About a year ago I started seeing boards that looked like cruisers pop up on my Instagram feed.
And I couldn’t figure out why they were becoming so popular, I mean sure, they looked cool, but I didn’t really pay much attention to them.
That’s until I saw videos of the people doing some insane carving.
Which is when I realized there was a completely different type of board called the surfskate.
In this article I’ll break down exactly what a surfskate is and why it’s become one of my favorite type of boards to ride.
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Since I’ve been skating and surfing for over 14ish years now, I was intrigued
Longboards were originally created for surfers to replicate surfing on land, but surfskates, I’m telling you are another level.
I’ll be doing individual reviews for each and comparisons, so if that interests you, check back for more.
What is a Surfskate?
A surfskate is a type of board that replicates the feeling of surfing on land. The main thing that sets surfskates apart is the front truck pivots back & forth super aggressively. This allows you to maneuver like you’re cutting a wave. The back trucks are standard kingpin trucks that grip the pavement, similarly to how fins grip the face of the wave.
Below you can see what a typical surfskate looks like. The one in this photo is a Smoothstar.
Type of Surfskates
There are three main ways that company’s approach these surfskate builds.
The first and most common being a surfskate adapter where a standard kingpin truck is mounted to the adapter.
1. Surfskate Adapters
These adapters mostly use variations of springs, combined with bearings. However Waterborne uses urethane bushings combined with bearings, which is the same concept, just a different approach. These adapters essentially allow the truck to pivot aggressively from side to side.
Similar to how a surfboard functions on a wave. The back truck is more of an anchor like fins would be, whereas the front is free, giving you that insane maneuverability.
The second type is built completely into one component so there’s no need for an adapter. SwellTech and Carver take this approach with their front trucks. Although SwellTech takes it to another level.
3. Reverse Kingpins
And finally there are a bunch of brands popping up that are claiming they’re surfskates when in reality, they’re just reverse kingpin trucks trying to ride the hype train. All board, except not us, we’re not falling for that.
So to summarize, adapters, all-in-ones and absolute gimmicks.
Since surfskates are now easily my favorite type of board to ride, it got me wondering, why haven’t I heard of them before?
So I dug into some data and found that they’re most popular in Spain and Portugal. I mean it makes sense, two world class surf destinations and not to mention Spain is home to one of the surfskate leaders, YOW.
Compared to 30 other countries, the United States is ranked 25ish (it fluctuates) in terms of surfskate popularity. Which is probably why I haven’t really heard of them until recent.
At the time of recording this, there are really only three major surfskate brands based in the United States – Carver, SwellTech and Waterborne. If I missed any, let me know in the comments.
Though Carver is one of the first surfskate brands, it’s really hard for me to classify it as a surfskate since its truck isn’t as aggressive as others on the market. Even though it’s marketed as a surfskate, I’d personally classify it closer to a cruiser.
My two favorite surfskate brands are YOW and Smoothstar. I find that they do the best job at replicating the feeling of surfing.
YOW is based in Spain and Smoothstar in Australia, so the shipping fees to the United States isn’t pretty.
Although as popularity is growing, Smoothstar and YOW are looking to open distribution centers in the US. I know for a fact that in early 2021 Smoothstar will have an office in the US.
A resource that has helped me understand surfskates better is the surfskate subreddit.
There are a ton of awesome people there that are more than willing to help.
I’ve also put together in-depth reviews for YOW, Smoothstar and SwellTech, which you can find here. I’ll be adding more in the future.
Drop a comment if you have any questions, happy to help!