Skateboard Buyers Guide
If you're an expert skateboarder chances are you already know what size parts you want, for those beginners who don't this buyers guide will help. It explains in some detail each component of a complete skateboard, the difference in sizing and will help you choose the right parts to create the perfect skateboard for you.
For first time skateboarders or novices who don't want to choose every component and assemble their own complete skateboard. We offer a range of pre-assembled complete skateboard packages that are made from the same quality components as are sold separately.
The deck is the most important part of the skateboard. The deck is the part the rider stands on and uses to perform tricks. Skateboard decks come in several different sizes or widths and have varying sized tails, noses and concaves.
The length of a skateboard deck can also vary but for the most part they are 32 inches long. There are benefits and disadvantages to each, below you will find what size deck is best for you.
Picking a proper width skateboard deck depends on the riders skill level, personal preference, the terrain they are riding and sometimes their shoe size. A regular 32 inch long skateboard deck ranges from 7.5 inches to about 8.5 inches wide. 1 inch can make a world of difference for the rider. Typically higher level skateboarders ride wider boards. Also if the shoe size of the rider is fairly large (10+) they may benefit from a wider board so their toes don't hang over the edge quite as much. Thinner boards are good for beginners, riders with small feet, and people doing street style skateboarding (flip tricks etc.). A wider skateboard deck will be good for skateboarders riding ramps, parks, pools etc.
- 7.5" - 8" -> Beginners, street style skateboarders
- 8" + -> Experts, skateboarders riding ramps, parks, pools etc.
Nose and Tail
It can sometimes be difficult to determine the nose from the tail of a skateboard deck. The graphic on the bottom is a good tool to use as it usually starts at the nose and runs down to the tail and the brand of the board is usually printed so it can be read this way. If it is a blank deck and has no graphic the nose is typically a little bit bigger or steeper than the tail. They may sometimes be equal in which case it doesn't matter which is which.
Skateboard decks are concaved throughout the middle of the board. This means the edges turn up from the middle of the deck starting at the bottom of the tail and ending at the bottom of the nose on both sides. Skateboard decks can have flatter or steeper concave but there will always be some. Choosing which is best for you depends on personal preference and preferred the terrain of the rider.
- Steep concave -> street style, flip tricks
- Flat concave -> ramps, parks, pools.
Blank vs. Pro Decks
The difference between blank and Pro skateboard decks is not just the graphic or the brand. The main difference between the two comes from the materials. All blank skateboard decks are made from maple and high quality glues but Pro decks often have higher quality glues, carbon fiber technologies infused in the plies of the deck and some even come with warranties against breakage.
The trucks are another essential component of a skateboard. The trucks typically have the longest lifetime of any of the components of a skateboard which is why it is extremely important to choose the right pair. They can be attached to many different boards and can have many different sets of wheels attached to them. There are two of them, they attach the wheels to the deck and help the rider turn. The trucks also provide a surface for the rider to grind rails, ledge, quarterpipes etc.
When new there is no front or back truck, however after some time riding them the rider may develop a preference as to which truck they like in the front and back. Skateboard trucks come in various different heights, axle widths and are made from different materials. The heights are low, mid and high and the axle widths vary from 7.5 inches and wider.
The width of the trucks should match the width of the deck. Choosing the proper height depends entirely on terrain. Low trucks are best for street style, high trucks are best for ramps and pools and mid trucks are a perfect all around height.
Most skateboard trucks are made from high quality aluminium however some are made from titanium. Some brands offer hollow kingpins and axles which greatly diminish weight. Those with hollow kingpins and axles are usually made from higher grade aluminium or titanium to guard against breakage.
Skateboard wheels come in sets of four and are made from hard urethane plastic. The hardness can vary between brands and even models within a brand. Wheels come in various sizes, these sizes are the diameter of the wheel measured in millimetres. They also come in different widths. Deciding on the size, width and hardness of a wheel depends again on the terrain. When riding skateboard parks and smooth surfaces the rider will like a harder wheel and those riding streets and rougher surfaces will prefer a softer wheel. Street style skateboards, in parks or otherwise, usually prefer a smaller, thinner wheel. While those riding ramps or pools will benefit from larger wider wheels.
Skateboard bearings are simply small precision ball bearings. They are a standard size and fit in to any skateboard wheel. Bearings come in sets of 8, two for each wheel. Bearings generally come in four ratings ABEC 3,5,7 and 9. The rating refers to the tolerance of a precision bearing. The higher the rating means there is more precision and efficiency but does not necessarily mean the wheels will spin much faster than those rated lower. When choosing which bearing is best of them the rider must decide how fast they plan on skating.
Griptape is essentially a sandpaper like material on one side and adhesive on the other. It is placed on the deck to provide grip for the riders shoes. The griptape is usually applied at the shop but can be done at home with the help of a sharp knife (see how to grip a skateboard deck). Griptape is usually black but comes in other colours and designs. If the rider is planning on applying their own griptape it is advised to get the perforated type to help avoid air bubbles.
The hardware is the smallest and arguably one of the most important components of the skateboard. Skateboard hardware are nuts and bolts that hold the trucks to the deck. Like the griptape hardware is typically black but comes in other colours. One inch is the most common length for skateboard harderware which is perfect for attaching regular trucks to a regular deck. If the rider wishes to use riser pads hardware longer than one inch is required.
Riser Pads, Alternate Bushings and Tools
Riser pads and different bushings are optional parts of a skateboard. Riser pads can be added if the trucks are too low for how loose the rider wants their trucks or if the rider wants bigger wheels. The bushings are the plastic part of the truck that help with turning, they are found around the kingpin. These can break down over time. Bushings can be changed if they break down or if the rider wants to change the tightness or looseness of their trucks more than the kingpin will let them. Pretty much every skateboarder has a skate tool. A skate tool is usually T shaped and has fittings for each of the different sized nuts on the trucks as well as a phillips screw driver and an allen key for tightening hardware. All the nuts and bolts of a skateboard truck are standard sizes and every tool should work with every truck. A tool makes changing a deck or wheels a breeze and are perfect for fine tuning the tightness of the trucks, something skateboarders get very picky about as they progress into intermediate and expert levels of skating.
TAKING CAR OF YOUR BOARD
You skateboard deck is strong and can take a lot of abuse. But here are a few things you should watch out for.
Moisture and humidity are the biggest things to worry about. On humid days, your board will tend to absorb moisture causing the board to swell. The opposite happens when the humidity drops. This expanding and contracting of your board may cause your mounting hardware to loosen and/or board veneer to crack. You can avoid all of this by storing your board inside your house, garage or wherever the temperature and humidity level stay roughly the same.
Exposure to heat or direct sunlight can also cause your deck to warp or crack. Be careful leaving your board near a window or in the car.
Riding your board in the rain is one of the fastest ways to ruin your deck. If you find yourself riding in the rain, be sure to clean off your board as soon as you get in. This can be a long process because it involves taking the trucks off the deck and making sure there is no pooling of water underneath them.
Trucks are the strongest part of your board and should last the longest. There are a few things you can do to make sure they last as long as possible. Bushings are the only part you may have to replace. After prolonged use the bushings can crack and warp causing your board to sway in one direction. This can also happen by tightening brand new bushings too tight. If your bushings are squeaking, don’t worry this is normal. You can add a little lube to the area and that should take care of the noise.
Wheels will wear away and develop flat spots or crack over a long period of time. Once this happens it is time to get new ones. There is not much you can do about this. Harder durometer wheels tend to wear away faster than softer.
Bearings are the reason you are able to roll at all. Over time they will slowly seize up from dirt and sometimes rust if ridden in the rain. You can take your bearings out of your wheels and clean them from time to time to prolong their life. There are different methods of doing this but most involve taking the bearing covers off and soaking the exposed area in a solvent like alcohol. After they have been soaked, thoroughly dry them and apply a lubricant or grease before replacing the covers. Once fully seized it is time to get a new pair of bearings.
It is recommended that beginner skateboarders wear protection. Cement is not forgiving and the nature of the sport means the rider undoubtedly will come into contact with said cement. Helmets are number one for safety but we recommend wrist guards also. Wrists are vulnerable and the way that skateboarders usually fall, putting their hands down to break the fall can easily injure the wrists. Knee and elbow pads are always a good idea, especially if the rider is very new. It is usually mandatory when riding vert ramps to wear all pads, especially knee pads. When riding ramps or pools knee pads come in very handy to slide out of falls instead of slamming sideways into the bottom.
CLICK HERE to view a list of Torontos skate parks including maps, pictures and bios.