When building an esk8 or just buying one, I see a lot of people buying cheap no-name decks. This makes zero sense to me as I believe that having a good deck can take your board from ok to amazeballs. There is a lot of terminology and confusion around decks, which may make it hard to make a good decision for what you need in an esk8 deck, but I am here to help you out with that.
Decks explained – Defining the vocabulary
- Nose: The nose of a deck is the front of the board. Noses will sometimes have a tilt to them but are usually flat.
- Tail: The tail of a deck is the back of the board. On a lot of boards, the tail is flat, but for some of them, they have a tilt which is called a kicktail (more on this later).
- Wheelbase: The wheelbase is the measurement of the two inner holes on the deck. The wheelbase changes the ride feel of the board and I will talk more about this later.
- Rails: The rails are the sides of the board.
- Pan: The pan is basically the part of the deck that you will be standing on. I personally have not heard this word being used a lot in the esk8 community, but it’s a good word to know.
Dropdown: This refers to the tail and or the nose that has a dropped platform. This helps give a locked-in feeling.
Tips: This refers to mountainboard decks or urban carver decks. If you looked at one of these decks the tail and nose go up and these are called tips. The reason for these tips is the type of trucks used for these boards need the tip for being able to turn as these trucks work differently than longboard trucks. A lower tip angle will result in a more stable ride and a higher tip angle gives a more carvy feeling. Most decks have a 30-degree tip angle which seems to be the best middle ground.
Shapes and Sizes
Decks come in multiple different shapes. You see the cruiser style shape which has a flat nose and a raised tail that acts as a kick tail, then you see longboard styles which have a flat nose and a flat tail and a longer deck than a cruiser. There are also double kick boards which look like the conventional skateboard with a symmetrical tail and nose that are raised into kick tails. There are also mountain board style decks with raised tips and usually a little bit of camber.
Longboards in general use lots of different materials for their decks, but in esk8 it gets even crazier. We see wood such as maple, which is known to be stiffer, and bamboo, which is known to be flexy. Fiberglass is used but usually combined with bamboo. Carbon fiber can be both flexy or stiff depending on the ply number and the construction process. Usually, materials such as wood are fine, but when it comes to harsh conditions they can sometimes warp. Overall there is not one material that is better than everything else, it’s mainly just looking at what your budget is and what kind of ride you feel you are looking for.
The number of ply in a deck means the number of materials stacked. If I have a nine ply deck made up of all maple then I have nine pieces of maple stacked up. A higher ply number usually means it’s a stiffer deck and a lower ply number usually means it is a flexy deck, but the flex level of a deck mainly depends on the materials. If you are looking at a deck made by the same company with the same materials then you can apply this knowledge, but most of the time using the deck ply number to judge the flex level of a deck will not give accurate results.
Camber and Rocker
Camber is when the deck shows a rise in the middle and falls back to level like a hill. Some benefits are: it allows the rider to have more leverage in the turns and it allows for a more flexy deck as when one stands on it it goes flat instead of bottoming out. This makes it ideal for heavier riders who want to use a flexy deck, but are worried about scrapping the enclosure. Rocker is the reverse of camber. Some benefits of a rocker setup is that it’s lower to the ground which gives an increase in stability and just like a dropped deck, the rocker profile allows you to have your acceleration and braking be very aggressive as there is something to push on. Of course, heavier riders can use a rocker profile by using a stiffer deck.
The flex of the deck is one of the main contributors to how the deck feels in general. Usually, a flexy deck is great for low-speed carving as there is a rebound when you carve which helps push to get deeper and harder carves. This is not to say you can’t carve on a stiff deck; I actually prefer carving on a stiff deck because I learned to carve on. Flexy decks are a little unpredictable as they can’t flex the same every time. A flexy deck give’s more comfort than a stiff deck. A stiff deck is going to be predictable and very stable at high speeds. A stiff deck will also be very good for off-roading because they are predictable so when you hit a bump the deck won’t bounce around. In my opinion, you can go fast on a flexy deck and carve like a crackhead on a stiff deck; it’s all about what you are comfortable with. One final note, when picking a deck flex try to go out and test both a stiff deck and a flexy deck as it’s hard to determine which would be better for you as a rider.
An enclosure is the main thing that limits your deck choice. An excellent fitting enclosure will usually help accommodate the flex and the shape of the deck to keep its attributes. Even if the enclosure is well made, it will still take a little flex out of the deck. This only happens if the enclosure goes across the deck like the Wowgo AT2’s.
If you have a dual enclosure setup such as the boosted or zealot, you can get all the flex out of the deck, although you won’t be able to fit a giant battery. In esk8, we start to see flexy decks getting fazed out due to wanting to fit a bigger battery. This doesn’t mean you can’t use a flexy deck, but be aware that if you wish to use all of the flex in a deck, that you will need to use dual enclosures on each side of the deck and that by doing this, you won’t be able to fit a big battery.
If you want to use a big battery on a flexy deck, you will have to use an enclosure that uses the entire deck, which will take away from some of the flex.
Top-mounted enclosures look like oversized lunch boxes that go in the center of the deck between the rider’s foot placement. These enclosures are primarily used on Emtbs because, when off-roading, you need all the clearance you can get and using a bottom-mounted enclosure restricts that. If set up correctly, top-mounted enclosures allow you to have a big battery but still maintain the deck’s flex. The main thing limiting the battery size is the width of the deck. While I haven’t seen this style of enclosure be used on boosted style boards, I think it could work, although it might make your board look unappealing, which may be a deal-breaker for some people. Top-mounted enclosures are also usually more comfortable to mount than bottom-mounted enclosures.
The best way to get the most amount of flex out of a flexy deck is to use high-quality material for your enclosure. High-quality enclosures use flexible fiberglass to accommodate the best attributes of a deck. Other materials I have seen used are 3D printed materials, carbon fibre, leather, the deck itself, and many more. While there are plenty of solutions for enclosures, if you plan to use a flexy deck and want to use a big battery with it, you will want to buy an enclosure made of flexible fiberglass. If you’re looking for high-quality enclosures that you wish to buy, then check out eboardsperu.com.
Types of Concave
There are many different types of concavity in decks. Some are really good for electric skateboarding, some are not. Some concave styles give better benefits for certain styles of riding than another style of concave.
The first type of concave I will cover is flat. Flat concave means the deck is completely flat. This is ideal for doing tricks and longboard dancing. If you are going to try to do those things on an esk8 then this kind of concave might be a good choice. Although if you plan on doing any high speeds, flat concave is a bad idea because your feet have nothing to “lock in to” and you may find that your feet are slipping. One last point is that it’s hard to corner hard due to not having anything for your feet to push on.
The next type of concave is called radial. Most decks you will see use this kind of concave and for good reason. This type of concave can be recognized by its distinctive U-shape. Some benefits of radial concave is that your feet have a nice groove to sit in which gives more confidence to the rider, and secondly it allows you to have something to push on to turn harder.
Moving on to the convex shape. The convex shape like if you took a piece of paper and pulled the sides down (weird way to describe it I know). While this concave looks quite odd, it allows the rider to have a very natural foot placement and something that the foot will naturally fall into. The reason why the eskate community doesn’t seem to like it, is because it gives VERY little control over the board, even less than a flat concave style.
Progressive concave is similar to Radial but not completely the same. Progressive concave looks flat until the near edge wear the deck starts to come up. Progressive concave takes the best of both radial and flat concave to give lots of control and have a natural foot placement that’s very comfortable.
Flat-cave (also known as Tub concave) is when the rails go up from the deck at the edges. This is so similar to progressive concave and radial. Tub concave are very similar to radial, but you should get a little bit more overall “feel” and energy transfer then radial concave, but overall there is not a huge difference in feeling. Tub concave decks are good for hill riding.
W concave refers to the W shape of the deck. The concave on the sides is normal but what makes W concave special is the middle ridge in the center of the deck. This center combined with the sides creates the W shape. This type of concave gives lots of control and in the longboard world is used for sliding as you need lots of control over a board for that style of riding. W concave would be ideal for riders who enjoy sliding their boards or just having lots of control over their board.
Asymmetry concave is when the concave sides are different. This shape gives a boost of energy when pumping and carving to the rider. This concave type has not been used too much in esk8 although I think it could totally work.
Length of Wheelbase
Like I described earlier, the wheelbase is the measurement of the two inner holes on the deck. The longer the wheelbase the more stable ride you will get at higher speeds. A shorter wheelbase will be more carvy and have a more sensitive control. A shorter wheelbase is great for carving and sorts but at higher speeds a shorter wheelbase deck will become twitchy and may lead to speed wobbles. If you plan to go fast you will want a longer wheelbase, if you want a more carvy ride and aren’t going to go that fast then a shorter wheelbase would probably suit you better.
Different Truck Mounts
Top mount: A top mounted truck is secured with nuts and bolts. The bolts go through the deck and through the trucks where the nuts secure the truck on the other side of the deck. This setup is the most common setup that you will see on decks. A top mount setup gives good turning but the trade off is at higher speeds they can become unstable.
Drop through: A drop-through setup has the truck on top of the deck instead of under. This setup is a little less common and not all decks have the option of drop-through mounting. If your deck has a drop-through mount option then you could also use it as a top mounted board. Drop through boards are going to be more stable, but less responsive than it’s top mounted sibling. Also since you’re dropped and closer to the ground, your enclosure will be closer to the ground so make sure your clearance will be ok. One last point is some motor setups will have clearance issues with that deck as the trucks are now moved closer to the deck.
Drop mount: A drop mount deck is like a drop through deck but instead of it being above the deck, it’s pretty much in the middle of the deck. This allows both a very responsive feel and doesn’t trade off with being unstable. This is going to be the best truck setup as it carries the positives from drop through and top mount.
Kicks and Kicktails
A kick tail is usually positioned on the tail of the deck, but is sometimes on the nose. Most decks with a kick tail are known as shortboards and they look like a typical cruiser style board, but there have been a couple of longboard decks with kicktails. There are also micro kicks (an example is the Exway Flex deck). These micro kicks aren’t really used to tick tack around corners or to pop tricks, but are more used to pop the board up off the ground into your hand for a more easy carrying experience.
Grip tape comes in different levels of intensity. For electric skateboard purposes it’s important to have a gnarly grip. This is important because the torque from the motors is shoving your feet around which means you will want some grippy grip tape (just be careful I have cut my fingers on some of this harsh grip tape).
Another option for grip tape is to use glass frit. Glass frit has a number of benefits over grip tape. To start, glass frit should never wear, it looks super dope, it allows you to have a cool graphic under that you can see, it grips better than most grip tape. The downsides are, its way more expensive compared to normal grip tape, and it’s much harder to apply.
Best Electric Skateboard Decks
This is not a straightforward answer. One deck may be very stable but not be as responsive as the rider would like. Since this is very complicated I will give a good recommendation of a deck for a certain style of riding or board. All these decks have been consistently used and loved by the community.
Electric Mountain Board
Haero Bro 96. This is by far the best deck for electric mountain boarding. It uses Flatcave style concave. There are 2 wheelbase options, 2 graphic options, and 2 flex level options. To learn about more of the awesome features of this deck go here. If you want to buy one in the UK, buy from ATB shop and if you live out of the UK then contact them through the Haero Boards Instagram.
Budget EMTB (Electric Mountain Board) deck
Ok the greatness of the Haero Bro is all well and good, but what if you’re trying to go for the cheapest route possible? Well, then the MBS Comp 95 will be what you’re looking for. It may not have all the comforts of the Haero, but this thing will rip through dirt just as well. If you spend any time researching budget Emtb builds you’ll see that this is the deck to use. Here is a link for more info.
Redember 44. There is a reason this deck is used so much in builds. Everything about this deck screams perfection. This board is used and loved by the esk8 community due to its 44” deck which brings a very stable ride, its huge drop down to bring more stability and something to lock into, and the pan is very wide which helps turn this beast and gives a planted feeling. This deck is also great for any board that is going to hall ass. If you want one of these decks Dm them at their Instagram.
Landyachtz Evo 40. This board is used frequently by esk8 builders. This deck is a good deck for racing, but since it’s shorter than the Redember, it’s really more suited for fast paced urban adventures. The 40” deck makes it a great board for the streets and commuting as it’s easier to take into stores and such. If you plan on mainly just blasting through the streets and less about commuting then you may want to pick up a Redember 44 for that extra stability. Link for more info.
121c Aileron. This is not the most popular deck but in my opinion it’s perfect for a shortboard. A shortboard needs to be light and must use a good kick tail and the Aileron has those 2 things down. It is made out of carbon fiber makes it super light. This deck has been used for esk8 in the past so it’s been proven to be a good option. It is important to note that it’s not super great for high speeds but if you’re going the shortboard route then that’s not really what you’re going after. The only downside I see for this deck is the price, but it’s well worth it due to its lightweight and quality. Link for more info.
Kaly XL. Since an Urban Carver doesn’t use bindings, but uses channel trucks, you will need some other assist of turning. The XL’s deck wings will do just that. These allow you to push deep into your turns and give something to push off. The Kaly deck also looks sick and has 2 different flex levels to give you the best ride feel possible. A close second for the best urban carver deck would be the Lacroix Prototipo, but since I think Lacroix isn’t selling it anymore I would have to put the Kaly at the top.
Good Decks for Deck Swaps
All right let’s say you get your board and you don’t like the deck, or your deck cracked and you want to try something new? Well this is called a deck swap and its when you, you guessed it, swap the deck on your board. If you want to deck swap your board then first you need to figure out what you don’t like about your current deck and then find something that fixes that. For example, if your current deck is too flexy, find one that’s stiffer. Unfortunately, I can’t give one straightforward answer because everyone uses different boards and everyone has a different ride style.
Prices of electric skateboard decks – what do they cost?
Decks cost anywhere from $50 to $400. This obviously shows that there is a perfect deck for your requirements. Some decks come with an enclosure, inserts, or wiring which will bump up the price. With this widespread in cost you will be able to find something in your budget. With decks the price often reflects the longevity of the deck so be aware if you buy a cheap deck that you may need to spend more quicker due to a replacement.
DIY Electric Skateboard Deck
Some decks are gonna be better suited for DIY. Some decks come with inserts which saves a lot of time and means you don’t have to go through that annoying task of drilling and filling your holes with epoxy. You can use most decks for DIY boards and you can even look at some prebuilt board decks. When it comes to DIY, the only restriction on your choice of deck is finding a viable enclosure for it.
Overall the deck is one of the main things that will determine if your ride is good or not. Decks have a bunch of different features that can distinguish them and this gives a really good array of options to do what you want to do with a esk8. I hope this helps explain the features of decks and what you can get from one.