Skateboarders from around the world have come to know China as the land of ledges, and Shanghai is no exception. Amongst the many ledges that dot the city, Qibao and Binjiang are certainly two of the most iconic/popular at the moment (Rest in Peace, LP & The Center). Qibao is a ledge spot in small plaza close to the Zhongchun Road met ro station (line 9). The plaza is listed as the Aotu Huaban Park on some maps because there is technically a skatepark there. But, as anybody who has been there knows, the real draw of the spot is the ledges, not the skatepark. Binjiang, hereafter referred to as BJ, refers to a ledge spot located on the South Bund Binjiang waterfront walkway. There are actually many ledge spots all up down the South Bund waterfront, but the one that most people skate and refer to as ‘Binjiang’ is located at the bottom of a footbridge near Rihui Port (this port used to have water but not any more). A debate has emerged amongst locals as to which spot has ‘more pinch’. Both sides present convincing arguments. To our knowledge neither side has formally documented their argument. Therefore, we here at ShanghaiSpots have decided to do our own investigation into the question of which spot truly has more pinch. Our hope is that people who are interested in pinching their grinds may read this and have more clarity as to which spot offers more pinch. To get started, what exactly is ‘pinch’?
The word ‘pinch’ is a verb. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it means ‘to squeeze between the thumb and finger or between the jaws of an instrument’. Pinch, in the context of skateboarding, is when the wheel touches the edge of the board during a grind. The term is most often thrown out there when discussing the stylistic merits of a frontside krooked grind. According to Mikey Taylor, pinch is ‘the proper way to do a krooked grind’. The term really became popularized in 2015/2016 through the DasPinch Instagram page, which is devoted to highlighting proper cases of pinch (mostly on frontside and backside krooked grinds). DasPinch also ‘serves justice’ through their ‘Did They Pinch’ Instagram story where they repost videos of people doing krooked grinds and survey their followers as to whether the subject pinched their grind or not. In most cases, the subjects receive more ‘didn’t pinch’ votes than ‘pinched’ votes and are deemed ‘violators’.
DasPinch reposted a video of John Shanahan doing a front krook on their ‘Did They Pinch’ Instagram story. 75% of viewers deemed Shanahan’s krook a violation of the proper pinch standard.
While pinch has a literal definition both within and outside of skateboarding, it is sometimes used synonymously with the term ‘lock’ and/or ‘locked’. On a 2018 episode of The Nine Club, Jamie Foy (who is friends with the creators of DasPinch and sometimes labelled a ‘pinch god’) explained what pinch was to the hosts of the show. At one point in the show, a debate broke out as to whether a manual trick could be pinched. Chris Roberts, the show’s host, was adamant that a manual trick could not be pinched because a pinch is fundamentally a wheel bite and wheel bite serves no purpose in executing a proper manual trick. Foy disagreed. Foy claimed that pinch does not necessarily have to be the wheel grabbing the board but instead could be qualified by a situation where the board is not flat against the skater’s feet. Foy criticized Roberts for getting held up on the ‘physical aspect of pinch’. Foy said that in a situation where somebody with tight trucks does a frontside krooked grind without their wheel touching their board, that he would also consider that to be ‘pinch’. The conversation ended with Foy and the hosts agreeing that the ‘pinchiness’ of a trick should be judged on a linear scale and not through the absolute terms of “pinch” or “no pinch.”
Jamie Foy pinching a frontside krook on the January 2018 Thrasher cover.
So which ledge has more pinch, BJ or Qibao? To answer the question, it is worth considering the factors that influence a ledge’s pinch. Some factors that might affect the pinch of a ledge are the roundness/squareness of the ledge edge, how well the ledge grinds, what the ledge is made out of, the amount of wax on the ledge at any given time, the humidity in the air at the time of the attempted pinch, the demand for pinch from bystanders/friends of the skater, the number of people who decide to sit on the ledge while the skateboarder attempts his pinch, whether or not music is being played at the time of the attempted pinch, and whether or not beers are being used to motivate the person attempting the pinch. There are certainly more. It is tempting to analyze Qibao and BJ’s pinch according to all these factors, but an analysis of that length could take up a book. For the sake of conciseness, our analysis of Qibao versus BJ pinch will be limited to the one factor that probably has an outsize influence on a ledge’s pinch: the roundness/squareness of the ledge edge.
A square-edged ledge is probably easier to lock into since the surface on which your truck sits on is flatter than it is on a rounded ledge. This allows for more of the truck to contact the ledge during a grind, and, in effect, provides more stability to the person doing the grind. If you are more stable on the grind, then it could also be said that it is easier to pinch the grind. On the other hand, a rounded ledge has less of a surface for the truck to contact. If the ledge has less area to lock onto, then it could be harder to be stabilize the grind. As a result, pinching the grind might be harder. But it could also be said that since a round ledge has less area for the truck to contact, then that also means that the truck faces less friction during the grind. The less friction, the easier it is to grind, and the easier it is to hold the grind. If you can hold the grind for longer, then it might be easier to achieve that ‘good pinch’. In sum, the angularity of a ledge probably affects that ledge’s pinch, but both a rounded edge (like Qibao) or a squarer ledge (like BJ) could be pinchable.
Maybe instead of trying to objectively analyze Qibao and BJ’s pinch, it might just be better to ask the people what they think. Afterall, pinch, like beauty, is probably in the eye of the beholder. We surveyed 25 Shanghai skateboarders and asked them whether they thought BJ or Qibao had more pinch. The results are as follows: 19 respondents said they thought BJ has more pinch, 3 respondents said they thought Qibao has more pinch, 1 respondent said they were neutral to the question, and 1 respondent was not able to answer the question because ledges terrified them. Clearly, based on this survey, most Shanghai skateboarder think that BJ has more pinch than Qibao.
Qibao vs. BJ survey results
In addition to answering the question, some respondents volunteered explanations for their answers. Pro-BJ respondents generally tended to praise BJ’s ease of lock and criticize Qibao’s roundness. This suggest that most people feel like a square ledge works better for pinch than a rounded one. One respondent said that “Qibao was more of a gamble [because] slipping out is easy. One pro-BJ respondent went so far as to say that “Qibao has negative pinch”.
On the other hand, pro-Qibao respondents praised Qibao’s roundness and said that they thought its roundness was what gave it more pinch. One pro-Qibao respondent justified their Qibao vote by comparing Qibao to a flatbar. “I think the best way to describe it is like a round flatbar vs. a squared one. It [round flatbar] is harder to lock into but when you do lock in, it grinds faster, smoother, and with more pinch”, wrote the respondent.
While most respondents voted for BJ, many pro-BJers praised Qibao in their response, thereby suggesting that a high degree of respect exists for Qibao. One pro-BJ respondent said that they felt that Qibao was smoother than BJ. Another respondent said that Qibao was better for slides.
The question of whether BJ or Qibao has more pinch is a difficult one to answer. Both BJ and Qibao are exceptionally good ledge spots and both have good pinch qualities. BJ has a sharper angle, which makes it easier to lock grinds onto. On the other hand, Qibao is rounder which makes it easier to hold longer grinds on. Yet the subjective experience of pinching grinds at each has differed enough for a debate to have emerged as to which has more pinch. Most Shanghai skateboarders say that BJ has more pinch. But a sizable share of people believes the opposite is true. Can we definitively say that one has more pinch than the other? If the amount of a pinch a ledge has could be quantified, then yes, it would be possible to give a definitive answer to this question. But, unfortunately, and to our knowledge, nobody has developed a way to objectively measure a ledge’s pinch. So, while it is tempting to say that BJ has more pinch than Qibao, we cannot prove this. But the fact that most Shanghai skateboarders say that BJ has more pinch counts for something.
By Emmanuel Lemire
Emmanuel, or “Manny” as his friends know him, is a skateboarder living in Shanghai. You can catch him putting in an extra push or two at classic spots like Binjiang, Qibao, or more recently, the new Hongqiao Plaza.
Follow him here @mannylemire