Buying a beginners skateboard

skateboard buying guide

At skate school I often get questions from parents about what beginner boards to buy for their kids. Because we are learning in the skatepark I advise to buy a popsicle shape board because it is the most versatile, i.e. for tricks and using in the skatepark and the street. There are other board types for speed, cruising etc but we won’t discuss those types here.

Buy a complete skateboard for beginners

Complete skateboards are cheaper and pre-built, which saves you a job putting it together. The alternative, for pro setups, is to buy separate components and put it together yourself. This sort of investment 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.

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 Argos

The problem with parents buying cheap skateboards is that kids step on their new skateboard, and it doesn’t turn. Now 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. You may persevere but it would be impossible to stay up. The handlebars, before being used to steer intentionally, first perform the critical function of maintaining your centre of gravity, i.e staying upright.

It’s the same deal for a skateboard. 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. If you take the wheels of one end of the board in your palms 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 then it’s likely you have cheap bushings (or rubbers).

I had a parent order a 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. The parent went out and bought new rubbers, and replaced 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…

Decathlon ones aren’t awful, as long as you stick to the sub £40 rule.

Bear in mind to buy known brands. Trucks made by:

  • Independent
  • Venture
  • Royal
  • Thunder

are all good skateboard trucks, but often you have to buy these separately so may not suit beginners. 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. Try and speak to a skater at the shop too if you can.

  • With the very youngest kids, you should get around 7 inch wide boards.
  • With the kids getting bigger, up to 10 y.o. you can go to around 7.5 inches.
  • When the average size kids are hitting puberty you can go to 7.75 inches. With taller, heavier teenagers you may want to go to 8 inches wide and above.
  • 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 differ based upon what sort of skating you want to do. Bigger boards are better for bowl and vert. Smaller are better for street and 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 buying are:

  • Birdhouse
  • Enuff
  • Fracture

Of course, if you are more brand conscious and/or money is no object then you can buy completes from all the well known brands closer to £80:

  • Zoo York
  • Santa Cruz
  • Darkstar
  • Alien Workshop
  • Anti-hero
  • Almost, etc

I hope this helps. If you want any further clarity please give me a shout or come along to one of our beginner skateboard classes in Charlton, London and we’ll try and help you out.

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