For all beginners and anybody new to surfskating we have answered the most frequently asked questions about surfskates in this short and sweet surfskate FAQ.
If any of your questions remain unanswered feel free to drop us a line or two via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. We are more than happy to help out and hope to improve this guide over time.
Images and Text by Maximilian Gerdau
1. What is a surfskate skateboard?
2. Will surfskating improve my surfing?
3. What is the difference between a surfskate, skateboard and longboard?
4. Is surfskating something for beginners?
5. Which surfskate is the best for beginners?
6. What are the best surfskate brands in 2022?
7. How do I choose my surfskate size?
8. What is the best wheelbase for a surfskate?
9. Which wheels, bearings and bushings are the best for a surfskate?
10. What is the best way to learn surfskating?
1. WHAT IS A SURFSKATE BOARD?
A surfskate is a skateboard that allows movements identical to surfing – surfskates are often used as surf trainers or by anybody else who enjoys surfing asphalt and concrete waves.
Surfskate decks are directional decks – so there is always a front and a back and you ride them into one direction – just like a surfboard. Most surfskates have a conventional skateboard or longboard truck at the tail of the board and a special surfskate truck at the nose of the board. Compared to regular skateboard trucks the axle of a surfskate truck does not only pivot but can also turn. Most surfskate brands have built-in springs in their trucks that make the axle bounce back to the center.
The high sensitivity and rotating axle of the front truck allows you not only to practice various surf maneuvers but also to pump the board instead of pushing it – meaning you can build up speed with both feet on the board.
Here are two examples of surfskate trucks, the Carver C7 and YOW Meraki:
2. WILL SURFSKATING IMPROVE MY SURFING?
Yes, unless you are a professional surfer spending continuously time in the ocean, there is a very high chance a surfskate will help you improve your surfing – even more if you are a beginner or intermediate surfer.
The most important benefit of using a surfskate as a surf trainer is that you can repeatedly practice maneuvers, analyze and correct your stance and improve your posture without having to catch a wave. A lot of time in the water is spent waiting and paddling for waves – on a surfskate the action starts as soon as you step onto the board. With that in mind: surfskating will of course not teach you to read the ocean, improve your pop up , duck dive or paddle power – these aspects of surfing are best to be trained in the water.
A surfskate is a great tool for everybody who wants to work on the details and particularly for surfers who are landlocked. If you are an absolute beginner surfskating can be a great way to prepare for your first surf experience – many basics like stance, posture, compression/ decrompession, movement patterns and the direction of your view can be learned on a surfskate before you even enter the water.
As if that was not enough surfskating is also a good workout that burns about as much calories as going for a run.
3. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SURFSKATE, SKATEBOARD AND LONGBOARD?
The main difference is the construction and functionality of the front truck and the fact that there is actually a different truck in the front and back. Surfskates are directional boards, meaning that they are ridden in one direction and that they have a nose and tail.
The front truck has an axle that does not only pivot and lean but that can be turned, allowing the rider to perform maneuvers as if he would be surfing a surfboard. Many surfer are using surfskates to train and improve their surfing on land. A surfskate can also be pushed and pumped, meaning that you can build speed standing with both feet on the board. It is not possible to mimic surfing maneuvers on a normal skateboard or longboard, also you cannot pump conventional boards.
Surfskates are also great skateboards for cruising. The soft and large wheels are made to do grippy carves and to run smooth in uneven terrain. While you can generate speed pumping the board it is also possible to push a surfskate like a conventional skateboard – all it takes is a little practice. Surfskates are great cruisers.
A surfskate is usually heavier than a conventional skateboard, however there are parts and setups which were particularly made with skateboard tricks in mind. So if for instance you would like to do an Ollie on a surfskate you might want to get a Carver Sun Ray or Carver Scape. These boards have a lighter Carver C5 Truck and very light Roundhouse Park wheels.
If you are into long distance or downhill skateboarding we would recommend to get a longboard – of course you can skate downhill on a surfskate but you would do carves rather than going straight. Long distance surfskating is possible but would be very exhausting.
The front truck has an axle that does not only pivot and lean but that can be turned, allowing the rider to perform maneuvers as if he would be surfing a surfboard. A surfskate can be pushed and pumped, meaning that you can build speed with both feet on the board.
4. IS SURFSKATING SOMETHING FOR BEGINNERS?
Yes, absolutely. It may look a little intimidating and wobbly but with the right board surfskating is as easy to learn as skateboarding in general. If you are an absolute beginner we always recommend to start with a Carver C7 or CX truck. Slide trucks and the 2Hex Pump truck are also surfskate systems that work very well for beginners. The main advantage of these trucks is that their sensitivity can be adjusted. So you can loosen the truck the more secure you feel on the board.
If you are a surfer, skateboarder or generally athletic and learn things fast you can even start on a YOW, SwellTech or Smoothstar.
So is it hard to surfskate? No definitely not – you just have to keep in mind that like riding a bike you cannot learn these things in a single day. If you are having fun and the time to practice a couple of days per week you will feel secure on the board and ride in style within a few month.
5. WHICH SURFSKATE IS THE BEST FOR BEGINNERS?
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when you pick your first surfskate. Knowing your current capabilities is key, we also always suggest to think about your long term aim. Finally your body size can make a difference. Having said this we do not believe in a surfskate formula or size charts – like with a surfboard every individual has different needs.
If you are completely uncertain about what surfskate is best for you drop us an e-mail with some basic information. What would like to use the surfskate for? How tall are you? How experienced are you? We are happy to offer some help choosing your first board:
To get you started and to find out some basics on how to pick your first surfskate keep reading this FAQ. With the following questions we will discuss how you should choose your ideal surfskate truck, deck size and wheelbase.
6. WHAT ARE THE BEST SURFSKATE BRANDS IN 2022?
So first of all, we believe there is not a best surfskate brand or surfskate truck – it is all in the eye of the beholder. As mentioned before for absolute beginners there are three particular systems that work out very well: the Carver C7, Slide and 2Hex Pump Truck. These systems all have the same construction with an adjustable spring – great stuff for beginners who would like to adjust the sensitivity of their board with their progress. The Carver CX, C5 and Waterborn Adapter are also great surfskate trucks for beginners as they are not overly sensitive. They offer a more or less stable controlled ride for anybody who has no board experience at all.
Which leads us to the next point: if you already have some surf, skate or board experience the mentioned trucks may quickly feel limiting for you. They work very well for experienced riders who are looking for a stable ride at high speeds in the pool or bowl – however if you are looking for a system that allows super tight turns and radical maneuvers in the flats we would recommend a surfskate from YOW, Smoothstar or Swelltech.
To help you make a good choice we have reviewed the best surfskate brands on the market in our surfskate buyers guide:
☞ Surfskate Buyers Guide
7. WHAT IS THE BEST WHEELBASE FOR A SURFSKATE?
One of the most discussed features of a surfskate is the wheelbase. The wheelsbase is measured between the inside holes of the front and back truck. As a rule of thumb for beginners a good wheelbase can be calculated like this: take a stance like you would on a surfboard by spreading your feet a little wider than your shoulders. The inside distance between your feet is a very good wheelbase to start with – in our Surfskate Buyers Guide we a have a graphic which helps to explain this.
While this principle is a very good estimate for a start, every surfskate truck has its very own riding characteristics and the wheelbase is something that can influences this further. A shorter wheelbase will result into a board which is more sensitive to your movements, allowing very tight, radical turns and a higher acceleration while pumping. A long wheelbase offers a more stable ride and wide turns, slower acceleration but higher top speed, resulting in a maneuverability which is similar to a longboard. A longer wheelbase is in most cases easier to ride as a cruiser. You can cruise a surfskate with a short wheelbase but it will need a little more skill and experience.
While a long wheelbase might be desirable, when you are looking for that extra stability of a longboard type of ride, a way too short wheelbase may result into a very sensitive and unstable board.
8. HOW DO I CHOOSE MY SURFSKATE SIZE AND SHAPE?
The shape of your surfskate deck also has a reasonable impact on what riding characteristics your board will have. If e.g. you are into Ollies a longer nose with a little rocker will help to pull the board in the air and control it. A kicktail on the other end will give the board more pop and allow to lift it of the ground.
Overall the length of the board makes less of a difference, a wider deck however will put more leverage on the front truck leading to a more sensitive ride. A wider deck will also lock your feet and secure your stance. In comparison to a low concave a deep concave will further more secure your stance. If e.g. you are looking for a deck that works best in a pool or bowl we would suggest to go for something wide with a deep concave to feel as secure as possible. If you are looking for a surfskate as a cruiser or if you are a beginner a low concave is absolutely fine as a start.
9. WHICH WHEELS, BEARINGS AND BUSHINGS ARE THE BEST FOR A SURFSKATE?
In our surfskate community here in Hamburg we can see that opinions diverge when it comes to parts. Most skaters do have a very personal preference depending on their style, where they skate and what setup they got used to over the years. There are a few DOs and DON'Ts but usually it is not the gear that is holding you back but the amount of time that is spent practicing.
In our experience pretty much all maneuvers are possible with any type of wheel if you only give it enough practice. Surfskate wheels should not be larger than 70mm in diameter to avoid wheelbites. Other rules of thumb are: small and hard wheels accelerate faster and are best for bowls, they also slide easier. Large and soft wheels offer more grip and are best for training turns without unwanted slides. On rough surfaces a wide, large and soft wheel will keep you safe and also allow running over small cracks. Rounded edges slide out easily, sharp edges offer extra grip.
Bushings are by far the most underrated part of a surfskate. Especially when using a system that cannot be adjusted via tightening the spring (like the YOW adapter) you can still do a lot of fine-tuning with the bushings. A softer cone-shaped bushing will lead to more sensibility, harder and barrel-shaped bushings can give that extra bit of stability you might need with a "nervous" system in the bowl. Some riders prefer of a mix of soft bushings on the front truck for extra maneuverability and hard bushings on the back truck for more stabilty while pumping.
All skate bearings do have the same diameter and fit into any wheel. Carver and YOW built-in bearings are particularly made for their own wheels – however they will also fit into wheels from other brands. These bearings do not have a spacer and they might have a gap in between the bearings if used with wheels from other brands. Bearings either have six or seven balls inside which are made of steel or ceramics. A 6-ball bearing will offer more speed and durability. Also ceramic balls are more durable and attract less dust and dirt. The quality and smooth running of a standard skate bearing is often indicated on the ABEC scale. High rated bearings have a better quality and are more expensive. When it comes to bearings don't be too thrifty or you will get yourself a product that wears out quickly and soon needs to be replaced again.
10. HOW DO YOU RIDE A SURFSKATE?
This is the last and magic question and there is not one answer. To get you started we have gathered a curated list of 22 surfskate video tutorials that will help you learn anything from the basics of surfskating to complex maneuvers.
☞ Surfskate Tutorials
One thing is for sure: skating with friends and particularly with riders who are better than you will be more fun and help a lot to progress and become a better skater and surfer. Another helpful advice has been to regularly film yourself and do a video analysis from time to time. Seeing yourself on video will change your perspective and point out wrong movement patterns that felt right while you were on the board. Comparing your movements with those of good skaters or surfers side by side also helps. Last but not least are videos not only a great tool to up your game but also to capture your progress and keep some good old memories of perfect concrete waves.
Here comes a carefully compiled list of our top 10 curated surfskate tutorials and lessons that will coach you to become a better surfskater and surfer in no time.
For all beginners and anybody new to surfskating we have answered the most frequently asked questions about surfskates in our short and sweet surfskate FAQ.
Our selection of Hamburg’s recommended surfskate locations and skateparks. We are covering a fine range of spots for any level from beginner to pro.
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