This post is a discussion of why I got into surfskating, what’s good about it, what’s not great about it, and who should give it a try. I’m no expert, but I have been messing around on surfskates for a couple years and I am far enough along in my progression to pass on some useful thoughts to other folks new to the sport. If that sounds interesting keep reading!
What’s a Surfskate?
A surfskate is a type of skateboard that has special trucks that turn very aggressively. The resulting feel and riding style has some similarities to surfing. You don’t need to know how to surf or to really ride a skateboard to try surfskating. If you watch the video I linked to below you can see what riding a surfskate looks like. I specifically chose a fun cruisy video because that’s the style I am into.
Why ride a Surfskate?
I’m middle aged and I’m trying to tick off a bunch of bucket list sporty items before I get too old. Surfing is one of them and so was riding a longboard skateboard. I’ve made some progress on surfing and have caught some waves, but I wouldn’t say I am a surfer yet. I hope to make that happen this winter with some dedicated wave time. I have ticked longboarding off the bucket list. I have been riding longboards for almost 3 years now. I’ve put thousands of KMs on a few boards and would say I am an intermediate rider in the LDP [Long Distance Pushing and Pumping] side of the sport. Lots still to learn, but I am competent at it. Sweet!
One of the reasons I really love longboarding is that I can do it out my door. No driving required. I’ve really lost my stoke to drive to do sports. I am not against it ever, but I want to do most of my sports with no or minimal driving. If I can do that I don’t mind the occasional road trip to do something special further from home. I do live on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada which is one of the few places in the country where you can really surf. I even moved closer to the main surf destination [Tofino] on the island. That’s great, but it’s still 2.5hrs away and surfing here is mostly a winter thing.
Surfskating takes my love of longboarding and mashes it up with my surfing aspirations in a low cost format that I can do right in front of my house in the middle of summer. My longboards are all distance machines so although I can ride them from my house they really only make sense once I start covering some ground. A surfskate on the other hand is perfect for riding the block in front of my house and I don’t need to go out of site of the house to get in a great surfskate session. That’s because surfskating is all about pumping and carving turns not covering ground.
Surfskating also is fun at the local skatepark and on pump tracks. Both places my very low double drop longboards do not work. The great thing about surfskates is you really only need a small bit of smooth pavement or concrete to have a good time. That makes them great companions on trips where you might have some time to kill and want to do something active without carting a lot of gear with you. There’s not much to wear out or go wrong with a surfskate so once you buy it you can ride it for a long time without spending any more money.
The real reward of surfskating is the endless pump. You can jump on and ride them for a long long long time without ever putting a foot down to push. You can just use your body to keep them rolling along and carve and turn along the way. That’s as much fun as it sounds.
What’s great about Surfskates?
- Low cost $150 – $400
- Low maintenance
- Easy to learn basics
- Years of advanced riding techniques to master
- Easy to store and transport
- Can be used almost anywhere with a hard surface
- Surf feel without needing a wave
- Easy to share with friends and take turns on while hanging out
- The endless pump baby!
What’s not great about Surfskates?
- High off the ground vs. a double drop longboard
- Falling onto the ground can hurt
- Not as stable as a longboard
- Smaller wheels can have trouble with debris or rough ground
- Not really the same as surfing
- Not great for covering longer distances
Who should ride a Surfskate?
If you have an interest in any board sport like surfing, snowboarding or skateboarding a surfskate is a fun way to get some board time into your life without spending a lot of money or needing to go anywhere special to do the sport. The exercise, balance and coordination benefits are solid. But, most of all it’s just a good time. The only people I wouldn’t recommend trying surfskating are those with no interest in any board sports and people who can’t afford to fall due risk of serious injury.
Where I am headed?
I don’t have any major ambitions with surfskating. I just enjoy cruising around on one. I figure now is the time to learn to ride a surfskate reasonably well so that I can get most of the falling off done now when I can take a tumble and smile. That way I can keep riding conservatively as I get older having made all the mistakes when I was younger. I’ve listed some links for useful YouTube channels to get some more information about surfskating.
What you should buy?
There are tons and tons of what surfskate should you buy videos and articles online. I’m not going to rehash that topic here. However, if you want a fast suggestion that will make you happy buy a Carver surfskate with CX trucks and their 70mm Roundhouse wheels. Pick a wheelbase from the chart above. You’ll get a solid setup that will give you many years of enjoyment without spending a ton of time doing research. If you buy a deck that’s too big or too small for your height you’ll struggle to ride it well.
I’m just under 6′ and I’m riding a Carver Proteus 18-3/8″ wheelbase with CX trucks.