You might be forgiven for thinking that skating deck rails are not all that special; they are just plastic strips with holes, and they all seem to look the same and serve the same purpose. My research led me to conclude that most commercially available rails are of low quality and need better rails.
Related: Are skateboard rails worth it
This blog is about rails for skateboard and everything I have learned about them. For instance, Grab Rails were the original rails, and they were constructed of wood. Plastic rails were around for a short time before someone started using them.
Only a select few manufacturers produce rails of sufficient quality for my needs. Thankfully, there are a few popular brands to choose from that are readily available at most retailers. Let us look at the best rails for skateboarding, who might benefit from them, and where they would work best.
What Are Skateboard Deck Rails
Injection-molded plastic strips called deck rails for skateboards are fastened to the board’s bottom edges. They serve the dual purpose of protecting the deck graphic and allowing your skateboard to slide farther.
They are typically 14.5′′ long, 0.5′′ wide, and 0.5′′ high. Skateboard decks were not concave back then, making it difficult to slide a skateboard. The high surface tension and friction make sliding a plain deck challenging and result from the larger surface contacting rails or copings. Plastic rails added made a significant improvement.
When airing throughout verts and bowls, skateboards were initially grabbed by rails. The invention of plastic rails allowed skaters to slide their boards more effectively. Today, if you care about protecting your graphic, it is also an excellent method.
The Origin of Skateboard Deck Rails
Since the late 1970s, there have been deck rails, but when wood shops first presented concave decks, they were swiftly ignored. When first introduced, rails were built of wood and were known as Grab Rails.
In the 1990s and 2000s, you could occasionally find them, but they returned around 2016 also with reissues of vintage decks. They are continually becoming more and more popular today. Some people adore them, while others cannot adjust.
Schmitt claimed that a man named “Ollie” (it is unknown if this was Alan Gelfand) thought it would be wonderful if rails would slide. Making deck rails out of plastic solves the issue of wooden deck rails grabbing the lip and making it hard to slide (thus the name Grab Rails).
The first rails with a wood core and fiberglass and Formica bonded together were created by Paul “the Professor” Schmitt, owner of PS Stix woodshop, but the cost of manufacture was too high.
Schmitt was hunting for high-quality plastic that does not burn or develop sharp edges from friction when he was only 15 years old. UHMW plastic, or ultra-molecular weight polyethylene, was the solution.
The business he employed provided UMHW scraps, which Schmitt initially cut into strips before manually drilling holes. In combination with silicon, the plastic was flexible and robust (Silly Sticks).
Soon, Schmitt Stix became a tremendous hit, and Schmitt struggled to find scrap metal. Schmitt struck an agreement with a different plastics business that offered ready-made rails.
Schmitt Stix was different from his idea; it was inspired by Fish Sticks, wooden skateboards created by professional skater Steve Fisher. Skaters immediately began referring to Schmitt’s plastic deck rails as Schmitt Sticks when he started selling them.
Schmitt Stix is still available today. However, finding the originals can be challenging. Due to its popularity, other businesses began stealing the concept, which, in Schmitt’s opinion, is fantastic since if no one steals your idea, your product will not succeed. The concept was imitated by businesses like Powell Peralta and many more soon after.
The Pros and Cons of Deck Rails
Having to keep tightening them is one of the most frustrating aspects. Perhaps it’s because my rails are cheap and flimsy, and I’m still waiting for the natural material, but I hear this more often than others.
Another drawback is that you must be careful while attaching them. To save myself some effort, I used an electronic screwdriver instead of manually turning the screw, but now the screw won’t stop spinning and won’t attach.
The takeaway here is that a standard screwdriver is what you need to avoid this kind of situation in the future. Just reattaching the rails after a slight relocation will fix the issue.
Right now, that’s only a minor negative, and there are undeniable benefits to installing deck railings. That I can slide so far with such little effort is a huge plus.
You’ll have to experiment to see which vehicles are more straightforward or challenging to operate on rails. Finally, I adore the style. For some reason, this makes me feel retro.
Types Of Deck Rails
Most skateboard deck rails are produced from low-quality injection-molded plastic, so they all look and feel the same. Many appear to have originated in the same production facilities, which hardly surprises me.
The only distinctions worth considering are in terms of size and quality. Choose a pair that corresponds with the size of your skateboard’s wheelbase; some are wider and longer than others. Even though a thinner rail ought to result in less resistance, I doubt you would perceive the difference.
Rails range in price from $10 to $20 and come in various hues. For example, Shake Junt, Enjoi, or Santa Cruz boards all have five wood screws rather than four. Santa Cruz provides rails for a skateboard just as narrow as Welcome’s asymmetric Candy Sticks.
How well do they slide? Since I have not tried them out, I have no notion. Even though NHS (Santa Cruz) understands how to sell its goods, you can bet that they are constructed of the same low-quality plastic as the rest of the pack.
Some best Skateboard Deck Rails
UHMW material is used to make the deck rails for skateboard of the best skateboards. UHMW rails can be purchased from retailers such as Pig, Welcome, H-Street, and Powell Peralta. The Candy Bars Rail from Welcome came highly recommended by me.
These are manufactured from PS Stix and thus are identical to the original in every respect. They can be used for approximately 5 to 6 decks, but the ever-increasing demand has made them difficult to find.
Most of the other deck railings are manufactured from low-cost injection-molded plastic. You can choose whatever color or graphic you like; however, twenty United States dollars seems excessive for injection-molded rails.
There is nothing of decent quality to be found in stores; at this point, I can only identify the finest deck rails on the tips of two fingers. Here is a list of brands of skateboard deck rails that sell rails of poorer quality, including Santa Cruz (their HSR Rails are rubbish), OJ, Shake Junt, Enjoi, Creature, Snot, Madness, Heritage, Rad Railz, and more.
Let us move to the UHMW deck rails to get this party started.
Welcome Candy Bars Rails
The rails for the skateboard can be purchased singly and are already taped on both sides using double-sided rubber tape. Because of this, they can adhere to the board more effectively and absorb rattle sounds, unlike cheaper rails. They have an uneven shape and are suitable for any concave surface.
They are more comfortable to hold than conventional deck railings, thanks to their asymmetrical shape. Because of their height, you can position them far apart, even when working with a highly steep concave. You do not need to be concerned about the middle of your deck establishing connections when you slide.
Last but not least, these rails are the only ones manufactured of high-molecular-density ejected plastic, which means that in comparison to injection-molded plastic, they are an incredible amount more long-lasting.
Candy Bar Rails are virtually identical to Schmitt Stix, even though they are sold under a different brand name. I am trying to get my hands on them, but I have not had any success thus far.
H-Street Custom Deck Rails
Oh, joy. One more option. The bespoke deck rails you want from H-street are just as challenging as the deck itself. It is not for the casual skateboarder, but if you are a fan of the old school and want to feel like you did back in the day, you should give it a shot.
H-street deck rails, such as the Welcome Candy Bars, are constructed of high-quality plastic, rarely rattle, and attach to your deck, so you do not have to tighten them after every session. The sole distinction is that it is more inclusive and symmetrical.
They are a replica of H-street rails that were popular in San Diego in the 1980s and handcrafted locally. UHMW has more abrasion resistance and longer life than any other brand sold in skate stores.
The pig never ceases to amaze me; they provide me with the best rails for skateboarding, and their skate equipment and skateboard gear are also top-notch. Pig railings are strong and will not break if you accidentally bump into a ledge.
They can be found in a wide array of hues and do not cost much.
These are noticeably less flexible than rib bones due to their greater width, thinner thickness, and complex composition.
The effort required to bend them as far as I did without breaking them was higher than that required to bend rib bones. They appear durable because of their rounded corners and smooth sides. I am gauging their longevity and will report back as soon as possible.
Powell Peralta Rib Bones
The Powell Peralta brand was among the first to copy the Schmitt Stix deck rail design. They have been manufactured for over 30 years, and to our good fortune, they are also UMHW.
The rib bones are pretty malleable; therefore, I could twist and turn them in every direction. They are the hardest of the rails and feature the sharpest edge. I would not go so far as to call them candy bars, but that day will come.
Compared to Pig Rails, Rib Bones are substantially taller and narrower, giving you slightly less space to maneuver but much more plastic to gnaw on.
Do Skateboard Rails Fit all Decks?
Deck rails for skateboards are compatible with any 7-ply maple board, but their height must be kept below the skater’s wheelbase. You will have to put in a little more effort to secure the wood screws into a Santa Cruz VX or Powell Peralta Flight deck, but it will work.
You may use an electrical screwdriver on them, as they are stronger than standard maple decks, but you must be careful not to damage them.
Those who would instead not screw wood pegs into their deck can use double-sided tape, such as Gorilla Heavy Duty. It will work on the board slide if you want to grab it, but I cannot promise they will stay put.
Rails for skateboarding are experiencing a moment of popularity after a resurgence in recent years. Skaters may have thought rails were a relic from the past for a long, but a growing number of skaters are beginning to see the benefits of using them.
- What are some basic safety tips for skateboarding?
Always wear a helmet, pads and other protective gear to reduce the risk of injury. Make sure you have proper footing before attempting any tricks or jumps. Start on an even surface and practice regularly to build up your skills.
Only ride in areas designed for skateboarding and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Finally, never attempt any trick without understanding the risks involved and getting proper instruction from experienced skaters.
2. How can I sharpen my rail riding techniques?
The key to becoming a better rail rider is practice. Take time to familiarize yourself with how the board interacts with different types of rails, such as metal, wood, and plastic.
Study up on basic rail riding techniques such as hopping onto the rail, riding it, and hopping off of it. Finally, practice regularly in a safe environment with experienced skaters to help you hone your skills.
3. What are some popular tricks for skateboards?
Popular tricks vary among different types of skateboarding but some common ones include ollies, kickflips, shuvits, varial flips, 360 flips and heelflips.
Additionally you can combine different tricks together to create more complex combos like a kickflip/heelflip combination or an ollie-shuvit combo. Practice these tricks in small increments until you perfect them before attempting them on rails.
4. What type of rails are best for skateboarding?
Different types of rails offer different types of challenges and styles to choose from when skateboarding. For example, metal rails boast a smooth, slippery surface that can provide a unique challenge to master while wooden rails require more stability and balance since they offer less grip than metal or plastic ones.
Ultimately it comes down to personal preference as each type of rail has its own style of riding associated with it. Whatever you decide, make sure to follow all safety guidelines and practice regularly.