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A Simple Guide To Buying Your First Skateboard

Buying your first skateboard is easier than you might think and I’m going to make is as simple as possible. The easiest way is to close this page and visit your local skate shop. If you want to learn a little and purchase the right board for you, stay tuned.

As a beginner you will focus on learning to ride first before you start doing tricks. This means you don’t have to worry much about specifics. Most of us learned to skate on a crappy skateboard, but a decent skateboard makes it easier. I’m not talking about cheap skateboards from Target, Walmart, or these cheap Amazon skateboards, we’ll get to that later.

skateboards for beginners displayed

This buying guide for beginner skateboarders will help you make the right choice depending on your budget. I’ll explain on a basic level why there is so much choice, and what all the specs mean without geeking out.

Remember: As a newbie, you don’t need top notch stuff!

This buyers guide is for those who want a skateboard for tricks and do gnarly flatground stuff, or ride local skate parks. It’s not about longboards or cruisers.

Skateboard Buying Guide For Beginners

Let’s start with the short version. The most popular skateboards for beginners are 8.0″ or 8.25″ wide. Shorter skaters should consider an 8.0″ to 8.125″ wide skateboard. Average or taller skaters should consider an 8.25″ to 8.38″ wide skateboard. There is a why, but this is a beginners guide so I’ll keep it simple.

You want wheels around 99A or 100A+ if you want to skate parks and/or flatground. Size matters, but you’re best bet is 53mm. Get cheap bearings, decent Thunder trucks, and the cheapest deck possible from a reputable brand.

Your cheapest decent setup will cost you 130 to 140 bucks if you shop smart, but prices have increased recently. This will not get you all the premium parts (which you don’t really need anyway) but still a very decent setup. Here are your options when buying a skateboard:

  1. Buy a complete skateboard
  2. Buy all the components and get a really rad but expensive skateboard

You can either buy online or visit your local skate shop to support the local community.

If you go for option 1, pick a skateboard from Birdhouse, or CCS. Let’s get into more detail:

Option 1: Buying A Complete Skateboard

Skateboards for 8 year olds

This is the easy route, and from what I’ve learned the most popular one. A decent complete skateboard costs between $100 and $110. Most of the completes are almost exactly the same, crappy bushings, cheap trucks, cheap wheels, and a decent deck. Avoid Element and Santa Cruz completes for tricks!

Most of the brands will offer you the same board with a slight variation in trucks. Even though they are different, they aren’t top notch. FINE for beginners, not for the die hard skateboarder which you might become.

Many skateboarders (including myself) started with a complete. The cheapest are completes from CCS which is just 80 bucks. Remember that you also need shoes, skateboarding isn’t cheap and there are many hidden costs.

Cons of buying a complete: You don’t get the best parts, often the wheels are a bit too hard for beginners and the trucks feel very loose, meaning they turn too much. Fixing the tightness of your trucks is easy by tweaking the kingpin nut.

Harder wheels make learning to ride a bit tougher on rougher surfaces, but they are great for skate parks and are easier to slide (which is a good thing).

Pros of buying a complete skateboard: They are cheap but work, as long as you avoid trashy Amazon skateboards from random sellers. It’s easy to replace parts once you get better at skateboarding. Lastly, you don’t have to assemble all the components. A couple of tweaks to the trucks and your are ready for your first ride.

Recommended Complete Skateboard Brands

Birdhouse skateboard

We’ve tested many brands over the years and there are a few that are great for beginners:

  • Birdhouse offers durable completes for a decent price. Quality decks and trucks, reasonable wheels and bearings. I will die on this hill, because we really tested Birhouse boards to the limit.
  • CCS is the cheapest complete you can buy. Again decent trucks and deck for beginners, acceptable bearings but very hard and small wheels. It’s hard to turn which can be fixed, it’s the only board that needs softer bushings.
  • Arbor offers the Whiskey which comes with slightly softer and bigger wheels, making it a great beginner board. Performs better on rough roads and comes with turny Ace trucks. One of the better boards to learn how to properly ride. Less pop in the deck, but great trucks and wheels for beginners.

If you are on a tight budget and can’t spend more than $80 USD, go for the CCS. Beginners that want to learn to ride and do tricks in parks should consider a Birdhouse skateboard. For those who don’t have a skate park in vicinity and want a smoother ride, go with the Arbor Whiskey.

Option 2: Assemble Your Own Skateboard

Setup for heavy skateboarders

This is where it get’s interesting and expensive. I’ll also keep this one short and will offer general advice that will work for almost anyone. The nitty gritty will come after this.

Assembling your own skateboard is more expensive than buying a complete. The main reason is that you have the option to buy more expensive parts. Let’s look at a couple of options that work with various budgets.

$100 USD Budget Skateboard

This is really the bare minimum to spend on a skateboard. You won’t get top quality components but it will do the job. Let’s look at the options you have, keep in mind that prices increase over time so I could be 10% off.

ComponentPrice USD
Skateboard deck (blank)35.00
Mini Logo C-Cut Wheels 54mm/101A20.00
CCS Skateboard Trucks25.00
Mini Logo Bearings12.00
Hardware 5.00
Spacers2.00
Jessup grip tape:7.00
Total$106.00 USD

After shopping around I must come to the conclusion that in this case you’re better off buying a CCS complete which is around 80 bucks. This complete comes down to $106 USD, and it isn’t even that great of a setup.

$130 USD Custom Skateboard

A $130 USD skateboard allows you to pick at least top-quality skateboard trucks. You will have to sacrifice the wheels and bearings, but trucks last for years where wheels and bearings have to be replaced more often. Let’s look at your options:

ComponentPrice USD
Skateboard deck WKND45.00*
Bones 100’s wheels25.00
Thunder trucks45.00
Mini Logo Bearings12.00
Hardware 5.00
Spacers2.00
Grip tape:0.00*
Total$134.00 USD

* I was able to track a WKND deck that comes with grip tape included. Sometimes you’re lucky and 45 bucks for a deck and grip tape is a steal! Expect to pay at least $20 USD more, but if you shop smart you can make it work.

This setup will cost you $134 USD and is a pretty good skateboard. It will work for both street/flatground and park skating.

$160 Quality Skateboard Setup

Let’s try to get s setup that’s great for street, flatground, and park skateboarding.

ComponentPrice USD
Premium deck Powell Peralta70.00
Spitfire Wheels F4 Classics 53mm/99A35.00
Thunder trucks45.00
Bones Reds Bearings + Spacers20.00
Hardware 7.00
Jessup grip tape:7.00
Total$167.00 USD

Close enough, this setup will cost you around $167 USD and is the perfect street setup. I picked a Powell Peralta deck because it was cheap. Again, shop smart and you can get a great deck for a lot cheaper, I saved at leat 15 bucks.

I picked Bones Reds bearings, they offer a package that includes spacers and some of the better bearings for a decent price.

$240 USD Premium Skateboard

This kind of setup is for those who are really serious about skateboarding, or have the money and want the best stuff. At this price range you can get the best components, premium brand wheels, the best trucks, great bearings, and a deck with an awesome graphic of your choice.

I must say that prices have really increased over the years, this setup was 40-50 bucks cheaper 3 years ago.

ComponentPrice USD
Premium deck + graphic70.00
Spitfire Wheels F4 Classics 53mm/99A35.00
Independent Stage 11 Hollow60.00
Bronson G3 bearings + spacers30.00
Hardware Pig bolts (allen)7.00
Mob grip tape:10.00
Total$242.00 USD

Ouch, 242 USD! This setup is not for beginners because spending this much on your first skateboard isn’t necessary. If you want a great skateboard, I suggest to go with the $160 USD setup instead.

Graphics Are Important

Graphics won’t make you a better skater and don’t add anything functional, but nonetheless, they are important.

An awesome heat-transferred graphic really helps you to go out there and skate. The graphic will fade, as decks are meant to be destroyed, but that feeling of a new deck and an awesome graphic is special.

The other reason why graphics are important is that you support the skateboard industry. The money earned from graphics is invested in the development of new technology, sponsoring of pro skaters, and contests.

Sure a blank skateboard is much cheaper, and nobody will give you any beef for buying one. If you can save yourself 30 bucks, why not. If you decide to go for a blank deck look for Mini Logo or CCS.

Picking The Right Skateboard Wheels

a collection of skateboard wheels

As a beginner you won’t have to buy expensive wheels. Since you don’t know how ot can just barely ride, you won’t notice the difference between wheels because you don’t have any experience.

While it’s easier to learn to ridea skateboard on slightly softer wheels, they also are more difficult to slide. You might think this is a good thing, but that really depends on what you want to do.

Harder wheels (100A+) will make it easier to land tricks. It can mean the difference between landing a trick or eating sh*t. Wheels that slide better, are easier to help you correct minor mistakes. Just a little slide can help you stay on your board and find your balance.

My recommendation is to go for 99A wheels if you want a bit more grip. They also are fine for sliding and allow you to correct minor mistakes. 99A very close to 100A, the difference is hardly noticable.

As for size, street and park wheels should be between 52mm and 54mm. Smaller wheels accelerate faster compared to larger wheels.

56mm, 58mm, or even 60mm wheels are great for bowl, mini, and vert skating. The larger size makes them a lot faster.

Picking The Right Skateboard Trucks

Trucks are the heart and sould of your board and allow you to turn. As a beginner you should’t worry too much about the height of trucks. Just remember that higher trucks allow for bigger wheels and better turning, but makes flip tricks a bit more difficult.

Low trucks will lower your center of gravity and make a ride more stable. You’ll have less pop because your board will be closer to the ground.

Recommended skateboard truck brands:

  • Venture
  • Thunder
  • Independent
  • CCS (budget)

Skateboard Decks & Brands

Skateboard decks on a table

Most skateboard deck brands come from the same factories. Take WKND and Thank You for example. Both are pressed in the same mold in the same factory (PS Stix, Tijuana, Mexico). Same goes for many other brands, in fact many of the popular brands come from Chinese Factories.

Maple gets shipped from Canada to China, the decks get pressed and ship back to the US. Seems like a waste so to save the environment, buy decks that are made in the USA or in Mexico. Keep in mind that skateboard brands sometimes switch manufacturers.

Skateboard deck brands don’t matter at all, not talking about those cheap fake Amazon ‘brands’. Also forget about shoe size, it more about how tall or short you are. Unless you have huge feet, normal sized deck will work.

Some skateboard have more concave than others. There is no industry standard for concave, but a mellow concave is great for beginners because it’s easier to balance. Steep concave is great for flip tricks, but I would leave that for your next deck. Start mellow and move up.

The most important thing is to make sure to pick the right trucks that closely match the width of the deck. Check out my skateboard truck size guide.

Street Decks

As a beginner street skater you should buy a deck between 8.0″ and 8.38″, where 8.25″ is the sweet spot. Shorter skaters should consider a deck between 8.0″ and 8.125″. Taller skaters will benefit more from an 8.25″ to 8.38″ for street and flatground skating. Lenght doesn’t matter, these decks are designed to have the right length at the right width.

Bowl Decks

Bowl or pool decks need to be at least 8.5″ wide. If you want to become a dedicated pool rider you will really benefit from a wider setup. Wider decks are harder to flip which means you have to work harder when you kick your board. They also are a bit heavier.

Kids Decks

Kids under 10 will benefit more from an 7.75″ deck as riding an 8.25″ wide deck will make it harder to do tricks. In this case, a deck under 32″ long is adviced. I wouldn’t worry about this too much, narrow decks are usually shorter. Over the years manufacters perfected the lenght width ratio, and not much has changed since 2010.

Choosing Bearings

Bones & Bronson bearings

This one is easy! Standard Bones Reds or Bronson G2’s are fine, you shouldn’t spend more than 20 USD on bearings and please ignore ABEC-ratings. You have these very expensive ceramic bearings that everyone talks about, but they aren’t faster than cheap Mini Logo bearings.

Sure they last longer, but there is just no point in spending more than 20 bucks on bearings. You will not notice any difference.

Make Sure To Buy The Right Hardware

different colors skateboard hardware

When you assemble your own skateboard you need to pick the right hardware size. 7/8″ hardware or 1″ will always work on any setup if you don’t have risers or wheels over 58mm (also, you don’t need risers).

Allen bolts are probably your best choice because the heads stay in tact when attaching your trucks. Philips hardware often damages, especially hardware from Independent.

Grip Tape Doesn’t Really Matter

Grip tape is the least of your worries, it simply doesn’t matter as a beginner. There’s a reason I never wrote an article like ‘the best grip tape’, it’s nonsense.

Jessup and Mob are the most popular grip tape brands. Jessup is less gritty and Mob offers more grip. Mob grip tape also comes perforated, making is easier to apply the grip tape and it helps to avoid bubbles.

Honestly, Jessup is also really easy to apply and if you happen to see bubbles, you just puncture them with a utility knife. Most of the bubbles go away when you skate anyway.

There is only one difference in grip tape that matters. Grittier grip tape will make you board flip harder because there is more friction. More abbrasive grip tape is also great for skating in dusty bowls, but still it’s just a minor difference and nothing to concern about as a beginner.

Grip tape comes in many colors, most skaters like black grip tape. It’s functional, not a fashion show. I personally would get dizzy if I skated a checkered grip tape pattern. You almost never see pros ride grip tape with huge logos unless a sponsore specifically requested so. it’s up to you, grip tape with prints are 2 to 3 times as expensive though.

Pro Tip: Never apply grip tape when it’s really cold, somehow it won’t stick and we had to find this out the hard way.

Matching the Size of Your Trucks and Deck

Once you know which parts you want, it’s important that you pick trucks that match the size of your board, or vice versa. they don’t have to align perfectly, 0.25″ shorter or longer is fine.

Check out this table to see what you need:. 

Deck SizeHanger WidthAxle WidthIndyThunderVentureCCSAce
7.5 to 7.75″127mm / 5″193mm / 7.6″1291455.012922
7.75 to 8.25″137mm / 5.25″203mm / 8″1391475.2513933
8.25 to 8.75″149mm / 6″215mm / 8.5″14914914944
8.75 to 9.75″160mm / 6.3″226mm / 8.5″1695.855
Over 9.75″183mm / 7.2″254mm / 10″215

When you shop for trucks, carefuly read the description. All brands list the width of their trucks.

Avoid These Skateboard Brands If You Shop On Amazon

Low quality Amazon skateboards

Basically all the best selling skateboards on Amazon are trash, sure they are cheap but you get what you pay for. most of them break after just one ollie, though some are better than others. Cal 7 and Magneto at least come with a deck that won’t snap right away, but still the components are low quality. Avoid brands like:

  • Cal 7
  • Wolff
  • Magneto
  • Minority
  • WhiteFang
  • Beleeve
  • Retrospec
  • Metroller
  • KPC
  • Etc

There are many more, but basically all skateboards under $75 USD are usually terrible.

Support Your Local Skate Shop

Like I said, the best thing to do is paying your local skate shop a visit. They often are part of the local skateboarding community, skate shops have always been the hub of the scene.

They can talk to you on a skater level and understand your needs probably more than yourself. Skater owned skate shops sponsor local events, skate parks, and the skateboard culture.

Another benefit is that they will assemble your board right on the spot and you migght learn a thing or two. No online shop can give you that experience, sure it might be a bit cheaper but you never know if you made the right choice.

Some Last Tips

I already gave a few pointers but let’s summarize them. Because of this blog I was also able to buy all these crappy skateboards, expensive bearings, and overpriced decks (looking at you Baker). Here are some things to keep in mind when buying your first skateboard:

  1. Don’t buy a skateboard under $75, avoid Amazon crap. If don’t have at least $80 USD, consider buying a used skateboard! You often can get a great deal, people give up quickly and you can get an almost new skateboard for less than 50 bucks.
  2. Don’t spend more than $150 on your first skateboard.
  3. Avoid skateboard that have names on them like Tony Hawk, these $40 skateboards are trash.
  4. Ignore ABEC ratings, if a bearing brand advertises with ABEC rating, it’s a huge red flag.
  5. Don’t buy a skateboard at Walmart or Target. If a skateboard is wrapped in plastic, return it immediately. You can’t return a skateboard when you have used it, even if it’s just a single time.
  6. Once you have your first skateboard, start with the basics. Learn to ride FIRST, then move on to tricks. You nee to learn how a skateboard feels and how it responds to your input before you start doing ticks. Doing tricks stationary without knowing how to ride properly is not impressive. In fact, it will take you much longer to learn tricks if you don’t get the basics down first, period.

That’s it, I think I mentioned all the important stuff on a basic level. Looking for a complete? Check out my best complete skateboards article.

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