Skateboard - Buying Advice

Skateboarding has always been one of the most popular extreme sports and it has been going strong since the 1950's. Here at Slick Willies we have been involved in the scene since the early 1970's making us one of Europe’s oldest Skateboarding shops. If you would like to see some of our old photos check out our Slick Willies heritage page.

We have skateboards suitable for every type of rider and every level of ability and we also have a huge range of skateboarding parts so you can build your own customised skateboard set up. There is a huge range to choose from and we have made this guide to help you understand how it all works and to help you find a board that suits you, if you ever want to talk to us in person please call our shop on 0207 225 0004 and we will be happy to give you all the advice you need.

Here are a few things to consider before we go on to explain all the different parts of a skateboard:

  • Type of Use – There are two main ways skateboards are used. The first is to do stunts, these boards are designed to be light and tend to have small wheels which help with balance and doing tricks. The second is for cruising, these boards tend to be wider and have bigger wheels which make the skateboard roll smoother and faster.
  • Age – Younger and shorter riders will need a smaller board as it is easier for them to manage and better for learning the basics. Generally the bigger or taller the rider the bigger the board. For more information on board size check out our information on skateboard decks.
  • Level of ability – A beginner will be able to learn and have fun on any level of board but a better skateboard will help make learning tricks that little bit easier. Experienced riders will usually want to build their own custom set up choosing parts individually to create exactly what they want. More expensive parts are generally lighter and stronger making it easy to perform jumps and tricks.
  • Cost – If you are buying your first board you don’t need all of the best parts however the quality of a skateboard does depend on the cost. The higher the cost usually means the higher the quality of the components making a better skateboard.
  • Complete or Custom Set up – You can build a skateboard up form individual parts and this is known as making a custom set up, when building up a board this way you will get a higher quality end product. You can also buy complete skateboards which are generally cheaper but you don’t get the flexibility of choosing everything bit by bit.

This section of the guide talks you through all the different parts on a skateboard:

  • Decks – The deck is the most important part of the skateboard as it is the main wooden part that you stand on when riding. They are made from layers of either Chinese or Canadian maple wood, Canadian maple is better as it is stronger and lighter. Skateboard decks come in a huge variety of sizes and vary in length and width, most decks tend to be between 7 to 8.5 inches wide and 28 to 32 inches long. To help with deck sizing see our chart below.
  • Griptape – This is the layer of sandpaper like material on top of the board, it helps your shoes to grip the board making it easier to stay on and do tricks. Griptape comes in wide variety of colours and designs and if you buy a deck online from us you get a free sheet of black griptape included.
  • Trucks – These are the T shaped parts that are attached to the bottom of the deck and have a wheel on each end. The trucks enable the skateboard to be steered left and right by leaning your weight from side to side. Skateboard trucks are usually made from aluminium or magnesium and vary in height and width, some riders prefer a low truck as it makes landing some tricks slightly easier and others may prefer high and they are better for harder turns. The width of truck used depends on the size of the deck with a wider board needing wider truck’s, see our truck size guide below.
  • Riser pads – Riser pads are not an essential part of a skateboard and do not have to be used. They fit in between the deck and the trucks and are basically a thin layer of plastic. Risers have two main uses. The first is to make the trucks higher from the board, heavier riders may do this so that when they turn hard the wheels do not touch the board and cause accidents. The other reason for using riser pads is to absorb the shock of landing jumps, these risers are usually made of a rubbery material and a very thin.
  • Bolts – Small but important part when building a skateboard, the truck bolts attach the trucks to the deck and are tightened using either an allen key or a Phillips head screw driver.
  • Bearings – The bearings are the metal part within the wheels that enable them to spin, they vary in speed and quality, for everything you need to know please check our bearings guide.
  • Wheels – Skateboard wheels vary in width, size and hardness. The size of the wheel is measured in Millimetres. A larger wheel enables a higher top speed and rolls more smoothly over rougher surfaces, a smaller wheel on the other hand is lighter accelerates faster and makes jumping with the board easier. The hardness of a wheel is measured by the A rating, the higher the number of the A rating the harder the wheel. For doing stunts a harder wheel is what you need as they slide easily when doing grinds and tricks. A softer wheel is better for cruising as they have more grip and get rid of the shock from riding over rougher surfaces.