YOW vs Smoothstar, what’s the difference of their build, riding feel, and who do I think they’re best for.
I know there are other brands like Carver, SwellTech or Waterborne, I mean it honestly seems like every longboard company is trying to capitalize on the growing surfskate market.
But YOW and Smoothstar are my two favorites and in my opinion are leading the game for surfskate completes.
If you’re interested in a more in-depth review on each, check out…
One more sidenote before I get into it – I realize there are a bunch of other surfskates and there’s gonna be mad comments like “Yooo what about this surfskate, you should try it out. How do these compare to the blah blah blah” Slide surfskates are another one I always get suggested but I’ve tried to get one however they don’t distribute to the USA, so for now I can’t get my hands on one, as much as I want to.
I want to briefly describe my background so you know the angle this information is coming from because everyone uses surfskates in a different way.
I started traditional skateboarding when I was five years old and I would mainly shred bowls and miniramps, I just loved the feeling of getting speed and flowing. Then I picked up surfing around 10, which I would do inconsistently since I live about an hour and a half away from any coastline.
Im currently 25 and I’d describe myself as a surf heavy skater. I prefer to surf but I still surfskate and cruise a bunch. Basically if it’s a board, I’ll shred it.
My surfing expertise is intermediate… I can’t do airs, but I have gotten barrelled a few times and can do some cutsbacks/snaps somewhat regularly. I share all of this because I think that info is important, so you know where I’m coming from.
Surfskates are so appealing to me is because I live half the year in a land-locked state about an hour and a half from the ocean. Then spend the other half on the New Jersey coast surfing as much as I can.
I want to try my best to describe the feeling of both because personally I think, they fit two different needs in the market.
In a perfect world, I’d tell you to get both because I think they have a unique feel that all the other surfskates lack.
Before shipping I paid around $263 for my YOW Pipe and $233 for my Smoothstar Holy Toledo. These boards aren’t cheap, but I do think it’s justified since they ride so much different than other boards.
How Are They Made?
So, how are they made, because even though they both utitlize springs, they go about it in a different way.
YOW has a wider and thicker coil spring. The base and pivoting plates aren’t as hollowed out as the smoothstar, which makes it an overall heavier adapter.
I weighed it and it’s right around 21.6 oz, which is 1.35lbs
Smoothstar uses a tension spring that’s attached to a pivoting arm.
Like I mentioned above, the plates are hollowed out much more than the YOW, making it obviously lighter and weighs an overall 15 oz, which is 0.93lbs.
The one thing I will give to Smoothstar is that you can tell their adapter has been through numerous iterations and I’m pretty sure they’re one of the oldest surfskate companies, right behind Carver.
I’m gonna be honest, you can definitely feel that weight difference between the adapters while riding. Is that good or bad? I’ll discuss that in the next section.
Are They Good Cruisers?
The other thing to note is these are not cruisers to take for an extended distance. Like I would never take one of these boards more than a couple blocks since that front adapter is so aggressive.
Although YOW does have a hole in the top left of their adapter, where you can screw a bolt in and lock the adapter in place, which they say turns it into a cruiser, but from a functionality standpoint, it’s too high off the ground to be a cruiser and I never use it. The only time I used it was when someone asked me how it felt and that’s really all.
This is the hardest part about this comparison… describing the difference of how they ride because I’d say they have a 65% similar feel.
With both of these boards you can pump from a standstill and gain a lot of speed.
I had a bunch of people asking about riding these boards in bowls and parks, but unfortunately, I have yet to do that because I have no local skateparks.
But the main purpose in this Yow vs Smoothstar comparison is to describe the feeling of each and I think you can then translate that to which one you wanna use for a bowl type scenario.
How Do They Feel To Ride?
So when you’re riding the YOW, you can feel it has a more divey feel.
I read something on the surfskate subreddit where someone described it as if you had a rope going through the center of the board, when you go to do a carve, your weight distribution feels more aggressive, still not snappy like a SwellTech, but yeah divey is kind of the best description I can think of for it.
The Smoothstar on the otherhand has a more consistent feel to it and when you pump on it, it feels like your weight is distributed more evenly than on a YOW.
YOW sort of feels more front heavy if that makes any sense.
I think because the Smoothstar has more resistance like you saw when I pulled it to the side and let go – it gives you a more consistent and predictable feel. And because of that resistance, it doesn’t have as tight of a turning radius that YOW has.
When pumping, because it has more resistance, you don’t need to exert as much energy as you do on the YOW. But I mean, honestly, both are a serious leg workout.
If you want something that you’re going to use a technical surf trainer, I think Smoothstar has it dialed in. And I don’t even think that’s debatable because they’ve been in business, tweaking their designs for over 18 years now. And you can see it in their design compared to YOW – it’s more intricate, lighter and an overall functionality based company.
Because of this brand image, I think a lot of people are turned off by it since you can tell they’re doing everything in their power to protect their image as being the best surf trainer, period. Even if that means giving aggressive replies to their customers.
Which One To Choose?
Personally I use my Smoothstar when I’m going slower and want to work on my surf technique, engaging my upper body because that’s something I struggle with surfing. I feel like it gives me the ability to focus on my technique since it’s so predictable and my weight distribution feels more accurate to surfing.
Now you’re probably like, okay so why should I even consider YOW, well I actually use my YOW more than I use my Smoothstar because the majority of the time, I’m messing around and having fun with my friends and I personally just like the feel on YOW.
We’re not doing anything technically right at all and if Smoostar saw how we are riding most of the time, they’d probably cringe.
For me, I love that more aggressive, divey feel that YOW offers… Now is it messing up my technical ability to surf? It could be…. but at the end of the day I’m not trying to become the next Jon Jon Florence.
I’m just tryna shred with my bros, have fun and share some laughs and for my personal preference, I gravitate towards YOW more.
My friend Alex on the other hand, usually rides my Smoothstar more and I think enjoys it better.
YOW makes sense if you want a surf skate feel that does feel like surfing but maybe isn’t the most technically right.
I know you’ve probably heard this a bunch but it really does come down to your personal preference.
I’ve even come across people that prefer YOW for surf training because they like a more unpredictable, aggressive feel. I think they’re both awesome companies and it all comes down to what are you looking to achieve and what type of riding feel do you prefer.
Ideally, I tell people if you can test out a YOW and a Smoothstar before buying one, which I realize is tough, that’s your best bet because these things are expensive.
The last thing I want to mention is I think YOW from a design perspective wins. They have so many options with really cool graphics that I like.
So YOW kills it with their board designs and but Smoothstar isn’t competing with design, you can tell they’re mainly focusing on functionality, strictly as a surf trainer.
I know I probably missed some things because I got so many suggestions of what to cover for this YOW vs Smoothstar comparison, and I don’t wanna go on and on, but hopefully, that clears some things up for you.
I’m also curious to know if you have tried both, what do you think a major difference is – drop a comment below.