Carbon fiber is an insanely strong material that weighs less than traditional materials of the same strength.
Skate decks that incorporate carbon fiber are stronger than traditional wooden decks, both in their abilities to support weight and their abilities to withstand bending without breaking.
Makers of carbon fiber composite skate decks sometimes bill their decks as “indestructible,” which may well be true.
Here’s a video of a carbon fiber skateboard being run over by a truck and bouncing back like a champ.
If good skating was all about board durability, carbon fiber composite skate decks would win hands-down.
These boards simply cannot be destroyed through routine riding, no matter how brutal your routine.
But good skating isn’t just about durability. There are a lot of factors that make a skateboard good or bad.
Carbon fiber skate decks may be strong, but do they give good skate?
Let’s consider a few aspects of carbon fiber decks to see what they bring to the skatepark… and what they leave behind.
Carbon Fiber Skateboard Deck
All of the carbon fiber in a carbon fiber skateboard is in the deck, but not all carbon fiber decks are the same.
In carbon fiber skate decks, carbon fiber is incorporated into the deck designs, but can be incorporated in any amount.
Decks may have a layer or two of carbon fiber on top, bottom, or between wood plies, may have strands of carbon fiber passing through them, or may be entirely made out of carbon fiber.
Carbon fiber decks with carbon fiber layers are stronger, but still retain some flex.
They are also lighter weight than fully wooden skate decks.
Fully carbon fiber decks (which is really a composite of carbon fiber and resin) are much thinner than wooden decks and the lightest weight skateboard decks by far.
But they have no flex, so are very rigid and crack easily when hit.
Since fully carbon fiber decks have very little to offer most skaters, we’ll focus on carbon fiber-wood composites.
Carbon Fiber Skateboard Price
The cost of a composite carbon fiber skateboard deck varies by a lot, but can come in under $100 or over $300, depending on the build and how much carbon fiber is incorporated into the board.
Carbon fiber longboard composites are even more expensive, starting at around $150 and topping out at around $350. Just for the deck alone.
Generally speaking, you can expect to pay at least twice as much for a carbon fiber deck as for a quality wooden deck.
That said, as awareness and demand for carbon fiber decks has grown, a few well-known skate brands have gotten in on the carbon fiber game.
The carbon fiber boards being built by major skate companies incorporate less carbon fiber, in many instances, than the boards of companies who exclusively build carbon fiber decks.
This, along with the declining price of carbon fiber as a material, is bringing the prices of carbon fiber skate decks down.
Why are carbon fiber skateboards so expensive?
Carbon fiber skate decks are so expensive because carbon fiber is more expensive than wood.
Creating carbon fiber is labor intensive (it doesn’t grow on trees… ba dum tsh) and takes a ton of energy to produce.
This makes it more costly for manufacturers, who pass the extra expense onto consumers.
Skating a Carbon Fiber Skateboard
So, carbon fiber skate decks are strong and expensive, but what about the skating?
Who cares if they are impossible to destroy if they’re miserable to ride.
Well, good news! Carbon fiber skate decks are not miserable to skate… for the most part.
However, they do skate differently than traditional wooden decks, and the best carbon fiber skateboards are the ones that stick most closely to traditional board design.
That means skate decks that incorporate carbon fiber are worlds better than skate decks made entirely out of carbon fiber. (This is our opinion, of course. There are always outliers who will love a super strong, rigid, futuristic deck.)
It’s all about flex. Carbon composites have less of it than wood decks, but they do have some, while full carbon fiber decks do not.
Flex is where you’ll notice the most difference in skating a carbon fiber composite skateboard vs a traditional wooden board.
Carbon Fiber Skateboard Flex
Carbon fiber is both more and less flexible than wood.
That’s an oversimplification, and highly confusing, but here’s what it actually means –
Carbon fiber has a much greater ability to bend without breaking than wood.
Pushed, pulled, or curved, it can be taken to much greater limits than wood. (Which is how a carbon fiber board can be run over by a truck and bounce right back.)
However, carbon fiber is so much stronger and stiffer than wood, it takes much more force to actually bend it.
What that means for you is that your weight is nothing to the carbon fiber layer of a skateboard.
Unlike the wood that gives a little under your feet, the carbon fiber barely registers you.
This gives carbon fiber boards stiffer flex than wood boards, making them better for some styles of skating (and riders) than for others.
It also means full carbon fiber boards are very stiff and rigid, making them practically un-rideable for most styles of skating.
So, what’s the good of a carbon fiber skateboard?
Despite their drawbacks, there’s a lot of good in carbon fiber skateboards actually.
Well-made carbon fiber composites do exactly what they say they’ll do, which is take a lot of abuse and still last longer than wooden decks.
Though they lack flex, the best made carbon fiber decks are designed to overcome that limitation so they still provide just as much pop as wooden boards.
And since they bounce back better than wood, they retain that pop longer.
The pop and durability of carbon fiber composite skate decks make them excellent freestyle boards.
They are lighter weight, so easier to get into the air, and really can endure some brutal bends that would snap most wooden skate decks in two.
Since they are stronger and have less flex, they are also great boards for heavier riders who worry about the weight limits of wooden boards.
What’s the bad of a carbon fiber skateboard?
Carbon fiber is surprisingly fragile.
You might see how this can be a major issue with skate decks.
Freestyle and street skating are nothing but banging boards around.
How is that possible, you might wonder, when I just said these boards can take a lot of abuse?
Well, while carbon fiber is strong and can bend a lot before breaking, it does not respond well to direct shocks.
There’s a lot of science involved, but, basically, carbon fiber can’t endure hits because it isn’t a solid piece, but individual fibers bonded together.
It’s stronger together than at any single point.
Think of it like the tempered glass of a car window. Hit it with a baseball bat, the bat bounces back at you.
Hit it half as hard with an emergency hammer and the window will break.
Carbon fiber skate decks can take a cement block to their underside like a car window can take a swing from a bat, but a direct hit on just a few of those carbon fibers will cause the fiber to crack.
However, carbon fiber deck manufacturers are well aware of this drawback and design their boards to isolate the carbon in appropriate areas, keeping it below the surface and away from the edges.
When your skateboard takes hits, the carbon fiber is protected from direct shock and the carbon fiber will bend instead of breaking.
What are carbon fiber skate decks best for?
Carbon fiber skate decks are good for a lot of things.
They make fine freestyle boards, if you can adapt to their stiff flex.
They are also easier than a lot of skateboards and longboards to throw into slides because of their stiff flex.
The rigidity of the decks make them more stable at higher speeds than wooden decks, making drop-through and drop-down decks even more stable for racing.
These are also ideal boards for overweight skaters.
Carbon fiber skate decks can hold a lot more weight without too much flex, which can be a perfect combination for heavier riders.
Basically, that rigid flex isn’t a bad thing for all skaters.
The decks are also very lightweight.
What are carbon fiber skate decks bad for?
Carbon fiber skate decks aren’t really bad for anything.
They can be a little stiff for freestyle, depending on how loose you like things, but if you can get used to the difference in flex and pop, you’ll probably like their durability.
Are carbon fiber skateboards better than wooden skateboards?
That is the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Is carbon fiber good for skateboards?
The answer is, “Yes. In a lot of ways, it can be.”
Skate decks that incorporate carbon fiber can endure more abuse and do last longer.
But “better” skating is all about how a board feels, not how long it lasts, and that is entirely subjective.
Some skaters won’t mind the slightly stiffer flex of a carbon fiber deck.
Others will hate it.
So, for some skaters, a carbon fiber skate deck will make a better board.
For others, it will earn a prominent spot in the dumpster.
The Pros and Cons of Carbon Fiber Skateboards
When it comes down to it, carbon fiber skateboards are all about strength, durability, and lifespan.
But their stiffer flex and strength do change the feel of skating.
If you’re thinking about trying out a carbon fiber board, but aren’t quite decided, here are the pros and cons in a nutshell.
Carbon Fiber Skateboard Pros
- Carbon fiber skate decks are lightweight (lighter weight than wood boards).
- Carbon fiber skate decks are insanely strong (often twice as strong as wood boards).
- Carbon fiber skate decks can take abuse that would break wood boards.
- Carbon fiber skate decks last longer than wood decks.
Carbon Fiber Skateboard Cons
- Carbon fiber skate decks are expensive (at least twice as expensive as wood boards).
- Carbon fiber skate decks are very stiff (stiffer than the stiffest maple boards).
- Carbon fiber skate decks don’t bend like wood decks, changing the feel of boardslides and other tricks.
- Carbon fiber skate decks can be hard to find.
Where to Find Carbon Fiber Skateboards
Since carbon fiber skate decks can be hard to find, and are definitely harder to find than wooden decks, here’s a list of some carbon fiber decks and boards you can find online:
- Lithe (Slate 3)
- Hi5Ber (Hunnit, Kraken, Prestige)
- Santa Cruz (VX; carbon fiber + fiberglass)
- Almost (Impact and Uber Fade)
- *121C Pure Carbon (AILERON; more of a cruiser)
- Rolling Tree (Carbon Monster GS; more of a cruiser)
*Note: 121C boards are full carbon boards, which can ride very differently than composites
And some retailers that sell these decks:
- NHS Fun Factory (Santa Cruz VX boards)
- Thank You Supply (Almost Impact boards)
- CCS (Santa Cruz VX, Rolling Tree Carbon Monster GS, Almost Impact and Uber Fade)
Where to Find Carbon Fiber Longboards
Carbon fiber longboard decks can be even harder to find than carbon fiber skate decks.
But here’s a list of companies that make and sell them:
- Hi5Ber (many boards)
- *121C Pure Carbon (AFTERBURNER)
- Magneto (Carbon Fiber Downhill)
- Sk8Kings (Blaster and Maximus)
*Note: 121C boards are full carbon boards, which can ride very differently than composites
Carbon Fiber: Is it worth the price?
Carbon fiber skateboards are having their moment.
Seriously. When you go looking for carbon fiber skateboard and longboard decks, you’ll probably discover a lot of them sold out.
But carbon fiber skate decks do have their disadvantages.
Skating is such a sensation-based sport (just getting a new wooden board takes some adjustment), and carbon fiber boards, no matter how close to wooden boards they try to be, do feel different.
Riding one can take some getting used to.
The other major disadvantage of carbon fiber boards is their price.
There is no denying they’re expensive.
And, while they do last longer, carbon fiber decks still face issues like razor tail and splitting, which can send your deck to the graveyard well before its time. (That’s why some makers of carbon fiber decks, like Lithe, feature protected edges, to try to circumvent these issues.)
But carbon fiber boards are here, and they do have something unique to offer the skating world.
The question is, does the skating world want it?