- Breaking Down the Cost of Skateboarding
- Pre-Built vs. Custom Built Skateboards
- How much can I expect to spend on a pre-built complete?
- How much can I expect to spend on a custom built complete?
- Cost of the Skateboard Components
- Branded Decks
- Shop/Blank Decks
- Premium Decks
- Cost of Trucks
- Cost of Wheels
- Cost of Bearings
- Cost of Griptape
- Cost of Hardware
- Cost of Bushings
- Cost of Accessories
- Shoe Costs
- Ongoing Costs of Skateboarding
- What the Pros Pay to Skate
- Hidden Costs
- Most Expensive Skateboard
What can reasonably be expected to pay for a new complete skateboard? You don't want to get ripped off, but also you don't want to buy something cheap and lame. Skateboard costs can get up there in regards to price, but that's not to say that real value can't be found. In this article, we will go over the different costs of skateboarding components and other additional outside costs of getting into the scene that you may not have thought of yet.
If you are looking for a concrete answer that a skateboard costs exactly X amount, you are not going to find it. There are millions of different boards out there and it just depends on what you want. But don't let that discourage you by any means. Whether your budget is $75 or $200, we can find a great skateboard within your range.
Breaking Down the Cost of Skateboarding
The beauty of skateboarding is that you can customize a skateboard to your liking and often significantly cut prices down depending on what the components you buy.
For example, no matter how dedicated you are to emulating Ishod Wair's buttery frontside-flip, you probably wouldn't want to buy their exact setup. This is because the difference between you and Ishod Wair is that they get their stuff for free, whereas we have to buy it. But don't fret! That's why you're reading this, to help you understand the in's and out's of this fun thing we call skateboarding.
Gear does not make the skater.
While expensive quality kit can certainly improve the skateboarding experience, riders always appreciate a "skate anything" mentality. If you shred on a $20 skateboard from Walmart, you can still earn respect in the park.
Let's go over the parts of a skateboard. It is made of six components:
|Component||What is it?||Price Range|
|Deck / Board||The wood platform on which one rides on.||$30 to $100+|
|Griptape||The rough, sandpaper stuff that keeps you from slipping.||$5 to $15|
|Trucks||The metal turning apparatus underneath the skateboard.||$30 to $60+|
|Wheels||The rolling part made of polyurethane.||$20 to $50+|
|Hardware||The 8 nuts and bolts that hold the trucks to the deck.||$2 to $10+|
|Bearings||The mechanism the allows the wheels to spin without minimal friction.||$10 to $100+|
Outside of the general parts needed to make a skateboard, there are other things to consider when it comes to budgeting:
- Protective Gear - Gear up. Tony Hawk does, and he's one of the best to ever do it. (Varies, up to $200)
- Shoes - Besides the skateboard itself, shoes are also a major wear item for skateboarders. Good skateboarding shoes typically cost $40-$80+
- Skatepark Fees - Most skateparks are free, but there are some you'd have to pay to enter. The rates are usually no more than $10.
- Gas Budget - Unless you have a skate park real close to where you live, traveling to skate spots or skate parks can rack up the costs, especially with gas prices these days.
Pre-Built vs. Custom Built Skateboards
When buying a new skateboard, there are two main routes to choose from: Pre-Built Complete or Custom Complete.
|🛹 Pre-Built||🛠 Custom Built|
Many skateboard companies nowadays are mostly aware of the main issue with pre-built completes, which is that they're known to be made with low-end materials. Brands need to make a profit, so they make a cheaper entry level build. However, there are companies have gone a step above and have made efforts to rectify this by placing high standards on their materials. Pre-builts can be a great option for a quality skateboard.
If this is your first time buying a skateboard, we recommend going with a quality pre-built complete. It will simplify the process and give you the opportunity to upgrade components the way you see best to suit your riding style. Check out our guide on the top 6 skateboards for adult beginners.
How much can I expect to spend on a pre-built complete?
Pre-built skateboards can vary in price, from the low end of $25 - $45 to the higher end of $120 - $150. We recommend spending somewhere between $80 - $120. This gets you a great "middle of the road" skateboard that'll be quality.
We recommend avoiding most places like Target and Wal-Mart, Dick's Sporting Goods, BIG 5, etc. These places will have skateboards that at first glance look like a good deal, but typically have very low quality components to maximize margin. The same goes for random off-brand Amazon skateboards.
Usually the less you pay, the lower the quality. The trick is to find the best value. Skateboards and skateboarding equipment wear down with use, so you want to find something that will last you a good while. We want the good times to last, right? It's not a good deal if you end up replacing it in your first week of riding.
How much can I expect to spend on a custom built complete?
This is where the fun is at. Customizing something to your liking is always a treat! However, it can get to be unnecessarily expensive if you're not careful.
A custom board will range you between $150 to $200+ depending on the parts you choose. This is probably why most skateboarders prefer spending a little more on custom boards. At the end of the day, you chose what you want your board to be composed of and you have a bit more control on how much you get to spend. It's entirely up to you!
That being said, it is very easy to get ripped off. Building the skateboard from scratch means that you could pick components that cost more, but ultimately are not really much better than what comes on the less expensive pre-built. This is another reason why we recommend starting with the pre-builds until you can get a better feel for the various components that skateboards come with.
Cost of the Skateboard Components
Branded decks are heavily reliant on marketing which is to say that they have built a name for themselves. Think about it this way: why are Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, etc. such sought-after cars? Because of the name and their reputation. They utilize professionals with the product to show off how the product performs.
Skateboards are no different. Ultimately a good skateboard company will stick to using the tried and tested premium wood that most major companies use for their decks which will land you in the $55 to $75 range depending on the brand.
It's also worth noting that a lot of these branded decks are made in the same 3-5 factories. The only thing that change from brand to brand are the concaves, graphics, and overall shapes of the skateboard.
Shop Decks / Blanks
Growing up, I had plenty of friends who only skated blanks/shop decks. They would choose them because they were generally cheaper than branded decks.
A shop deck will normally put you in the $40 to $50 range without break the bank. Let me tell you, I've seen plenty of skateboarders who skate only blanks, and they look like they have loads of fun. Definitely worth considering, especially given that a shop/blank deck is generally made from the same wood that big skateboard brands use.
Premium Decks / Flight / VX / etc
Some branded decks go above and beyond with adding carbon fiber layers, industrial strength glue, lighter wood, or even heavier wood for more durability, etc., and these decks may lead you towards the $65 to $100+ range.
Whether or not they work is entirely up to your experience. Unless you've been skateboarding for many years, you may not notice much of a difference while riding premium decks.
Cost of Skateboard Trucks
Trucks will range between $30 to $50 dollars each. These metal mechanisms are quite important as they can most definitely define your whole skateboarding experience in regards to general board feel and comfort.
As for their function, trucks are what grind down, hence the term "grind" is used in referring to skateboarding on handrails, ledges, metal coping, pool coping, etc. When choosing a pair, you should consider what kind of skateboarding you want to invest your time into. If you're interested in street skateboarding, you'd want a truck that won't weigh you down and that is lower to the ground, whereas in transition skateboarding, (bowls, pools, mini ramps) you'd most likely want something heavier to generate speed and a truck on the taller side with more of a turning radius.
A vast majority of trucks are made of highly condensed aluminum, but the downside is the amount of weight they add to your board. In order to make trucks lighter, some companies create trucks that are made with lighter metals such as titanium, and when using other metals comes a jump in price. Generally, titanium trucks are more expensive that the original aluminum pair.
Other companies avoid the change in metal entirely and make trucks lighter with creating hollow kingpins and hollow hangers. Less metal used in parts that aren't required means less effort needed to pop your board off of the ground. It is common to see these types of trucks being used in street skateboarding, but it definitely isn't limited to it.
Cost of Skateboard Wheels
These fun rolling quadruplets of polyurethane will range between $20 to $50 a set. Wheels are what will propel you towards your skateboarding goals. Whether you want to stick to riding around in a smooth pavement skate park or take your skills out into the rough street, you want to make sure you have this component right.
Wheels can range in size and shapes depending on the type of skateboarding you intend on pursuing and are interested in. Smaller wheels are more for technical tricks down on flatground, i.e. flips and manual tricks. On the other hand, bigger wheels are for gaining and maintaining speed while riding on your board, which definitely helps best when skating transition obstacles and pools/bowls.
The best part about picking your components for your skateboard is that most wheel companies create wheels that are used for both styles! In comparison to buying a pre-built complete that has a fixed set of wheels, you can decided to get wheels that fit both street and transition skateboarding.
Cost of Skateboard Bearings
This component will most likely have the longest range in regards to price. From $10 to $100+, bearings are likely to be an easier choice to make as there are many to choose from. However, keep in mind that the lower the price, the lower the quality. Bearings do have the tendency to break under pressure so you'd want something that will keep up with your style/level of skateboarding.
The reason why bearings can be so expensive completely depends on the type of materials used. Bearings aren't exclusively for skateboards, as they're also used in other products such as rolling office chairs, dollies, and scooters. Products such as these need heavier, stronger materials to hold so much weight for extended periods of time. However, don't expect these kinds of bearings to be used on a skateboard as they don't roll easily and are very heavy. For skateboarding, you generally don't want your setup to weigh you down nor slow your roll. Speed is your friend when is comes to skateboarding. Don't believe me? Watch Dennis Busenitz' Adidas Diagonal on YouTube.
Cost of Griptape
Griptape is fun no matter how badly it destroys everything it touches. Ranging from $5 to $15, griptape gets its range in price from the level of grit (or grip, hence the name). Some companies sell mellow grit griptape while others pride themselves in how rough their product is (I'm looking at you, MOB). Grittier grip is higher on the price scale due to the effectiveness. The more grit, the less of a chance that you'll fall off your board while landing a trick. I mean, your body can come off but at least your feet land where they're supposed to.
In addition to the levels of grit, griptape also gets pricier when other brands slap their logo on it. For example, Thrasher Magazine doesn't make their own grip, however, they collaborated with MOB Grip and added the well-known logo on their product for stylistic purposes. Other graphics include exclusive artwork from specific artists, other skateboarding brands, etc. The choices are vast!
(FAIR WARNING: Griptape is very sticky, and if you try to apply it yourself for the first time, chances are you'll mess up. Feel free to ask your local skate shop to apply it for you. Not only will they most likely be happy to do it for you but also may give you a lesson on how to apply it yourself in the meantime!)
In addition to keeping you on top of your board, recently, griptape has become somewhat of a canvas for self-expression within the skateboarding community. It can come in various patterns, finishes, and graphics. From sparkles to the sought-out "Thrasher" logo, griptape gives you the chance to truly express yourself. Some skateboarders go as far as cutting the griptape itself to create some cool designs! Again, pre-built completes won't allow you to choose graphics as most come with straight black across the deck.
Cost of Hardware
Don't stress too much over hardware. Most skateboard companies know how important it is to keep a screw from stripping, hence they invest in making some good, durable hardware for a very reasonable price. (Sometimes a skate shop is nice enough that they add it into your complete for free, just don't expect it.)
Again, building a custom board allows you to customize it to your liking, and hardware is definitely an area in which you get to explore with colors and minuscule graphics. In addition to the options, you also should consider whether you want a traditional Phillips or an Allen entry. Both are based on preference.
Cost of Bushings
If you've spent time look at the anatomy of a common skateboard truck, you would've noticed the squishy material between it. Coming in two shapes - Cone or Barrel - bushing prices range between $5 to $20. The one thing you should keep in mind is that most skateboard trucks use one of the two bushing shapes, and it isn't recommended to mix and match as the trucks are specifically created to hold a certain type of bushing.
Cone-shaped bushings are most commonly found in street-focused trucks due to the responsiveness needed in that style of skateboarding. On the other hand you have a Barrel-shaped bushing which is commonly found in taller trucks. The bigger bushing theoretically allows for a larger turn radius.
Although it isn't a good idea to mix and match bushings, there are companies out there that make universal bushings. The concept behind alternative bushings is allowing one to choose the level of hardness the bushing has as opposed to being stuck with the stock bushing. However, in the same vain as premium decks, if you haven't been skateboarding for a long time, chances are you won't feel much of a difference. Experimenting with bushings can be fun, but it generally takes a couple of consistent years of skateboarding to build a preference to bushing types and levels of hardness. All in due time, my friend. You'll get there.
Cost of Tools and Accessories
Skateboard tools are a specifically designed apparatus for any skateboard need. Ranging from $5 to $20, some skate tools have more options than others such as an axle rethreaded, griptape bar, etc., hence the range in price.
As opposed to carrying your dad's toolbox around, the skate tool is so compact and has almost everything you need to keep the session going. Small and easy to carry, they can be a session-saver when and if one of your bolts/screws comes loose and needs a quick tightening.
I'd go as far as saying that this extremely necessary if you want to invest a good amount of time in skateboarding. Nothing feels worse than having a screw/bolt come loose and having no other way of tightening other than using your hand. Not only is it inefficient, but you also will come to realize that your session has come to a stop until the issue is resolved.
Skateboarding Shoe Cost / How Fast Shoes Wear Out
As fashion trends lean towards skateboarding aesthetics, the cost and variety of skateboarding shoes range between $20 to over $500 dollars! The lower range shoes however don't always necessarily mean lower quality, and higher-end shoes are more often times more expensive due to the aesthetic side of things, not overall skate performance.
For example, VANS Skateboarding has been around for decades and have established themselves as a skateboarding giant. Large companies eventually make too many products therefore sell their surplus at outlet shops. If your main goal is to keep costs low, definitely keep your eye out for these shops as they sell high-quality shoes for a fraction of their normal retail cost.
If you recall, some griptape may be grittier than others. With that being the case, it is expected to base a lifespan of a shoe depending on your griptape choice. There are ways around mitigating the effects of griptape on your shoes with products such as ShoeGoo. (an adhesive designed to protect shoes. Cost: $5-$7)
Another thing to consider is how often you skate or, better yet, if your skateboarding shoes are your daily go-to shoes. Normal wear-and-tear in addition to skateboarding will demolish an average shoe within a month, sometimes even sooner, but it all highly depends on how much one spends time skateboarding.
Ongoing Costs of Skateboarding
All good times unfortunately come to an end, and skateboard decks and materials of the like are not exempt from this fate. As much as skateboard companies try to develop products to last longer, the inevitable truth that one comes to realize is that skateboard products take an absolute beating when used. No amount of high-end, strong suede will keep griptape from destroying your shoes. It is, as I said, inevitable.
Shoes are subject to the wrath of griptape. Pants become great friends with the floor. No matter how hard you try, you will fall while skateboarding sooner or later, and your pants will be dragged along for the ride. Oh, and your shirt too. You should also consider your clothes as an added cost to skateboarding. Their replacements all depends on how often you skate.
Professional Skateboarding Costs
For most professional skateboarders, they are blessed with receiving their products for free from their sponsors. Some pro's however aren't completely covered. In other words, they lack a shoe sponsor or a wheel sponsor, so they would have to go out and buy these products on their own with their own money.
There are specific cases in which skateboarders aren't part of a specific company but still manage to get things for free simply because the company wants their product to be used by good skateboarders, and most skateboarders will take free stuff all day every day. Skateboarders definitely acknowledge how expensive skateboarding can be. Free stuff is rad.
Hidden Costs - Gas, Skatepark Fees, Tickets, etc
No one likes hidden fees. That's just a fact. Skateboarding, unfortunately, isn't exempt from this. There are ways to avoid them, but avoiding these may come at a cost, and it's not a financial one.
The more you indulge yourself within the skateboarding community, you'll find that there are far better places to skateboard outside of your local park or driveway. The grass is definitely greener on the other side, but again, sometimes traveling to that patch of greener grass means you'll spend on traveling expenses, i.e., gas or public transportation.
Sometimes a distant park has better concrete than your local park and driving to it not only costs money but it may have to charge you an entry fee. Most entry fees for parks are not too expensive, but consider whether you're willing to pay money just to skate it when other parks are free and sometimes even better.
Although you don't have to pay to skate on certain obstacles in public spaces, you may have to pay for it in a form of a citation. Yes, skateboarding in certain public areas is forbidden and one is subject to a written violation if they're caught. Some take that risk and skate anyway (adrenaline rush maybe?) and they obviously run the risk of paying a hefty price for it. Although the prices range drastically by location, it is so hard to put a price on them. Googling 'average skateboarding violation fine' doesn't provide results either - trust me, I checked. So, is it really worth it? Only one person knows the answer, and that person is you.
Most Expensive Skateboards of All Time
Unless you really find yourself really wanting to own the most expensive skateboard of all time - coming in at a whooping $20,000 - you'd probably be saving for a good while or have a hard time justifying the reason to your bank for a loan. Based on the premise, this skateboard was an art piece created by British artist Adrian Wilson and sold to an eBay client. Why someone would want it? Who knows? Only the buyer does.
There are many people out there that collect the various limited colorways, so demand for these boards is through the roof. It's not uncommon for shops to sell out in just hours after release. We've also heard of some shops overselling and having to cancel customers orders, which could be a huge letdown. Here at Stoked Ride Shop, we have a system that limits the inventory allocation so that doesn't happen.
Needless to say, any sport requires some level of commitment, and skateboarding is no different. And in this case, skateboarding also requires some cash flow in order to keep the good times rolling (pun intended). So if your goal is to keep expenses low and have fun skateboarding, it is most definitely possible! And if you find yourself in the position to drop some more cash on a board, there are options that'll help you on your journey to progress in skateboarding. Skateboarding is too fun to refrain yourself from the experience. Skateboarding can definitely be within financial reach!