I have mad respect for street skaters and to be honest, I think I just wasn’t made for it. In order the get the most out of street skateboarding you need the right setup and there are a few general guidelines that will help you pick the right parts.
The best skateboard setup for street needs to have the following specifications:
- Deck width between 8.0″ and 8.25″ with a medium or high concave.
- Small hard wheels between 50mm and 53mm. Durometer should be between 99A and 100A.
- Low trucks matching your decks’ width.
There’s more to it than just these specifications, actually, it can vary a lot depending on what you prefer. This guide doesn’t mention specific skateboards but will steer you in the right direction so you can assemble your own. So let’s see what exactly makes a great setup for street skateboarding.
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Deck width between 8.0″ and 8.25″
When you mainly skate the streets you probably focus on technical skating and for that, you need a narrow deck. In general, it’s recommended to go with a deck between 8.0 inches and 8.25 inches. The reason for this is that wider decks are less responsive compared to narrow decks.
While there are exceptions, you want a deck that’s agile and responsive. It also depends a bit on what you’re used to. There are many skaters that do technical tricks on wider decks. Still going with an 8.0″ or 8.25″ is a safe choice. 8.0″ is more responsive and helps to flip your board faster and an 8.25 is still responsive but offer a bit more stability.
If you’re a tall person or a bit on the heavy side it’s sometimes better to get a wider deck. This is something you have to find out for yourself because this isn’t an exact science. Some tall people skate small boards and some short people skate wider boards.
You might also want to consider the shape or concave of a deck. A high concave means your board is curvier which makes technical tricks ‘easier’. A steep concave makes a skateboard harder to balance, beginners should consider a mellow shaped concave.
Small and Hard Wheels
Go with wheels that are between 50mm and 53mm. Anything smaller is a bit harder to skate and bigger makes your setup less responsive. Bigger wheels are usually better when you skate transition, mini ramps, or parks.
As for hardness, this depends a bit on the surface you skate. Obviously, you don’t want soft wheels because you’ll bounce all over the place. Softer (under 87A) wheels are better for cruising.
If you ride rough surfaces 99A will probably be too hard, consider 97A or even 92A if it’s really bad. You need to find the right balance between performance and comfort.
Riding 100A wheels on rough roads can be very frustrating. There’s lots of vibration that can bring you off balance and after a while, your feet will start tingling.
I have a friend who rides 80A Bones because his park has a lot of rough surfaces, so it’s not impossible. Still, he prefers harder wheels when appropriate.
Even though I know skateboarders that ride high trucks (like Independent) it’s best to get a set of low trucks or medium high. You want to stay close to the ground to optimize your center of gravity.
Another benefit is that low trucks are more responsive compared to high trucks. Flips tricks, for example, will be easier on lower trucks, at least that’s the theory.
Low trucks offer more stability when grinding on circle/tube rails. A shorter fulcrum between your feet and a rail means more stability and you’re less likely to slide off compared to higher trucks. More resistance makes it more likely to land a grind and you stay on your board.
If you always skated low trucks and switch to highs, it’s more likely you’ll notice the difference. Also, there are other factors like the hardness of your bushings, how tight your trucks are, and the pressure you apply. Lastly, your kingpin clearance.
You don’t want it sticking out and make contact with a rail. If that’s an issue you can consider shaving it off a bit or get a set of Grind King trucks, these trucks have the kingpin embedded (but feel super loose).
The difficult part here is that different brands use different metrics, there isn’t really an industry standard. Some brands offer low trucks that other brands consider medium-high trucks. Not all brands list height specifications making it even more confusing.
Tensor offers the lowest trucks like the Mag Lite Lo’s at 45.5mm. They’re also ridiculously lightweight because of the materials used. Other brands that offer low trucks are Venture and Thunder.
Recently Grind King made a comeback, they were considered the ultimate street trucks back in the days. If you’re looking for something special, make sure to check them out. They now offer lots of fancy stuff like embedded washers and a kingpin that doesn’t stick out though independent recently re-introduced similar trucks.
Hardware & Griptape
Make sure to get the right hardware. I prefer Allen bolts because they stay in place and the head won’t damage when assembling the trucks. If you don’t use risers, 7/8″ or 1″ hardware is perfect. There is some difference in quality, Pig hardware or shorty’s is always a good choice.
Grip tape doesn’t really matter, just make sure you buy a sheet that fits your deck. Buying a 9″ sheet is a safe choice.
|Deck size||truck axle width||Bearings||Wheels size||Suggested setup (affiliate links)|
|8.0″||139mm||bones reds||52mm – 54mm||Independent 139 or Thunder 147, Bones or Spitfire Wheels, Bones bearings, and any pro 8.0″ deck you like + griptape|
|8.25″||149mm||bones reds||52mm – 54mm||Independent 144 or Thunder 148, Bones or Spitfire Wheels, Bones bearings, and any pro 8.25″ deck + griptape|
|8.5″||159mm||bones reds||52mm – 54mm||Indy 149, Thunder 149, Bones or Spitfire Wheels, Bones bearings, and any pro 8.5″ deck + griptape|
Here’s what I recommend if you want a solid street setup, I selected the items specifically for technical skating. Small 52mm spitfire wheels, a Thank You deck (or any deck from a reputable woodshop), grip tape, Thunder or Indy trucks and 7/8″ Allen hardware, Bones red bearings including spacers. Make sure that trucks you pick match the deck’s width and vice versa. See table below:
|Deck width (Inches)||8.0″ – 8.49″||8.5″ – 8.99″|
|CCS Trucks||139, 144||149, 159|
|Independent Trucks||139, 144||149, 159|
|Thunder Trucks||147, 148||149, 151|
|Tensor Trucks||5.35, 5.5||5.75|
What to Avoid
So now that we covered what exactly makes a good street skateboard here are a few things to avoid. The first thing that comes to mind is large and soft wheels.
Larger wheels (54mm+) are great for transition skateboarding but not so much for street skateboarding. Smaller wheels accelerate much faster and make your board more responsive.
Many street skaters prefer an 8.25″ deck with a medium to high concave, anything under 8.0″ is just too narrow these days. For kickflips a steep concave is recommended, anything mellow will give you a harder times. 8.5″ wide decks are harder to flip but they offer more balance.
Be aware when buy a complete skateboard, that they usually come with soft bushings. This will make the board extremely turny and harder to balance. Tighten the kingpin nut to solve this or replace them with aftermarket bushings.
Street Skateboards Wear Faster
Street skateboarding is probably the most hardcore style and you’re more likely to injure yourself. It has quite some impact on the joints and knees so consider wearing protective gear if you’re a beginner.
All of your equipment will wear down much faster compared to transition skateboarding. Boards break when you land in the center, nose and tails chip, and in general you need to replace your board more frequently.
Grinding concrete ledges will wear down your trucks and wheels suffer more from rough surfaces. This means you have to replace skateboard parts more often which can be expensive.
There isn’t much you can do about a chipped nose, razor tails and general wear on your deck. Sure there are stronger decks out there but a Lithe Slate skateboard is really expensive. In order to cut costs, you could consider a blank deck or get an affordable complete (check my best complete skateboards), but buying blanks won’t support the skate industry.
As for wheels and trucks, go for quality and stay away from the cheap stuff. Cheap trucks are unsafe and might fail when you’re least expecting. Cheap wheels will flat spot but quality wheels like Bones and Spitfire will last you a long time. in the end, it’s cheaper to invest in quality trucks and wheels even though you have to pay a little extra. It really makes a big difference.
This is just a guide about the pros and cons of different street skateboard setups. Everyone has their personal preference and what works for you may not work for others. One thing that matters though is quality.
Don’t cheap out on essential stuff like wheels and trucks, quality parts make a huge difference in board feel and performance, not to mention you don’t have to buy new stuff every 3 months.
I’m an aged skateboarder and I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago but also love surfing, snowboarding, or anything that involves a board.