Season’s greetings future proud parent, uncle, aunt, friend or grandparent looking to buy his or her son, daughter, niece, grandson, granddaughter or family friend his or her first skateboard! Welcome to the skateboarding community!
Buying a skateboard can be as easy as going to BIG5 and dropping $16.99 on an all plastic board. However, I strongly urge you to read the rest of this guide. I am here to help you get familiar with skateboarding components and ultimately, purchasing a great skateboard for your loved ones.
To make one complete skateboard you need a deck, set of trucks, bearings and wheels. In addition, the deck will need grip tape. Grip tape makes your feet stick to the deck. Trucks will need hardware. Hardware is used to mount the trucks to the deck. Think of a recipe (1)Deck,(2) Trucks, (8) bearings, (4) wheels + a dash of hardware and side of grip tape = one complete skateboard!
Deck – The deck is the wood part of the skateboard. It is the platform you stand on. They come in a vast amount of shapes, sizes and plys ( thickness ). When browsing for a skateboard online or in-store, the deck will have the following measurements on it. Width and Length in inches. For example a deck that has an 8″x32.5″ means that the deck is 8 inches wide( at the widest point ) and 32.5 inches long( from tail to nose ). The first deck you buy for a new skateboarder should be sized according to his height and shoe size. Think of it this way, if you have a 4 year old who is 3 ft tall, buying him an adult sized skateboard would make it very difficult to maneuver. His feet simply are not big enough to apply the proper amount of leverage on the board to make it turn. The board may also be too heavy, making it quite difficult to learn the essential skateboarding tricks. Decks often display patterns, images or are blank. Name brand decks such as, ZERO, Alien Workshop, Toy Machine have picture graphics designed by artists and are typically called logo boards. They are named after a pro skater or are mainly used by that pro skater. You will normally find these boards at around $50.00. Alternatively there are shop brands, that have no graphic on the bottom and are much more plain that can be purchased anywhere between $20-$32 dollars.
Recommended deck widths for the following age, shoe size and height.
Full size decks (7.5″W or wider) – For all skateboarders taller than 5’3″ with a minimum shoe size of 8.5. 12.5 years old and up.
Medium size decks ( 7.1″W-7.4″W)- 9 to 12 year olds that are 4’5″ – 5’2″ tall. Shoe size minimum of 7 to 8.
Mini size decks ( 7.0″W) -6 to 8 year olds who are 3’5″ – 4’4″ tall. Shoe size minimum of 4 to 6.
Micro size decks ( 6.5″W-6.9″W) – 5 year olds who are under 3’5″. Shoe size of 3 or smaller.
In order to mount wheels to a skateboard, you first need to mount a set of trucks to the deck!
Trucks – The truck is preferably metallic. There are low price alternatives that are made of plastic, however I wouldn’t recommend something that could melt when left out in the sun. The truck gives your skateboard the ability to turn and grind. The trucks are what you mount your wheels to. Trucks are roughly 3 parts. Base plate, hanger and Axle. After selecting a deck, the width of the deck determines the size of truck you will need. You want the wheels to not stick out further then the edge of the deck. To do this, the width of the truck should be roughly the width of the deck or slightly smaller.
Example#1, a 10″ wide deck would pair nicely with Independent 169’s. Which have an axle width of 9″.
Example #2, a 8.25 ” wide deck would pair nicely with Independent 139’s. Which have an axle width of 8.0″.
Trucks come with stock bushings. The stock bushing is normally quite hard, which is better for a rider who weights more. Please see below in the bushing category for more on this.
Buying good quality trucks will save you in the long run. Often skateboarders enjoy their trucks far longer than any of the other parts that make up a skateboard. As the skateboarder learns grinds, the trucks develop grooves in the hanger which enable the skateboarder to lock into coping as well as ledges when grinding. Trucks are normally ridden until they crack in half, and then only one truck would need to be purchased, as wear on the trucks is not normally even. You can expect to pay roughly 14.99-23.99 per truck. You will need two trucks. I recommend Independents. You may hear people referring to them as Indys. Indys, Independents same thing!
Bushings - To avoid confusing you, let me try to put this as simply as I can. Bushings go inside of the truck. They come in different shapes, sizes and duro. The softer the bushing, the easier the board will be to turn. Stock bushings on many of the top truck companies come in hardness’s better suited for riders that weight around 150+ pounds. If you are buying for a young child or up to 13 year old, I would recommend telling the shop to put in soft bushings or medium. The main reason I say this is, I have seen many small kids on bushings that are just way to hard. The boards don’t turn for them. The other thing is, they are too young to know that a cheap and easy solution is out there! You can remove the washers that the bushings sit on. Doing this will make them a bit easier to turn. It does not work better then buying a softer duro bushing. Bones bushings are great, they come in either Soft, medium or hard. A duro rating that is lower, such as 81A is going to be softer then 96A.
Bearings -Bearings go inside of your wheels. They are metal rings with balls inside of them. They can come in different materials, but for starters I would recommend a bearing in the price range of 8$-$18 dollars. Most skaters I know, do not spend more than $19.99 on a set of bearings. Bone Reds, or Indy bearings are popular. Most shops have a “shop” bearing that is around 8 bucks for a set. Wheels should spin freely. Seized or dirty bearings reduce your ability to maintain speed. It also makes you work harder to do something that should be very easy on a skateboard. Roll Freely. The life of a bearing can be significantly extended by cleaning them and applying a small amount of lubricant. There are various ways of doing this, mainly using a degreaser to remove grim and gunk, drying them and then adding a small amount of some sort of light weight oil or speed cream. Just remember, you most likely don’t need a $50 dollar set of bearings. However, if your child is lightweight, excellent bearings will help them maintain speed and go faster. When skaters are young and are below 100 pounds, pumping and maintaining speed can be quite a chore with awful bearings.
Wheels - Skateboarding wheels, much like bushings are made out of urethane. They come in different sizes and duro’s. Depending on where your loved one will be skateboarding should influence the type of wheel that you purchase. Unlike Bushings and Bearings, wheels do need to be sized correctly with the type of truck and deck that you purchased. 50mm is on the small side, and 65mm is on the large size. Wheel bite is a term used for when your deck and wheel touch. This often causes you to break suddenly, which if caught off guard can lead to a fall. Smaller wheels are beneficial for reducing weight and height of the board. Smaller wheels can make the board easier to flip and Ollie. Most street skateboarders use 52-53 MM wheels. For Pool skaters, 55-62 MM wheels are quite common on a larger truck.
Where you skate matters. A hard wheel is great on smooth surfaces. A soft wheel is great on rougher surfaces. Wheel companies have come out with wheels that in the name describe the type of terrain they were designed for. For example, a Skate park formula wheel, is designed to roll smooth and grip on smooth concrete, found in skate parks. Where an All terrain formula is designed for skateboarders who are riding on rougher pavement.
Street decks – hard wheel, size 50-54MM for use with 7.75W-8.8W decks
Pool/Vert/Ramps – Skate park formula wheel, size 55-62 for use with 8.5″W-10″W
Smaller wheels accelerate faster than larger wheels. Smaller wheels weight less and keep the board lower to the ground. Larger wheels may involve adding a riser pad to your trucks to avoid wheel bite.
lastly, please do buy from a local independent skate shop. You will be helped, and they will get you the right equipment. Buying from a large chain store that makes a majority of its money on sweaters and T shirts is ill advised. Thanks and have a great day! Merry Christmas, happy Thanksgiving, Feliz Black Friday!