Buying your skateboard
There's a huge variation of skateboard parts out there and, especially for beginners, it can be difficult to make the right choice.
(Image by kenson)
For your first skateboard, I suggest going to a local skateshop. Usually they're happy to help you pick the parts that are right for you.
There are a lot of online skateshops where you have a lot of choice at a decent price, but you don't get help and often you have to put the parts together yourself.
I don't recommend buying a skateboard in a toy store. They're ok for learning to ride a skateboard, but once you start learning tricks you'll regret your purchase.
Prebuild completes are skateboards already put together for you. They are cheaper than buying all the parts seperately, but you can't choose the parts yourself. That's not a big issue for beginners though.
Make sure to check if all the parts are ok, some completes have a pro deck, but bad trucks or bearings.
If you're just starting, getting a prebuild complete is probably a good idea.
(Image by Lee Bryant)
The obvious advantage of a custom board is that you can select the parts you like.
There's a huge variety of decks in different sizes and shapes.
- The most important factor is your own size. If you're a huge guy, don't buy a mini deck.
- Buy a light/small deck for street skateboarding or a more heavy/wider deck for vert skating.
- Don't worry about the concave, there's not much variation and you won't notice it.
(Image by wZa HK)
Blank decks are usually pretty good, you should definately try one if you haven't yet. They're made of the same wood, but they just don't have any graphics applied to them. They are a lot cheaper, because you don't have to pay for the brand.
After all, graphics are at the bottom of the board, they will fade once you start doing slides, and they won't improve your skating.
There have been a lot of discussions about what the best deck brand is, but it's mostly personal preference. For a beginner, it really doesn't matter that much. Your first deck will last you pretty long.
When you are at the skateshop, ask the shopkeeper if you can stand on the deck (on carpet) to see if you feel comfortable on it. Also, try to compare the weight of some decks you like. Don't just point to the one that looks nice, feel it, compare it.
Trucks are the metal axles attached to your deck.
Because they're made of metal, they're the parts that will last the longest. So don't worry about spending some money on them.
- Don't get [/b]blank trucks[/b], they are generally very heavy, and that's definately a bad thing. Also, they are made of lesser-quality metal, so they're not as durable as brand trucks.
- Lower trucks bring you lower to the ground and provide more stability, high trucks give more space to pop the board.
- Your trucks should be as wide as your board, especially if you're going to be doing freestyle tricks like primo flips.
- Turn the biggest bolt with a wrench to loosen or tighten the trucks. Loose trucks give you more control to make surf-turns, but can get wobbely at high speeds. Tight trucks provide more stability for doing tricks. Whatever you do, make sure both trucks are as tight as the other!
(Image by Oliver Beattie)
I recommend either Phantom (extremely light and still strong) or Independent trucks (very durable).
In the skateshop, put one truck in one hand and another in the other hand, and compare the weight. Weight is not the only factor, but only by trying them out you can find out if they're durable.
Trucks are often sold seperately, which can be very handy if you just break one, you don't have to buy a new set.
You also need bolts to attach the trucks to the deck. They're cheap, and they're pretty much all about the same. The weight won't make a difference, so you could buy cheap ones, or more decorative ones of you prefer.
Bearings make your wheels spin smooth and fast. You need 2 for each wheel, so there are 8 in a pack.
(Image by APOLLO 11 Skate)
You often see an ABEC value on bearings. Higher ABEC is better, but it doesn't guarantee good bearings. Blank ABEC-7 bearings are a lot worse than good ABEC-3 bearings.
Most skateboarders agree that Bones Reds bearings are the best (at least for that price, they're supercheap). Buy some, you won't regret it.
There are two factors to decide what wheels you need:
- Diameter: small diameter wheels (50mm) have less resistance with the ground, so you can go faster. Big diameter wheels provide more stability and are ideal for vert skateboarding.
- Softness: soft wheels are better for rough surfaces, because they absorb some shocks, while hard wheels can go faster on smooth surfaces.
Medium is never bad for a beginner.
Griptape is not optional. I prefer the standard black ones, but you might go for another color or one with a decoration, but make sure it's really grippy (that's what it's for).
New grip can break your shoes pretty fast, but well... that's skateboarding.
Risers are shock absorbing pads between your trucks and your deck. Some trucks (such as Phantom) already have some rubber on the base to perform this function. If your trucks don't have this, consider buying risers.
Wear what you like, as long as you wear something. You don't have to wear baggy pants if you prefer tight. Most skaters prefer wide clothing because it feels good to skate in. If you don't feel comfortable in wide clothing, simply don't buy it! Just do whatever feels right for you.
Some people think they are skaters because they wear 'skate clothing', but they're not. You are a skater because you skate and not because of the clothes you wear.
(Image by Ellinor Stenroos)
And again, buy shoes that fit you well, buy shoes you like. I prefer shoes that are just a tiny little bit to large. But make sure they aren't too large, or a kickflip might launch your shoe and hit someone in the face. Just normal shoes are okay, as long as the tip and the soles are strong enough, because the grip tape will speed up the aging process.
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