The surfskate trend is continuing to gather pace, with many land-locked surfers opting for asphalt as opposed to reef breaks, but how are brands keeping up with the demand and what’s coming up in the surfskate market? A closer look with our Surfskate Retail Buyer’s Guide 2022 by SOURCE Skateboard Editor Dave Morgan.
The pandemic and numerous lockdowns/ travel bans has had a major impact on the uptake of boardsports all round, and surfskate in particular is thriving. Be it surfers itching to carve, or longboarders wanting to adapt their boards to be more fun on flat ground, the surfskate boom is a very present one and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down.
South East Asia in particular is showing an incredible surge in traction, as Landyatchz Marketing Manager Nate Schumacher said: “We’ve seen Surf Skating explode in popularity in South East Asia, where mainstream social influencers have led a movement that has popularised Surf Skating.”
Market & Price Points
With the niche technology used in surfskates it seems that the majority of the demand is focused on completes. Brands such as YOW, Loaded, Slide, OP and Flow attribute most of their sales to completes. In agreement, Miller Division’s Product Manager Ivan Garcia Arozamena said: “In contrast to skateboarding where the rider chooses each component of one brand or another, in surfskate the opposite happens, generally the complete surfskate is 90% of the choice when choosing one.” Mike Jucker- Co-founder at Jucker Hawaii went one step further saying “In my opinion surfskates is a complete only market”.
Mindless Longboards’ Sales Rep Jamie Smith argued “However, the running gear is also highly sought after as people are looking to get that surf skate ride on their existing longboards and decks by swapping components over.” This is opening up a larger bracket for surf skaters wanting to maintain the feel of the cruiser board they’re used to without having the ‘surf board’ feel, but simply the carve response the surfskate trucks offer. There are only a few brands, such as Carver – the pioneers of the surfskate, that offer independent trucks alongside their completes.
In regards to prince points, the surfskate industry- much like every industry right now is suffering from ridiculous hikes in material & shipping costs. This has a knock-on effect, making brands have to raise their price points to meet material costs. It seems that generally a complete is priced around €180-200, with higher prices coming from the top-of-the-range Carver completes which retail between €280-300. The most affordable comes from Flying Wheels, with their classic range starting at €130, followed closely by Mindless Longboards with completes starting at €150. Clayton Pearson of ‘The Rad Board Co’ explained their price point intent: “We keep it to the same spec that is developed to hit all the ‘Everyday Value & Quality’ criteria. Classic shapes, quality functional components, great value and price accessibility.” Nick Sacks – International Sales Manager for Sector 9 Skateboards said: “It’s hard to say with the crazy fluctuations in the recent cost of wood, urethane, aluminium and shipping.”
It seems universally that shorter boards are becoming the must-have for surfskates, as these replicate the response of a surfboard more. Sector 9 have noticed a specific demand for ‘Surf Simulators’– small, short wheelbase completes that let you mimic the feeling of surfing. Iciar Sánchez- Product Developer at Slide explained “At this moment people are turning to shorter models. Our ‘star’ of this year is our 31” CMC Performance model, developed in collaboration with one of our team riders.”
Landyachtz goes one step further, as Nate Schumacher- Marketing Manager explained “Our Decks have two wheelbase options. A long wheelbase that is more stable and carves wider. This setup is great if your commuting or cruising around and still want a surf like feel. The shorter wheelbase provides a snappy, tight turning, hard leaning ride that simulates a surf feel. If you want to pump hard and carve in circles, the short wheelbase option is your go to setup.”
Bamboo is becoming a popular material for higher-end surfskate decks, be it single construction, or combined with maple by as brands like Jucker Hawaii and Flow.
It’s all about the trucks!
The undercarriage of a surf skate is obviously the crucial distinction when compared to a cruiser board, and so this is where brands are putting most of their focus. Carver lead the market in surf skate trucks, with brands such as Loaded, amongst others using Carver trucks on their completes. The three truck options from Carver differ slightly, as Eben Woodall-VP of Sales at Carver said: “The ‘C7’-smooth and flowy with more adjustability, the ‘CX’ for snappy and responsive performance, and ‘C5’ with a lower profile street surf application.”
Slide are offering up their new 3rd generation front & rear surfskate trucks on all completes, their best sellers being the ‘CMC Performance 31”, developed with team rider Carlos Martin Cazorla, and the ‘Diamond Kaena’ 32”.
Landyachtz markets their surfskates slightly differently as Nate Schumacher- Marketing Manager explained: “We have positioned our Surf Skates as Surf Cruisers, boards that handle and carve like a Surf Skate but are stable and skateable, so you don’t need a ton of experience on a surf board to get the hang of our surf skates.” Landyachtz’s unique approach has involved designing a completely new front truck, the ‘Bear Banger’, which is “a high angled RKP truck with wild geometry and an extra tall bushing which provides and unbelievable amount of turn”.
Flying Wheels also have their own style of truck approach with the ‘Lombard Base Plate’- their most advanced technology on offer, as Brecq Benoit- Marketing & Brand Manager for Flying Wheels explained: “Thanks to this base plate you can surf the road & start the surf with no speed. This base plate is also sold separately to transform all your traditional Cruiser in a real surfskate.
Nick Sacks – Internation Sales Manager at Sector 9 spoke of their take on the surfskate truck and how it differed from other brands: “Our patented Sidewinder Trucks differs from the typical surfskate in that both trucks feature the double kingpin design unique to sidewinder’s, allowing you to crank full rail turns and turning circles on sidewalks, driveways and alleys.”
Miller Division keep things simple as Product Manager Ivan Garcia Arozamena said “We prefer to have conventional trucks (hanger, bushings and base) but with a special geometry (extreme reverse kingpin) for maximum oscillation and thus achieving very tight turns, without complicated mechanisms, since systems with springs, internal bearings or many parts in addition to weighing more, it also gives more problems in maintenance.” Both ‘The Rad Skate Co’ and OP use the Australian made ‘OGRE’ surfskate trucks, which are both brands’ high fliers and come fitted on every complete such as OP’s ‘Sunset’ surfskate – available in both 29” and 32” models.
Flow surfskate are hoping to have a new version of their truck in production by mid-2022, improving the design top fit an even lower profile. It seems a lot of brands are aiming for this low profile-style truck, to achieve a less imposing & more functional board.
Swapping waves for wheels
All surfskates use soft, cruiser-style wheels, usually around a 70-80A durometer and around 60-70mm in size, which gives both good grip on all surfaces, but still allows a slide when aggressive carving comes into the equation. As Ivan Garcia Arozamena, product manager as Miller Division explained: “Smaller wheels, more acceleration and more speed and better absorption to the difficult terrain.”
YOW has started adding their ‘Ura’ wheels – 66x51mm 76A to all new completes such as the best selling 32” ‘Pipe’ and 33” ‘Arica’. These are one of YOW’s proudest accolades, as they are the first wheel they are producing 100% in their own factory, cutting down on shipping impact. Loaded’s wheel brand ‘Orangatang’ is also seeing a strong interest in surf skate applications. Carver’s wheel brand “Roundhouse’ offers wheels in 65-75mm range with their patented “concave” wheels for added grip and pump performance. Carver are also introducing for 2021/2022 their ‘ECOthane’ wheel -made from a unique formula that incorporates soybean oil to offset the reliance on petroleum-based urethane.
Supply chains and material costs seem to be ever-changing at the moment, and items are selling out faster than trucks can carve, but it seems like brands are aware of this & are trying to plan things rationally, whilst also making a conscious effort on environmental impact, which is great to see.