My first ever surfskate was the Penny surfskate and I thought it felt exactly like surfing.
It was super fun until I got a 33″ Holy Toledo Smoothstar.
I now use my YOW and Smoothstar the most.
I'm not gonna lie, I was a bit skeptical if it was going to live up to the hype. I saw so many explanations by Smoothstar explaining why their surfskate system was the best surf trainer.
Fast forward and I've been riding my Smoothstar for a solid 3 months now.
So, is it worth it or overhyped?
That's what I'll be answering in this in-depth Smoothstar review.
Contents (Click to skip)
Where To Buy?
I bought my Smoothstar directly from their website or you can pick one up at a surf shop near you (if they carry it).
I believe that they're working on a distribution for the USA but it's unclear if it'll be in 2021.
Who Is It Best For?
If you want a surfskate that you can use as a technical surf trainer, this is a solid option.
I'll use my Smoothstar when I want a more lightweight setup to do slower, drawn-out turns.
Personally, I think it really has helped me focus on engaging my upper body and translating that to my actual surfing.
I've tested Carver, YOW, SwellTech and in my opinion, Smoothstar feels the closest to surfing.
You should not get a Smoothstar if you want a surfskate that is more mellow. If that's the case, I'd suggest looking into getting a Carver.
Smoothstar is the best surf trainer in my opinion.
Like every other one of my reviews, I completely take apart the board and inspect the quality of each section. From the bushings to the deck, here you can take an in-depth look at each part.
The stock wheels that came on this board are 83a Stingrays, which are harder than most surfskate wheels. Obviously, since they're harder, it's much easier to slide the wheels versus the Cinetic 78a that came on my 32″ YOW Pipe.
These wheels serve its purpose, which is being used on smooth surfaces for surf training. If you're going to be cruising a little more than usual or don't have access to smooth surfaces, then I would get wider and softer wheels so you don't feel the pavement as much.
For example, I rode my Smoothstar down a few blocks to get to a freshly paved road and it wasn't enjoyable. I could feel pebbles and cracks much easier than when I ride my other boards. So just keep that in mind.
Smoothstar refers to its surfskate adapter as a thruster. This is where it sets itself apart from the competition. I tried taking a few different angle of it so you can get a good look at what I'm talking about.
The main difference between Smoothstar's adapter and other brands is its compression spring system. They use compression springs whereas other brands (like YOW) use coil, tension springs.
Smoothstar claims this adds more resistance like when your surf fins catch the face of a wave. And after riding it for a while, I do believe that to be true.
Once the compression spring starts to wear, all you have to do is take their provided Allen Wrench and give it a few twists.
Smoothstar says this will give you that resistance you felt when you first got your board. They also told me that they have numerous customers who have been riding their boards for several years and haven't had to tighten it.
The other thing you can't miss is the bright yellow stick they put on the front of their thruster, stating that your warranty will be void if you adjust this nut.
I believe this is just Smoothstar trying to do quality control. I'm sure they ran into a bunch of issues with their customers trying adjust the feeling of it, when in actuality it probably didn't help.
This doesn't bother me, in fact, it's cool seeing a company taking that extra step to ensure they deliver the best surfskate experience.
The hardware is typical skate hardware made of quality steel. The back truck bolts are longer since it requires a riser pad to even the board out.
All parts were accounted for, so there's really not much more to talk about in this section.
Smoothstar uses ABEC 7 bearings that are unbranded on all of their boards. I love seeing that both sides are capped, unlike other brands that leave one side exposed. This is a nice measure for extra protection.
Personally I don't feel like bearings make that much of a difference, as long as they're decent. Especially since surfskates are all about carving and not speed.
This specific board is equipped with Smoothstar's kingpin trucks and riser pads. There's nothing fancy about them – they do the job.
I do wish that the back riser pads were one piece. It's hard to tell in the below photo, but the riser pad on the right is actually two pieces.
It's not a big deal at all since most people aren't gonna be taking their board apart, but it would be a nice upgrade in the future.
I'm always confused about what to call these shaped bushings, so I referred to Smoothstar's website, which they call them ‘truck cup'. So, truck cup bushings it is!
I'm 5'11, weighing around 165lbs and find these bushings to be fine. I've never noticed a huge difference when I change bushings. I'd be curious to know if anyone out there doesn't like these.
Here are some of my likes and dislikes about my Smoothstar.
I even asked the surfskate subreddit to see what others thought about their Smoothstar. Check it out if you want even more info.
I love how predictable and smooth this board feels. What exactly do I mean? Well, the surfskate adapter has a consistent feel to it when you're turning. It's hard to explain, but I knew I would like this board the moment I started riding it.
When I ride my SwellTech, it's very hard to not think about it. I find myself focusing too much on “shit, is the front truck going to lock up and jackknife?!”
Whereas, with my Smoothstar, I don't even have to think about that. I love how I can focus on my surf technique by swaying my shoulders and hips (my biggest mistake while surfing).
The compression spring that Smoothstar utilizes is amazing. Before I even received mine, they responded to one of my Reddit posts to explain why they use a compression spring versus a coil.
I can clearly see why since it offers an amount of resistance that no other surfskates offer. Their compression spring is a big plus IMO.
I'm not gonna lie, I don't love the shape of their boards, however from a functionality aspect, they nailed it. The length and width allow you to replicate the stance you'd have on your surfboard. Obviously it's not going to be identical, but I've found that it feels the closest on Smoothstar.
Smoothstar claims they're launching a USA distribution center in 2021, which will drastically decrease shipping times/costs for anyone based in North America. Let's hope they get this up and running in early 2021.
Ordering on their website is pretty confusing and shipping is a mess (unless you're based in Australia/close). I'm based in New Jersey, United States and it took about two months for me to get mine.
I feel like both the customer and business would benefit greatly if they put together a simple 3-5 question quiz to help the selection process be more seamless.
Again, just my personal opinion, but I think Smoothstar is lacking when it comes to their graphics. Since it does such a solid job at replicating surfing, I really can't knock em. As far as graphics go, I'd say YOW and OBfive are leading the pack from an aesthetic standpoint.
Thruster For Sale
A while ago, Smoothstar use to sell their thruster individually so you could make your own setups. I love this idea since you could customize everything to your liking. I'd love to try it on other decks,
Here's what Smoothstar states on their website…
A decision has been made not to sell our Thruster turning mechanism individually. Although we have sold many over the years we have experienced a number of custom setups that didn’t meet our high quality standards.
Honestly, from a business standpoint, I totally get it. You want to make sure you provide a quality product that solves your customers problems. And when you allow them to create their own customs, there's a lot room for error, which could reflect poorly on their brand image.
YOW vs Smoothstar?
I have a full article going over the major differences between YOW vs Smoothstar, but here's a brief summary.
The major difference I've noticed is that YOW feels more “divey”. On the YOW, turning is more jolted, whereas Smoothstar is more gradual. I'm glad I have a Smoothstar and YOW because they serve two purposes in my quiver.
Hopefully you found some useful info in this Smoothstar review!