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Carver Skateboards Review & Buyer’s Guide

by | Dec 20, 2022 | Reviews

Carver Skateboards is the original surfskate brand, founded by Neil Stratton and Greg Falk in Venice Beach, California in 1996.

Carver offers three surfskate trucks: the C7, CX, and C5.

I’ve owned and tested the following Carver skateboards models:

  • 36.5″ Tyler 777
  • 35.5″ Tyler Riddler (discontinued)
  • 34″ Kai Lenny Dragon
  • 33.75″ Greenroom
  • 33″ Proteus
  • 32.5″ Black Tip
  • 32.5″ Hobo
  • 32.25″ Scape C5
  • 32″ Sun Ray C5
  • 32″ Super Surfer
  • 32″ Triton Prismal
  • 31.25″ Knox Phoenix
  • 31″ Blue Haze
  • 31″ Lost Rad Ripper
  • 31″ Triton Signal

In this Carver skateboards review, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about Carver skateboards, including how Carver compares to YOW and Smoothstar surfskates, and how to choose the right Carver skateboards model for you.

To save time, money, and hassle in choosing the best surf skateboard for you, get my FREE Surfskate Selector app now.

Bottom Line Up Front

Carver offers three surfskate trucks: the original C7 with compression spring, and the CX and C5 with bushings. The C5 looks similar to the CX but it’s lower and lighter and has narrower hangers. The C5 is intended for street skaters.

I include the Carver C7 and CX in my list of the top 10 surfskate trucks. I categorize the C7 as a “hybrid” surfskate that can be used for both surf training and street cruising. I categorize the CX as a street cruiser, although it can definitely be used as a surf trainer and many surfers swear by it.

The two words that come to my mind when I think of Carver are “quality” and “versatility.” Carver is the only surfskate company that offers a lifetime warranty. The Carver CX is the lightest out of the top 10 surfskate trucks. Both the C7 and CX generate a lot of forward momentum when pumping. This makes them great for traveling from point A to point B, whereas “pure surf trainers” are best used in small areas.

If you’re a surfer, I think the Carver C7 should be among your top considerations for a surf trainer. The Carver CX is the most popular surfskate truck by far and I think it’s one of the most universal and best options for all surfskaters, surfers and non-surfers alike. I also think it’s among the best options for beginners.

If I had to recommend just one surfskate brand to anyone, it would be Carver.

Are Carver Skateboards Right for You?

 

Let’s start by determining whether Carver skateboareds are even the right brand for you.

Since October 2020, I’ve tested 43 different surfskate truck systems on more than 85 complete surfskate models. After all that testing, these are what I believe to be the best surfskates: (in alphabetical order):

 

  1. Abian Pro
  2. Aquilo
  3. Carver C7
  4. Carver CX
  5. Curfboard
  6. Grasp Pado .23
  7. Long Island Genesis Lean
  8. Slide V3
  9. Smoothstar Thruster D
  10. SpiceSkate OKTOSURF (v2)
  11. SpiceSkate SpicePilot TypeX
  12. SwellTech
  13. Waterborne Surf Adapter
  14. YOW Meraki

It’s hard to explain the differences in feel to people who have never ridden these surfskate trucks. So to help you visualize it, I put them on a scale ranging from pure surf trainers on the one hand to pure street cruisers on the other.

Since I’m not a surfer, I’m obviously not qualified to recommend which are best for surf training. However, I can describe the measurable properties of each to help you make a more informed decision.

Compared to the street cruiser surfskate trucks, the trucks that I call pure surf trainers:

  • Feel smoother, looser, and more fluid.
  • Are more responsive to upper body movements (arms, shoulders, hips).
  • When you pump, they create more lateral side-to-side motion, versus generating forward momentum. So they’re easier to pump, but they don’t pull you forward as much when you pump.
  • Are best used in small areas and for short distances.

Compared to the surf training trucks, street cruising surfskate trucks:

  • Feel tighter and snappier.
  • Are more responsive to lower body movements (ankles and knees).
  • When you pump they create more forward momentum, versus lateral side-to-side motion.
  • Are better for riding longer distances and over a wider variety of terrain.

So to bottom-line it, I would say that the further left you get on the scale, the more specialized the truck is for pure surf training. The further right on the scale, the more versatile the surfskate truck system.

I categorize the Carver C7 surfskate truck as a “hybrid surfskate” in the middle. This means it performs well as both a surf trainer and street cruiser.

I categorize the Carver CX surfskate truck as more of a pure street cruiser. However, this does not mean you cannot use it as a surf trainer. In fact, many surfers prefer it for surf training.

best surfskate trucks

So if you are a non-surfer, personally, I don’t think you can choose a better surf skateboard than a Carver CX. It’s lightweight and versatile and gives you everything you need. You can do everything from street cruising to pure surf training on it.

If you’re a surfer looking for a surf trainer surfskate, it’s more difficult to answer the question of whether or not a Carver skateboards is best for you. There are a lot of options competing in the category of surf trainer, all with very different feels.

It’s all going to come down to personal preference, and you really just need to try them all to feel the differences and choose the best surf trainer for you.

Which Carver Skateboards Surfskate Truck is Best for You?

 

Carver skateboards offer three different surfskate trucks to suit your riding style and preferences: the original C7, the CX, and the C5.

carver skateboards surfskate trucks

Carver C7: The “Flowy, Surfy” Surfskate Truck

This is the original surfskate truck released in 1996. The Carver C7 is a “dual-axis” system. This means it gives you two dimensions of motion: “sway” and “lean.” The lateral swing arm gives you sway, and the kingpin nut gives you lean.

The patented second axis of this truck increases the turning radius of your carve, and also lets you snap the nose and pivot your turns off the tail. Many surfers prefer the C7 as their surf training truck of choice.

carver skateboards surfskate trucks
carver skateboards surfskate trucks

Carver CX: The “Snappy, Street-Cruising” Surfskate Truck

This is Carver’s hybrid surf and skate truck. It’s the lightest of all the top 10 surfkate trucks listed above (although the C5 is lighter). It’s a standard RKP (Reverse King Pin) hanger and base with a patented geometry that squeezes every bit of turn and pump from the system.

This means that you can pump this truck like a C7, but it feels tighter and snappier. I feel like the CX is more versatile than the C7. It’s more suitable for beginners and non-surfers than the C7.

carver skateboards surfskate trucks
carver skateboards surfskate trucks

Carver C5: The Street Skateboarding Surfskate Truck

Carver skateboards created the C5 truck to give traditional street skaters a set-up that can be ollied and flipped as easily as it can carved and pumped.

The C5 truck system is shorter and narrower than the CX, which lowers the center of gravity and gives it more pop. You get higher ollies and better control, while the narrower hanger and patented geometry keeps it light and maneuverable.

The C5 is made with hollow axles and kingpins, which makes it not only the lightest Carver skateboards truck, but also the lightest surfksate truck in the world.

carver skateboards surfskate trucks
carver skateboards surfskate trucks

Here’s what all this means for you:

If you’re a surfer looking for a pure surf trainer, then you may want to also consider more brands, such as YOW, Smoothstar, SwellTech, and SpiceSkate. But if you do get a Carver skateboard, the C7 truck is probably best for you.

If you want a versatile surfskate that works excellent for both surf training and street cruising, then the Carver CX truck is arguably among the best.

If you’re not a surfer and you just want a surfskate to cruise the streets, then Carver CX is my top recommendation by far.

And if you come from a traditional skating background and you want a surfskate truck that you can both pump and do tricks on, then the Carver C5 truck is probably best for you.

My free Surfskate Selector app will tell you which surfskate brand and model are best for you in just 8 questions.

Carver Skateboards Decks Review

 

Of all the surfskate brands I’ve tried, Carver decks are my favorite, for several reasons.

First of all, their quality is second-to-none. They come in fantastic shapes and concave molds, which makes them high-perfoming and versatile. They also offer such a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and designs that you’re sure to find the perfect Carver skateboard deck for you.

In a poll on my YouTube channel I asked the question, “Which of these brands do you think make the best surfskate decks?” I received 475 votes, and here are the results:

slide v3 surfskate truck

I asked the same thing in a survey to my email list and here are the results from 201 respondents:

slide v3 surfskate truck

In the same survey, I asked the question, “Considering DECKS ONLY, rank these surfskate brands according to which of their decks you like best.” Here are the results:

slide v3 surfskate truck

So you really can’t go wrong with a Carver skateboard deck. They only challenge is picking the best one for you, which I’ll discuss below.

slide v3 surfskate truck

Carver skateboards offer several wheel options, which differ in urethane, size, and shape. They have two different urethane formulas. Their most common wheels are Roundhouse wheels, which use their GRP formula. Some of their models come with Ecothane wheels, with the Ecothane formula. Their sizes range from 68mm to 75mm. They also offer a unique invention with their concave wheels.

Are Carver Skateboards Roundhouse Wheels Good?

slide v3 surfskate truck

I start with Carver Roundhouse wheels because they are the most common on their models.

Carver Roundhouse wheels come in standard shapes in two sizes, 70mm and 68mm. They also come in a 69mm concave version, which I’ll discuss below.

Carver Roundhouse wheels were designed specifically for surfskating. The dimensions are optimal for surfskating. They also have a centerset core, which means they are ultra-grippy (as opposed to offset, which is a little less grippy, and sideset, which is the least grippy).

My feeling is that Carver Roundhouse wheels set the standard for stock surfskate wheels. They give you everything you need in a surfskate wheel and they’ll work great for you in most environments and at any skill level.

However, like any stock wheels, the urethane on Carver Roundhouse wheels is not a super high-rebound formula. This means they’re not super fact, at least relative to aftermarket wheels.

For general surfskating, that’s no problem. I only notice it because I like to go fast and far on a surfskate. So I upgrade all my stock surfskate wheels, no matter the brand.

The bottom line is, like any good stock surfskate wheel, Carver Roundhouse wheels work great. And to me, Carver Roundhouse wheels are among the best stock surfskate wheels.

But if you want a high-performance wheel, you’ll probably want to upgrade. But that’s the same for any surfskate company wheel.

For surfskate wheel recommendations, see my list of the best surfskate wheels.

Are Carver Skateboards Ecothane Wheels Good?

slide v3 surfskate truck

Here’s my bottom-line take on Carver Ecothane wheels: they’re not good, and if they come with your model, you’ll want to replace them. And if you comb around on online forums, you’ll discover that I’m not alone in that opinion.

The bottom line is that they’re noticeably slow and they feel “clunky,” for lack of a better word. They also don’t wear well and are prone to chunking on the edges.

However, I would say to not let the wheel options determine which Carver skateboard you buy. In other words, if the Carver skateboards model you want comes with Ecothane wheels, buy it and learn on those wheels and replace them when you can.

For surfskate wheel recommendations, see my list of the best surfskate wheels.

Are Carver Skateboards Concave Wheels Good?

slide v3 surfskate truck
slide v3 surfskate truck

Carver concave wheels are a unique invention. Instead of the wheel surface been flat, it is concave.

This means that when weight is not placed on the wheel, you can see a gap in the middle of the wheel that is not touching the surface. But when you put weight on the wheel, the concave lips compress and hug the ground like claws.

The result is the grippiest wheels you’ll ever find, which means you can lean into turns with confidence.

So if you like more grip, then Carver concave wheels may be perfect for you. However, if you like doing snaps and slides, Carver concave wheels may not be the best for you, as they are harder to slide.

For surfskate wheel recommendations, see my list of the best surfskate wheels.

Carver Skateboards Pros & Cons

 

Pros:

 

  • Excellent Quality: Of all the surfskate brands I’ve tried, I would put Carver skateboards at the top of the list in terms of overall quality.
  • Lifetime Truck Guarantee: Carver skateboards are the only surfskate brand that offer a lifetime guarantee on their surfskate trucks.
  • Versatility: Between their three surfskate trucks, Carver skateboards offer more versatility than any other surf skateboard brand. Carver surfskate trucks can do it all: pure surf training, general street cruising, park and bowl riding, downhill riding, etc.
  • Great for Any Skill Level: Carver skateboards work fantastic for any skill level, from beginner to advanced.
  • Great Deck Options: Of all the surfskate brands I’ve tried, Carver skateboards are my favorite decks. And they offer so many options that you’re sure to find the perfect one for you.

 

Cons:

 

  • Hard to Choose: Smoothstar and YOW now offer surfskate selectors on their websites. Carver is the original brand and has yet to create their own. Their sizing info on their website is limited and directed to surfers only. None of their sizing info makes sense to non-surfers.
  • Lack of Product Information: My other minor complaint about Carver skateboards is that they offer very little product information. For example, since 1996, they’ve yet to produce videos explaining how to adjust or maintain their surfskate trucks.

To be honest, those are really the only cons I can think of for Carver skateboards. In my opinion, Carver skateboards are an excellent choice for riders at any level and for any style.

Who and What are Carver Skateboards Best For?

 

I think Carver skateboards are among the best surfskates money can buy, and an excellent choice for any surfskater at any level and with any style.

If you’re a surfer looking for a pure surf trainer, then either the C7 or CX surfskate trucks will work great for you.

If you’re a non-surfer like me, then I don’t think you can do better than a Carver CX.

Carver skateboards are excellent for any surfskate application, including tight surf maneuvers in small areas, or long-distance cruising. They give you very smooth and fluid lateral turning. But unlike most other pure surf trainer surfskate trucks, they also give you a lot of forward momentum with pumping.

Are Carver Skateboards Good for Beginners?

My opinion is that Carver skateboards are among the best surfskates for beginners. In fact, my top recommendations for beginner surfskate trucks are the Carver CX and Slide V3, as they are the most stable surfskate trucks.

The Carver C7 surfskate truck can even work well for beginners, since you can adjust it and make it tight and stable enough to learn on.

Do Carver Skateboards Work for Bowl Riding?

After trying the Carver CX, Carver C7, Slide V3, Smoothstar Thruster, and YOW Meraki for bowl riding, my personal favorite surfskate truck for bowl riding is the Carver CX, because of its stability.

If you’re a beginner to bowl riding, you want a more stable surfskate truck, in which case the Carver CX is arguably your best option.

If you’re an intermediate to advanced rider, the C7 will also work well for bowl riding, and you may even prefer it over the CX.

For a more detailed analysis, see my article, “What are the Best Surfskates for Bowl Riding?

Are Carver Skateboards Good for Cross-Stepping?

I’m not a cross-stepper so I can’t personally comment on this question.

However, if you watch the video below, you’ll discover that surfer Gabe Frager prefers Carver skateboards for cross-stepping.

Are Carver Skateboards Safe for Riding Downhill?

Because surfskate trucks are more unstable than standard skateboard or longboard trucks, they can be dangerous to ride downhill.

My experience is that the Carver CX and C7 surfskate trucks are among the most stable and safe for downhill riding. I feel very comfortable riding downhill on either—and much more comfortable on them than most other surfskate trucks.

Carver vs YOW: Which is Better?

 

Obviously, no one can definitely answer this question because there is so much personal preference involved.

After testing a lot of Carver and YOW surfskates, here’s my bottom-line take:

  • If you are a surfer, then you’ll want to compare the Carver C7 to the YOW Meraki surfskate truck. The YOW Meraki is extraordinary, and I think most people will like it better than the Carver C7, and many will like it better than the Carver CX.
  • Although I’m not a surfer, I’ve done enough surveys and research to confidently say that the majority of surfers prefer the YOW Meraki for pure surf training over either the Carver C7 or Carver CX.
  • The Carver CX and YOW Meraki are my top two favorite surfskate trucks. Of the two, I prefer the CX for my long-distance street cruising style. It has more forward momentum and is easier to maintain than the YOW Meraki.
  • I much prefer Carver decks and wheels over YOW surfskate decks and wheels. Carver decks have higher concave and a wider range of options that fit more riders than YOW. YOW URA wheels are okay, I think Carver wheels are noticeably better.

In a poll on my YouTube channel I asked the question, “Which surfskate trucks do you most often ride?” Here are the results from 461 respondents:

So I can’t tell you whether you should buy a Carver or a YOW. But I think these are some good general guidelines for making that decision:

 

  • If you’re a surfer wanting a surfskate for surf training, you’ll want to consider both Carver and YOW, and you may want to go with a YOW surfskate.
  • If you’re a non-surfer street cruiser, you probably want to go with a Carver.
  • If you’re a non-surfer beginner, you probably want to start on a Carver, not a YOW.
  • If you want a surfskate for bowl riding, you probably want to go with Carver over YOW.

Carver vs Smoothstar: Which is Better?

 

As always, this is just a matter of personal preference. After testing Carver and Smoothstar surfskates, here’s my bottom-line take:

  • If you are a surfer, then you’ll want to compare the Carver C7 to the Smoothstar Thruster and Thruster D surfskate trucks, as many surfers prefer Smoothstar over Carver for surf training.
  • Although I’m not a surfer, I’ve done enough surveys and research to confidently say that surfers slightly prefer the Smoothstar Thruster for pure surf training over either the Carver C7 or Carver CX.
  • If you are a non-surfer, then I believe Carver skateboards are a far better option for you than Smoothstar surfskates. Smoothstar surfskates are more specialized, Carver surfskates are more versatile.

In a poll on my YouTube channel I asked the multiple-choice question to surfers, “Which surfskate truck do you think is the best for pure surf training?” Here are the results from 475 respondents:

So I can’t tell you whether you should buy a Carver or a Smoothstar. But I think these are some good general guidelines for making that decision:

 

  • If you’re a surfer wanting a surfskate for surf training, you’ll want to consider both Carver and Smoothstar, and you may want to go with a Smoothstar surfskate.
  • If you’re a non-surfer street cruiser, I recommend you start with a Carver.
  • If you’re a non-surfer beginner, you definitely want to start on a Carver, not a Smoothstar.
  • If you want a surfskate for bowl riding, you probably want to go with Carver over Smoothstar.

How to Choose the Right Carver Skateboards Model for You

 

Once you’ve determined that a Carver skateboard is what you want, now you have to choose your model. These steps will help:

Step 1: Determine your stance width to get your wheelbase range.

If you don’t know how to determine your stance width, first watch this video:

Stand in your natural stance and measure the distance between the middle of your inner feet.

To fall into your natural stance, bend your knees up and down and shift your body weight until you feel the most grounded, balanced, and flexible.

My stance width is 18″.

Once you have your stance width measurement (in inches), then add an inch below and an inch above your stance width to get your wheelbase range. So in my case, at an 18″ stance width, my wheelbase range is 17-19″.

However, here’s where it gets complicated: Because of how surfskate trucks are designed, some of them lose wheelbase because the truck hangs back from the axle. What this means is surfskate trucks that hang back farther have to be longer to accomodate the truck.

This means that once you have your wheelbase range, now you have to compensate for the wheelbase adjustment for your particular truck. Thankfully, Carver skateboards are easy in this regard because you don’t lose any wheelbase on the C7 truck and you only lose a half inch on the CX truck.

What this means is that for Carver trucks, you don’t really need to adjust for wheelbase offset. So you’re looking for models that have a wheelbase that are within your two-inch stance range.

So in my case, my wheelbase range is 17″ to 19″. So the Carver skateboards models that will work for me will have a listed wheelbase of between 17″ and 19″..

So once you have your stance width and wheelbase range, then only consider Carver skateboards models that have a listed wheelbase within that range.

For example, if your stance width is 16″, then your wheelbase range on Carver models is between 15″ and 17″.

You don’t want to go any narrower than your recommended wheelbase range for your surfskate truck because as your stance narrows, your front foot needs to be further up on the truck, which causes you to tip easier.

While you can ride models that are wider than your stance width range, the wider you get, the more of a specialty ride it becomes (e.g. the Carver Tyler 777), versus a more versatile surfskate.

The more your surfskate wheelbase becomes narrower than your stance width, the more unstable it becomes. The wider your surfskate wheelbase gets, the more stable it is, but the less nimble and harder to pump.

Step 2: Determine Your Riding Style & Purpose

If you’re just doing mellow long-distance cruising, you don’t need much concave on your surfskate deck, and you can have a wider wheelbase than your recommended range.

If you want to surfskate in bowls, however, you want a deck with a narrower wheelbase, high concave, and solid foot placement to lock your feet in.

Your riding style determines the characteristics you’re looking for in a surfskate deck beyond wheelbase and length.

Let’s suppose you want a deck you can use for bowl riding, in which case you want high concave. In this case, you can eliminate all decks on the lower end of your wheelbase range that have low concave.

Step 3: Research the Carver Skateboards Within Your Wheelbase Range to Make Your Final Decision

 

Once you know which Carver skateboard models to consider within your wheelbase range and you know what to do with it, now you just need to consider all other deck factors, such as width, concave, foot placement, aesthetics, etc.

For more help with choosing your Carver skateboard, get my free Surfskate Selector app now.