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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.

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

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