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Skateboard Buying Guide

Shredding down the street, sliding just inches off the ground on four speedy wheels — that’s why skateboarding is one of the most popular sports in the world. It’s easy to get started. All you need is the right board. Here’s how to pick one.

WAIT! Although the following is still great advice, the Gear Guy is currently researching new models and writing an update to this article. Watch for his updated tips and reviews in the October 2015 issue of Boys’ Life.

THE LOWDOWN

The type of skateboard you choose depends on the kind of skating you plan on doing. There are three main styles of boards: street, park/ramp and longboards.

The first two types are similar but with different sizes of wheels. Longboards are — you guessed it — longer and better for cruising and making big, wide turns.

To help you pick the right skateboard, we asked 14-year-old pro skating sensation Ryan Sheckler to fill us in on the ins and outs of shopping for a new board.

WHERE TO SHOP

“If you’re going out to buy a skateboard you should go to your local skate shop,” Sheckler says.

The local shop will have a wider variety of boards and the salespoeple are more knowledgeable about skating than at sporting goods or department stores.

“At the skate shop, they’ll just ask you what you want and if you don’t know, they’ll tell you what’s good.”

PRICE

Sure, you can get a skateboard for $35, but “you’ll be getting a board that’s heavy and that’s not going to be very fast,” Sheckler warns. “If you want to get a legit street board it’ll be in the range of $100 to $180.”

That’s the price for a “complete” or, in other words, a board that’s already put together for you. As you get more advanced you’ll probably want to buy the parts individually and put together your own board.

QUALITY

Besides being heavier, slower and less durable, cheap skateboards can be dangerous — parts can break and cause wipeouts. If you’re planning to just tool around the neighborhood, a cheap board may be fine. But if you’ll be skating a lot and you’re looking to learn tricks, it’s worth investing in a quality board.

DECKS

Most skateboard decks are make of seven layers of plywood glued together. Sheckler says all decks are similar, with the same shape, a length of 31 to 32.5 inches and a width of 7.5 to 8 inches. Smaller boards are better for tricks, wider boards are easier to carve in ramps. The big difference is graphics.

“Pretty much all decks are the same, so sometimes you just buy a board because it has a cool graphic on the bottom,” Sheckler says.

Most decks cost $50 to $60.

TRUCKS

The axles that hold your wheels to the board are called trucks. They let you turn the board, and they are the surface you grind on for tricks like rail slides. Sheckler says all trucks are similar, though some are lighter or more durable.

“You can make a truck work however you want to make them work,” he says.

Tighten the trucks for flip tricks, loosen them for carving. Expect to pay $30 to $50 for a pair of trucks.

WHEELS

The single most important part of your board is the set of wheels. Wheel size is measured in millimeters, and the bigger the wheel the faster you’ll go. For street skating, Sheckler recommends 49 mm to 54 mm wheels. For ramps and pools, stick with 58 mm to 62 mm.

The other thing to keep in mind is the durometer, or hardness, of the wheel. The softer the wheel the more forgiving it is. For instance, E.G. Fratantaro, Team Manager for Sector 9 Skateboards, says a durometer of 78A to 87A is best for rough surfaces with rocks and cracks; a 97A or higher is better for smooth surfaces like ramps and skate parks. Dual-durometer wheels combine a hard center and soft outer edges for all-around performance.

You’ll spend $25 to $40 for a set of four wheels. The total for your do-it-yourself board: $105 to $150.

DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT THESE

Add these to your skateboarding shopping list (and always wear them):

  • Helmet
  • Elbow pads
  • Knee pads

135 Comments on Skateboard Buying Guide

  1. skate or die // May 2, 2009 at 6:56 pm // Reply

    yo skater dude birdhouse is also a great brand i’ve had mine for seven years and works great.

  2. sk8rdude437 // April 26, 2009 at 6:33 pm // Reply

    umm element arent so great i had one they snap pretty easy i think girl, plan b, almost,zero,and alien workshop boards are good

  3. Grab a baker or deathwish board. Skate or die.

  4. flippinsweet264 // March 24, 2009 at 1:19 pm // Reply

    get zoo yorks they don’t snap easy. i have had mine for 5 years and i got down 20 sets and i fell without anypads or helmet but the board didn’t snap. by the way, chaz ortiz is the best skater

  5. SK8 ADVICE KID // March 23, 2009 at 9:29 pm // Reply

    KWITE FRANKLY, ANY BOARD YOU GET FROM AREAL SKATE SHOP IS GOOD KWALITY GOOD BRANDS ARE:,,,PLAN B,,,BAKER,,,ZERO,,,DARKSTAR,,
    ALIEN WORKSHOP,,,VENTURE,,,RICTA,,,SPITFIRE,,,BONE SWISS OR BONES REDS,,,LUCKY,,,AND AIRSPEED. N THOSE R JUST SOME OF EM SO YOU WON’T HAVE MUCH TROUBLE FINDING THE RIGHT BOARD FOR YOU.

  6. beastskater101 // February 14, 2009 at 7:27 pm // Reply

    if your going to use a deck its gunna get scratched up but for help use risers. My favorite shoes are vans and dc. how are alien decks?

  7. Have any ideas on protecting decks?

  8. what about shoes which is best?

  9. i have a board sined bye tony halk

  10. this is cool finaly i found advice

  11. its cool

  12. you can buy all sorts of skateboards by tons of brands either built or build it yourself. i suggest going to a shop (sport or skate) and buying an already built board but i have heard that the one you build yourself might better and recommended. I have never bought one of the build it yourself skateboards.

  13. enjoy decks are the best. the best wheels are spitfier and kruk is the best trucks

  14. beastskater101 // January 27, 2009 at 7:18 am // Reply

    I like element boards right now I’ve got a foundation.

    ARE ALIEN DECKS GOOD I JUST BOUGHT SOME GOOD TRUCKS AND WHEELS FROM MY FRIEND I WAS THINKING ABOUT GETTING A ROB DYRDEK ALIEN WORKSHOP BOARD ?

  15. if u guys are thinking about putting together a good board i suggest that if u have money that u should get a name brand deck like element, girl, plan B, chocolate, baker, or something like that. if u don’t have much money blanks are really good boards and they’re basically the same except with out the graphics. for trucks i’ve only skated with venture and they’ve been really light and nice. for wheels i have spitfire on the board i have now and they’re really nice for street skating. i also had hubba and they’re really nice wheels too. for bearing i would go with bones but black panthers are really good too. and then for hardware i would go with shorty’s or something like that. i really don’t think that what kind of hardware u get matters to much. i suggest that if you’re just starting out skating that u try to buy everything at one place because most of the time they’ll put it together for you and that’s a really big time saver. one place that you can look for good deals online is at ccs.com it’s a really good site that has a good reputation of getting your stuff to you on time. a good place to buy a lot of stuff for skating is zumiez. if any of you guys live in central pennsylvania i suggest that u check out more skates in east pete. or if any of u live in rehoboth delaware a good place to check out is east of maui or liquid skate shops they’re really helpful and they helped me get some of my boards.

  16. peanut, i used to have a walmart board and then once i really got seriously into skating it is so much better to have a good light board. when i got my element board it was amazing and i could never go back to a walmart board again

  17. is a CBS board a good type to get??????

  18. go to zumiez, everybody is nice there… ask for a sticker and they give u one.

  19. Cool guide. Gear Guy, what is the name of the board with the pointed nose?

  20. sweet guide

  21. zumiez is the best place to buy 85$ for a good board find at local mall

  22. hey is it true paul rodriguez is the best street skater well i think that

    did you see dany ways big shin slam on x games 14 that was knarly

  23. They should make a skateboarding merit badge

    That would be super sick

  24. DARKSTAR is way better than plan Bs or girl skates and aderew renolds is a sick skater

  25. go to BC surf and sport they have the best skateboards

  26. wear pads

  27. ghost rider // August 31, 2008 at 8:35 pm // Reply

    Where can you find excellent scooters?

  28. I have had a walmart board for almost a year now and it seems okay!

  29. ALWAYS WEAR PADS!!! It is important to wear a helmet and knee pads because I have wiped out once without any pads and that hurt!

  30. Coool!!!

  31. I buy my boards at zumies

  32. jdjkshdjasdh // August 14, 2008 at 9:24 pm // Reply

    are world industries boards pro or not

  33. i just go to zumiez

  34. SPARKEY225 // July 28, 2008 at 8:08 am // Reply

    THANKS FOR THE TIPS, IWAS THINKING ABOUT BUYING FROM SPORTS ATHORATIE ,BUT A SKATEBOARD SHOP IS BEATER.

  35. I started with a walmart board, then when to get complete, then a customized. Get good griptape such as mob, and fast bearings, such as bones which are okay. Get hard wheels if you skate street, huge wheels for vert, and freestyle I don’t know. Tight trucks for vert (ramps and bowls). Start with tight trucks and as you get better you can loosen it to your liken. It will be harder to land tricks, untill you get use to it, pivots(180’s) will be harder too.

  36. i agree with sk8terhelp PLANB^s my favorite

  37. Plan B, Almost, Zero, Element, and Girl are all great brands. I suggest getting one of those at your local skate shop.

  38. Never whatever you do don’t buy a walmart board

  39. sk8terhelp // July 17, 2008 at 4:52 pm // Reply

    PlanB ^s are my favorite I THEM

  40. shorty sparks // July 17, 2008 at 2:34 pm // Reply

    i was gonna buy a board at walmart, but now i know batter. thanks!

  41. skateboards are the best because you can do tricks.

  42. If people have junk food than they will go fat.Some people are fat some are skiney.

    Most peoplelove junk food most like healthey food like,paires,apples,grapes,orianges and manderiens.Junk food is not healthey.

  43. rookieboarder // July 12, 2008 at 6:10 pm // Reply

    I have a board and I wanted some tips on how to ride it.

  44. asdadasdasderesfwe // July 12, 2008 at 3:09 pm // Reply

    ryan sheckler is a good skater

  45. thanks i was thinking about getting a board

  46. gigity goo (cool)

  47. If you’re looking to save a little money on a board…ask the skate shop for their “blank” decks. It’s the board itself without the graphics that you pay extra for because they’re licensed designs. Then you can decorate the bottom of the board with your own stickers etc.

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