The Best Skateboards For Beginners & Best Skateboard Brands 2017
Beginning skateboarding can be tough, but sometimes the toughest part is putting together the money for a complete skateboard. My way around this when I started skating, and the method I suggest to all would-be skaters, is to start cheap and build your way to a pro complete.
An affordable, off-the-shelf complete board can be an easier sell to frugal parents than a custom complete costing hundreds of dollars. This review lists some of the best skateboard for beginners, but first, let’s look at what makes for a good skateboard.
Finding a decent off-the-shelf board is more complicated than buying a pro model board, though. Some companies simply have no morals, and they have no problem taking your money and giving you junk in return.
Of course, a beginner’s board doesn’t have to take the abuse that a seasoned street skater dishes out, but it still must last while you learn. Here are some things to look for, and a couple things to look out for.
Quick Comparison Of Some Good Choices
**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
Points to Consider when Buying Your First Skateboard:
The industry-standard wood for skateboard decks is maple, which is rock hard, yet flexes enough to prevent snapping. Most quality boards use seven plies of Maple. Maple has pop, and pop is what you will need to bust a waist-high ollie!
Cheap adhesives lose their hold causing layers to split. Manufacturers that use cheap glue will not warn you, so read the fine print. These days, trick-board shapes are all relatively the same, but deck shapes evolved over time. This article is a good overview on how that evolution went down.
Trucks need aluminum hangers for grinds and steel axles for strength. Bushings should be polyurethane, and are upgradeable. Here is an interesting showing how trucks are made, which also contains a manufacturer’s thoughts on why skaters choose certain trucks.
Urethane revolutionized skateboard wheels in the 1970s, and it is still the material of choice. This article tells about the evolution of the urethane wheel from early clay and metal wheels. This video shows some examples of vintage completes in a museum.
The hardness of urethane wheels — called the durometer — varies. Street skaters typically use 97a to 101a because hard wheels slide much better on obstacles. Wheel height also varies tremendously, but street skaters tend to use wheels that are around 55mm tall.
Bearings are rated by the ABEC scale (1-9), which has nothing to do with skateboarding. Manufacturers know skaters believe higher ABEC ratings mean faster bearings. They do not, and you won’t find high-quality bearings on off-the-shelf skateboards. Most of these completes are slow. Make a bearing upgrade a top priority. Good bearings can make almost any skateboard fast. This article by longtime pro Anthony Pappalardo gives an insider’s perspective on bearings.
My experience getting into skating works for anyone. I started with an off-the-shelf board. My first upgrade was bearings, and better wheels followed. Next, I got decent trucks. With quality under the deck, I was amazed at how quickly I improved. When I finally got a pro deck — the most expensive upgrade — I had a custom complete.
Advantages of Riding a Skateboard:
1) Exercise — Skating is a great form of exercise. Rather than taking up a sport where you are required to attend scheduled practices and wear a uniform, you can skate whenever and however you like.
2) Freedom — Skateboarding is about the freedom to go and do what you like. There are no rules in skating like there are in other sports.
3) Expression — Talk to any longtime skater and they will tell you that they express themselves through their skating. Some ride slow and languidly, while others rage and skate very fast. Skateboarders develop unique styles and techniques.
4) Venting — There is no better way to release pent up anger than through aggressive skateboarding. It is a constructive way to let go of the things that are gnawing at you. The absolute concentration skateboarding demands leaves no room for other thoughts.
5) Brotherhood — Skateboarders everywhere are united. Others may see us as outcasts, but we stick together and support each other with genuine love. We do not see ourselves as outcasts, but as elite.
The Best Way to Use a Skateboard for Beginners
If this is your first foray into skateboarding, it would be wise to consider wearing protective gear. Even if you skate with others and they do not wear this gear, be an individual and wear it. A good helmet, knee pads and elbow pads can cushion your repeated falls (you will fall often) and keep you in the game.
The more often you ride, the sooner you will improve. There is no way around that fact. You may ride with some skaters that improve faster than normal with less effort, but they are the exception. And still, they will also get better when they skate more regularly. For the vast majority of riders, muscle memory develops only after hours of trying tricks repeatedly.
Stick to It
A lot of new skaters give up before they ever even get started. They see others pulling off complicated tricks, and everything seems so difficult. Just keep skating, and the rewards of developing your own style and getting more consistent will come.
Where to Skate
At first, all you need is some smooth concrete to skate. As you get better, obstacles will become more important, and you will seek them out. In the beginning though, these obstacles are too difficult to utilize. You need to develop some of the basic skills first, and then you can translate those skills into new terrains.
Check your Board
A skateboard must be functioning at peak levels at all times for you to get the most out of it. Dirty bearings will fail unless cleaned and lubed. Loose truck bolts will get looser and may fall out. When your board is properly adjusted and maintained, skateboarding will be much more fun.
Short Reviews On The Best Skateboards For Beginners:
#1. Powell Golden Dragon Flying Dragon Complete Skateboard
Powell Peralta is one of the iconic brands in skateboarding. Its team from the 1980s, the Bones Brigade, was a major influence on what skateboarding would become.
Powell, singular, is a spinoff of Powell Peralta, and its boards are intended for beginners. They are made in China with the same machines and — importantly — glues that Powell Peralta uses in its California factory.
This Golden Dragon deck is 7.625 inches wide and 31.625 inches long, which is a little smaller than the average modern street deck. It is made from seven plies of maple, and it has a deeper concave than some others on this list.
The deeper concave allows Powell to make the board thinner without losing strength. This board is one of Powell’s ligament decks, meaning it has a polymer strand running through it to hold it together should it break.
The Powell trucks are all-aluminum, with carbon steel axles. The Powell urethane wheels are 99a and 54mm, which are typical specs for street skating wheels. The bearings are a weak spot, though. They are slow when new and they only get slower, and they will require upgrading sooner rather than later.
- Good wood with quality adhesive
- Trusted brand with long track record
- Deep concave is comfortable and keeps feet stable
- Colorful screen-printed graphics
- Great grip tape
- High rebound wheels have good grip
- Bearings are slow and get slower
- Trucks are tough but industrial
#2. SCSK8 Pro Skateboard / Crusier Pre-Assembled Complete
SCSK8 has been making skateboards since 2010. The company fills a niche in affordable skateboards that few manufacturers go after.
Their boards are some of the most affordable on this list, and they offer a lot of board for your bucks. SCSK8 components may require upgrading sooner than some other complete boards, but they get the frugal skater on a board.
These SCSK8 decks are seven plies of maple, and are 8 inches wide and 32 inches long. These are common dimensions in modern street skating, and will suit adolescent riders better than skaters who are younger than age 12 or so.
Adding to the cool factor is that there are many different graphics to choose from. SCSK8 also uses some of the best grip tape in this category of skateboards.
The wheels are 52mm and 101a durometer, which is both small and hard. Many street riders prefer these dimensions. SCSK8 claims its bearings are ABEC-9, but they are abnormally slow and will require an upgrade if real street skating is on the agenda.
The aluminum trucks have 5-inch hangers. They are low quality, though. Better trucks and bearings will make these boards decent performers.
- 7-ply maple construction
- Aluminum trucks
- Top-quality grip tape
- Bearings are low-grade
- Trucks are not the most solid on this list
#3. KPC Pro Skateboard Complete
Krown Pro Complete, or KPC, skateboards are the upper level boards by this off-the-shelf board company.
Krown makes street skateboards geared toward beginning riders, but the Pro Complete series utilizes better quality components than Krown’s Rookie series.
The Canadian maple decks are 7.75 inches wide, which is a good middle-ground width and should do well for smaller and larger riders alike. While not as stable as wider boards, decks under 8 inches are easier to learn kickflips and heelflips on.
The concave on the KPC decks is quite mellow, which new riders tend to prefer. Deeper concave holds your feet in place, but it also prevents easy bails.
Krown trucks are painted aluminum, and they have 5-inch hangers with steel axles. The Krown graphic urethane wheels are 52mm. Krown gives no durometer, but these wheels are softer than many on this list.
The bearings on Krown boards are notoriously slow, and an upgrade will be necessary to experience high-speed skating. A bearing upgrade and some harder wheels will make these boards more user friendly, but the deck has good pop for the class.
- Canadian maple has good pop
- Mid-width pleases the most riders
- Good trucks for the class
- Interesting graphics
- Good concave but not too deep
- Softer wheels than most street boards
- Slow bearings won’t last very long
#4. POSITIV Team Complete Skateboards
Positiv came into existence in 2012, and is operates under the Skate One umbrella with companies like Bones and Powell Peralta. Its riders include great skaters like Andy MacDonald, Sandro Dias and Fabrizio Santos.
Positiv’s product line includes several different complete boards. The biggest one, but the one most in line with modern street and park board sizes, is the Andy MacDonald model.
The deck is 8 inches wide and 32.125 inches long, and its concave is on the deep side. The tail and nose are almost equal in length — about 6.5 inches.
Positiv decks are usually maple, but some are hard birch. They are made using the same laminating process and glue that Powell Peralta boards use.
These decks have Positiv’s super slide treatment (SST), which is essentially a plastic lining that makes the board slide more easily. The stuff works, and wax becomes less necessary for slides with these boards.
The urethane wheels are 54mm tall and 99a, which are ideal for street skating. The Skate One Mini-Logo bearings are some of the best on this list, and they come lubed with Bones Speed Cream. Skate One also makes Bones bearings, so consider these Bones Reds’ little brother.
The Positiv trucks are another matter, though. At 7.625 inches wide, they sit ideally just inside the edges of the 8-inch deck, which keeps the threading on the axles safe. The Positiv trucks simply aren’t as solid as others on this list, and will need an upgrade before the other components.
- Best bearings on this list
- Slick bottom really works
- Good wood and nice concave
- Real pro model
- Stands up to abuse
- Trucks are lackluster
- Deck material is a crapshoot
#5. PUENTE Pro Cruiser Complete Skateboard 31 Inch
Puente Skateboards operates out of Puente Alto, Chile. They are popular boards in Latin America because of their homegrown roots, but also because they are decent quality.
If you like the deck, these boards are a good option because it will last longer than the rest of the components.
Puente uses all-maple construction for its decks, and the concave is mellow but functional. The 31-inch length is a bit short for the 8-inch width, but that is a personal preference and may even help when learning spinning tricks like 360 flips.
The Puente trucks are all aluminum, with steel axles. The baseplates are an issue, though. They appear to be poorly engineered and may crack. A truck upgrade is first on the to-do list, but should not be a deal breaker.
The wheels are polyurethane, but Puente does not specify height and hardness. They appear to be about 53mm, though. The bearings roll well compared to some on this list, and should last you a while.
Bearings can be a more affordable upgrade than trucks, but you should get better trucks first. Still, with current trends in Puente prices, even adding in the price of a truck upgrade nets a good deal on a solid beginner’s board.
- Decent wood for the price range
- Good size for beginning street skaters
- Deck is good quality and should last a while
- Heat-transferred graphics
- Maximum load of 220lbs
- Trucks have non-standard bolt pattern
- Trucks are cheaply made and breakable
#6. Rimable Complete Maple Skateboard 31 Inch
Rimable makes a large variety of skateboards, and it is a popular brand in both longboarding and skateboarding.
While no parts on a Rimable are standout, pro-level equipment, the whole package tends to function well for beginner-level riding across the product line.
If you keep in mind that a Rimable board is not made to take much abuse, a board like this should be a great setup for learning the basics.
This Rimable deck is 8 inches wide and 31 inches long, and it is made of maple. Concave is practically nonexistent, which may be good for some new riders as it allows you to get away from the board easier.
These decks also take less kindly to moisture than some others, though water is every board’s enemy.
The aluminum Rimable trucks are a low spot on these completes. The main issue is a lack of solid feel, likely resulting from loose tolerances in their design. They are durable, though, and heavy duty.
The Rimable wheels, though, are an unfortunate choice for the company. Rimable does not list a durometer, but they are softer than most on this list. The bearings are not the best on this list either, but they do get better after initial use.
- Flatter deck is preferred by some riders
- All maple construction
- Many different graphics options
- ABEC-7 bearings get faster after break in
- One of the most affordable on this list
- Wheels are too soft for street skating
- Trucks have poor tolerances
#7. Ancheer 31" Pro Skateboard Complete 9 layer Canadian Maple Wood Double Kick Concave Skate Board
Catering to the more frugal skateboarders out there, Ancheer makes solid, but no-frills skateboards.
The components may be basic, but they are mostly functional and can take abuse. Beginners put their boards through hell, so do not underestimate the value of a solid setup.
Ancheer uses seven plies of maple in its decks. The individual layers are rather thick, though, leading to a solid but heavy board. There is very little in the way of concave, and even the nose and tail have less kick than most other beginner’s boards.
As you progress, you may wish for a steeper nose and tail, but at first this type of board is all you need to start learning. At 7.6 inches wide and 30.6 inches long, the Ancheer is a smaller board, the size some people call a mini. This is a better size for smaller skaters than larger ones, unless they can skate freestyle like Rodney Mullen.
The trucks are aluminum and are little better than okay, but the ABEC-7 bearings are a strong suit. They roll smoothly out of the box and get a bit better over time.
The wheels are the wrong choice from the manufacturer, though. At 55mm, they are a normal height, but their 85a durometer is completely wrong for street skating and more in line with longboarding. They may roll smoother, but they will never last under the stresses of street skating and require an immediate upgrade.
- Mini size is great for small beginners
- Sturdy maple deck
- Bearings roll smooth and break in well
- Soft bushings allow easy turns
- Wheels are way too soft for street or park
- Thick layers make a thick deck
#8. PlayWheels Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 28" Complete Skateboard - Ninja Tough Graphic
While at first a toy skateboard might seem out of place among the pro-type street boards on this list, the thing to remember is that you should ride what you like.
A board like this PlayWheels TMNT will work fine for most of the younger beginners out there, and they will be safer on it than on larger, faster skateboards.
If the young one doesn’t discard the skateboard and progresses in skating, better components can be added piecemeal to help it go faster and withstand more abuse.
The deck on the PlayWheels TMNT is just 28 inches long, short for a trick board but just right for smaller feet.
It consists of 9 plies of maple laminate, which makes for a heavy but long-lasting deck. Nine-ply maple decks can take plenty of abuse, which serves well for a first board that will get flung around as a new skater learns to get control of them.
The trucks on this complete are not what you want, however. They are a plastic composite that may work fine for learning the basics, but will not hold up to any real abuse. An upgrade to better trucks will solidify the setup to large extent. However, the bearings are going to require an immediate upgrade.
The included set will only work for learning the most basic fundamentals of skating because they roll so slowly it is hard to slip out of anything. The wheels are soft and, at 50mm, suit a board of this type well. With new trucks and bearings, the PlayWheels TMNT could be something a beginning ripper can grow into.
- 9-ply maple laminate is solid and durable
- Some kids just want their Turtle power
- Lack of roll keeps the very youngest new riders safe
- 28-inch length great for small kids
- Plastic trucks are not for real skateboarding
- Bearings require immediate upgrade
So what are the Best Skateboards for you?
OUR TOP CHOICE
The skateboards on this list will all suit one type of person or another, but they all have drawbacks that keep them from being true pro boards. The best skateboard for beginners is the one that requires the fewest upgrades to be great. Replacing skateboard parts is just part of the game, as street skating is destructive by its very nature, but it should take a while.
The Positiv complete is the most complete board on this list, in the sense that all of its parts are well suited for street, park or ramp skating right out of the box.
No trip to the skate shop will be necessary for a while, giving you time to browse and pick out the best trucks, wheels, bearings and, eventually, pro deck for you and your style.
Street skaters don’t look at new parts as upgrades, we look at the old ones as thrashed.