When you’re new to skateboarding picking the right setup might be a challenge, but the truth is it really isn’t that hard. Let’s take a look at what the best skateboard setup for beginners is and why. It doesn’t have to be expensive but if you want something reliable and it’s important to know which parts to pick.
A beginner skateboard setup for should have the following parts:
- A deck between 8.0 and 8.25 inches
- Wheels between 50mm and 54mm
- Wheel hardness between 96A and 99A
- Quality trucks that match the deck’s width
- Hardware, grip tape and optionally a skate tool
I’ll go through the list and explain what you need under different circumstances. How to pick compatible skateboard parts and what to avoid. This guide is meant to help you narrow down your options, not about what parts are the best. In the end, it all comes down to personal preference. Let’s go!
What Makes a Good Skateboard
A good skateboard should consist of quality parts for optimal performance. This means:
- A quality maple deck, single pressed from a reputable woodshop
- Trucks that quickly snap back into position, turn properly and can handle impacts.
- Wheels that aren’t too hard and too soft depending on the surface you skate or style you’re after.
- Bushings that match your weight.
- A single pressed maple wood deck from a reputable woodshop.
There are a couple of affordable complete skateboards that are excellent for beginners. You can check them out here.
Single Pressed Skateboard Deck
There are many good decks out there but there are more bad skateboard decks. It’s important to buy one from a reputable woodshop, the brand comes second. Some brands press multiple decks in a single mold at the same time which leads to malformation.
Make sure you buy a single pressed deck, check the description or the website of the board you like. To save you the trouble, here are a couple of brands that get their decks from reputable woodshops:
- Plan B.
- Santa Cruz
- Zoo York
There are many more but you need to find out yourself.
If you’re absolutely new to skateboarding I recommend getting an 8.0″ deck, this is about the standard nowadays. If you’re a tall person you could consider something between 8.0″ and 8.5″. Narrow boards are better for technical street skating and wider boards for transition skateboarding.
In order to get the right skateboard wheels, you need to know what you want to do. Just skate the streets, visit parks or transition skateboarding (like mini ramps, quarters etc).
For street skating, I recommend wheels between 50mm and 53mm. Depending on the surface you skate you can go with a hardness between 96A and 99A. 96A is more forgiving on rougher surfaces and more pleasant to ride. 99A is pretty hard and performs better on slick surfaces like a skate park.
Brands to look for:
If you want to skate transition go for big and hard wheels. Anything between 54mm and 58mm, hardness between 99A and 84B.
Brands to look for:
Just want to cruise and maybe hop a few curbs? Go with large soft wheels. Anything between 58mm and 63mm should work, make sure you add one quarter riser pads to prevent wheelbite. Hardness should be between 70A and 92A. The former is just for cruising and the latter allows you to pull off a few tricks.
Brands to look for:
Not sure what you want to ride? Go with wheels that can handle all sorts of terrain like wheels from the Bones All-Terrain Formula collection.
Trucks are the brain of your skateboard. If you can, don’t cheap out on trucks! Quality trucks can last for years and it would be a waste to replace cheap trucks after a few months.
Make sure that they align with your deck properly, you don’t want them sticking out too much or not being able to see your wheels (carpet riding). I’ll compare deck sizes, trucks and wheels further down this post.
There are some solid brands out there that make quality trucks. Look for Independent, Thunder, Tensor, Venture, Grind King.
Hardware, Grip Tape & Tools
Don’t forget to get hardware, you want to be able to assemble your new skateboard. You’ll need eight 1″ Philips heads and 8 Allen bolts. If you want to add riser- or shock pads to make sure the Philips heads match the total size. A one-quarter riser pad needs 1 1/4″ bolts, one-eight riser pads would require 1 1/8″ bolts.
You could also consider a skate tool if you don’t have the proper tools at home. It’s a multitool for skateboarding that has all the stuff yo9u need to maintain your board.
Usually, you get grip tape for free if you buy a complete set. You can also ask if the shop staff wants to apply the grip tape for you if you don’t know how to do this.
Deck Size and Matching Truck Size
Here’s a table that shows you which skateboard deck with and the proper size trucks. Some brands measure the axle width and some the hangar size. Often you’re able to see this in the description of the product. If you’re unsure, just ask customer support or your local skate shop.
Don’t stress about it too much. It doesn’t have to match exactly a bit too wide or a bit too narrow doesn’t really matter.
|Deck width||Axle width||Hangar size|
Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. But I can recommend an affordable setup which will last you for a while. Remember that you can always replace components like trucks, wheels and your deck. Trucks usually last the longest, decks need to be replaced more often (depending on how often and gnarly you skate). Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
I picked great parts for a reasonable price. Sure it’s an investment but you get the best (and most durable) trucks, an Element deck from the best woodshop in the US (PS Stix) and awesome wheels and decent bearings. The Spitfire classic wheels are 53mm and 99A on the durometer scale which is great for both street and transition. If you want to save a few bucks, swap them for mini logo wheels. Mini logo wheels aren’t great and tend to flatspot, but you can consider upgrading once you saved some cash.
Independent is one of the best truck brands and can last for years, you could also consider Thunder trucks. Both brands make excellent trucks.
The standard Bones bearings are a bit more expensive than other brands but will last a long time given you maintain them properly. If this setup is too expensive, check my suggestion below.
On a Tight Budget? Consider a Complete
Picking skateboard parts yourself can be pricey. One alternative is buying a complete setup which is often a lot cheaper. The problem is that you won’t get top quality parts and the wheels are usually not the best. Still, if you don’t want to spend more than 80 bucks consider the CCS Logo Complete (links to Amazon). You even get a skate tool and the board is pre-assembled.
The wheels are a bit hard and bearings not the best, but it’s a decent board to start out with. You can upgrade the board as you go by replacing wheels, bearings, trucks, etc. It’s hard to exactly know what you need when you’re a beginner and you probably won’t really notice much difference at this stage.
Once you skated for a few months you get a better idea of what you like and what you don’t like. I still think you get the best experience by buying the best stuff available but this isn’t always feasible. A complete would be a good alternative, just don’t buy these toy skateboards, they are absolute trash!
Wrapping it up
I hope this guide will give you a bit of a direction in what to look for. It’s a general guide but I tried narrowing down what beginners should look for. Not everybody likes brand X or brand Y, it mainly comes down to what you’re used to. Most online skateboard debates are completely biased and it all comes down to personal preference.
Just don’t overthink this too much, get some quality parts that match together or ask for guidance at your local skate shop. They will love to help you out and love to chat about skateboarding. Consider getting protective gear, you’re more likely to fall when just starting out. You get used to it but some knee pads and a helmet are always recommended.
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