The Beginner's Guide to Street Luge

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You’ve probably heard of the sport ice luge, from the Olympics. Did you know that street luge also exists? Street Luge is also known as land luge or road luge.

It’s a bit like longboarding, only on your back (and, unlike ‘buttboarding,’ it involves a specialized board).

The best place for it is a road or paved street luge course. You can pick up some real speed, and there’s definitely a bit of risk!

Beginner's Guide to Street Luge

Where Did Street Luge Start?

Street Luge started out with some adventurous kids trying out longboarding on their backs. This was also known as ‘but boarding.’ They found that this was the best way to pick up maximum speed (with all their weight on the ground and minimal wind resistance).

Of course, since they could go so fast, this then led to racing. Street Luge is somewhat similar to luge, the ice sledding sport. The primary difference is that street luge boards resemble huge snowboards, whereas ice luge boards are more like stream-lined sleds.

The first official street luge-type race took place in 1975, in California. Races continued in Signal Hill California until 1978 when injuries to spectators and racers alike became too great of a risk.

Unlike with ice luge, street luge also takes place on a road or a paved track. Once the race starts, street luge racers rapidly pick up momentum, reaching high speeds of 60-100 MPH. It’s said to be an exhilarating sport, involving some real danger.

This makes it ideal for adrenaline junkies, although anyone (preferably an adult) can enjoy the sport with the proper know-how and gear!

Who Can Do It?

Street luge is one of those sports that’s best left to older teens or adults. The potential risk of injury is simply too great (and coordination generally improves with age).

Hopefully, this goes without saying. Luge boards are designed for adult-sized folks anyway. If you’re a youngster who’s really interested, it can always be something to look forward to when you’re just a bit older!

Street Luge

Is Street Luge Legal?

In many places, street luge is not legal. This is because you often end up going past speed limits (which are posted for any vehicle, whether it’s motorized or not).

With this in mind, you may want to look into local laws for street luge before you give it a shot. A simple online search should do the trick! 

Where Can You Do It?

If you’re interested in giving street luge a try, see if there are any street luge courses near you. With a bit of luck, there will be. You might just end up needing to take a bit of a drive.

This is typically preferable to street luging on public roads. For one, it’s often illegal. It’s also more dangerous since the road will not be so evenly paved and smoothly designed as a street luge course.

There are some exceptions in legality, and you may be able to find a road smooth enough. Just make sure to do your research - you’ll want to give local street luge laws a double check!

Essential Equipment

A Street Luge Board

Street Luge boards tend to cost anywhere between $1000-$2000 - a lot more than a longboard. This being said, if you’re intending to lay on a longboard and ride it down big hills, a luge board should be safer.

This is because it keeps your center of gravity low. There’s also less chance of taking a spill, thanks to the specific shape of a street luge board.

Unlike longboards, which are narrow and flat, street luge boards are curved. This is both for optimum speed, and to help keep you on the luge board. 

If you’re unable to purchase a luge board, you may want to just make one yourself. Many luge boards these days are handmade, as it’s sort of a niche sport. There isn’t a huge market, and for the best street luge for you, sometimes the best option is a DIY!

Protective Gear

Hopefully, you have enough know-how not to go near a luge board without protective gear. This is a high-speed, high-risk sport, and the proper gear can mean the difference between life and death (or at least help prevent serious injury).

If you’re going to street luge, you should anticipate a crash (even as you do your best to avoid it). This means dressing appropriately, which calls for the following protective gear!

  • A helmet. Most fatal crashes during any type of sport are due to head injury. This means that a helmet should be your #1. If you’re too cool for a helmet, you might not be ready to street luge just yet. Make sure you’ve got a heavy-duty helmet and that it’s strapped on properly (nice and snug). 
  • A face shield. With street luge, you’re going so fast that you’ll need more than just a helmet. This calls for a face shield, which should attach to your helmet. This will help protect your face in the event of a crash, as well as provide protection from dust and gravel in the air! 
  • Booties.  For experienced street lugers, booties are considered a must-have. These are specially designed boots with an emphasis on being extremely lightweight, while still being durable. This enhances the speed, and you can still use them to stop (the standard method of ‘braking’ in street luge). If you aren’t a fan of booties, shoes that are comparably lightweight, snug, and durable should do the trick!
  • Racing gloves.  In the case of a crash, you’ll want to be able to catch yourself. This calls for durable racing gloves that can stand up to impact and gravel. A hardy pair of motorcycle gloves will work!
  • Racing suit.  Just as important as racing gloves is a proper racing suit. Jeans and a T-shirt won’t do you much good as far as protection goes. A racing suit will help prevent and reduce road rash and other potential risks. These can be a bit pricey, but medical bills are pricier! 

So, there you have it: street luge in a nutshell. Does this sound like an entertaining hobby to you?

If you’re the right age, give it a try; just make sure to give any local street luge laws a look!

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