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How to buy a skateboard

skateshop

One of the best things about skateboarding is that there are no rules, no scoreboards and no refs or coaches telling you how you need to do it. Skating is a totally individual sport. You can do it whenever you want (except at night), however you want. Oh, yeah, and it’s lots of fun, too. And getting started is easy. All you need to do is pick the right gear.

BOARD TYPES

There are two main styles of boards: longboards for cruising around and shorter boards for riding at skateparks and doing tricks on ramps or the street.

Birdhouse Tony Hawk Full Skull Complete ($81; birdhouseskateboards.com): Deck is 7.75" x 30" with Birdhouse trucks and wheels.

Birdhouse Tony Hawk Full Skull Complete ($81; birdhouseskateboards.com): Deck is 7.75″ x 30″ with Birdhouse trucks and wheels.

WHERE TO SHOP

The best place to buy a skateboard is your local skate shop. It will have a wide selection of boards and, most important, knowledgeable salespeople who can steer you in the right direction. You can find cheaper deals at superstores, but when it comes to skateboards, you get what you pay for.

Blind Matte OG Mini Complete ($81; blindskateboards.com): The smallest deck here, it's 7" x 27.75: with Slant trucks and 51 mm Blind wheels (95a).

Blind Matte OG Mini Complete ($81; blindskateboards.com): The smallest deck here, it’s 7″ x 27.75: with Slant trucks and 51 mm Blind wheels (95a).

QUALITY

For the most part, a really cheap skateboard (say, $30-$40) will be harder to ride. Cheap boards are built from much lower-quality parts, are heavier and less durable, and the wheels won’t spin as smoothly.

Powell Peralta Ripper Purple Complete ($84; powell-peralta.com): Deck is 8" x 32" with Skate One trucks and 53 mm wheels (99a).

Powell Peralta Ripper Purple Complete ($84; powell-peralta.com): Deck is 8″ x 32″ with Skate One trucks and 53 mm wheels (99a).

PRICE

If you’re just starting out, your best bet is to buy a “complete” from a skate shop. Instead of piecing together the deck, wheels and trucks, etc. one by one, completes are fully assembled, ready-to-ride boards. They are usually built with good-quality, entry-level components and provide big savings.

Most street completes cost $80-$100; longboard completes are $100-$150. If you were to put together those same parts on your own, you would likely spend at least 30 to 40 percent more. As you get more advanced, you’ll probably want to upgrade your parts individually and customize your own board.

Z-Flex Kicktail Longboard Complete ($110; zflex.com):  The most affordable cruiser option here, the deck is 9.25" x 38" with ABEC 7 bearings and 69 mm Z-Smooth wheels (78a).

Z-Flex Kicktail Longboard Complete ($110; zflex.com): The most affordable cruiser option here, the deck is 9.25″ x 38″ with ABEC 7 bearings and 69 mm Z-Smooth wheels (78a).

SKATE DECK

Most skateboard decks (the part you stand on) are made of seven layers of plywood glued together. Street decks are all pretty similar, with the same general shape, a length of 30–32.5 inches and a width of 7.5″–8.25″. Smaller boards are more maneuverable and better for tricks, while wider boards are more stable and easier to carve in ramps and pools or while cruising the streets.

The biggest difference here is the graphics on the bottom. Pick a shape you like with graphics that fit your personality. Or buy a blank deck and draw your own designs. Most decks cost $50-$60; more for longboards.

Canary 22" Penny Painted Fade ($120; pennyskateboards.com): This compact board has a plastic deck that's 22" long with aluminum Penny trucks and 59 mm wheels (83a).

Canary 22″ Penny Painted Fade ($120; pennyskateboards.com): This compact board has a plastic deck that’s 22″ long with aluminum Penny trucks and 59 mm wheels (83a).

TRUCKS

The axles holding your wheels to the board are called “trucks.” Some are lighter weight or more durable (you’ll pay extra for that), but for the most part, they are all pretty similar.

Size-wise, you want them to be about the same width as your deck. For a street board, 139 millimeter-wide trucks are probably the most common. Tighten the kingpin bolt on the trucks for flip tricks, and loosen it for carving.

Expect to pay $15-$30 per truck, and stick with quality brand names like Independent, Thunder and Venture.

Santa Cruz Pinhand Cruzer ($173; nhsfunfactory.com): Deck is 9.25" x 34.83" with Krux 6.0 trucks and 60 mm wheels (78a).

Santa Cruz Pinhand Cruzer ($173; nhsfunfactory.com): Deck is 9.25″ x 34.83″ with Krux 6.0 trucks and 60 mm wheels (78a).

WHEELS

The wheels are your direct connection to the ground, so if you’re going to splurge, buy nice wheels. There are two things to keep in mind: size and hardness.

The bigger the wheels, the faster they go. For street skating, wheels between 49 mm and 54 mm are a good start. For ramps and skate parks, some skaters like to go with slightly larger wheels. Longboards generally have wheels from 65 mm to 70 mm.

The hardness (or durometer) of the wheel determines how your board will ride. The softer the wheel, the more grip it has and the more forgiving it will be. For instance, a 78a–87a is best if you’re riding around rough neighborhood streets with rocks and cracks. Most longboards use softer wheels like this. If you plan on riding at skate parks and ramps or want to do tricks, look for wheels rated 95a–99a. They are harder and faster, but still have plenty of grip.

You’ll spend $25-$40 for a set of four wheels, slightly more for longboard wheels.

Sector 9 Highline ($125; sector9.com): Deck is 8" x 34.5" with Gullwing 8.0 Mission trucks, ABEC 5 bearings and 64 mm Nineball wheels (78a).

Sector 9 Highline ($125; sector9.com): Deck is 8″ x 34.5″ with Gullwing 8.0 Mission trucks, ABEC 5 bearings and 64 mm Nineball wheels (78a).

BEARINGS

Your wheels are mounted to the trucks with bearings, small round metal pieces that slide inside the center of your wheels. Most bearings are rated with an ABEC number (from 1 to 12) that tells you the quality of the bearing itself. The higher the number, the higher quality and faster the bearing
(and your wheel). Look for bearings rated ABEC 5 and up or just choose Bones REDS Bearings ($18; bonesbearings.com), which are the industry standard and the most popular bearing by far. Most bearings cost about $15-$25 for a set of eight (you need two per wheel).

Triple 8 Saver Series 3-Pack Box ($30-$35; triple8.com): Protect yourself with Kneesaver, Wristsaver and Elbowsaver pads made with EVA foam padding and hard polycarbonate coverage caps.

Triple 8 Saver Series 3-Pack Box ($30-$35; triple8.com): Protect yourself with Kneesaver, Wristsaver and Elbowsaver pads made with EVA foam padding and hard polycarbonate coverage caps.

DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT THESE

No matter what kind of skateboard you get, remember to always wear full protective gear when you’re using it!

  • Helmet
  • Elbow pads
  • Knee pads

Check out BL‘s helmet buying guide to learn more.

Triple 8 Dual Certified Brainsaver ($40-$45; triple8.com): This helmet has an ABS plastic outer shell with EPS liner and comfortable fit pads that are removable and washable. Dual certified for both skateboarding and bicycling (CPSC/ASTM certified).

Triple 8 Dual Certified Brainsaver ($40-$45; triple8.com): This helmet has an ABS plastic outer shell with EPS liner and comfortable fit pads that are removable and washable. Dual certified for both skateboarding and bicycling (CPSC/ASTM certified).

Pro-Tec Classic Matte Rasta Green - Certified ($50; protecbrand.com): This helmet design has been a classic for the past 40 years, but this one is updated with a dual-certified EPS foam liner (CPSC/CE certified).

Pro-Tec Classic Matte Rasta Green – Certified ($50; protecbrand.com): This helmet design has been a classic for the past 40 years, but this one is updated with a dual-certified EPS foam liner (CPSC/CE certified).

46 Comments on How to buy a skateboard

  1. GEAR GUY,
    U SHOULD REALLY HAVE A PAGE ON ROLLER BLADES

  2. this totally left out bearings YOU NEED BEARINGS

  3. Awsom

  4. I’ve been skating for 5 years now and just bought a chris haslam almost with tensor trucks and wheels best deck ever…

  5. mikeanator // June 28, 2013 at 8:05 am // Reply

    this helped me a lot because i was gonna get a cheap board THANK YOU

  6. i’m still stuck on doing ollies on my long board what board should i buy for tricks?

  7. i just made one

  8. want to buy a skateboard but in my area the roads are rough wat should i do then

  9. wheres the rock board

  10. SkateXS makes smaller boards for skaters age 5 to 10 that are a shorter length of 28″ or 29″ but still made with high quality trucks, wheels, and bearings just like Ryan suggests.

  11. I think i learned alot about skateboarding.it is very cool.

  12. i wish i knew how to skate

    • Intermediate skateboarder // February 3, 2014 at 3:15 am // Reply

      Just borrow a skateboard from a friend and give it a shot. If you like it buy yourself a board and keep training.

  13. i’m just getting a board but it has to be good for tricks

  14. i practise every day.

  15. Maui 15 years // March 27, 2012 at 5:30 pm // Reply

    hi guys! I just start scateboarding 5 months ago and its so hard to learn all of those tricks. I’m slowely loosing my faith in my scateboarding but I really want to scateboard. how long took you to learn this and finally go to park or pool for scateboarding?

    • i think you should take a class and see where that takes you and one more thing practise every day and do not stop

    • you should go on youtube and watch videos that show you tips and tricks. thats how i learned.

    • Took about a year to get super comfortable riding around and popping tricks. Just keep riding and trying different stuff, you’ll never learn if you don’t go out of your way to try new things. Have fun and keep skating

  16. bobby da man // January 3, 2012 at 6:40 pm // Reply

    i have a plan b. AWESOME BOARDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Excellent info it is surely. My friend has been seeking for this content.

  18. Minilogo. Great decks for a cheap price. And if you’re looking for bearings, bones reds. None other.

    • Sector Cruz // March 20, 2012 at 9:49 pm // Reply

      Bones Swiss are far better than reds. Reds are cheaper and good for beginners, but swiss are crafted for speed. Of course, I ride cruisers and longboards so i like the speed.

  19. sk8tilldeath // July 9, 2011 at 2:05 pm // Reply

    i need a good cheap board thats lite someone pleez help me

  20. Street skater // May 17, 2011 at 11:02 pm // Reply

    I accidentally said same thing twice

  21. Street skater // May 17, 2011 at 11:01 pm // Reply

    What brand has lightest boards with most pop?

  22. Street skater (◎_◎;) // May 17, 2011 at 11:00 pm // Reply

    I have a plan b sheckler board didnt have much pop and kind of heavy, but pretty good

  23. Street skater (◎_◎;) // May 17, 2011 at 10:58 pm // Reply

    What brand has lightest boards with most pop?

  24. Dreadspeedkid // May 2, 2011 at 3:18 pm // Reply

    The Mongoose Build-A-Board is selling for $25.00-$48.00. Not super hi-end but pretty good for beginners.

  25. Skaterdude15 // April 24, 2011 at 12:16 am // Reply

    Dbx boards are pretty good and cheap. You can buy them at dick’s sporting goods

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