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Skateboard Deck Myths: The Truth About Pop

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The common belief that some skateboard decks have more pop than others is widely debated. While it’s often thought that certain brands or types of decks inherently offer more pop, the truth is more nuanced.

The difference comes from the skater, not the deck. How you skate, your weight, and how you do your tricks matter more for pop than the brand or type of deck you use. Also, new decks might feel like they have more pop, but that’s just because they’re new and stiff.

Understanding the Dynamics

powell peralta flight deck wear

Pop is subjective and largely depends on the skater’s skill and the deck’s condition, rather than the brand itself.

While new decks may offer more pop due to their stiffness, this decreases with wear and tear. Brand marketing can influence perceptions of a deck’s pop, but this is often more psychological than based on actual performance differences.

1. Material and Construction Similarities: Most modern skateboard decks are made from similar materials, typically layers of maple wood, and are constructed using comparable techniques.

While brands may brag about their unique features or technologies, the decks are largely the same. This similarity means that the potential for pop is not drastically different from one brand to another.

2. Pop is Subjective and Variable: What feels like a lot of pop to one skater might feel average to another.

The sensation of pop is influenced by various factors including the skater’s weight, their style, how they execute tricks, and even the type of terrain they are skating on. Pop is rather subjective.

3. Technique Plays a Major Role: Skateboarding technique significantly impacts how much pop a skater can get out of a deck.

Skilled skaters can make a standard deck pop impressively, while less experienced skaters might struggle to achieve the same effect with the same board.

This means that the skater’s ability is as important, if not more so, than the deck itself in terms of generating pop.

4. The Influence of Deck Condition: The condition of the skateboard deck plays a crucial role in its performance. A brand-new deck typically offers more pop due to its stiffness and intact structure.

However, as the deck undergoes wear and tear, its ability to pop effectively diminishes. Pop can change over time even with the same deck.

5. Psychological Factors: Brand reputation and marketing can create a psychological effect where skaters perceive a deck to have more pop because of the hype surrounding it. This perception, influenced by branding and skater endorsements, can skew objectivity.

How Pop Works

skateboarder ollies over 5 decks

When you do an ollie, you push down hard on the back of the skateboard. This bends the board and stores up energy, kind of like when you push down on a spring.

When you let go, the board springs back to its normal shape. This springing action is the board’s pop. It’s what lifts you and the board into the air. The board’s pop depends on how well it can bend and spring back. A board that’s too stiff or too soft won’t pop as well.

Most skateboards are made of layers of a wood called maple. The number of layers, or ply, usually ranges from seven to nine.

The amount of ply can change how the board feels and how much it pops. More layers usually mean a stiffer board, which might give you more pop, but it can also make the board heavier.

The shape of the board, especially how it curves (concave)( from the front to the back, also changes how the pop feels. A deeper curve can help you control your tricks better, making the pop feel stronger.

Pop is Mainly About Technique

To lift a skateboard, skaters slide their foot up the board while turning their ankle. This helps lift the skateboard off the ground.

The rough grip tape on top of the board helps the foot grip and pull the board up. How high the board goes isn’t just about how the board is made; it’s also about how good the skater is at jumping and popping the board.

And, you don’t always have to hit the tail of the board hard on the ground to get a good jump; it’s possible to do it without that.

The Life Cycle of Pop

broken powell peralta flight deck

Skateboard decks, much like living things, have a life cycle, especially when it comes to their pop. This journey from the crispness of a new deck to the more subdued feel of an older one is crucial for skaters to understand.

Boards deteriorate on every landing, nanotubes get destroyed every time you land an ollie. That’s why boards get soft.  But if you make a board too rigid, the energy transfer isn’t right, the resonance isn’t right. This is how you lose pop.

  • New Deck Prime: A brand new deck provides the best pop, with its fresh stiffness and responsiveness, making tricks feel more effortless and lively.
  • Wear and Tear Effect: Over time, consistent use softens the wood fibers of the deck, leading to a gradual loss of stiffness and pop. This is also visible in physical wear like scratches and chips.
  • Recognizing Fading Pop: Identifying a decline in pop involves noticing increased effort in tricks, reduced heights, and a change in the deck’s sound when hitting the ground.
  • Time for a Change: Replacing a deck depends on personal preference, skating frequency, and style. A worn-in deck may still be preferable for some skaters, but a significant drop in responsiveness often signals it’s time for a new one.

Cripsy Fresh Decks

A new skateboard deck is something special. It’s stiff and full of life, making it responsive to every move. This is when your deck has the most pop, giving you a bouncy feel that adds height and snap to your tricks.

As you use your skateboard, it starts to change. The constant landings and strains from tricks begin to soften the wood. This softening is the deck losing its stiffness, which is essential for good pop.

You’ll start to notice your board doesn’t spring back as sharply as it used to, and your tricks might not have the same height or snap. Physically, the deck will show signs of wear too – scratches, chips, and maybe cracks – all contributing to the reduced pop.

From a Crisp Sound To a Dull Thud

Realizing that your skateboard’s pop is fading can be tricky. It’s a gradual process and easy to miss in the day-to-day. You might find yourself working harder in your tricks, or they just don’t feel as high or as smooth as before.

Also, pay attention to the sound of your board. A fresh deck has a crisp sound when it hits the ground, but as the pop fades, this sound becomes duller.

There’s no set rule for when to replace your deck. It depends on many things like how often you skate, the types of tricks you do, and what feels right to you.

Some skaters even prefer the feel of a slightly worn-in deck for certain tricks. But if you’re struggling more with your moves or the deck feels sluggish, it might be time for a new one.

Knowing the life cycle of your deck’s pop is important. It helps you make the most of your deck when it’s in its prime and recognize when it’s time to move on to a new one.

Deck Brands Don’t Matter as Much as You Think

While brand loyalty and aesthetics are important aspects of skateboarding culture, they might not play a significant role in the actual performance of the skateboard, particularly when it comes to pop.

The materials, construction, and individual skating style are more influential in determining how a deck performs.

Skaters might find that branching out and trying different brands can be a rewarding experience, offering new perspectives and possibly improving their performance and enjoyment of the sport.

In skateboarding culture, brands often hold a significant place, with many skaters loyal to specific names. However, when it comes to the pop and overall performance of a skateboard deck, the brand might not be as important as many believe.

Trucks Angle And Height

The height of skateboard trucks can influence the pop of a skateboard, but this effect is often subtler compared to factors like deck shape, material, and the skater’s technique.

When it comes to leverage and the angle of pop, higher trucks raise the skateboard’s center of gravity. This change can affect the leverage a skater has when initiating a pop, usually requiring a different technique.

The angle at which the skateboard’s tail hits the ground is altered with the height of the trucks. Higher trucks may lead to a less steep angle, which could impact the efficiency of the pop.

Final Words

Despite various brands advertising unique features, the reality is that most decks are made from similar materials, primarily maple wood, using comparable manufacturing methods in a few large factories.

This results in minimal performance variation between brands. The choice of a deck often comes down to subjective factors like its feel, weight, shape, and the skater’s individual style.

Skaters often choose skateboard brands because they like the design, the brand’s culture, or a famous skater recommends it. But these choices are more about what they personally like, not because one brand performs better than another.

Trying out different skateboard decks is a good idea, especially for skaters who are still learning. It helps to find out which board works best for your own way of skating.

Ultimately, the journey to find the perfect skateboard deck is a personal one, guided by individual experience and preference, rather than solely by brand or technological advantages.


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