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Skateboard Buyers Guide

We have put together a skateboard buyer's guide to help you get the best ride to help you on your skateboarding journey.

Complete vs Custom? 

For your first skateboard you have 2 options, do you get a complete 'ready to skate' board or do you get a custom setup. Firstly, a complete setup generally refers to an already constructed and assembled skateboard, this will usually come from a single manufacturer with the only choices needed being to select the size (correct for your height or style of skating), brand and look of the skateboard. Generally speaking buying a ready made complete will save you a bit of money and give you a good quality ride, be very functional and is the right sort of ride for a beginner. The wheels, trucks, and bearing combos are very standard in design and will suit most types of street and park skating.

A custom setup will allow you far greater choice of parts to suit exactly the look and feel that you are after. This will allow you make some variations in both the look and the performance that you would otherwise be unable to do with a 'ready made complete'. You can use softer, bigger, or smaller wheels which is handy if you are after a faster or smoother ride. You can lighten or lower the skateboard trucks to make it easier to do tricks or to suit a specific ride height. You can select composite decks that allow for more pop and last longer in the punishment you are about to dish out on it. You can select an individual bearing choice like stainless or titanium that may perform better in the environment that you tend to skate in. And finally can you add less essential things like printed or premium griptapes for that very individual look and feel. Every skateboard deck on our website can be turned into a custom complete by taking advantage of the options available on the same product page, and don't worry, every option available there will fit that skateboard. You get a free griptape option with every board and a bonus 10% discount off all the parts you select. The Basement skate crew will assemble your setup free of charge and make sure its ready to skate straight out of the box

The main thing to be aware of here is that skateboarding is a parts game, if you start off with a ready-made complete or a custom setup its really up to you but either way you only ever have to buy a complete skateboard once, after that if you want a better ride you only need to upgrade a part. Unless you send your skateboard under a truck, you will rarely have to buy a complete skateboard again.

Skateboard Deck Size Matters

When choosing a skateboard deck or a ready made complete it all starts with the size. There are lots of different measurements of a skateboard deck but the one that really matters is the width and it is with that measurement that we divide up decks. Standard skateboard decks come in a variety of sizes from about 7 inches to 9 inches wide, as the size gets bigger the rest of the measurments (length and wheelbase) get proportionally bigger. 

For The little Guy

For the little guy size matters most, this is because the length and width of the board will effect them the most when they are attempting to do tricks. Giving a young kid a skateboard that is too big while they are attempting to learn tricks will not make it impossible but will make it more difficult than it needs to be, and lets face it children only have so much attention span, you want to show them reward for effort by giving them a ride that allows them to progress in skill. Decks between 7" and 7.5" tend to have smaller wheelbases (less then 14") and allow them to have a natural stance over the skateboard trucks. The narrower deck will be both lighter and more accurately matched up to the size of their feet allowing them greater board feel and an easier path to using the rail of the deck to complete tricks.

For Everybody Else

For the young guy (early teens) boards between 7.5" and 7.9" are generally most suitable. This will give them a light skateboard with a medium wheelbase that is quick to ollie and flip. From 8" wide we are talking full sized skateboards where you start to pick sizes that feel most comfortable to you. Its becomes a personal preference whether to go for 8", 8.1",8.25 or even 8.375". The size you pick may vary by the size of your shoe, or it may be the stance that is most comfortable or simply what you are used to riding. At 8.5 wide we are normally talking taller riders that would appreciate a bit of extra wheelbase and a comfortable concave space for bigger feet. boards bigger then 8.5" are generally better suited to bigger transition skate parks and bowls where the speed and the grind is quicker and longer. 

Features of Skateboard Decks

Width

The key measurements of every skateboard is the width and this is how most boards are divided up in groups. Narrower decks for smaller feet and shorter riders, wider decks for bigger feet and larger riders. It is very important to select the correct skateboad truck size to fit the width of your deck. The axles of your trucks (full width of the truck) should not exceed the witdth of the deck.

Length and Wheelbase

The length of a skateboard deck is mostly obvious as a tip to tip measurement. Generally speaking the wheelbase will increase in proportion to this and is the measuremnt from the inner to inner bolt holes. Short wheelbase for kids or those that want a quick responsive board for flip tricks, longer wheelbase for taller riders and those that want to skate faster and larger transition ramps and bowls

Concave

The concave is the radial curve across the width of the deck that locks your feet into the board. It also allows you to have a greater feel of where your feet are on the skateboard

Nose and Tail Kicks

Nose and tail kicks are a feature of skateboards so you can complete tricks like ollies and kickflips. Generally speaking the tail kick is shorter and steeper to allow extra leverage and the nose is shallower but longer to make it easier to catch it with your front foot. The difference between the nose and the tail is subtle but important.

Construction

Most skateboards are made from 7plys of North American hardrock maple. This material allows for the best strength to weight ratio for good performance. For a premium ride manufacturers will often add a layer of carbon fibre to the deck to increase the torsional stiffness and add more pop that lasts longer then an entirely hardrock maple deck. Occasionally a single veneer of some more exotic wood is added to the top or bottom layer purely for aesthetic purposes like teak, oak, bamboo, zebrawood or some other material

Skateboard Trucks

Skateboard trucks come in many sizes to suit the width of your skateboard. The general aim is to match the width of your truck with the width of your board so it doesn't get caught up on things when your trying to do various tricks. Having the correct width truck will make your skateboard more stable and allow for a better turn response. There are other choices you can make with skateboard trucks that mainly revolve around lightness. Trucks can be made from various things but are generally aluminum alloy in the hanger and baseplate with steel axles and kingpins. These are often made lighter or stronger by either changing the material (aluminum, steel, magnesium, titanium) using a different manufacturing technique (cast, forged, machined), or hollowing out the existing part (kingpins and axles). Generally speaking a lighter skateboard truck will feel nicer to ride but will be more expensive, changing things like steel to titanium axles and cast to forged baseplates will give you the double of both stronger and lighter but will add a bit extra in the cost.

Features of Skateboard Trucks

Axle
The axle is the long pin that runs through the hanger and will attach to the wheels.

Hanger
The hanger is the triangular metal piece that is the largest part of the skateboard truck, and supports the axle, which runs through it.

Kingpin
The kingpin is the big bolt that fits inside the bushings and holds the skate trucks parts together. Recently, hollow kingpins (and axles) have been on the rise, because they are lighter weight but don't compromise strength or durability.

Bushings
The bushings are the soft urethane barrels fitted around the kingpin to allow the board to turn smoothly.

Pivots
The pivot is where the hanger meets the baseplate at the front of the truck and allows the board to turn and pivot smoothly. There is always a urethane pivot cup between these parts to both protect and allow for smooth consistent turn

Truck Bushings

Bushings are the urethane part between the hanger and the baseplate that allow for better and smoother turn. Changing or upgrading you truck bushings is the easiest way to make an old set of trucks feel brand new again. There are 2 types of bushing shapes - barrel and conical. Barrel bushings will give you more rebound and response with a greater inclination to return to center while conical bushings will give you a more consistant linear turn. At the moment Bones hardcore literally own the market for super quality aftermarket bushings and will simply improve your ride over any set of standard bushings. 

Skate Truck Size to Skate Deck Size Guide by Brand

BRAND Model ACTUAL AXLE LENGTH RECCOMENDED DECK SIZE
Tensor 5 7.75″ 7.4″ – 7.75″
  5.25 7.9"  7.9″ – 8.125″
  5.5 8.25"  8.25″ – 8.4″
  5.75 8.4"  8.4″ – 8.6″
  6 8.6"  8.6″ – 8.8″
Independent 129 7.6″ 7.3″ – 7.9″
  139 8″ 8″ – 8.4″
  149 8.5″ 8.5″ – 8.7″
  159 8.75″ 8.75″ – 9.25″
  169 9″ 9.25″ – 9.75″
  215 10″ 10″ +
Thunder 145 7.75″ 7.3″ – 7.9″
  147 8.25″ 8″ – 8.4″
  149 8.5″ 8.5″ – 8.6″
  151 8.7″ 8.7″ – 8.8″
Ace 22 7.6″ 7.4″ – 7.9″
  33 8″ 8.0″ – 8.3″
  44 8.4″ 8.4″ – 8.7″
  55 9.0″ 9.0″ – 9.3″
  66 9.4″ 9.4″ – 9.6″
Venture 5 7.75″ 7.4″ – 7.75″
  5.25 8.0″ 8.0″ – 8.4″
  5.8 8.5″ 8.5″ – 8.7″
Theeve 5 7.7″ 7.3″ – 7.8″
  5.25 7.9″ 7.9″ – 8.1″
  5.5 8.2″ 8.2″ – 8.4″
  5.85 8.5″ 8.5″ – 8.8″
  6.5 9″ 9.0″ – 9.3″
Destructo 5 7.6″ 7.3″ – 7.9″
  5.25 8.0″ 8.0″ – 8.2″
  5.5 8.2″ 8.2″ – 8.5″

Skateboard Wheels

Very simply skateboard wheels are the part of the skateboard that allows you to roll and controls how fast, slow, or smooth you move. The main measurements of skateboard wheels are the size and the durometer (hardness). A smaller wheel will have more acceleration but a bigger wheel will be faster. A softer wheel will have more grip and be smoother but a harder wheel will be a little faster and have better slide characteristics. The wheel you choose will relate significantly to the style of ride you want. Keep in mind that all wheels will do a bit of everything its just that some wheels are better designed for that specific purpose than others

Street Skating wheels (50mm - 54mm)

Most wheels designed for street skating (flip tricks, grinding ledges, and smaller transition skate parks) will be between 50mm and 54mm. This allows for a board that is quick off the mark, rides lower to the ground and is better for technical skating. Most of these wheels have round or radial edges to give you a consistant slide and have a narrow contact patch of between 13mm and 19mm

Transition Skate Parks and Ramps (53mm - 56mm)

These wheels will usually be between 56 and 60mm and will give you increased speed for longer grinds, easier movement between ramps and a little more grip via  generally increased contact patch. Transition park wheels will mostly have round edges with the occassional conical edge on the bigger 56mm for better grip

Bowls and Vert Ramps (56mm - 60mm)

These larger diameter wheels give you the speed you require to land bigger above the coping trucks. They will also allow a smoother transition between parts of the ramp or bowl via more stability and control. Bowl and Vert wheels will either use a round edge shape with and increased contact patch or a concial edge with a narrower contact patch, both will increase grip with the concical wheel trying to also maintain higher speed

Choosing the Hardness (durometer) of Your Wheels

The durometer of a skateboard wheel is the measure of hardness. Most manufacturers use the Durometer A Scale, which is a 100-point scale that quantifies how hard a wheel is. The higher the number, the harder the wheel. Generally speaking harder wheels are faster but only on very smooth tearrain like polished concrete skate parks. Softer wheels may be a little slower but provide more grip and a smoother ride. 

78a - 86a

A soft wheel that is great for cruising the streets. A commuter wheel that is quiet and smooth over rough terrain where you need lots of grip  to easily roll over cracks and rocks. designed for a smooth rider, cruising, commuting, bombing hills and rough surfaces

87a - 91a

A slightly harder wheel that will be a little faster but with a little less grip. Still very smooth and great if you are using a regular skateboard to get around town and for throwing down fun slide in back alleys.

92a - 95a

An all-around wheel with great speed and grip. Perfect for beginner street skaters, ramp and park, pools and bowls. also greate for the advanced skater who wants a board that easier to puch and won't rattle the bones on the way to the skate park

96a - 98a

These wheels are on the softer side of hard and are perfect for the skater that wants good speed but with nice grip and control

99 - 101a

Hard wheels with the least grip but great slide. Loud and a bit slippery on rough terrain but with the perfect slide and speed on smooth skate park surfaces

Features of Skateboard Wheels