Choose the Best Surfskate for You in 4 Simple Steps
In a crowded surfskate market, finding the best surfskate for you is difficult. These 4 steps make it easy to choose the best surfskate and save you time, money, and hassle.
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The Magic Formula for Choosing Your Best Surfskate
4 Steps for Choosing Your Best Surfskate
Since October of 2020 I’ve tested more than 60 surfskates with 30 different surfskate trucks from 28 companies in 11 countries around the world.
I haven’t done that to build a massive surfskate quiver for myself. I’ve done it because I’ve been trying to create a predictable process of choosing the best surfskates, not only from one surfskate company, but from one company to another.
Since all surfskate trucks are designed differently, they all require different rider specifications.
I currently count 22 original surfskate trucks and more than 50 surfskate companies on the market, and very few of them have a surfskate buyer’s guide process on their websites.
So we’re swimming in options, and we have very little education for choosing the best surfskate.
But after riding that many surfskates, I finally cracked the code and came up with a formula for choosing the best surfskate for any rider and any company.
Before we get started, the first thing you’ll want to do is download the entire formula. The download is 16 pages and comes with detailed graphs, charts, and measurements. Most importantly, it comes with a cheat sheet that breaks down a very important measurement for the top surfskate trucks.
As a non-surfer, I’m not qualified to recommend the best surfskates for surf training. However, I can describe how the best surfskate trucks feel and perform to point you in the right direction.
After testing 30 different surfskate trucks, I view them on a scale ranging from pure surf trainers on the one hand, to pure street cruisers on the other.
Compared to the street cruiser surfskate trucks, the surfskate trucks I label as “pure surf trainers”:
- Feel smoother, looser, and more fluid.
- Respond more easily to movements from your upper body (hips, shoulders, and arms).
- When you pump, they generate more lateral side-to-side motion, versus pulling you forward.
- Work best for doing tight surf maneuvers in small areas and for short distances.
The pure street cruising surfskate trucks, on the other hand:
- Feel tighter and snappier.
- Respond more easily to lower body movements.
- When you pump, they pull you forward and generate more forward momentum, versus the lateral side-to-side motion you get from the pure surf trainers.
- This means they are better for riding longer distances and covering a wider range of terrain.
On this scale, this is how I rank the 10 best surfskates:
If you’re a surfer wanting a surfskate for surf training, one of the pure surf trainer trucks will probably be the best surfskate for you. If you’re a non-surfer like me, the best surfskate for you will be one of the pure street cruisers or a hybrid surf trainer/street cruiser trucks.
For more help with choosing your best surfskate truck, see this article.
Choosing Your Best Surfskate Step #2: Determine your surfskate wheelbase range as based on your stance width.
When it comes to choosing your best surfskate, the first thing you need to understand is that the most important aspect of a surfskate deck is the wheelbase.
The most common way to measure wheelbase is the distance between the inner bolt holes on a surfskate deck.
When coming from skateboarding or longboarding, we typically approach the deck buying process from a paradigm of looking at the length of decks as based on our height.
But with the surfskate trucks are designed, this is a very flawed methodology when it comes to choosing your best surfskate.
In contrast to skateboarding or longboarding, with surfskating we are doing side-to-side lateral pumping, as well as tight carving. Intuitively, we can see that the narrower our surfskate wheelbase, the tighter our carving will be. The wider our wheelbase, the less tightly we can carve.
But there’s a trick to this. With surfskate trucks, if you get a wheelbase that’s too narrow for your stance width, it will be unstable.
If your surfskate wheelbase is too narrow for your stance width, then your front foot will be positioned too far forward on the surfskate truck, which increases the likelihood of your surfskate truck jackknifing and you eating pavement.
For surfskate trucks to be stable, your front foot must be positioned right behind the front truck. So if your surfskate wheelbase is too narrow for your stance, you will be too heavily weighted forward and your surfskate truck won’t support it.
Another risk of riding surfskates that are too narrow for your stance width is that they tend to tip backwards.
So when it comes to choosing the best surfskate for you, wheelbase is king. No other aspect of a surfskate deck (length, concave, shape, etc.) matters if you don’t get the wheelbase right first.
So the 4-step formula can be boiled down to these two principles.
- The surfskates that fit you best are the surfskates that have a wheelbase that most closely align with your stance width.
- Because surfskate trucks are designed differently, you have to account and compensate for the change in wheelbase from truck system to truck system.
My Surfskate Selector app does all that math for you.
Find Your Stance Width
Once you understand the importance of wheelbase on a surfskate, step one of the formula is to determine the wheelbase range that your stance width will support.
To measure your stance width, grab a tape measure and take off your shoes.
Stand in your natural skate stance. Bend all the way down until you can touch the ground and come back up. Do that a few times and shift your feet until you find that perfect width for balancing when your weight shifts around.
When you settle into what feels like the most natural, comfortable, and balanced stance, then measure the distance between your inner feet. That’s your stance width.
My stance width, for example, is 18”:
What that means is that for me is the best surfskates for me are the ones with a wheelbase closest to that 18-inch stance.
Once you have your stance width measurement, then add an inch above and subtract an inch below. This gives you your wheelbase range.
So in my case at an 18” stance, that means the wheelbase range I’m looking for is 17” to 19”.
If you measure a 16-inch stance, the wheelbase range for the best surfskates for you will be between 15 and 17 inches.
Once you have your wheelbase range, next you have to understand how different surfskate truck systems influence this whole process, because not all surfskate trucks are alike.
Choosing Your Best Surfskate Step #3: Match your wheelbase range with your specific surfskate truck.
As mentioned above, your wheelbase measurement is the distance between the inner bolt holes of your surfskate deck.
However, it’s not that simple on a surfskate. Some surfskate trucks hang back further on the axle than others, which means you lose wheelbase. The further the surfskate truck hangs back, the longer deck you need to accommodate your stance width.
Of all the best surfskate trucks, the one that hangs back the least on the axle is the Carver C7. In fact, the Carver C7 has what I call “stance width equivalency.”
By that I mean, if your stance width is 18” and your wheelbase is between 17” and 19”, then those are the exact measurements you’re looking for on a Carver C7 deck. You don’t have to compensate for the surfskate truck hanging back on the axle because it doesn’t.
However, every other surfskate truck does, and they all hang back a different amount, as compared to the Carver C7.
For example, the YOW Meraki axle sits back 1.75” further than the Carver C7. So if you have a Carver C7 surfskate with a 16” wheelbase, the equivalent wheelbase on a YOW would need to be 17.75”.
The further the surfskate truck sits back on the axle, the longer the deck has to be to accommodate your stance width.
I’ve done all the measurements for you on all the best surfskate trucks. You can find them in the cheat sheet of my Magic Surfskate Formula.
This is critical because so many surfskaters, including myself, are spending thousands of dollars on surfskates that don’t even fit them. And even a half inch of wheelbase makes a big difference in the ride.
For example, on YOW surfskates I started on the 36” Malibu with a 23.5” wheelbase. After that, I wanted something more nimble, so I got the 34” Padang Padang with an 18.5” wheelbase.
However, it was until riding it that I discovered that it was too narrow for my comfort. It narrowed my stance and as a result, it was tippy and I had to ride it gingerly.
Now I know that the minimum wheelbase I need on a YOW surfskate for my 18” stance width is 18.75”. That’s a difference of only a quarter inch, but it made a very big difference in the ride.
So it’s very important that you get within the proper wheelbase range for your specific surfskate truck.
So those are the first two steps of choosing your best surfskate.
Once you’re to this point, of the 130+ models that are in the top surfskate companies in the world right now, you’ll narrow that down to only the models for every single company that will actually fit your stance width.
My free Surfskate Selector app does this automatically for you. Just answer 8 quick questions and it will reveal exactly the best surfskates for you from the top surfskate brands.
Choosing Your Best Surfskate Step #4: Narrow down your options by riding style and purpose and make your final decision.
The final step is narrowing down your surfskate model options based on your riding style and purpose.
When you look at your free download in the formula, you’ll see a wheelbase range calculator for all the top surfskate trucks.
Remember that your stance width measurement gives you a two-inch wheelbase range.
The surfskates with a wheelbase in the upper range of your stance width feel and perform more like cruising “sedans.” The surfskates on the lower range of your stance width feel and perform more like nimble “sports cars.”
The tighter your wheelbase, the more nimble your carving. The wider the wheelbase, the less nimble.
For example, for my stance width of 18”, the Carver Proteus, with an 18 3/8” wheelbase, is my “cruising sedan.” The Carver Black Tip, with a 17.5” wheelbase, is my “sports car” that I use for bowl riding.
When it comes to choosing concave on your surfskate deck, the general principle is, the more a surfskate is like a “cruising sedan” and the longer it is, the less concave you need. The narrower your wheelbase and the more of a “sports car” it is, the more concave you’ll want.
If all you’re doing is lazy long-distance cruising, you don’t need much concave and you can have a wider wheelbase than your recommended range. If you want to ride 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 your deck needs beyond wheelbase and length.
Let’s suppose you want a deck you can use for surfskate 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.
Once you’ve gone through these steps, the list of surfskates you’re looking at should be narrowed down to eight or ten at most. From there, you’re just making your final decision for your best surfskate.
You’ll consider all the deck factors, including deck length and shape, foot placement, concave, kicktail, and aesthetics.
At that point, it choosing your best surfskate becomes a relatively easy choice.
To save time, money, and hassle in choosing the best surfskate for you, get my free Surfskate Selector app now.