Types Of Skateboards: What’s Best For You?
When coming to categorizing skateboards we can look into a plethora of micro-niches in which people perform a large number of notable styles including downhill, slalom, street, and vert pool.
But for the sake of simplicity, keeping you in mind, I’ve listed the three main kinds of skateboards the market has to offer. We will throw in a bonus one in there as well, just for you!
These are lozenge-shaped (or popsicle shaped) boards that are very common and they have one primary function: Tricks. These are the ones you see at your local skatepark being used to do a kickflip, nollie trick and what not. You can never go wrong with one of these.
Freestyle is one of the strong suits of this type of board, which essentially is doing tricks and other rapid movements in restricted spaces.
As they are meant to be used in a park, performing stunts with, they come with hardware and components that are precisely suited for the job. The utmost important feature being the upturned kicks on the nose and tail. Also, the wheels would be softer and smaller since there is no rough pavement it needs to roll over. It would also be lightweight and agile since tricks rely on these two characteristics of the board.
Is It For You?
Do you like performing tricks and stunts? Is that what you want to learn? This is the kind of board you want to get. Pretty straightforward.
As the name suggests, this type of board is used to get you from point A to B. Cruisers are usually equipped with slightly wider decks for stability and significantly larger wheels to take on those uneven pavements. Sometimes the form factor is kept small for it to be nimble while zipping through the crowd.
They are usually more flatter than the standard ones but they do have kick tails to be used for quick maneuvers in busy traffic and on the street. For safety and grip, they are also oftentimes fitted with wheels they rate low in the durometer scale.
Is It For You?
These are ideal if your main intent is to get around town or maybe do a bit of pumping down the street. It is more optimised to be used on the road rather than at the skatepark.
These boards are dramatically different from the previous two we just talked about. The name itself implies the main characteristic of these type and it is the length of the deck. The standard and cruiser ones average around 32 inches in length while the long ones measure 40 inches or above.
They come fitted with wide trucks and big soft wheels for maximum stability at high speed. But this form factor does come at a cost and it is the lack of nimbleness that makes the other boards good at performing tricks and stunts on. This one is not meant for that. So I’d advise you strongly NOT to take these down to the skatepark in your neighborhood. You’ll look silly!
Is It For You?
If you enjoy speed and long-distance commutes, then this board is for you. And they remain fairly stable at high speed as well.
Now we come to the bonus category I talked about earlier: the Mini Skateboards. Essentially they are compact cruiser decks fitted with not so premium hardware. Plastic is the material you’ll predominantly see when you look at one of these.
The OG penny boards are a great example. You may get one if you are looking for an extra compact deck since most of these come in around 25 inches in length OR if you are looking to buy one for your little one! BUT my personal recommendation would be to stick with any of the above mentioned 3 kinds.
Is It For You?
Do you prefer portability and nimbleness over speed and stability? If so then you might be happy with purchasing one of these.
These are the best ones!
(each purpose & age)
Below, I have everything neatly curated to help you choose precisely which skateboard is right for you as per your use case. So without any further ado, let us roll into it (pun intended).
How to Choose the Right Beginner Skateboard: Buying Guide For (November, 2020)
“Educate before recommend” is my motto. I’ll help you familiarise yourself with all the skateboard lingo before diving deep into the analysis of your potential future purchase.
I was once a beginner myself. And so are you at the moment, I believe. Let us dwell on the details of what makes what work and make ourselves a little more informed, shall we?
Main parts of a Skateboard
Let me briefly expand on each so we all get understanding.
It is obviously the most prominent part of the skateboard – The board itself. It is made of several layers of wood pressed together (usually) with resin. On to the board, we attach all the following components that make it complete.
They can be thought of as axles to the wheels. Simply put, it is the T-shaped metal part attached to the underside of the board. It is what allows one to turn while skateboarding.
They go into either arm of the trucks and are fitted with bearings and brushing along with the hardware that keeps all in place.
Round circular metal pieces that essentially help the wheels to turn. The better the bearing, the smoother the wheel will roll.
These are small rubber bits that are installed on either side of the hanger when it is placed in the kingpin (the two things that make up the truck). The tighter it is installed, the less the board will wobble to the sides.
Simple but crucial, especially for beginners since you’d want your feet firmly placed on the board. It is a tape that is stuck on the top surface of the board which gives it more grip due to its sandpaper-like texture.
Main things to consider before buying!
As I have talked about the main parts that make up the board now we can go to the deciding factors that will help you choose the product that is right for you.
How long and how wide is the question here. And let me tell you this in a straightforward manner:
Let us talk about length:
Longboards are exclusively for doing highspeed long distances so if you are not into that then go with a shorter deck. Standard ones are your go-to ones since they are really good for casual cruising and tricks.
Now about width:
Skateboards are usually 7 to 8 inches wide. Width is subjective and contrary to popular belief the shoe size really does not matter. I myself am a size 7 but I am very comfortable with an 8.1-inch deck. So it all boils down to personal preference.
Just keep in mind, the narrower the board, the easier it will be to flip it while doing tricks. But it should be wide enough for you to comfortably stand on. So again, personal preferences.
Some boards are made from a single piece of wood carved into the desired shape while the other conventional double kicks skateboards are made by pressing multiple layers of wood pressed together.
Although we have ones that are made of plastic or fiberglass but are not recommended much as the former is not worth the cost-saving and the latter is just too much money for a board.
The ideal wood of choice would be Maple… The Canadian Maple. Ply is often added to give the deck for flexibility at the cost of overall strength.
The shape of the board should not be of primary concern if you are just starting out. As I have told you earlier, there are three kinds of skateboards, mainly, and they have their own individual shapes respectively.
The most common one is the “Double kick popsicle” which is seen in most of the standard skateboards that are made for tricks. And it is very beginner-friendly. Note: Kicktails are elevated edges that allow you to perform tricks.
For longboards, we have various shapes like “Drop-through directional cutaway”, “Drop-through symmetrical cutaway”
We have another popular shape known as “Cambered pintail” which is what we see in cruisers and some longboards. Not the best shape for tricks but really good for a smooth ride through the streets.
There are two characteristics that you need to keep in mind: the size and hardness. And of course the material as well but it is fairly straight forward: don’t go with rubber as it will rip and don’t go with plastic as it will slip.
Coming back to the two main ones: The size determines the way the skateboard will perform in certain conditions and at what speed.
Bigger wheels are suitable for roads and uneven pavements. And also for high speeds. Small wheels are good for skateparks and indoor settings. They offer acceleration instead of top speed.
The hardness (or softness) of the wheels is measured in the durometer rating. The usual values range from 70A to 100A. 70 is soft 100 is hard.
Soft wheels provide more grip but wear out pretty quickly. They are good for cruising and NOT for tricks as they stick a lot.
A hard wheel will provide less grip but would excel in the trick department. They also offer highspeed as the traction is low. So if your aim is highspeed downhill run, then hard is the way to go.
The main aspect of the trucks a beginner should be familiar with is the width. It should be equal to or less than the width of the deck. The reason being, the wheels would hit the pavement first and would protrude more causing trouble while performing and learning tricks.
But all the products we have listed here are fitted with approximately sized trucks of decent to premium materials. So it’s the of least of your concerns.
Bearings are truly the unsung heroes when it comes to any kind of skates. They literally help the wheel roll, think about that! The smoothness, the speed, and ride quality are all thanks to these little guys. They are placed between the wheels themselves and the non-moving part of the frame to provide easy rolling.
They are usually gauged with the ABEC system. The numbers go from 1-9, with the top end being more precise and fast. Usually, the recreational and fitness skates come fitted with ABEC 7 or 8. The high-end performance skates have ABEC 9 race rated bearings.
Coming to the material, ceramic is the premium option that I’d recommend if you’re willing to shell out cash for the best stuff.
If you opt for sub-par quality bearing it will be like driving with handbrakes on.
When I made my first purchase, I went with the cheapest option that was available and learned the truth the hard way. The learning curve was so steep that in the first 3 days I fell down a gazillion times and I almost thought of quitting (no kidding) before my senior approached me and told me to try his board instead.
The difference was day and night! I realized that it was not me or my inherent skill level, rather it was my shitty board! I never touched it ever since. Gathered a bit of cash and bought another one next month: a proper skateboard!
“It is Strongly advised to STAY AWAY from cheap skateboards, especially on your first purchase.”
And this is what I want you to understand: Cheap skateboards are terrible financial choices. Not only you get the inferior product but you also risk of never becoming good at skateboarding, because of how disappointing and frustrating the cheap ones can be.
And of course, did I forget to mention the most important thing: your safety? trucks can break and wheels can come flying off. I’ve had some major falls back in the days and let me tell you – it does not feel good. Safety comes first. Invest in a quality product that is a little expensive.
Or have experienced people like us pick affordable options that can keep you safe while also being easy on your savings.
Now let me tell you why you should not pick some random boards from Walmart or Target. please do not commit that sin!
“The preassembled garbage that you see in these stores and supermarkets are noting but packaged health hazards that can only make regret your decision-making skills.”
Instead allow me to direct your gaze towards actual, REAL skateboards that brands, who know how to make them, make.
They are brands that have actual knowledge of skateboards and love their craft. And guess what, we have selected the best ones these individual brands make!
Frequently Asked Questions
They range from anywhere between 60-150 dollars. You can get amazing materials and good quality hardware for that price. You just need to make sure they come from good brands.
Even if it is your first, you should invest in a high-end skateboard since safety should be your number one priority. Anything above 80 dollars will be adult skateboards and 50 dollars for kids.
You would never want to buy off the shelf skateboards from stores like Walmart or Target. They are not assembled properly and come with below-average hardware.
The key is to understand what kind of skateboard do you need and what for? Once you’re clear about that, you may select any of the products listed here.
Usually, penny boards with plastic constructions come at an extremely affordable cost. But I would advise you to invest in something more high-end that will last you more.
It is usually preferred to buy completely assembled skateboards provided they come from reliable brands that are known to make good quality products.
If you buy a high-end one from a premium brand then it can last for more than two years. The deck is what usually breaks or dents. The bearings, trucks, and bushing can always be easily replaced.
For a beginner, stability is very important for a safe ride and the width of the deck is what gives us this firmness. So anything around 8 inches wide or more would suffice. And anywhere around, 32 inches is a good length.
They are good for cruising around but their small decks and plastic construction do not make for a very safe skateboarding experience. The tiny form factors allow easy turns but do not provide stability.