TRAMPA is the most innovative, proactive & downright coolest British manufacturer out there. Here, REMOLITION MEDIA presents a full spotlight feature all about where we came from, where we at, and where were heading…
Many humble mountainboarders have lofty plans to develop their own decks or parts, yet most don’t got past prototypes. Trampa is a little different; they are not your typical manufacturer, having become a company that lovingly produces every single bit of hardware a rider could possibly need. Dan Wilson chatted to Ted and got the lowdown on this Great British company. From the beginning…
It was 2002. Rob Edgar had been developing a new kind of rigid board deck from plastic composites developed at work. He shared his idea with friends Ed Statham, Ted Orr & Jonny Richards, all boardsport fiends, and Hillbilly ATB (based in Nottingham) was conceived.
The guys used scraps of metal from a lorry factory to make the prototype moulds, and old skateboard parts were robbed for testing on their first hand cut decks. Clearly onto something special they struck a deal with Ben Bisco from TKC (Scrub manufacturer/distributor), who allowed them to utilize component parts from the reliable existing Scrub range, including wheels, bindings and trucks, to be used with the deck: The Trampa (as in trampoline).
This now-infamous “bomb-proof” deck was their unique secret weapon, made from (essentially) a fiber-reinforced thermoplastic. These legendary decks are baked liked cakes. The flex and stiffness is adjusted by laying the weave (that comes on a roll) in different directions, and by altering the number of layers. The layered material is shaped to cover the highly polished moulds, vacuum-sealed, and OVEN cooked. Later, after cooling & stripping down, they are cut to final shape using seriously high-pressure water jets, normally reserved for 1ft thick steel. This is the only way to do the job as lasers get too hot and bubble the surface, while -as anybody who’s tried it knows- metal jigsaw blades are blunt within seconds of cutting.
Decks could be cut any shape, and experimentation began, with the first boards available in two shapes with a choice ply’s depending on rider weight. The crew hit the roads and made themselves visible at events all over the country, encouraging riders to try them out for themselves.
This was it: Hillbilly ATB’s patented Trampa deck had arrived on the market. Major pop and sweet torsional flex included.
The initial collaborations with Scrub came through J Bisson at All Terrain Boarding magazine (himself a keen engineer + board-builder), and before long a working relationship with G-4s ( at the time the Rolls Royce of Mountainboarding) was happening too. Trampa utilised their trucks and bindings, with wheels from Primo. ATB mag loved the boards and helped inspire the boys. Next came upgrade kits for Grass Board, Mongoose, Bio Hazard, MBS and more, and the fully-customizable nature of Trampa boards continued its evolution. They even started experimenting with NoSno parts and creating longboard decks too.
Boards featured nearly every bit of tech going, from Revo trucks to Kheo bindings. The Anarkite (board above) parts were being developed by an independant developer and Trampa forged a great working relationship. Back in 2003, the lads had started to take their products to the masses and became regular faces at events, shows & demos everywhere. Their wonky old market stall became the place to be, taking in indoor snow-shows, outdoors wind-fests, and just about every UK & euro mountainboard/kite landboard event on the calender. They met lots of new people along the way and partied like crazy with their amazing team of riders who they’d started sponsoring; In ’03 it consisted of a young, new wave of riders like Tom Kirkman, Laurie Kaye and Ollie Morrison, who were all riding prototype Trampa boards with Scrub components.
The team had an epic time, learning, riding and working together. There were European road trips, Ollie received his long-standing ‘Bomber’ nickname, Tom became World Champ for the first time (on his custom Trampa), Tom Reese joined age 17 and beat Leon Robbins, and AJ Lawson collaborated on some international Trampa missions.
With most technological developments in the sport coming from trucks & bindings, Trampa became deservedly well-known for their individual decks. With standard drilling patterns and deck size, Trampa’s personalisation of the ride was a breath of fresh air. They could offer truly custom boards, created bespoke to suit the rider’s preferences.
They also experimented with colour on the decks; it had to be a special powder-coating, and the bright glossy boards looked real good. However, it added a surprising lot of weight to the deck and, in R & D, eventually started scratching off, so was not pursued. One was even used in this Kite mag test where they chucked loads of different boards off a cliff in Devon! Needless to say, the Trampa was fine.
As they moved on, in 2005, the ‘Hillbilly’ part of their name was dropped (pure coincidence that there was an American brand with the same name!), and Ted personally took over Trampa full-time. He re-invented the ‘brand’ and started pushing the company style in a much smarter, more professional direction. Working with lots of new riders as the others moved on, they started developing new products like the Trampa Dampas which were co-developed by Mark Daniels from Kitedeck & De-x. The use of the boards with kites alongside downhill was a key factor in growth and development. They also made new working relationships with Headworx, working with the team out of Coastal, and from there got links to another affiliate, Buff Headgear. While there in 05, they also encouraged a young Tom Reese, who then beat Leon Robbins age 13!
Soon, they began to sponsor major events, and then made the decision to put on their own freestyle-based comp: The Trampa Challenge. The first one went well and the team line-up expanded with some top international riders like crazy Swiss man Marco Dahler, Aussie “Wild Boar” Ryan Slater & previous World Freestyle Champions Renny Myles & Arno VDV…
Trampa had secured their products relevance in both the gravity-powered side of boarding as well as the wind-powered market; they’d made their own decks, started their own competitions, given loads of riders the chance to be ‘pros’ and loads more people the chance to be riders. Yep, they’d come a real long way- both physically and metaphorically… What was next?
A change was in the air again for Trampa near the end of the noughties. MBS decided it was no longer in their best interests to supply accessories and there was a recognition that the Scrub parts, although good, were not really what Trampa stood for. They still continued with the hybrids, using parts from Ground Industries and more, but started looking at developing more hardware themselves. Meanwhile, boards carried on rolling out at events, try-outs and centres.
So in 2008 (having sold his house to invest) Ted bravely steered the Trampa ship through turbulent economic waters, and started research + devel
opment into the next generation of gear, determined to manufacture all the quality components they could themselves; not only decks but trucks, hubs, tyres, bindings, bearings, nuts, bolts and everything. All with the legendary Trampa attention to detail and enviable first class quality.
In 2009 Trampa held more comps and the Rem crew got a preview of loads of the new gear while it was in testing. It was frankly incredible just how much shiny new stuff there was. There were finished hubs printed with camo or dollar bills, new prototype decks with a light, super high-density foam core, and some drool-worthy prototype all-steel trucks.
Less than a year (and more road-trips & events) later, all the gear was perfected and ready to drop, bar the oft-discussed foam-core deck and body protection gear – nothing is rushed through with Trampa! The whole range was launched simultaneously (March ’10) on a new Trampa website and it almost overloaded our brains with wonderful wheelieboarding options.
The new range was rolled out physically at the Ride the Hill Vert Jam in April 2010. Ted and team brought a whole stack of colour-coordinated new product for the discerning masses to test, try-out, generally look at, critique, and drool over.
Attention to detail is a Trampa standard, and everything has a seriously nice finish. One of the highlights of the latest gear is the final versions of the new trucks. Available in basic form as the ‘Infinity’ and in a finer, lighter form as the ‘Vertigo’ (with upgradeable titanium kingpins no less). They’re beautifully crafted bits of kit and amazingly light. There are no messy bits, no weld points (like the matrix pro for example), just stunningly-milled and precision-engineered metal masterpieces.
They’ve also made everything else you could possibly need to go with a their ‘bulletproof’ deck, in a mind boggling array of colours. Just look at the different binding options for instance- 25 ratchet variants, 22 cam-lock, 6 hybrids and 11 velcro, and that’s not even mentioning heel-straps…!
Of course you can get a complete setup if you’re overwhelmed by the choice.
We still dont know for fact that the decks are “bulletproof” (maybe we should get ‘Top Gear’ involved…), but we’ve never, ever seen a broken one and they are the only company that will make you a bespoke one: Flex, pop, and stiffness are all a matter of taste and as everyone is different, the boards need to be tailored to you personally with different ply thicknesses and board shape (length, plan, riser angle etc). Obviously what style of riding you plan on doing will affect it too…
Some people say the thicker decks are quite heavy, and there has been an amount of addressing this with the Holy Pro deck (which has holes in strategic places), but the heavy boards are generally for heavier riders that may break wooden decks, so they benefit. Smaller, light riders also benefit as they get some of the lightest decks around. So Trampa probably simultaneously make the heaviest and the lightest decks available on the market today!
This is especially key to the progress that’s been made in the kite-landboarding scene; they’ve always had a good presence but now the results are speaking for themselves: The Championship standings for the BKSA (BritishKiteSurfingAssociation) nationals in 2010 saw 3 Trampa team riders on the podium after 4 rounds over the year, with Jack Elston taking1st, Steve Smith 2nd and Ash Garwood 3rd. Well done lads.
2010 also unfortunately saw a burglary at Trampa HQ, but things are looking better now and Ted is looking to the future. As sales slow down due to global economic melt-downs, they’re still developing. increasing the colour ranges (blues now in!), perfecting the items that didn’t quite get refined enough in the first round of production (there have been a couple of minor changes to existing moulds), they’re experimenting with titanium axles in the Vertigo Hangers, and there’s also prototype protection: wrist guards, as well as new Bootie-wrap style butt-pads (developed with Diego Anderson) which are perfect for occasional riders & centres. Plenty to come then!
2011 also sees more events & comps planned; first of which is the Melbourne race series (organised by Trampa’s Ryan Slater), which is 3 comps over 3 months in Australia’s summer, two of which have already taken place- check out details here
A few facts:
Trampa have hosted over a dozen events and organised distribution for their products globally.
They have worked in true collaboration with riders, centres & companies, eg Headworx, Buff, Ride the Hill, Coastal, and more.
Each board in the Pro line-up features 206 separate parts.
There’s always rather a lot going on for Ted and this little garage industry from Nottingham.
To conclude, we must touch on cost. Some may argue that prices of Trampa gear require a sharp intake of breath, but we say rightly so: you’re not just buying, you’re investing.
Trampa are like the ‘Norton’ or ‘TVR’ of mountainboarding; desirable British craftsmanship bought to you with passion, care, and a bit of eccentric-looking oomph!
If you wanted, you could test drive one at mountainboard centres like Ride the Hill, Bugs Boarding, Court Farm, Out to Grass, Haredown, Hales Superbole, and Wanyi Park (Belgium), or indeed wherever you see the Trampa pimp-wagon out & about, at comps or events, with a kite, at a skatepark, centre, or on a hill somewhere, from the UK to Australia…
There you have it: choice. And probably far too much of it ;)