If you have done several watersports, you know that wakeboarding and wakesurfing require a few, but expensive equipment. For wakeboarding, your board needs to have bindings that fit your needs, you need a tow rope, and a wakeboard boat. If you do not have a wakeboard boat, you need access to a cable park.
When shopping for a board, you will need to consider the cost of the bindings and the fins as part of the final cost of the board. But why are these boards that expensive?
How Much Does A Wakeboard Cost?
Most wakeboards cost between $200 and $400. This is the price range for the lower end models that most people prefer using. Others will cost as high as $900 such as the Hyperlite Riot Nova.
Some boards come with fins and bindings, making them a complete package and worth the money. For others, you have to buy the fin and bindings separately. You can get wakeboard bindings for an average price of about $120, but there are some that cost as much as $400.
The cost of a wakeboard is dependent on the components, materials, and the design processes that go into creating it. If you look at a wakeboard, it doesn’t have a complicated design that would warrant the high price that these boards attract. Besides the shiny surface and the bindings, you may not see much on the wakeboard.
However, there are several high-end components that go into making a board and these are what makes the board expensive. Below, I have outlined the design, construction, and materials that determine the cost of a wakeboard.
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What Makes a Wakeboard?
The basic design of wakeboards cut across all brands. However, there are different materials that brands use to make their wakeboards unique. Every manufacturer wants to create a board that is strong, but with some degree of flexibility to give a smooth glide across the surface of the water when you start performing wakeboarding tricks.
Wakeboarders have different levels of skills and this creates the needs for boards that meet all these needs and preferences. Some boards are lightweight while others have a heavy core. Lightweight boards come in handy when you need to do flips and tricks in water while heavier models are great for beginners who only need to glide through.
Some materials create boards with a rigid core while others create boards with a little flexibility. All these boards are okay, and you only need to pick one that you feel comfortable riding. The core determines how rigid or how flexible a board is.
Wakeboard manufacturers create a mold and inject high-density polyurethane into the mold. The polyurethane gives the board its shape. Manufacturers can then add more materials, depending on how rigid they need the board to be.
Core materials include ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) plastic, aluminum, and laminated wood. ABS plastic creates the most rigid and strongest boards on the market. These boards can withstand impact for many years, and they are also inexpensive.
Laminated wood creates light and less rigid boards. These are the boards popular with wakeboarders who need a light unit to perform tricks in the water. Aluminum creates rigid and lightweight boards.
The aluminum boards will be more expensive than the other boards, thanks to the lengthy construction process. ABS plastic is easy and cheap to inject compared to other materials while wood is readily available and easy to use.
For aluminum, the manufacturers create a honeycomb pattern that enhances the rigidity of the board. They then inject polyurethane foam around the core material to create a completed core. After creating the core, the manufacturer wraps it with graphite carbon or fiberglass sheeting to create a hard shell that protects the core.
On top of the protective sheeting, the manufacturer adds epoxy that keeps everything in place and further protects the core. Finally, they add the top and the bottom of the board to make it ready for the water.
Manufacturers use either acrylan or molded ABS to cover the core. These top and the bottom are added in such a way that they bring out the final desired shape of the wakeboard.
At the bottom, a board has channels and ridges that allow it to glide smoothly and straight in one direction. In some boards, the ridges and channels are very aggressive, but in some, these ridges and channels are less intrusive.
The different designs and shapes of the wakeboards accommodate the different riding styles, skills, and water conditions. You need a board that you feel comfortable riding.
Does the Design and Components of a Wakeboard Determine its Cost and Performance?
There are several wakeboard designs. The designs enhance the performance of a wakeboard in different water conditions and for users of different skill levels. When looking at the design, you need to consider factors such as binding styles, rockers, the design of the bottom, the size of the board, and location of the fin.
Each of these factors determines how comfortable a wakeboard feels when you ride on it. The cost of a board is dependent on the design, the research, and the development process that goes into creating one. The individuality of a board and the fact that each board meets a given need makes them expensive.
What are the design components of wakeboards?
The curvature of a wakeboard is known as board rocker. A wakeboard is not completely flat because the toe and the heel are slightly raised relative to the bottom of the board. There are several rocker options to meet different riding needs.
The amount and type of rocker determines how smoothly or hard you land and how much lift you get to ride the wakes. It also determines how well you can spin the board.
Wakeboards have either three-stage or continuous rockers. In a continuous rocker, the curve is continuous from the toe to the heel. The three-stage rocker, on the other hand, has a flat middle with the heel and the toe being raised to form the rocker.
There are subcategories of these two types of rockers, which are:
• Blended three-stage
• Subtle three-stage
• Abrupt continuous
When shopping for a board, you may also need to consider how much rocker (curvature) the board has. The rocker on most boards range between 2.0 and 2.5 inches.
Bindings are available as:
Open-toe bindings are easy to get into and out of, and they come in handy for beginners who need an easy to use board. They are a one-size-fit-for-all, so you can share the board with several people.
Closed-tore bindings offer more support, allowing you more control over the board. The extra support around the ankles allows you to spin the board and perform tricks as you desire. Even though they give so much control, they are more challenging to get into and you cannot share them with someone unless you wear the same shoe size.
System bindings come as separate boots that screw on the binding on the wakeboard. Some system bindings have an easy to get into design that has a hinge that opens when you are putting on the binding. The hinge then closes for a snug fit.
With the hinge, you never have to apply a lubricant to wear the binding. If you need quality bindings, you may have to pay as much or more than what you pay for the wakeboard.
Fins and Bottom Design
The fins and the design of the board’s bottom determine how stable the board is when gliding on the surface of the water. The fins on the heel and toe and the ridges and channels at the bottom of the board allow the board to move in a straight line.
The fins cut through the water to give you a smooth ride. They also turn your board when you land to keep you stable on the surface of the water. The length of the fins and the design of the board’s bottom will determine the tricks you can perform, especially the flips in water.
You can go for a fin and bottom design that feels comfortable for your ride. If you love doing tricks on water, go for a less aggressive bottom design and shorter fins. If you need more stability, go for a more aggressive bottom design with larger fins.
There are affordable boards on the market that come ready to use. Even the most affordable boards sport a variety of styles to accommodate the needs of all wakeboarders. All you have to do is pick the board that meets your needs.
If your budget allows, you can go for one of these wakeboards that cost more than $500. The design of these boards is more intricate and unique for better performance. When shopping for the wakeboard, do not forget other equipment such as bindings, ropes, and wetsuits that you need to wakeboard.
If you are a beginner, do your research and pick the best board to help you learn the sport. The best board is not necessarily an expensive one, but one that accommodates your skill level.