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Choosing The Right WakeskateBy: Dave Barousse
Wakeskate(n) - A hybrid of a skateboard deck and a wakeboard. Most new wakeskates are wood like skateboard decks, but slightly bigger than a skateboard deck. Like a wakeboard, they can be used with fins to help traction, and have wakeboard-like edges to help carve in the water.
As the wakeskate craze continues to grow larger, more people are taking part in this exciting sport. For some, this may consist of jumping on an old wakeboard without bindings, a homemade deck, or even on a piece of old lumber just to get out and ride without having your feet strapped in. For others, choosing the right wakeskate may be a little more difficult.
As expected, every board company now has a wakeskate or two as part of their product line. Each manufacture description promises that their board has something new and innovative that may be a bit confusing to consumers. So the great guys at Wakeboarder.com decided to give our thoughts and opinions on how to go about picking out which wakeskate will work for you. Wakeskating is about the freedom of not being connected, so we urge you to indulge in this concept and not get too worried or stressed out when choosing a wakeskate. Really, you probably canít pick a bad wakeskate, but weíre going to offer a few suggestions to help you choose what will work best for you.
We will be basing these suggestions/guidelines on the following factors:
1. Rider Height/Weight
2. Trick Types
3. Preferred Surface
4. Concave vs. Flat
Each of these things should be considered when planning to buy a new skate. If you are still stuck after looking at these areas, the best solution would be to add up all of the factors and get something that will fit right in the middle of them all.
The first rule of thumb you can follow when purchasing a wakeskate is the most obvious: The size of the board compared to the size of your body. These two go hand in hand as they do with a wakeboard. The taller, heavier rider will use a larger board while the short, lighter rider will use a smaller board. If you have multiple people who will be using the board, itís better to opt for a larger sized board. In general, wakeskates are considerably smaller than wakeboards and ride deeper in the water. Also, a lot of companies size their boards in inches instead of centimeters like wakeboards. To help you out, we will tell you that there are 2.54 centimeters in an inch, but you will have to do the conversion yourself. For example, the largest wakeskates are about 45Ē, which is 114 cm. This is smaller than any wakeboard available today.
So does size really matter? Itís all personal preference and the only true way to find out is to ride as many different sizes as you can before you make a final decision.
The second factor in this equation is trick types. What kind of tricks do you think you will like to do on your new skate? If you would prefer to ride it more like a wakeboard and do wake jumps into the flats, grabs and spins; you may also want to consider a larger board. A larger board will be more forgiving on big air tricks and will give you more room to work with. Sometimes having an extra few centimeters in width and length can help save you from a painful crash when going big on a wakeskate.
If you want to ride your wakeskate more like a skateboard, then you should look at the boards on the smaller end of the size spectrum. A smaller, lighter board will make flip tricks and shuvits a little bit easier to handle. It will give you less room for error when it comes time to land, but the spinning and flipping of the board should take a lot less effort. So if you are gearing up to be the first person to stick a wake to wake 360 flip, then you may want to consider going with a smaller board.
There are a couple of types of surfaces available for wakeskates. They basically fall into two camps though, grip-tape vs foam. Grip-tape is what youíll find on a skateboard. It provides the best traction for your feet, and gives your wakeskate more of a skateboard-like feel. However, it pretty much requires that you wear shoes, and if you fall and brush your skin on the grip-tape you can get some skin abrasions. Most pro wakeskaters opt for the grip-tape surface. The other surface choice is foam, or some kind of after-market grip like Gator Grip or Astrodeck. These soft surfaces are easier on the skin if you crash, you can ride on them in bare feet, but they provide a little less traction for doing technical tricks. Foam grips are probably better for people who are just wakeskating to take a break from wakeboarding, and arenít too concerned with pulling off hard tricks.
Concave vs Flat
New in 2002, a couple of companies have released a wakeskate that is more like a skateboard in that is concaved. This means it is higher on the sides than it is in the middle, and it has a raised tip on the nose and tail like a skateboard. Most other wakeskates are like a wakeboard in that theyíre pretty much flat. The advantage of the concave wakeskates is that they help keep the board on your feet better on ollies, wake jumps, flip tricks, shuvits, etc. The downside is that the concave boards are more expensive.
So to sum it all up, put these four factors together and see what you come up with for the right wakeskate for you. If you have any friends who have wakeskates, try out theirs first, or go to a local boardshop and see if you can demo one. You can also ask questions in the Wakeskating.com Discussion Forums here on the site.
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