Not all skateboard decks are the same, and one difference is concave. Some have a steep concave and others mellow. There are even decks than don’t have concave at all, often the case with cruiser decks or longboard decks.
Concave is the curvature of a skateboard deck and helps to perform tricks. Concave curves up at the edges, nose and tail and visible from the side. Skateboard decks are often labelled as mellow, medium, or steep concave, where steep concave is harder to control and medium more predictable.
Everyone has its preference. Often you’ll see technical street skaters ride a much steeper concave compared to bowl skaters.
Skateboard decks didn’t always have concave, this trend started in the early 80s when street skating became more popular. Beginners will benefit more from a mellow concave because there is more room for your feet. Steep decks have smaller pockets, which makes it harder to keep your balance. Once you progress, a steeper concave is often a wise choice.
What Is Concave On A Skateboard?
Not all decks have the same shape, concave depends on the brand and the mold in which a skateboard deck is pressed.
Concave is easy to observe when you look at a skateboard from the side. You’ll notice the edges of your skateboard deck curve upwards. The tail and nose lift upwards and have a steeper angle.
While concave makes it harder to balance a skateboard, it’s beneficial for flip tricks and pop. A flat concave makes it much harder to feel your board and perform tricks. Another benefit is that it makes makes the deck stiffer and stronger.
Types Of Skateboard Deck Concave
Wood shops use different molds, some like, for example PS Stix, has several molds for different brands. This results in different types of concave. The amount of concave depends on the mold. Sometimes brands switch wood shops, resulting in a different shape.
Powell-Peralta has decks with mellow concave but also decks with a steep concave. The same goes for Santa Cruz. I have an Everslick deck with a very mellow concave and a Santa Cruz VS with a much steeper concave. This is pretty confusing if you take liking to a brand because there is no guarantee you get the same concave. The best way to find out is to visit to your local skate shop.
Some wood shops use different m,old throughout the year. Dwindle ,for example, have 4 different molds, which they change often after a certain batch is produced, or over the year.
While there is no industry standard for concave, there are 3 main concave shapes. Keep in mind that sometimes a deck can be mellow/medium or medium/steep. Just like there is not such thing as the best skateboard deck, there isn’t a best concave. It depends on what you feel most comfortable with.
The name gives it away. A deck with a flatter mellow concave with less curvature compared with the other shapes. Because of the rather flat shape, you’ll have a lower center of gravity, resulting in a more stable ride. The downside is that there is less control over the board and you’ll have to flick harder to make this deck spin.
A mellow concave isn’t great for transition skateboarding but great for flat ground because of its predictable and consistent behavior.
If you are in doubt about a mellow, medium, or steep concave, a medium concave is a safe choice. It’s not as aggressive and poppy as a steep concave but still has a noticeable concave, although a bit more subtle. There is more pocket room compared to a steep concave, but still enough concave to make flip tricks less difficult and more predictable.
I skate a medium deck in my local bowl which feels like the perfect match. I switched to a mellow deck recently which was terrible as I could hardly feel this deck. Medium is my favorite type of concave under any circumstance.
If you’re used to a medium concave, you’ll notice a deep or steep concave right away. The type of skater that rides a steep concave is often a very skilled and technical skater. A steep concave requires a lot of control and finesse.
A steep concave deck doesn’t have much pocket room for your feet and you’ll feel the curve much more even when wearing cupsole shoes.
A steep concave is great for powerslides because you can really dig into the sides of your deck. This type of deck also flicks much faster and has an aggressive pop. It requires you to pop a bit harder because the tail is further removed from the ground.
How Concave Affects A Skateboard Decks’ Performance
By now you should have some idea that concave affects how your skateboard deck behaves, but let’s dive a little deeper.
Concave not only affects the board feel and control but also how the nose and tail of your board feel. While pop also has to do with the angle of your truck, a steeper deck is much more poppy, where mellow concave is a bit more predictable.
Those who love steep concave decks are more likely to do a lot of flip tricks and maneuver in tight corners. Steep concave allows you to feel the upward curves on the side of a deck more.
This makes it easier to flick your board faster and harder, with the right amount of pressure and control. Another thing is that you can lean better into tight corners, steep concave helps you to stay in place. This is great for transition skateboarding (like skate parks) because there’s a lot of tight turning involved.
There are cons to steep concave decks because it requires you to feel your board more. You risk flicking too hard or fast and landing primo, so you better be an experienced skateboard if you decide to go with a steeper concave. You’ll get used to it, but it will take some time and frustration before you feel comfortable.
So what about mellow concave? Mellow concave are more flexible because the deck is less curvy compared to a steeper concave. A mellow deck is much more forgiving when you slightly misplace your feet. Mellow concave decks are also more consistent, making tricks more predictable.
Picking The Right Skateboard Deck Concave
There is only one way to find out what works for you. Simply try a different shape. Visit your local skate shop, lay the deck on the ground and stand on it to really feel the concave. There is no online shop that can help you out here.
There isn’t a single deck brand that is the best. It all comes down to what you prefer. Sure, there are terrible skateboard decks out there, but the bigger brands are pretty on par quality wise.
Don’t be afraid to experiment a little. Maybe you’ve been skating on the wrong shaped deck for too long. Getting the right concave shape can make a big difference. Don’t just blindly stick to a brand, live a little and switch brand once every while.
I’m an aged skateboarder and I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago but also love surfing, snowboarding, or anything that involves a board.