What is a Half Pipe Ramp?
A half-pipe is a structure that’s primarily used in gravity extreme sports, such as skateboarding, snowboarding, skiing, freestyle BMX, skating, and scooter riding.
The structure is essentially made up of two quarter-pipes, topped by copings and decks, facing each other across a flat transition (often referred to as a “tranny”). Generally speaking, half pipes range anywhere from about 7 feet to 15 feet in height, with the majority measuring in the 10-12 foot range. Walls of a half pipe ramp consistently reach a peak of 90 degrees, or perfectly “vertical” (this is where the term “vert” comes from).
Half-pipe ramps can be constructed using concrete, metal, or other building materials, although most are made of wood. Regardless of what material a half pipe ramp is made of, there is always one characteristic that remains constant: there will always be a metal coping which runs along the length of the top of a half pipe ramp.
Types of Half Pipe Ramps
Wooden Half Pipe Ramps
Most skateboarders will admit that nothing compares to a wooden half pipe ramp. This is because wooden half pipes flex as you ride on them, making the surface feel smoother and performing tricks a bit more forgiving. Bending with your weight, wooden half pipes have been compared to the feeling of surfing, in that skaters feel they have more control of the board, with the ramp and board coming together as one, a feeling that concrete ramps cannot offer.
Concrete Half Pipe Ramps
Although less common, half pipe ramps can be constructed using concrete or other building materials. An empty pool is often used as a skateboarding bowl, but other areas of the pool can act as a half pipe of sorts (depending on the overall shape of the swimming pool, of course). Due to the fact that concrete does not “give”, or bend in any way, it isn’t always the ideal choice for skateboarding ramps as it is far less forgiving.
Steel Frame Half Pipe Ramps
Half pipe ramps can be constructed with wood and a steel frame. Usually, this type of half pipe would be used in the X-Games or in a situation where the half pipe ramp would need to be put up and taken down in a fairly short amount of time, or for a temporary purpose.
Plastic Half Pipe Ramps
Often a good choice for homeowners who want an easier option, half pipe ramps made of plastic (usually ABS plastic, or similar), steel and urethane are the best bet. Because of the materials used in these types of ramps, they are very durable and weatherproof so you can leave them outside regardless of the rain or snow.
What to Look for When Buying a Half Pipe Ramp
First, you will want to take a few things into consideration. Such as, what age is the skateboarder who will be skating the half pipe ramp? What level of skater will be using it?
Another point to consider is where the half pipe ramp will be located. Will it be outside? Next to your home? In a garage with a high enough ceiling? Also, what is your budget for a skate ramp?
If you’ll be focusing on performance and tricks, you may want to look for a half pipe ramp that is wider in stature. This is because the additional width provides extra room and the ability to lay out more tricks. Turning and maneuvering are also much easier with a wider skate ramp.
Look at materials that will last, and be durable, regardless of where you plan to keep the skate ramp. Read reviews from various sources in order to educate yourself and get a better idea of which brands and types of ramps are receiving high praise from other skateboarders who have personal experience skating on them.