Are you trying to decide between a surfskate or a longboard? Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran, this post will help you understand the key difference and which work best for each type of riding.
Difference between longboard and surfskate
The key differences between a longboard and a surfskate are the deck size and the front truck. Longboard decks are longer and wider than surfskates which are typically cruiser decks. Also, surfskate trucks have a special geometry and/or spring-based swivel system for a surf-style turns.
Longboards generally have larger decks with length 35″ or more – shorter decks are typically named cruisers. Examples of longboards include the 38″ Loaded Icarus and the 42″ Dervish Sama.
In contrast, most Surfskates are cruiser decks in the 27″ – 34″ length range. There are a few exceptions like Hamboards’ 60″ longboard surskates, or Carver’s 36.5″ Tyler 777.
Longboard trucks are most commonly reverse kingpin (RKP) trucks – the kingpin nut is facing outward on both trucks. RKP trucks are designed for bigger decks and make your ride nice and flowy, stable and responsive.
All Surfskates come with a surfskate truck in front – the main differentiating element of a surfskate.
Most Surfskate trucks are traditional kingpin (TKP) trucks (as opposed to RKP). These trucks, also called street trucks because they are used on street decks, are snappier and “divier” than RKP.
Surfskate front trucks (surf trucks) also have additional specificities over standard street trucks:
- Surf trucks that are bushing-based have a special geometry that makes them much easier to pump and do very tight carves with compared to regular TKPs
- Surf trucks that have a swivel mechanism use internal springs to allow for very fast turns and a surf-like carving and pumping feel.
So to recap, most longboards come equipped with RKP trucks, while surfskates typically have a special patented surf truck in the front and a regular (albeit taller) TKP street truck in the rear.
Surfskate vs longboard for cruising
Cruising refers to easy riding at slow speed for the sake of enjoyment. Whether to choose a longboard or surfskate for cruising depends on many things.
A longboard will offer a roomier foot platform and larger wheels than a surfskate. A larger foot platform gives you more comfort for leisure riding along beach and bike trails. Higher diameter wheels with a soft duro will provide better shock absorption on rough surfaces
Note that one exception is super long surfskates like Hamboards, which offer a huge foot platform and large sized wheels.
A longboard will offer a roomier foot platform than a surfskate – again with the exception of super long surfskates like Hamboards. A roomy deck gives you nice comfort for leisure riding along beach and bike trails.
Another argument in favor of a longboard for cruising is the stability of RPK trucks e.g. Paris V3 180mm 50º. These are super flowy and smooth riding. Big longboard wheels also easily roll over cracks and bumps.
A pintail such as Landyachtz Pinner is an example of a great longboard for cruising along the beach.
In contrast, on a surfskate, the front truck is typically a lot less stable and requires more effort to cruise on.
That said, “surf cruising” doing continuous small carves and pumps to move around while enjoying the scenery can also be great fun.
In the city, assuming you have the right skills, a compact and nimble surfskate cruiser can also be a great option compared to a larger longboard for weaving around people and things on crowded sidewalks and in narrow streets.
See this post about the best surfskate for cruising.
Surfskate vs longboard for commuting
Daily commuting between home and work (or train station) requires pushing and riding over a few miles or more. Longboards are great for this type of riding with their comfy decks and stable responsive trucks.
Drop-through or double drop longboards ride lower to the ground than topmounts, so they require less effort to push distance.
Large soft longboard wheels e.g. 75mm 77A give you the roll speed and grip you need for fast and safe commutes. Commuting 5 – 20 miles on an Icarus, Tan Tien, or Dervish Sama is a smooth and pleasant experience.
A surfskate is generally a lot more challenging to commute on than a longboard. Hardcore surf trainers like the YOW, Swelltech, or Smoothstar are a lame choice for transport. You will feel exhausted after just a couple of miles.
Carver surfskates, however, are a lot more stable particularly with the CX truck. These setups allow you to do distance pumping in a very effective way. Distance pumping is a very popular discipline, and can be great for commuting.
Keep in mind though, that surfskates generally ride quite high off the ground due to the tall (and raised) surf trucks. So while distance pumping can be great, distance pushing takes more effort.
Besides longboards and surfskates, you might also consider a cruiser for commuting. Cruisers are more compact and portable than longboards, yet more stable than surfskates.
Cruisers can be a good alternative e.g. for inner city commuting.
Surfskate vs longboard for carving
If your primary goal is carving and you’re trying to decide between a longboard and a surfskate, you need to look closer into the kind of carving you want to do.
If your goal is to carve down mellow hills, a longboard with good flex, large wheel cutouts for wheel clearance, and big responsive RKP trucks is a good option, e.g. the 41″ Sector 9 Lookout.
Another example of a great carving longboard is the 38″ Loaded Icarus, whose advanced design makes it one of the highest performing longboards for serious flatland carving and pumping.
Large dancers like the 48+” Bhangra are also great carving longboards. However you may not need or want something that big unless you’re really into dancing and freestyle.
Now If your goal is surf-style carving, i.e. making extreme radical turns coupled with tailslides, snapbacks, and roundhouses, then a surfskate is your guy.
No longboard on earth will give you as tight turns as that special surf truck in the front paired with a stable elevated TKP rear truck.
While Carver is the historical pioneer of surf-style carving boards, newer options such as the awesome Loaded Carver Bolsa surfskate (a Loaded + Carver collab) may just be your ticket to surf carving heaven.
Surfskate vs longboard for pumping
Surfskates are generally a good choice for pumping as surf trucks are designed specifically for maximum effectiveness in pumping and carving.
I’ve touched on longboard pumping earlier in the section on commuting. However, pumping is a discipline of its own with many passionate fans.
While dedicated pumping setups are generally short boards, some longboards work well for pumping due to their high flex, high angle trucks, and grippy wheels.
The Loaded Icarus and Loaded Vanguard are examples of good longboards for pumping.
However, the kind of pumping you get on a longboard is very different from a surfskate. A longboard will be slower to pick up speed but will then maintain good momentum and speed throughout the pumps.
In contrast, you can typically easily pump a surfskate into motion, including uphill, but maintaining speed and inertia will require more effort over distance, especially with loose surf trucks.
Surfskate vs longboard for tricks
Traditional street tricks are best performed on a street deck or short cruiser with TKP trucks. Larger longboards are generally too bulky for doing grinds, 360s, nollies, high jumps, and skatepark riding.
Some surfskates allow doing street tricks and riding skatepark. These are smaller boards, typically 30″ or shorter, with a relatively stable front truck for doing snappy turns and landing airs.
Examples of surfskate setups that work for street tricks include some Carver CX setup. The CX truck is versatile and performs well in the skatepark.
The Carver C5 truck is a smaller surf truck meant to be paired with street or equivalent decks and designed specifically for a street style of surfskate.
The Loaded Carver Bolsa, with its great foot pockets and concave, also has tech slides and street tricks in its DNA.
Surfskate vs longboard for freestyle & dancing
A longboard will generally be more appropriate than a surfskate for traditional longboard freestyle and dancing moves.
Hamboards surfskates are an exception for dancing, you can certainly do serious nose riding and cross-stepping on a 45″ Huntington Hope or a 60″ Logger. Good luck kick flipping those things though…
Some longboards are designed with a specific focus on freestyle and/or dancing: robust but lightweight construction, symmetrical shape, covered wheels, subtle deck flex and concave, large double kicks, sturdy TKP or RKP trucks.
Surfskate vs longboard for surf training
Surf training is obviously the realm of surfskates. Brands like YOW and Swelltech seek to provide a shortboard surf feel that emulates wave riding.
Carver C7 setups offer more of a classic surfboard feel, while the CX has a snappier, more shortboard like feel, albeit not as extreme as YOW and the like.
That said, some longboards can provide a very surf-like type of feel, including Hamboards but also more traditional carving boards like Sector 9 longboards.
If you feel overwhelmed by the looseness of surfskate front trucks, a surfy and carvy longboard setup can be a nice and mellow surf cross trainer.
Pick a longboard with good carving and pumping abilities (see preceding sections).
Surfskate vs longboard for fast freeride
Most surfskates aren’t really designed for speed primarily due to the significant ride height, loose front truck, and short wheelbase, resulting in speed wobbles. Longboards are generally better suited for fast freeride and downhill.
While surfskates allow for extreme carving, most are meant to be ridden at relatively slow speed on flat ground.
Most longboards have a much longer wheelbase and stable reverse kingpin trucks making them a lot more stable at speed compared to surfskate cruisers.
Drop down and dropped decks in particular add to the longboard’s stability at speed by lowering the rider’s center of gravity.
That said, the Loaded Carver Bolsa surfskate is designed for higher speed carving compared to other surfskates. Slide Surfskates are also lower riding and more stable than average and can handle a bit more speed.
Fast carving, though, is the main focus of high-end freeride longboards such as the Icarus or Vanguard. See the best longboard for freeride.