Have you ever considered a European-made surf skateboard? While longboards first appeared in Hawaii in the 1950s, skateboards started to appear in England by the mid-70s. While longboards for “sidewalk surfing” are a hybrid of skateboards and surfboards, decks designed specifically for surf training are known as “surfskates” or “surf trainers.”
Riding Boards reports YOW is the second-best-known surfskate brand on the market. The Yow surf skateboards are produced in a state-of-the-art factory in the Basque Country between France and Spain. Some of the company’s surfskate models include:
Why should you consider Yow surfskates? YOW Surf is a well-established brand of premium boards. These surf skateboards add value with perks including several shapes and deck features, and innovative truck system. This comprehensive review of Yow products including the Pipe 32” provides all the information you need to know about Yow Surfskates, including features, pros, and cons.
About YOW Surf
If you’ve been longboarding for a while then there’s a good chance you’ve heard of YOW Surf. The brand was launched in 2000 and has become one of the top surf skate brands on the market.
YOW (Your Own Wave) was founded by the Iraola brothers, who first launched Jart Skateboards. After creating other popular brands, they then founded the company HLC. Can you believe the business was launched in 2000 in a tiny garage? The brothers were inspired by their love for skateboarding.
Today HLC is one of the top international skateboard companies and dominates the European market. The parent company also conducts original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of manufacturing and/or distribution for various other brands. Besides YOW surfskates, the company also produces Long Island Jart Skateboards, Cruzade Skateboards, and Iron Trucks. The company offers products in over 65 countries around the world.
HLC produces its YOW surfskates in its innovative factory located in the French portion of Basque Country. The manufacturing facility features CNC robots used for shaping and finishing longboards. Are you maintaining a sustainable lifestyle? The entire process is quite eco-friendly including sustainable materials and 100% recycling of production waste.
YOW’s product lines not only include surf skates but also truck adapters. These items are fully designed and produced in HLC’s factory. The result is a skating experience that combines skating and surfing. For example, the Yow Pipe 32” features a concave and grip designed to provide stability, while the high-quality trucks and wheels help to deliver smooth riding.
Quick Overview of YOW Surfskates
Why is YOW surfskates’ popularity only surpassed by Carver? The Spain-based company is based in Europe’s “surf capital,” which is a natural crossover for the company from surfboards to skateboards. This continues the tradition of American surfers developing the first longboards during the 1950s and 1960s by attaching wood planks or old surfboards to trucks and wheels. This created “sidewalk surfing.”
HLC’s factory is famous for being one of the most innovative skateboard factories in the world. The facility’s robots provide automation to shape, varnish, and finish the surf-skates. The quality control process also includes methods like cold-pressing without high heats.
The desks are also made using eco-friendly practices that include sustainable timber harvesting. Another major factor is the company’s recycling practices produce net-zero waste, which is ideal for consumers maintaining a sustainable lifestyle.
Did you know that the YOW Pipe 32” is the brand’s top-selling surfskate deck? It features a fish surfboard design inspired by the Lighting Bolt surfboards. It also includes a gold foil layer and red ink to produce eye-catching aesthetics.
Meanwhile, the wide wheelbase makes the longboard more stable for downhill, freeriding, carving, and so on. Pipe 32” also includes a medium concave with ample grip tape to keep your feet glued to the deck. The Meraki surfskate truck system and soft wheel provide high-precision for better skating.
Features of YOW Surfskates
When shopping for skateboards or longboards in 2021 you have several options due to the market being worth over $2.1 billion, according to Statista. HCL has been in the industry for 20+ years, which provides it with a significant amount of industry experience versus startup companies, for example.
HCL was founded by the Iraola brothers Ander, Iban, and Igor about two decades ago in 2000. We all know from experience that “necessity is the mother of invention,” right? The brothers launched their company since they believed European skateboards lacked the quality of American products. This resulted in the creation of HCL and later various brands under the umbrella company including YOW. HCL is now among the world’s top three manufacturers of premium skateboards.
The company’s innovative facilities are a game-changer in the board sports industry. This is due to the equipment and techniques that the company uses to perform critical tasks. For example, robots conduct various steps in the manufacturing process that makes certain processes like finishing faster and more efficient.
This starts with the company using sustainable harvesting methods to create a smaller carbon footprint. Cold-pressing is another key process that uses less energy in the manufacturing process. It’s also a ‘green’ option since it significantly reduces the amount of CO2 emissions produced in deck and truck production.
Why is this an important feature? Barron’s reports that two-thirds of North American consumers prefer Earth-friendly brands. Due to factors like climate change and consumer demand, many companies including those producing surfboards, snowboards, and skateboards are using sustainable manufacturing.
This feature includes some industry-leading innovations. Skaters can use a basic yet effective locking key to block the YOW framework. This provides more customization, which offers greater flexibility. How does essentially getting two products for the price of one sound?
YOW Surf is best known for its surf-skates including its best-selling Pipe 32”. However, you can also select from a wide range of other products from HCL and YOW including trucks, longboards, and skateboards. HCL has become famous regionally and internationally for its surfskates, longboards, and skateboards. This option can save you a tremendous amount of time and effort that would be required to purchase surf-skates, trucks, and wheels from different companies.
HLC designs and builds YOW’s surf skateboard truck adapter in-house. The company’s patented system was developed over several years of engineering. This provides a surfing-like experience when riding YOW surf-skates.
How does it work? The adapter uses an internal “torsion spring” to produce ultra-tight torsion in the front truck. This truck turns around the shaft then the spring pulls the skateboard truck back to the center.
What’s the result? YOW’s truck adapter allows skaters to pump easily on flat or hilly surfaces, and make smooth turns and tricks that create a surfing-style experience including in bowls.
What options are available? The two versions are S4 and S5. The key difference is S4 contains a 4mm spring, while the S5 has a 5mm spring. If you’re a light rider and/or want sharp and fast carves, then go with the S4. Meanwhile, the S5 is better for heavy riders and more aggressive skating.
Pros and Cons of YOW Surfskates
Are you thinking of getting your own YOW Surfskate now? Here are the product’s strong and weak points for you to cement that decision.
- Overall Quality
HCL uses its innovative facilities to produce high-quality products including decks and trucks. For example, the materials include high-end American Maplewood for the decks. Meanwhile, the decks feature bright and lively graphics and colors to create a standout and fun experience for skaters.
- Pipeline Model’s Front Truck System
The front trucks feature locking screws. This allows you to quickly convert the surfskate into a standard cruiser longboard. One of the major benefits of surf-skates is the front truck’s swiveling action that allows the board to pivot left and right. Thus, skaters can use side-to-side pumping to create speed on the surfskate.
- YOW Axle System
This is one of the main features of YOW models over others on the market. It allows you to tweak the wheelbase. This in turn creates different sensations when thrashing. For example, a shorter wheelbase lets you make gradually extreme turns. On the other hand, a wider wheelbase lets you make more gradual and bigger turns. You get more flexibility by basically getting a 2-for-1 unit that provides improved comfort. You can easily mount the system to a cruiser, longboard, or skateboard.
- Improved Surfing
What’s Plan B if surf’s up and it’s either too low or high for catching waves? The next-best option is a YOW surfskate. Many surf-skateboarders have used the decks to improve their skating when there are no monster waves due to the season, weather, or time of day.
- YOW-Pukas Partnership
This partnership was the result of two major Spanish brands teaming up. In fact, some YOW products resemble Pukas surfboards. This includes a close partnership with Spanish professional surfer Aritz Aranburu. The partnership has helped to produce some awesome surfboard/skateboard crossover models from YOW.
- Product Availability
If you live outside Europe, then it will be generally more difficult to find YOW products. YOW has become one of the top surfskate brands in the EU. However, the company’s products might be tougher to find if you live in regions such as North America and Australia, for example.
One alternative is to shop at the YOW Surf homepage. This can help to boost product availability. On the other hand, you’ll still have to pay higher shipping costs if you don’t live in Europe. This is a factor to consider if you want to reduce the overall cost of your purchase.
- Limited Surf Trainer
While beginner surfers can use surfskates for surf training, it’s important to consider it as one tool instead of an all-in-one tool. On one hand, a surf-skate provides some more benefits over other dry-land training tools. However, it’s still not actual surfing so it also has some limitations.
For example, surf skates can help with skills like pumping, turning, and strength training. Meanwhile, the deck, trucks, and wheels could be less effective based on the particular setup you’re using. If you’re an expert surfer then this training method will likely be less effective than for newbie surfers. For example, it provides a near-surfing experience that can be quite valuable for those new to the board sport.
How does YOW Surfskates compare to other brands?
There’s no question that YOW is among the top surfskate brands on the market. As noted, it’s one of the most popular brands and almost as well-known as Carver. Is there a caveat? It’s still important to know how well it stacks up compared to other brands such as Miller, Slide, Smoothstar, and Swelltech. This can help you to choose wisely when picking a surf training tool.
Many surfskaters argue that YOW units create a more surfing-like feel than Carver CX. The Carver model is ideal for cruising and flexibility, while the YOW is often considered better for surf-style maneuvers and surfing bowls.
Another difference is YOW surf skates offer tighter turns through looser adapter. This produces more hip force, which lets your drive more using the back foot. What’s the end result? You get a surfboard-like experience.
Both brands are based in the Basque Country. Slide provides more stability and like Carver is easier to push. Yow has a more radical and looser feel. As a result, YOW is a better option for strictly surf training Slide is a better choice for easier pumping, carving, and short commutes. Both brands are ideal for bowl riding, while Slide is better for skateboard-inspired tricks.
Both YOW and Smoothstar include radical axes, which allow you to do more radical tricks whether you’re on an asphalt surface or in a skate bowl. First, the Smoothstar “Smooth Star Thruster” axis allows you to turn and exit by using the back axis to turn and exit. This provides outstanding rail-to-rail sensation. In turn, this can help you to become a better surfer.
Meanwhile, YOW includes similar axes compared to Smooth. What’s the main difference? This is related to the sizes of the boards and wheels. For example, YOW boards are relatively shorter than Smoothstar decks. Meanwhile, the axis is quite similar, but Smooth provides more adjustability. On the other hand, YOW offers two wheel sizes – 60mm and 66mm – which provide more flexibility.
Verdict - Final Thoughts!
In about two decades YOW has established itself as one of the top European and international surfskate manufacturers. This is greatly due to the Basque County factory’s game-changing design and manufacturing, which include eco-friendly materials and production. Meanwhile, the models include features such as a 2-for-1 locking system, truck adapter, and affordable prices. Are they the top feature? It’s actually the surfing-like experience the surfskates provide, which is absolutely critical when using one board sport to train for another one.