Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Street Luge Works


Street Luge Boards
Can you imagine racing down the street on this tiny board?
Can you imagine racing down the street on this tiny board?
Tom Hauck/Getty Images

The modern street luge sled closely resembles the sleds we see on the ice luge track in the winter. It's made of aluminum or fiberglass and can vary in length depending on the size of the rider, though most luge sleds are 8 feet (2.4 meters) or shorter. Sleds may feature two or three axles that hold up to six wheels [source: O'Neill]. The wheels measure between 2.75 and 3.5 inches (70 and 90 millimeters) on average and are made of hard plastic, which holds up better than softer rubber tires [source:International Gravity Sports Association]. Steel bearings connect the wheels to the axles. Newer ceramic bearings are much more durable than steel, but are also more expensive, which means that most recreational riders are still stuck on steel.

For a sport that allows riders to travel at such extreme speeds, it's surprising how simple most street luge boards really are. These boards have no suspension systems, so riders are at the mercy of the terrain. You'll feel every bump in the road as you speed downhill.

Depending on the style of your board, your feet may rest on a set of handles or foot rests. In this type of street luge, riders steer with their feet. Simpler boards may not have a footrest at all, with riders steering by shifting their weight. On this type of board, your feet will rest straight out in front of you on the board itself.

New riders may want to consider starting with a basic long board, or buttboard, instead of a steel or fiberglass sled. Buttboards are similar to skateboards, but are generally about 4 feet (1.2 meters) in length. They're also slightly wider so the rider has more space to fit on the board. Buttboards are made of wood, with steel bearings and hard plastic wheels. They're heavier than a sled, but also slower and easier to learn on. These boards often cost just a fraction of the price of a street luge sled, making them the perfect choice for riders looking to give this sport a try without breaking the bank [source: O'Neill].

Those who think that street luge isn't extreme enough for their tastes may want to give powered street luge a try. Powered street luge boards are connected to gas or electric motors, allowing riders to push the limits of speed (and, as some say, sanity). These boards are often powered by modified motorcycle engines, and may feature a slightly larger body or frame to offer a bit of extra protection to the rider. This sport combines the thrill of street luge with the speed of auto racing and is considered a separate event within the street luge competitive circuit.


More to Explore