How to Pick Out Skateboard Risers

October 12, 2019 5 min read

Today, we’ll be covering an often overlooked piece of skateboarding equipment; skateboard risers. Though risers may not seem important to some skateboarders, when used properly, risers have the ability to save you from unwanted falls as well as save your board from unwanted breakage.

What are risers?

Good question! If you are new to skateboarding, you may have never heard of risers before. Risers, also known as riser pads, are small inserts made from hard plastic that fit between the baseplate of your trucks and your skateboard deck. As their name suggests, this will raise the height between your board and the ground, essentially giving you “taller” trucks.

Why are risers beneficial?

If your trucks are loose enough, and your wheels are large enough, you may have had the unfortunate experience of wheel-bite. Imagine skating at a decent speed, then leaning into a turn, only to have your wheels make contact with the underside of your board. That, my friends, is wheel-bite.

Wheel-bite causes you to come to a sudden and completely unexpected stop, hurling you forward into a nasty bail that is worthy of a Hall-of-Meat shout-out. Having trucks with a high profile isn’t enough to stop wheel-bite if you have larger wheels. Sometimes you’re going to need riser pads.

Installing riser pads will give you that extra clearance between the wheels and the skateboard deck to keep you safe when leaning into turns, or pivoting with loose trucks. Skating with risers greatly reduces the risk of wheel-bite. If you enjoy skating with large wheels, loose trucks, or both, Braille Skateboarding recommends using rising pads. 

Another benefit of this added height to your set-up is the fact that the distance between your tail and the ground is increased. This increase in distance gives you the ability to create more downward force with your popping foot, which gives your tricks greater pop. Now that’s some science we can get behind! 

Are there any other benefits to using risers?

In addition to the reduced risk of wheel bite and extra pop, riser pads also help absorb the impact of landing tricks. Without riser pads, when you land a trick on a skateboard, lots of shock is absorbed where your trucks meet your skateboard deck.

The force from the impact can easily create pressure cracks/ stress fractures. Riser pads will act as a shock absorber to reduce the chance of these pressure cracks occurring. As an added bonus, risers also help with keeping your skateboard hardware from loosening due to the vibrations associated with skateboarding. 

What else should I know about risers?

While most riser pads are made from hard plastic, there are also polyurethane riser pads with softer and more flexible designs. These softer plastic riser pads are commonly referred to as shock pads.

Shock pads are different from riser pads. They are softer, shorter, and are mostly used to absorb shock. Shock absorbers are typically 1/8″ in height. Skaters only use them when skateboarding on rough terrain.

Vibrations are sent through your trucks and deck and into your feet and legs which can get pretty uncomfortable compared to skating on smooth terrain. Shock pads will dampen and absorb these vibrations better than hard plastic riser pads are able to.

Shock pads will also protect the board from pressure cracks much like riser pads will. So if you’re looking to reduce the chance of pressure cracks without adding much extra height, you may be better off purchasing shock pads instead of riser pads. 

Risers sizing

There are three common sizes for riser pads; one-eighth of an inch (1/8″), quarter-inch (1/4″), and half-inch (1/2″). It’s important to purchase the appropriate size hardware depending on the size of Riser pads that you choose. Hardware that is only seven-eighths of an inch (7/8″) will not be able to accommodate any size of riser pad. You’ll need at least one-inch (1″) hardware for the smallest riser pads, and one and a half-inch (1 1/2″) hardware if you plan on using half-inch (1/2″) risers. 

Standard Risers vs Angled Riser Pads

Though you’d never see them on a shortboard, another type of riser pad on the market is the angled riser pad. Angled riser pads aren’t used in street, park, or vert skateboarding. You’ll mostly find them set up on cruiser boards or longboards.

Shaped like a wedge, angled riser pads raise and position your trucks at a fixed angle. You can use angled riser pads to angle the trucks either away from or toward the middle of your board. If you’ve got a cruiser or longboard laying around, we recommend picking up some angled riser pads and playing around with the different combinations of truck angles.

You’ll notice increases in turning capabilities depending on how you have the wedge-shaped risers arranged. You can even mix and match standard riser pads with angled riser pads. So get creative, experiment and have fun with it!

General Recommendations

Riser pads are cost-effective and widely available at most skateboard shops. It doesn’t hurt to pick up a pair, set them up on your board, and see how they feel. If you don’t like the added height but enjoy the benefits of pressure crack protection, Braille Skateboarding recommends some soft 1/8″ shock pads. Try out different brands to see which feel best to you!

If you have low trucks with larger wheels, or even if you have trucks with a high profile but still find yourself getting wheel-bite a little too often, Braille Skateboarding recommends any size of standard hard plastic riser pad. Once again, try some different brands out to see what feels best. All of them will give you the extra clearance and support you’re looking for. 

Keep in mind these are just general recommendations. We still believes that a solid slam from wheel-bite builds character! However, it is best to be safe and live to skate another day. Avoid those pesky wheel-bite slams and pick up a pair of riser pads from your local skate shop today!

In Conclusion

Riser pads are one of those skateboarding accessories that people either love or hate. Don’t let the hate get you down! Riser pads can be incredibly helpful for a lot of skaters. Aaron’s current skateboard has riser pads because he kept getting wheel bite. It’s the little things that often have the biggest impact.

We want to see your setup! Snap a photo of your board setup and tag @brailleskate#brailleskate and #brailleskateboarding. We love to see you guys progressing and pushing yourself to learn more tricks. Keep them coming!

If you’re new to skateboarding and looking to improve your skills, definitely check out Skateboarding Made Simple. It’s the most detailed lesson plan for skateboarding that exists. With 9 different volumes, you’ll go from learning how to ride on a board, to skating skateparks and landing more advanced flatground tricks in no time!

Do you use riser pads or shock pads? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments below!

Alec O'Grady
Alec O'Grady

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