The best advice on how to choose a skateboard is simple: Buy what you like. If you get quality components, the variables won’t matter much. There is no best brand or best shape; those are all personal choices. Unfortunately, dimensions become trendy, and people skate components that aren’t right for them simply because it is the popular choice.
Once, small wheels were the trend. Look at Rodney Mullen’s wheels in this vintage Plan B video part.
Those wheels are probably 38mm. Typical wheel size has varied since then, as has board size. Trucks have trended toward lightness, but some guys still like heavier trucks. It’s all preference.
The smart thing to do is to research the components you are interested in getting. You can read the article of the different types of skateboards and pay attention to the specs of whatever you buy. If the component doesn’t work for you, change it up the next time. Falling into the trap of trends can slow your progression, and nothing is worth that.
The first place to start building your complete is with a great deck. On the surface, modern skateboard decks may all seem the same, but there are differences. Manufacturers can make skateboards out of better or lesser grades of wood and with different dimensions. Also, you must decide if you want to pay more for a pro model from one of the bigger companies or get an off the shelf complete.
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For more than a generation, the material of choice for skateboard decks has been Canadian hardrock maple. The grain on these cold-weather trees is tight, which gives a board more pop. Some cheaper boards may be made from other woods, such as birch, or warm-weather maple. Once you feel the pop of Canadian maple, though, you’ll never skate anything else.
Skateboard deck dimensions run from 6.5 to 9 inches wide or more, and they vary from 28 to 32 inches long and have wheelbases of 13 to 15 inches. Skaters usually only worry about the width, though sometimes too much. This Video explains the differences in board width.
The current trendy width for boards is about 8.5 inches on average, but you should ride what you like. Smaller skaters usually do better with skinnier boards (about 7.5 inches wide), and smaller boards are generally better for technical skating. Wider boards are more stable, but they don’t flip or spin as easily.
There are a few choices when it comes to board type. Pro boards cost the most, and they bear the name of a pro skater that gets paid per board sale. Team boards cost almost as much as pro boards, and they have only the company logo on them. Blank decks, which have no graphics, are the cheapest. Just make sure the wood is hardrock maple.
Skateboard wheels are made from urethane, and street skaters usually prefer a hardness or durometer of 98a to 101a. These are hard wheels, which helps the board slide on obstacles, like the power slides in this how to video.
Modern wheel height typically ranges from 50mm to 58mm, with 54mm being average — the lower the durometer, the softer and more comfortable a wheel will be to ride.
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Trucks are always made from aluminum and steel. Any truck made from other materials is not meant for street skating. The aluminum produces a delicious sound during grind tricks that skateboarders love. If you don’t know what grinds are, let Tommy Sandoval explain.
Axles and kingpin bolts should be steel. Some modern trucks have hollow axles and kingpins to make them lighter, which is fine. The only plastic on a truck should be the urethane bushings.
Skateboards use precision machine bearings, and are all uniform in dimensions, though the materials can change. The ABEC rating system can tell you a bit about the bearing quality. ABEC ratings range from 3 to 9, with higher numbers supposedly equating to better materials. In truth, there is no industry standard. One manufacturer’s ABEC-3 may be better than another’s ABEC-9. Check reviews before you buy, and remember to keep your bearings clean. The guy in this Video shows you how.
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Hardware and grip tape
The hardware that holds the trucks on the deck should be steel. Lengths can vary from 7/8 inch to 1 1/2 inches or more. You will want the bolts to meet flush with the nut, with no excess bolt hanging below to get bent or damaged. The use of risers forces you to use longer bolts, but otherwise, 7/8-inch hardware should fit perfectly. Grip tape coarseness is a matter of preference. Just pay attention to what you buy so you will know whether to get it again the next time you buy a board. Check our list of skateboard grip tape
The Roll Away
Now that you know your options, put some thought into what you want before you buy, keep in mind that there are different types of skateboards outside Don’t buy a deck for its graphics — they won’t last anyway. It’s okay to get what everyone is riding if you like it. There may be a reason for the popularity. Just don’t be afraid to venture outside of the norm. Seriously, that’s what skateboarding is all about.
If this article helped you out in your search for your new skateboard, please share it so the next new skater can get some friendly direction. And tell us what you think in the comments sections. Remember: skateboarding is more beautiful when it is a collection of individuals. Skate what you love, and respect it when you see someone else doing the same.