- Written by Mike Gruwell
Want to buy your first real skateboard? This is for you...
Looking for your first skateboard? Or maybe your first “real” skateboard after trying to ride that one you picked up from Wal-Mart that’s warped and the wheels don’t spin too well?
ChutingStar-Skate can help. We’ve been there and we want to help you dress for success to enable a ton of fun shredding the streets, park and your neighborhood.
This article will focus on the street, ramp and skate park skateboard. This is the type of skateboard that you see in the X-Games, Street League, the local skate parks, grinding rails outside local businesses and on backyard ramps.
Cruisers and longboards will be addressed in a separate article.
Skateboards are made up of 6 essential elements:
- Skateboard Deck
- Grip Tape
The skateboard deck most commonly comes in a basic oval shape, but has different levels of concave, widths and lengths. Other shapes are becoming more common for pool riding and cruising as the skate industry pulls from its old school history. The manufacturers of each brand set the lengths, concave and widths, and these vary slightly, but your main concern will be width. Desired skateboard width varies based on skate style, body size and individual preference.
But in general, 7"-7.9" widths work great for younger skaters, street skaters or those needing a board that is easier to maneuver for tricks. Smaller boards can be easier to maneuver, but not as stable for larger riders. For beginners, these size boards are best for skaters aged 6-12 with a shoe size up to size 8 and a height up to 5’2”.
The 8"-9" widths are great for jumping off tall objects, larger skaters, skate filmers, vert/ramp skating or cruising. Larger boards are more stable, but can be harder to maneuver for smaller riders. For beginners, these size boards are best for skaters aged 13+ with a shoe size of 9+ and a height of more than 5’3”.
Skateboard deck widths are listed on ChutingStar.com with each deck as well as with each complete skateboard. If you’re unsure of what width to get, follow the recommendations above or contact us for more information.
Grip tape is a sandpaper-like material with an adhesive back applied to the top of a skateboard deck. This gives you traction so you don’t slip off the skateboard deck with every small turn. As you increase your skills, it also allows you to push, maneuver and stay with the board as needed during tricks.
Grip tape usually comes in a sheet size of 9” x 33” to fit standard street skateboard decks. Each manufacturer varies slightly on the grit type on their grip tape, but for a beginner, any sheet of grip tape will do.
Grip tape is available in a large variety of designs, cut-outs and colors. So personalize it as you see fit and choose whatever suits you.
Complete skateboards already come with grip tape applied. Skateboard decks sold separately will need a sheet of grip tape applied and cut to size. There are numerous videos online demonstrating how to apply grip tape, or you can contact us for help on gripping your skateboard deck.
Two trucks are needed to attach your wheels and bearings to your skateboard deck. Trucks are manufactured in a variety of widths and heights as well as material and designs from several manufacturers.
For a beginner, you will want a mid-height (standard height) truck and need only be concerned with the width. The skateboard deck width you choose will determine the truck width needed.
Sometimes you’ll see a hanger width as well as an axle width. It’s the full axle width that you need to pay attention to. Basically on any truck width you can go plus or minus a 1/4" for the deck width.
- 7.63" Axle width trucks are commonly used with 7.4 to 7.9 inch decks.
- 7.91" Axle width trucks are commonly used with 7.75 to 8.18 inch decks.
- 8.0" Axle width trucks are commonly used with 7.75 to 8.25 inch decks.
- 8.18" Axle width trucks are commonly used with 7.9 to 8.38 inch decks.
- 8.38" Axle width trucks are commonly used with 8.25-8.6 inch decks.
Riser pads will be needed with mid-height trucks if using a wheel size of more than 56mm. But for a beginner, you can start with a wheel size of 50-56mm and not worry about riser pads, or just get a set of thin 1/8” shock pads to reduce vibration for skating street as well as lessen the impact of landing. Riser pads, go between the trucks and the skateboard deck.
Trucks come with the hardware needed to attach your wheels/bearings to the axles, but trucks do not come with the hardware needed to attach your trucks to the skateboard deck.
Each set of skateboard hardware includes 8 bolts and 8 locknuts. The bolts come in a variety of lengths, and each manufacturer tends to vary its colors or head type to stand out from the rest.
For a beginner, you’ll want the standard 1” length, which is the length you need for trucks attached to a skateboard deck without risers. If you get risers, just add that length into the hardware you need. For example, using 1/8” risers would then mean getting 1 1/8” hardware.
As far as brands, colors and head types, that’s up to you. For the most part, they’re all good…so customize as you see fit.
Wheels come in sets of 4 for a complete assembly and are made of urethane in a variety of widths, diameters (height) and durometers (hardness).
To simplify this for a beginner, don’t worry about the width as that is something you can fine tune later for what you like the best. Start with a diameter in the 52-55 range and a durometer in the 90s-100. This will give a solid wheel that works great for street, ramps and skate parks. Wheels in this range have just enough grip to learn, but hard enough to slide your wheels on harder surfaces when needed.
Don’t get too caught up in brands when starting out. Choose whatever color and design that is your style, and stick within the diameter and durometer range above.
Wheels cannot be attached to your trucks unless you have the bearings. And wheels do not include the bearings, except for one exception for lighted wheels.
Each new set of bearings includes 8 bearings; 2 for each wheel. One bearing is set into each side of each wheel.
Any set of bearings at ChutingStar.com is better than what is installed on any mass-produced skateboard in a big box store, so you can choose as cheap or as expensive as you want. There are different rating systems, and for the most part the more expensive the bearing, the faster they spin.
But for a beginner, a bearing that rolls too fast can make it harder to learn. So just choose a set of bearings in the lower cost range and be done with it. You can always buy the Mac Daddy bearings later to G up your ride for more speed.
Have ChutingStar.com, or any other local skateshop, set your bearings. Skate shops have bearing presses that seat the bearings in to the wheels with ease. Installing bearings without a bearing press can be done, but it’s much easier to just have it done with a bearing press…and it’ll prevent you from ruining that new set of bearings wrestling to get them installed.
In addition to fully assembled, ready to ride, skateboards from most major manufacturers, you can also get sub-assemblies.
ChutingStar.com carries a great set of sub-assemblies used by pros and beginners alike from Mini Logo. These sub-assemblies include the trucks, wheels and bearings already assembled. If choosing this pre-assembled package, then you would just additionally need the Skateboard Deck, Grip Tape and Hardware to complete the setup.
Local Popular Brand: Mini Logo Sub-Assemblies.
For assembly, as well as later adjustments, pickup a skate tool from ChutingStar.com. These all-in-one tools have the exact sizes needed for assembling the truck hardware, putting on your wheels and adjusting your kingpin nut on your trucks.
Contact us for any further assistance or help on choosing that first skateboard…or that first “real” skateboard.
Skate hard, grind long and ollie high…Skate, Push, Play…ChutingStar-Skate.