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There are many skateboarders that cringe at the very thought of riding a skateboard made from anything other than maple wood.
Maple has long been the standard in street skating as its strength to flexibility ratio is near perfect — maple has tons of pop plus the strength to handle being thrown down sets of stairs. Of course, there is a downside, and if you are skating every day and putting your deck through some punishment, a maple deck will last you a couple of months at most.
In recent years, skateboard manufactures have been looking toward building boards that are both more sustainable and last longer too, plus still have the pop, strength, and lightweight capability of traditional maple boards.
At first, bamboo seemed to be the next solution due to its sustainability, especially among longboards, but the incorporation of bamboo in street skating is still yet to be perfected.
Enter the carbon fiber skateboard.
Carbon fiber 101
Sometimes referred to as graphite fiber, carbon fiber is a polymer material that is both super strong and very lightweight. It is up to 5 times as strong as steel and almost twice as stiff, plus is far lighter, making it an ideal option for the future of skateboard decks.
Carbon fiber is made from super-thin crystalline filaments of carbon that can be thinner than a human hair, which can then be woven into a cloth and shaped to almost any form you can imagine, including a skateboard.
Unfortunately, the manufacturing of carbon fiber is slow and energy-intensive, making it expensive in skateboard applications. You can expect to pay 2 or 3 times more for a carbon fiber deck than traditional maple, although the board is likely to last far longer.
The best carbon fiber skateboards
We’ve all experienced the heart-wrenching crack of our almost-new skateboard deck snapping in half. If you are the type of skater that likes stairs, rails, ledges, and big gaps, chances are high that you’ll snap a high number of maple decks in your lifetime.
Unfortunately, there is no real way to avoid this with traditional maple boards — other than landing with your feet directly over your trucks — and it can swiftly become expensive.
Other than snapping boards, skaters have the problem of cracks, chips, and worn tails too. Street skating is hard on your board, and even if you don’t end up snaping your deck, it may only last a few months purely due to a sharp tail (razor tail), chips, and small cracks that make it no longer safe to skate.
Carbon fiber skateboards have the potential to largely reduce these issues, and decks with carbon fiber layers may last two or three times as long as traditional boards.
While this certainly sounds great, there are some downsides that may hamper the realization of this dream, not least of which is the high cost. Of course, this is likely to change in the near future with the advantage of mass production and more and more skaters adopting the technology will only advance it further.
With all that in mind, some manufactures are wholeheartedly adopting the technology and creating boards that many skaters thought to be an impossibility only a few years ago. If you are looking for a long-lasting, technologically advanced piece of skating hardware, we’ve put together this list of our favorite carbon fiber skateboard decks.
Let’s get started!
1. Santa Cruz VX Skateboard Deck – Our top pick
Santa Cruz has been at the forefront of pushing the boundaries of skating and making some of the best skateboards for over 40 years, and it’s no surprise that the company would be at the forefront of carbon fiber skateboard technology too.
The Santa Cruz VX consists of 5 plies of traditional maple and 2 plies of Santa Cruz’s “Quad X” technology. The Quad X layers consist of a combination of carbon fiber and fiberglass, making up the top layer and second-last layer of the skateboard deck.
This makes the deck thinner, lighter, and stronger, plus reportedly gives you more pop than traditional wood.
The board feels almost exactly the same as a traditional deck, with just enough stiffness but a touch more flexibility, and plenty of pop! It is far more immune to chips and gouging due to the Quad X layer just below the bottom, which is a massive plus.
Because this is a new range of decks, there are limited shapes and sizes, but this is likely to change in the near future. The major downside to this deck, aside from the cost, is the same problem that many carbon fiber boards are destined to suffer with — razor tail.
A sharp wooden tail is hazardous enough but adds in a couple of layers of carbon fiber and if swiftly becomes dangerous. That being said, the board will certainly last 2 or 3 times longer than a maple board, even with a lot of use, and if you skate a lot of park or vert, the tail should not be an issue at all.
- Tons of long-lasting pop
- Highly chip-resistant
- Thin and lightweight
- Stays feeling new for far longer
- It Will easily last 2 or 3 times longer than maple
- Razor tails fairly easily
- Limited shape and size variety
2. Powell Flight Skateboard Deck
The “Flight Deck” from Powell may just be one of the strongest carbon fiber skateboard decks available today, and the company claims the Flight can last up to 10 times longer than maple boards.
The board is almost impossible to break in half, making it ideal for skaters who like to jump down massive stairs, ledges, or rails. The deck has 5 layers of traditional maple, with 2 black epoxy, triaxial fiberglass layers, making it both extremely strong and extremely flexible.
The deck has great pop right off the bat, and although it may take a session or so to get used to, you’ll find the board has arguably better pop than maple boards, and this pop will last the life of the board.
While you’ll find it almost impossible to snap this board, it will eventually get a razor tail (although this will take longer), which can be dangerous.
Also, the inclusion of fiberglass may cause splinters and itching if it gets on your skin. The only other caveat with this board is the high price, and it will cost you 2-3 times more than most maple decks. Of course, this price is worth the longer-lasting deck though.
- Extremely strong
- Great long-lasting pop
- Super durable
- Lasts up to 10 times longer than any other deck
- Great graphics (in our opinion!)
- Very expensive
- Razor tail
- Fibers can cause an itch
3. Girl Pop Secret Skateboard Deck
Featuring 7 plies of Canadian maple and one sheet of resin-stripped carbon fiber, the “Pop Secret” deck from Girl skateboards is stiffer, lighter, and long-lasting with tons of pop.
There are signature model Pop Secret decks from some of the top pros in the game, including Sean Malto, Mike Carroll, Jeron Wilson, Rick Howard, and Rick McCrank, with some great graphics to match.
While there is only one layer of carbon fiber, the boards are still much stronger than 100% maple options, plus are lighter than many other carbon fiber boards on the market.
The carbon fiber layer is on the top of the board, which is great for splinters and chips, but not so much for tail wear. And, once you do wear the tail down to the carbon fiber layer, be prepared for some serious razor tail!
- A single sheet of resin stripped carbon fiber
- 7 Plies of maple
- Strong and long-lasting
- Tons of pop
- Great graphics
- Super lightweight
- Only a single sheet of carbon fiber
- Susceptible to tail wear
- It may get razor tail very quickly
4. Lithe Slate 3 Skateboard Deck
Arguably the strongest skateboard deck on the market, the Lithe Slate 3 is the crowned king of durability. The company claims that the Slate 3 will last 6-10 times longer than traditional skateboards, and the hybrid polymer-coated tail will last an astounding 15 times longer!
The tails are razor tail and wear-resistant, the sidewalls are covered in polymer to prevent chips and cracks, plus it has a strong carbon fiber layer on top.
One of our favorite features is the embedded graphics — Lithe uses a specialized printing process that embeds the prints and results in a much longer-lasting graphic. Not only that, but the decks come in any length and width you desire.
The biggest drawback with this deck is the price: they are not in mass production yet and consequently, they are far more expensive than any other deck on this list.
- Virtually indestructible
- Lasts 6 times longer than traditional boards
- Tail lasts 15 times longer
- Chip resistant
- Razor tail resistant
- Long-lasting graphics
- Limited numbers available
5. Almost Impact Skateboard Deck
With 8 plies of North American maple and two carbon fiber laminate disks above the truck mounts, the Impact “Support” deck from Almost puts a unique twist on carbon fiber skateboards.
This unique idea makes the deck stronger than traditional maple skateboards but still light and flexible, and the deck still feels as you’d expect. The Impact “Light” has a single strip of carbon fiber in the center top of the deck, and the Impact “Plus” features both the strip and the dis
cs. Due to the lack of carbon fiber on the tail edges, the deck is free from sharp carbon razor tail while still being strong, light, and retaining plenty of pop.
While this deck is stronger than 100% maple boards, it’s not by much. You will still get a quickly worn tail, plus all the usual chips and cracks.
- 8 plies of North American maple
- Traditional maple feel
- 3 different carbon fiber options
- Stronger than maple boards
- Still susceptible to chips and cracks
- Non-reinforced tail
Are carbon fiber skateboards the future?
While carbon fiber decks are strong, long-lasting, and have all the pop and feel of regular boards, there is still a large amount of resistance in the skate community around the adoption of the technology.
The first major issue is the price. Carbon fiber boards are typically 2 or 3 times more expensive than 100% maple boards, and even more in some cases.
While this price can largely be justified because of the long lifespans of these decks, this is still a massive outlay for most skaters, especially when there is top of the range maple boards available for half the price or less.
This is the number one reason why these boards may take some time to catch on, but hopefully, once mass production gets underway, the cost will start to come down.
The second issue is razor tail. The tail of a skateboard eventually gets worn to a sharp point, especially with beginners learning manuals and ollies, but this is inevitable even with pro skaters. With carbon fiber, this may take a bit longer, but the razor-sharp tail will be all the sharper too, being made from carbon! This of course presents a real danger to your legs.
There are certainly many advantages to carbon fiber skateboards, and the technology is getting better and better every day — the Lithe Slate 3 is a perfect example of this. But whether these carbon fiber boards will ever completely replace maple boards is still up for debate.
Answer: While there is no surefire way to avoid breaking your deck, especially if you’re jumping down stair sets and huge gaps, proper technique is key.
You should always aim to land on top of the bolts and avoid the center and tail of your board when landing from high tricks. Of course, keep it away from water and rain as this may cause the plies to separate and weaken, greatly increasing the chances of your board snapping.
Answer: In general, there is no real way to prevent razor tail with street skating, but you can greatly prolong it. Firstly, proper technique is again key — if you don’t have your manuals on lock, you’ll grind your tail down in no time.
You can also purchase plastic tail guards that will work great to protect the wood of your tail, although this will definitely sacrifice some of your pop.
Lastly, skating in parks and on wood ramps tends to be much easier on your tail, so try and avoid harsh, rough concrete. Still, razor tail is an inevitable eventuality that you can only prolong but not really prevent.
Answer: If you consider the fact that some of these boards last up to 10 times longer than traditional maple decks, but are around 2 or 3 times the cost, they are definitely worth the money.
If you can afford the initial outlay, you’ll have a board that has long-lasting pop and that you can really get accustomed to and lock in your tricks with. This is one of the real advantages of a carbon fiber board — you are not constantly setting up new decks which can take some time to “break-in”.
While the industry of carbon fiber skateboards is still taking off, the idea of a long-lasting skateboard deck is a really attractive prospect for most skaters.
Given that most of these boards do not compromise on flexibility, weight, or pop, and can last far longer, we feel that this technology has a firm place in the future of skateboarding.
The only way to really know is to try one yourself, and see if the board has the same feel as maple and whether you feel you can switch over.
Our favorite carbon fiber deck is the Santa Cruz VX, as this has the best combination of strength, flexibility, and affordability. Have you tried a carbon fiber board? Let us know how you feel about it in the comments below!