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Surf Skate Trucks: The Complete Guide 2019

Surf Skate Trucks: The Complete Guide 2019

If surfskating the streets is your goal, there are quite a few surf skate 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 surf skate truck for your specific style and objectives can be challenging.  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 here will help you sort things out a bit as to which surf truck to get for your board.

Note: to find out exactly what other surfskaters are choosing and why, take the legendary Surfskate Instant Survey (click below) and subsequently view other surfskaters’ responses!

See also: a new surf skate truck, Alpine Trucks from Surfeeling, has been gaining traction (no pun intended), check out my in-depth post here.

See also: Landyachtz surfskates review

*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

The Waterborne Surf Adapter

Waterborne surf adapter

The newer kid on the block, the Waterborne Surf Adapter (Amazon page) is carving (no pun intended) a path for itself, making it even harder for riders to choose the right surf skate 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 $70 the Surf Adapter is relatively affordable, e.g. compared to a C7 which costs about twice as much – although the latter includes the actual front and back trucks in addition to the turning mechanism.

Like with the Yow (see next section), 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 as opposed to 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 Adapter 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.

Check out the Waterborne Surf Adapter’s price and reviews on Amazon.

The YOW surf skate 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 swingarm and make it fixed, turning the surfskate into a regular, stable skateboard without needing to remove the surf adapter.  This gives 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.

See the pricing for the Yow adapter system here on Amazon.

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, however, choose to fit the S4 on a 20″ wheelbase deck and add risers for a better distance carving experience.

See also this post for an in-depth comparison of YOW vs Waterborne Surf Adapter.

The Carver surf skate truck

No matter what their style is, most riders agree that Carver still has some of 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 training 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.

Check out the Carver CX truck kit here on Amazon UK

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.

See the price for the Carver C7 truck kit on Amazon UK

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 Swelltech Surfkate truck

UPDATE: check out my new in-depth Swelltech surfskate review and their 2020 models

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 skate 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 Curfboard surf skate 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:

Check out the Curfboard here on Amazon Germany

The Slide surf skate 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, including the CX, for street and 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 surf skate 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.

Check out my complete review of Miller surfskates.

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

Paul

Monday 24th of May 2021

Hi ! I can't find surfskate where i leave (no stock) and hardly can't deliver (remote island...) but yhe skateshop have a couple of YOW boxes (s4 or s5, i don't know). Will it fit my Long Island bamboo fish cruiser ? It's a 28" board with a 20" wheelbase and a RKP trucks, and i don't know if i can use a RKP on a YOW ! Thank's for helping

Tom Richardson

Wednesday 6th of January 2021

Hi BK,

Another admirer of your post and info here. I'm in the UK and looking to get a low cost surf trainer. Have you come across the Two Bare Feet 360 trucks? I've also looked at D Street, NKX and Mindless. Any thoughts on any of those systems?

Cheers,

Tom

Big Kahuna

Wednesday 6th of January 2021

Hey Tom, the only one in the list I've seen is the Mindless, decent quality looking, turns well, works well for kids, can't say anything about heavier riders though. I'd be a bit skeptical about the Two Bare Feet because of the low price - you generally get what you pay for when it comes to surf skates, cheap stuff can even be dangerous. The cheapest board I have is the Flow, around $160 list price. You may be better off with a used Carver or YOW. Just my 2c. Ride on!

Alexander Saner

Monday 11th of May 2020

Hi there, this is a great site and a wonderful resource on surfskating. I noticed the Hamboards HST trucks are missing from this overview, why's that? What is your view on Hamboards and their HST truck? Is it a surfskate truck comparable to the others listed above, what are the ups and downs? Many thanks

Big Kahuna

Monday 11th of May 2020

Hey Alexander, I do have a post on Hamboards, you can check it out here. Ride on!

Thomas

Friday 24th of January 2020

Is there any option to combine a classic 40' Drop-Through longboard with Slide or Carver CX surf -trucks?

Big Kahuna

Friday 24th of January 2020

hum never tried a surf truck on a drop-through personally, maybe others can chime in on this

Daniel

Thursday 23rd of January 2020

Hi, very nice article. I tried a Carver C7 a few days ago and it made me wanna surfskate as well. I am 41 years old and started longboarding a year ago without much skate-experience before. So i wonder if putting the slide surftrucks on my landyachtz ripple ridge would be a good option or if I should rather go for a slide complete board...

Big Kahuna

Friday 24th of January 2020

Hey Daniel, haven't tried the Ripple Ridge but it looks similar in size and shape to my Loaded Poke, which works really great with the Carver CX truck. So I don't see any reason why the Slide truck wouldn't work with your Ripple Ridge. Like other surfskates, the Slide decks are typically wider and have less concave than most commuters and city slashers, which gives them a slightly different feel for surf carving and pumping. It really depends on the type of riding you want to do, if you want easy pumping and tight turns, your deck combined with a slide truck (possibly with risers) and a set of wide 70mm wheels should work great. If you want something closer to the surfing feel, on the other, a Slide complete would probably be a better choice. Ride on!