Behind the Brand: Blood Orange
|Disciplines||Downhill/Freeride, Dancing/Freestyle, Cruising/Commuting|
In the San Francisco Bay Area, the years surrounding 2010 proved to be one of the most pivotal eras in downhill longboarding’s history as riding styles from the local scene permeated beyond Northern California and gained exposure across the world. Characterized by straight hill bombs, huge standup slides and thane-painted roads, an aesthetic breath of fresh air was ushered in to the photography and videography that showcased this riding. Behind the craze, the name Caliber Trucks popped up and took the market by storm as one of the foremost innovators of the time.
Classic B&W visuals from the Blood Orange crew.
In releasing the Caliber I, the brand introduced a revolutionary new truck that featured a house brand of bushings dubbed, Blood Orange. Concurrent with the success of the trucks, Blood Orange bushings blew up as one of the premier high end, after market bushings available. At the same time, Blood Orange began to roll out other hard-goods including grip tape, gloves, bearings and finally, wheels.
By 2014, Blood Orange gained prominence as a wheel-centric brand with the release of their Liam Morgan Signature Series. Fresh off of a stint with the Comet Skateboards/Volante Wheels crew, Morgan struck up a relationship with Caliber and naturally joined forces with Blood Orange as well. As one of the greasiest but most talented faces in the Bay Area, Morgan became the figurehead for the brand. Before long, his wheel became the top selling after market longboarding wheel across the major online longboarding retailers. Stemming from their initial run of Black Thane Limited wheels, several subsequent releases of Morgan Pro Series dropped over the years, including the Midnight, Pastel and Pro Series colorways.
Speaking on the hysteria surrounding this era, Morgan remembered,
“That was the page that everyone was on at that point in downhill skateboarding. [Saying] let’s get really thane-y wheels, go as fast as we can and hold up standup slides for a hundred feet…That’s what the craze was at the time and that’s where I found my spot in the industry.”
In the limelight, Morgan and the crew started flying all around the world filming videos and having a presence at events where stoked viewers would fan out to see him and the Blood Orange team shred in person.
A set of Morgan Pro Series wheels are perfect for balancing a toehook nose manual.
At the same time, videographer Tom Flinchbaugh began working with the Caliber/Blood Orange crew after years of looking up to the filming style of head videographer, Jack Boston. After an upbringing surrounded by his father’s passion for auto racing, Flinchbaugh took to driving as well. Likening the similarity of car racing to his other interests in downhill skateboarding he told us, “It’s like a combination of snowboarding and surfing but also rally car driving where you have four wheels and you’re drifting through corners. I love that but cars are really expensive. I’ve never been able to own a nice car myself but I could own a skateboard!” With his familiarity in driving the popular canyon roads that were being skated at the time, he was a natural for the role of follow cam filmer when the opportunity presented itself. Before long, Flinchbaugh became a regular member of the Caliber/Blood Orange filming missions.
With Flinchbaugh on board, he, along with Max Myers and the crew, began to transform the identity of Blood Orange from the raw, gritty black and white vibes portrayed in their early videos. Instead, they chose to take Blood Orange in a new direction of adding in playfully colorful visuals, aimed at a more trivial sense of fun for the brand. This, of course, is seen in the release of their newest wheels, the Jammerz. Fueled by childhood memories, office banter and a healthy dose of internet videos, Flinchbaugh spoke on the motivation behind creating these wheels by saying, “Jammerz are a big expression of Max, Liam I being 90’s kids and having strong nostalgia for all that.”
A couple members of the Blood Orange squad working together to paint the road.
Behind the neon imagery, the Blood Orange Jammerz are a more diverse wheel than those from the tried and true Morgan Series. Poured with an all new urethane formula, these wheels were designed to last long instead of shedding the same amounts of urethane as their predecessors. At the same time, the Jammerz were engineered to maintain easy slide initiation for more casual riders. That being said, even though the Jammerz provide a solid freeride experience for those who hang on the hills, they were also conceived with flatland freestylers in mind.
A bunch of the Alpine series wheels about to go for a spin.
With the new direction Blood Orange hopes to take, they plan on focusing their efforts not solely on their previous pursuits in the downhill and freeride but also in emerging disciplines: starting with freestyle and dance. To bring their wheels into these communities, the team is committed to aligning in an authentic and organic way. With the help of a carefully selected European team manager, Blood Orange is now the wheel of choice for international skaters in this scene like YouTube extraordinaire, Hans Wouters and Dock Sessions local, Achel Machin, among others.
All thane lines lead to these 84a Morgan Pastels.
While the Jammerz are the latest idea to come out of the Blood Orange vault, the team’s plan for expansion remains a top priority. Still very much at the top of their game in terms of relevancy and media production, Blood Orange has their sights set on doubling down in some of their more pressing areas of improvement. In terms of visuals, the team looks forward to curating new marketing stints with each new product release. At the same time, the team is looking forward to spending more attention on product design and the re-release of some of their lesser known products including grip, gloves and bearings.
These 82a's looking extra sugary, after a few runs.
Specifically Blood Orange’s plans for the future include developing a more diverse wheel lineup and releasing a video of team rider Aron Rover’s escapade across America. But whether their latest release comes in the form of a visual project or a physical hardgood, you can be sure that it’ll come with the qualified seal of approval from Morgan, Flinchbaugh and the rest of the Blood Orange squad.
All photos authorized to use by Tom Flinchbaugh.