Hopefully, by now you’ve narrowed it down to what surfskate brand you want.
If not, check out this article which covers the best brands.
In this article, I’ll cover wheelbase, deck shape/size, and wheel characteristics to help make your decision easier.
If you’d rather watch a video, check it out below.
So, where to start?
In my opinion, the three most important attributes to consider when choosing your surfskate are:
- Deck characteristics
- Wheel characteristics
The ideal scenario is to test out surfskates before you purchase. If you have anyone you know in your area, ask to test theirs. It will make a world of difference when picking.
The wheelbase is the measurement of the distance from the front truck to the rear truck.
There are several ways that brands measure wheelbase, which are…
- Distance between the center of the front and rear axles
- Distance between the inner truck holes (shown in above image)
- Distance between the hangers.
Typical wheelbases range from 14” to 20” (35.5 cm to 51 cm) but some boards come with wheelbases outside of that range (examples being most Hamboards or YOW longboard surfskates).
My Ideal Wheelbase
I’m not sure how many out there this will help, but I’m gonna share it anyway.
I’m 5’11” (180 cm) and weigh 165 lbs (75 kg).
For my riding style, I typically look for boards in the 16” to 18” (40.5 cm to 46 cm).
The best and most simple formula for choosing your wheelbase comes from the reddit user radioregime.
Radioregime explains that all you need is your inseam length and a few calculations to find the wheelbase range that will be best for you.
Surfskate Wheelbase Formula
- Measure your inseam in inches or cm.
- Divide the inseam length by 2.
- Add an inch (2.5 cm) to the number found in step 2.
- To find the lower limit of your wheelbase range: subtract a half inch (~1.5 cm) from the number found in step 3.
To find the upper limit of your wheelbase range: add a half-inch (~1.5 cm) from the number found in step 3.
Here’s an example:
Inseam: 31” (78 cm)
Divide inseam by 2: 15.5” (39 cm)
Add 1 inch (2.5 cm): 16.5” (41.5 cm)
Lower Limit – Upper Limit: 16” – 17” (40cm – 43cm)
The formula gives an ideal wheelbase range of 16” to 17” (40 cm to 43 cm) for a 31” (78 cm) inseam. This is a good place to start if you have no idea what wheelbase to get. But I would still do additional research.
Hopefully, you now have a good understanding of wheelbase
Let’s move on to deck shape/size.
Starting with the concave of the deck, which I’d describe as the rail-to-rail curvature.
To make it easier to understand, check the image below.
The concave offered on surfskate decks vary from aggressive to mellow. Some have no concave at all.
For those looking to perform more radical maneuvers, usually the more concave, the better. Board concave locks your feet into the deck, so seek out higher concaved deck designs if you want to ride more aggressively.
Decks that are flatter offer less of that locked-in feel and are better suited for mellow carving. Although, it really does come down to personal preference.
A kicktail is another important consideration in choosing the right deck shape.
Kicktails can function on surfskates just as they do on a regular skateboard to do ollies but are mostly used to create leverage for carves and pumping.
Much like a tail pad on a surfboard, a kicktail gives your back foot something to push back against which in turn allows the board to push you forward or in the direction you are trying to maneuver.
Surfskates that are for more aggressive carving will undoubtedly have a higher kicktail and generally longboards do not have kicktails.
Surfskates geared towards mellow cruising, such as some of the Carver models, usually will have kicktails that are lower but can still be leaned on when needed.
The last consideration for the deck is the size. The length and width of the deck should allow you to maintain a stable stance without restricting your leg spacing or foot placement.
For most people, a deck length in the 30” to 34” range (76 cm to 87 cm) will work but there are designs outside of this range that can fit you as well. Longer boards are generally more stable and carve more drawn out lines when compared to boards that are shorter and snappier in turns. Longboard surfskates, up to and over 74” (188 cm), can be found from several manufacturers and are designed to recreate the feel of surfing a longboard.
Deck widths commonly are found in the 8.5” to 11.5” (21.5 cm to 30 cm) range. There are still many surfskate options outside of this range and are found in brands such as Hamboards who make specialty type boards that are considerably larger than most. We do not recommend getting a board much smaller than the lower end of this range, especially with spring-based surfskate adapters because the lack of stability will make carving and balancing a challenge.
A key point to note is that although the wheelbase is the most important aspect when determining how tight of carves you can perform on the surfskate, deck length is almost always related to the wheelbase (longer decks, longer wheelbase).
There are exceptions to this rule (YOW Chiba) but it’s a good general rule to be aware of when selecting your board.
As a reference, my favorite surfskate at the moment is the YOW Snappers (32.5″ length x 10″ width x 17″ wheelbase — 82.5 cm x 25.5 cm x 43 cm) because the shape and size seem to fit my riding style, foot size, and height the best.
A board with a more steep concave in the deck allows me to feel confidently locked in while making more aggressive carves. I routinely ride many different boards but the Snapper is my usual go-to and feels just right.
A last important note to watch out for when you are trying to select a board: some surfskate companies have included 3D deck renders on their websites so you can see exactly what the deck looks like before you buy.
It would be great if you could go to your local surf shop and explore all the different models. SwellTech was the first company to do this and YOW has followed suit. I imagine it won’t be long before all notable surfskate brands have this feature on their websites.
The last attribute that is important to consider when purchasing your surfskate is the wheel characteristics.
Surfskate wheels, like all skateboard wheels, are measured/categorized in three ways:
- Wheel size – diameter (height) and width – both measured in mm
- Edge profile – rounded or sharp
- Wheel hardness – measured with durometer
Wheel size is measured in diameter (height) and width.
The diameter of the wheels for each surfskate set-up is important since having wheels that are too large can cause wheel bite. More so on a surfskate than just general cruising, wheel bite can completely ruin your ability to carve.
As an example, the YOW x Medina Tie Dye complete comes with wheels that are 66 mm and, should the wheels ever need to be changed, you’re best to stick to that number or go lower.
Wheels that are too narrow also affect the carving ability and board stability so, as with the diameter, stick to the manufacturer’s specifications here.
Wheel Edge Profile
Wheel edge profile falls into two categories: rounded edge and sharp (square) edge.
Rounded-edged wheels offer more potential to slide through turns which is perfect for riders looking to practice surf-style maneuvers that mimic blowing out the tail.
Sharp or square-edged wheels provide more grip through tight carves and are less likely to slide out.
Wheel hardness is something you’re gonna have to experiment with, but here’s some basic info.
The hardness is measured using a durometer and ranges from 75A (soft) to 100A+ (hard).
The softer the wheel, the more smooth the ride and the more grip. The tradeoff is in longevity and speed as softer wheels wear more quickly and ride slower.
Hard wheels are fast and last longer but they offer less comfort and grip than soft wheels.
Generally, you are moving slower when surfskating than speeds attained when cruising (or downhill!) so softer wheels tend to be more common.
There is no tried-and-true formula for which wheel hardness will work best for you. Surfskate manufacturers select the wheel hardness that they feel works best with their boards but you may find that you like something different.
The only way you can figure out what suits you best is to try out different wheels.
Hopefully by briefly covering…
- Deck characteristics
- Wheel characteristics
You now have a better idea about choosing your surfskate. And if you haven’t already, check out our Best Surfskate Brands article which will further guide you to pick the right surfskate.