© Selfish skateboards
What to know before buying your first skateboard
Excited about picking up a skateboard? The first thing you need to know is what type of board suits you and if you should buy one. Here's what you should know before you take the leap.
There are many factors to consider when deciding what beginner skateboard to buy. From the size of the deck you buy to the gear you wear, there is a lot to decide and know when it comes to skateboarding.
Whether you're buying a fully built board or want to build your own, it's important to understand all the parts you'll need and why they are necessary. You will need a deck, trucks, brushings, wheels, bearings, grip tape, hardware and wheels. It's easy to customize your skateboard after you make sure you have all the basics. To determine the factors behind choosing a board perfectly suited for your needs, consider the following tips and tricks.
1. Shop local
To buy a board, go to a skate shop. Your local skate shop will have the products and expertise to guide you on the whole process, and might even carry boards made from unique materials like bamboo, plastic or fiberglass. Steer clear of the malls and toy stores that sell crude versions of skateboards because that will be a much lower quality board. Quality skateboards are made with 7-ply maple and will give you that perfect pop, lock and drop. Buy from your local skate shop and get involved in the local community that will connect you to the overall skate scene in your area.
2. Deck size matters
Skateboard deck sizes are a relatively new thing and choosing the right board will help you build skills and skate safely. Depending on your size and height, you'll want to choose a board that is a full, mid, mini or micro size. Skateboards come in various shapes so it can be confusing to understand at first. Eventually after you wear and tear your beginner board you can start trying a couple of different deck shapes to know your preferences better. The retro looking ones and cruisers can come in later on for play. But to begin with, a conventional board shape will get you to understand pumping the bowl and basic flat ground tricks. The concave is the section between the nose and tail that curves up slightly on the sides. Some skaters feel the greater the concave the easier it is to flip the board, but it's purely preference and style.
Street skating wheels are generally smaller than park wheels since they’re lighter weight and more responsive making them easier to flip. Wheels are measured in millimeters so a good size for street skating is anything from 49 to 52 mm. And as for transition or vert skating, you would go for something around 54 to 60 mm. These are larger and cover more surface area, hence enabling you more speed for those airs or grabs.
For determining truck size, you should refer to your deck size. Make sure that the axle length matches the width of the deck, meaning once the trucks are on they should fit with the width of the deck, not sticking out or in too much. You want to align them to each other. For a standard 8-inch deck, a truck size of 149 millimeters should be good.
5. Recommended Brands
There are loads of skateboard brands out there, and it can be super tough to figure out which are the best. Like, you're just getting into boarding, now you have to pick through a million boards to find your starter board? Okay, sure. But seriously, it doesn't have to be a stressful decision. Chill out and check out what some Red Bull athletes use. I mean, if the pros use 'em, they gotta be legit, right?
Started by Tony Hawk back in the early '90s, Birdhouse makes some sick seven-ply maple decks. So, you can buy a deck, wheels, bearings, and trucks to build your own standard skateboard, or you can just go for a complete board and call it a day. Birdhouse street boards are the best build for flip tricks and taking to the skatepark. Not all skateboard brands sell the skateboard wheels separately, but we'll hit on that later. Birdhouse skateboard decks will run you between $60 and $100, give or take a couple of bucks, depending on where you get them.
If you're looking to get started with a longboard, check out Powell Peralta skateboards. They've got a sweet selection of standard skateboards, longboards, and cruisers. They also sell decks and wheels. Typically, you'll find Powell Peralta decks and complete boards at local shops. Completes are going to be around $100, and decks will be anywhere from $50 to $100.
Red Bull athlete Zion Wright is one of Real Skateboards' team members. These boards are typically around $60 for a deck and $8 to $100 for completes. They also make seven-ply maple decks with constructions for all types of skaters. Part of the deal when you opt for a Real board is that you'll get the same board they make for their pros, which is pretty awesome.
If you're looking for some solid wheels to build your skateboard, Bones Wheels are super popular and offer several different styles. Choose from street-tech, skate-park, and all-terrain wheel designs. Plus, Red Bull athlete Jagger Eaton is part of their team. You can purchase a set of wheels for $25 to $35, depending on the size you need for your board.
6. Graphics don’t matter
If you’re looking at preserving your graphics instead of testing your full potential on the board, then that board belongs at home, hung on your living room wall. Board graphics are cool but eventually they will fade away — unlike the skills you develop on the board.
7. Grip is important
Grip tape is the sandpaper style surface that goes on the top of a skateboard deck and offers traction to do tricks and keeps your feet from slipping off the board. It comes in a bunch of different designs and colors, but it’s worth noting that black grip tape will always be the most grippy and durable compared to clear or colored because it is made with the highest quality grit.
If you’re still unclear about which board to buy, don’t fret too much. It will take some time until you develop enough skill to actually feel the small differences. Keep skating, keep trying new boards and shapes and you will eventually find that perfect match for your style.