What Is A Surfskate? (Explained)

By: Billy James | April 3, 2024 | Surfskates

The concept of skateboards mimicking the feeling of surfing dates back to its roots.

But in recent years, surfskates have come back with a modern twist. And you don’t have to be a surfer this time to enjoy them.

What is a surfskate?

In the simplest terms, a surfskate is a type of skateboard that mimics the feeling of surfing on land. Depending on the brand, it could have a spring or bushing-based truck system. Most are easy to pump from a standstill and functional in flat areas / mellow hills.

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How do surfskates work?

Most surfskates have a spring-based pivoting adapter that attaches to the front truck. As a result, your turning radius increases dramatically. Most popular surfskates allow you to pump from a standstill.

For example, let’s take a look at the YOW surfskate adapter.

yow meraki surfskate adapter

Notice how the truck hangar is attached to their surf adapter? That surf adapter has a coil spring inside, making the truck pivot side to side. This allows you to get into a pumping motion, similar to pumping down the line on a surfboard.

Think of a surfskate like the first gear on a mountain bike: easy to start and great for quick, short moves, but not for going far. On the other hand, a longboard is like a bike in a higher gear: it takes a bit more effort to get moving, but once you do, you can go faster and further.

The back trucks are usually traditional kingpin (TKP) trucks.

Type Of Surfskate Trucks

So, what type of surfskates are there?

Spring Adapters

Most people who refer to ‘surfskates’ are talking about the ones with spring-based pivoting adapters.

Like the YOW adapter I showed you above, these adapters use different types of springs (tension and coil). But there are exceptions, like Waterborne, which uses a urethane bushing.

Similar concept, just a different approach.


Bushing Based

The second type is bushing-based surfskates. These designs are similar to traditional/reverse kingpin setups but tweaked further to get a surfy feel.

For example, Carver CX doesn’t have a spring but rather unique bushings and geometry. It carves deeper than a cruiser skateboard but is mellower compared to a spring-based adapter.


Is it hard to learn surfskating?

Compared to setups that use reverse kingpin (RKP) trucks and traditional kingpin (TKP) trucks, surfskates are more challenging to learn because they are less stable.

Is it possible for a beginner to surfskate?

Sure, but there are more functional ways to build a foundation. In my opinion, start by longboarding, and once you’re comfortable, ease into surfskating by getting a bushing-based setup. Like Carver CX, YOW Legasee, or Landyachtz surfskate.

However, take this advice with a grain of salt because I know beginners who have started with a spring-based truck like the YOW Meraki and have been fine.

If you’re unsure if a surfskate is right for you, reference my surfskate vs longboard post.

Cruiser vs surfskate

There seems to be a lot of confusion between cruisers and surfskates. Especially since there’s a lot of cross-hybridization going on.

If you want something portable and less carvey, get a cruiser. If you want a setup that will carve deep and easiest to pump from a standstill, get a surfskate.

Do surfskates help with surfing?

In my opinion, surfskates can help improve your surfing. Based on my experience, the ability to repeat the same maneuvers has helped me build a solid foundation and realize the importance of engaging my upper body. Don’t expect never to surf a day in your life; then surfskates will make you a pro.

There are so many variables in surfing that don’t apply to surfskating.

No two waves are the same, and the physics are different, so it’s never better than actual surfing. But there are many landlocked surfers out there.

It’s also worth noting that while surfskates were born to mimic the feeling of surfing, many surfskaters have never surfed a day in their life. Surfskates offer a soulful experience that anyone can connect with.

Billy James

I've been skating for over 20 years and it's had an incredibly positive impact on my mental health. My mission is to show the world the power of cruising and carving.

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