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how to buy a skateboard

Updated on July 19, 2012

Buying a skateboard may seem like a relatively easy thing to do, you pop down to your local Toys R us and buy it...simples.

but if your really looking to take your new hobby seriously, then you will need to look into it a little further than that Im afraid!

in fact, if you buy a skateboard from a toy store, then i hope its either for your 5 year old nephew, or you simply want to sit on it and ride it down steep hills! (which. by the way is very fun!)

skateboarding is now recognised as a huge international sport, and there are many professionals who make a considerable living purely from skateboarding.. the sport has progressed so far from when it was first originated, and of course with this, the hardware has also come a very very long way.

skateboards and the numerous components that make up a skateboard come in various shapes, sizes, qualities and materials, and each variant has its own pros and cons.

within this lens I will explain to you in as much detail as possible, what you will need to get started :)

how to buy a skateboard
how to buy a skateboard

First things first...

how to buy a skateboard

if you are looking to take skateboarding seriously, and really want to take it on as a hobby, I STRONGLY advise not to buy a skateboard from a supermarket or toy store. if your older than 10 years old, then these skateboards will break almost immediately.

they are not built with actual skateboarding in mind, and are for children. hence why they are sold in toy stores.

yes they may seem like a cheap alternative to some of the professional skateboards on the market, but they are actually in fact quite expensive when comparing price to quality, as the quality of these boards is.. in the nicest way possible.. absolutely terrible.

this doesn't mean you have to spend loads of money to get a professional skateboard. this is why i have written this lens, i want to show you how you can get a top quality professional skateboard on a budget! and you will find that it wont be much more than those kids boards in the toy store :)

how to buy a skateboard
how to buy a skateboard

What type of skateboard do you need??

How to buy a skateboard

Before you even start looking for a skateboard to buy, you should ask yourself what style of skateboarding you want to start learning.

this isn't a particularly taxing question to ask yourself, as there are only really two main types of skateboarding. (to be honest, both types break up even further into smaller categories, but at this point this will not effect you)

So what are these different types? well quite simply, you have either a long-board (on the right in the pic), or the most recognised type which is the standard skateboard shape the kids down your street use (left in pic) . Long-boards are for 'cruising' and are used by skaters that just like to get around on their board, whilst the most recognised type is not only for cruising, but have been designed for doing an unimaginable array of tricks aswell.

i will be focusing on the latter, as this is what i personally use, and is by far the most popular type.

So if you just want to cruise around.. - how to buy a skateboard

So if your just looking to cruise about here's a few different longboards to get you started!

all have been very well rated!

how to buy a skateboard
how to buy a skateboard

So you want to learn REAL skateboarding?

how to buy a skateboard

So your looking to learn REAL skateboarding! Good choice :)

Of course on a skateboard, you can still cruise around just as you would a long board, but the main aspect of skateboarding is learning tricks.

from here on in my blog, i will focus on skateboards and talk you through some tips on buying a skateboard and its components!

To get you in the mood.. - how to buy a skateboard

Just to get you in the mood, and to show you what it is you will be learning in the future, here is a cool video of my personal favourite skateboarder, PJ Ladd :) Dont be put off by how good he is though! remember this guy is a top pro :) a lot of what he does will come in time with practice :) enjoy :)

What makes up a skateboard?! An anatomy of a skateboard - How to buy a skateboard

how to buy a skateboard
how to buy a skateboard

Getting to know what a skateboard actually consists of is vital when buying a skateboard. there are alot of different components that make up a complete board, and each one will have a direct influence on how your board skates and feels when riding it. Each bit of individual hardware has various sizes and variables to them, which to be honest, is usually down to personal preference. I will go into all this in a little bit more detail later, but getting to know what each bit does will help alot when looking to buy board. The fact your on this blog and reading this suggests to me that your pretty new to the sport, so this brief introduction to the bits and bobs that make up a skateboard will come in handy :)

The 'Deck' (& Griptape) - how to buy a skateboard

how to buy a skateboard
how to buy a skateboard

As you can see from the picture above, the deck of a skateboard is simply the wooden bit that you stand on when riding it.

they come in various different sizes, which size you pick is down to personal preference. the length of a skateboard deck generally stays around 30-31 inches,and the width will usually vary between 7.5 inches and 8.25 inches..When choosing your deck, the width should reflect your shoe size, but is really down to preference. Obviously the smaller your feet, the less width you will need, the performance of the board is not effected by the size atall, but what you should consider is the quality of the wood itself.

Skateboard decks are usually made up of 7 sheets (ply) of maple wood which is pressed, shaped and then glued together with ultra strong resin.

if you come across any deck which has less than 7 ply, i strongly recommend NOT buying it!

The source of the wood is vital aswell, for instance alot of decks are Chinese maple, with is inferior to the standard Canadian Maple. You may think this isn't much of a big deal, but Chinese maple is alot less durable and you will notice not long after skating. So I strongly recommend sticking to 7Ply Canadian maple decks :)

Now if your shopping around online or your local skate shop, you may have noticed that the prices of the decks vary quite considerably. In short this is simply the brand and design that makes certain decks cost more/less.. in any descent skateshop, they will only sell 7ply Canadian maple decks, and the price will not reflect on the quality atall.. Infact, the £70 decks and the £20 decks are no doubt exactly the same, bar the design and branding.

Grip tape is also required when purchasing a deck, this is the black (slightly sparkly) sandpaper that is stuck onto the top of the deck itself. What it is used for is pretty much explained within its name, as it simply adds grip to your deck. When you start skating your new skateboard, it will become apparent why it is needed! skating a deck without grip tape is not only VERY dangerous, its also pointless as you cannot actually perform any tricks without it!! Griptape is not expensive atall, infact alot of the time it comes pre stuck onto your deck, but if it doesnt, make sure you buy some! It comes in 1m length sheets and theres a video closer to the bottom of this page that tells you how to apply it to your deck :)

So just to recap, as long as your deck is 7ply Canadian maple, you feel comfortable with it under your feet and you have your griptape you will be fine :)

A highly recommended skateboard deck - how to buy a skateboard

Personally, i do not see the point in buying a branded skateboard deck with graphics. Simply because after a few skate sessions, it will be all scratched up anyway! The massive price difference between unbranded and branded decks is ridiculous if you ask me, and with the quality being EXACTLY the same, there really is no point buying a branded deck! of course if your feeling creative, buying a blank deck gives you the opportunity to design and paint the board yourself :)

But if your willing to pay and want to get fancy.. - how to buy a skateboard

of course, if you dont mind footing out the pennies and want your skateboard to look exactly how you want it to,

here are a few more expensive skateboard decks to help you on your way :)

how to buy a skateboard
how to buy a skateboard

The 'Trucks'

how to buy a skateboard

Skateboard trucks, as you can probably tell from the pictures, are simply the metal things that attach your skateboard deck to your wheels.

As with most components of a skateboard, they come in various sizes and variants, but with skateboard trucks the sizes do not reflect personal preference.. the various width's of skateboard trucks you can buy should simply the reflect the width of your skateboard. so bare this in mind when buying your skateboard trucks. once you have bought your trucks, you will notice that there is a large bolt coming up from the baseplate and through a large rubber washer. the bolt is called the 'kingpin' and the rubber washers are called 'bushings'.. these are here so you can change how loose or tight your skateboard turns. This is simply down to personal preference. balancing is easier on boards with tight trucks, but turning and tricks are easier with loose trucks. find the right tight/looseness for you and youl be fine.. this is very easily changed mid skate session anyway, so its not the end of the world if you get this wrong :) infact there are special tools you can buy called 'skatetools' (ironically :) and many of your local skateboarders will carry one with them, so if you do find your trucks arent quite as tight as you want them, then you can change them in seconds :) i'l include a link below where you can buy them :)

Recommended skateboard trucks - how to buy a skateboard

here are some different skateboard trucks that i recommend. with skateboard trucks, getting non branded ones is not recommended. but there not massively expensive anyway :) just make sure you get the right size for your board! :)

The 'Wheels' - how to buy a skateboard

how to buy a skateboard
how to buy a skateboard

The wheels of a skateboard are pretty self explanatory really! They again come in different quality, sizes and materials.. all of which depend on personal preference. the size is the main variant to consider, as this will determine the wheel base of your skateboard. Obviously, the larger the wheel, the further you skateboard deck will be away from the ground your skating on.. personally i prefer smaller wheels, as it seems to give your board more 'pop' when doing tricks. This is because when you snap the tail of your deck down to bust a trick, there is less distance for the tail to drop before hitting the ground, and therefore gives you more 'snap/pop' in your ollies.. the variants in skateboard wheel sizes is only very minimal, most vary between 49mm to 55mm.. at first i would go with a standard 53mm to get you started :) the material your wheels are made from can dramatically change the feel of your board when riding it, I personally prefer harder wheels as they retain speed better, obviously the softer your wheel the slower your skateboard will be. This will effect you mostly when riding different surfaces. Skate parks are built of many different things (concrete, wood, skatelite, metal etc. etc.) and this is where you will notice how your wheels are riding the most. So its trial and error with wheels im afraid, but if you want my advice, when starting out, stick to a standard 53mm hard wheel :) you can get these very cheap if you go without branding, but do bare in mind that expensive wheels are expensive because they are better.. the technology behind some of the more expensive wheels is amazing, some are hollow for instance (so there lighter) some have extra hardened cores etc etc. so at some point you will want to upgrade to better wheels :)

Recommended skateboard wheels - how to buy a skateboard

Here are some wheels that I would personally recommend. I have included some of all costs, sizes and materials in order for you to make your own mind up :) all of them are highly recommended.

The 'Bearings' - How to buy a skateboard

how to buy a skateboard
how to buy a skateboard

Skateboard bearings are simply the bearings that go inside the wheel to make it roll. They come in sets of 8 and each of your skateboard wheels hold 2 bearings, one on each side of the wheels core.

When you buy your skateboard bearings, you will notice that they come in either ABEC-3, 5, 7 or 9's. The 'ABEC' stands for Annular Bearing Engineering Committee, and this is simply a bearing industry wide rating based on the precision used in the manufacture of that bearing.

so obviously the higher the ABEC rating, the better quality you bearings will be. The ABEC rating system is often mis understood and thought to be a rating to scale the speed of the bearing, so be careful you dont get given any incorrect information at your local skateshop (although they should know better!)

buying ABEC 9 bearings is pointless in my opinion, if you really have to/can afford it.. then go for it. But they are not needed i assure you.

I personally only skate ABEC 5's. Skateboard bearings do not need to be any more precisely made than this.

****PLEASE NOTE : some skateboard bearings do not use the ABEC rating system, the usual manufacturer to be a culprit of doing this is 'Bones'. Im not sure why they do not use the system, but 'Bones' bearings are actually the best bearings on the market, and youl notice this within the price. When your first starting out, as i mentioned before, you only need ABEC-5's really. Just a friendly heads up to save confusion :)

Recommended skateboard bearings - how to buy a skateboard

here are a few skateboard bearings that i personally recommended. most of which i have skated myself, and all are highly recommended by skateboarders around the world.

Skateboard bits n' bobs - How to buy a skateboard

how to buy a skateboard
how to buy a skateboard

Now at this point, your very close to a complete skateboard! all you need now is some bolts to attach the trucks to the deck :) i wont go into too much detail, as they are pretty self explanatory. With bolts the only advice that's worth giving is that you buy official skateboard bolts, as opposed to some generic bolts from your local DIY store. Bolts do come in different lengths usually between 1 inch and 2 inch. This is to cater for differences in truck baseplate thickness (and also risers). So simply get the right size to make sure there not too short.

In the above picture you can also see a pair of risers. These are totally optional and do not effect your skateboards performance atall, All they do is protect your deck from pressure cracks that will appear in time.They sit between your trucks and your deck and add height to your board. I personally do not use them, as they add height between your deck and your wheels. But if you feel you need them then go for it :) They come in different sizes which directly reflect the height.

Recommended bolts and risers - How to buy a skateboard

Here is a selection of bolts and risers for you to have a look at.

Bare in mind, as mentioned before skateboard risers are completely optional, and do not enhance your skateboard performance at all.

all they do is protect the deck from pressure cracks which will appear over time.

Obviously you will need a set of bolts though. Otherwise you wont be able to attach your trucks to your skateboard!

So what next?... - How to put your skateboard together

Right OK, now you have a skateboard deck, some griptape, a set of trucks, a set of wheels, some bearings and bolts :)

That is everything a skateboard consists of! so not long now before you go shred up those skateparks!

BUT WAIT!

I bet your pile of newly bought skateboard hardware probably doesnt look like much of a skateboard at the moment (unless your Picasso :)

and unless you know what your doing, putting the bits together can be quite tricky to work out.

so here's a really helpful video that will talk you through the exact steps to put your Skateboard together!

Complete setup's

how to buy a skateboard

Now you may have noticed shopping around online or in a skateshop that you can buy pro standard complete skateboards all set up and ready to ride.. These are great for beginners and I would recommend buying one if your unsure about buying the bits individually!

Now you may be asking yourself why i didn't simply mention these at the beginning of this page and save both you and myself alot of time...

But there is a reason i promise.

Completes are great, but I have found that you have to 'take them as they come' and often compromise on one or more of the components.

Maybe you wanted a slightly wider deck, or smaller wheels than what is included in the Complete deal etc..

I broke down the skateboard into components the way I did to insure that you guys (as newly born skateboarders) know exactly what your board consists off and what each part does.

Now, what you will find when shopping around is that buying the parts individually and putting the skateboard together yourself will not only save you alot of money, but also insure that all the bits are personally chosen and the skateboard is tailor made to you exact preferences.

(plus you learn how to put a board together for future reference! you wouldnt be much of a skateboarder if you didnt know how to!)

A nice little tip here though, if you were to buy your skateboard hardware online, and then take all the bits into a skateshop, they will no doubt put it together for you for free. Most skateboarders take pride in putting together a skateboard (much like mechanics and cars). You may have to buy something for them to be willing to do this, so a spare set of bearings, or maybe some softer/harder wheels for you to test won't hurt.

If your REALLY lazy! - how to buy a skateboard

So although I strongly recommend buying your skateboard in individual parts, there are alot of lazy people out there (including myself)

and i can understand completely that you just want to get your board and ride it :)

So if thats you, here are some completes on the market at the moment. all are top quality professional skateboards :)

Be sure to read the descriptions to make sure your happy with everything included, and also MAKE SURE that the board comes pre built.

because sometimes they just send all the bits :)

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    • georgegannon profile image
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      georgegannon 3 years ago

      @Geoff Magee: Many thanks for your like and comment! much appreciated :)

    • Geoff Magee profile image

      Geoff Magee 3 years ago from Belfast

      Very comprehensive lens