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Waterborne Surf Adapter and Rail Adapter Review

by | Jan 12, 2023 | Reviews

The Waterborne surf adapter and rail adapter allow you to turn any skateboard or longboard into a surfskate.

The front surfskate adapter gives you the ability to pump and carve tightly. The rear rail adapter gives you extra lean to hug the ground during tight carves.

Read this review to see if the Waterborne surf adapter and rail adapter are right for you.

To save time, money, and hassle in choosing your surfskate, get my free Surfskate Selector app. It includes all models from the top 10 surfskate trucks. Just answer 8 quick questions and it reveals the best models for you.

Watch My Waterborne Surf Adapter Videos on YouTube

Bottom Line Up Front

The Waterborne Surf Adapter is a bushing-based system with a wide range of motion and a deep rail-to-rail lean. I like how the Waterborne Surf Adapter feels and functions a lot. I include it in my list of the top 10 surfskate trucks and categorize it as a “hybrid” that can be used as both a pure surf trainer and a surfing street cruiser for non-surfers. It generates a lot of forward momentum, which makes it more versatile than pure surf trainers.

The first advantage of the Waterborne Surf Adapter is that it’s the cheapest way for skateboarders and longboarders to get into surfskating. For as little as $59.99, you can install the surf adapter onto your current board and have an instant surfskate.

Where the really Waterborne Surf Adapter shines is with customizing your set-up. You can create infinite variations.

However, that’s also the challenge with the Waterborne Surf Adapter: If you don’t have experience with customizing, it can be hard to build a surfskate that works well.

If you’re an experienced skateboarder or longboarder and you know how to customize, I think the Waterborne is a fantastic option for you. However, if you’re a beginner and new to surfskating, I think you’re probably better off starting with a complete model.

How Does the Waterborne Surf Adapter Work?

The Waterborne surf adapter is a swiveling mechanism that allows you to make any skateboard or longboard ride like a surfboard. You install the Waterborne surf adapter between your deck and truck.

The additional range of motion enabled by the swiveling surf adapter allows you to turn your board dramatically sharper than you can on standard skateboard or longboard trucks. It also allows you to pump your board on flat surfaces without needing to push your foot on the ground.

In short, the Waterborne surf adapter is designed to turn any skateboard or longboard into a surfskate. So you can go from this:

To this:

waterborne surf adapter
waterborne surf adapter
waterborne rail adapter
You get to keep everything about your existing set-up that you love, while also adding the ability to perform surf-style turns and maneuvers.

You can get the surf adapter alone for $59.99, or the complete surf adapter kit with the rear rail adapter for $79.99. This makes the Waterborne surf adapter the cheapest way to get into surfskating (assuming you already have a skateboard or longboard to put it on, of course).

While some surfskate trucks use springs to drive the swivel arm, the Waterborne surf adapter uses a unique cube urethane bushing, combined with thruster bearings. Without a lot of moving parts, it’s durable and easy to maintain.

While the bushing gives you smooth turning and deep lean, it doesn’t give you as much snap back to center as you get with other spring-based systems.

Here’s what it looks like taken apart:

waterborne surf adapter
Here’s what the Waterborne surf adapter bushing looks like:
waterborne surf adapter bushing

RipTide Sports has recently come out with replacement bushings for the Waterborne surf adapter in three durometers to customize your ride.

The stock Waterborne bushing comes in 95a durometer. RipTide offers Waterborne surf adapter bushing replacements in 92.5a, 95a, and 97.5a. Here are my recommendations for each:

 

  • 92.5a For riders who weigh 165 pounds or less and who want a softer feel out of their surf adapter.
  • 95a This is the most suitable durometer for the most riders and works well for anyone weighing between approximately 150 and 215 pounds.
  • 97.5a For riders who weigh 185 pounds or more and who want a stiffer feel out of their surf adapter.

How Much Height Does it Add?

The Waterborne surf adapter adds 1.25” of height to your board.

While this makes it harder to push your foot on the ground, with the surf adapter you won’t need to push because you can pump.

waterborne surf adapter height

How Heavy is It?

The Waterborne surf adapter itself weighs just under 1 pound 3 ounces. The rear rail adapter weighs 10 ounces. Together, they weigh just under 1 pound 13 ounces.

Out of the top 10 surfskate trucks, the Waterborne surf adapter is the second heaviest, just behind the SpiceSkate SpicePilot.

waterborne surf adapter height
waterborne surf adapter height
waterborne surf adapter height

How Durable is It?

Because of the materials, construction, and lack of spring, the Waterborne surf adapter is extremely rugged and durable. It can really take a beating without creating any issues. In fact, it’s tested for weights exceeding 1,500 pounds, which is far more than any rider will ever exert.

How Much Does It Lean?

How much rail-to-rail lean you get out of the Waterborne depends on whether you’re using the surf adapter on front with a standard riser on the rear, or if you’re using both the surf adapter on front and the rail adapter back.

Even without the rear rail adapter, I believe the Waterborne surf adapter has the deepest rail-to-rail lean of any of the top 10 surfskate trucks.

These pictures illustrate the difference in rail-to-rail lean when using a standard riser on rear versus using the Waterborne rail adapter on rear:

waterborne surf adapter lean
waterborne surf adapter lean
waterborne surf adapter lean

Will You Get Wheelbite with It?

The Waterborne surf adapter is built with a wheelbite limiter, which means it stops at 35 degrees to prevent wheelbite.

waterborne surf adapter height

However, if you have wheels larger than 70mm in diameter, it’s possible to experience wheelbite on the Waterborne.

Adding the rear rail adapter also increases your chance of wheelbite.

But in either case, the likelihood of getting wheelbite on the Waterborne surf adapter is low and really not anything to worry about.

What Does the Waterborne Rail Adapter Do?

The Waterborne rail adapter can be purchased alone, or in a kit with the surf adapter. It adds extra lean to your rear truck so you can keep all four wheels on the ground during tight carves.

With the Waterborne rail adapter, the rear truck leans as much as the front. The results in tighter turning with more grip.

The Waterborne rail adapter is like adding a flexible riser on your rear truck. It’s built with four bushings, barrels on boardside and cones on roadside, and two kingpins. It matches the height of the surf adapter to add an additional 1.25″ of height to your board.

waterborne surf adapter lean
waterborne surf adapter lean

If you’re going to get the Waterborne surf adapter, then I recommend that you also get the Waterborne rail adapter. You should try both a riser and the rail adapter on your set-up to see what you like best. But it doesn’t hurt to at least try the rail adapter. And it may even be something you use with other surfskate set-ups.

Even though it adds more lean, you can see from the pictures above, your chances of getting wheelbite using the Waterborne rail adapter are low.

Who and What is the Waterborne Surf Adapter Best For?

After testing 85+ surfskates since October 2020, including 43 different surfskate trucks, I’ve boiled them down to what I believe are the best surfskates. These are, 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

I rank these top surfskate trucks on a scale ranging from “pure surf trainers” on the one hand to “street cruisers” on the other hand, with the following characteristics:

best surfskate trucks

You can see from the scale above that I place the Waterborne surf adapter in the middle as a “hybrid” surfskate truck. This means that it can be used for surf training as well as just street cruising.

The pure surf trainers listed above don’t generate a lot of forward momentum when you pump. In contrast, the Waterborne surf adapter generates quite a bit of forward momentum, which makes it great for traveling from point A to point B.

In fact, I’ve even seen a lot of riders use the Waterborne surf adapter as essentially a long distance pumping (LDP) truck.

The Waterborne surf adapt is a great all-around surfskate truck that gives surfers and non-surfers alike the ability to pump and carve and perform radical surf-style maneuvers.

I think the best fit for the Waterborne surf adapter is skateboarders and longboarders who want to try surfskating while keeping everything they love about their current set-up.

Is It Good for Surf Training?

I am not a surfer, so I can’t speak authoritatively on this subject. However, I have spent a lot of time on forums and spoken with a lot of surfers.

The general consensus that I’ve seen among surfers is that the Waterborne surf adapter works for surf training, but other trucks are better for that specific purpose. The three most popular pure surf trainer trucks among surfers are the YOW Meraki, Carver C7, and Smoothstar Thruster.

I posted a poll on my YouTube channel with the question, “Surfers who have tried the Waterborne surf adapter: How well do you think it replicates the feel of surfing?”

These were the responses, from 87 votes:

Is It Good for Beginners?

If you’re new to all board sports, I don’t recommend that you start on the Waterborne surf adapter. The fact that it leans so deeply makes it very unstable for beginners. I recommend the Slide V3 and Carver CX as the best surfskates for beginners.

However, if you already have some skateboarding or longboarding experience, you’ll be able to use the Waterborne surf adapter just fine.

Does It Work for Bowl Riding?

If you’re an advanced rider, you’ll be able to use the Waterborne surf adapter for bowl riding.

However, if you’re a beginner to intermediate rider, then I recommend that you use a more stable surfskate truck for bowl riding.

For a more detailed analysis, see my article on the best surfskates for bowl riding.

Does the Waterborne Surf Adapter Get Speed Wobbles When Riding Downhill?

The short answer is that if you’re riding down lowkey hills at speeds safe for a surfskate truck, you shouldn’t get speed wobbles on the Waterborne surf adapter.

Also, it is possible to experience speed wobbles on the Waterborne surf adapter because there are many variables, including wheelbase and weight distribution, that can contribute to it. That’s why I definitely wouldn’t use it to bomb hills—nor is that what it’s designed to do. It’s designed to carve down hills, not bomb them.

Waterborne Surf Adapter Pros and Cons

 

Pros:

 

  • Inexpensive: Assuming you already have a skateboard or longboard, at $59.99 the Waterborne surf adapter is the cheapest way to get into surfskating.
  • Works With Any Set-Up: The Waterborne surf adapter is the only surf adapter that you can put on any skateboard or longboard using your existing trucks. This allows you to keep everything you love about your current ride, while adding a whole new level of motion and fun.
  • Versatile: The Waterborne surf adapter can be used for pure surf training, basic street pumping cruising, or even long distance pumping.
  • Durable: The Waterborne surf adapter is very strong, rugged, and durable and will last you forever.
  • Low Maintenance: As a simple bushing-based system, you should never have any maintenance issues with the Waterborne surf adapter.
  • Good for Customizers: If you’re the kind of person who likes to customize your set-ups a lot, then the Waterborne surf adapter will be easy for you to work with.

 

Cons:

 

  • Relatively Low Rebound: The Waterborne surf adapter bushing gives you deep lean, but relatively low rebound back to center. I’m comparing it to other surfskate trucks like the YOW Meraki, SpiceSkate SpicePilot TypeX and Okto, and Carver CX, which give you a lot quicker and snappier rebound back to center.
  • Not Super Easy to Install: Personally, I don’t find the Waterborne very easy to install. There are a lot of nuts and bolts in hard-to-reach places and it takes time to learn all the installation tricks.
  • Can Rattle: If you don’t install it right and cinch up all the nuts, you can rattles from either the Waterborne surf adapter or the Waterborne rail adapter.
  • Heavy: Out of the top 10 surfskate trucks, the Waterborne surf adapter is the second heaviest. This somewhat limits your versatility on a Waterborne set-up.
  • Difficult to Create an Ideal Set-Up: A surfskate is a system with a lot of moving parts working together. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it can be hard to build an ideal set-up. If you’re not a big customizer and you’re not very mechanically inclined, you’re probably better off going with a complete surfskate system over the Waterborne surf adapter.

How to Install the Waterborne Surf Adapter

The basic steps of installing the Waterborne surf adapter and rail adapter are straightforward:

  1. Remove your front truck.
  2. Bolt the truck to the Waterborne surf adapter.
  3. Bolt the adapter to the deck.

What makes the Waterborne surf adapter installation tricky is getting to the nuts in hard-to-reach places.

Watch this video of Waterborne founder Pat Dumas demonstrating how to install the Waterborne surf adapter:

Waterborne Surf Adapter Set-Up Tips

One of my big challenges with the Waterborne surf adapter is putting together a complete system that works well. There are so many variables to consider, including the type of deck you use, your wheelbase, the type of trucks you use, wheels, etc.

So here are a few tips to help you with your Waterborne surf adapter complete surfskate:

 

What Types of Decks are Best for the Waterborne Surf Adapter?

 

You can technically use the Waterborne surf adapter on any deck you want. It will work on any standard skateboard or longboard deck, including drop-through decks. However, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Here are my general guidelines for choosing a good deck to go with your Waterborne surf adapter:

  • Between about 29″ and 36″ in length. A surfskate deck should be longer than a skateboard deck. And unless you want to practice longboard surfing and cross-stepping, your deck probably shouldn’t be longer than about 36″.
  • At least 9″ wide, and preferably closer to 10″ wide. You want a wider deck for a surfskate than you may be accustomed to.
  • The right wheelbase to match your stance width. Read this article to learn how to get the right wheelbase for you.

 

Should You Use TKP or RKP trucks with the Waterborne Surf Adapter?

 

The main difference between the two is the kingpin angle. TKP trucks have a kingpin that is almost vertical, so it holds behind the hanger. On RKP trucks, the kingpin crosses through the hanger, with one bushing behind and another bushing in front of the hanger.

You will traditionally see traditional kingpin (TKP) trucks on skateboards and reverse kingpin (RKP trucks on longboards.

waterborne surf adapter lean

You can use both TKP and RKP trucks with the Waterborne surf adapter. It just comes down to personal preference.

On TKP trucks, the vertical kinpin makes the lean vertical instead of horizontal, so it turns a little less. On RKP trucks, the kinping and pivot cups are angled, which gives you a wider lean and a closer turn.

TKP trucks are lower to the ground and give you a bit more of a stable feel. Using RKP trucks with the Waterborne surf adapter and rail adapter will give you more lean than any other surfskate.

Personally, I prefer using RKP trucks with the Waterborne surf adapter. But that’s just something you have to play with to discover for yourself.

 

What Wheels Should You Use with the Waterborne Surf Adapter?

 

Because of the radical lean, you have to be careful with what wheels you use with the Waterborne surf adapter. Here are my general guidelines:

  • Between 63mm and 70mm in diameter. The wheels that come with Waterborne complete models are 63mm. Typically, 70mm is the largest wheel you’ll see for surfskating to avoid wheelbite. Because the Waterborne surf adapter leans so deeply, you definitely don’t want wheels bigger than 70mm, and you probably should be closer to 65mm.
  • Between 77a and 81a in durometer. Surfskate wheels should be softer than skateboard wheels to give you grip for pumping and carving.

For a detailed review of the best wheels for surfskating, read this article.

waterborne surf adapter lean

For additional Waterborne surf adapter set-up tips, watch this video with Waterborne founder Pat Dumas:

Waterborne Complete Surfskate Models Review

In addition to the surf adapter and rail adapter kits, Waterborne also sells several complete surfskate models.

Watch my YouTube review to see if a Waterborne complete surfskate model is right for you: