Never regret what you do for love - Johnny Schillereff
When Johnny Schillereff started Element Skateboards in 1992, he knew that he was swimming against the current of popular skateboarding ideology.
Yet despite knowing that, or maybe because of it, he forged on regardless and went on to create the world’s first positive skateboard brand.
Tired of the relentless negativity and overwhelming pessimism of skateboarding, Schillereff wanted to do things differently and believing that he could bring a beacon of hope to something he loved, he flew directly in the face of everything that skateboarding represented to bring his vision to life.
Element’s near thirty-year legacy that’s as rooted in hip-hop culture and art as it is skateboarding, has seen the company rise from its humble beginnings in Calfornia to become a globally recognized brand with stores in Paris, London and New York.
With a skateboarding team that includes members such as multi-time world champion, and highest-paid skateboarder in the world, Nyjah Huston and former Jackass star Bam Margera among its ranks, Elements continuing success is proof that some dreams come true.
Schillereff wanted to show his peers that you could buck the trends and challenge expectations and still be triumphant. And with Element, that’s exactly what he did.
When asked, in 2017 what he attributed Element’s prosperity to, Schillereff answered “Grinding as if everything could be taken away tomorrow, yet building everything so that it will last forever”.
That idea, and that philosophy, lies at the heart of everything that Element does. It’s the can-do attitude that saw their skateboards gradually win over a legion of disenfranchised skaters and it was that focus that made Element a brand that was revered instead of jeered.
In the face of overwhelming negativity, Element turned generations of skaters frowns upside down by making skateboards that celebrated life and the sheer, unadulterated power of positive thinking.
With that in mind, we started to wonder if Element were still the same skateboarding powerhouse that they always have been, or whether thanks to the constantly evolving face of skating and the rise of numerous brands that were inspired by and were now snapping at the heels of, Element, they had fallen by the wayside and between the cracks of modern skate culture.
It was a question that, after careful consideration, we decided could only be answered by testing Elements best-selling skateboards to their limits to see if they can still keep pace with their competition, if they still pack the same sort of punch that allowed them to stand head and shoulders above the rest of the skating pack and whether or not their reputation was still as deserved today as it was at the turn of the millennium.
It was a hypothesis that we were anxious to test to its absolute limits. So that’s exactly what we did.
Top 4 Best Elements Skateboards
OUR TOP PICK
Element’s core skateboard, the Section, has always been a favorite with new skaters and those long time skating hibernators looking for a way to re-enter skateboarding society.
When you ride it, it’s easy to see why it perpetually scores a ten on most scorecards, as first and foremost it’s a good-quality board that uses in house wheels, trucks, and hardware and is easy to ride and become attached to.
It doesn’t take long for this board to feel like it’s part of you and when you’re riding it, it almost feels like the Section knows what you want to do before you do it.
The deck is made using Element’s patented Featherlight method, which, even though it’s slightly thicker than an average board, feels like it weighs less than other decks, but is still strong and durable enough to last for an entire Summer of prolonged, hard ramp and concrete sessions.
One area that Element doesn’t buck usual skating trends in is the materials they use to make their decks.
Seven play Canadian maple hardwood is at the center of Elements deck game and they use epoxy glue to bond, finish and fix it together.
It gives the deck a traditional, welcoming feel and the double kicktail, at the front and rear of the board, is a nice touch as it’s always a bonus to be able to flip the deck, pop an ollie and get some street whenever you feel like upping your game and adding something new to your set.
The aluminum trucks and hard and fast wheels make it a perfect board to get to grips with street and park skating on, as it’ll easily brush off and past any of the usual concrete obstacles that could throw you off your board.
It’s a fast ride, but thanks to the deck and trucks working in conjunction to take almost all of the shocks and trauma that are part and parcel of skating hard, it’ll save your knees and ankles from the worst of it.
Even though it’s relatively fast, in skating terms, the Section is also easy to control. That easy to control feel is something that you’ll be eternally grateful for when you start hitting the bowls and are overcome by the urge to grab some air.
Visually, the Section is Element’s most easily identifiable skateboard and it wears it’s branding well, the color scheme is fun and it gives you a name to instantly connect to and with.
You might be using your moves, but it’s an Element board that you’re using to hone and perfect them.
We expected a lot from the Section, especially seeing as you can’t escape the Element name that’s plastered all over it when you’re riding it, and it delivered far more than we ever hoped it would.
When you break it right down to basics, this is the board that most people are going to see when they go looking for an Element skateboard, which means that in all likelihood, it’s the first Element skateboard that they’re going to ride.
Element has put a lot of faith in the Section as their brand ambassador and their belief in this board is returned and rewarded tenfold by it.
If this was the only skateboard that we could ride for the rest of our skating days, then we’d be more than happy. We’d be in our Element.
The Seal is Element’s team tested skateboard, and in case you missed it earlier, the team that ride for Element features of the heaviest hitters in the skateboarding world.
Roughly translated, that means that the Seal is a board that comes with the sort of approval that no amount of money in the world can buy.
That approval wasn’t purchased, it was hard-won by Element who told their team to push this board way past what they thought it could handle because Element wanted to know how much it could endure.
As it turns out, it can endure more than most skateboards should ever have to.
Made from the same Element formula that all of their decks are, the Seal’s Featherlight seven-ply Canadian maple hardwood construction gives it enough rigidity, strength, and flexibility to let it flourish in any skate environment.
It feels just as planted on the street as it does when you’re bouncing around inside a bowl and those lightweight aluminum trucks and Element branded wheels provide a scary amount of speed (that isn’t exactly surprising as the Seal comes ready and prepped for action with Amphetamine bearings, which as their name implies deliver more momentum than the average human can cope with) and control.
While we’re far from being anything that even remotely resembles professional skaters, whatever Element did to this board, we thoroughly approve of all it.
The tweaks might be minor and elude everyone except the most astute veterans, but they’re there, somewhere and the difference they make to the ride is astounding.
The Seal is a breathtaking, heart stealer that we’ll never be able to forget for all of the right reasons.
Drawing on one of their key inspirations, Element teamed up with Instagram superstar artist Chad Eaton, more commonly known as Timber, to create the Timber Remains Liberty.
With a deck made from the same Featherlight seven-ply Canadian maple wood as their other boards and using the same trucks, wheels, and bearings as the Seal, the Timber Liberty rides, even though it might a little faster and precise, almost exactly like a Section does.
It’s maneuverable, quick, and easy to control, and while we love all of those things and they put a mile-wide smile on our skating faces, what really sold the Timber Remains to us, was the artwork that it’s smothered in.
A specially commissioned Timber piece, if you stare at this board for too long, you’ll be drawn into it and part of your psyche will be trapped in its clutches forevermore.
A testament to the power of art and it’s ability to alter individual, and the collective, perspective this is Element looking into its soul and remembering why it does what it does so that it can share it with the world.
And whichever way you look at that, there’s no denying that’s a pretty cool thing to do, especially when it comes on a skateboard that you’ll never want to stop riding.
The other core founding principle of Element Skateboards was positivity, and no band has expressed that sentiment in their music and lyrics more than the Bad Brains from Washington DC.
Their high velocity, insanely catchy blend of hardcore punk and reggae preached the philosophy of embracing a PMA (positive mental attitude) and using it to make your daily life better, so it was only natural that, and a matter of time until Element and the Bad Brains gravitated toward each other.
And the end result of them colliding is this signature model, Element Bad Brains skateboard.
Everything that we love about Element boards is present and correct. The seven-ply, durable deck, the lightweight aluminum trucks, hard wheels, and faster than a Bad Brains song, Amphetamine bearings.
This skateboard isn’t just a celebration of positivity, it’s an ode to music’s ability to change your life and a homage to one of the most celebrated, and venerated underground bands of all time.
The fact that all of that is wrapped up in the sort of skateboard that’ll do everything you ever want it to too and look good while it’s doing it, that’s the positive flavored icing on this incredible skate-centric cake.
We asked a simple, straight forward question about Element.
We wanted to know if they’d stepped back and were content to let their past reputation carry them into the future and if in doing so, they’d been usurped by a new breed of skate upstarts.
After riding their signature, and collaborative edition skateboards, we can happily say that isn’t the case.
They’re still an indomitable skating institution and their skateboards prove that. Embrace positivity, lose yourself in art, and allow yourself the freedom to skate the Element way.