Street skaters demand a lot from their decks. Rails, ledges, gaps, and big drops all take a huge toll on your skateboard. I’ll try to help you to narrow down the hundreds of options, and help you pick the best skateboard deck for street skating.
Street decks should be made of quality North American maple wood. You need a responsive board, so look for a medium or high concave shape. This will help you to do more technical tricks. As for size, it’s recommended to go with anything between a 7.75″ or 8.0″.
So let’s go into what makes a great street deck, different brands and what they have to offer.
What Is the Best Skateboard for Street Skating?
Real, Powell, Bamboo, Creature, Santa Cruise and Almost, all make decks with new construction materials to increase durability, minimize weight, help absorb impact, and to keep the pop longer. They have had coatings to help the decks slide better on rough ledges, and to help resist chipping.
Street skaters need a board that can take the punishment of rougher terrain, like back alleys, beat up ledges, and sticky rails. They need a board that can take a beating, and still perform like a new session after session. These boards will meet all of these requirements.
But in addition to these specially constructed decks, there are countless other 7 ply traditional wood construction decks made by countless other companies. There is an overwhelming array of choices when it comes to selecting a skateboard deck.
Beyond the vast variety of graphics, and shapes, there are also a lot of options in board construction. Let’s dive deeper and take a closer look at some of the options skateboard companies provide.
What Is a Street Skateboard Anyway?
Basically any skateboard deck that’s suitable for street skating. Without getting too much into detail, a street skateboard is a skateboard you are most used to seeing. A street skateboard will have both a nose and tail kick, and be “popsicle shaped”. Popsicle shape describes that the skateboard looks like a popsicle stick where both ends are cut to a rounded shape. The deck will have a variety of concave options.
They are usually about 31”-34” long with a wheelbase (the space between the trucks) between 13”-15”. The nose and tail are between 6” and 7” long from the truck bolts. They are available in width sizes from 7.75” to 8.75”. The size you need depends on your weight, foot size, and how technical the skating you are doing is.
How to Pick the Right Street Deck
Like always picking the right street deck depends entirely on your personal preference but there are some features you want to keep in mind depending on your style.
If you want a deck that flips faster, it’s generally recommended to go for a size between 7.75″ and 8.0″. If you have large feet or prefer wider board, anything up to 8.5″ is still fine. If you’re just a beginner, check out my post about completes. I selected a few that are excellent for street skating without spending an arm and a leg.
Concave has to do with the shape and curvature of a skateboard deck. They come in low, medium and high concave profiles. The more concave the more it will respond to your movement but it also offers less stability.
When looking at a dedicated street deck you probably want to go with a deck that has a lot of concave. The curved shape allows you to put more pressure on the edges and make it easier to flip your deck. A high concave profile offers less stability though, that’s why beginners should go for a medium or mellow concave.
Keep in mind that concave is not standardized, not all manufacturers press decks in the same shape so it really depends on the manufacturer which one is right for you. It’s not even about brands, many brands come from the same woodshop. It’s always a good idea to go to your local skate shop and try a board first. You are usually allowed to stand on it to feel how it responds, as long as you’re not damaging the graphics.
With the introduction of fiberglass and even carbon, there’s been a shift in quality and durability if you’re willing to pay the price. Still to this day, maple wood decks are the number one selling boards and I don’t see this changing anywhere soon.
North American maple wood is durable because of its slow growth if you’re looking for something that has less impact on the environment you could consider bamboo. I don’t have any experience with bamboo so I can’t really recommend much about it. Anyway, time to move on to a couple of brands that offer great street decks.
Real Skateboards offers 5 different constructions, in addition to their traditional wood construction. Each of which is designed to improve your street skating experience.
The Real Heavyweights decks are built to last longer without breaking. With larger, heavier riders in mind, these decks should be able to last you through your high roof drops, and 15 stairs set gaps without breaking.
The Heavyweights use an X-Band construction, where 2 of the inner wood plies are placed with the wood grain running at opposing 45-degree angles. This is as opposed to the more traditional construction where all the wood plies run linear along the length of the board.
Heavyweights are a bit heavier than traditional wood construction, but they are supposed to hold their pop and feel, longer than a traditional 7 plywood construction.
If you’re a heavier person you also might consider a wider deck. While wider decks usually perform better in skate parks, the width provides some extra support and stability. Take the Heavy Weight Grey for example. The name ‘Heavy Weight’ is because these decks are usually a bit heavier and not so much because they’re only suitable for heavy riders.
This board will last much longer than your average street deck. It has a medium concave which means a perfectly balanced board. Not extremely responsive, but great stability and strength suitable for both park and street. It even has wheel wells to prevent wheel bite. It is a bit more expensive but it also comes with free grip tape.
- Heavyweight Grey 8.5″ Skateboard Deck from Real.
- 7-ply maple construction.
- Medium concave and wheel wells.
- Width: 8.5″.
- Length: 32.25″.
- Wheelbase: 14.5″.
The Real Full skateboards have a more full board with from the nose to tail. This means that if you had an 8” Full skateboard, it is 8” wide more up to the tail and the nose than a traditional popsicle shaped board. Traditional popsicle shaped boards taper into the nose at just past the furthest pair of front bolts.
The board also starts to taper down to the tail, around the front-most pair of back bolts. The Real Full boards taper an 1/8” later than traditional shapes. This gives you a fuller board width throughout the length of the skateboard.
Real Low Pro II
The Real Low Pro II is a board with a lower center of gravity. It is constructed with a slight rocker at the nose and tail, which means the nose and tail kicks are slightly lower to the ground than traditional wood construction. This allows for quicker pop, because you have to push down less to get pop. The Low Pro II also has a tighter concave, which makes the board stronger and provides more control. This is definitely a deck geared toward technical street skating.
Real R1 Construction
Real Skateboards uses R1 Construction. They press the boards in press molds that apply equal pressure across the entire surface of each deck. They also use the 2 X-Bands plies to help the board maintain stiffness, strength an pop. It is still a 7 Plywood construction, but it is more stiff and durable than a traditional 7 ply maple board.
Real Slick Boards have a ribbed polymer coating on the bottom of the deck. Basically, there are thin plastic ribs on the bottom of the board, which means there is less surface area contacting the ledge or rail when sliding. With this coating, the bottom of the board feels slicker than a “non-slick” board. This will allow you to slide better on any surface, without needing to paint it with wax. Also, your graphic will hold up longer before wearing off, and the board stays stiffer longer.
Powell-Peralta Flight Deck
The flight deck construction adds a fiber layer into the wood plies. The decks are lighter, thinner and stronger than a traditional wood constructed deck. This fiber layer means the deck is stiffer, and has a higher pop because of a greater rebound, and snap. Flight decks have been dubbed unbreakable.
In theory, you should be able to ollie higher, and do your technical tricks easier on a Flight Deck, than on a traditionally constructed wood deck. The downside is they are quite a bit more expensive than a wooden deck. But if they last for far longer than a 7 ply, you won’t need to replace it as often, so you save money in the end.
NHS (Santa Cruz and Creature Skateboards)
NHS offers 2 constructions, in addition to their traditional 7 ply maple constructions, which are designed to perform during technical street skating, and built to take a beating.
The Everslick boards have a polymer layer on the bottom of the deck. This makes the board more slippery on slides than traditional construction. The coating makes the deck stiffer, for a better, longer-lasting pop, and lasts longer against the punishment rough ledges put a deck through. With an Everslick, your ledge and rail won’t require all the waxing, and your graphic will still look fresh, even after several sessions.
The P2’s are built to be almost indestructible. The P2 decks are built thinner and lighter than traditional 7 plywood constructions. They are built with 6 maple plies and the top layer has a fiber insert, surrounded by a thin maple ply. This makes for a stronger, stiffer tail which helps your board to keep that “new deck pop” feel. Also, the P2’s come with a 45 day no break warranty.
Almost has 3 constructions, in addition to their traditional wood construction, which is built to take a beating on the streets, and stand up to big drops and gaps.
This impact construction offers 8ply maple construction, with 2 carbon fiber discs inset where your trucks attach. This gives added strength at these stress points, and provide extra pop. This board will hold up better for heavier riders, and riders doing big drops
The lightest board that Almost Impact offers. It features 7 ply maple construction, with a carbon fiber insert in the top layer. This provides a longer deck life, longer lasting pop, and added stiffness and strength.
This is the best of both the Support and Light worlds. An 8 ply Canadian maple construction, with the die-cut carbon fiber insert in the top layer, and the 2 carbon fiber discs in the truck spot on the bottom. This makes for a longer-lasting board, with longer-lasting pop and board feel. If you break a lot of boards, this might be the one for you.
Bamboo Skateboards are made from bamboo wood, as opposed to maple hardwood. Bamboo is naturally shock absorbent and it absorbs impact better than maple. You should be able to ollie off big drops and stair sets, with less of an impact than traditional wood construction.
Bamboo is also lighter and stronger than maple. You will get more pop than on a traditional wood board. As an added bonus, Bamboo is a fast-growing resource, so it is better for the environment.
Traditional Maple Wood Construction Decks
Most skaters ride a traditional wood construction deck and there are hundreds of companies that sell wood construction decks. A traditional wood construction deck is going to do everything that you want it to do. They come in a variety of size, shape, and weight options so you will be able to find a deck that you like. They are usually made of 7 ply Canadian Maple hardwood.
Here are some reputable brands to look at when picking a traditional 7 Ply Maple street board:
Girl/Chocolate offers a variety of deck shapes and sizes. The beauty of them is that all their shapes and sizes are cataloged by number. Each number corresponds to the shape and size. For example: the G023 shape is 8.125″ X 31.625″ with a fuller nose.
The G026 shape is 8.125″ X 31.625″ but with a more tapered and pointier nose. The catalog is handy if you know what you are looking for in a deck. You can narrow down the shape you want before you go to the shop.
At one time, Alien Workshop was the board to ride. Not just because of the alien and conspiracy imagery, or their amazing team with Steve Berra, and Jason Dill. They made awesome boards. Then some things changed, and Alien Workshop changed ownership several times, and their quality suffered.
In 2016, Alien Workshop once again became independent and under the ownership of its original owner.
The FA and Hockey boards have been growing in popularity as street skateboards in the past few years; despite (or maybe because of) having a name with a swearword in it. They have a bit different board shape that has a longer and wider nose and a more tapered and shorter tail. Also, a skater owned company. That’s generally a good thing.
Baker has been in the street skating game for a long time. They have been known to produce a very high-quality board in shapes that work well for skating street spots. Baker also makes Deathwish, and Heroine skateboards. Not everybody is a fan of the shapes they offer but some swear they provide the best decks.
AntiHero boards are an excellent choice for a street board. They are manufactured by DLX woodshop. DLX presses their boards 4 at a time. That means they stack 4 decks on the wood press and press them all at once. The result is the first board has the steepest concave and kicks, but the bottom board is mellower.
So how do you know what you are going to get? DLX stamps the number of where the board is in the press between the front bolts. That means if your board has a “1” stamp. It is the first in the stack, a “4” means it is on the bottom of the stack. DLX also makes Krooked, and REAL skateboards.
Alltimers makes some very interesting shapes. They have the water cooler shaped board, the glow worm-shaped board, the Ferrari shaped board, and of course their classic Rihanna shaped board. I don’t think these will help your street skating, but they will definitely get you some notice. Alltimers also makes regular popsicle shapes, with a longer rounder nose, and a tapered shorter tail shape, which IS good for street skating.
Common Issues with Street Skateboards
There are some problems which you just can’t avoid. Razor tail, chipped nose, or snapping your deck in half because of a faulty landing will always be an issue. Unless you’re willing to pay 200 bucks for a Lithe Slate II deck. Cheap decks will show signs of wear and tear more often than a quality maple wood deck. Here’s a list of common problems and how to prevent them.
A razor tail is a pretty common issue with skateboard decks and I’d say it’s actually normal. Your tail will only be round for a couple of weeks but at a certain point, it will become vulnerable to chipping. You may skate for months without issues but then one day your tail has an unfortunate impact or hits a sharp corner causing it to chip.
This doesn’t mean you have to replace it but the tail can cause some nasty cuts. Some just skate until there’s hardly a tail left. I’d recommend replacing your deck once it loses its pop or the chipping is impacting your ability to perform tricks.
You can slow down the razor but you can’t avoid it. Don’t practice manuals on a new skateboard deck when you’re a beginner. Grab an old deck, make sure the trucks are loose and your foot placement right before you practice. Lastly, don’t brake using your tail! Not only does it look bad, but it’s also the worst thing you can do. Maple wood doesn’t like to get scraped on wood will Razor tail will happen eventually from popping your deck over and over again.
Deck and Tail Snapping
This happens to everyone and usually has to do with too much weight on a weak spot when landing a trick. Breaking a new deck in half is just the worst, I actually broke one within the hour once when I was younger and was devastated. The graphic was still intact and I didn’t have a lot of money to buy a new one, fortunately, a friend had a spare I could use.
Always try to land near on top of the bolts that attach your trucks, don’t lean back and land with all your weight on your tail, Now, that’s easier said than done and sometimes you just have a bad day.
Waterlogged Skateboard Deck
Avoid wet conditions and don’t store your skateboard in moisty environments. Wood will absorb the water making it lose its pop and causing delamination and might wrap your board. The plys will start to come off because the glue (epoxy resin) holding them together dissolves. There’s no way to fix this, just avoid skateboarding in the rain or wet conditions and don’t leave it outside.
Street skaters need a board that will perform in less than ideal conditions. Curbs, ledges, stair sets and drainage ditches are found outside of the pristine skatepark, and the spots can be in pretty rough shape. This takes a toll on your deck. Street skaters need a deck that will maintain its pop and board feel for a long time.
They also need a board that won’t break on big drops, gaps, and the times when they don’t land “bolts”. Street skaters also need a board that will slide easily on rough ledges and rails. The Real, Powell, Bamboo, Creature, Santa Cruise and Almost decks will hold up well skating the gnarliest of street spots.
We also showed many brands that offer quality Traditional 7 Ply Maple boards, each of which offers a variety of shapes and sizes. So, you should be able to find your perfect fit for street skating.