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Oh wow...how did it come to THIS?! Beautiful child wants a stupid skateboard and now you have to figure out what’ to buy... it’s a nightmare!
We remember when skateboards were all red and plastic and went down hills and it was easy. Now they seem to have every size, colour and shape. They go down stairs and up ramps and round bowls and it’s...complicated...what to DO?
Well, stay with us dear Mumsnet reader, let us take you by the hand so we can roll together.
It’s not hard to buy a skateboard that darling son or daughter will cherish, although take note they will slowly destroy it as they harness its powers to fly through the air and... land on their knees in some pain 😬
The Whole Shebang
The first thing to know is you can buy a skateboard ‘complete’, which is exactly what you’d expect. It has all the parts lovingly assembled by experts at your local skate store and is good to go. We would highly recommend this option for those starting out, especially for younger riders who are less fussed by particular brands and big name pros.
Just please don’t buy ‘completes’ from non-skate stores!
Just please don’t buy ‘completes’ from non-skate stores! They haven’t a clue what they are doing, and will have bought products in bulk from discount manufacturers that won’t last a month. If you spend around £75/€85/$95 or over then you are off to a great start. Skateboards costing much less than that are nothing more than toys and can sometimes be unsafe, just stay away!
But we know, you want to do this properly, you’re feeling adventurous (or someone you love is being demanding), so let us guide you through the parts that make up a skateboard. You’ll win hearts and minds for years to come!
The Wooden Bit
The bit of wood that you stand on is called the deck or board. For a thin platform that gets stamped on all day you would think they could find a better material than wood, but wood is what everyone prefers and it’s not going away. It’s actually a pretty strong and flexible kind of plywood, normally 7-ply, often made from maple. Other materials just don’t work the same way.
The deck has a nose and a tail which very simply is the front and back
The deck has a nose and a tail which very simply is the front and back, but slightly less-simply you can also ride the tail forwards, or put your back foot on the nose and, and and... let’s just not go there yet! Half the time you won’t be able to tell the difference anyway as many boards are almost symmetrical.
Decks come in different sizes and shapes, youngsters will want a mini or mid-size deck, while teenage nightmares/mid-life crisis sufferers will want a full size deck 7.75” wide and up. It turns out that after all the technical specifications, it so often boils down to a matter of personal taste about the board brand, professional skater’s name and individual graphics.
A deck will need replacing frequently, it depends how often it is skated and where. Skating an indoor wooden skatepark once a week will see it last many months if not a year while street skating every day it may only last a few months. Pros will easily replace boards after a few days, while beginners can make them last a year or more, but they will eventually wear down, go soggy and make skateboarding even more difficult than it already is.
And yes boards can sometimes break, the store’s replacement policy is normally based on manufacturing defect only.
The Metal Bits
Underneath the board you’ll find the trucks. They hold the wheels in place, let you turn and also do that screechy-scrapy thing on the edge called grinding. Trucks take a long time to wear out so don’t worry too much about that.
Just to keep you on your toes, trucks are measured in both millimetres and inches and you need to make sure to buy the right size for the deck. We can help! Check out this full guide here or let the store do the work by advising you or buying a complete set-up.
The wheels on the board go round and round, hit a stone, and fall right down. The reason you’re reading this today is because of polyurethane wheels which transformed what was possible on a skateboard in the late 70s, making the ride much smoother and faster compared to clay and metal wheels from before then.
Wheels have a particular diameter, hardness (durometer), colour, graphic, shape and compound, and thankfully every wheel will fit every truck. Most wheels are also pretty similar to each other, with smaller variations in size and shape compared to decks. For general street and park skating get wheels between 50-56mm in diameter. Bigger wheels are for bigger terrain, for going down hills fast and doing fewer technical tricks.
We could talk about bolts, bearings and griptape for hours - especially bearings [LINK] - but we admit you might not find them as fascinating as us. The smaller parts of a skateboard can make a difference after plenty of practice but will make very little difference to someone starting out. All the bolts, bearings and griptape and other accessories we sell will fit and work well. Some are better than others but if you’re buying from us - or any of our partners - all of them are legit.
You are already in the right place.
You’ve kind of made it! You are now a bona fide skateboard-understanderer, unhoodwinkable by the most devious of teenage experts. You know the ins and outs, the bits and bobs. You have officially become Steve Buscemi in 30 Rock “How do you do fellow kids?” except with a smidgen more legitimacy, and your son or daughter will love you for it.
Just don’t ever hold the skateboard by the truck, PLEASE!
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