On 09 November 2007 at 00:00 | updated on 27 April 2013 at 15:09

Oldies : in the heart of the Hawaii Surf Shop

Oldies : in the heart of the Hawaii Surf Shop

A trip in Paris (France) bring us to the shop Hawaii Surf. Eric Gros, the owner, allowed us to visit his miracle cave. In the abyss of the cellar, behind the most recent models, hide some unknown and rare pieces, skates which crossed through the ages, absurd inventions, outmoded design. Travel through the time...


Un retour aux sources

Visiting the back-office of Hawaii Surf is an honor. This shop remains one of the oldest in France (more than 30 years). Most of us were not on skates and the Gros family was already selling skateboards and roller-skates.
We have the feeling to travel through the time when we walk down toward the cellar. The stairs plunges into darkness, you go through a black zone and that's it, you're in the past.
Eric Gros, the owner of Hawaii Surf stores here dozens of old skateboards and rollers. The collectors and the antique dealers would feel as in paradise
It is necessary to say that the man is a passionate person. You should watch how his eyes shine when he shows you his Banzaï skateboards (older than your narrator) or his prehistorics pairs of skates.

Rollers go through centuries

Certain skates are unsold articles of the years 70s and 80s, some others were found during secondhand trades, the others else were recently dislodged on Ebay by Eric or his friends who feed his collection.
Some pieces are properly packed in their original package: "I try as possible to buy them with their original packing." precise Eric.
When we ask him how he found such a product, he explains : " We find quite a lot of ancient skates in the United States, in particular thanks to Ebay. They often cost 10 or 20 dollars. It is necessary to add the postal charges which often double the price and we get really interesting pieces."
We had already visited Sam Nieswizski's cellar some years ago. Sam is a french skating historian. It abounded in plenty different skates from varied periods origins. In a quarter of an hour, Eric showed us near of forty American, French, English, German or Russian pairs.

From Chicago Skates to Blade Runners

The fanatics of "quad" (traditional skates) will stop on Chicago Skates of the XIXth century while the followers of aligned wheels will not miss the Blade Runners (Rollerblade).
Their package really looks familiar and old-fashioned : people dressed with scores and flashy colors at the time of Starsky and Hutch. We are halfway between an old gym lesson and the YMCE. The density of the liner's foam and its ridiculous thickness would make the current skaters run away. The cheapes skate in 2008 is confortable in comparison with this Blade Runner! The frame is realized in two pieces which slide the one on the other one. It stretches according to the size. The axles gives the rigidity and unite both pieces! We really notice the technological jump in 30 years.

Rare pieces

We found this very interesting piece : a skate with 2 aligned wheels mounted on a sort of traditional frame. It is a patented product from october 1905 and created by the américan John Jay Young in New-York (USA).
Our attention also focused on a 4 wheels skate : 2 on the bottom and 1 on the front, an adjustable wooden skate! The rims in metal travelled through the time without any problem but the rolling band in rubber hardened, relaxed and threatens to break. It was a time when the metal, wood and the ivory acted as polyurethane.

The beginnings of the speed skates

We also stopped on this pair of russian speed skates. It is composed with a low cut leather shoe mounted on a 5 wheels metal frame. The wheels have a full metal hub... our technical progress are impressives but the bases were already there years and years ago. Do not the first known in-line skates date from 1760 with John Joseph Merlin? Cingar, came later and already prefigured this configuration.

Rollerbones : Made in USA

We shall stop with pleasure on this Rollerbones package illustrated in black and white with a skating skeleton. The boxes was made in 1980 and comes from Santa Barbara, California (USA). We also imagine what can look like the other pairs carefully packed as these Curvecrest from Michigan (USA).
Some of us will smile while seeing this brand and its speed model : traditional adjustable skates with metal wheels from 1970/1980 - (see the photo gallery below).

Spin : an offroad-skating falling star

More close to us, we shall find certain brands which appeared briefly on the market such as "Spin". Between 96 and 98, the firm proposed an offroad skate, the Spin "Cross" . It is equipped with 90 mm rubber wheels. The articulated frame looks like a clap ice frame. The main problem of this product is its really soft shell.

Askom : the hockey reversed frames

1997/1998 is the date where the "Askom" appeared on the market. It looks a slang in french. Askom played to alternate wheels tilted under its frame. The concept appeared on the occasion of the ISPO 1998. Since then, we never heard about it.
The brand dedicated this frame to Roller Inline Hockey. The french magazine "Roller Saga" made a small article about it.

Monolith: the precursor street/freestyle frame

The nostalgic of the aggressive with traditional skates will love this unique street frame "Monolith" . It is realized with fiberglass and resin. The generous groove could remind the current freestyle frames!


We noticed, by seeing all these products, that it is essentially the materials improvements which gave life back to roller-skating. Traditional skates and inline skates were limited for a long time by the technical constraints, in particular for wheels and bearings. Who knows what innovations will bring future? Certainly no big changes but probably some minor innovations...

Galerie photos

Liens utiles

History of roller-skating

Text : Alfathor
Photos : Alfathor
Thanks to HawaiiSurf
Released  on 09 November 2007 - Read 31366 times

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