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Skateboard buying guide

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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 Gear Guy is currently researching new models and writing an update to this article. Watch for his updated tips and reviews in the June 2016 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, here are 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. 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. If you want to get a good 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. 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.

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. All trucks are similar, though some are lighter or more durable.

You can make a truck work however you want to make them work. 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, try 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

34 Comments on Skateboard buying guide

  1. Dbx boards are pretty good and cheap

  2. Guys, you will get good just like me, I can do Ollies,Nollies,Kickflips,Heelflips,Shuvits, but I am still working on landing the 540s.

  3. Did anybody know that Tony Hawk threw a tantrum to get expelled from preschool?

    • i have a plan b with tensor trucks and spitfire wheels although i used to have a birdhouse mini had tons of pop and worked well if you dont know what trucks to get i like mid height trucks i dont really care for low if you want you can get riser pads to elevate your board at a skateshop you can ask about them

  4. I keep urging my parents to take me to the skateshop so I can buy a new skateboard even though I can’t even ollie yet.

  5. Im new at sk8ting. I have a cheap board but dont really know how to ride. Any tips?

  6. thanks for the info. i break so many!!

  7. I HAVE A GOOD ONE IT HAS GOOD WELLS AND TRUNKS BUT IT WASN’T CHEAP BUT IT IS REALLY GOOD

  8. Im awseome at it. I can do tricks on my skateboard.

  9. actioncircus // August 27, 2010 at 6:21 pm // Reply

    skateboards rule O_O

  10. i need help finding a good skateboard that wont break easily and that will last long and some good quality trucks and trusty wheels that will help me go fast and do tricks

    • michaelbsaskate // August 29, 2010 at 8:38 pm // Reply

      go to yuor local skate shop (not zumiez) and talk to the guys there, theyll be happy to help you. make sure to go to a shop that is by skaters for skaters.

  11. i got an almost. it was good,but it got scratched up. the wheels got skinny. my birthdays soon so i need some recomendents

  12. skater for lyfe // June 28, 2010 at 6:49 pm // Reply

    Element with thunder trucks and spitfire whells

  13. Never buy a DBX skateboard they are very weak and too pricey!

  14. Ranger Danger // June 26, 2010 at 11:00 am // Reply

    I just build my own board and add my own graphics

  15. i wasted my money on a cheap walmart scateboard

  16. dude element zoo york and spitfire

  17. thanks for the info i am looking at buying a skateboard and i don’t want to WASTE MY MONEY

  18. my choice of board is dgk and element and world industries

  19. Thanks I will use that guide to buy my new skateboard.

  20. i like to do tricks, but i also like to use a longboard. is it possible to just do an ollie on a longboard?

  21. i s it true that cheaper skateboards are more heavy? i got a cheap one and it was so heavy i couldn’t get that much pop.. so i think its true

    • yes it is true cheap boards are heavy cause usualy the cheaper they are the less time is put into them

    • if u want a really lite board check out the element board that has holes that go through the whole board better aerodynamics and liter. sry i cant remember the name of it

  22. I’ve got a Plan-B Ryan Sheckler as a first board and I got a new one for Christmas
    and a Krytonics longboard for my birhday.

  23. kryptonics make sturdy boards i got a do it yourself it is perfect

  24. buckeyeguy11 // May 22, 2009 at 12:28 pm // Reply

    i have a tony hawk board and this helped in decieding!

  25. skate or die // May 2, 2009 at 6:59 pm // Reply

    stir, etnies are awsome i got some world industries and they tor in two months.

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