Beginners guide: getting your first skateboard
So you’re looking into buying your first board. Good idea! You’ve come to the right place to learn everything you need to know in this barebones brief on buying your first board.
With this we will be assuming that you want to purchase a pre-built complete. It’s an easier purchase, and you can learn about what you want to upgrade on the way.
First, let’s talk about cruisers! Cruisers come in many shapes and sizes. At their shortest, they are known as ‘mini-cruisers’ and can be smaller than a standard street skateboard, ranging from roughly 28 to 35 inches in length.
These small boards are very nimble, great for commuting, and often have a kick tail (an upturned end that allows for ollies, flip tricks and dropping off curbs). With narrow trucks, soft wheels, and your small mini-cruiser, you’ll never fail to have all the fun and more getting from point a to point b.
The most iconic cruiser shape is the pintail. It's a long board, usually ranging from 38 to 42 inches in length, with wide trucks and bigger wheels. Pintails usually have a lot of flex and they feel bouncy, allowing a lower standing platform based on the riders weight.
The long length of a pintail allows riders to lay down carves which simulates the feeling of surfing on land. Due to the longer wheelbase, a pintail is less responsive than other boards. Though this lack of response may not seem great, they can still be responsive when set up correctly.
Street boards are the most traditional skateboard. With some traditional kingpin trucks and hard wheels, a street board is best for tricks. Street boards are ideal for skateparks, stairs, rails, and flip tricks.
When it comes to downhill, the boards are more stiff, heavy, and usually have more high quality parts. These boards are made for speed and performance. They come in a large range of shapes and sizes that all have different disciplines of their own.
Stoked Pick : Landyachtz Evo 36 Complete Spectrum; $259
Note: These prices are a rough bench mark. If the setup you are looking to purchase is cheaper than this, you are either getting an insane deal, or you’re getting a mediocre setup. Be wary of the 'Amazon brand' boards, as they are often not quite the bargain they first seem...
Beyond this point, things get a little more in depth. By this point, you have learned the essentials and should have an idea on which board style is best for you. Keep reading to learn more about the components that make up your board.
Cruiser Skateboard Wheels
Cruiser wheels come in a range of shapes and sizes. Cruiser boards work best with wheels between 60mm and 75mm and are on the softer side around 78a-85a.
Bigger wheels will give you a little more speed, where smaller wheels will have more speed consistency. Both round lip and square lip wheels will work wonders. The larger size and softer durometer make riding smooth. A soft wheel will make all terrain easy to go over, and will negate any worries of hitting a rock.
Stoked Beginner Pick: Fireball Tinder 60mm, 81a; $35.95
Street/Park Skateboard wheels
Street wheels are a little more strict. No lip, no outstanding core. Just a small, narrow, hard wheel. Ranging from 50mm on the small side, and 60mm on the big side. Very ideal for skating street spots and skate parks. Less ideal for skating over rough pavement and sidewalks.
Stoked Beginner Pick: Stoked Ride Shop, Blank 54mm, 100a (Made in the 🇺🇸!); $22.95
Downhill Skateboard Wheels
Downhill wheels can also be many shapes and sizes. Small wheels (65mm or so) will provide less traction and easier slip. Whereas bigger wheels (75mm+) provide more traction.
Harder wheels (82a+) will have lots of slip and be really fun for throwing sideways with or without a hand on the ground. Most ideal for just having fun.
Bigger, softer wheels (74a+) will provide traction and be snappy for hands down riding. These are more ideal for racing and trying to go as fast as possible.
Stoked Beginner Pick: Hawg's Supreme, 70mm, 78a; $49.95
Skateboard Trucks for Cruising
Cruiser trucks can both be traditional and reverse kingpin. Traditional kingpin (TKP) will provide a harsher turn and lower ride. Reverse kingpin (RKP) will provide a surfier feel with a higher ride height.
Cruiser trucks do not require any change so what comes on your complete will be perfect for your setup.
A good example of a TKP truck for mini-cruisers is the Paris Street Truck, with a taller body allowing increased turn, less wheel bite and the option for larger wheels.
Street trucks are always traditional kingpin. Their width should match the deck you are riding. For traditional set-ups we recommend the 'gold standard' Independent Stage 11 as found on our premium Stoked Ride Shop Blank setup
Downhill Skateboard Trucks
Downhill trucks are almost always reverse kingpin. Width should always match what deck you are riding. However, it’s not a big deal if you’re not rail matching, which is when wheels fit perfectly under the deck. Too narrow means harder turn and a little bit of tip. Too wide means more flow and less response.
Bearings are pretty irrelevant for your first setup. As long as they spin, you’re good! However, if you intend to change parts, make sure you get bearings with built in spacers, such as Zealous, Loaded or Fireball, or a set of bearing spacers. This will greatly reduce slop.
Again, mostly irrelevant. The more you skate, the more you will come to know what you like and dislike. But in short, less grit means more coarse and more grip. Higher grit count is the inverse. More grit is better for your shoes.
When purchasing your first setup, it’s best to get a helmet at the very least. If you intend to skate hills, hard foam is a must. If you want to go a to b, a soft foam helmet will do the trick, but soft foam is not very safe overall. Wrist guards or slide gloves are a great idea too for extra protection. Knee and elbow pads are not a necessary step right from the get go, but you can never be too safe!
For more on safety when getting started be sure to check out our in depth guide here.
Regardless of what or where you get your first board, you’ll have a good time. Ready to learn more? Check out our Ultimate Guides & get started with 5 easy tricks you can learn today. Or if you're in the mood to dig deeper into boards, click here for a list of 14 completes with the best bang for your buck!