If you don’t have time to read this whole article about beginner skateboards. Here’s a summary:
- Buy a ‘complete skateboard’. It’s cheaper and prebuilt.
- Don’t spend less than £40/€40 on a complete skateboard (more to be on the safe side).
- Get the right size skateboard. Use our skateboard sizing tool
- Make sure the trucks flex smoothly so you can turn (essential for balance)
I often have parents asking questions about buying beginner skateboards for their children and, unfortunately some turn up with skateboards from Argos and Amazon. This is a waste of money.
FYI we are learning skills to ride in the street, or the skatepark so I advise to buy a popsicle shape board, as pictured above. A popsicle shape is the most versatile, i.e. for tricks and using in the skatepark and the street. It is symmetrical, so is good for learning fakie and/or switch tricks. There are other skateboard types for downhill, cruising, posing etc but we won’t discuss those types here.
The two key aspects to consider are:
- is it fit for purpose?
- is it the right size for me?
To address point 2, please try our new skateboard sizing tool.
Try before you buy
For sizing this is always best. You can try our boards by booking one of our beginner skateboard lessons for just £12.
If you can’t do this, go to a skater owned skate shop. 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.
Beginners should buy a ‘complete’ skateboard
Complete skateboards are cheaper and pre-built, which are great for beginners who aren’t sure if they are going to commit. A complete also 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 setup 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/€40 on a beginner skateboard.
In my experience it’s rubbish if it retails for 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, start rolling, and it doesn’t turn. This is a major problem for a beginner skateboarder. 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. The first thing you learn when riding is to balance. Before consciously steering, the handlebars perform the essential function of correcting your centre of gravity. The trucks on a skateboard, like handlebars on a bike, perform this critical function.
Without functioning trucks, a beginner will fall off the cheap skateboard, thinking, ‘this skateboarding is too difficult’, and won’t bother trying again. Argos & Amazon skateboards will end up in landfill – a consumer pattern we shouldn’t be encouraging in the 21st century.
Consumer protection laws make it impossible for a retailer to sell you a bike with handlebars which don’t turn because of health and safety concerns. If you find yourself in possession of a skateboard with trucks that don’t flex/turn, we suggest going back to the retailer and use this same analogy to get your money back.
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 smoothly. 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/cents.
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:
- From a skater-owned skate shop, with a skateboarder selling you the right equipment for the person riding it. This is usually best.
- 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.
- Buy second-hand on ebay. The important component is the trucks. These often last years. Upgrade the board as and when required.
- 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:e
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.
Children’s beginner skateboards
We’ve heard of some skate shops selling adult sized boards to kids. The logic being that they will be stable and good for learning to push. Which makes sense. The problem however, is that when you get onto the kickturn – a relatively basic trick, the child will struggle with the extra weight. We recommend you buy skateboards with smaller wheelbases for learning to ride the skatepark.
- Children’s skateboards are called “mini’s”. So you’ll be looking for a ‘Mini Complete Skateboard’. Mini’s start at about 6.75 inches wide. They key thing with mini’s are that you are getting a shorter wheelbase (the distance between the trucks) of around 11 inches, which is best for little legs.
- Pre-puberty you can go up to around 7.5 inches wide. The risk with 7.5 is that some of these come with an adult wheelbase (13+ inches), so are not good for little legs. If in doubt go 7.375 wide. The wheelbase should not be longer than 12 inches.
- Post-puberty you want to go to 7.5/7.75 inches wide. Again, be aware that 7.5s come with a range of wheelbases that could suit a five year old (around 11″) or an adult (13″+). Go up to 8″ wide for bigger, heavier kids.
Adult beginner skateboards
- 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:
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
How to adjust the trucks on your new skateboard
If you have just bought a skateboard check out our advice on how to adjust your trucks before you use it.