A Kickstarter to fund Wheel Shields — aluminum coverings that help longboards safely make sharp turns — is nearing $12,000 in donations, nearly half the goal set by creator and University of Maryland student Chase Kaczmarek.
Kaczmarek, a lifelong longboarder, came up with the idea after a particularly nasty spill caused by something known as “wheel bite,” a situation in which the wheels and the deck of a skateboard or longboard grind together and force the rider to a jarring stop. In Kaczmarek’s case, he was skating downhill last summer when he swerved hard to avoid an oncoming rabbit, tossing him onto the pavement.
He can thank that rabbit for the idea. The rising U. Md. senior has opened up a $25,000 Kickstarter to cover the cost of creating the die-cast mold that would allow him to produce Wheel Shields in bulk (in China). Right now, machining them down individually is the only option, and way too expensive. He created a prototype with a 3-D printer, but plastic wasn’t strong enough.
In addition to keeping the wheels from coming into direct contact with the deck, Wheel Shields have some secondary benefits, according to Kaczmarek. They act as little mud-flaps, for one, and since they are sturdy enough to stand on, offer up new trick possibilities.
The idea has already won Kaczmarek some competition money, including $5,000 from his first prize at U.Md.’s 2013 business model challenge. He has 18 days to go to raise the remaining cash on Kickstarter.