Picking the right surfskate is a challenge.
First, you need to define your riding style. Then align it with the deck shape, wheels, and surfskate adapter. If this sounds intimidating, don’t worry it doesn’t have to be.
I’m gonna share my knowledge clearly and concisely.
The ideal scenario is to test out surfskates before you purchase. If you have anyone in your area who surfskates, ask to test theirs. It will make a world of difference when picking. But not everyone can do this.
So, here’s the process I think makes the most sense.
Define Riding Style
The first thing you need to figure out is what type of riding style you want to do. I cover how the best surfskate brands feel to ride in this article.
But to summarize, if you want something you can pump from a standstill, you’ll want a pivoting adapter. Look into brands like YOW,
If you want something on the mellower side, look into brands like Carver CX or Landyachtz.
You might even want to look into angled riser pads or swapping bushings on your current setup. If you’re curious, I shared my experience with angled riser pads here.
Now that your riding style is defined, it’s time to figure out your ideal deck shape. There are a few different characteristics you’ll want to understand.
Let’s start with one of the most important ones…
The wheelbase is the measurement from one inner truck hole to the other. You can see what I mean in the image below. It’s important because it affects how your board turns (although not the only variable).
The reason why it’s measured between the inner holes is because manufacturers can’t control what trucks you put on your setup. And traditional kingpins, reverse kingpins, and surfskate adapters have different baseplate angles… Which affects the ‘true’ wheelbase.
The average surfskate wheelbase ranges from 14” to 20” (35.5 cm to 51 cm). But, there are always exceptions, like Hamboards.
My Ideal Wheelbase
I’m gonna share my height/weight to help you get a clearer picture.
I’m 5’11” (180 cm) and weigh 165 lbs (75 kg).
I prefer wheelbases in the 16” to 18” (40.5 cm to 46 cm) range.
How to choose your wheelbase?
A simple formula for choosing your wheelbase comes from the reddit user radioregime. All you need is your inseam length and make a few simple calculations.
- 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 keep in mind, this isn’t an exact science. The best thing you can do is to actually test different wheelbases.
Moving on, another deck characteristic you’ll want to consider is…
Concave is the rail-to-rail curvature.
If you’re unsure what that means, check the below image.
There are a few things to keep in mind when deciding on concave. If you want to do aggressive carves, more concave will help lock you in. Flatter decks offer less of that locked-in feel and are better suited for mellow carving.
If you have larger feet, concave could irritate you while riding. My dad is a shoe size 12 (US men’s) and prefers decks to be on the flatter side.
Again, it comes down to your preference because I’m a shoe size 11 and enjoy steeper concave.
Kicktail & Nose
The kicktail and nose are other important considerations in choosing the right surfskate.
Kicktails can function on surfskates as on a regular skateboard – to do ollies. But, they’re mainly used to create leverage when carving and pumping.
Much like a traction pad on a surfboard, a kicktail gives your back foot something to push back against. And in turn, it allows the board to push you forward or in the direction you’re trying to maneuver.
Noses are mostly used to catch your front foot when doing radical snaps. If you shred skateparks, you’ll most likely want a nose.
Length & Width
Next, you’ll want to figure out the right length and width.
For most people, a deck length in the 30” to 34” range (76cm to 87cm) and width in the 9″ to 10.5″ range (23cm to 27cm) will work well.
I wouldn’t recommend getting a board much smaller than the lower end of this range. The reason is that it’ll be tough to get a comfortable stance when doing deep carves.
But like I’ve been saying throughout this article, it’s subjective. There are designs outside of this range that can fit your riding style.
Another important component to consider when choosing your surfskate is the wheels.
There are a few things you’ll want to consider when picking.
- Wheel size
- Wheel hardness
- Lip profile
When figuring out the ideal wheel size, you’ll want to consider the height (diameter) and width (contact patch). Below is a visual representation of the diameter.
Most surfskates wheels will be in the 65-75mm range. It’s vital that you don’t get wheels too large that cause wheel bite. If you buy a complete, you most likely won’t have to worry about wheelbite since they’ve been tested. But it’s always good to test for wheelbite before you ride.
Wheel Edge Profile
To keep it simple, wheel edge/lip profile falls into two categories…
- Rounded edge
- Sharp edge
Rounded-edged wheels are easier to slide since there’s less traction. This is ideal if you want to practice surf-style maneuvers that mimic blowing out the tail.
Sharp-edged wheels will grip through tight and aggressive carves. This is ideal if you want to focus on deep carves without the chance of sliding out.
Wheel hardness (durometer) is also a major factor to consider. A harder wheel will slide out easier. And a softer wheel – more grip. As an effort to standardize, the skate industry uses durometer.
Surfskate wheels range from 75a-85a. Again, this is subjective because you might want something harder, but most surfskates don’t want a wheel that’ll slip too much.
The problem is that urethane formula varies with different brands. So a 77a durometer from Orangatang won’t be the same as a 77a from Sector9.
Durometer is still good to use as a gauge, just not an exact science.
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.
Trying out different wheels is the only way to figure out what suits you best.
Hopefully, by briefly covering…
- Deck characteristics
- Wheel characteristics
You now have a better idea about choosing your surfskate. Keep in mind it comes down to your riding style. The best solution is if you can test before you buy.