So next in this series, the best skateboard setup for transition skateboarding! Again this is a guide to steer you in the right direction. I’m a firm believer in collecting the parts yourself and with a bit of guidance, you can get the perfect setup.
Transition skateboarding is about hitting parks, bowls, and your occasional park. To cut to the chase here’s what you need:
- A deck between 8.0″ and 8.5″, 8.25 is probably the sweet spot
- Higher trucks that turn better and are suitable for bigger wheels
- Wheels between 54mm and 56mm, durometer between 99A and 84B
- Good quality bearings
I think this is the most difficult article in this series because transition skateboarding is multidisciplinary. The list above is just a general guideline but what you specifically need comes down to your personal preferences. There are a few basics that can help you create the best transition skateboarding setup for you specifically.
What Makes a Good Transition Setup
Transition skateboarding involves flat ground, ramps, bowls. It’s about flow and finding the right line to perform tricks. You need speed, balance, and grip.
I’d say there are two (maybe three) camps here. Technical skateboarders that grind rails, ledges and perform lots of flips but also enjoy ramps and bowls. This requires a more agile setup like a deck around 8.0″, wheels around 54mm and medium-high trucks.
Second would be flowy riders (for the lack of a better word) that like to ride parks and do an occasional ollie, transfers, and shred mini ramps and pools. This requires a wider board around 8.25″ / 8.5″, wheels around 56mm and 58mm, and high trucks.
If we also take vert skating into consideration you’ll need a wide setup. 8.5″ would be the minimum width but 9.0″ isn’t unheard of. Stability is really important and you also want to ride 58mm wheels and high trucks.
So let’s get down to the real stuff. You’re looking for a skateboard deck that’s suitable for transition skateboarding. This is pretty easy and complex at the same time. First, you want a quality deck, not all brands give you the quality you need.
Make sure to buy from a reputable brand. You want a single pressed deck that’s made by a quality woodshop.
So that was the hard part. The easy part is that you’re fine with a deck between 8.0″ and 8.5″. Go with a wider deck if you skate ramps and pools, you’ll need it to keep your balance.
Here’s where it’s all about personal preference. In general, you want trucks that are are a bit higher when you skate ramps, bowls, and verts but you also need something for flat. Probably a medium-high profile is the best solution.
I certainly wouldn’t ride low trucks unless you go for all the technical tricks. Just pumping and riding, doing a few kickturn? Go with high trucks like Independent.
Don’t ride your trucks too tight. Tight trucks work great for street stuff but not so much for transition.
In general, it’s better to ride wheels between 54mm and 58mm. 56mm to 58mm is perfect for dedicated bowl/pool and mini ramp riders. 54mm to 56mm if you like to do technical tricks in a park and still want to ride bowls. Although 56 might prove to be challenging, we’re talking about transition here.
Harder wheels are always better, anything between 99A and 84B is fine. Soft wheels stick too much to the surface which means you have to push and pump really hard. I don’t think I really have to explain this anyway.
Standard Bones Reds are slightly better are recommended. Don’t go with the cheap stuff because they will fail you after a couple of rides. Make sure to maintain them properly to make them last longer and get max speed.
You could invest in more expensive Bones like Super Reds, although they are a bit pricey, they can last for over a decade.
What to Avoid
If you ride really small wheels below 53mm you’re going to have to push a lot harder. This isn’t a problem for everyone but slightly bigger wheels help you to maintain speed. Obviously you don’t want to ride soft wheels, transition skateboarding is not about cruising.
I wouldn’t get a deck below 8.0″. 8.0 is already narrow these days but below is just not for transition. You need some room to properly place your feet.
Low trucks aren’t recommended. They are less turny compared to higher trucks and you’ll need to be able to pump and carve around corners.
Tips for Transition Skating
Transition skateboarding is awesome but it’s hard if you don’t know how to ride and pump properly. If you’re a beginner or completely new to tranny skating learning how to ride is the first step.
Just ride around, approach a bank or quarter pipe and ride up. See if you can do some kickturns or try to ride fakie when you roll back.
You don’t have to drop in immediately, just slowly work your way up by practicing tail taps. Find a mini ramp and just ride back and forward. Pump a little and once you feel like it, give your tail a gentle tap. You can do this below the coping and work your way up until you reach the top. At some point, you’ll tail that the coping which is almost the same as dropping in.
Once you feel comfortable rolling around, you should learn how to pump. Pumping is al about timing and it might take a while until you know exactly when and how to push. At some point, this will feel natural and you do it without thinking.
Practice kickturns, both front- and backside, start slow and go higher each time. Start with backside kickturns, it’s easier and less scary.
Check my list of the best skateboards if you have no idea what to get.
It’s hard to say what setup is exactly right for transition skateboarding. It really depends on your personal preferences and style. It’s safe to say that a wider board and larger wheels are recommended. Wheels should be hard and trucks should be high and loose.
If you’re a street skater you should probably just stick with what you’re used to. You’ll do fine on a smaller board if that’s what you prefer and you’ll most likely skate more flat ground than ramps. Try out a setup from a friend if you can and see what you do and don’t like. By the way, here is a setup I ride, the Powell deck is a tad expensive though.