Beginner Guide To Choosing A Skateboard

Just need quick advice on what size board to get for your kid?  Use our Beginner Size Guide for Kids HERE

Looking for more information on choosing your first skateboard?  Please read on.

BOARD TYPE

Most people want to roll around and see how it goes.  They hope to be able to try some basic tricks once they get comfortable, and maybe hit some of the great skateparks we have all over the country.  The most versatile style of board is the near-symmetrical popsicle stick shape you see everywhere.  It has a kicked up nose and tail -- features necessary for doing even the most basic tricks.  But even if you just want to roll around, this type of board is highly maneuverable and will work well in any situation.  For most all-round beginners (or veterans!), it is the logical board choice.  Already want to stop reading and just grab a pre-assembled board?!  Check the HAMMER Pre-Assembled Completes HERE.

If you have no interest in ever doing tricks, then a cruiser board might suit you. Cruiser boards generally have big soft wheels that give a smoother ride on rough surfaces.  They also get into some more fun shapes, sometimes without a nose, or a flat kicktail, or a surfy cutaway that works for pumping and cruising, but not tricks.  In choosing a cruiser board, you might have to experiment a bit, because there is such a variety of shapes and sizes available.  But basically, something about 8" wide by 32" long is a decent place to start.  Smaller and shorter will be more quick turning, longer and wider will be slower to turn and therefore more stable. Shop for HAMMER Cruiser Boards HERE.

HARD VS. SOFT WHEELS

Hard wheels are the fastest on a smooth surface.  They are the popular choice for all-round skating.  You can slide them when necessary, they don't stick when landing tricks, and they will perform better and go faster than a soft wheel on most surfaces. 

Drawback: they are loud (maybe not a drawback!) and you feel the vibrations more on a rough surface.  Beginners will notice this more than experienced skaters, especially on rougher asphalt streets trying to get comfortable on their first board. Shop for HAMMER Hard Wheels HERE.

If you can get a softer or medium hardness wheel for your first few weeks of skating, it will probably be a better experience.  (Later, if you find that most of your time is spent at a smooth skatepark, you might change to a harder wheel to get more speed.)   Most pre-assembled complete boards come with a hard wheel, so there is not always the option for something softer, unless you buy a separate set of soft wheels. Shop for HAMMER Soft Wheels HERE.

Wheels are rated by a standard durometer rating:

78A to 85A = Soft cruiser

90A to 95A = Medium all round street

97A to 99A= Hard street, skatepark and ramp with a bit of grip

100A to 104A= Super Hard street, skatepark and ramp

Check the durometer rating in the wheel descriptions or on the wheel graphic.  (You might have to try some other people's boards to see how obvious the difference is between a cruiser and a hard wheel.)

SHOE SIZE

Your shoe size is not really relevant to choosing a board size.  Your toes and heels will normally hang over the side of your board; that is how the control and leverage works.  (Although if you have big feet, something a bit wider would probably be more comfortable).  But even if you are an adult with smaller feet, you are not going to tailor your board width that much -- i.e.: instead of 8 1/2 inches wide, you might choose something 8 inches wide.

WEIGHT

Trucks are adjustable, and they are meant to accommodate a variety of weights and riding styles. When you first try out your board, if it feels too wobbly (or stiff) you tighten or loosen the trucks accordingly.  Any adjustable wrench or skate tool is all you need. (Sometimes you may need to switch the truck bushings to softer or harder, but that is easily done.) 

DECK SIZE

Don't worry about it too much...! Ok, good to start with that...

Anyone can ride pretty much any size board they want.  So don't sweat it, when it comes to 1/4 inch more or less width, or an inch variation in length. These differences will become noticeable the more you skate and discover what works best for you.  A wider, longer board will be more stable and have more foot room area.  A narrower, shorter board will turn sharper and have a quicker response.
Adults and Teens 

The most common deck size is about 8.25 x 31.5.  This will work for pretty much anyone, and depending on your style or preference, it is no big deal to go up or down a bit in width and length. 

So basically anything in the following size range should be good:

8 - 8.5 inches wide

31 - 32 inches long

That's it!  If you want something smaller or bigger, fine.  It will hold your weight and still be safe. 

Pretty much all decks are made from 7 ply maple (more technical carbon fiber-added decks are usually lighter and stronger and of course, more expensive).  Kicktail and nose lengths and angles are all very similar.  Amounts of concave (how dished out the deck is) usually only differ very slightly.  Most of these differences will be noticed through experience and lots of hours of skating.  You will find your preferences as time goes on.

Once you get into it and try a few different boards, you might notice that wheelbases (how far apart the 2 trucks are) can vary. The most common wheelbase is 14.25 inch.  (For full size boards, the range usually doesn't stray beyond 14 to 14.5 inches.)  But subtle changes in wheelbase can make a difference in how a board turns.  Don't worry about it now, but keep it in mind once you wear out your first one, and then start shopping for your second deck!

Shop for HAMMER Street And Park Decks HERE and Under $59 Decks HERE

If you need wider, check out the Wide Decks HERE.

Kids

See our Kids Size Guide HERE

TRUCK SIZE

If you are building your own board from components, choose your deck, then match the axle width of your trucks to the width of the board.

i.e: 8 inch wide deck = approximately 8 inch wide truck axle 

(This is just a general recommendation, but it will ensure that your wheels stay roughly flush with the edge of your board, which works best for just about everything. A bit smaller truck works, but a truck that is wider than the deck makes things clunky).  All brand name trucks are pretty similar in design and pretty tough to break.  The more expensive models feature hollow parts or alloys that make them lighter.  All modern trucks will fit the same mounting hole pattern on modern decks.  Nothing to think about there.  Shop for HAMMER Trucks HERE.

WHEEL SIZE

The most common wheel size is in the range of 52 to 54mm diameter. Smaller wheels are slower but lighter and keep your center of gravity closer to the ground, bigger wheels are faster and heavier, and make your center of gravity feel a bit higher and tippier.  You have to strike a balance, but stick close to the popular size range (give or take a few millimeters), and you will be fine.  Shop here for HAMMER Wheels Hard Street And Park or Soft Cruiser or Assorted Under $39.

If you want more speed and don't mind a bit more weight and a higher center of gravity, keep in mind that the bigger your wheel, the closer it is to the deck.  (So it is more likely to rub the deck on a sharp turn.) You might want to add riser pads under your trucks to increase the clearance.

up to 56mm wheels = no riser pad needed unless you want it

57 - 58mm wheels = 1/4 inch riser pad recommended

59mm to 62mm wheels = 1/2 inch riser pad recommended

(note: average length of mounting hardware is 7/8 to 1 inch, so adding a riser pad will require longer hardware.  Just add the riser pad thickness to the length of hardware you choose. 1 1/4 for 1/4 inch riser, and 1 1/2 inch for 1/2 inch riser).  Shop for HAMMER Mounting Hardware HERE and Riser Pads HERE.

OTHER THINGS

All skate bearings will fit any wheel.  You pay more for bearings machined to higher tolerances, which may spin faster and last longer.  All the name brand bearings are pretty durable.  Shop for HAMMER Bearings HERE.

Grip tape is needed for traction on all decks, and it all works the same way.  Choose your favourite colour or design, or stick with traditional black.  Shop for HAMMER Grip Tape HERE.

EPILOGUE !

 ...Well, that's about it for the basics.  Now it's time to grab a board and see what all the fuss is about! 

Build Your Own Board from parts HERE or choose a Pre-Assembled Complete HERE or Cruiser HERE.

S.T.R.E.E.T.S:  Skating Totally Rules - Everything Else Totally Sucks! 

-- thanks for reading, Dave Buchanan.