The surfskate is increasing in popularity month on month. They have’n’t been around for that long, but are already making waves within the surf and skate world. A lot of groms are now switching from skateboarding to surfskating on the days when there is no swell. Surfskating compliments your surfing better than skateboarding does because it simulates wave riding more accurately.
What is a SurfSkate?
A surfskate is a skateboard which allows one to surf in the street. A unique truck design where the front truck swivels and enables the board to pivot in either direction.
This means that the skater can generate speed on a surfskate by pumping the board from side to side. The very same pumping motion that surfers use to generate speed on a wave. Riding a SurfSkate for the most part simulates surfing.
Surfskates are really popular with surfers who are looking at taking their surfing moves to the street on those down days when there aren’t any waves. They are also popular with with skateboarders looking for a new type of street riding. The video below succinctly draws the parallels between surfing and surfskating.
How does a SurfSkate simulate surfing?
With the swivelling front truck a surfskate is able to accurately simulate surfing in two major ways.
As the rider moves into a bottom turn, the front of the board turns and bends inward allowing the rider to drive through the bottom turn with most of the weight on the back foot. A compression and extension of the body occurs, creating acceleration and a change of direction. The result is one smooth surf-like bottom turn.
Off The Lip
As the rider comes out from the bottom turn, they will shift their weight to engage with the opposite rail. A transition then occurs and the weight is transferred in the opposite direction from the bottom turn. This allows the rider to perform a smooth but vertical top turn mimicking how a surfer may smack the lip of the wave.
On larger, slower waves, surfers often carve along the face of a wave instead of riding it bottom to top. This is most common on twin fin boards where the pivot is less dynamic than a thruster. A surfskate with it’s flexible and raised truck system closely replicates the wide, arced carved turns that a surfer makes when riding larger waves
What’s the difference between a SurfSkate and a Longboard?
A surfskate has a much larger range of motion that a longboard. Longboards have a relatively loose truck system which allow them to turn on an arc when leaned into.
SurfSkates, however, with their flexible and spring based truck system allow the rider to turn on a dime. You can make short, sharp, snappy turns on a surfskate without lifting the board off the ground. The turning arc of a surfskate is much shorter than that of a longboard.
Best SurfSkate Brands
There are a plethora of different skate brands that make surfskates. The company most widely credited for inventing the surfskate is Carver Skateboards who launched the first prototype in the mid to late 90’s. This Buying Guide will look at some of the most popular surfskate’s on the market today.
A great entry level surfskate with a price tag that won’t break the bank. Flow offer a customizable ride. The tension of the truck spring is adjustable to suit differing rider size and preference. This makes Flow well suited to riders of all ages and abilities. Tighten it or loosen the trucks to get the ride you want.
A slightly shorter, blunted surfskate. The Wedge 32″ has a compact 18” wheelbase which allows for quick pumping and easy cutbacks.
The swell 33” has a classic surfboard shaped deck. It has a wider deck than the Wedge 32″, allowing for a more comfortable stance without sacrificing quick-fire turning from rail to rail.
SwellTech make the famous Jamie O’Brien Pro Banzai surfskate. Their boards have the most surf-centric aesthetic out all the boards on the market.
The SwellTech trucks are designed to emulate the movement of a surfboard by having a front truck with complete free motion. The read truck is a standard fixed truck.
The free motion of the front truck mimics the fluid movement of a surfboard. The rear truck acts as a pivot point very much like the fins in a surfboard.
Jamie O’Brien Pro Banzai SurfSkate
The new 2020 Jamie O’Brien “Banzai” Pro Model has a marginally longer deck that its predecessor. The top deck features black stained wood with surfing track pad in the tail and standard grip tape on the rest of the board. On the underside is an image of Jamie pulling into a massive Pipeline barrel.
Austin Keen Pro Model
This is the shortest surfskate in the SwellTech range coming it 33 inches long. This compact size is ideal for tight turns, snappy cut backs, and narrow stance riders.
Roots make a classic looking surfskate. They preserve the wooden deck by leaving grip tape off the top, instead choosing a translucent varnish and sand combination.
This board is great for carving, cruising, and land surfing. It is very responsive across a variety of surfaces, namely, tarmac, concrete and even wood. The structure of the deck gives the skater superb traction. The board is just over 32 inches long.
Street Surfing Surfskates
Street Surfing makes a wide variety of different skateboard as well as other two wheeled devices like scooters. Needless to say, they are anything but a core skate brand. However, they do offer a rather unique type of surfskate which only has one wheel in the front.
This has resulted in a hybrid being created. A mix between a skateboard and casterboard.
Shark Attack Surfskate
Coming in at 30 inches long, street Surfing describe this board as a “self-propelled longboard”. You can pump it like a surfboard and seamlessly generate speed, whilst maintaining the speed of a longbaord.
This was the first surfskate to have a casterboard integration. It’s durable and lightweight design allows for agility and easy cutbacks across a multitude of different surfaces. The board measures 30″x9″.
Razor make a wide variety of scooters and two wheeled. After being inspired by the casterboard they invented a two wheeled surfskate called the RipSurf.
The Ripstik is the most well-known model in the RipSurf range. Its patented design features a lightweight single piece of durable plastic, with a textured traction pad deck and kick tail. It is fitted with inclined 360-degree urethane caster wheels.
This board hasn’t been around for too long, but so far has received very positive reviews with one reviewed saying that it’s like surfing on concrete.
Roller Derby make 4 different surfskates which they call “slide skateboards”. They all make use of a patented spring load truck system and use Bevo gold seven high speed precision bearings. All their decks are made from Canadian maple. If you’re looking for an alternative shaped surfskate, then look no further.
The Black Sox is a tapered rectangular shape and comes in at 31 inches long. This board to great in more more confined areas where tighter, shaper turning in required.
The White Sox is wavy shaped deck coming in at 33 inches long. This board is ideal wider, open areas where there is more space to carve larger arced turns.
Over the last few years Surfeeling have fast become the dominant surfskate brand in the market. Coming out of Brazil, a country renowned for producing some of the world’s best surfers, it’s no surprise these guys have been able to raise the level of surfskating.
Their maple wood decks have just the right levels of flex to facilitate easy entry into and exits out of turns. The high quality grip tape covering the entire top deck gives the skater confidence on every turn. Their super-grippy burnout wheels and pivoting trucks enable the skater to push that much harder into each turn. A sublime board all round.
The Snap is the perfect all round surfskate. It’s at home both in downhill environments and also on flat landscapes such as sidewalks and boardwalks.
The narrower tail provides more stability when entering and exiting a turn. It comes in three colorways, namely, red, green and purple. All boards have grip tape across the entire top deck and come with 70mm Burnout wheels.
Like riding an electric skateboard, surfskating is a really great way to take your surfing to the streets. When the waves are flat but you’re itching to surf, surfskating is an ideal alternative. As this post has shown, there is a wide variety of different surfskate’s on the market to suit all levels and styles of skating.
Remember that surfskating is very different to skateboarding, so you should always give yourself a few weeks in which to get the hang of it. Don’t expect to be an expert after only a few days. In addition to it being a great alternative to surfing, it’s also a great training mechanism for surfing. Many surfers use surfskating as a way to effectively train out of the water.