I’ve been riding all sorts of setups in mini ramps for more than 20 years so I’d say I know a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t. I love riding mini ramps, at least one that’s properly built.
In short: the best skateboard setup for mini ramps require a deck between 8.25″ and above. Go for 8.25″ inch if you like to do flip tricks and 8.5″ or above if you are a bit bigger or want more stability. Wheels should be between 54mm and 58mm, hardness between 99A and 84B. Bigger wheels will give you more speed and more time to focus on tricks. As for trucks, they should be high and not too tight.
Also, I’m not reviewing products here, what works for me may not work for you. I’m just giving you a general direction so you assemble your own skateboard. Often people prefer what they are used to and it might take some time to become comfortable riding a wider board. So let’s dig a bit into what exactly you need.
My recommendations are specifically for mini ramps. If you like to skate a bit of transition, street, and pools it means you either have to get two different setups or compromise. This means it won’t excel at any discipline but enough to have a great experience.
Riding mini ramps is all about balance, speed and feeling comfortable. It’s low impact and way better for your joints compared to street skateboarding. Sure, crashing is a part of the game but with the proper technique, you can often reduce the impact.
Protective gear is recommended if you are new to mini ramp skateboarding (well actually always, but you know how it is). First let’s see which parts to look for specifically for mini ramps.
Decks 8.25″ to 9.0″
Even though and 8.0″ or 7.75″ can work well in mini ramps, it provides less balance. A wider board feels way more stable compared to narrow setups. Sure it’s a bit harder to flip an 8.5″ compared to a 7.75″ but with the proper technique you can easily pull it off.
I recommend going for and 8.5″. Wider boards are more forgiving when you slightly lose your balance and help you to stay on your board. There’s more room on these boards to move your feet around. It’s hard to describe but an axel stall, for example, feels much more stable on a wider deck. This probably has to do with the added space and being able to properly position your feet more than on its smaller counterpart.
You want a deck with a mellow concave, this still allows you to do some technical stuff while maintaining optimal balance. It’s not just the deck that helps you to stabilize it also has to do with the wider trucks and the size of the wheels.
Mini ramp skateboarding is obviously quite different compared to street skating and it’s best to get trucks that are a bit higher. Low trucks are less turny and you want trucks that can turn quickly. Higher trucks allow for sharper turns because they pivot further.
Once you approach the coping you want that perfect angle in order to perform a tick successfully. Another benefit is that you can fit larger wheels without having to worry about wheel bite.
If you want stability, Venture is a good choice. These are about the most stable trucks you can get and recommended for beginners. Independent is also a great choice. Indys provide a lot of stability and are the most durable trucks you can buy. I personally ride Indy Stage 11 Titaniums (149mm) in my local mini ramp and they might even be the last of trucks I ever buy.
You don’t need Titanium though, it’s more of a gimmick. The standard Indy hollows (link to Amazon) are just fine and perform just as well. I also would like to point out that if you prefer a different brand, that’s fine. I know many skaters who ride mini ramps on Tensors, Thunders, Grind King, etc.
Larger Wheels 56mm / 58mm
Before I went with bigger wheels I used to skate 53mm and I had to push hard to get to the other side of a mini ramp. Of course, I didn’t realize I was not doing myself a favor.
I guess I was a bit conservative when it comes to skateboard parts or just impatient of learning how to ride larger wheels. In fact, I tried bigger wheels before but being impatient I went back to my old wheels
Anyway, I finally made the transition to larger wheels and the difference was night and day. I also got new bearings making my board even faster. It was so fast that I swapped a couple of my old bearings to slow it down a little. Once I felt comfortable, I swapped out my old bearings and never looked back.
It’s safe to say bigger wheels have a huge impact on performance and it’s not just speed. I hardly have issues getting stuck behind copings and my wheels lock perfectly.
I would recommend wheels with a diameter of 56mm or 58mm. It also depends a bit on the size of a mini ramp. You’re fine with smaller wheels in tiny min ramps but larger wheels are great in bigger ramps.
As for hardness, anything between 99a and 84B (durometer) will do. I personally skate 84B.
As long as you’re going for Bones Swiss Reds or Super Reds you should be fine. Bones produces quality bearings but don’t get these expensive ceramics. It’s a waste of money and only for bombing hills. Cheaper bearings will be fine for a while but will fall apart or block at some point. You really don’t want that to happen and hit a wall face first.
Mini Ramp and Vert
If you also like to skate vert occasionally you shouldn’t go below 8.5″. Vert is not for everyone and I personally feel pretty uncomfortable dropping in. Even though the theory is that dropping in is easier, it just scares me.
Anything between 8.5″ and 9.0″ should give you the stability you need riding verts. As for wheels, again, 58mm is recommended but make sure the wheels provide grip so you won’t slip away. Feeling your wheels slide (when you’re not prepared) at full speed is a scary experience.
One of my closest friends also skates Bones p5’s (at age 44) because they offer a lot of grip. He actually got rid of his Spitfire’s because they didn’t provide enough grip.
Setup Suitable for Mini Ramps and Parks
Not everyone is a dedicated mini ramp skater and you might also enjoy some more technical stuff on streets or parks. You can either go with and 8.0″ deck or 8.25″. An 8.25″ will perform better in ramps and transition in general, and 8.0″ works better for technical stuff. It’s not a huge difference and experience skateboarders probably do well on both.
As for wheels, I’d recommend 53-54mm. It’s a bit of a trade-off, you’ll still be able to pump ramps (with a bit more effort) and do some technical street stuff but it’s not perfect. Get wheels with a Durometer (hardness) between 99A and 84B. The former ride a bit comfier and the latter do really well on hard slick surfaces.
In the end, you’ll get used to your setup and get to know its strengths and weaknesses. There is no such thing as a skateboard that’s great for every style.
Wrapping it up
Get a wide deck, large wheels, quality bearings and matching (high) trucks. You need to be able to maintain balance and wider setups generally perform better. Make sure you buy quality parts and not anything from a sketchy brand. Quality parts really make skateboarding easier and safer, not to mention that you don’t have to buy new parts every month.
Ask your local skate shop for advice if you have one nearby and don’t forget to support them. This ends part two in this series, about 7 more to go.
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