Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Nowadays, you can always get a good black griptape whether it be Jessup, Black Magic, Mob or whatever other quality brand. When I first started skating back in 1988, the griptape that was available was pretty bad. In addition to black, coloured tape was readily available as well as clear, which was sharp as hell. I knew plenty of kids who shredded their hands with the clear stuff in those days due to the popularity of bonelesses, launch ramp, grabs and hand plants. All of the non-clear tape had a weird gummy white-ish translucent-ish backing, you could tear the tape with your hands like it was paper, sometimes the grit was chunky, other times it was super fine and the majority of the stuff wore out fast.

Then one day within my first year of skating, Madrid came out with two items that were instantly popular. Madrid fly Vans and Madrid fly tape. The former were high tops Vans with a fly pattern on the sides and the latter was super grippy, super long lasting, super thin griptape. As far as I know, Madrid fly tape was the first griptape with the rubber/plastic backing (like all good griptape nowadays: Jessup, Black Magic, Mob etc). You definitely can't rip it easily by hand. One of the best innovations for skateboards imo.

There was one company back in the day called Wooster that made the worst griptape ever. It had that weird white-ish translucent-ish backing, it wore out super fast, and was just all around terrible. Lots of shops in my area carried it because it was 30% cheaper by the roll than Jessup. Jessup on a roll was always paper backing facing out. Wooster was the opposite... grip facing out. So when you went down to the shop and the kid behind the counter grabbed the black roll, you told him to put that crap away and grab the Jessup. Today, I was perusing ebay and saw the Wooster name and was immediately horrified that this company was still in the business of making griptape for skateboards.

A big shout out to skatedaily for making Fairways & Flips the site of the week.


Robert said...

Nice post, griptape always forgotten but so important.
I can remember saving up my hard earned dollars for a new deck, and picking up a hot pink Tommy G. with the flaming dagger on it. Was so stoked, that is until they went to grip it. All they had was florescent green! It was that shitty no backing, tear with your finger stuff. Not too mention the pink and neon green combo, it was radical. Not sure how I skated that, now I am so OCD about my grip. I can't stand anything but a single sheet of perfectly laid jessup.

Jason said...

In my opinion urethane was the most ground breaking invention...

Keith said...

yeah. Being around when wheels went from clay to urethane must have been pretty insane.

The black rubber back griptape is one of the best thing to happen in my skateboarding history. That and the smaller truck hole pattern. I guess also the popsicle stick shape boards.