several broken bones mainly cause me to stop)
    Now my kids are wanting to do skating etc but I cant use a skateboard…. so here’s my question.
    .I have renovated the board… new bearing wheels. Feet grips etc… but the final piece is the bindings.. . Anyone know where I can get the bindings from.?

    • tricklowe September 17, 2016 at 11:38 am - Reply

      We’ll have our new bindings available within a couple weeks!!

      Watch this space, and subscribe to the newsletter, and you’ll be one of the first people to hear about them.

      There’s an article showing the prototypes on the site, also.

      TRICKLOWE

  12. Susan kenny November 21, 2016 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    I have a snake board I was going to sell on eBay. Just looking at where I should start the bid. I am in Boston area. Any idea what it’s worth?

    • tricklowe November 21, 2016 at 7:31 pm - Reply

      Hi Susan,

      I have no idea what it would be worth, BUT, if you list it on EBay, we could do something super cool as an experiment.

      When you list it, let me know via email to ricklowe@pivotboard.com

      I can then post it on all the social media sites we have, and let the snakeboarders know worldwide. It should help bring up the price for you.

      Is the board in good condition?

      • Danielle November 22, 2016 at 4:23 am - Reply

        Is it in good condition? I’ve been looking for an old one that is rideable to show my kids what mom is capable of 😉

      • Curry Leamen February 24, 2017 at 9:54 am - Reply

        Hi Tricklow,

        I’m in the same situation as Susan. I have an O.G snake board that I bought in Germany in the 90s and used to ride frequently all through my high school years. Loved the thing.
        I’ve been holding onto it mostly for nostalgic reason but have been downsizing and am hesitantly thinking about selling it.
        If I list it on eBay, would you be able to help me promote it as well? I want it to find a good home. It’s in good shape and has a set of straps that are quite worn but still work.

        If you want to email me, I’m at hi@curryleamen.com

        Cheers!

        Curry

  13. Jared December 15, 2016 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    Cool article. Ive had a pair of snake boards since the 90s. They are the original design but they differ from eachother. One is low to the ground and has rigid foot pads. The other one, and my favorite, sits a little higher off the ground and has some flex from heel to toe edge. There were rubber dampeners that offered resistance. this was sick because you could really lean into a heelside or toeside carve on it. i had more fun bombing parking garages on that thing then iVe had on anything else with wheels. For me it’s the closest feeling I can get to snowboarding, which is my all-time favorite thing. Sadly my favorite model was recently stolen out of the back my truck and I’m trying to figure out how I can replace it. I’m going to go as far as to reverse engineer the other one, design the dampening System from memory, and make it on a Mill out of aluminum. i’m willing to go through all of this trouble solely for the ride, it was great, I loved that thing.

    • tricklowe December 15, 2016 at 5:06 pm - Reply

      Thanks! Welcome to Pivotboard.com

  14. Robert March 20, 2017 at 12:17 am - Reply

    Cool, nice to read this. I rode the Snakeboard in the beginning of the 90s.
    A friend and I getting (I think) one of the first boards in Germany (for the official release).
    I’m not really sure (long time ago),.. I think we started in 1993 and we are successful in parallel slalom. My friend Hanno beat me most of the time.  And we went together to the one or other competition and had a lot of fun with the “family”.
    In the beginning of the 2000s I sold my hard used board to get some money. I still regret this :-/
    I tried the Waveboard,.. but it sucks. At the moment I try to buy a new/used one to ride with my son.

    It’s a shame what happened with the Snakeboard company and I hope this sport will rise up again.
    I like the old style of the board with the narrow plastic bar more the new wood bar.
    But no matter,.. everything in due course. I wish you and this sport all the best to see more Snakeboards on the street again.
    I will visit your homepage again to see what’s new…

  15. michael steiner April 7, 2017 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    I’ve been riding my snakeboard since 1992, but the bushings have broken and I can’t ride! Who sells parts? Willing to pay $$$.

    Thank you,

    Michael

  16. Renier July 24, 2017 at 5:54 am - Reply

    Sup Tricklowe

    Thank you for a great article on what happened to the company. I’m from Johannesburg and I got my Viper Striker for my 8th birthday (BACK IN 1991! and it’s still goes). I later added straps and heel bungees and then the extended x-bar when by absolute chance I found one in a bargain bin in an old skate shop. Legend in our family was that my dad designed the original packaging for the boards here is South Africa way back then and he got it as a gift for me after I rode a demo model at his office, but he’s long since passed on so I can’t confirm that with him. Anyway, glad there are still people out there forging on in a sport that I thought had died before the turn of the millennium.

    Cheers

    • tricklowe July 24, 2017 at 6:10 am - Reply

      Hi Renier,

      Great to hear from you! Interesting to hear from someone that was there so early on.

      I didn’t find the board until 1994, but then was heavily involved ever since.

      Thanks for checking in with us! Stay in touch!

  17. Ted July 26, 2017 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    Great article, and comments – thanks to you all!
    I was videographer for the Vegas portion of the Hellburger video, with Team Shamrock. Man, I wish the behind the scenes shots made it in the cut. Pretty funny. Was sweet setting sail with them each night around 10pm, heading out to the Strip with my ol trusty VX1000, after everyone got all primed for the night in the hotel room at The Hard Rock Casino Hotel 🙂
    It’d be fun to bump into Kelly, Bobby and the rest who’s names I forget. Paul, I think was another.
    Cool, once again, nice blast from past article.
    Peace out from San Diego!

    • tricklowe July 27, 2017 at 5:41 am - Reply

      Hey Ted,

      Good to hear from you. I was back in the U.K. Back then, but hung out with Kelly at all contests.

      I work in San Diego, and there are a few riders here, so maybe we’ll bump into you somewhere!

      Thanks for reading!

  18. Leon Robertson October 13, 2017 at 11:18 pm - Reply

    Are you Rick Lowe from Guernsey ? I used to snakeboard down the blast zone back in the day and am now looking to buy my son a board!

    • tricklowe October 14, 2017 at 4:33 am - Reply

      Hey Leon. Yes, this is Rick Lowe. From California at the moment, but yes, same guy. I’m pressing some boards at e the moment, and will have them available in a few weeks. We sold out of all our new boards a couple of weeks ago.

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