Skateboard Buying Guide
Skateboard Buying Guide
Choosing a Pre-Assembled Skateboard
If you’re a beginner and you are not sure what skateboard parts to buy, it might be a good idea to start with a pre-assembled skateboard. If you are not interested in doing tricks we often recommend purchasing pre-assembled cruisers, longboards and surf trainers as they are designed to work well with the componentry they already have. If you are interested in tricks, a custom complete will be a great way to insure that you have the highest grade quality parts available.
Trick skateboards are used in the skatepark, streets, bowls and as the name suggests, anywhere you can do tricks. They normally come with small hard wheels and two kicks making them good for sliding and popping the deck into the air.
Cruiser Skateboards come in a range of shapes and sizes ranging from 22”-33” long and normally are set with big soft wheels making them smoother and faster than their trick counterparts. Cruisers are normally best suited for kids learning to skate or adults with some skating experience.
Like with surfing the bigger your skateboard is the easier it is to learn on. Longboards also use big wheels like cruisers but have extended wheel bases making them more stable and solid for less confident skaters. This is normally considered a good option for adults learning how to skate (that don’t have any interest in learning tricks).
If there was ever a wildcard in skateboarding it would be the surf trainer. Surf trainers use a swiveling front truck which makes them loose enough to pump and generate speed without pushing. Surf Trainers are normally broken up into two categories being low resistance and high resistance. Low resistance surf trainers will offer a super loose feeling whereas high resistance boards are tighter and can support more energy.
Custom Skateboard Buying Guide
This guide is designed to help you decide on which parts to buy in order to assemble your skateboard (otherwise known as “set-up”). There are a number of different parts that make up a skateboard including:
- Skateboard Deck
- Skateboard Trucks
- Skateboard Bearings
- Skateboard Wheels
- Grip Tape
- Nuts and Bolts
Skateboard Decks Buying Guide
Firstly, let’s look at the skateboard deck. The main considerations here are the width and length of the skateboard but there are a number of other important considerations such as the shape of the board, the concaves, the thickness and the type of wood used.
Width of the Board
Arguably one of the most influential aspects of your board is the width. Skateboard decks come in a range of different widths but the most common widths are as follows (in ascending order):
- 7.5 Inches
- 7.75 Inches
- 8 Inches
- 8.25 Inches
- 8.5 Inches
The width of the skateboard you ride is generally considered to come down to personal preference but as a basic guiding principle, try to choose a board with a width suitable to your own size and style. For instance, if you have size 12 feet, it might be hard to skate a 7.5 inch board properly.
Different size boards have different relevant advantages and disadvantages but generally it is considered that less wide boards are more ‘tech’ and easier to flip and spin more quickly, whereas wider boards are better for stability, catching the board better and bowl skating. Here is a rough guide that gives an indication as to how each board width corresponds with different styles:
- 7.5" to 8" - Standard width for street skaters or more technical skateboarders
- 8.0" to 8.25" - Skating bowls, transition and parks
- 8.25" + - Vertical skateboarding, bowls, cruising, and old school style
We would generally recommend the following:
- Regular Size Width (7.5" or higher) - for riders over the age of 12, taller than 5’3’’ or with a shoe size of US 8 or higher.
- Mid Size Width (7.3") - for riders aged between 9 - 12 years, between the height 4’5’’ and 5’2’’ or US size 7 shoes
- Mini Width (7") - for riders ages 3’5’’ and 4’4’’ or US size 5 or 6 shoes
In the past several years, there has been a trend that most skateboarders have upped the width of their boards. If you are not sure what board to ride, we recommend trying somewhere in the middle of the range, like a 8.0 inch board. Then you can use this as a benchmark to help inform changes in the future.
Length Of The Board
The length of a skateboard is the distance from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail. Regular shortboard decks measure between 28 - 32.5 inches but usually only advanced skaters refer to length. A shorter deck is only normally recommended for advanced kids between 4-7yo who are doing lots of tricks on their skateboard. As a first deck for kids of any age we normally recommend a full length deck as they are more stable and easier to transition for the future.
Skateboard Trucks Buying Guide
Skateboard trucks are another key element that you will need to consider when creating your setup. Trucks are the metal T-shaped pieces that mount onto the bottom of your skateboard deck. The bearings and wheels are then attached to these.
Trucks are made up of a variety of different parts including the axel, hangers, kingpins, bushings and base plate. All these different parts will have an affect on your skateboard and how it performs.
Trucks can be tightened which will impact how easy it is to turn and maneuver your board. Losing trucks will usually allow the rider to turn very easily without applying much of their body weight while tighter trucks will force the user to apply more pressure into the turn. Different skateboarders loosen their trucks to different degrees in order to suit their style. Some people argue looser trucks are better suited for bowl or transition skaters as they are more easily able to turn around the transition or skate ramps. Others argue tighter trucks can allow for more pop in your tricks. It all starts with choosing the right trucks to suit your style and the rest of your board setup.
Choosing The Right Skateboard Trucks Width
Choosing the right width of skateboard trucks can be a little confusing at times as different skateboard companies and brands use different units and include different measurements to distinguish their different sizes of trucks that they offer.
To help make this less confusing, we have made a table that provides you with the axel length of the trucks from most of the prominent truck companies in the industry.
Generally, the best and most commonly used strategy is to match the truck axle to the same width as your deck, as this offers the most stability. You can however, include 0.125" of variation.
See the following most common truck sizes:
- 6 - 7.25" axle - Smaller decks measuring 6.5" to 7.25"
- 7.5" axle - decks measuring 7.25 to 7.5"
- 7.75" axle - decks measuring 7.5” to 8"
- 8.0" axle - decks measuring 8” to 8.5"
- 8.5" axle - decks measuring 8.5” to 9"
- 9.0" axle - decks measuring 9” to 10”
- 10.0" axle - Bigger skateboard decks measuring 10” and higher
Choosing The Height Of Your Trucks
The height of your trucks is another key element that influences your setup and this feature basically conditions the size of wheels that you are able to use on the setup. If your truck is low, you can’t use big wheels as the wheels would touch the bottom of the board and could cause “wheel bite”. This happens when your wheels touch your deck and causes the board to almost stop instantly. This usually results in the rider getting pitched forward off their skateboard.
The higher the truck, the more the tail will have to be pushed down until it hits the ground when popping your deck. When you are using higher trucks, this theoretically suggests that you might be able to pop higher. We suggest trying to match the height of the trucks to your height as taller people will usually have longer legs and the sufficient amount of power to pop that height of trucks more efficiently. Smaller skaters and kids should usually try to use low trucks.
There are a number of different sized trucks including:
- Low Trucks: low trucks are Designed for small wheels, low trucks provide extra stability for certain types of tricks, for example flip tricks. The risk of wheel bite is relatively higher when you use low trucks so we recommend utilising wheels that are sized between 50-53mm.
- Mid Trucks: Mid trucks are solid choices for transition or street skateboarding. We recommend utilising mid trucks when yours wheels are between 52-56mm.
- High Trucks: high trucks are best suited for larger wheels, carving and cruising. They are mainly used on longboards or cruisers. We recommend utilising high trucks when your wheels are over 56mm.
Just how the different companies used different units to brand their trucks such as “139”, they also use different unstandardised units for high. Some brand their trucks as “low”, “standard”, “high”, “classic” and “regular”. To help make this less confusing we have made another table that helps to understand the different units from some of the main truck companies in the skateboarding industry.
Innovations In Trucks
Trucks are the heaviest component of your skateboard set up and in recent years there have been a number of innovations which have helped to reduce the weight of trucks.
One of the most recent developments have been “hollow” trucks which describe the hollow axle or hollow kingpin.
Another factor which has helped reduce the weight of trucks is the material the trucks have been made out of. For instance, the brand Tensor trucks have recently launched very light-weight trucks made out of magnesium, however these tend to incur more damage to the hanger when grinding on objects such as ledges and pool copping than more traditional heavy-weight trucks such as independent.
Skateboard Bearings Buying Guide
Skateboard bearings are the part of the skateboard that are located in the wheel and are inserted onto the axle. See figure ? below. Bearings enable your board to roll and help you maintain speed and momentum. Skateboard bearings are all a universal size so any set of bearings should fit in the wheel of your choice.
The quality of skateboard bearings are rated using the ABEC scale. Where the higher the number the better quality the bearing. The ABEC scale determines the tolerance of a bearing (How fast is can go/how much heat is generated) See the example list below:
ABEC 1 cheaper materials will wear out faster, likely more susceptible to the elements.
ABEC 3 Fairly cheap bearings, should perform and last longer that ABEC 1
ABEC 5 The most commonly used ABEC rating of bearings, will roll smoothly and will be reasonably durable.
ABEC 7 More expensive, roll very smoothly, possibly weather resistant.
ABEC 9+ Designed for competitive downhill riding, high speed, very durable, very expensive.
Skateboard bearings are composed of a number of individual parts listed below. It’s not a necessity to know all the individual parts that make a bearing in order to select suitable bearings, this guide goes into a bit more detail than is needed for the average skateboarder.
- Rubber Seal - Protects the bearings from dirt etc.
- Ball Retainer - Also known as the crown this is where the steel balls are held.
- Steel Balls - The part of the bearing that helps to maintain speed and momentum, typically a bearing would feature 6 - 8 of these steel balls.
- Inner Ring - Where the axle is placed through the bearings.
- Outer Ring - Holds the other parts of the bearing in place.
- Bearing Shield - Protects from dirt etc. Like the rubber seals.
- C-ring - Secures the bearing shield in place.
Steel VS Ceramic Bearings
Skateboard bearings are usually made from steel but ceramic bearings are also an option. While ceramic may have a heftier price tag they boast advantages such as reduced friction, improved durability and require far less maintenance. That’s not to say that ceramic bearings require no maintenance, take a look at the bearing maintenance guide for more info.
Optional Bearing Configurations
Skateboard bearings can have a couple of extra appendages, the use of such is usually down to personal preference. But the additional appendages do offer some advantages in terms of durability and performance, but unless you’re into competitive downhill skateboarding where every second counts, this is not an essential consideration.
Bearing Spacers - This is an optional part that sits in the wheel between both bearings, the idea is to more evenly distribute the weight over both bearings when riding and turning.
Bearing/Axle Washers (Speed Rings) - Also known as speed rings this optional addition is effectively just two washers. One washer is placed on the inside of the axle before the wheel is put on and the other sits on the outside against the axle nut. This provides the advantage of reducing the amount of friction experienced by the bearings rubbing against the truck hanger and the axle nut; this will help your board to roll smoother and faster.
For more information on how to maintain your skateboard bearings go to our Skateboard Maintenance Guide.
Skateboard Wheels Buying Guide
One of the most important parts of your skateboard setup is your wheels. This guide will discuss wheel size, euthorane grading and different wheel shapes.
One of the most important considerations when it comes to skateboard wheels is size, skateboard wheel sizes generally range between 50-80mm. As a general rule the larger your skateboard wheel the faster and smoother your skateboard will be. A larger wheel is normally associated with either transition skateboarding or cruising. Most skateboard wheels designed for transition will be between 55-58mm to keep your speed up whilst riding a mini ramp, bowl or half pipe. Wheels larger than 58-60mm are normally used when cruising and often have a softer durometer. If you are most interested in skating street we recommend a wheel between 50-54mm making the board lower to the ground and more stable for flips and grinds.
How hard your skateboard wheel is will determine how it reacts when rolling. The higher the wheels durometer is the harder the wheel will be. Normally wheels at a high duro will be used for street skating as they will slide, grind and pop better than a softer wheel. Your average hard wheel will sit around 99a -101a can differ in a range of qualities. Bowl skaters and vert skaters often use a slightly softer wheel of around 92a so they can grip to the already slick surfaces without slipping out. Anything softer than a 88a is normally considered ideal for cruising as the softer your wheel the smoother your skate will be over a range of cement and other surfaces. The softest wheel is duro is normally a 78a which is great for cruising but very difficult to slide on.
Skateboard wheels come in a variety of different shapes and widths. In general the more surface area touching the ground the smoother and nicer your skate will be and a narrower wheel will be better for sliding. The main wheel companies have now also brought out new conical and lock in shapes making it easier to lock in to particular grinds.Your avergae trick skateboard wheel will be between 30-35mm wide with 15-25mm on contact with the ground. Cruiser wheels normally are between 40-60mm wide with the majority of the wheel making contact with the ground. Below is a diagram of Bones Wheels most popular shapes:
Skateboard grip tape is made up of a fine sandpaper on one side and a sticky adhesive on the other. It is used to add grip to your skateboard making it easier to stay on the board and when doing tricks. Most grip tapes come with perforated holes making it easy to apply and lowers the risk of getting air bubbles. If your grip tape is slightly coarser in grit it will retain its grip for longer but may do more damage to your shoes when doing tricks.
Nuts and Bolts
Skateboards nuts and bolts are often also referred to as skate hardware and are used to connect the skateboards trucks to the deck. Skateboard hardware comes in a range of different styles and sizes and the right one for you will be determined by the size of your riser pads and the style of skating you are doing. Almost all skateboard hardware is set with either an allen key or phillips head making it easy and universal to apply. Some bolts will come with a countersunk head making them sit flat with the skateboard deck whilst others will come with a pan head protecting the board but getting in the way of your foot when doing tricks.If you need help determining which size bolts you need for your skateboard please refer to the Riser Pad Table below.
Riser pads are used to extend the distance between the skateboard deck and the wheels. Most riser pads are used when either using a larger wheel or if your wheel significantly hits your deck whilst skating. This wheel and board contact is known as wheel bite and can stop your skateboard suddenly when turning.
Riser Pad Size Guide
If you want to find out more about how to set up different skateboard setups to suit you, please see the following video.
PAUL SCHMITT - NINE CLUB VIDEO
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