Updated: Jun 14, 2018
Having trouble with corner clearance? Are your wheels digging into the bottom of the deck when you turn? Or, are you just sick of that tingling feeling in your feet when you ride on rough pavement? Whether you ride a longboard or a skateboard, a simple addition to your setup can solve all those problems and more: riser pads.
Riser pads and shock pads may seem like the same thing, but there is actually a subtle difference between the two that means they will affect your ride differently. Make no mistake, though. Adding either one of them to your setup will have a profound effect on your experience.
What’s the difference?
Riser pads are usually taller than shock pads (from 1/8 inch to 1 inch or more), and they are typically made of plastic. Their whole purpose is to raise the deck higher, moving it further away from the trucks.
Shock pads, which are usually made of rubber, also lift the deck slightly, but they top out around 1/8 inch. Their purpose is to cushion your ride.
Let’s look a little closer at how risers affect how your setup performs. Then we’ll discuss what shock pads in particular have to offer.
Riser pads (Plastic)
As was mentioned, installing riser pads between the truck baseplate and the board will lift the deck higher. If you are used to riding without them, risers of any size will be noticeable. Yocaher risers are 8mm (5/16 of an inch) to give you a high-performance lift without overdoing it. Risers that are less than that height don’t really accomplish a whole lot. Much taller, and your board will begin to feel top heavy and unstable.
Lifting the board away from the trucks automatically increases the distance from the top of the wheels to the bottom of the deck. Unless you’re riding a longboard with pronounced cutaways, that extra room will accomplish several things:
Wheel bite prevention
The bottom of the deck gets gradually closer to the tops of the wheels as you lean into a turn. Lean too far and the wheels can rub on the surface of the deck, acting like brakes. This is called wheel bite. Do not ignore those black marks burned above your wheels. Sooner or later, wheel bite will stop you cold and throw you to the concrete. Risers increase the space between the wheels and the deck, preventing the board from contacting the wheels in the first place.
Allows room for taller wheels
There are many reasons to consider opting for taller wheels. For one, taller wheels cover more ground per rotation than shorter ones. That means more speed and less pushing – all other things being equal. Taller wheels also last longer, as there is more urethane to wear down. If you’re debating moving up to taller wheels, but you’re not sure that you will still be able to turn without getting wheel bite, risers can probably help.
Allows sharper turns
The added space between the board and wheels gives you more room to lean before the board touches the wheels. That extra room means your current setup will instantly become more maneuverable. A sharper turning radius makes for a safer ride, and it opens up new ways of using your board.
Lift for higher ollies
For the skateboarders out there, adding risers will noticeably lift your deck higher off the ground, which instantly makes it easier to snap off high ollies. The effect is essentially the same as having a steeper tail, which generations of skaters have attested to producing higher ollies. It doesn’t take much of rise to feel a difference, so keep it under 3/8 of an inch.
Shock Pads (Rubber)
Rubber shock pads achieve the same purpose as riser pads do, but they add the extra benefits of a cushioned ride. Shock pads are always on the small side because of the softness of rubber compared to harder plastic. Were they too thick, the cushioning would become mushiness. There are a couple benefits to softening your ride.
Cushioning for rough pavement
Rolling over rough concrete is never a pleasant experience, especially with rock-hard skateboard wheels. Even the softer longboard wheels transmit some of the vibrations from rougher pavement. Shock pads absorb much of those vibrations before they can reach the board and get transferred to your feet. The cushioning isn’t noticeable in the sense of feeling soft. There is simply a lack of the annoying and uncomfortable shocks from the wheels hitting things.
Prevent stress cracks
If you’ve got an older deck, look around the trucks and see if there are hairline cracks in the wood. Those cracks result from the aging wood in the deck shrinking while under stress from skating and from the tightness of the truck bolts.
Stress cracks are one reason why old decks can feel spongy, but they can also ruin even relatively new boards. One way to prevent them is by using shock pads, because they absorb the energy from the common stresses in skating.
Just because riser pads and shock pads affect how skateboards and longboards perform, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should be using them. It really isn’t a question of should or shouldn’t, but it also isn’t simply a matter of personal preference. The equipment you use should add to your experience and should enable you to do what you want when you skate. If riser pads or shock pads accomplish that for you, then by all means use them.
However, make sure you understand the differences between the two, so that you can get the most out of your setup. If you only want a slight rise, then you can choose the type that suits you best. If you need more than about 1/8 inch of rise, then shock pads are out. Choose wisely, but don’t be afraid to experiment. Risers are an inexpensive way to play around with your equipment and find out what works best for your unique style of skating.
Shop our Combo Kits including our shock or riser pads HERE