Swelltech Surfskate Review: The Ultimate Surf Trainer

swelltech surfskate review

Swelltech’s surfskates are special longboards specifically designed for surfers. They provide one of the closest experience to wave surfing in the market. Surfers widely vet the Swelltech surfskates and consider them among the best surf training tools out there.

Most riders agree the Swelltech boards actually ride more like a shortboard surfboard than a regular longboard. The feeling of surfing stems from the patented surfskate truck system as well as the surfboard-like deck shapes.

Coming at $220 and $260, the Swelltech surfskates are reasonably priced relative to other surfskate brands in light of their unique surfing capabilities, the quality of their surf truck, and their great deck designs.

The Swelltech surfskate riding experience

On a surfboard, the surfer rotates his/her upper body and pivots off of the fins for doing sharp turns. The front of the surfboard moves freely right and left, so the surfer can slide the board to the side for pump and speed.

The Swelltech surfskate truck emulates this motion by enabling a 360º rotation, while the rear truck acts as stable a pivot point similar to surf fins.

Thus, unlike regular longboards, the rider uses his/her upper body to pull the board into turns. The 360º rotating front truck also lets the rider quickly face the board in any direction and pump for speed.

The truck greatly helps beginner surfers position their body for surf carving and pumping. It also helps more advanced riders improve their surfing.

The feedback from riders of Swelltech surfskates is overall quite enthusiastic. There are two groups of Swelltech rider, the surfers and the surfer wannabees.

Surfers’ experience on the Swelltech

swelltech surfskate riding experience

Experienced surfers who acquire Swelltech surfskates generally get comfortable carving, pumping and sliding very quickly, even though many have little to no skateboard/longboard experience and come in expecting a sketchy riding experience.

Many surfers feel the Swelltech surfskates are not meant for skateboarding but for surfing when not of the water. They are great for surfers who’ve never ridden a skateboard.

They all agree the feeling of riding a Swelltech board is very similar to surfing, and rave about being able to take their surf carving and pumping to the streets, skatepark bowls, and hills.

One of the main benefits they see in the Swelltech is the ability to practice surf maneuvers over and over, whereas in the water the number of attempts is typically limited due to scarce waves and crowds.

The Swelltech boards are extremely responsive and pumpable, generating speed fast. Due to the way they behave, riders are forced to use a good surfing position and motion for carve effectively up and down driveways, blowing out the tail, or doing layback turns without crashing.

As a result, after a few weeks to a few months, many surfers report great improvements in their surfing level, e.g. with regards to picking up speed, carving deeper, performing better snaps/off-the-lip through improved body rotation.

In short, the Swelltech surfskates are particularly good for practicing surf pumping and carving for those with limited access to decent waves.

Non-surfer experience on the Swelltech

Non-surfers who ride the Swelltech surfskates typically have some longboarding experience. For these riders though, it can take a bit of time to get used to the free-moving front truck and learn to ride the board.

Once they do, however, the carving experience feels amazing – and the main reason they picked the Swelltech. These riders generally also learn from watching the surfers shred on these boards.

Riders new to surfing and surfskating appreciate the sharp turning and carving, decent top speed, and smooth ride the Swelltech offer.

Most experienced longboarders who own a Swelltech compare it favorably to other surfskates like YOW, Smoothstar, and Carver.

Like the surfers, these riders enjoy pushing down a hill, performing deep and precise carves, and throwing the tail for snaps in skateparks and bowls – which is what the Swelltech is primarily designed for.

New surfers also like the Swelltech surfskates because they help them learn how to do a good pump and get more speed for riding down the line.

Swelltech riders also mention the great full-body workout they get from riding the surfskates. Slashing around the neighborhood doing continuous surf carves and snaps give your core muscles and quads a good run.

The Swelltech Surfskate truck system

Swelltech surfskate truck system full rotation

As I mentioned, the surf-like riding experience you get from a Swelltech surfskate largely derives from the spring-based front truck system.

We’ve seen the surfskates are designed to mimic the unlimited movement of a surfboard. This is achieved through the coupling of a completely free-moving (360º rotation) front truck, and a stiff standard skateboard rear truck that acts as a stabilizing pivot point similar to the fins on a surfboard.

The free motion in the front allows the rider to accelerate the board easily by shifting his/her weight from rail to rail (pump for speed) like a surfer does across the face of the wave.

The free-moving front truck and rigid rear truck are what allows the rider to use their upper body for pumping the board, leading with the shoulders to perform carving turns and cutbacks.

In addition to the full-circle rotation, the 60º pivoting capacity of the front truck makes it possible for the rider to carve very deep turns in any direction and with any amplitude, while still maintaining full control.

The Swelltech trucks are known for their strength (exclusing the springs, see below). The 2019 and 2020 versions have been much enhanced compared to older versions of the truck:

  • The front truck has thicker external and internal springs, allowing the rider to put more pressure on their front foot and drive harder into carves, while offering more stability and smoother pumping.
  • The front axle has been made wider, allowing for more grip and turn before carves, and increasing rail control for easier sharp cutbacks.
  • The front truck is fitted with an angled riser than changes the rotation angle, resulting in smoother rail transitions and more efficient pumps.
  • The rear truck has been widened (closer to the front) resulting in better weight distribution between the two as well as easier pushing.
  • Use of thicker and wider double-barrel bushings for more stability and improved range of motion for surf-style carves.

Swelltech truck caveat

While the Swelltech surfskate truck system very effectively reproduces the motion of a shortboard on waves, the springs in the front truck get under a lot of pressure during radical surf-style moves, and often tends to break after a few months.

Many riders cringe at the springs breaking often, as setting up new springs is a bit of a pain – even though they only around $2.

It’s worth mentioning, though, that the Swelltech trucks come with a lifetime warranty, so Swelletch will replace them at no cost in case of breakage.

Also, the upgrades made to the 2020 versions of the front truck have improved the lifetime of the springs.

Swelltech surfskate wheels

Swelltech wheels

The Swelltech wheels that ship with the surfskates are now larger 70mm wheels that allow the board to roll faster.

The wheels also have a wide 55mm contact patch (sharp-lipped) and soft durometer (78A) for maximum traction in deep carves, as well as good shock absorption for rougher pavements.

To break traction and slide with these wheels, the rider needs to do extreme surf-style maneuvers such as snapbacks, roundhouses, off-the-lips or layback turns.

The wheels have an 8mm offset core, effectively widening the trucks, which adds to the surfskate’s stability and grip and allows the rider to carve harder, while giving the front truck springs more protection.

***

So I’ve discussed in some depth the Swelltech surfskate’s riding experience and how the truck system is at the core of this experience. In the rest of this article, I’ll do a brief review of Swelltech’s gorgeous surfskate decks.

Swelltech Surfskate Jamie O’Brien review

Swelltech Surfskate Jamie O'Brien 2020

Swelltech’s flagship Jamie O’Brien (J.O.B.) pro model is a 36″ deck with a performance surfboard outline. The new model is longer than the previous version (36″ vs 34″) with a lengthened 22″ wheelbase (vs 21″).

Given its size and wheelbase, the J.O.B. is generally a suitable board for riders 5 to 6′ in height, i.e. with a relatively wide stance.

The long and wide foot platform, effective concave running along the whole length of the deck, and 7.5″-wide squash tail, make efficient surf pumps and deep surf carves easier and more natural.

The large soft 70mm wheels also help you better lay out carves much better as they offer all the required grip and roll. The big wheel wells cut into the bottom rear part of the deck prevent any wheelbite on the back truck – a regular, not-so-tall TKP (skateboard) truck.

The Jaime O’Brien’s slightly rockered nose and roomy tail, fitted with a thick, hard and rubbery traction pad with a foot stopper in the back, facilitate radical snapbacks and tight slide turns.

The J.O.B. pro model deck boasts a beautiful black-stained wood on the top side with Jamie’s name, and Swelltech’s logo printed in turquoise letters on top of the fine-coarse grip tape (for comfy barefoot riding).

The bottom side of the J.O.B. is the most attractive part with a stunning picture of Jaimie deep inside a huge Pipeline barrel printed on about 2/3 of the deck – the last 1/3 being the same black stained wood as the top side.

Overall, this is a truly gorgeous and high-performance surfskate. Stay tuned for some riding videos on my Youtube channel soon.

Check out the price and reviews for the Swelltech Jamie O’Brien Banzai Pipeline on Amazon.

Swelltech Surfskate Austin Keen pro model review

swelltech surfskate austin keen

The Swelltech Austin Keen pro model is named after the skimboarding world champion and boardsports star Austin Keen. Keen has an explosive and spectacular style on a surfskate like on a skimboard, a wakesurf, etc.

The Austin Keen pro model is 33″ long, the shortest and most compact surfskate in the lineup. It’s the recommended model for shorter riders up to 5’10 tall who can ride it comfortably with a narrower stance.

The Austin Keen has a relatively stubby shortboard outline with a snubbed nose and a 7.5″ swallow-type tail. It features a nice concave running along its length for secure foot lock-in in tight turns and snappy maneuvers.

The Austin Keen has a 20″ wheelbase, short enough for sharp carves and snapbacks but long enough for carving down a steeper hill with good stability.

The Palms version of the deck has attractive palms graphic on the bottom with Austin Keen’s logo and an alternate dark wood and kaki background color. The top has a khaki stripe across the mellow grip tape. It comes with a traction pad you can keep or remove.

Check out the price and reviews for the Swelltech Austin Keen Palms here on Amazon.

Swelltech Premiere surfskate review

swelltech surfskate premiere

The Premiere is Swelltech’s original deck and the largest in their lineup at 40″ by 9.75″ wide. Being a bigger longboard, it’s particularly well-suited for taller riders e.g. 5″8 – 6″4 tall.

The new version of the Premiere has an even longer wheelbase at 23.5″ which matches a true surfboard stance. As a result, with the Premiere, surfers can really cross-train for surfing using their actual surf stance without the need to adapt their stance in the waves when performing the maneuvers they practiced on land.

The mid-rail width is also wide enough for the whole foot to fit between the rails. The outline becomes much thinner in the rear section, ending with. the 7″-wide tail. The thinner back makes it easier to carve pump and do snappy turns on this board despite its size and weight.

This is a good choice for bigger riders, but also for those who want to carve comfortably on a larger deck for a longboard like feeling without losing the ability to do very tight turns.

The Premiere Blackout version has an attractive black-themed look featuring a glossy black wood bottom with the Swelltech name printed in white across the deck.

Like all models, the Premiere comes fitted with the Swelltech surfskate truck and the soft and grippy 70mm wheels with smooth ABEC 7 bearings.

See the Swelltech Premiere Blackout’s pricing and reviews here on Amazon.

Swelltech Surfskate Hybrid review

Swelltech Surfskate Hybrid

The Hybrid is a mix between the Jamie O’Brien pro model and the Premiere – it has the 36″ midsize of the former but its outline resembles the latter. Like on the Premiere, your front foot fully fits between the rails.

Similar to the J.O.B., this surfskate is best-suited for 5 to 6′-tall riders. So how does it differ from the Jaime O’Brien pro model?

  • The Hybrid has a slightly shorter wheelbase at 21.5″ (1/2″ shorter)
  • The Hybrid has a wider middle section, thinner nose, and sidecuts/thinner rear section. The J.OB. has a more continuous outline.
  • The Hybrid has a much wider tail (8.5″ vs 7.5″), diamond-shaped (vs squash

As a result, the Hybrid rides slightly differently compared to the J.O.B. even though they are both the same length and have a nice concave for foot lock-in – which surfskate is better is a matter of personal choice.

On the design front, the Hybrid Camo has a pretty cool dark green camouflage graphic theme with jungle-style motifs on the bottom. This compares to the awesome Pipeline barrel photo the J.O.B. features.

Like the J.O.B. and other 2020 Swelltech models, the Hybrid comes with a quality traction pad and the super-fast and grippy 70mm wheels.

It’s worth noting the Hybrid is a more affordable surfskate with a suggested retail price of $220 vs $260 for the J.O.B.

See prices and reviews for the Swelltech Hybrid surfskate on Amazon.

64 comments

Hey fellow boardrider, want to post a comment or question? Due to the ever-growing number of comments on this site, I've moved them here:
As always, I try to answer as many of your questions as possible. Since the forum is better organized, other riders may also help answer your questions. You can still post comments here if you want to but from now on, I'll mainly be monitoring the forum. Ride on!

  • Thank you Jesse. I’m considering buying a swelltech board but am really struggling to chose as they are all priced the same in my country. I’m qui tempted by the premiere as it seems to me by watching the videos that it’s the board that allows you to make the tightest turns. The new banzai model is also available and seems to have new features. So for you which one do you prefer to ride? I’m also quite small 171 cm would that be a problem on the premiere? Thanks mate!

    • Hey Fabien, Swelltech is awesome bro, it’s now by far my favorite board for surf cross-training! Regarding your choice of model, as usual the answer is “it depends”… The Premiere is quite a huge board at 40″, it’s going to be super-comfortable for you given your size but if your goal is to do snappy surf turns, it may be too big for you. You probably know the 33″ Austin Keen is the smallest in the lineup, that would be the most radical option for a rider your size. I guess it would work best if you’re an already experienced shortboard surfer looking to take your surfing to the next level. If not, the 36” JOB Banzai Pipeline is a good middle ground I think. That’s the one I’m riding and I’m 6’1 so it would still be a relatively big and stable board for you, but you can definitely do really tight turns including 360s. By the way, the new truck is MUCH more stable and easy to handle than the previous versions.

      So to recap, for you I’d go with the Austin Keen if you’re a hardcore surfer, or the JOB Banzai if you want a good progressive board to learn on and work on your surf carving and pumping. I probably wouldn’t pick the Premiere as it’s really big for your size and you might outgrow it faster.

      Just my 2 cents! Aloha

      • Thank you so much. I’m actually not a surfer yet. I’m riding a 29′ yow at the moment and was seduced by swelltech by looking at the videos. You’re mentioning the Austin keen but the the video didn’t show any of the snappy turns. The board looked like it was struggling to move sharply even when Austin was putting a lot of weight on the side. That’s what made me want to go for the premiere : the videos featuring the premiere were the ones showing the snappiest turn and the most surf like motion. And I like the idea that this board allows you to have the real surfing stance (even if I am not surfing yet haha). Too bad to be small, I might go for the banzai then. Thank you again

        • Hum I haven’t tried the Austin but I doubt it’s any less snappy than the Premiere since it comes with the exact same setup, just a shorter wheelbase (if anything that should make it snappier) and slightly different outline. Perhaps it’s due to Austin’s style? Anyway I’m a long-time surfer and I feel my stance on the Banzai is very close, so it should be the case even more for you since you’re shorter. Best of luck!

  • Very nice guide! I’m considering buying a SwellTech. I’m 179 cm and 77kg, im considering buying the previous JOB (the new one isn’t available in my country yet)
    Would you recommend me to wait for the new JOB model or get an hybrid?
    Thank you in advance!

    • I think the Hybrid and the JOB will both work well for your size, they’re about the same length with very comparable wheelbases (1/2″ difference). Personally I like the JOB’s continuous contour and artwork a bit better, but that’s a matter of taste – the Hybrid’s camo look is pretty cool too. The only thing is the big 70mm wheels on the JOB are awesome, whereas I’ve seen the Hybrid set up with 65mm wheels. Smaller wheels may slide better but I mostly like to pump and deep carve, so bigger (and grippier) wheels work best for me.
      All in all, if you can’t get your hands on the JOB I’d say definitely go for the Hybrid – you should get the same awesome surfing experience, just order a set of bigger wheels if like me you want super-smooth carving.

  • Hey Big Kahuna! First of all, thank you for all your reviews – you’re are the best and most detailed website out there! 🙂

    You said about the latest JOB 2020 “the new truck is MUCH more stable and easy to handle than the previous versions.” Can you tell a little more about that? Is the new truck using a new technology? The JOB 2020 being the very latest model, does it mean you find it better than SurfSkate’s other boards (including Premiere, Hybrid, Pro 34 Pipeline)? That would clearly be an argument to get that one vs the others.

    Cheers

    • Hey Martin, all the 2020 models come fitted with the new version of the Swelltech truck, so they all get that great added stability compared to older models. So no, I can’t say the JOB is better than the Premiere, Hybrid etc, each model targets certain rider size and riding style (see my post for details) and the 2020 models all use the same surf truck version. The JOB Banzai’s size and shape just happens to work great for me given my height, weight, and surf style, whereas other riders may prefer another model.

      • I tended to think stability was antagonistic to the surfy feeling (surfskate usually being at the ‘surf’ end of the spectrum, carver being much closer to the other ‘stable’ extreme). Are you saying the new Swelltech truck provides better stability whilst maintaining the surfy feel?

  • I found an Australian website selling the “Surfskate Complete Jamie OBrien Pro 34 Pipeline” (https://www.boardstore.com.au/surfskate-complete-jamie-obrien-pro-34-pipeline/) and the “SurfSkate JOB Pipeline SwellTech” (https://www.boardstore.com.au/surfskate-job-pipeline-swelltech/) They both have a wheelbase of 21 Inches and a Deck Length of 34 Inches, but the Swelltech is ~20% more expensive. Why is that? Is the Swelltech more recent? Is the technology better?

  • Hi, I found an Australian website selling the “Surfskate Complete Jamie OBrien Pro 34 Pipeline” (https://www.boardstore.com.au/surfskate-complete-jamie-obrien-pro-34-pipeline/) and the “SurfSkate JOB Pipeline SwellTech” (https://www.boardstore.com.au/surfskate-job-pipeline-swelltech/) They both have a wheelbase of 21 Inches and a Deck Length of 34 Inches, but the Swelltech is ~20% more expensive. Why is that? Is the Swelltech more recent? Is the technology better?

    • To me the 2 pages you mentioned show exactly the same board, which is the previous version of the Jaimie O’Brien (the Pipeline version). I have no idea why the price is different but it seems one of them is out of stock, so maybe they had a special at one point and ended it. They do seem to have the 2020 version (Banzai) though, albeit at a higher price.

      • According to the website’s representative (should have asked him first, sorry for the flood of questions!), the cheaper one is the 2018 generation.

      • I enquired on their chat (which I should’ve done earlier – sorry if I’m abusing your time!), they told me the cheaper is the 2018 model whilst the more expensive is the 2020. We can’t really see on the picture.

  • Hi again!

    I have a similar concern as Julien’s. I’m a surfer who would love to up his game so I’m pretty excited about getting a skateboard (although I’m a beginner skater). SurfSkate seems like the best choice for that, so I’m trying to find the best fit for me among all their boards. I’m 1.74m (5’9) and 60 kgs (132 lbs) so according to what I’ve read online, longer boards like the Premiere can be a bit limiting (you said “you might outgrow it faster”, is that what you meant? Do they feel a bit ‘clunky’/not snappy once you get good?). However I know having a wide stance is critical in surfing; I’m concerned that should I start skating on a not-so-long board regularly, I might pick up the bad habit of bringing my feet closer together. Is this a problem you’ve seen in you or in other surf skaters when switching back and forth between surfing and skating?

    Cheers 🙂

    • My take is, if you go with too big a board relative to your size, you may find it harder to pull radical snaps like you see in Swelltech’s videos. Shorter wheelbase means snappier turns, so smaller riders who want to improve surf performance should typically go for smaller decks. I wouldn’t try to replicate the exact same stance you use in the water on a surfskate, as that would mean choosing a relatively long board with a big wheelbase, which would probably result in wider turns and a much less shortboard-like feel. It would be like picking a very long snowboard to maintain a similar stance as in the water. Your stance will adapt but your body motion will improve.

  • Being a surfer who wants to better his surfing skills, the traction pads are pretty appealing to me. Whatever can bring surfing sensations on a skateboard is a plus. Tractions pads seem pretty recent, right? Do other brands offer tractions pads as well? Did you find it actually makes a difference or is it just a gimmick? Can I buy it separately and apply it on any board? (Googling that mostly got me surfboard pads results)

    Thanks!

    • Hey Martin, yes as a surfer myself I REALLY like the tracpad on the JOB with the stopper in the rear, it gives you awesome grip for pulling rad turns, cutbacks and “off-the-lip” slides. Not only does it look sexy for us surfers, but most importantly it also lets you ride the JOB barefoot in-between surf sessions – I think that’s the main reason why it’s there. So to me yes it does make a difference as I can just pick the JOB off of my trunk after getting out of the water and jump on it without having to putting shoes on – you can do that on other surfskates but I don’t like the feel of coarse grip tape under my feet. The pad is also quite comfortable when riding with skate shoes on. It’s a pretty good pad too, wish I had something that good on my cheap surfboard lol.
      I have no idea if you can buy these pads standalone TBH. If so, I would imagine you could glue one onto any deck, although you’d probably need to pull the grip tape off first for that area of the deck.
      Ride on! Jesse

  • Hello,

    I’m 54 y.o. and few month ago I ‘m the owner of a swelltech O’Bryan Hybrid board and it’s just a dream about the feelings such a board is giving while riding !!!
    My favorite moments are using it in skatepark’s Bowl. It is just so fun !!

    • Hey Pascal, thanks for sharing. Totally agree, these boards ride like on a dream wave! Haven’t taken it into a bowl yet, I’ll make sure to pad myself up thoroughly when I do, though…

  • Hi Jesse. First of all thank you very much for that awesome review of the boards! You are the first to describe the differences between the 2020 truck and former generations of the SwellTech truck. I couldn’t even find this information on their page… So thanks a lot!
    Now to my problem. I can’t decide which Board I should buy. I like the JOB Pipeline and the JOB Banzai. Given my size and weight (1,89m and 95-100kg) SwellTech recommends the Banzai. But I recently rode a YOW Board with a 17″ wheelbase and I appreciated the possibility to do tight turns on it. I had no problem with my stance either.
    So I was wondering why SwellTech is recommending the 22″ wheelbase Banzai for my size and not the 21″ wheelbase Pipeline if other manufacturers have way shorter wheelbases without any recommendations for size and height… Why is a YOW 17″ WB Board okay for me but not a SwellTech 21″ WB Board? Is it because of the agility of the SwellTech trucks that the wheelbases of YOW and SwellTech can’t be compared? Which board would you recommend for my size and height? (Additional info: I’m a beginner to intermediate level surfer and have been riding a more stable Surfskate for about a year now)

    • Hey Yann, that’s a tough question, it’s also about personal style and preference. A few considerations:
      – The YOW and the Swelltech are very different, for one thing, the Swelltech has A LOT more lean, that is, the rail digs really deep in turns like a surfboard in the water. The YOW truck may feel looser for quick carves, but the deck leans a lot less. And remember the Swelltech turns full 360º which is insane. So I’d say you really need a longer wheelbase on the Swelltech to have a comparable level of stability. Also, the Swelltech has more of a long and narrow shape so the proportions are different.
      – You’re a big guy, bigger than me (I’m 1.87m 81kg). I ride the Banzai and find it comfortable but very surfy, I was able to small cutbacks and slides soon after starting using it for the first time. For you, the board is going to feel even smaller (since you’re bigger). I would say you probably can use that extra 1″ wheelbase and 2″ deck length. Again this can’t really compare with the YOW (for which 17″ is already a long WB).
      Just my 2c. Ride on!
      Jesse

    • I wouldn’t do it, you’ll get sand in your bearings (though they can always be cleaned or replaced). I tried riding my Banzai Pipeline on a sandy road, nearly fell flat on my face…

  • Hi, I have already a Smoothstar Filipe Toledo #77 and it is great. It helped me a lot in my surfing. I am keen on improving my surfing longboard skills as well (cross stepping, nose riding and so on). In that case, which one would you recommend me? I was thinking on the Premiere or the YOW Waikiki. Thanks in advance!

    • Hey, the YOW Waikiki looks awesome for longboard surf style riding with its 40″ length and 26″ wheelbase, decent space for footwork. Also take a look at the Hamboards Huntington Hop (45″!), pretty cool and stylish board – see my post here and this compilation I made

    • Just wondering what board you ended up getting? I’m buying my first Surfskate and cant decide between Toledo 77 or Swelltech JOB banzai

  • Hello, I am a beginner-intermediate in both surfing and surfskates but I have tried both Smoothstar and Carver surfskates and found myself enjoying the responsiveness of the Smoothstar infinitely more. I would love to continue surfing but I don’t have a lot of opportunities where I live, therefore I have decided that I want to buy a from Swelltech because they seem to be the best option for surfing on land and offer the most chance for surfing technique improvement. That being said, I am unsure on which surfskate to pick. I am 166cm tall and weigh 53kg, therefore my first response was to pick the Austin Keen model. But I just wanted to double check because I take these matters way too seriously. What model do you think I should buy that will be a mixture of snappy and smooth, leaning more to the snappy side? and what is the difference between having an extra grip at the end or not? I was also considering buying a YOW surfskate, but I am stuck in choosing the right size and system because since I only exceed the 50kg mark by 3kg, I fear that if I choose their recommended s5 truck system that it will be too stiff. I know this is too long but I aim to stick with one board for a long time as they are very expensive and I want to get it right. Thank you for your patience 🙂

    • Hey Paula, yes I’d say the Austin Keen is probably the right size for you. IMO the Swelltech boards are all snappy and smooth by design, just be aware they feel very different from the YOW, much more deck lean – which is what makes them feel like riding a surfboard. YOW is good surf training too but to me Swelltech is the closest to wave riding. The trackpad on the tail gives you great comfort and foothold if you want to eventually throw out the tail in snapback slides or in bowls, I really like the feel of it even though I initially thought it was just a design thing. The Trackpad on the Swelltech is high quality and it gives you a lot of extra grip, plus it’s great for barefoot riding.
      If you end up choosing a YOW, I would say definitely go for the S4 since your goals are clearly to work on radical surf maneuvers.
      Aloha!

  • Hi Jesse,
    Great review. Would be great if you could help me a little with choosing which board to get. I’ve been surfing on and off for 11 years, between a beginner and intermediate, I can do a nice turns but struggling to do cut backs as I can’t go surfing regularly. I’ve got a cheap osprey surf skate that doesn’t turn that well, ridden occasionally for the last couple of months. So what I’d like to have a surf skate board for, is to help me learn skills specifically to transfer into my surf i.e.
    1.) learn proper pumping technique and progress with it, be able to gain speed on flat ground.
    2.) practice both short snappy turns and long drawn out bottom turns (mainly on flat road/pavement)
    3.) be able to practice with a stance similar to on my surfboard.

    My height Is between 5ft 8 and 5ft 9 inches I weigh 66kg.

    for reasons above, which swelltech board do you think would be best for me? Also finding it difficult to compare to YOW, smoothstar and other brands, do you think the swelltech would be better for me than those other boards for the reasons above?

    Sorry for the long message bro but would be really grateful for help with this, I just want to spend my money wisely! Cheers.

    • Hey Mark, yes I warmly recommend a Swelltech for your situation, it has helped my surfing tremendously, it’s by far the closest to surfing I’ve tried. YOW is great as well but IMHO it’s still more “skatey” than Swelltech, the latter has a unique amount of lean that really emulates a surfboard. It’s also much more backfoot driven than the others (can’t really comment on Smoothstar). I would say YOW is great for surfskating but Swelltech is like surfing (shortboarding) on land. Just my 2c

  • Hey Jesse, thanks for all the great info on your site!! I have a V1 Premiere and love it but am considering whether it’s worth upgrading to a V2 Hybrid. I don’t have a problem with the V1 truck, and generally love the flow and feeling when you are riding it right. If the V2 is easier to generate speed though that would be great, on rougher asphalt I find it takes a lot of effort to generate speed/momentum before practicing turns and snaps, etc. What do you think? Cheers!

    • Hey Max, I haven’t ridden the v1 much but the V2 has more stability which means your pumps are probably more effective. I’m amazed at how super easy and fast I can pump on the Banzai, I get pick up momentum instantly including uphill. The truck doesn’t feel out of control in terms of looseness, to me they’ve achieved that balance between free movement and stability and that allows for fast pumping as well as incredibly tight turns (including 360ºs)

  • Hey Jesse, I need a professional opinion. I’ve recently got into surfskate and I’ve been surfing since I was in middle school. I’m 47, 5’-11”, and 125 lbs. I’ve recently bought the Waterborne Surfskate and Rail Adapters for my long 40” Arbor longboard. I love the sensitivity and carving abilities!

    I want to get a shorter surfskate board to advance my carving and radical maneuvers while I’m not surfing. I’ve settled on SwellTech, but I can’t figure out if the Austin Keen is to short for my physique (5’11” and 125 lbs.) or if the JOB would be a better fit. Thanks in advance.

  • Hi! I’m a beginner surfer and I would love to improve. We rarely get to see some swell here and when we do, it’s fairly small. I have been windsurfing for years (a lot more accessible) but it’s a lot different from surfing. I figured the best way to learn is surfskating.

    I’m 1m83 and about 80kg. I’m tempted to buy the Premiere, however, I’m eager to learn and my fear is that eventually the Premiere is going to be too big and give less of a true surf feel than the JOB for example. What would you recommend? I don’t mind the struggle in the beginning!

    Thanks in advance!

  • Hey man just curious does the swelltech reach higher speeds or is it really slow when you pump it compared to something like a carver?

    Also what are your top 3 favorite surfskate brands when it comes to cruising around ( non transportation purposes)?

    • The JOB Banzai I have can pump really fast due to the loose truck, the high deck lean, and the longer wheelbase. Comparing with a Carver, however, is a broad question, it really depends on the deck size/wheelbase and the truck (CX or C7). A shorter wheelbase can easily get pumping from a standstill while a longer one will take more effort to get started but will pickup and maintain more momentum at speed with less effort.

      For cruising around, I love riding the Poke or Omakase with a Carver CX, as well as either a Flow Wedge or Slide – they’re both comfortable to chill on and surfy enough to have a great time. I also enjoy sidewalk cruising on the Coyote (not a surfskate though). I love the Swelltech but for me it’s more of a workout/surf session type of ride.
      Also check out my brand new monster post on choosing a surfskate!

      • Thanks man, my main purpose is to practice surfing in the off season and improve my form. Sorry to bother you but with the swelltech can you practice hitting the lip/ cutbacks etc.. Or is there another board that you prefer for maneuvers like that.

        • Yeah to me the Swelltech is by far the best for snapbacks, off-the-lips, bottom turns, 360º etc. It’s the closest board to surfing that I’ve tried (I’ve been surfing for decades). Other boards like YOW are awesome too but not as close to surfing, more a mix of surf and skate.

      • Hi Sir,
        Just wondering do you loose both front and rear truck for pumping fast or only front truck? I heard people saying tighten only rear truck to get pumping easily but I feel the other way when trying on my swelltech hybrid. Btw your article are best in the internet, would love to see more. Thanks!

        • Hey, if your goal is distance pumping, you typically want a stable rear truck and a wedged front truck. Here’s an excerpt from my article on LDP:
          “For efficient pumping, unlike for pure pushing (symmetrical setup) you want to wedge your front trucks up high but keeping your back trucks solidly angled or down-wedged, so as to get the most acceleration out of your pumps. Messing around with the angles makes it way easier to pump. Pure pumping setups, however, typically use topmount decks that are high off the ground (contrary to pushing) to make it easier to put more weight over the front truck/wheels.”

          On the other hand, if you’re referring to surf pumping, which is a mix of pumping and surf turns, then you may get a more fluid and surfier type of feel with open flowy curves using a similar truck setup for the front and rear, e.g. with the Waterborne surf/rail adapters or the Surfeeling K2 truck.

          • Thanks for the clear explanation. I was referring surf pumping so I think I will loose both front/rear truck since swelltech is not the perfect fit for LDP. Also I’m thinking to try smaller wheels(50~65mm) to get faster acceleration or maybe get slide easier. Thanks!

  • Hey just curious, how would the premire swelltech surf skate compare to something like the waterbourne surf adapter? Also im 5,7 so how would the premire surf skate work for cutbacks and tricks?

    • Hey, the Premiere is pretty huge (40″) so it’s going to be slower and wider turning compared to a “regular” Swelltech like the JOB. More for big guys. For your size I’d say the JOB may be much better for snappy surf turns. If you want something on the stable side get the Banzai (36″), or if you want faster and turnier go for the Pipeline (34″) or the Austin Keen (33″ – very responsive but it takes skills).

      As for the Waterborne it really depends on the deck and trucks you’re going to mount it on. The adapter (surf and/or rail) makes any board surfier but the riding feel depends on the initial setup you have. For pure surf training though IMO nothing beats the Swelltech, it feels just like a surfboard. If you want something more versatile that you can tune a lot, the Waterborne can be a great option (paired with the right setup).

      • Thanks and is it slower speed or carve or both? And would the premiere be more carvery than a carver board even with the extra length.

        • Swelltech and Carver are both very carvey , they just have a very different feel (see this post). There’s also a big difference between the CX and the C7. A longer deck/wheelbase will give you wider turns but more stability and pump at higher speeds.

  • Hey man thanks for the review. Sorry to bother you again but I’m considering the Austin keen surf model of swelltech. Im 5/7 but I’m still 14 and growing to probally somewhere around 5/11 to 6/3 from my genetics. What do you think about that size? Would that work for me for the time being?

    Also can the decks be switched out on the models so I know if I can buy a new deck in there website separately for when I grow?

    Thanks

  • Hey man sorry to bother you again but I’m considering buying an Austin keen swelltech. I’m 5/7 and 14 and my genetics say I’ll grow to 6/0 to 6/3 think this model will work for me?

    Also Do you know if decks be switched out on different boards that you buy on swelltechs website for when I grow?

    Thanks

    • Hey Sawyer, yes I believe the Austin Keen is a good board for your size. And when you grow, you can always get a new standalone deck from Swelltech and swap out it out. Ride on!

  • Hey I just ordered a hybrid San O surf skate should I expect it to be more carvey or less carvey than the job banzai?

    Also will there be a different riding style or feel

    • The Swelltech truck turns along 2 axes, horizontally and vertically. You can tighten or loosen the screw for the vertical rotation (tilting) but not the horizontal rotation (the 360º angle)

  • Hey Jesse – I really appreciate all the information. I’d love your personal opinion on my situation if you get a chance. I was living next to the ocean and had just started getting into surfing. I’m probably still considered a beginner and I’m happy to mostly just catch a wave especially if I can ride the face for any length of time haha.

    Anyway, now I’ve moved away from the beach and I’m stuck inland in the US. Really missing the ocean and so I wanted to get something to keep working on my surfing while I’m here. I’m 5’11” and 180 lbs. I was thinking of going with the premiere as I was learning with a soft-top longboard on the water. Any thoughts for the best board for more of a beginner like me?

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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