Surfskates have flooded the market and I couldn't be more stoked.
I've bought and tested YOW, Smoothstar, SwellTech, Carver, Hamboards (and still adding to my collection).
My point being, I have a solid grasp of what's out there.
Here's my in-depth YOW surfskate review to help you decide if it's right for you or not.
Contents (Click to skip)
Where To Buy?
As of right now, you can buy from YOWSurf.com or if you're lucky enough to have a distributor nearby.
If you live in the USA, ordering this thing isn't the easiest. At the time I'm writing this, they still don't have a currency converter for USD on their website (not a big deal though).
Shipping is the worst part since it's coming from the Basque Country in Spain. I ended up paying €46.49, which is roughly $52. Probably the most I've ever spent on shipping.
I believe they'll have a USA distribution center in 2021. Fingers crossed!
YOW stands for ‘Your Own Wave' and is owned by HLC Distribution, a major player in the skate industry.
HLC is based in Oiartzun, Spain and some of their brands include…
- Plan B
If you're familiar with the skate industry at all, you know those brands.
My point is… these guys know the skate industry inside and out. And after riding it for a while, you can tell.
After seeing YOW pop up a bunch online while I was researching, I had to test one out. Their marketing is probably one of the best I've seen compared to other surfskate brands.
It's impressive to see how popular they've become, especially considering they're one of the newest surfskate brands (started in 2016).
Who Is It Best For?
I'd recommend this YOW if you want a surfskate that has a really flowy feel to it.
Out of all the surfskates I own, this is one of my favorites because it feels so natural to pump and maintain speed. Their patented front truck allows you to do sharp turns but doesn't snap aggressively, like a SwellTech.
It's one of the best options if you want to practice your pumping and turns for surfing.
Before I ride any board I review, I completely take it apart and inspect the components.
Your typical hardware for any type of skateboard. The only difference is since it's a surfskate, the back bolts are shorter than the front ones.
That's because the front adapter makes the trucks higher, so in order to level it out, the back truck needs a chunky riser pad.
All of the nuts have nyloc to ensure they don't loosen, which is always great to see. Just about every skate company uses these types of nuts because you never wanna lose one when riding.
All eight-speed washers were accounted for, which is standard. You'd be surprised how many boards I come across with some missing speed washers.
YOW's trucks are standard 9″ kingpins. Each truck is exactly the same, however, the front is attached to their S5 surfskate system.
Because the S5 system is thick, the back truck has a 28mm riser pad to even it out (which also prevents wheel bite).
Just about every surfskate I've come across needs a riser pad since the surfskate adapters are so chunky.
Now onto what makes the magic happen. YOW's signature S5 system is what turns it into a carving machine.
It's a patented design, with a robust 5mm spring and a 51100 ball bearing.
And after riding this for a few months now, I can confidently say it's one of my favorite surfskates.
S4 or S5?
You have two options when it comes to their surfskate systems. Either their S4 or S5.
And it basically comes down to your weight. I own both systems and have tested them.
If you're between 65lbs – 110lbs (30kg – 50kg) then you'll want to go with the S4 since it has a lighter, 4mm spring. But if you're above 110lbs (50kgs) then go with the S5.
I weigh 160lbs and find riding the S4 pretty fun, although if I had to pick one, I'd go for the S5 since it offers more resistance. The S4 feels much looser and jolty.
If you have no idea what board or system to get, they have a page dedicated to helping you choose… but it's not that efficient to be honest. Whichever company figures out how to create a better board picker quiz is gonna dominate… picking the right board is a major surfskate annoyance.
And if you want to just cruise, they have a feature where you can insert a screw into the front adapter and lock it in place so you're just using the kingpin trucks with bushings.
Personally, I've never used this feature since the board sits so high above the ground that it's not ideal for cruising.
The deck is made of 7 Plies U.S.A. Hard Rock Maple with one colored ply. It's beautifully done, with the subtle green ply strip in the middle.
It's 32″ long and 10″ wide, with an 18.5″ wheelbase. In my personal opinion, I think it's the perfect shape. Well, that was until I got a YOW Snappers which is now the one I used the most.
The vintage lightning bolt design just adds to the surfy aesthetic.
The Jessup printed grip is low-key, making it ideal for bare-footing riding.
I love the fact that they didn't add traditional grip, which would've been much harsher. There's enough grip so you'll never slip, yet it never gets irritating while riding barefoot.
It has a subtle concave tail that feels right for foot placement.
The PIPE 32″ comes with 66 x 51mm 78A Blue Cinetic wheels. And if you know anything about wheels, then you know 78a is pretty standard.
This is common for surfskates since you want your wheels to grip the pavement when doing sharp turns. I gotta say, I love the color of these wheels… they contrast perfectly against the red deck.
If you push these wheels, you can get them to slide. I've been working on my frontside slides and since the S5 allows for snappy turns, you can slide if you have enough speed.
It's just not as slippery as something above 80a.
The bushings are the typical cone and barrel with washers. They're made of 92a Ultra HR Formula, which essentially just means they're pretty stiff.
Nothing really stands out here about them… plus I've never been one to swap my bushings out.
The wheels come with black ABEC 7 bearings. However, mine didn't come with any spacers, which I don't know if it makes a big difference.
But I'm pretty sure spacers are put there to protect your bearings from the force of aggressive carves.
But the reason I mention it is because, on the YOW PIPE 32″ product page, they list spacers as being included.
One thing I'd really like to see in future versions would be the back of the bearings capped for extra protection. This is something that is a personal preference but I think since most will ride this near the beach and there's sand everywhere, having shields on both sides makes sense.
You can easily pop the shields off Hamboards SAN-O turning bearings, which I think are a solid approach.
The only suggestion would be to include spacers.
Overall, the quality of all the parts is solid. From the deck to the trucks, there's nothing that stands out to be bad.
Likes & Dislikes
Now that I've gone over every part of the YOW Pipe 32″, I'll give my personal opinion on what I like & dislike.
First, let's start with…
I like the deck shape, but now that I have a YOW Snappers, I realized I like a board with more concave.
The 32″ length, 10″ width and 18.5″ wheelbase feels solid though. Paired with the S5 system, this thing flows.
Compared to my 29.25″ Carver and 36″ J.O.B Banzai Swelltech, the YOW's length is perfect for my riding preferences.
The design is my favorite out of all the surfskates I own.
YOW owns Jessup griptape, so obviously they're gonna use their own product. This is one of my favorite parts about the board since it not only has such a cool design, but the grip is good.
I briefly mentioned it above, but it's subtle enough for barefoot riding. I've ridden it for hours and it's never got irritating. Something that I can't say about my 29″ Penny High-Line Surfskate.
The overall feel of riding the board (in my opinion) does replicate surfing. Now clearly it's going to be impossible to feel exactly like it, but you can definitely work on your pumping and turning.
My biggest issue when surfing was when I go to do turns, I wasn't engaging my upper body.
I practice drawing out my turns on the YOW, really focusing on moving my shoulders with my hips and I do feel like it's helped me translate that to the water.
You can also pump and gain speed without any pushing.
Out of all the surfskates I've tested, YOW is what I ride the most.
I paid about $253 for the YOW PIPE 32″, which is right around what most surfskates retail for.
But, the major downside is that if you live in the USA, you're gonna pay a hefty fee for shipping. They're not optimized for the US market.
But the good part is they'll ship to the USA, so I can't really be too bummed.
Hopefully, they'll have USA distributors soon, so you don't have to spend an arm and a leg just to get your YOW surfskate!
YOW (vs) the rest
A common question I always get asked is to compare YOW to other popular surfskates. In this section that's exactly what I'll do.
YOW vs Smoothstar
YOW has a deeper and divey carving feel to it. Almost like you're balancing on a tight rope (if that makes any sense at all lol). Smoothstar feels more consistent and smoother, without that divey feel to it. YOW and Smoothstar feel the most similar to each other, compared to the others.
I did a more in-depth comparison between YOW and Smoothstar which you can find here.
YOW vs Carver
YOW and Carver feel very different from each other. YOW uses a coil spring, which offers some of the most aggressive carvings, whereas Carver is much more low key and versatile. I'd recommend YOW if you want something that you can do deeper carves with, and Carver if you want something you can also use as a cruiser for longer distances.
I hope you found value in this YOW surfskate review and if you made it this far – I appreciate it! Feel free to reach out anytime if you need help!