1975 saw the Zephyr skate team from Santa Monica (better known as the specific area of Dogtown), California competing in the Del Mar national Skateboarding competition.
The “Zephyr surfboard production” surf shop was an integral part of the local surf culture, and had branched out into skateboard production, coinciding with the invention of urethane wheels. Kent Sherwood (Jay Adam’s step-father) who owned a fiberglass shop, was approached by Jeff Ho, Skip Engblom and Craig Stecyk of Zephyr Surf Shop to create a Zephyr skateboard.
Riding low, fast and hard, the Zephyr team took the existing version of gymnastic, handstand based skateboarding, fuelled it with the aggression of the streets, and things would never be the same again.
At first an alternative to surfing when the waves were flat, skateboarding soon took priority for a group of skate/surfers eager to prove themselves. Hitting the local schools in an attempt to mimic the big wave surf styles of their idols, the Zephyr team, or Z-Boyz as they came to be known, quickly developed into a phenomenon in their own right.
The phenomenon continued as California found itself in the grip of record droughts, causing many residents to empty their swimming pools. The Z-Boyz saw opportunity, and dove right in to these newly exposed playgrounds, sneaking into people’s back yards, skating as long as they could, and then running to avoid the inevitable police presence. The embodiment of an opportunistic, anti-establishment sentiment that remains evident in skateboarding to this day.
The finest example of this being Jay Adams, not only a 1st generation Z-Boy, but regarded as one of the best skateboarders ever, due in large part to his carefree aggressive style of attacking pools and streets.
The nature of skateboarding eventually took it`s toll on some of the Zephyr team- and in 1976 Kent Sherwood, Jay Adams’ step-dad, broke away from Zephyr and started EZ-RYDER with half of the original Zephyr skaters including Jay Adams, Tony Alva and Jim Muir.
6 months later EZ-RYDER changed it’s name to Z-Flex
Z Flex has long been responsible for product innovation, being a pioneer in development and testing urethane wheel designs. The standard clay wheels from the roller skating industry did not provide a smooth, fast ride, since they lacked retaining and grip qualities. Z-Flex developed the abrasion resistant Z
Smooth wheel specifically for boardwalk skating, followed closely by Z Grooves, a one-of-a-kind, faster, smoother wheel with a formula which most of today’s wheels are based upon.
Z-Flex 2nd Generation riders and product innovations continued to think outside the box, maintaining Z-Flex as an industry leader. Z-Flex is responsible for the first skateboard in history to utilize a concave on the board’s top-side. This revolutionized the direction of board design. You will find “concave” on almost every skateboard on the market today.
The 1st Generation of the Z-Flex team consisted of many of the Z-Boys that had moved over from the Zephyr team including Jay Adams, Tony Alva, David Hackett, and Jim Muir to name a few.
2nd Generation Z-Flex riders such as George Wilson, Dennis “Polar Bear”Agnew and Jimmy Plumer continued the legacy set by the those before. A legacy that continued in the 3rd Generation with riders such as Jimmy Acosta, Butch Sterbins, George Watanabe and Aaron Scott.
Even today Z-Boyz legends Jimmy Plumer, George Wilson and Butch Sterbins are back in action. Some are not only riding, but are part of the Company team in operations and sales (locally and internationally). The most famous Z-Boy, Jay Adams, continues his signature classic pool and cruizer boards.
Once one of a handful of skate companies finding it’s way during the infancy of skateboarding, Z-Flex has endured to become one of the longest running skateboard companies in existence.
Now generations strong, Z-Flex continues its path of determination and dedication to skateboarding. The future is as bright for Z-Flex as it’s past.