Picking skateboard parts is easy if you pick components that match. Truck do not fit every deck and wheel hardness and diameter do impact performance. This information should guide you through the process of choosing the right parts for the first time to help avoid mistakes.
First choose the right size deck, matching trucks, decent wheels, and proper bearings. These are the components you need:
- Skateboard deck between 8.0″ and 8.5″
- Independent or Thunder trucks are the most common preferred brand that match deck width.
- A set of Bronson bearings.
- Wheels between 50mm and 53mm for street and 54mm to 56mm for skate parks.
- Wheel hardness between 96A en 99A for street and 96A to 101A/84D for skate parks.
- Grip tape. Jessup or Grizzly is suggested.
Compatibility is import so to make sure the skateboard deck you pick matches the trucks and the same goes for the wheels. You don’t have to worry too much about deck length and width when you’re a beginner, anything between 8.0″ and 8.5″ isgood.
Once you get the basics down you probably have a better idea of what kind of setup you need. I recommend not going all out for your first skateboard, anything between $100 and $130 is fine. You can get the cheap beginners’ skateboard setups for about 70 bucks.
Step 1. Skateboard Deck
Pick decks for their shape and a specific width. Shapes and width are a preference and you’ll learn what you like along the way. Narrow deck flips and wider decks provide more stability. Narrow decks for street skating and technical tricks, wider decks for bowls, mini ramp, and vert skating. If you’re heavier in weight, go with a wider deck.
Street, Skate Park or Just Cruising?
For cruising go for a wider setup 8.5″ and above. Softer and bigger wheels are suggested. You can go for an old school deck if you still want to ollie curbs or a mini cruiser if you want a comfortable ride. For longer distances select a longboard.
Go for a classic (popsicle shaped) skateboard if you want to do technical stuff on the streets and skateparks.
Picking the Correct Skateboard Deck Width
Select a deck between 8.0″ and 8.5″, if not sure go with an 8.25″ which is great for both street and skate parks.
If a parent and you want to buy a skateboard for your little one, check out Pennyboards. Anyway, it really isn’t that much of an issue so don’t worry too much about getting the right size deck unless you’re a giant. Just make sure it matches your trucks axle width.
Concave and Shapes
Some decks have pointier noses, other have higher tails etc. The concave is the curved shape across the length of a skateboard deck and come in low, medium and high variations. High concave is less stable but is better suited for technical tricks.
Low concave means more stability but make technical tricks a bit more difficult. Go with a medium shaped concave to get the in between.
Its suggested to use a low or medium concave when skating bowls, verticals, or mini ramps. These boards help maintaining stability and keep you on your board. Go for a medium to high concave if you want to do technical tricks.
Noses come in many sizes and shapes. A larger nose helps you perform technical tricks. Some are pointier shaped and some don’t differ much from the tail which makes it easier to do tricks switch stance. The nose is usually higher from the ground compared to the tail.
The tail is where you pop the deck. Closer to the ground compared to your nose. Tails are smaller and shorter, this is the spot where you kick your board to ollie or flip your deck.
Step 2. Skateboard Trucks
Its not necessary to go all out with your first trucks, sure those hollows and titanium trucks are nice but, there isn’t much of a difference to standard trucks.
Your skateboard trucks need to match the width of the deck. They shouldn’t stick out and shouldn’t be too short. If your trucks are too wide it will make it harder to flip your board and you might come in contact with the wheels when you push your board.
If your trucks are too narrow It makes your ride slightly more unstable. Here’s a table to compare sizes, the axle size is always mentioned in the description when you shop online.
|Deck size||Axle width|
|7.75 inch to 8.0 inch||7.75 inch / 197 mm|
|8 inch to 8.5 inch||8.0 inch / 203 mm|
|8.5 inch to 9.0 inch||8.5 inch / 216 mm|
|9.0 inch to 10.0 inch||9.0 inch / 229 mm|
|10 inch or more||10.0 inch / 254 mm|
Selecting the Right Height
Trucks come in different heights. The lower they are the more center of gravity for better balance. Height is a personal preference.
It also depends on the diameter of your wheels, diameters 56mm or above, don’t get low trucks sense there isn’t enough clearance. Low skateboard trucks are closer to the ground offering more stability. Medium is obviously in the middle.
High trucks are great for better turning and most transitions skateboarder ride them. Great for mini ramps, bowls. and verticals. They also provide a little bit more clearance allowing for larger wheels.
Thunder Trucks for Street Skateboarding
Thunder trucks are popular within the technical street skateboarder community, They are more responsive and turn better compared to Independents and ventures. Thunder also produces the lowest trucks which keep your center of gravity lower. If you want to do grinds, ollies, flips etc go for Thunders.
Independent Trucks for Skateparks and Ramps
Its recommend to use Independent trucks when at a skate park. They provide stability which you’ll need when skating transition. They respond well and have lots of steel to grind which makes them the most durable trucks. They also are the heaviest but that doesn’t really matter.
Venture If You’re on a Budget
Ventures are a bit in the middle. They won’t wear out as fast like Thunders but won’t outlast Indies. Venture trucks offer stability and are perform good at parks and transition skateboarding. They’re a bit stiffer and less responsive but sometimes that is beneficial. Consider them if you’re on a tight budget and want to skate street and transition.
Just as with skateboard wheels, bushings do vary in hardness, softer will make your board turn easier but might feel a bit more unstable. harder bushings offer more stability.
Step 3. Wheels
Depending on where you are and what you like to do a smaller diameter wheel works better for technical skateboarding and bigger wheels for bowls and verticals. If you want to cruise and do tricks you’ll need something that’s not too soft and not too hard.
Bigger wheels from 55mm and above work for mini ramps, verticals, and bowls but street skating. Smaller wheels from 50mm to 54mm are better suited for street, they’re more responsive and carry less weight.
Make sure the wheels fit your trucks. There needs to be some clearance. 56mm and up sometimes require riser pads depending on the tightness of your trucks and the hardness of your bushings.
Here is a list to get an idea of which diameters in different circumstances.
- Street and technical 48mm and 53mm.
- Transition and skate parks 53mm and 55mm.
- Verticals and bowls 56mm and 60mm.
- Mini ramp 54mm and 58mm.
- Cruising around starting at 60mm up to 70mm (riser pads needed).
- Cruising and tricks 56mm through 60mm.
Wheel Hardness or Durometer
The harder the wheel the less forgiving on rough surfaces. harder wheels equal less grip and more slide. Think of tail slides for example. Your wheels come into contact with a curb, your wheel won’t get stuck but instead will slide.
Softer wheels dig into the curbs and you’ll need to bail because your tail won’t slide. Softer wheels often flat spot.
Softer wheels provide grip and are for cruising long distances. Go with 99a wheels when you mainly want to skate streets.
- Street and technical skateboarding require durometers between 96A and 99A though some prefer 100A+.
- Transition and skateparks require durometers between 96A and 101A.
- Verticals, bowls and mini ramp go with 99A and 84D.
- Cruising requires softer 78A to 87A.
- Cruising and tricks between 88A and 95A.
Wheel Brands and Styles
You can’t go wrong with bones these wheels are just superb. They offer street, skatepark , and all-terrain wheels.. Bones also don’t flat spot. Their urethane mix has advanced over the years and they found a way to make their wheels very durable. Bones wheels are come in inexpensive and expensive. They’ll also last a lot longer and perform like no other
Bones 100’s are great if you’re on a budget, these 100a wheels are affordable while maintaining a high-quality standard. They range from 51 mm to 55 mm. go with a smaller size if you want to skate street and pick a larger size for skate parks and ramps. Bones SPF’s (skate park formula) are designed for skateparks, bowls, verts, and mini ramps.
Spitfire (King of Formulas)
Right up there with Bones, when compared to quality and durability. Spitfires are known for there flat spot resistant urethane formulas. They produce wheels for both street and skate parks in a variety different formulas.
The Formula Fours have a hardness of 99a and 101a, 99a is great for street skating and 101a for transition skateboarding. They produce all kinds of shapes. Some wider and provide more grip, others have a more narrow profile to increase responsiveness and speed.
Great wheels on a budget and popular among many skateboarders. Great for cruising and doing some tricks.
Cheapest wheels and still acceptable.Consider them when you don’t want to spend too much. Ride them for a while and save up for something better. Great for a back up set.
Step 4. Bearings
Bearings have a standard size and will fit all wheels. Bones and Bronson have the best affordable bearings. If you want good quality bearings that will last for years, get Bones Swiss or Bronson Ceramic bearings. Both made of quality steel and can last for a long time.
Cheapest bearings on the market. If your budget is tight these are the ones you should pick.
Best bearings which are still somewhat affordable, they can last you a long time if you properly maintain them. Use some Bronson speed cream after cleaning them and they will just keep performing.
Comparable to the Bones Reds although the Bronson might last a little longer. If you decide to go with Bronson check out the Ceramics.
Often overlooked but in order to get the most from bearings use spacers. Some bearings have them included and they protect your bearings from collecting dust and sand. They also prevent damage when attaching your wheels to your trucks. Some people apply to much force to the axle nut and screw it too tight.
Step 5. Hardware, grip tape, riser pads
Make sure to invest in 8 bolts and nuts to attach your skateboard trucks. And, pick the right length bolts. If you have riser pads you’ll need longer bolts otherwise you’ll have a problem. In case you forget just go to your local hardware store, they should have them laying around.
Fresh grip tape will wear your shoes down quick so make sure you have some proper shoes. There is different less grippe grip tape on the market if this concerns you. Another method is to sand the grip down a little.
Riser Pads and Shock Pads Are Optional
Riser pads lift trucks higher. If you have big wheels, 58mm and above you might risers to prevent them from making contact with your deck. Shock pads are kinda different, they’re a few millimeters tall and made of rubber. They help prevent cracks in the trucks mounting area and offer a more comfortable ride.
Shock pads offer comfort. If you go with 1/8″ shock pads get 1″ bolts, 1/4″ riser pads require 1 1/8″ bolts.
Optional: Protective Gear
Get a helmet and knee pads, a helmets save life’s and pads prevent busted knees.
Not everybody wears protective gear, and some feel it restricts movement. Just get used to it. After a while, you won’t even notice them anymore until you slam the ground and go, oh that’s why! There are many different types of protective gear available, make sure it fits properly. If it’s too narrow it will limit your movement so getting the proper size is important.
Don’t get to confident, if you’re not ready to do a trick then stick with the basics. Even if you wear gear, you still can hurt yourself.