Electric Skateboard Basics: Deck
When it comes to buy a electric skateboard, choosing the right type of electric skateboard deck will be of the utmost importance. There will be other factors you need to take into consideration like wheel type, battery size and a host of others, but the deck is a component worthy of spending time on, because the shape, length, width and manufacturing materials of the deck will impose an effect on the performance of the electric skateboard to a certain degree.
The type of electric skateboard deck you get will be important. Currently, there are several different materials that compose the majority of electric skateboard decks: maple wood, carbon fiber and bamboo. Yes, they also make electric skateboards out of regular old plastic. Those tend to be cheaper and not necessarily built to last. However, for the purposes of durability, it’s recommended to buy electric skateboards made out of good stuff.
Maple wood- Maple is extremely dense because they grow in cold wet regions with short growing seasons. The density of the wood provides the perfect amount of strength and flexibility required for skateboard production. Its flexibility is unique because unlike other woods, it can be bent and shaped while maintaining complete structural integrity. To make the maple even more sturdy, several layers (7-10 pieces)of ply (or veneers) are often used together to create a deck.
Carbon Fiber- Carbon fiber is an extremely strong and incredibly light plastic reinforced with carbon fibers. It is known for being stiffer and lighter than steel, while also being extremely chemical resistant and temperature tolerant. Carbon fiber has a high strength-to-weight ratio making it a perfect material for electric skateboards. Carbon fiber is a lighter material and since you’ll be carrying your board around sometimes, keep the weight in mind as you make your selection. The downside is carbon fiber boards tend to be more rigid and less able to absorb vibrations, leading to a less comfortable ride.
Bamboo- Bamboo is among the fastest growing organisms on the plant which makes it the most sustainable material used in skateboard construction today. The long fibers in the bamboo cellular structure make it super strong and flexible. It has a higher specific compressive strength than wood, brick, or concrete and a tensile strength that rivals steel! Like their carbon fiber counterparts, bamboo makes for great electric skateboards as well. Bamboo boards tend to be a bit more flexible leading to a softer, more responsive ride. Often manufacturers will blend bamboo plies with Maple wood or Rosewood plies to make the board a bit stronger and a bit lighter.
Width is the most significant part when selecting the deck of the electric skateboard. It depends on the skate rider’s height, shoe size, riding style and personal preferences. If the deck is too wide, it won’t fit your height and shoe size and you’ll need more strength to control the board, which can make skateboarding and trick riding difficult. Likewise, if the deck is too narrow for the skater’s height and shoe size, you won’t be able to keep balance and it’ll be unstable for riding. At present, there is no uniform width for electric skateboards. Normally, it goes like this:
We measure the length of the board beginning at the tip of the nose and down to the tip of the tail. There are no special requirements about the length of the skateboard deck. You can just choose the length you want. Shortboard length falls between 28 – 32 inches but only advanced skaters refer to length. Compared with width and wheelbase, length is not the top consideration when it comes to electric skateboards.
You measure the wheelbase by the distance between your board’s mounting holes (where you mount the trucks). The distance between these mounting holes determines the distance between the front and rear wheels. The length of wheelbase depends on the deck you choose. Different length of the decks will change your wheelbase. Adjusting the wheelbase will greatly influence the performance of the circuit board of the skateboard. There won’t be much customization when it comes to wheelbase as the manufacturer mostly determines this. Although, some manufacturers will drill more than four holes so you can customize where your trucks will be mounted. Wheelbase dictates how many electronic components can fit on there. Most importantly, the wheel base determines how big the battery can be, because the motor controller and the receiver for your hand controller are very small. It’s the battery that really can take up lots of room. The wheel base presents a constraint. If it’s too short, it limits the battery you can put in between it.
For a skateboarding beginners, it will be helpful to figure out different styles of board decks. Skateboards come in four basic shapes. Each style of deck is designed for certain kinds of skateboarding, so you should decide which style you want to skate before you buy a skateboard.
Shortboard- Skateboard which is around 28-32 is count as a shortboard. Shortboards are more lightweight, portable and maneuverable. This board is more of a trick skateboard. It’s short and it’s more able to be flipped around. You can do tricks on it easier.
Cruiser- Cruisers have a large variety of different shapes and normally have kicktails. Cruisers are versatile and maneuverable, perfect for cruising the streets. They are also typically ridden with soft skateboard wheels for a smoother, faster roll on rough surfaces.
Old school- This board typically has kicktail, flat and wide nose. And it’s often asymmetric. It’s a perfect choice for skating pools, ramps or streets.
Longboard- Most longboards are 35-60 inch long in size. You can take one nice big push and it just roll really far. It’s nice and smooth without a lot of effort involved. Longboards usually have symmetric shape and the gravity center is closer to the ground. Meanwhile, their wheels can be replaced.
Concave is the curve of the wood between the deck's nose and tail. Concave allows a more controlled ride and a stronger skateboard. There are several concave shapes as follows:
Radial concave- Subtle u-shaped curves are the most common deck shapes that allow the feet to grip better, which can be useful in nearly all styles of skateboarding.
Progressive concave- This concave shape is a compromise between radial and flat-cave/tub. The middle is flat, but the edges are more like radial concave, gradually becoming more severe in a curve rather than at an angle like a flat-cave/tub board. The steep wall on the rail combined with the wider base allows more secure footing and a more locked-in feel.
W-Concave- It is the concave that takes the shape of a “W” in your standing platform. The bump created is also referred to as a “dome”. This “dome” fits the arches of your feet giving you more control with your back foot. The extra curve in the centerline allows you to shift more energy from your heel to your toe.
Flat-cave / Tub concave- A tub concave board is more like a shallow casserole dish. The middle is flat, and the edges curve up, creating a slightly more steep curve than a radial concave board. The edges (also known as rails) can give your foot more support and provide sudden shifts in energy .
Asymmetric concave – The asymmetric skateboard’s rails are cocked up at different angles to give the rider more power for taking turns.
Convex- Convex boards curves in a way that is opposite from the radial concave boards. It features an up-ward arching deck. This type is uncommon for ordinary skaters, but some skateboarders who love slalom or downhill skating prefer the natural foot placement feel convex boards offer.
Flat- Skateboards with flat deck (which means there is no concave) are rare although they provide large room for riders’ feet and space for board walking and fancy tricks.
From the perspective of lengthwise curve of the skateboard deck, there are two different types:
Camber- It is where you have an upward arch kind of shape. The camber tends to remove a little bit of suspension system and smooth the ride out if you’re going on a bumpy road at high speeds. Mounting components to a curved surface is complex, it’s recommend using two separate component enclosures. In decks with positive camber, there will be much more flex because of the higher center of gravity.
Rocker- It is the opposite of camber. The deck bends downward in a smooth arc (like a banana) so that the center of the board is below the trucks. This is also known to make for a comfortable freeride deck since it decreases the stress on your knees and ankles. Rocker decks have a low center of gravity, and many riders find the sloped shape more comfortable to stand on. The minimal flex makes rocker boards a good choice for carving and going downhill at high speeds.
Generally the thinner the deck or the less layers apply, the more flexible the deck will be. The problem with a flexible deck is most batteries are not flexible. The rider weight also will also dictate whether a deck flexes or not. For instance, if you’re a fairly large guy 95 kilos and if you stand on a deck that a 70 kilo guy stands on, the flexibility is gonna be very different. Therefore, lighter guys can probably get away with thinner decks.
The flex point of most decks is between the two trucks. It’s the center of the wheel base is where the most flexion will occur. If you try to put something solid across there, they can’t bend like a battery. You’re going to put a lot of pressure on that battery. It will damage the battery, so that’s why some electric skateboards made their deck with the battery up the front and at the back. It’s a two part enclosure design that allows the deck to flex and avoids damaging the battery.
When you’re traveling really fast, you want to make subtle movements in your ankle. If you’ve got a deck that flexes and you make these subtle movements in your ankle, the deck can actually diminish that movement and your response time for turning and pivoting the trucks will be diminished as well. Therefore, the flex is also an important element to consider when choosing the electric skateboard.
Once the side, front or tail of the board shows signs of cracking, it is time to start using the new board. Riding in wet or cold places can also distort the shape of the board and make the skateboard wheels uneven, so be sure to replace the board if you feel or see any signs. One of the worst case is that the board may snap in the middle of the deck because of your wrong doings or someone knock you off the board. Then you have to swap your deck. Since it’s quite complicated and difficult for common skateboard riders to replace the deck of an electric skateboard, you may damage the circuit board or the battery. So it would be better for you to ask someone professional to help you with it. After all, if there is something wrong with installing the trucks, wheels or batteries to the deck, it could be pretty dangerous.