Waterborne FIN System Review: A Versatile Surf Adapter
Read this review to see if the Waterborne FIN system is for you.
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Waterborne FIN System Review Quick Links
Bottom Line Up Front
I include the Waterborne surf adapter in my list of the best surfskates. Assuming you already have a skateboard or longboard, it’s the cheapest way to get into surfskating.
The new Waterborne FIN system allows you to change the angle of the Waterborne surf adapter in two directions: “Super Carve” mode and “Mega Pump” mode. This allows you to either carve more tightly or pump more efficiently, depending on your application.
Between those and the standard mode, it gives you three levels of customization.
The Waterborne FIN system is the most customizable and versatile surfskate truck I’ve ever seen. It gives you limitless options to fine-tune your set-up to the tiniest details. These options include FIN modes, bushing durometers, rail adapter, truck options, and more.
By customizing the Waterborne FIN system, it can do anything you want it to do. This includes pure surf training, street cruising, snaps and slides, long-distance pumping, park and bowl riding, etc.
If you like to customize your set-ups, I think you’ll love the Waterborne FIN system. It gives you everything you need to have multiple set-ups that you love.
However, if you’re a beginner and don’t know how to customize, then I recommend you start with a complete model first.
If you’re going to get a Waterborne surf adapter, then I highly recommend you upgrade to the FIN system. The FIN system costs $20 more than the standard system, but the customization options make it worth it.
The Waterborne surf adapter enables you to turn any skateboard or longboard into a surfskate.
Waterborne recently came out with what they call their FIN System. The Waterborne FIN System is the same surf adapter, but with one little addition that gives you customization options. That addition is an insertable circular metal piece, or what they call the “FIN”:
That’s just one example of the uses for the Waterborne FIN system.
Changing modes changes the height of the nose of your board by a quarter inch in either direction.
Waterborne FIN System on Standard Mode:
Waterborne FIN System on Super Carve Mode:
Waterborne FIN System on Mega Pump Mode:
Obviously, you’ll feel a bigger difference going from Super Carve to Mega Pump mode, or vice versa.
Since October of 2020, I’ve tested more than 85 surfskates with 43 different surfskate trucks. And after testing them, I’ve boiled them down to what I believe are the best surfskates. These are, in alphabetical order:
- Abian Pro
- Carver C7
- Carver CX
- Grasp Pado .23
- Long Island Genesis Lean
- Slide V3
- Smoothstar Thruster D
- SpiceSkate OKTOSURF (v2)
- SpiceSkate SpicePilot TypeX
- Waterborne Surf Adapter
- YOW Meraki
I’ve organized them on a scale of what I call pure surf trainers on one side, to street cruisers on the other side. They have the following characteristics:
I also categorize it as a hybrid because the Waterborne FIN system gives you so many customization options. You can make it feel and perform a lot of different ways.
If you already skateboard or longboard, the Waterborne surf adapter is a fantastic way to try surfskating.
Assuming you already have a skateboard or longboard, it’s the cheapest way to start. Just grab a surf adapter, pop it onto your existing setup. You have an instant surfskate for as little as $59.99.
If you have a lot of experience customizing setups, then I think you’ll love the Waterborne FIN system. It gives you more customization options than any other surfskate truck. This allows you to really dial in on a system that you absolutely love.
But if you’re new to all skating and you don’t know anything about customization, then you’re better off starting with a complete model.
A surfskate is a system with a lot of different moving parts, all of which relate to each other. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s very difficult to build a setup you really love.
Are you a surfer looking for a pure surf trainer that most closely replicates the feel of surfing on land? Then you may want to consider some of those other pure surf trainers before the Waterborne FIN system.
Once you have your Waterborne surf adapter installed onto your board, then changing the FIN modes is easy. All you have to do is remove the kingpin nut and add the FIN in whichever direction you want.
The easiest way to do this is to use a ratchet wrench. But if you’re out skating, you may want to take a small skate tool with you.
However you do it, your first step is to remove your kingpin nut.
A big part of the fun of the Waterborne FIN system is experimenting with all the different variables to dial in your perfect set-up.
While there are other variables to a surfskate, the main variables to consider when customizing your Waterborne FIN system are:
- The FIN modes
- The Waterborne Surf Adapter internal bushing
- TKP vs. RKP trucks
- Rail adapter vs. risers on rear
- Your truck bushings
I’ve already covered the FIN modes above.
Customize with RipTide Waterborne Surf Adapter Bushings
The bushing inside the Waterborne Surf Adapter is a unique cube shape, and comes standard in 95a durometer.
You can get RipTide bushings for the Waterborne surf adapter in three durometers: 92.5a, 95a, and 97.5a.
“As the name implies, this compound is very lively and offers high rebound with lots of control and lean. For the same durometer, the APS will turn 10% to 15% more than the same durometer of other brands.”
RipTide bushings for the Waterborne surf adapter give you both more flexibility as well as better rebound. You get a wider range of motion and turns feel smoother.
When you lean into turns, the high-rebound urethane snaps you back to center. This gives you much more lively feel than you get out of your stock bushing.
For riders who weigh between about 165 and 185 pounds, 95a durometer is probably best.
If you weigh less than 165 pounds, the 92.5a durometer may feel better. You can also use that if you just want a looser, flowier feel.
If you weigh more than 185 pounds, then I recommend you try the 97.5a durometer.
I love RipTide Waterborne surf adapter bushings. The 97.5a durometer fixes the biggest complaint I have about the Waterborne surf adapter. That is that it has a deep-dive lean, and it doesn’t have as much rebound back to center as the YOW Meraki.
At my weight, the stiffer 97.5a RipTide Waterborne surf adapter bushing totally fixes this problem.
TKP vs. RKP Trucks
The Waterborne surf adapter works with both traditional kingpin (TKP) trucks and reverse kingpin (RKP trucks). They each have a different feel, and that comes down to personal preference.
If you don’t already know the difference between TKPs and RKPs, that right there should probably tell you that the Waterborne probably isn’t for you. You probably should be starting on a complete surfskate model first.
TKP trucks are what you see on skateboards.
RKP trucks are what you see on longboards.
RKPs also ride higher than TKPs.
It’s great having the combination of the trucks with the FIN modes because my preferences change based on whether I’m using TKPs or RKPs.
I can’t really can’t tell you which of these I like better because it really just comes down to the setup you’re using. I will change my FIN mode based on whether I’m using TKPs or RKPs. And I like either, depending on the other variables of the setup.
Waterborne Rail Adapter vs. Risers on Rear
The next variable to consider is what you use on the rear. You can use either just a riser or the Waterborne rail adapter.
I’ve really come to appreciate the Waterborne rail adapter. I find it to be indispensable on some set-ups.
Even if you decide that you don’t like the rail adapter, I think it’s worth it to get the rail adapter. It’s another $20 when you get the package deal. That gives you the option to play with it so you can see if you like it or not.
Customize Your Truck Bushings
The final main variable for customizing your Waterborne FIN system is the bushings you use in the truck itself.
You can change the type (barrels vs. cones) or the durometer (hardness/softness) of your bushings to change the feel. Literally, just changing one bushing on your set-up will make a difference.