The Different Types of Surfskate Trucks and Why They Matter
What are the most common types of surfskate trucks? What makes them different? And how does this effect the ride?
These are among the first questions that someone looking at a surfskate skateboard asks. After all, at a fundamental level a skateboard is made of three things: wheels, trucks, and a deck. Trucks are a full 33% of that equation, and arguably the most important in terms of board performance, so it's important to know what's what. Fear not! We have answers.
(Alpine truck, disassembled)
Or, rather, Marcelo has answers. We've tapped Marcelo Gagliardi, our founder and CEO, to answer a few burning questions about surfskate trucks, including the questions mentioned above. Read his insights below and you'll know the basics of how the trucks on your surfskate work, and how they impact your skating experience.
(various kinds of surfskate trucks – Yow, Smoothstar, Carver, and Swell Tech)
Shred Skateboard Co (SSC): Marcelo, can you briefly describe your experience riding on different trucks and building boards with different trucks (i.e. why should we trust you)?
Marcelo Gagliardi (MG): I've been surfing since age 10 and skating since about 5. After falling in love with surfing the goal of my skating became simulating surfing turns and style. As a teenager I was introduced to Sector Nine and Carver. From then on I would disassemble boards and "frankenstein" together different truck combinations on handmade decks built from old furniture, tinkering until I got a surf-style feeling that I liked. Lots of hours in the shop and on the pavement!
SSC: What are the common types of surfskate trucks?
MG: The most common surfskate trucks are Carver's swivel-style trucks, which utilize a swivel-style front truck giving you a tight turning radius and surfy feel. The other common surfskate truck type utilizes a reverse kingpin in the front truck, giving you a surfy feel but with more stability compared to the swivel style.
(Exploded diagram of a swivel-style truck. Credit: Full Kit Skateboards)
SSC: Swivel-Style Trucks – What are the technical differences of this type of truck (weight, size, material, function, integration into the board)? For the rider, how does this truck impact the feeling of riding? Is it better for a certain type of rider or a certain type of riding?
MG: The weight, size and other specs will vary slightly depending on the brand, but in terms of function, these trucks are solid. They've been around for a long time for a reason. They do a good job of simulating the surf feeling, letting the rider pump and transfer their energy through the board. These can work for you whether you're a "cruiser" or a "carver"– solid all-around truck.
SSC: Reverse Kingpin Trucks – What are the technical differences of this type of truck (weight, size, material, function, integration into the board)? For the rider, how does this truck impact the feeling of riding? Is it better for a certain type of rider or a certain type of riding?
(Carver's reverse king pin truck. Credit: mundo surf)
MG: Reverse kingpin trucks have been around for a long time especially in the downhill longboard board world. They are starting to be utilized in an evolved version of the swivel-style trucks. They achieve that same surf feel for the rider – tight turns, the ability to transfer energy through the board to the pavement through pumping – but they add a little more stability. Extra stability allows the rider to do more things like catch air or ride fakie more easily. These are gaining in popularity I'd say.
SSC: Alpine Trucks – What are the technical differences of this type of truck? For the rider, how does this truck impact the feeling of riding? Is it better for a certain type of rider or a certain type of riding?
(Diagram drawing of Alpine trucks)
MG: Alpine trucks are a completely new approach to surfskate trucks than what we normally see. They have integrated a bearing in the kingpin along with a interchangeable bushing that allows the rider to swap out densities in order to fine-tune the feel. The way both front and back trucks work together to generate speed and transfer energy into powerful, tight turns is the closest feeling to surfing that I've felt.
(Exploded diagram of an Alpine truck)
SSC: Why did you decide to use Alpine trucks on Shred skateboards?
MG: When we were searching for trucks and came across Alpine we loved the fact that the technology behind the trucks was unique. No other surfskates we'd seen had these. Not only is the technology one-of-a-kind, but the esthetic is rad. Plus, the ability to customize the feel of the ride by swapping out bushings was a major bonus. This means each board can have customized responsiveness, adapting the feel of the board's performance to the rider's style and purpose. The feel of both trucks working in sync gives a true surf feeling, allowing for proper speed-generating and hip-loading techniques that transfer directly your surfing in the water.
(Alpine trucks on a Shred skateboard)
SSC: What has been the response to the trucks’ performance on Shred board to date?
MG: The feedback has been great. In response to the feel and performance of our Electrical Ninja surf skate model, the most common description we get is “smooth and fun”.
SSC: Are there any common misconceptions about surfskate trucks?
MG: The major one is that surfskate trucks lack stability. This may be the case with some styles of surfskate trucks–making it challenging for a first timer just to hop on and ride away–but not all surfskate trucks. The Alpine trucks provide great stability for pumping or pushing for generating speed.
Fundamentally, surfskate trucks work differently than traditional street trucks. The purpose of surfskate trucks is to provide a tight turning radius to simulate surf-style turns done in the water, along with the ability to generate speed through pumping the board. The trucks are the means of transferring your expended energy into speed by pumping.
(Illustration of the kinds of turns allowed by surfskate trucks)
SSC: For someone buying a surfskate, is there any sage advice you’d give relative to the trucks on their board (or how to think about which board is right for them, generally)?
MG: Regarding trucks, just remember that one benefit of Alpine trucks is that they allow you to switch your bushings depending on if you want a looser or tighter feel. This is super handy.
Regarding boards generally, a deck with more concave is for more aggressive riding while flatter boards are more cruise-y. So keep that in mind.
There you go– you've officially graduated from Surfskate Trucks 101. We'll dive deeper into the glorious rabbit hole of surfskate parts and performance in future blogs, so stay tuned. In the meantime, get off your screen and get on your board! ✌️