Buying a beginner skateboard

skateboard buying guide - popsicle shape

I often have parents asking questions about buying beginner skateboards for skate school and, unfortunately some turn up with skateboards from Argos. This is a waste of money. Here’s some pointers about what skateboards to buy for beginners.

FYI we are learning in the skatepark so I advise to buy a popsicle shape board, as pictured above, because it is the most versatile, i.e. for tricks and using in the skatepark and the street. There are other skateboard types for downhill, cruising, posing etc but we won’t discuss those types here.

Try before you buy

This is always best. Go to a skater owned skateshop. Ask to stand on some boards and for advice. Alternatively lurk at the local skatepark. If you see someone competent and approachable ask for some advice, just ask to have a go. You can also come and try our boards by booking one of our beginner skateboard lessons for just £12.

Beginners should buy a ‘complete’ skateboard

Complete skateboards are cheaper and pre-built, which are great for beginners, and saves you a job putting it together. The alternative, for pro setups, is to buy separate components and put it together yourself.  This requires some experience. This sort of investment also isn’t always viable when you are just finding out if you are going to skate for life, or if that £120 skateboard will just gather dust in the garage.

If searching for a beginner skateboard online, search for a ‘complete skateboard’ because this what retailers who sell authentic product call it. They do this to differentiate from the professional grade product they sell. If you don’t see them referred to as completes beware, look elsewhere.

How much should I spend on a beginner skateboard?

As a rule:

  • Don’t spend less than £40 on a beginner skateboard.

In my experience it’s fit for the bin if less than this. There may be exceptions to this rule however. The problem with cheap boards lies in the cheap components, most problematic are the trucks (the metal bits that the wheels attach to).

Don’t buy a cheap skateboard from Amazon or Argos

The problem with parents buying cheap skateboards from Argos and Amazon is that you step on your new skateboard, and it doesn’t turn.  This is a major problem. Why? Let’s make a quick analogy with the bicycle….

If you were learning to ride a bike and the handlebars didn’t turn, you’d fall off. This is because before steering, handlebars perform the essential function of correcting your centre of gravity, i.e. to not fall off. The trucks on a skateboard, like handlebars on a bike, perform this critical function.

With non-functioning trucks, a beginner will fall off the cheap skateboard, thinking, ‘this skateboarding is too difficult’, and won’t bother trying again. Argos skateboards will end up in landfill – a consumer pattern we shouldn’t be encouraging in the 21st century.

If you have a skateboard that doesn’t turn

All is not lost if your skateboard doesn’t turn. Take a wheel into the palm of each hand, and grasp the board with your fingers, as you squeeze alternately with each hand the trucks should flex. If they are not flexing, try loosening the nut on the kingpin. If it still isn’t flexing smoothly then it’s likely you have cheap bushings (or rubbers).

I had a parent order a beginner skateboard online and I thought it would be fine, as they are a recognised skate shop and the board was around £40. But when they came for a lesson the board didn’t turn. All the components looked good apart from the rubbers. In fact, I don’t think they were made of rubber at all. They were plastic. Unfortunately, the board was useless, all for the manufacturer to save a few pence.

All was not lost in this scenario. I advised they go and buy new rubbers, and replace them. The board now rides well.

Where to buy a beginner skateboard

In the order of preference:

  1. From a skater-owned skate shop, with a skateboarder selling you the right equipment for the person riding it. This is always best.
  2. From an online skate shop. Problem here is you need to know what equipment you need, or you’d need to get help with this remotely.
  3. Buy second-hand on ebay. The important component is the trucks. These often last years. Upgrade the board as and when required.
  4. Somewhere else…

If you can’t make it in-store we’d suggest checking out the completes at Slamcity.com. They have completes organised into age ranges for you. It’s not idiot proof but as good as you’ll get online.

Buying second hand you should buy known truck brands:

  • Independent
  • Venture
  • Royal
  • Thunder

These are all good skateboard trucks, and if the trucks are known then the rest of the setup should be good quality. Other skateboard brands make their own trucks too which they put on their completes, which are fine.

What size skateboard should we get?

OK, I’m going to try and make some general recommendations on skateboard size for different ages ranges. As a rule the toes and heels should be close to or just hanging over the edge the board. Try and physically stand on the board if possible, if not, speak to a skater at the shop if you can.

  • With the very youngest kids, you should get as small as possible. This starts at about 7 inches wide.
  • With the kids getting bigger, up to 9 y.o. you can go to around 7.5 inches.
  • Pre-puberty you can go to 7.75 inches.
  • Post-puberty you may want to go to 8 inches wide and above for bigger, heavier kids.
  • A size for average adults is around 8.25 inches. Bigger/heavier people will want to go to 8.5 inches and above.

What size board you want may also differ based upon what sort of skating you want to do. Bigger boards are better for speed & stability and so for bowl and vert. Smaller skateboards are better for technical tricks on street, i.e. flips etc.

What beginner skateboard brands to buy?

In my experience the brands that supply completes at or near the price point talked about worthy of buying are:

  • Birdhouse
  • Rocket
  • Enuff
  • Fracture

Of course, if you are more brand conscious and/or money is no object then you can buy completes from most of the well known US brands upwards of £80. As we’re in the UK I’d suggest supporting UK brands. These are a few that may sell completes:

  • Death skateboards
  • Blueprint
  • Unabomber

I hope this helps. If you want any further clarity please give me a shout or book a skateboard lesson with us to try one of our skateboards before you buy.

If you have just bought a skateboard check out our advice on how to adjust your trucks before you use it.

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