If you’re an ocean surfer – or would like to become one, a skateboard surf adapter can make your existing skateboard, longboard, or cruiser ride a lot like a surfboard on a wave.
It’s an add-on device that converts a regular skateboard or longboard into a surfskate. Surf skating is a skateboarding style that involves surf-style carving and surf-like maneuvers on land.
Skateboard adapters like Waterborne Surf Adapter and the Yow System let you get into the world of surf skating by re-using your favorite skateboard/longboard deck and trucks, turning them into a tight-carving surf skate without having to invest in a whole new truck system – as is the case with traditional surf skate trucks like Carver or Swelltech.
In this post, we take a closeup look at two leading skateboard surf systems in the market:
- Waterborne Surf Adapter
- YOW System
Note: take the instant surfskate survey and find out which surfskates riders choose and why:
Waterborne Skateboard Surf Adapter
The Waterborne Surf Adapter (Amazon) is a turning mechanism that fits in between your deck and truck to make your skateboard or longboard ride a lot like a surfboard. It makes your board 3 to 4 times sharper turning, yet without losing the specific characteristics and riding feel of your original setup. It’s a much cheaper option than a surf skate complete or even a set of surf trucks (e.g. Carver).
The Waterborne surf adapter dramatically decreases your skateboard’s turning radius and allows you to pump the board on a flat surface. It will make your existing setup a lot more pumpable,
Waterborne skateboard Surf Adapter usage
You mount the Waterborne adapter on your front truck to turn your skateboard/longboard into a surf skate. The extra tight carving behavior you get from the adapter lets you ride your skateboard like a surfboard on land and perform surf-style turns and maneuvers.
In addition to the skateboard surf adapter on the front truck, you can get the Waterborne Rail Adapter for your rear truck (sells separately) to make your skateboard, longboard or cruiser even carvier and surfier. The Rail Adapter adds extra lean to your rear truck, which helps keep all 4 wheels on the ground during tight carves. The rear truck hence leans as much as the front, making the back of your skateboard behave more like a surfboard’s tail with the fins. Rail-to-rail transitions also smoother like when surfing a wave.
Besides turning your regular skateboard or longboard into a land surfboard, using the Surf and Rail Adapters together also gives you more stability at speed as the added lean on the rear trucks results in less turning and more grip, resulting in less speed wobbles when riding fast.
Dampening your skateboard ride
The skateboard Surf and Rail adapters also give you added suspension and a dampened ride on any kind of terrain thanks to the rubber bushings they use. Both adapters use soft traditional urethane bushings at their core, instead of metal springs like other surf trucks, for bringing back the turning arm toward the center.
A bushings-based skateboard surf adapter offers the following advantages:
- More resistant and durable (no breaking or corroding of the spring)
- Better cushioning and dampening on uneven terrain (ocean surf feel)
- Harder leans and deeper carves than with a spring
See customer reviews for the Waterborne Surf Adapter on Amazon
Types of setups you can fit the Waterborne skateboard surf adapter on
The Waterborne Surf Adapter works pretty much with any skateboard, longboard, or cruiser. However, the surf-like type of carving the Adapter enables best works with grippy wheels (softer wheels with enough contact patch) and looser trucks – riders often loosen their trucks after installing the Surf Adapter.
The Surf and Rail Adapters use the new school mount hole pattern and hence can be fitted on decks with either old or new school patterns.
Using the Waterborne with a RKP truck will give you better pumping at high speed with lots of lean – much more than other surfskates. With a TKP truck, the feeling is closer to other surfskates. In general though, the Waterborne Surf Adapter will make any truck geometry pump much better.
Waterborne skateboard surf adapter durability
The Surf Adapter is a robust mechanical part, tested to support very radical surf skate moves. Hard snapbacks and surf slides put a lot of pressure on the skateboard surf adapter, particularly with a heavier rider. Waterborne’s adapter can withstand up to 1500 lbs of pressure, with is way above normal range.
Riders generally agree the skateboard surf adapter feels very sturdy and lasts a long time. On the flip side, it’s quite heavy and adds weight to the front truck, which initially requires some getting used to in turns.
As mentioned, while the springs of most spring-powered surf skate truck systems eventually snap and need replacement, the bushings-based Waterborne adapter has great durability.
How to install the Waterborne skateboard surf adapter
Installing the Waterborne skateboard surf adapter is straightforward. You’ll need 4 hex head bolts and nuts, 4 short Phillips bolts and nuts, and a block riser – all these come with the surf adapter.
- Unbolt your front truck from the deck
- Bolt the surf adapter onto your front truck using the hex bolts
- Bolt the surf adapter (now paired to the front truck) to the deck using the short Phillips screws.
- Tighten the bolts as well as the larger screw holding the turning arm in the front.
- Remove your rear truck and mount it back with the riser between the truck and deck
- Adjust the tightness of your front truck as desired.
If you also have the Waterborne Rail Adapter for your rear truck:
- Unbolt your rear truck off the deck
- Bolt the Rail Adapter onto your rear truck
- Screw the Rail Adapter onto your deck using the longer bolts
Note than mounting the Waterborne skateboard surf adapter onto a drop-through longboard will effectively make it topmount:
Waterborne skateboard Surf Adapter vs Carver and Swelltech systems
Here’s a summary of riders feedback when comparing the Waterborne adapter to Carver CX or C7 trucks or to Swelltech’s truck:
- Waterborne’s skateboard surf adapter allows for deeper turns than the Carver C7 – and thus the CX, less surfy than the C7
- The Waterborne adapter is much more stable at speed than Swelltech’s 360º spinning truck (that powers Swelltech’s
surfskatecompletes like the Jamie O’Brien), and thus better-suited for skateboard transportation.
- Although more stable at speed, some riders find the Waterborne looser than the Swelltech, which is great if your goal is surf training.
- Although not meant for really high speed, the Waterborne skateboard surf adapter is more stable at speed than other surf skates if combined with the Rail Adapter
- The Waterborne lets you keep the feel of your existing skateboard or longboard setup, while other surf skate systems completely change it – since you need to replace the trucks and/or deck
To recap, the Waterborne surf adapter is a capable mechanical piece that effectively turns any skateboard or longboard into a sharp-turning surf skate.
YOW System surfskate truck adapter
The Yow Truck System (Amazon) is another skateboard surf adapter that turns your regular skateboard or longboard into a tight carving, pumpable, and slideable machine for radical surf-style riding on land. YOW stands for “Your Own Wave”!
Yow is growing in popularity in Europe. The truck system is 100% designed and built in the Spanish Basque Country by HLC and manufactured in Europe’s largest skateboard factory. After years of development, Yow’s engineers have created their unique patented surf skate system, which allows you to really get a
Unlike Waterborne, the YOW surfskate system uses the torsion of an internal spring to make your skateboard/longboard turn very tight. Similar to Waterborne, with a Yow-enhanced setup you get the ability to make very fluid surf-like turns and to easily propel yourself through
The YOW surf system comes in two different versions, the S4
The S5 version of the Yow surfskate system uses a bigger and heavier 5mm spring in its core, with more resistance in sharp turns. It’s ideal for heavier riders or skaters who with more radical riding styles and power moves that call for more resistance.
Comparing Yow vs Waterborne
How do the Yow system skateboard adpater and Waterborne surf adapter compare? The main difference between them is that Waterborne uses a urethane bushing while Yow has a mechanical spring. As a result, the two adapters have a very different riding feel.
Many riders feel the Waterborne has a quite fluid and natural feel close to ocean surfing. Also, riding in a straight line for transportation on the Waterborne is easier than on the Yow, which is relatively unstable and hard to push on over any distance. However, the Yow has a locking pin that lets you instantly turn your board back into a regular cruiser skateboard or longboard – with its associated stability.
By activating the lock pin, you also make the Yow adapter better-suited for higher speed by eliminating the instability associated with the looseness. As mentioned earlier, the Waterborne’s is also relatively stable at higher speed when fitted with the complementary Rail Adapter in the back.
The Yow surf skate adapter’s very loose steering and shortboard-like mobility
Both the Waterborne Surf Adapter and Yow System are great products that let you turn your regular skateboard, longboard or cruiser into an agile and tight-carving surf skateboard without having to replace your favorite deck or trucks.
The two adapters use different systems (bushing-based vs spring-based) and hence provide very different land surfing experiences. Which one you prefer depends on your personal preference and your mix of surf training, surf-style pumping, commuting, downhill, and park & pool riding.