Choosing The Right Surfskate Truck: What Surfskaters Are Saying!

best surfskate trucks

If surfskating the streets is your goal, there are quite a few surf truck systems out there to choose from.  While getting a complete surfskate is definitely an option, many surfers and skateboarders prefer to adapt their favorite deck(s) with a surf truck and/or a surf adapter.

However, every surf truck on the market has its own characteristics, strengths and weaknesses, and target riding style and goals.  Choosing the best surfskate truck for your specific style and objectives can be daunting.  Some surf trucks, for example, are designed for pure surf simulation, while others focus more on a sustained carving and/or pumping experience.

In this article, I will go over the most popular surf skates and adapters out there and highlight key points about what they work best for and what riders – including myself – like or dislike about them. 

Hopefully, the information below will help you sort things out a bit as to which surf truck to get for your board.

The Carver surf truck

No matter what their style is, most riders agree that Carver still has the best hybrid (surf and skate) surf trucks.  Carver trucks are great to ride and better-suited than other surf trucks for longer commutes.  On certain setups (e.g. longer wheelbase) riders go as much as 20 km a day.

Some say Carver trucks can compete with dedicated LDP (long-distance pumping) and slalom setups e.g. wedged Tracker trucks.  

The Carver trucks are nevertheless surf trucks at heart.  They 
can be used for surf traning and let you drive off the back foot like on a surfboard.  Read on for differences between the CX and C7.

Carver CX surf truck

The CX surf truck offer more of a surfy feel and work better for tight turning than its C7 sibling.  It’s snappier and lighter.  Mounted on a small deck, it’s great for riding in crowded city areas and getting air at the skatepark. 

The CX is a simple RKP Truck with a good rebound. It can be tuned to feel like a single fin, a quad fin, a 2+1 or a thruster surfboard.  The CX mimicks high-performance surfing and is stable and responsive in transitions.

Adapting the bushings also helps in obtaining the desired feel.  The stock bushings give the CX a high-performance thruster feel.  For faster rail-to-rail transition and less hold on the tail, you can put a large cone on the rear truck instead of the barrel, and a smaller cup washer.

Small caveat on the CX surf truck for goofy riders: the carving moves tend to unscrew the bolt over time, which can be a pain as you need to constantly tighen it back up.

Carver C7 surf truck

Carver C7 truck

The C7 surf truck is typically seen as flowing like a single fin surfboard – or a single fin mini malibu with a 15.5″ wheelbase.  In comparison, the CX feels closer to a fish.

The C7 is great as a carving, freeride and speed pumping truck, as opposed to doing radical turns, flip tricks and vert riding.  Many riders prefer the CX for street and park and the C7 for all other kinds of riding.  The carving feeling is strongest and most stable in the C7.  It’s also great for flowing and getting speed in bowls and pools.

The C7 surf truck also has the most tuning options for surf training.  It’s quite expensive, however – there’s an increasing number of cheaper copies on the market.

Here again, the C7 surf truck can be made even easier to pump and more responsive by replacing the barrel with a cone in the back truck, and tighten up the front truck (both swing arm and bushing).

The YOW surf truck

Yow surf truck

Yow, a Spanish (Basque Country) made product, is actually a surf adapter you mount a regular longboard truck on to turn it into a surfskate truck. 
The Yow surf adapter is priced at $69 and can be used on pretty much any deck / board.

Yow is considered one of the pure surf training surf truck options. It’s particularly popular among surfers looking to improve their body motion through turns. For a beginner it’s harder to learn on than a Carver truck as the front truck runs much looser. 

So the Yow surf truck is generally radical, light  to pump, and fun. More of a surf than skate feel.

With the Yow surfskate adapter, you can use either TKP (traditional kingpin, aka street) trucks or RKP (longboard) trucks, e.g. 180mm trucks.  Yow riders often use Polar Bear or Independent trucks.  Gullwing Sidewinder 2 can also be used for a double pivot rear truck for a looser setup with more lean vs turn.  Bennett trucks can also work well for a fast and radical feel.

The Yow surf truck adapter has a setting for locking the swing arm and make it fixed, turning the surfskate into a regular, stable skateboard without needing to remove the surf adapter.  This gives a nice flexibility for those times when you just need a normal board.

The Yow adapter comes in a lighter S4 version and a harder pumping, stiffer S5 version – also well-suited for heavier riders.  The softer S4 spring setup allows you to carve well and even slide quite easily.

Yow vs. Carver: for most dedicated surfers, riding the Yow tends to make the Carver surf truck somewhat bland and unlively, as they feel the Yow offers them a looser, surf-emulating feel. For non-surfers looking for an all-around board, on the other hand, the Yow may feel a bit too loose and unstable for daily commuting.

Some riders, though, like to fit the S4 on a 20″ wheelbase deck and add more risers for a better distance carving experience.

The Swelltech Surfkate truck

The Swelltech surf truck system turns 360º and is highly focused on surf training to allow surfers to improve their surfing technique and practice surf-specific maneuvers.

The Swelltech Surfkate truck forces you to skate rail-to-rail by creating full body compression and achieving proper weight distribution by balancing your front and back foot pressure when turning and pumping – very close to the surfing body motion.

A consequence of the truck’s 360º range of motion is that it’s much more unstable than some other surf trucks.  Riding a Swelltech Surfskate vs a Carver C7, for example, is harder and requires more effort.  On the other hand, once they master it, surfers agree it significantly improves their surfing – and even their surfskating on other less turny trucks.

The looseness and instability of the surf truck force you to build up a lot of core strength.  Riding a Carver truck, in comparison, may mainly strengthen your leg muscles since you need less of a full body movement – although it’s certainly possible to ride a Carver truck by fully engaging your core in a surfy kind of motion.

Compared to a Carver, while the Swelltech Surfskate is seen by many as being closer to surfing due to the fast and loose carving motion, maintaining speed over distance is more of a challenge and requires a lot more pumping effort.  Pushing and commuting on a Swelltech surf truck is definitely trickier, so whether it’s for you or not depends on your usage.

Here’s a great video showing some really nice ditch surfing on a Swelltech Surfskate:

Many surfskaters like to own different surf trucks, e.g. a Carver (or similar) for stable-but-surfy city commuting and street/park riding, and a Swelltech (or similar) for loose, ocean-like surf training.

One caveat is that the Swelltech truck is not sold standalone, so your only option is to get a complete skateboard.

The Smoothstar surf truck

Smoothstar’s “Thruster” surf truck adapter is another “pure surf” spring loaded turning mechanism that offers a shortboard surfing feel. It’s closer to a Swelltech than a Carver, though it does not have a 360º turn range.

Designed specifically for surfers in mind. Thruster I is the original spring loaded turning mechanism. Designed to fit directly onto the skateboards front trucks. Allows the front trucks to turn freely way beyond a normal front truck skateboard set up. 

Like other adapters, the Smoothstar fits directly onto the skateboard’s front truck.  It’s designed specifically for surfers and gives them that surfboard riding feeling.  Riders commonly compare the Thruster’s to the Yow – which makes sense as the two surf truck adapters have a similar geometry.

Unlike the Yow, however, the Smoothstar can easily be adjusted for more or less turning resistance.  Riders also agree there is quite a bit of difference in the riding experience between the two, possibly due to the Yow using a rounded spring while the inside of the smoothstar is closer to a C7.

The Smoothstar Thruster surf truck is no longer sold separately – though it used to be not so long ago. Here again, you’ll have no choice but get one of Smoothstar’s complete boards, no custom build option.

The Waterborne Surf Adapter

Waterborne surf adapter

The newer kid on the block, the Waterborne Surf Adapter is carving (no pun intended) a path for itself, making it even harder for a surfskater to choose the right surf truck for him/her.

The good news about this surf truck adapter is that it’s sold standalone – though they’ve just come up with some really intriguing surfskate completes, including a great-looking full carbon deck. At around $60 the Surf Adapter is quite affordable, e.g. compared to a C7 which costs about twice as much – although the latter does include the truck itself vs only the turning mechanism.

Like with the Yow, you can mount the Waterborne surf truck adapter on a 180mm (or wider) RKP longboard truck if you want to, or any truck you already own for that matter.

What’s unique about the Waterborne surf adapter is that it uses a single cube bushing vs a spring, which seems to handle speed better and provides a somewhat more fluid and natural feel.

While it also provides a very surfy type of feel, it’s quite easy to ride in a straight line and is pretty stable at higher speed, more so than a Yow, Smoothstar, or Swelltech. 

Compared to the Yow, the Waterborne Surf Adapter is lighter, giving it a bit more flow, and doesn’t have as much front foot rail lean which allows the rider to balance more on the back foot – closer to surfing which drives on the back foot.

Unlike the Yow though, there’s no feature to lock the truck and turn it into a regular skateboard – other than cranking the adapter’s nut very tight.  A small thing most riders may not need, but for some, it does make the Yow a bit more versatile. 

Again, the Surf Apapter gives you more stability than other surfskates when riding in a straight line and at higher speed, and feels great in turns.  Some riders say it’s not as easy to ride than a Carver or a Yow, but those who are able to compare do like the different feeling.

The Curfboard surf truck

Curfboard surf truck

This one is a complete truck, not just a surf adapter.  It’s not sold standalone but mounted on the Curfboard complete skateboard which is priced around 250€ – it’s German engineered and marketed.

The Curfboard surf truck works without rubbers or springs and uses a patented 4-hinge suspension system with a special focus on pumping (including uphill) and gaining speed through the right body motion.  The truck rides relatively low and is quite comfortable for relaxed cruising.

In fact, most riders agree the Curfboard surf truck shines for moving around town as it provides smooth and pleasant cruising with low friction – even more so than the C7 –  and easy speed building. It’s really designed for cruising and carving.  Not as great for skatepark riding.

Some riders find pumping on a Curfboard easy and efficient, while others think it can’t be pumped as fast as using a Carver or Yow surf truck.  That’s something you’ll have to judge for yourself.

Due to the missing bushing in the front truck which normally acts as a dampener, the Curfboard works best on very smooth pavement but is not so comfortable on rougher roads as the bumps and cracks transfer directly to the deck (even with added shock pads).  An important caveat to keep in mind.

Overall, while the Curfboard’s truck and deck are quality built, the real question is whether or not you like the bushing-free / spring-free truck system, which many riders feel doesn’t give you the same rebound you find in other surf trucks. Meanwhile, some feel the Curfboard’s system makes it a better pumping board – though there’s little feedback on how it fares over longer distances.

Here’s a good video of the Curfboard in action:

The Slide surfskate truck

Slide surf truck

While the surf trucks we’ve seen are generally on the looser side compared to the Carver, the Slide truck is actually tighter and stiffer than a CX, with a more limited range of motion.

While you may not get as much as a surfy feel out of the box on a Slide, the surf truck’s differentiates itself through two main aspects: stability and low height. This makes the Slide one of the best-suited surfskate trucks for pushing and commuting beyond very short distances. 

The low height also makes the Slide truck more capable than most other surf trucks, inclusing the CX, for street, pool and park riding due to its lower center of gravity and stable turns.

Such stability and low ride are mainly due to the absence of a bushing and the constrained swing arms in the Slide truck, which also reduce the possibility of wheelbite in tight turns.

As a result, the Slide surf truck works really well for carving, pumping, and street and park tricks.  It can also be used for surf training, particular for beginner surfers or surfskaters as it’s not nearly as radical and unstable as the more surf-focused trucks.

The Slide truck can be purchased standalone at around 60€ in Europe.  Read my in-depth review of the Slide skateboards.

The Miller Division surfskate truck

Miller Division XRKP surf truck

I couldn’t collect as much data about Miller’s XRKP (Extreme Reverse Kingpin) surf truck as for the others. 

Riders agree that with the XRKP you get an inexpensive but good quality set of trucks to get you started in surfskating

When mounted on one of Miller Division’s complete surfskates, the truck feels a lot like a Carver CX. However, while the technology is similar to Carver’s, the XRKP is not as advanced and the riding not as fluid.

The truck uses high-quality bushings – and comes with harder ones for a harder rebound feeling.

Overall riders have positive feedback about the way the Miller surf truck responds, turns and pumps.  At 90€ for a pair of front and rear trucks, the XRKP constitutes a sound budget option for someone looking to get into surfskating for the first time.

Final thoughts

New surf trucks are constantly entering the market and the battle rages on.  Each brand positions itself differently on the “pure surf vs pure skate” scale – see this article for more about that scale. 

If you’re new to surfskating or are looking to use your board for commuting, you may want to choose a relatively stable surf truck, e.g. an affordable Spanish brand (Slide, Miller) or, if you have the budget, a higher-end surf truck such as a Carver C7. 

If on the other hand, you’re a hardcore surfer – or hoping to become one soon – you may venture into the extreme realm of pure surf trucks and opt for a Swelltech, Yow, or similar.

The choice is never an easy one, and as always, your bet is to test different options before you buy, if at all possible.

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Photo credits:
Featured image: Fabrício Castro

2 comments

  • Maaan, thank you so much for this article! It`s sooo helpful! I was so confused about all those surf-trucks start-ups that are emerging on the internet and on youtube, didn`t knew which one to choose. Thanks to you, I know now, I`ll start with a Slide truck simple one, then try the yow one and finally in the future I`ll want to go to the waterborne. The swelltech it`s kinda expensive for me. You`re writing it`s cool, too!

    Now, two questions:

    1. I live in Constanta-Mamaia beach area at the Black Sea, Europe and we only have waves for skimboarding here. Do you feel that surfskating can help the skimboarding ”little surfing” skills?

    2. I noticed on the internet some new trucks that they claim they have a surfy effect. The revenge trucks from california, Koastal brand. And the Original S6, S8 and S10 from New York. Have you tried them?

    Thank you again surf-bro!

    • Hey Horia, sorry for the very late reply! I can’t really talk about skimboarding since I’ve never tried it. Just looking at it, though, I would imagine the best way to cross-train for it is perhaps riding a surfskate fitted with a Yow or Waterborne on a skatepark ramp! Hitting the incline fast and working of “off-the-lip” tight top turns. If you get good at that, it would probably help your skimboarding?

      I haven’t tried the Revenge nor the S but the Revenge do seem pretty cool to ride, I’d love to test them one of these days. I’ll report back here when I do!
      Aloha!

About me

Big Kahuna

Hi I'm Jesse. All my life I've been passionate about the board riding lifestyle. Some years ago I got into longboarding, and in doing so, I discovered a whole new universe and a fantastic community. There's something for everyone in longboarding regardless of age, gender, size, and fitness level. Ride on!

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