Best Setup for Transition Skateboarding: Your Ultimate Guide to Thrash Transitions

Master the art of transition skateboarding with our detailed guide. Find the best setup, perfect your style, and start shredding now.

Shredding parks, pools, and the occasional bowl—all with your skateboard—sound like heaven to you? What setup do we need to tackle this insane transition in skateboarding? Let’s cut to the chase: we’re reviewing the best skateboard setup for transition. With guidance from yours truly, you’ll be putting together a wicked ride that’s a knockout on transitions. This is not just about gathering parts but tailoring them to your style of skating. Together, we’re about to revolutionize your transition thrashing; let’s hit it!

What is transition skateboarding?

Transition skateboarding, often just called “tranny skating,” revolves around riding transitions or curved surfaces. Think about those classic U-shaped ramps, bowls, and even empty swimming pools. Yep, those are the playgrounds of transition skaters.

Image of a skater holding a skateboard while standing on a ramp. Source: unsplash
Image of a skater holding a skateboard while standing on a ramp. Source: unsplash

Instead of flatground tricks or street obstacles like handrails and stair sets, transition skating is all about carving, grinding, and airing on and off these curved surfaces. The essence is to harness the momentum of the curve, which allows skaters to get some serious air and pull off some super sick aerial tricks.

Key spots for transition skating:

  • Halfpipes: U-shaped ramps that skaters ride back and forth on.
  • Bowls and Pools: Kind of like empty swimming pools (and sometimes they actually are), these offer a combo of deep ends and shallow ends, creating a fluid path for skaters to carve and trick around.
  • Quarter pipes: Like half of a halfpipe, they’re used to launch skaters into the air or to smoothly change direction.

Transition skating has its roots deeply embedded in skateboarding’s history, dating back to the ’70s when drought-hit California saw skaters taking over empty swimming pools, leading to the birth of “pool skating.”

So, whether you’re shredding a modern skatepark bowl or carving up a gnarly old backyard pool, transition skateboarding is all about that flow and rhythm.

My favorite complete skateboard (at the moment):

Enjoi Whitey Panda Complete Skateboard

Best setup for transition skateboarding: your ultimate guide to thrash transitions | 61vn95mf7ql. Ac sl1184 | skateboard salad
My favorite complete skateboard (at the moment):

Enjoi Whitey Panda Complete Skateboard

I had my board stolen a few years ago and was forced to quickly replace it with a complete. I got one with an Enjoi deck and loved it so much that I still buy the Whitey Panda deck each time I need a new deck. This complete with budget-friendly, beginner-friendly parts, but I still swear by it.

What factors make a good transition skate setup?

Embracing Transition skateboarding means courting versatility. You need a setup that’s flexible enough to handle flat ground, embark on ramps, and shred through bowls. It’s a dance of flow, speed, and finding that perfect line to execute your favorite tricks. But remember, not all dances are performed in the same shoes. Your preferred style greatly defines the excellence of your setup.

Are you drawn to technical skateboarding?

If you’re stoked on rail grinding, ledge ripping, and tossing out flips while also relishing ramps and bowls, agility is your best buddy. For this, consider:

  • A deck hovering around 8.0″
  • Wheels centered around 54mm
  • Medium-high trucks

These specs hand you a lively setup just begging to bounce around under your feet. You might be wondering, “Hey, could I use small longboard wheels for that as well?” Not a solid choice, mate. Stick to what we outlined earlier for the technical bits.

Or would you rather be referred to as flow-skater?

Do parks call to you? Do you savor the occasional ollie, thrive in transfers, or shred mini ramps and pools? Your perfect weapon of choice should incline towards:

  • A wider board around 8.25″ / 8.5″
  • Wheels tipping the scale between 56mm and 58mm
  • High trucks

Flow-skaters are those that cruise and swoop, their movements a mirthful sight that grips spectators in awe.

And if your heart races at the mention of vert skating, well mate, again, the wider setup is your ticket. Something like 8.5″, even up to 9.0″ isn’t unheard of. Keep in mind, stability is the premier obsession here, and you’ll definitely want to ride 58mm wheels with high trucks.

How do I choose a quality transition deck?

Choosing the perfect skateboard deck is both an easy and complex proposition. First, we can’t stress enough how pivotal quality is. Aim for a board crafted by a reputable brand, a feather in the cap being a single-pressed deck from a reliable woodshop – you can find a sizeable list of good options here.

Image of a skater doing tricks in a skate bowl. Source: unsplash
Image of a skater doing tricks in a skate bowl. Source: unsplash

Remember, the wider your deck, the better your balance on ramps and pools. If your heart’s somehow insistent on a smaller board, as some street skaters are, then stick to what feels right for you. But anything below 8.0″, I’m not a big fan.

What are the specifics for transition trucks?

Here’s where it really gets personal. While high trucks are king for ramps, bowls, and verts, you’ll need a happy medium for flat grounds, too. So, the verdict? A medium-high profile.

And, definitely keep it loose. Tight trucks pull down solid performance for street stuff, but they’re not your bedfellows for transition. Something like Independent would be a killer choice in the high trucks category.

What are the best transition wheels?

In the land of wheels, bigger often does mean better. The sweet spot? A range of 54mm to 58mm. If you’re a stalwart of bowls, pools, and mini ramps, aim at the higher end. Make sure your wheels are hard. Trust me, anything between 99A and 84B is slicker than a greased pig on a waterslide.

Soft wheels hug the surface too much, stunting your pump and push. You don’t want to grapple with that. Stick with harder wheels for that quintessential ride. Unsure about the right wheel brand? Try comparing top contenders like Bones vs Spitfire.

Is choosing bearings equally crucial?

Let’s keep it short here: Bones Reds are the way to go. Yet, don’t go spending all your chips on cheap stuff cause cheap equals cheerful for just a couple of rides. Squeeze every bit of speed from them with regular maintenance. Aiming higher? The dearer Bones Super Reds can carry you on smooth rides for over a decade.

What are the don’ts when setting up a transition skateboard?

A couple of things to sidestep in your pursuit of the ultimate transition setup.

  • Avoid really small wheels. Anything below 53mm means more push and less cruise.
  • Soft wheels are a no-go. Remember, you’re not here for a casual saunter around the park.
  • Again, anything below 8.0″ for your deck? Nix it. The narrower widths are simply out of bounds for transition.
  • Low trucks might appeal to some, but they don’t turn as much as you’d need for that seamless carve around corners.

What are some tips for transition skating?

No amount of gear talk tiles the road to a satisfying transition skateboarding experience. It’s a bunch of things – your comfort, tempo, and understanding your board’s responses.

Learning the ropes doesn’t have to be a terrifying leap in the dark. Start small. Ride around. Test yourself on banks or quarter pipes. Gradually add kickturns or try to ride fakie when you roll back. After all, transition skating is more of a dance – measured, confident, and exhilarating.

Here’s a quick checklist:

  • Find a mini ramp to practice basic moves
  • Get comfortable with back-and-forth rides and gentle pumps
  • Practice tail taps on the coping

And when you’re ready, remember to learn some fancy tricks to dazzle your audience even more.

Why your transition skateboarding setup is important

From my own experience and journey as a skater, I can’t help but reinforce something – your setup is a reflection of your personality and preferred style. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. You need to try different setups, make mistakes, and find what works for you. Or something like that. If you’re all about perfect ramps and bowls, sure, aim for a wider board and larger wheels. I’ve seen street skaters hold their own on smaller boards, so, ultimately, it’s about your skating style. Experiment, get out there, and make it happen.

“Remember, your preferred style greatly defines the excellence of your setup. Experiment, learn, and let your personality shine on your skateboard.”

Dos and don’ts of transition skateboarding setups

Transition skateboarding setups require a fine-tuned blend of precision and instinctive know-how and, arguably, a pretty list of Dos and Don’ts. Let’s set the parameters of the charmed circle to guide us in finding the ideal transition skateboard setup.

Stick to decks between 8.0″ and 8.5″ for balanceAvoid narrow decks below 8.0″
Opt for medium-high or high trucksSay “no” to low trucks
Consider wheel size between 54mm and 58mmDon’t opt for small wheels below 53mm
Go for harder wheels, opt for 99A and 84BAvoid soft wheels
Choose quality bearings, like Bones RedsAvoid cheap, low-quality bearings
Sharing a quick snapshot of skateboarders who have made the art of transition their playing field, serving both as a pedestal of inspiration and a testament to different, yet effective, transition skateboarding styles.
SkateboarderPreferred Deck WidthWheel SizeTruck HeightSignature Move
Tony Hawk8.5″58 mmHigh900° spin
Steve Caballero8.5″57 mmHighCaballerial/Fakie 360°
Bucky Lasek8.25″56 mmHighLasek Kickflip
Christian Hosoi8.25″56 mmHighChrist Air
Rune Glifberg8.25″56 mmMediumKickflip Frontside Air
Transition skateboarding is not for the faint-hearted. Sharp turns and dynamic moves test your limits. However, the intricacy of setting up your board for this style brings its own share of pros and cons.

If you are a visual learner, check out the video below from YouTube.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Sometimes, even after pouring over all the specifics, certain nagging questions keep cropping up. Let’s tackle some common queries related to our main topic at hand, the transition skateboarding setup.

What’s the optimal durometer for transition wheels?

In the language of skateboarding, a durometer measures the hardness of your wheels. For transition skating, you’ll want a higher durometer for that much-needed balance between grip and slide. I’d recommend wheels anywhere between 99A and 84B. Anything below that range might just leave you sluggish and fighting for speed. Check out this detailed comparison between Bones and Spitfire for more on optimal wheel choices.

Is a wider deck always better for transition skateboarding?

Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that wider decks are better for maintaining balance, particularly when you’re nailing those ramps and mini bowls. No, because it still boils down to personal preference. Transition skateboarding thrives on bespoke adjustments. If you’re more into the technical side, a narrower deck might serve you better. Look for quality options here.

Are there any specific brands you’d recommend for transition decks?

Brand selection can be quite subjective. What works for one skater might not for another. However, some brands have gained a reputation for solid quality and great performance. Brands such as Powell Peralta, Santa Cruz, and Creature are among those revered in the skateboard community.

Can I do transition skating with my street setup?

In essence, you can certainly hit transitions with your street setup. But expect a different ride feel, especially if you have a setup tailored for flips and rails. Chances are, you’ll find the wider boards and larger wheels of a transition setup more palatable when entering those bowls and ramps. If you’re wondering whether to choose street skating or transition, here’s a handy guide that compares skateboarding and longboarding.

Final thoughts

As we wrap up this guide, I hope you’ve grasped the essence of picking the right skateboard setup for transition. It’s not just about the specs but how those specs work for you. It’s about personal preference, it’s about comfort, and it’s about your unique riding style. Whether you’re mastering technical skateboarding or you’d rather cruise with flow-skating, each fine-tuning you undertake brings you closer to unleashing your best performance.

Are you stoked to dive into transition skateboarding? Have you got your heart set on a wider deck or is the svelte appeal of a narrower deck more your style? And did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below. I read and reply to every comment. If you found this article helpful, share it with a friend, and check out my full blog for more tips and tricks on transition setups. Thanks for reading and keep skating strong!

Key takeaways

This article covered the art of choosing the best skateboard setup for transition skateboarding. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Transition Skateboarding requires a setup that balances speed, flow, and grip.
  • Your preferred skateboarding style impacts your ideal setup.
  • Quality is crucial when choosing your skateboard deck.
  • For trucks, aim for a medium-high profile and keep them loose for better turns.
  • Size matters when it comes to wheels. Higher durometer wheels provide a better grip.
  • Avoid small wheels, soft wheels, narrow decks, and low trucks for transition skateboarding.
  • Learn to ride and pump properly, and practice basic moves before diving into transition skateboarding.

Helpful resources

Steven Portrate
Written by Steven Sadder, Staff Writer

Hey! I'm Steven, a lifelong skater, and proud New Yorker. I’ve been skating since I was a teenager. I may be a bit older now, but I'm not slowing down. Follow me for skating tips and latest gear reviews.

Nick eggert.
Edited by Nick Eggert, Staff Editor

Nick is our staff editor and co-founder. He has a passion for writing, editing, and website development. His expertise lies in shaping content with precision and managing digital spaces with a keen eye for detail.

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