The Complete Guide to Choosing the Best Surf Skateboard
If you want to know what surf skate is for you, how to train with them and how they fit into your surfing, then this guide is for you.
To the uninitiated, a skate surfboard would be virtually indistinguishable from your standard longboard. It’s an honest mistake to make since the two are pretty distinctly different from any other standard skateboard due to their larger size. There is, however, one thing that separates the two.
The longboard is exactly what it sounds like – a longer version of a standard skateboard that you can find just about anywhere. Longboards have all the same components as a skateboard and are used in the exact same way – by pushing yourself forward with one foot and steering with the other.
Surfskates are similar in design to longboards, aside from one major difference. The front trucks of the surf skateboard are designed to have an extra axis of rotation, which allows deeper side-to-side rotations than on a regular skateboard. This front axis gives the board its name since this sort of movement allows the board to function like a surfboard on land.
The most important component that we need to go over when it comes to surf skateboards is the surf adapter. Surf adapters are the parts on to which the front trucks of a surf skateboard are mounted and attached under the board which gives the surf skateboard its very characteristic movement.
While normal trucks move on their kingpin axis and allow you to steer the board, the surf adapters let the trucks turn along an extra vertical axis. Depending on the brand of the board, the surf adapter can either function as an attachment to the board or as an integrated component.
The adapter is essentially a rotating arm that the trucks are attached to which allows them to move from side to side as you ride the board. The additional pivoting movement, on top of the standard kingpin axis rotation, allows the surf skateboard to move without you having to push it along with your foot.
How do you ride a surf skate?
You start off by standing with your feet at a little more than shoulder-width apart and placing your back foot on the part of the board where the back trucks would be, while the front foot goes just behind where the front trucks would be. Get used to this position because you’re not going to be moving your feet much.
The surf skateboard doesn’t require you to push it with one leg in order to move it along, but rather uses the force that you generate from rail-to-rail movements. Simply put – you use your body and shift your weight from your heels to your toes repeatedly. This side-to-side motion of the board is called pumping.
The side-to-side movement of the front of the board propels you forward, while the back of the board uses the kingpin axis of the regular trucks in order to function as a pivot point. You still steer the board with your back leg, but you have a larger range of motion than a skateboard or longboard.
Why would you use a surf skate?
Aside from the obvious answer “It’s really, really fun”, there are a few reasons why people would go for a surf skateboard rather than something like a longboard.
- It can help you learn and improve your surfing
If you’re a surfer at heart, but often can’t make it to the beach due to obligations or costs, then these types of boards are perfect for you. The flowing motions are so closely reminiscent of the way that actual surfboards move on the water, that many people use them in order to keep their skills sharp for when they get back out on the waves.
Additionally, while training their surfing skills, many people find that this sort of skateboarding is a pretty fun activity in and of itself.
- It’s a great skateboard in its own right
Surf skateboards aren’t just novelty gimmicks but are rather boards that can help you pull off some moves that you could never manage on a standard or longboard. The additional turning axis will make your turns smoother, and will significantly reduce your turning circle. This means that you’ll be able to tackle more difficult tight turns with much greater ease, as well as use it for everything else that you might use a skateboard for.
- Getting around
Speaking of uses for your board, riding it in order to get around town is also an option. While most surf skateboards are on the long side, they’re just as easily transportable as any other type of skateboard. Which means that you can use it to get to your destination and simply put it in a backpack or under your arm, instead of having to lock it up like a bike.
Does body type play a part?
Your height and weight are going to play a part in any physical endeavor, and are naturally going to give you certain advantages and disadvantages when it comes to how well you can pull off certain aspects of a sport. Skateboarding and using a surf skateboard are no different, and you are going to need to find a board that fits your body type.
However, while there are a lot of parameters that you need to watch out for when it comes to how your height and weight are going to translate into the length of the board that you should get, they aren’t an exact science.
What to keep in mind
In general, people who are shorter than 180 cm and lighter than 80 kg shouldn’t go for a board that’s over 30”. On the other hand, people who are 180-200 cm and anywhere between 70 and over 100 kg should feel free to pick any board that’s up to, or just short of 40” in length.
Again, these parameters aren’t set in stone and can be ignored entirely if all you plan to do with your surf skateboard is get from point A to point B. However, if you’re looking to take up longboarding as a hobby, or are trying to polish up your surfing skills, then there’s an easy way to find out if a board is right for you.
In order to get a more accurate picture of whether or not a board is a good choice for you, you can also ask to try and ride it in the shop. You don’t have to take it for a spin or even move it at all, all you have to do to measure your compatibility when standing on top of it.
While you’re on the board, adapt the stance that we mentioned earlier and place your back foot just above the back trucks, and your front foot just behind the front trucks. Your feet should be positioned wider than the width of your shoulders, but not so wide that you would find it awkward to hold your balance in this position.
How many different types of surf skateboards are there?
In essence, there are as many different types of surf skateboards as there are brands. Every brand has its own trucks and surf adapters, so no two surf skateboard manufacturers are the same.
We will say this though: all of the skate surfboard boards can be separated into two groups – surfboards and skateboards. This may sound a bit too redundant so allow us to explain what we mean.
Basically, a surf skateboard will either feel like you’re surfing or skating on the road. Different boards will give you different impressions, which means that each brand of surf skateboard will either feel more like a surfboard or more like a skateboard.
The best surf skateboard brands
SwellTech are renowned for providing skateboards that are as close to emulating the surfing experience as possible without actually putting the board in the water.
Their front trucks are equipped with external springs for hard carving and internal springs for stability in pumping, which allows the board to have a 360° rotation capability, as well as wedge risers that tilt the truck backwards.
Unlike a lot of other brands, these boards are controlled through back foot pressure, which adds to the impression that you’re actually riding a surfboard on land.
The only downside is that even though the loose front truck allows a large range of motion and rotation, it also makes the board a lot less stable than other brands. Meaning that you’re going to need a certain level of skill in order to ride one of these.
Smoothystar is another brand that tries to get their boards to feel as close to actual surfboards as possible. They provide a surf adapter that can be attached to a skateboard deck rather than one that is integrated into the very design. While this allows the attachment to be fitted to pretty much any deck, this particular adapter does raise the deck a bit higher off the ground than a few other brands, which means that the boards have a higher centre of gravity.
The surfer adapter is fitted with an internal spring that responds to the rotation of the user’s body and makes rail-to-rail transitions seamless. Smoothstar boards are designed for the sole purpose of being used as if they’re actual surfboards, which makes them a great choice for anyone that wants to develop their surfing skills, or keep them sharp.
Yow is a fairly new Spanish company that has only recently started gaining some acclaim in the world of skateboarding due to their surf adapters. Much like Smoothstar, Yow also provides adapters that can be attached to any deck of your choosing.
Another comparison that can be made between the two brands is that the surf adapters from Yow also give surf skateboards a much looser feeling, at the cost of sacrificing some of the stability.
The adapters also come with a locking pin which holds the arm into place and only allows the trucks to move on the kingpin axis, allowing the rider to turn the board into a standard skateboard whenever they want. Additionally, the company has a surf adapter model with a thinner resistance spring for lighter riders and one with a thicker spring for heavy riders.
Slide provides its customers with surf skateboards that can essentially be used for everything. This is thanks to the highly adjustable nature of the trucks themselves which allow you to tighten up or loosen up the internal spring. This will allow you to either adjust it for better pumping and speed, or for commuting from one place to another.
Slide also produces some of the most inexpensive surf skateboards that you’ll find on the market, and despite its lower price range, the products still remain of good quality. The boards occupy a sort of middle ground when it comes to their utility and can easily be used for either surfing practice or just skateboarding.
We’ve left the most famous brand for last. Carver is the most reputable name that you can see on a surf skateboard. The company is known for having two very distinctive trucks that can provide your surf skateboard with two very different features.
The C7 is the better option when it comes to practicing your surfing skills since the spring-loaded swivel arm can be adjusted to help you pull off either really loose or really tight turns.
The CX is also designed to give you the feeling of riding an actual surfboard on dry land, although it does allow you to pull off much snappier turns which are more reminiscent of the move set seen on standard skateboards.
Both trucks are considered to be good for everything from commuting to going to a skatepark and pulling off some tricks. It’ll be up to you to decide which one of these you’ll go for, but either way, you’d be getting a quality product.
Which surf skateboard should you pick?
The answer to this question will purely depend on your level of skill when it comes to using a surf skateboard.
If you’re just starting out and aren’t sure if you’d even be interested in continuing to do this particular activity for more than a week, then you should go for a Slide. As mentioned before, this brand produces lower-priced boards that can provide anyone with a great middle ground when it comes to both surfing and skating.
If you’re a beginner but are serious about picking up the sport, then you should probably go for the Carver. There’s a good reason everyone thinks of these boards first, and that’s because they can provide you with two distinctive types of surf skateboards. This means that whether you choose to go for a board with a tighter feel to them or one that’s on the opposite side of the spectrum will entirely depend on your preference.
Yow is another great company and a great place for skateboarders who want to pick up surfing, but still have to fight the instincts to stop pushing the board along with their foot.
And finally, you have both SwellTech and Smoothstar, which can provide you with a board that can give you the closest thing to an actual surfboard there is, at the price of reduced stability and a higher skill requirement from the skateboarder.