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Skateboard Riser Pads – You Usually Don’t Need Them

I can’t remember why I added riser pads to my setup and the more I think about it, the less certain I am about their benefits. Time to dig a bit into riser pads and when you need them! This guide will address both riser pads for skateboarders and those who like to cruise on big soft wheels.

Riser pads come in different sizes, durometer (hardness), and even angles (wedged) for extra carvyness. Skateboarders shouldn’t buy riser pads thicker than 1/8″ as it will negatively impact your ability to land tricks.

Even though there are benefits, there are more cons. 1/16″ riser pads or shock pads are recommended but thicker riser pads are mainly for cruiser skateboards and longboards.

riser pads attached to skateboard trucks.jpgriser pads attached to skateboard trucks.jpgriser pads attached to skateboard trucks with longboard wheels

What is The Purpose of Skateboard Riser Pads

There are many reasons why you need riser pads. In many cases it helps to prevent wheelbite, which happens when there isn’t nough clearance between your deck and wheels.

Angled riser pads, have a different purpose. To optimize turning radius without losing balance. If you want to carve on a skateboard, longboard, or cruiser. Angled rise pads are necessary, without them turning becomes a lot harder.

Typically riser pads provide extra clearance to increase the space between your skateboard deck and or wheels. More clearance allows for deeper carving and helps to avoid wheel bite.

safe clearance skateboard no wheel bite

It also depends on your weight and the hardness of your bushings. If your bushings are too soft, or you like it that way, your have a bigger chance of the wheels coming into contact with your deck.

In my opinion skateboarders don’t need riser pads at all, riser pads are for longboarding and only make skateboarding a lot harder. If you are someone who love to cruise and do a couple of basic tricks, you could consider riser pads.

Technical street skaters should stay away from riser pads, sure a thin shock pad won’t impact performance but risers will make doing trick frustrating.

Riser Pads VS Shock Pads

Regular hard riser pads are mainly to increase wheel clearance to prevent wheel bite. Shock pads serve two purposes; prevent wheel bite and absorbing vibrations from impacts to prevent pressure cracks. Shock pads are made of rubber and are obviously softer. They also provide more comfort when riding rough surfaces.

Shock pads only come in 1/8″ which give a tiny bit of extra clearance. if you ride wheels over 57″ they won’t help much in preventing wheel bite (depending on the tightness of your trucks).

Riser pads are for raiding your board higher off the ground but also makes your ride less stable because of the higher center of gravity. Thicker risers are great for longboarders and cruisers but less suitable for skateboards.

Types of Riser Pads

Riser pads come in many sizes, angles, and even their hardness varies. Fortunately skateboarders don’t have to worry about wedges riser pads or durometer. That’s for cruisers and longboarders, skateboarders only need standard risers. Let’s look at the different type of riser pads:

Standard Riser Pads

Standard riser pads are most commonly used. Typically 1/8″ to 1/4″ can be found on skateboard setups though the latter is already quite rare. Standard riser pads come in many sizes, usually the larger ones are great for longboards and cruisers, not so much for a regular skateboard.

Wedged or Angled Riser Pads

Angled riser pads aren’t meant for skateboarding but for cruisers and longboards. They help to improve the turning radius and they are great for carving. Depending on the angle and the way you set them up, they can make your board super responsive.

Angled riser pads also come inn different sizes and different durometers. Softer riser pads allow for even deeper carving and snap back into shape quickly.

Shock Pads

Shock pads help to reduce vibrations and impacts but also prevent pressure cracks near the area where you attach the trucks base plates. Shock pads come in 1/16″ and 1/8″ as far as I know. You can stack them if you want but it’s better to get bigger standard risers instead.

When do You Need Riser pads?

You need riser pads when there isn’t enough room between your skateboard deck and wheels. Without, a sharp turn causes your wheels to block and your board coming to a full stop before you realize it. This is called wheel bite and it can result in nasty slams.

By adding riser pads, the extra clearance allows for deeper carving without having to worry about injuring yourself. It’s tough to say if you need riser pads because it depends on a couple of factors like:

  • Your weight
  • The hardness of your bushings
  • The diameter of your wheels
  • The tightness of your trucks

Here a general guide, I created this table which considers weight, wheel diameter, and hardware size:

Skateboard hardware size chart
Wheel size (mm)Riser size (inch)7-Ply deck Hardware length (inch)8-Ply or 9-Ply deck hardware lenght (inch)
49mm – 54mmNo risers7⁄8″1 1⁄8″
55mm – 56mmNo need if you ride trucks tight7⁄8″1 1⁄8″
55mm – 56mm1⁄8″ if you ride loose trucks1 1⁄8 – 1 1⁄41 1⁄4 – 1 1⁄2″
57mm – 58mm1⁄8″1 1⁄8 – 1 1⁄41 1⁄4 – 1 1⁄2″
59mm – 60mm1⁄8″ – 1⁄4″1 1⁄8″ – 1 1⁄4″1 1⁄4″ – 1 1⁄2″

Get riser pads when your wheels are 57mm or bigger, at this point wheel bite will become an issue. If you ride your trucks very loose and have 56mm you could consider getting 1/16″ or 1/8″ shock pads. This way you are sure your wheels won’t come into contact with your deck when doing tricks or deep carving.

That’s basically all there is to it, let’s look at some of the pros and cons of riser pads.

Pros of Riser Pads

Because of the extra height your will have more pop. The distance between your tail and the surface increase which could result in higher ollies. Now most of it comes down to technique, you wont; automatically ollie higher because of riser pads but in theory they extra room should provide more pop.

Honestly, the only real pro for skateboarders is less wheel bite. Adding risers makes trick a lot harder.

Ride Channel did a fun video about this with Paul ‘the proffessor’ Schmitt, worth a watch:

Cons of Riser Pads

There are quite a few cons about riser pads. While they are great for longboards and cruisers, they kind suck for skateboarders in general. The higher center of gravity makes your skateboard unstable and tricks are harder to land. Adding 1/16″ shock pads or 1/8″ risers won’t affect landing your tricks much. Anything beyond that will become frustrating.

1/2″ riser pads on a skateboard are not recommended, check out this video and learn why:

Eventually you will adjust to the extra height but why would you install riser pads if the cons outweigh the pros?

Conclusion

Riser pads are fine for skateboards as long as you stick with 1/16″ shock pads or 1/8″ riser pads. While they prevent wheel bite, they also make landing tricks a lot harder and make your ride very unstable. It’s better to get smaller wheels instead of adding risers.

Shock pads are recommended for those who ollie huge stairs. They help to absorb impacts and prevent pressure cracks.

There is a reason why you never see skateboarders riding 1/2″ riser pads, it’s meant for longboarding not skateboarding. If you want to setup your own cruiser and hop a few curbs, risers are recommended. Big soft wheels will result in wheel bite and adding risers will make a difference.

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