Buying Guide | WakeboardsWakeboard Buying Guide

 

By Steve Kopitz

 

Gone are the ideologies that Wakeboarding was simply a fad that was destined to be out like yesterday’s news. Over the years, wakeboarding has gained in popularity and so too has the variety and quality of products now available to riders. To determine which wakeboard is best for you, check out the material outlined in this buying guide to help point you in the right direction.

 

Wakeboard Selection
Construction
Rope Selection

 

 

Wakeboard Selection

 

 

Ability

 

Beginners

 

It is recommended for beginners to select a square railed board. The reason for such a recommendation is that square railed boards provide beginner riders with greater control and stability for long sweeping cuts outside of the wake.

 

Square railed boards tend to be less expensive, thus lowering the cost to get into the sport and learn the basics.

 

Square railed boards while less expensive, are more difficult for landing due to their sharper edges. The less rounded edges make the likelihood of catching an edge greater.

 

Advanced

 

The preferences for most advanced riders are wakeboards with round rails.

 

Round rail boards allow for higher speeds and better lift off of jumps.

 

Tricks are easier to perform with round rail boards, and are also softer to land on because of a lower likelihood of catching an edge.

 

 

Style

 

For riders who have backgrounds in surfing or water/snow skiing, you will likely prefer a single tip board. Single-tip board designs have a pointed front and a square back, similar to the design of a surfboard.

 

For riders who have backgrounds in skateboarding or snowboarding, you will be more apt to find comfort on a twin tip board. Twin tip boards are rounded in both the front and back, similar to the design of a skateboard or snowboard.

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Construction

 

Materials

 

The construction of a wakeboard is similar to the construction of water skis.

 

Wakeboards are typically composed of a polyurethane or foam core that is wrapped in fiberglass or fiberglass/graphite composite exterior.

 

Fiberglass/graphite is typically found on advanced wakeboards.

 

 

Rocker

 

The rocker of a wakeboard describes the bottom profile of a board. The measure of a wakeboard’s rocker is determined by the angles where the board curves at each end. Wakeboard rockers are classified into one of three major categories: continuous, continuous/progressive, and three-stage.

 

Continuous: Offers a predictable performance via a smooth curve from tip to tail. Acceleration is smooth and pop off of the wake is generated comfortably.

 

Continuous/Progressive: Have a continuous rocker through the belly of the board with gradual angles around the area of the rider’s feet.

 

Three-stage: Designed for enhanced acceleration and aggressive pop off the wake, similar to continuous rockers. Three-stage rockers however have a significant flat area in the middle area of the board, and abrupt kinks or curves under the feet. The board rocker flattens out at the tip and tail.

 

Lower Rocker: Have a flat bottom, making the board easier to control and quicker to accelerate.

 

Higher Rocker: Have a rounded bottom, making it easier to land jumps

 

 

Dimensions

 

Generally, wakeboards are manufactured between 120-150 centimeters in length.

 

Wakeboards typically come with indicators for the proper size and weight for the rider. If there is concern about whether to select a shorter or longer board, it is best to select the longer board for performance reasons. Shorter boards will not perform is the rider is too large or heavy for it.

 

Shorter wakeboards provide less stability when starting and in turns. Therefore, beginners should choose slightly longer boards for learning purposes.

 

Widths of wakeboards typically range from 39-43 centimeters and are made in accordance with the length of the board.

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Fins

 

Function

 

Fins are important to wakeboards because they keep the board traveling in the direction that you point the board in. Additionally, fins prevent the board from rotating freely on the water. This is accomplished by the fin’s use of vertical depth and the shape of the foil of the fin from front to back.

 

Wide foils move more water and create drag and lift under your feet.

 

Thin foils move less water and allow the fin to guide the board with little resistance.

 

 

Depth and Base of Fins

 

When selecting a fin depth, it is important to consider both the rocker measurement and the fin hole placement of your board.

 

A bigger rocker will pull the fin out of the water and compromise the effectiveness of the fin.

 

An elongated base will address rocker issues and create a snowy feel to the water. As a result, shallow fins will have more surface area for tracking.

 

 

Conditions

 

Smaller, thinner fins are the preference for most boarders who are riding in clear, smooth conditions.

 

In rough conditions, a larger fin is typically called upon to provide enhanced hold and control in choppy water.

 

 

Styles

 

Ramp style fins are an idea place to start because they are considered to be the most universal. It is a wise idea to invest in a few sets of fins because they can be easily swapped out and create versatility for your board. Fins of different depths and foils offer a variety of different rides.

 

For smooth, free-ride conditions, rampy and shallow fins are suitable.

 

For rough, choppy conditions, sharper and deeper fins are suitable for additional control and maneuverability.

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Bindings

 

Overlay

 

The overlay component of wakeboard bindings is the element that provides the majority of the support for your foot. The overlay pulls the toe and heel pieces together to form a snug and secure attachment to the wakeboard. The cut or mold should be thick enough to provide ample support, but not so thick that it prohibits stretching.

 

The design of the overlay is to offer ankle support without binding.

 

Works effectively by pushing down the rider’s heel. Most new wakeboard bindings utilize adjustable straps, laces, and/or buckles within the overlay to provide the proper support.

 

Standard overlay systems are comprised of two overlays that criss-cross in front and behind of the foot. They lock into the hardware around the ankle and fore foot.

 

Closures may be a firm plastic with ratchet buckle to lace-up closures connected to rubber or cordura overlay.

 

Closure should be cinched enough for consistent, non-binding pressure all around the foot.

 

 

Underlay

 

The underlay component of a wakeboard binding is what makes contact with the top of the rider’s foot, as well as the Achilles tendon. The underlay design of wakeboard bindings designed today is typically made from EVA foam (foam/rubber hybrid) that makes them much lighter.

 

An EVA underlay can range from very flexible to very stiff.

 

Stiff underlay: Offers better support, but sacrifices comfort and easy-on, easy-off abilities.

 

Soft underlay: Offers great comfort, but sacrifices some structure that is typically desired.

 

Avoid an underlay that creates areas where pinching occurs on the foot.

 

 

Hardware

 

The function of hardware is to provide support to along the side of the foot, as well as to hold binding pieces together. Typically hardware will be made from metal or nylon materials.

 

Ergonomically designed hardware is best for wakeboard bindings because it curves into the arch and out at the toes.

 

Heel pieces should be in a position similar to a fitted cup. Offering support around all areas of the heel.

 

Hardware should be positioned so that your foot cannot slide on top of any piece. If your foot does, it may cause pain and/or bruising during landings.

 

Many companies will offer aftermarket hardware for bindings. A good set of hardware, bolts specifically, will securely lock the baseplates down for security.

 

 

Baseplate

 

A wakeboard binding baseplate is deceptively complex and should be approached in such a manner. You may initially think that it is straightforward, but once you start moving them from board to board, you’ll quickly realize what we mean.

 

Baseplates should be strong and stiff as a flexible baseplate is likely to reduce the feel and comfort you need for wakeboarding.

 

Baseplates also need to be plenty of stance options. Ideally, you should be able to get within a fraction of an inch of your ideal stance.

 

Baseplate strength and stiffness is based on the quality and thickness of its aluminum construction

 

 

Footbed

 

Support and comfort are the ideal characteristics for wakeboard binding footbeds. Chatter of the board as you cross over wake and when you land after catching air can take a toll on a rider’s feet. Proper footbeds are an ideal way of battling this issue.

 

The ideal footbed will have some form of traction to prevent your sole from sliding after it gets wet.

 

Footbeds that are too soft can be problematic because they do not properly absorb shock. If possible, locate bindings that have a footbed with a dual density foam construction. This will provide a good combination of shock absorption and comfort. Other options are air or gel pockets in the heel.

 

The rider’s heel should sit slightly higher to accommodate the ankles and knees, and also have a proper heel cup to secure the foot in place.

 

 

Entrance/Adjustment

 

Easy on-and-off is paramount for many riders when selecting their wakeboard bindings. While it is a great feature to have, it should be considered as just one of the important features to look for. Flexibility, adjustability, and good finger holes are great for easy on-and-off. In the end, it comes down to how you like your bindings to fit.

 

If you’re accustomed to using a lot of soap and force to get into your bindings, then you may want to consider a slightly larger or perhaps adjustable binding.

 

If you can get in and out of your bindings easily, but the boot appears to be too large, you can tighten the boot around your foot via buckles, straps, ties, and closures.

 

Also, the boot can be taken apart so the overlays can be adjusted as well.

 

Lastly, keep in mind that wakeboard bindings will break-in over time. If they are snug (not overly snug) at first, they will adjust over time.

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Rope Selection

 

If you are a water skier, that believes the rope you use for water skiing is suitable for all styles of wakeboarding, we recommend that you read on. In some cases, wakeboarding requires a stiffer rope than ropes used for water skiing because it helps a rider’s ability to perform tricks. To select the proper rope, it is imperative to understand that a tighter, stiffer rope that does not stretch is ideal for getting more air. Additionally, such rope characteristics help a rider’s ability to pull through flips and spins.

 

 

Types

 

No-Stretch

 

The construction of a no-stretch rope is made from material called Spectra. Spectra Rope is an extremely durable material with practically no elasticity. Meaning that a no-stretch rope will do just that. It will not stretch, making ideal for use in wakeboarding.

 

Spectra Rope also has extremely low moisture absorption, providing a perfect compliment to use on the water. It keeps the rope lighter and does not accelerate fatigue while holding on to the rope handle.

 

 

Low-Stretch

 

The construction of a low stretch rope is generally composed of polyethylene or polyethylene blend material.

 

This type of construction provides more elasticity than a no-stretch Spectra rope.

 

This type of construction proves beneficial to most recreational riders.

 

 

Multi-Purpose

 

If you’re a wakeboarder who primarily works on honing your skills performing tricks, a no-stretch Spectra rope is best.

 

For those who enjoy both waterskiing and recreational wakeboarding, low-stretch ropes will be the best rope choice. Low-stretch ropes provide enough elasticity for recreational waterskiing, while maintaining enough stiffness for wakeboarders riding for recreational purpose.

 

 

Length

 

Typical wakeboard ropes will range between 60-70 feet in length. However, rope length can vary.

 

 

Handles

 

Just as rope type differs between wakeboarding and waterskiing, so do wakeboarding handles.

 

Wakeboard handles are more specialized; offering more features aimed at making tricks and aerials easier.

 

Wakeboard handles tend to have a wider grip than waterskiing handles. Ranging from 13-15 (in) in width. By comparison, water skiing handles typically measure 11-12 (in) wide.

 

Wider grips help riders when performing tricks because of the necessity to pass the handle behind the back.

 

Wakeboarding handles will have features that make spin tricks easier. Often in the form of a rope braid or second smaller handle grip built into the rope.

 

Wakeboarding handles commonly have a neoprene foam float that makes them float.

 

Slower speeds of wakeboarders in comparison to water skiers allow for foam floats to be present on handles without concerns of the water ripping the floats off.

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