How to Buy a Skateboard

Three Methods:Buying Your First BoardBuying a New DeckBuying Your Own Components

Skateboarding requires a lot of practice and skill, but can be great fun for thrill-seekers. If you want to start boarding and learning tricks, the first step is to buy a board. Like any big purchase, making the best purchase for you requires a little research and thought about what you want in a good board.

Method 1
Buying Your First Board

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    Determine what type of skating you'd like to do. Want to shred the skate park or just cruise around town? Looking to grind every bar you find or drop into a halfpipe? Or are you still unsure, and just want to start skating? Your desires as a skateboarder make a big difference on the type of board you buy:
    • Riding Around Town: Consider a longboard, or an over-large traditional board (8.25" wide or larger).
    • Halfpipes, Bowls, and Ramps: If you want to get into big air, look into "Vert" boards, which are on the wider side and have a lot of stability. They often have more stylish or unique shapes.
    • Flat-land & Street Skating: Also known as "standard" boards, they are well balanced and have the classic popsicle shape, which is speedy, balanced, and low to the ground for grinds and flip tricks.
    • All-Around Skating: Usually similar to street boards, all-around skaters tend to use standard boards as well, though different shapes and hardware can be swapped in and out as you get more experienced. For beginners, they may be a tad bigger than a street board.[1]
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    Search for the best "complete" board instead of assembling one. You have two options when you buy a board -- you can get a stock model, with all the components already installed, or you can buy the parts separately and assemble it yourself. Assembling your own board is not difficult, but choosing from the multitude of different components, all of which lead to a slightly different ride, is not possible until you've learned a bit more about your own style.
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    Choose the width of your board based on your height and shoe size. The width of a board should fit between a designated range based on your size. Don't worry much about the board's length yet -- this has more to do with style than fit. Almost all adults will want something with a width of 7.5" or larger, but there are boards for every size:
    • Under 3'4" tall -- Get a 6.5-6.75" board.
    • Between 3'5" -- 4'4" tall: Get 7" board
    • Between 4'5" -- 5'2" tall: Get a 7.3" board
    • Above 5'3" tall: Get a 7.5" board or larger.[2]
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    Avoid the cheap, all plastic boards, which are difficult to learn and skate on. Even pros have trouble skating around on the bottom-barrel, all-plastic boards found at supermarkets and big-box stores. These boards won't be responsive or sturdy enough to comfortably learn on, even at the price they're marketed for.[3]
    • A decent beginner board, with all the components, should run between $50-125. Long boards are on the more expensive end, traditional boards a bit cheaper.[4]
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    Chat up your local skateboard staff for personal recommendations. Every skater is different, and getting personalized help is as easy as asking. No matter what your experience level or style, getting to know you local shop crew is always a good idea. Many will let you test out different boards or styles before buying, which is particularly helpful if you're lost in the world of trucks, bearings, and wheels and aren't sure which you'd like best.
    • While you can always buy boards online, it's usually best to buy your first board in person, which makes it much easier to get the right fit and style.
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    Don't forget the grip tape if it isn't already installed. Grip tape is the black, sand-paper like coating on the top of the board that gives you the necessary control and friction to skate. Not all boards will come with it attached, but it usually comes free and most skate shops will help attach it if you're confused. That said, adding your own tape is easy:
    • Peal off the backing to expose the sticky side of the tape.
    • Starting from the side, slowly lay the tape onto the board, pushing out any air bubbles with a stiff credit card.
    • Use a razor blade to cut away any excess tape so that it fits your board exactly.
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    Purchase a helmet. It doesn't matter what kind of skateboarding you're doing, you should be doing it will a helmet. Skateboard helmets are designed for protection from all angles in the case of a fall, and come in a limitless style and color options. When you're buying your first board, don't forget to buy your first helmet, too. When buying a helmet, think about:
    • The fit. The helmet should sit snugly 1-2" above your eyebrows, not tilted back on your head.
    • If you plan to bike, too. Dedicated bike helmets aren't safe for skating and vice-versa. There are, however, hybrid helmets. Any helmet made for both sports will advertise itself as such.
    • If the helmet is comfortable. If you live in a hot area, get extra vent holes to cool off, and make sure it feels good to actually wear the helmet before buying it.[5]

Method 2
Buying a New Deck

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    Choose your deck shape based on your preferred type of riding. There are hundreds of different deck shapes, from the classic popsicle to strange, artistic shapes, but they can generally be broken into a few simple categories.
    • Traditional boards, with two rounded ends, generally have a thicker nose and thinner tail end, helping for flip tricks and jumps. They tend to be the shortest boards.
    • Long board are generally pointed up top, with a flat bottom to rest your feet on while cruising downhill. This allows you to keep your weight back.
    • Vert boards, those made for ramps and halfpipes, tend to be longer and wider, and may have unique nose and tail designs or styles.[6]
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    Consider the board's concavity, or how much it curves. A flatter board is better, in general, for pulling off tricks, whereas a deeply concave board is more stable and easier to ride at high speeds. That said, the biggest factor is your personal riding comfort, so try out a few different concavities as your local skate shop before buying. There are several options not only for the amount of concavity but the shape of it:
    • "Radial:' The most common concavity, it is a simple and shallow U-shape. Works for any type of skating. "Progressive" is a similar shape, but with a more dramatic curvature.
    • W-Concave: The back of the board is a W-shape, which provides a sharper, more precise board that can turn on a dime.
    • Flatcave: Allows you to keep your feet flatter, which allows for a smoother, more relaxed ride.
    • Asymmetric: These boards have an uneven concavity, which usually puts more power in the back of the board for tight or high-speed turning.[7]
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    Choose a wider board if you're a heavier skater and/or want to hit ramps and halfpipes. If you're an adult taller than 5'3", your board must be 7.5" wide or larger. But how much larger is generally a matter of style. If you're significantly taller than the average person (over 6" feet, larger than 225lbs), you should test out a few widths near 8" to find your comfort zone. Similarly, vert riders almost always prefer something closer to 8" wide.
    • Street riders need thinner boards, as there is less board you need to spin when pulling off flip tricks.[8]
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    Get a wider wheel base if you're tall, heavy, or want a wider turning radius. The wheelbase is the distance between the two sets of wheels (not the two wheels on the same axle). Longboards, which are made for higher speeds and cruising, have wheels that are highly spaced to provide turning support, and street boards tend to be closer together for more control when flipping and grinding. However, there is variation in every board style depending on your personal preferences, so try out a few to get comfortable.
    • Borrowing friends' boards is one of the best ways to quickly try out a lot of options and styles.
    • In general, most boards have a wheelbase between 13-15".[9]
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    Get a thicker board for more stability, or a thinner board for a lower weight. Most skateboards are created by pressing seven sheets of wood together, usually North American Maple. However, some companies will use more or less sheets (known as "plys") to get either a thicker, sturdier board or a smaller, lighter deck.
    • Thicker boards (8 or 9-ply) will last longer, and have more stability when cruising.
    • Thinner boards (5 or 6-ply) are easier to maneuver, especially for ollies and flip tricks.[10]

Method 3
Buying Your Own Components

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    Know the basic components needed to assemble your board. Once most skaters get used to riding and develop their own style and preferences, they need more customization than a complete board can provide. Luckily, assembling your own board isn't difficult, and the complete control over your board's characteristics is worth the bit of extra work.
    • Trucks: The metal, T-shaped rods that attach your wheels to the board. The width and height of them will depend on your personal skating style.
    • Bearings: These allow your wheels to actually roll. Bearings come in steel and ceramic varieties. While steel is the most common option, the more expensive ceramics are a bit smoother and tend to last longer.[11]
    • Wheels: The size and hardness of a wheel determines how it rolls, lands, and turns.
    • Hardware: All hardware sets are is a packet of screws and bolts needed to install everything. This packet generally costs $2-$5.[12]
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    Buy trucks within 1/4" of the width of you board. If you have a 7" wide deck, you should get trucks between 6.75-7.24" wide. This is measured by the axle width of the trucks. In general, heavier riders will prefer a slightly wider axle, while lighter riders or those who want the lightest possible board (to help get height on flip tricks) will err 1/4" thinner than the board. If you're not sure, just get the same width -- 7" trucks for a 7" wide board.
    • Some trucks are measured by axle length, and some are measured by hanger width, which is slightly smaller than the axle length. Make sure you double check the specs before purchasing.[13]
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    Get higher trucks for cruising and lower trucks for tricks. This is often referred to as the "truck profile." These terms are relative, and often depend on your wheel size. In most cases, you should start with mid-level trucks, as they can handle just about any scenario. However, if you do more specialized skating, buy your trucks accordingly.
    • If you have small wheels (50-53mm), you should go with lower trucks. These provide a shorter board that flips faster.
    • If you have larger wheels (56mm and up), you'll want to get trucks with a high profile. This provides more stability and smoothness at high speeds.[14]
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    Understand the ABEC system for buying bearings. The ABEC rating system tells you how fast and smooth a set of bearings are. They are simple ratings, with five grades: 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9. The higher the rating, the faster and smoother the ride, but the more expensive the bearings will be. All bearings are an identical size, so they will fit any board.
    • In general, ABEC 5-rated bearings are the best speed for the price. ABEC 7 and 9 are for those that really prize a quick board.
    • There are companies that don't use ABEC ratings, like Bones Bearings, but they all have their own easy-to-find rating systems to help you out.[15]
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    Get harder wheels for tricks and jumps and softer wheels if you love to cruise. A wheel's hardness is measured by a durometer rating. This is simply a number and letter, usually "A," with higher numbers indicating harder wheels. A harder wheel is more responsive to tricks, where softer wheels are more comfortable at high speeds.
    • All-around skaters tend to prefer 90A-97A wheels.
    • Street skaters tend to prefer 95A wheels or harder. Some companies make B grade wheels, which indicate the wheel is 20 points harder than its A counterpart (ie. 80B are the same hardness as 100A).
    • Cruisers and longboarders tend to prefer 75A-90A wheels.[16]
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    Get larger diameter wheels to go faster and smaller wheels for more control. A wheel's diameter must change depending on your style. The size of a wheel is measured by the diameter across it, in millimeters. They range from 48mm for street riders to 75mm for long boarders. Larger wheels are faster, covering more ground per rotation, whereas smaller wheels sit lower to the ground to make flip tricks easier.
    • A good starter or all-purpose wheel is between 52-60mm.
    • Smaller wheels also accelerate more quickly, meaning they are good for combination or trick skating where you need speed quickly.
    • Testing wheel sizes is always recommended. At the very least, try out a few friend's boards and find out what is most comfortable.[17]
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    Consider installing risers to raise the board off the ground and absorb some vibrations. Risers are common for longboarders and cruisers, as the make the ride smoother and more comfortable. They can make tricks, especially flip tricks, more difficult, however, because you have to get a taller board over obstacles.
    • In general, any wheel size larger than 55mm should have a riser attached.
    • The longer the board and the bigger the wheel, the more height is needed in a riser.
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    Purchase the hardware needed to assemble the board. This simple bag of screws, nuts, and bolts isn't too complicated -- just buy a pack with the rest of your components. If you don't have a riser, you should get 7/8"-1" length hardware. If you have riser pads you'll need longer hardware to ensure everything can be screwed in. Simply add the length of the riser to your hardware pack.
    • If you have a 1/2" riser on your deck, you should get 1 1/2" hardware instead of the typical 1".[18]


  • Even if you buy a completed board, you can always purchase new components later to adjust the feel and style of the board.


  • Be sure to read all the instructions when assembling your own board, testing the board at a safe, low speed before taking it out on anything crazy.

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Categories: Skateboarding