Every skateboarder knows the frustration of encountering “razor tail,” the dreaded sharp, thinned edges that develop on a skateboard’s deck tail over time. Razor tail can not only compromise the aesthetics of your board but also impact your performance and safety.
Skateboarders can prevent razor tail by riding on smooth surfaces, braking with their feet, and using careful technique while practicing tricks that require pop. Careful prevention will slow down the development of razor tail, but boards will eventually need to be replaced.
To keep your skateboard in prime condition, it’s essential to take steps to prevent razor tail, maintain pop, and know when and how to replace your deck.
Understanding Razor Tail
Razor tail, in skateboarding, is a term used to describe the sharp, splintered edges that develop at the tail of a skateboard deck. These jagged protrusions can create an uncomfortable riding experience, lead to splinters, and compromise the overall functionality and safety of your board.
Razor tail is primarily the result of wear and tear, which can be attributed to various factors including skating conditions, tricks, riding style, and deck material.
The biggest issue with razor tail, other than aesthetics, is losing pop. Pop refers to the board’s ability to spring off the ground with power and height, providing the rider with the energy needed to execute tricks.
As the tail of a skateboard deck thins down and develops razor tail, it becomes less responsive. A board with diminished pop can make it more challenging to land tricks, reducing the height and control you have during your maneuvers. Recognizing when your deck has lost its pop is a crucial part of knowing when to replace it.
Tips for Preventing Razor Tail
Preventing razor tail and maintaining the pop of your skateboard deck are essential steps in prolonging its lifespan. Here are some practical tips to keep your deck in top condition:
- Choose the Right Deck: When selecting a skateboard deck, your first option is to invest in one made from durable materials. High-quality decks, made from stronger and more expensive wood, are known for their strength and resistance to wear and tear. The other option is to buy a cheap stock deck and plan on replacing it every few months. The most basic replacement deck (as of 2023) will run you between $20-$25 and will last 1-4 months depending on the rider.
- Master Proper Technique: Skillful riding techniques can help reduce the risk of razor tail. Focus on landing tricks with control, minimizing dragging or scraping of the tail on the ground, and distributing your weight evenly. Shift your weight back when you are about to scrape, and practice a quicker pop to reduce drag time.
- Brake With Your Feet: Many skateboarders find it convenient to use the tail to slow them down. This will make razor tail develop much faster. Using your feet to slow and break saves your board, although it will make your shoes wear out faster.
- Tail Guards: Tail guards, made from materials like plastic or rubber, can provide added protection to the skateboard tail. These guards absorb impact and reduce wear and tear.
- Deck Rotation: To distribute wear more evenly, regularly rotate your skateboard deck. Flipping the deck’s orientation ensures that the nose becomes the tail, extending the deck’s life.
- Deck Sanding and Maintenance: Keep an eye on your deck’s condition and, when necessary, sand down any rough or splintered edges. Regular maintenance can help prevent razor tail from worsening. This can also help prevent scratches and splinters when your leg hits to board.
- Watch Your Riding Surface: Broken, old, and rough asphalt will increase the wear and tear on your board. If possible, avoid those areas and do most of your riding and tricks on smooth concrete or pavement.
When to Replace Your Skateboard Deck
Determining when to replace your skateboard deck involves assessing several factors:
- Razor Tail: The most evident sign that it’s time to replace your skateboard deck is the development of razor tail. If the tail has become excessively sharp and splintered, it’s a clear indicator that your deck’s lifespan is nearing its end. Some riders aren’t bothered by razor tail and wait to replace until they can tell that there is a quality difference in their tricks.
- Lost Pop: You can tell when razor tail is becoming a serious problem when your deck loses its pop and becomes less responsive. This is a strong signal that you should consider a replacement. Reduced pop affects your ability to perform tricks effectively.
- Cracks and Delamination: Cracks on the deck, especially around the tail and nose, can compromise the board’s structural integrity. Delamination, which is the separation of the deck’s layers, can also lead to decreased strength and pop. This is usually caused by moisture exposure.
- Visual Inspection: A thorough visual inspection of your deck should reveal any significant signs of damage, wear, or compromise. Trust your instincts, and if something doesn’t feel right, it might be time for a new deck.
How to Replace Your Skateboard Deck
When it’s clear that your skateboard deck is nearing the end of its useful life, it’s time to replace it.
If your old grip tape is still in good condition, you might be able to reuse it. However, if it’s worn or damaged, apply a new sheet of grip tape to the top of your new deck. Make sure it’s centered and smooth out any bubbles or creases.
Place the trucks on the new deck, ensuring they are correctly aligned with the holes. Insert the screws and tighten them using a skate tool. Be sure not to overtighten, as this can crack the deck.
Slide the wheels onto the trucks and insert the bearings. Ensure the bearings are seated correctly.
Before heading out for your next skate session, give your newly assembled skateboard a quick test ride. Ensure that everything is securely fastened, and your deck feels stable and responsive.
When you’ve successfully transferred your components to the new deck, don’t forget to dispose of the old one responsibly. Skateboard decks are made of wood, which can be recycled or repurposed in various ways.
Safeguarding your skateboard against razor tail and minimizing wear and tear is not just about prolonging its aesthetic appeal but also about optimizing its functionality for a smoother, more enjoyable ride. By implementing the preventive measures discussed in this article, such as rotating your wheels regularly, practicing flip tricks evenly, and investing in quality grip tape, you not only preserve the structural integrity of your deck but also enhance your overall skateboarding experience. Remember, a well-maintained skateboard isn’t just a piece of equipment; it’s an extension of your style and expression. So, take the time to care for your deck, and it will reward you with durability, improved performance, and countless hours of skateboarding satisfaction. Happy shredding!