If you are looking forward to getting into skateboarding, you probably won’t regret it. It is definitely one of the craziest experiences that you’ll ever get. Just imagine cruising through the streets and feeling the wheels rolling underneath giving you the freedom and calm like never experienced before. But that’s not all to it!
You do need a skateboard that is right for you and what will help you to figure out the what’s and how’s of skateboarding. Also, it’s a lot more than the looks!
With that said let’s just dive straight into it and find a skateboard which is perfect for you. It’s quite simple actually, choosing the right board. So without any due let’s get started
Quick Answer: Buying a Skateboard (Step-By-Step Guide)
- Choosing a Skateboard Deck
- Choosing a Skateboard Trucks
- Choosing a Skateboard Wheels
- Choosing Your Skateboard Accessories and Hardware
Above is an overview of what I’ll be covering in this detailed guide and I can surely say that by the end of this guide you’ll exactly know what to look for when buying a skateboard.
- Skateboard Buyer’s Guide
- How to Choose a Skateboard Deck
- How to Choose Skateboard Trucks
- How to Choose Skateboard Wheels
- The Bottom Line
Skateboard Buyer’s Guide
First I’ll start with the most crucial part of the skateboard which is the deck or the board itself. While moving through the deck section, we will be covering the basics like what’s the optimum skateboard deck length and width for you according to your height. After that, we’ll focus on the other components like the skateboard trucks, wheels and much more.
So without any further due, let’s begin.
How to Choose a Skateboard Deck
How to choose your board, here are the four chapters that we will go through
The first two are width and length; I’ll start with those because you can roughly adapt that to your body size. After this we will talk about the concavity, then I will mention the different kinds of constructions and shapes that you can encounter, and at the very end, I’ll talk about pop.
Skateboard Deck Width
Starting with the board width, it’s the dimension from one side to the other side of your skateboard that you roughly want to match with your shoe size and then adjust it a tiny bit to what you’ll be doing with your board. The skateboard width is always the first information that you get on your board and its always in the product name. In order to choose your board width what I propose is to first look at this table below, it’s a table we did to match shoe sizes to board width in order to be somehow prevalent. After you have looked at the table, we are going to make some small adjustments together to make it fit perfectly with the kind of skateboarding that you want to do.
You could want a wider board for a faster kind of riding because you’re gonna have wider trucks and they are more stable with higher speeds. Other than that wider boards are a bit heavier but it’s also because of the flipping rotation that they feel a bit heavy.
Even if you have very strong legs and you are able to move those, then you can get very safe catches and landings. So wider boards can be quite suitable for gaps and transitions. On the other hand, a thinner board would be a lot lighter especially for those flippy rotations, but it will be a lot harder to deal with while speeding and landing. Therefore those boards will mostly shine for technical abilities like curbs, wheelings, and flat ground.
Skateboard Deck Length
Let’s now help you choose the length of your board. Mainly you need to adjust the length of your board to your height, the idea behind that is you should be able to spread your legs wide enough to keep and adjust your balance on the skateboard. By the way, when I’m saying that you should spread legs to keep balance I’m not really talking about the full length of the board, what I’m talking about is the wheelbase. The wheelbase is measured between the two first holes or bolts.
In order to choose your board length, once again there’s a table where we match board lengths with body heights. It’s rather a general one, and therefore once again we will show what little adjustments you can do personally to make it fit perfectly to your skateboarding.
So you could go for a shorter board because it would help you in horizontal rotations which are shovets or 180s. On the other hand, a longer board would make it feel super heavy to go for these rotations but once again if you have very strong legs then you would get safer catches and of course for the landing you would have more room to balance yourself. The last thing I would like to mention is if you have a very long wheelbase on your board then your tail will feel more when you push on it because of leverage.
Skateboard Deck Concave
Other than your tail and nose, boards are not exactly flat. They are concave; otherwise, they will break a lot. Ideally, in a perfect world, you would want to match your concave with the rounded edge line of the shoe so that you find the right one as you would be scratching on a lot of surfaces during gripping. Sadly we have very little information that makes us able to match concave with shoes. So most brands will define concave as being low, medium or high but with no precise figure. That is why we can’t really guarantee if for different brands concavity would be the same.
Skateboard Deck Shapes and Constructions
Let’s talk about shapes and constructions; the very classic way that the boards are built is with seven layers of maple with some glue in between, and then the layers are pressed really hard into a mold. Some skaters will need eight or nine ply’s to make their board really hard to break but for those breakability purposes you can also find carbon fiber or glass fiber decks.
Now, let’s move onto shapes.
A normal or what you would say a standard board is a Popsicle, so it has a round tail and a round nose and if you find boards that don’t have round tails and round nose they will fall into the shaped category which usually has a squarish tail and a pointy nose.
If you are a beginner and you are thinking about starting on shape boards, then I have to say I don’t recommend this. But if you still want to do so then make sure you have some friends that are riding those and that they will help you with your shaped skateboard.
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How to Choose Skateboard Trucks
First of all, let’s check out all of the chapters that I will go through for choosing your skateboard trucks.
The first one will be the width of the trucks because you want to adapt that with the width of your board. Then I’ll go for the height because it will condition the size of the wheels that you’ll be able to use on those trucks. After that, I’ll talk a bit about the kind of innovation and materials that you can find, and we will try to understand what it’s useful for.
Skateboard Truck Parts
Let’s just get familiar to all the parts of a truck and how to quickly dismount trucks. The first thing that you have to do is take off the kingpin nut. After that, you can take off the top washer and then the top bushing. After this you can remove the hanger, under that there’s another washer which is called the bottom washer and a bottom bushing. The bottom bushing is more like a cylinder when compared to the top one which is more like a cone.
After that, you would be left with the base plate with a kingpin and a pivot cup. So the pivot cup is what is gonna stay fixed, and it is what makes you able to turn with those trucks when you push on the side.
Skateboard Trucks Width
Let’s now focus on the width of the trucks. As said earlier you want to adapt the width of your trucks to the width of your board so that these two would actually match. The thing with truck’s width size is that they are a bit confusing because depending on the different brand units of measurement are used.
So it can get a bit confusing, but we have made a pretty cool table that will give you the axle length of the trucks so that it is the exact same measure as your board and it is sure to make things easy for you.
You basically want your truck width to be the exact same width as your board, or maybe you can have a 0.125 inches variation which is 1/8 of an inch. You would preferably have trucks that will be a bit thinner than your board because if you have trucks that are thicker than your board, then the wheels will have a lot of weight to carry. Therefore during rotations, the wheels are gonna make you feel like your setup is really heavy which might affect the performance of the board.
Skateboard Truck Height
Let’s now talk about truck height. So about the truck height, you will have to adjust it to the wheels you have on your skateboard because if your truck is low, you can’t use two big wheels as they would touch the board too much when you turn. It is because as you turn, the wheel gets closer to the board and will rub against it, in technical terms you call it wheel bite. Just like concavity of the deck, the brands of trucks will usually call the heights as low and high or sometimes it would also be called low and standard, but there are usually only two sets of sizes for that.
On low trucks you should use wheels that are not wider than 52mm, you can get 53mm if you want to, but you need your kingpin to be very tight so that your truck doesn’t wobble much. Whereas for high trucks you can go for a little bigger wheels, you can go over to 60mm and once again if you get closer to 60 then you will have to tighten your kingpin.
How to fit bigger wheels in your skateboard?
If on high trucks you use riser pads then you can really use big wheels, even the longboard wheels. You can use the bigger wheels for a cruising setup or for a filming setup, but you would need to resize the width of your board maybe because those boards are very large.
The height of your trucks is also gonna impact something very important during your skating which is the distance that your tail has to travel to touch the round. So if your truck is higher, then your board will travel more and would be a lot steeper.
How do you know if you want the distance of travel to be high or low?
Well if you are a very tall person, then you can have very high trucks because your legs are gonna be big enough so that you can snap the tail on the floor while jumping. But if you have a very high board and a very small kick then while jumping there’s no way you are gonna hit the tail on the ground. Otherwise, you could be tall and wish to have low trucks for like quick snaps, it gives you a bit more control but once again I would say that is a bit specific to the technical domain; I would say flat ground, wailings and some curbs nothing that goes too fast.
Skateboard Trucks Weight and Material
It’s not the time to go over the board for different kinds of innovations that you can find on trucks. So, first of all, you need to know that trucks are the heaviest part of your setup so those innovations will mostly tend to reduce the weight of your trucks. As a note, you can always find the precise weight of the trucks on the product description.
The first innovation that I’m going to talk about is hollow; you will mostly find that in product names. It is meant for the axle, as it’s empty inside. So you can find that it’s hollow or not by just blowing air through it and you will find out, the same goes for the kingpin.
You can find hollow axles and kingpins over most brands like the Indies, Tensor, Thunder and many more. Other than having hollow axles and kingpin, producers can also change the materials of the trucks to try making it lighter. Here I’m really not gonna suggest which material to use, but among skaters, it is commonly accepted that very heavy trucks such as the Classic Independent trucks will last longer if you grind on very crusty surfaces such as a very bad street ledge or some pool coping. On the other hand, you can use trucks made of very light materials such as Tensor made with magnesium, but there’s a higher chance that the hanger gets eroded faster when grinding. Although, if you only skate parks then it’s not a big problem because the metal railing will mostly save your trucks.
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How to Choose Skateboard Wheels
Obviously, the wheels are very important for a skateboard, so in this section, I will be going through these chapters.
First I will discuss the different diameters then we will go over to the durometer scale, after that we’ll see the different cuts, shapes and also the cores that exist and just, in the end, I’ll have a quick tip on how to avoid flat spots.
Skateboard Wheels Diameter
The diameter of your wheels is the first information that you will get about any kinds of wheels that you will encounter (usually on the product name). It’s very important to know this dimension because you are going to match it with your trucks.
How wheels impact your skateboard?
I’ve already talked about it in the trucks section but basically what I was saying is that on low trucks you don’t want to go over 50mm to 53mm and on higher trucks, you can potentially go around 59mm to 69mm maximum.
Another thing that is going to be impacted by the diameter of your wheels is small rocks or some cracks in the street. On bigger wheels, those cracks and rocks will somehow be a bit smaller than what they would have been if your wheels were a lot smaller. Therefore you don’t have to care so much about cracks and small rocks with wheels of bigger diameter.
How wheels impact the height of your board?
The last thing is that half of the diameter impacts the height of your board which means that diameter of your wheels is directly impacting the travel that your tail needs to go for in order to hit the ground.
Skateboard Wheels Durometer (Hard wheels vs Soft wheels)
The durometer is a scale from zero to a hundred that gives you information about how soft your wheels are. The higher the number on the durometer, the harder your wheels will be. Harder wheels will generally slide more easily, this not only applies for power slides but for moves such as; no slides, tail slides and blunts. On all these moves you will have to scratch, so if you would like them to slide very easily then you will pick a very high durometer such as 100 but the scale goes from 0 to 100 and reaching the limits of a scale gets you very imprecise. This is why some brands started to use Scale B.
Should I Choose Hard Skateboard Wheels?
Let me keep going with what the hard wheels do, hard wheels its true are slightly easier to go with but when you are sliding it’s harder to control because it’s just sliding away. Another thing is that technically very hard wheels should roll a lot faster than soft wheels but in reality, harder wheels are very sensitive to terrains or quality of the ground you are riding on. So if you are going onto street missions and you don’t really know how the ground is, and it might be crusty then you should use softer wheels because you don’t want to turn your board into a foot massager. The last thing about hard wheels is that for the same shape and the same size these might last longer.
Should I Choose Soft Skateboard Wheels?
So softer wheels, for example, the ones that are 78A’s are pretty soft, so you can consider a real soft wheel if it’s under something like 85A, it’s basically just to give you an idea. Softer wheels will also tolerate grounds with a lot of cracks, some small rocks and all that. You will be a lot more comfortable on a board that has softer wheels, but it will be a lot harder to make this boardslide on the ground. Even though while sliding, the sliding part will be easier to control.
Skateboard Wheels Core
I will now go over the different characteristics of wheels. The first thing that you might be able to notice between those two wheels is that some wheels have a different inside. Let’s talk a bit about that.
So on a normal wheel, you would insert one bearing on one side and another bearing on the other side, but it doesn’t mean that those two bearing are going to touch each other. There’s a little separation on the inside, and this is what we will call the core. So, on a normal skateboard wheel, the core would be of the same material as that of the wheel which is urethane. But some manufacturers use a plastic core, and it will act a bit differently but if it is properly done the bearings are able to sit very properly and are sometimes better attached than a urethane core. This makes it able to roll very round which is optimal for bearings.
On another level for longboarders, as they use force by going a lot faster than can be too much for skateboarding then sometimes they rip the core when it’s urethane. This is why for them having a plastic core is also security for not breaking their wheel but for skateboarding it’s mostly a weight factor and plastic is a lot lighter than the urethane.
Skateboard Wheels Width and Shapes
About the shape of wheels, the first one that I would like to talk about is the pretty classic or the basic ones where you have the bearings, and then it only gets thinner until you reach the contact patch. After that, we have the very small ones which are a bit more round, but the real different ones are the conical wheels. What you’ll see on a conical skateboard wheel is that from the bearings it first gets wider and then it gets thinner again, which might save a bit of urethane out of the wheel but mostly what it’s gonna do is that it makes the contact patch a bit wider.
But the question is why we are interested in the contact patch; it is because the contact patch is what is going to impact if your wheels slide or grip on the ground. So the wider it is, the stronger the grip on the ground.
Other than the contact patch there is one more thing that I’d like to mention that if the wheels are going to grip or slide it is the urethane that does so. Wheels are made out of urethane at the moment which is kind of a big mixture of different kinds of plastic, and nobody really knows which proportion of which have been used in the mix and therefore it is very hard to quantify the urethane mix. But according to Tony Hawk, this is what most impacts the slip-grip ratio of your wheels.
As I promised earlier that I would give a tip on how to avoid flat spots, it’s a small tip and a quite impressive one
How to avoid flat spots?
Let’s take the example of a power slide if I was going straight and I put the board in order to have the four wheels sliding. Then if I’m absolutely perpendicular to where I was going, then my wheels are not going to be able to spin, and this is what will create flat spots. If your wheels are not spinning while sliding, then you are basically eroding more of one precise spot.
So what can you do? If you simply slide at an angle, then this would not happen, and your wheels would keep turning, and you would not get any flat spots. So, both of the exaggerated angles would work.
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How to Choose Your Skateboard Accessories and Hardware
At last, I’ll talk a little about some other things that you might wanna consider when buying a skateboard or if you are just building your own DIY skateboard.
So, here are the chapters that I’ll be going through
First, we will talk about screws; their sizing and how to adapt it if you use shock pads or riser pads. After that, we will tackle bushings, and in the end, we will see a different kind of tools.
Skateboard Bolt Packs
First of all, you’re gonna need screws in order to attach your trucks to your new board. If you have standard trucks in a standard board then the size you are looking for is 7/8 of an inch; those screws are sure enough just to pop out so that the plastic ring that you see at the end of the nut is gonna come and block it so that it’s attached stronger.
You can also find multiple kinds of screws, but the key could be different to use them. So you can get a screw that needs a Philips key or a screw that would need an Allen key.
By the way, on the more classic and standard skateboards, those screws can be countersunk, or flat heads and the others that are raised heads are mostly used for drop-through longboards.
Skateboard Shocks and Riser Pads
Riser pads could be used for two different reasons.
- The main reason would be to place your truck higher so that the wheels have more distance and don’t get too close to your board.
- The second one would be to reduce the vibrations that are transmitted from your trucks to the board.
To do all that you have two different kinds of pads. You have riser pads that are very hard, and you have shock pads that are very soft. Both of these shock pads are of the size 1/8 of an inch. So, in order to place the shock pads in-between your trucks and your board you would need different screws; from 1/8 of an inch, it would make you use 1-inch screws. The same goes for 1/4 inch riser pads; then you would need those 1 1/8 inch screws.
Bushings are very important in your setup, and they define a lot of your feeling on your board. This is what you push on when you turn. There are roughly two kinds of bushings in terms of shape
- Cone Bushings
- Barrel Bushings
Cone bushings will make your trucks more steerable whereas barrel bushings will make you able to tighten your trucks a lot, which is very safe if you want to go fast. Other than the shape you may want to adjust the durometer of your bushings to your weight and also how you want to skate your board. In order to do that I’ll leave you with the table below which shows what durometer bushings are soft or hard depending on your body weight!
Depending upon the bushing you will sometimes need washers and sometimes not. The only thing that you really need to make sure so that your bushing adapts to your trucks is that you are scrolling through skateboard bushings. Longboarders have a lot of different sizes of bushings depending on their trucks.
Let’s now look at the different types of tools and their uses.
All-In-One Skateboard Tools – The T-tool
These are the most classic tools that you can find, and with this, you can screw anything on your skateboard. With this, you can either tighten or lose your kingpin, wheels or go for the screws and nuts. Inside this tool kit, you will have an Allen key and a Philips key specifically for your screws.
All-In-One Skateboard Tools – The Upgraded or Ratchet T-tool
A little bit of an updated version would be this one because it has a ratchet. This one has two more gadgets; if your axle would be so worn out that you would have difficulties screwing back your nut, then you might need a rethreader. The other gadget that comes with this tool kit is quite a handy one and is used to help you push your bearings inside of your wheels or out of it. So you would put the bearings inside it and then push very strong.
You can also use a separate bearing pusher that also does exactly the same job as the All-In-One Skateboard T-tool. But With this tool you can do it much more easily and precisely as it is built specifically to do one single job and that is to push bearings inside your wheels or just grabbing the bearings and pulling them out at once, so it’s really handy when you need to replace your bearings.
The Bottom Line
For my final advice for the day, I would say that don’t be put off by all of the complications and different technologies out there. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to find a skateboard that’s not a cookie cutter product, but it’s your opportunity to find a skateboard that’s tailored for you and how you ride.
With that said it’s a wrap, I hope you all enjoyed this detailed guide on how to buy a skateboard or to build one yourself. So please leave some feedback in the comments section and also if you are a pro skateboarder do let me know what things you like to consider when buying a skateboard.