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A Snakeboard, also known as streetboard, is a board that was invented in South Africa in 1989 by James Fisher, Simon King and Oliver Macleod Smith. The concept was to fuse the original skateboard with elements of snowboarding and surfing to create a fun riding experience. The first prototype was constructed using two square wooden boards, an old roller skate chopped in half, and a piece of plumbing pipe to join them together. Many variants were tried before manufacturing began. The first boards to be mass-produced were made from a strong plastic nylon known as Zytel ST801.
The rider of a snakeboard stands with one foot on each footplate (the feet are usually fixed to the board using bindings) and, by moving his/her feet in and out in conjunction with the shoulders and hips, is able to propel the board in any direction using only body weight. This transfer of energy is called nonholonomic locomotion. The board moves in a motion similar to that of a snake—hence the sport's original name of snakeboarding. The rider of a snakeboard can ride the board on almost any terrain (depending on the setup and model of board) and even propel himself uphill and perform extreme stunts similar to those done by skateboarders and snowboarders. Snakeboards allow riders to gain momentum without the need to push themselves with their feet like skateboarders.
Skatex International (Pty) Ltd is the name of the first company that manufactured boards of this kind and was the inventors' original company. Skatex International licensed Snakeboard USA to sell and distribute the boards in the United States; the sport rapidly became known as "snakeboarding". James Fisher, Simon King and Oliver Macleod Smith jointly owned the patents and trademarks for the sport. In the late 1990s, the inventors licensed PMS (UK), a toy retailer, to manufacturer the "Sydewynder" under license. Over 50,000 Sydewynders were sold in the UK and Europe. The inventors then listed their company Snakeboard International AIM market, a division of the London Stock Exchange. Later there was a reverse acquisition of Snakeboard International by a company called MV Sports. MV Sports eventually stopped manufacturing the Snakeboard. However, the sport survives today with more advanced boards and is becoming more widely known as streetboarding.
A snakeboard is self-propelled, and there is no need to touch a foot on the ground. Moreover, it is considerably easier to generate and maintain momentum than on a skateboard. To perform a trick, one's feet must be strapped to the board, which makes it harder to "bail out" of a trick or dismount. It should also be noted that while the footstraps limit the amount a rider can manipulate the board, they also facilitate certain techniques. Much like a snowboarder, the rider can perform spins and somersaults higher and farther than any skateboarder. At the same time, this means a faster learning curve. While a skateboarder will spend weeks learning the most basic maneuvers, such as the Ollie, or jump, a streetboarder (snakeboarder) simply has to strap himself to the board and jump as he would without the board attached.