Skateboard Buying Guide

 

How To Choose A Skateboard

Complete, custom, trucks, wheels, bearings, cruiser, longboard? Yeah there’s a fair bit of jargon when it comes to buying a new skateboard. But whether you like park, street, cruising, flat ground tricks or pump tracks, you can bet there’s a setup for that. 

With numerous shapes, styles and sizes to choose from, it can sometimes feel like getting the right setup is like finding a needle in a haystack. Here we break down what’s out there to quick start your complete or custom skateboard setup…

Index:

Complete vs. Custom

Skateboard Decks

Grip Tape

Skateboard Trucks

Skateboard Wheels

Skateboard Bearings

Hardware

Riser Pads

Protection

Our Favourite Brands

Cruisers and Longboards

Complete vs. Custom

When it comes to buying a skateboard, you have two options. A complete setup (i.e. a full skateboard pre-assembled and ready to roll), or a custom setup (i.e. built from scratch by buying individual components).

A complete set up is often best for beginners. It’s an easy win to get you rolling in one hit. Deck, trucks and wheels are all pre-assembled and grip tape is pre-applied ready to skate! Starting around 7” wide, a complete setup is great for getting the basics down.

Complete setups are usually cheaper than custom setups as parts are mostly branded together, ideal for starting out. And you can always customise your setup later once you’ve progressed a little.

A custom setup is built using individual parts based on your personal preferences. This is an awesome option for experienced riders, or a skater looking for a specific style of riding, as it gives you more freedom on your ride. Not sure what goes into a custom setup? Read on to find out…

Skateboard Decks

The size of your skateboard deck depends on a few factors; your riding style, ability, foot size and personal preferences. Deck sizes generally range from 7” to 9” wide. The most important factor in what size deck you buy is knowing what you feel comfortable riding. This will give you the most enjoyment skating – which is what it’s all about hey!?

Usually, wider decks provide more stability and space for playing with foot positioning to get your weight balanced. Because of this, wider decks are easier for beginners but also favoured by vert and pool riders. On the flip side, narrower width decks are easier for tricks, so are often preferred by street skaters.

Deck sizes and riding style:

7” to 8” – Standard size board for adults. Good for street skating and more technical tricks.

8” to 8.25” – Good for skate parks, ramps and pools.

8.25” and above – Good for vert and pool skating as well as cruising and old skool riding.

In terms of skate deck materials, traditional deck constructions are usually 7-ply Canadian maple wood (that’s 7 layers to me and you). This is due to its nature of being durable and hardwearing whilst also giving a degree of flexibility.

Other common constructions are 8-ply (8 slightly thinner layers of Canadian maple) which is slightly stronger and good for riders that thrash their decks. Another newer construction is P2. This in essence adds in kevlar fibre reinforced maple veneer to 6 layers of maple to create stronger resilience and added spring loaded pop, awesome for park and street skaters.

Grip Tape

Grip tape is the material applied to the top of your deck. This sandpaper like sheet basically sticks your feet to your board. It helps grip you to the board whether you’re just cruising or learning new tricks.

There is a new craze popping up of branded grip tape. You’ll be noticing your favourite pro skaters such as Zion Wright repping Shake Junk grip tape and the likes of Boo Johnson, Leticia Bufoni and Tory Pudwell riding pro models from Grizzly Griptape.

There are loads of jazzy grip tape options out there if you’re buying individually. However, some retailers also give free grip tape with their decks, so keep an eye out for this when you’re buying.

Skateboard Trucks

The metal component that attach under your board, your trucks are the pivot that allows your board to turn left and right. They are fundamental to the way your skateboard responds to your movements, so are arguably the most important part of your ride.

The size, height and width of your trucks is based on your deck size and personal preferences. Bare in mind, the right truck will suit your chosen deck and skating style.

Generally speaking, you will want your truck length to be around 1/4” of your deck width. Different companies use different measurements, so keep this in mind when choosing trucks. Remember, wider decks need wider trucks.

In terms of height, lower trucks are rad for stability in flips and tricks whilst higher trucks give better turnability for carving and cruising. Higher trucks will also accommodate larger wheels. Usually, a mid size truck is a good all round profile for street and park skaters.

Truck size and wheel size compatibility:

Lower trucks 50-53mm wheel size

Mid trucks52-55mm wheel size

Higher trucks55mm wheel size

Don’t forget to check if your trucks are sold individually or as a pair – you’ll need two for your skateboard!

Skateboard Wheels

To get up and rolling you’ll need four wheels for your board. They usually come in sets of four/ two for each truck and are available in a variety of sizes and hardnesses.

With a huge range starting from 49mm up to around 60mm, you want to go for something that will suit your skating style. Smaller wheels are slower but offer quicker acceleration, and larger wheels provide more speed but have slower acceleration.

Wheel size and intended use:

49mm to 54mm – Usually used for street skating.

54mm to 60mm – Typical for transition and ramp skating, perfect for your local skate park.

60mm and above – Mostly for longboards and cruisers.

The hardness of the wheels is also influential to your ride. Harder wheels are more precise for tricks, but softer wheels absorb bumps giving a smoother ride on variable terrain.

Measured on a scale called a Durometer, most wheels use an “a-scale” where higher numbers denote harder wheels. The average street skateboard will have a wheel around 95a, whereas a cruiser might have a very soft 70a.

Riser Pads

If you like riding larger wheels (or you’re just old school), you might want to add riser pads under your trucks. These raise the height of the board to minimise “wheel bite” (wheel rub against the board), especially shit when you’re hauling ass downhill.

Skateboard Bearings

Bearings are the small round metal parts that slots into your wheels. They create roll in the wheels and help in keeping up speed. Different bearings roll faster and last longer than others.

This is determined by an ABEC rating (Annular Bearing Engineers Committee) which it’s worth looking out when purchasing. Needless to say, higher grade bearings will be better quality and therefore more durable than lower grade bearings.

Hardware

The nuts and bolts of your set up (quite literally), the hardware connects your trucks to your deck. These come in lots of different shapes, sizes and lengths, and mostly in a pack of 8.

The size needed will depend on your setup. Longer bolts are only really used if you’re rolling riser pads under your trucks. It is also common to use coloured bolts on one end of the deck to determine the nose and tail of the skateboard.

Protection

Put a lid on it! Measure your noggin and get a helmet that’s a good fit. The better the fit, the better the protection. So it’s a good idea to try a couple out and find out which brand is the best fit for you. We have an epic range of skate specific helmets to choose from.

Knee and elbow pads might seem a little kooky but they’re a life saver on the concrete or in the skate park. A lot of beginners go for pads to protect from cuts and bruises. However, more experienced riders also benefit from pads when learning vert or bowl as it helps reduce impact and increase slide in falls.

Our Favourite Brands

At Sameway we love to support the local skate scene and this includes backing our homegrown UK skate brands including independent skate stores such as Route One and Skate Hut. Have you heard of Palace or Isle Skateboards before? They have some sick products and we’re stoked to highlight them here. Check out all of our skate brands on our brand tab.

Cruisers & Longboards

Aside from the “normal” skate setup, we also hold a great range of cruisers and longboards. How do these differ from a regular skateboard you ask?

Well, cruisers have higher trucks and larger, softer wheels than normal. This creates easy turns and manoeuvrability, perfect for getting around! As well as an easy A to B, their shorter size means you can clip it to your back pack when you’ve arrived at your destination. Because of their tight turns and carving capabilities, cruisers are also loved by surfers for practising their cut backs!

Longboards have similar wheels to cruisers but are much longer – usually 33” or longer. This added length makes them stable and easy for big swooping turns, great for beginners. Ideal for getting around, cruising or going hell for leather downhill, smooth longboard rides are a pleasure. If you haven’t tried it before, borrow one off your mate and give it a go. It’s epic!

When buying a cruiser or longboard, remember width, length and flex are all important factors. The amount of flex in the board absorbs bumps and vibrations to make a smoother ride. However, too much flex can feel really unstable, especially at speed.

At sameway.co we compare all the best deals across the web from your favourite brands and retailers so you get the most comprehensive view of what’s available and where to buy from! Want to find out more about us? Check out how we work.

If you’re still unsure what you’re looking for, get in touch with us on social media and our customer service will be happy to help.

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