Picking skateboard parts really isn’t that hard as long as you pick components that match. Not every truck fits every deck and wheel hardness and diameter impact performance. I’m going to guide you through the process of choosing the right parts for the first time to make sure you don’t make any beginner mistakes.
You pick the right skateboard parts by choosing the right size deck, matching trucks, decent wheels, and proper bearings. These are the components you need:
- Skateboard deck between 8.0″ and 8.5″
- Independent or Thunder trucks or your preferred brand that match the width of your deck.
- A set of Bones bearings
- Wheels between 50mm and 53mm for street and 54mm to 56mm for skateparks.
- Wheel hardness between 96A en 99A for street and 96A to 101A/84D for vert and parks.
- Grip tape, spacers and optionally riser pads depending on your wheel size.
Compatibility is key here. Make sure the skateboard deck you pick matches with your trucks and the wheels fit your trucks. You don’t have to worry too much about deck length and width when you’re a beginner, anything between 8.0″ and 8.5″ is fine.
Once you get the basics down you probably have a better idea of what kind of setup you need. I recommend not going all out for your first skateboard, anything between $100 and $130 is fine. You can get the cheap beginners’ skateboard setups for about 70 bucks.
If you’re not interested in assembling one yourself I came up with a couple of prebuild boards that are perfect for beginners. Not too expensive and still made of high-quality components. You can check out the options I’ve selected for beginners on my recommended page. These boards are a lot cheaper than when you select the parts yourself.
Step 1. Skateboard Deck
I usually pick decks for their shape and a specific width. Shapes and width are personal preference and you’ll learn what you prefer along the way. In general, a narrow deck flips better and wider decks provide more stability. Narrow decks are great for street skating and technical tricks, wider decks for bowls, mini ramp, and vert skating. If you’re a bit heavier, go with a wider deck.
Street, Skatepark or Just Cruising?
The type of skateboard you need depends on what you want to do. If you just want to cruise go for a wider setup 8.5″ wide and above. Make sure you pick some softer and bigger wheels. You can go for an old school deck if you still want to ollie curbs or a mini cruiser if you want a comfortable ride while still having a portable board. For longer distances, you’ll obviously need a longboard.
Get a classic (popsicle shaped) skateboard if you want to do technical stuff on the streets and skateparks. This post is about regular skateboards so keep reading.
Picking the Right Skateboard Deck Width
Pick a deck between 8.0″ and 8.5″, if in doubt go with an 8.25″ which is great for both street and skatepark. You often read that your shoe size matters but this is nonsense. It comes down to what you like, I know tall people who skate tiny decks and shorter people with smaller feet (like myself) that skate wider decks.
If you’re a parent and want to buy a skateboard for your kid read this. It’s entirely about skateboards for kids and what you need to look for. Anyway, it really isn’t that big of a deal so don’t worry too much about getting the right size deck unless you’re a giant. Just make sure it matches your trucks axle width.
Concave and Shapes
Not all decks are shaped the same. Some have pointier noses, other have higher tails etc. The concave is the curved shape across the length of a skateboard deck. They come in low, medium and high variations. High concave means less stability but is suited better for technical tricks. Low concave means more stability but make technical tricks a bit more difficult. Go with a medium shaped concave so you get a little bit of both. Keep in mind that some brands offer high concaves but in reality are more medium or mellow compared to other brands.
You’ll need a low or medium concave when you skate bowls, verts, and mini ramps. It will help you maintaining stability and keep you on your board. Go for a medium to high concave if you want to do technical tricks.
Noses can vary in size and shape. A bigger nose helps you perform more technical tricks. Some are pointier shaped and some don’t differ much from the tail which makes it easier to do tricks switch stance. The nose is usually higher from the ground compared to the tail.
The tail is where you pop your deck. It’s a bit closer to the ground compared to your nose. Tails are smaller and shorter, this is the spot where you kick your board to ollie or flip your deck.
There’s a psychological aspect behind nice graphics. Many skateboarders will tell you it motivates them going out there and shred. There’s another reason why graphics matter. You’ll help companies develop new technologies or improve existing ones. The money made from graphics is also used to sponsor professionals and organize contests. If everybody would buy blanks, many companies would go out of business.
Step 2. Skateboard Trucks
Don’t go all out when you buy your first trucks, sure those hollows and titaniums are awesome but in practice, there isn’t much of a difference to standard trucks. I would avoid the gimmicky trucks as a beginner.
I personally have hollow and titanium trucks but it’s because I like to support the brands and I always like nice stuff. I skated regular stuff when I was a beginner and it was fine. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when buying trucks such as the axle width and height.
Selecting the Right Width
Make sure your skateboard trucks match the width of your deck. They shouldn’t stick out and shouldn’t be too short. They don’t have to line up to the nanometer but you get the idea. If your trucks are too wide it will make it harder to flip your board and you might come in contact with the wheels when you push your board.
If your trucks are too narrow you’ll run more risk of wheel bit and you won’t be able to see them when you ride your deck. It also makes your ride slightly more unstable. Here’s a table to compare sizes, the axle size is always mentioned in the description when you shop online.
|Deck size||Axle width|
|7.75 inch to 8.0 inch||7.75 inch / 197 mm|
|8 inch to 8.5 inch||8.0 inch / 203 mm|
|8.5 inch to 9.0 inch||8.5 inch / 216 mm|
|9.0 inch to 10.0 inch||9.0 inch / 229 mm|
|10 inch or more||10.0 inch / 254 mm|
Selecting the Right Height
Trucks often come in different heights. The lower they are the more center of gravity they provide. Meaning you’ll able to maintain more balance. Height is (again) a personal preference, just remember this about hardware debates. If there’s a lot of division, it’s personal preference.
It also depends on the diameter of your wheels, if the diameter is 56mm and above, you don’t want to get low trucks as there isn’t enough clearance. You’ll run the risk of blocking your wheels when performing sharp turns, though the hardness of your bushings, the stiffness of your trucks and your weight plays a part in this.
Low skateboard trucks are closer to the ground offering more stability great for technical tricks and street skating. Get Thunders if this is what you want, they offer the lowest trucks.
Medium is a bit in the middle (obviously), not many brands offer medium trucks these days. It’s either highs or lows.
High trucks are great for better turning and most transitions skateboarder ride them. Great for mini ramps, bowls. and verts. They also provide a little bit more clearance allowing for larger wheels.
Truck Brands and Styles
I’m going to only mention the top 3 of skateboard truck brands. They’re all high-quality trucks and you can’t go wrong with any of them. Some are more suitable for street and others are better when skating bowls, mini ramp, and vert. Some offer more stability and have more steel to grind through and others turn better. Again, trucks are personal preference but these brands do have some minor different properties.
Thunder Trucks for Street Skateboarding
Thunder trucks are popular among technical street skateboarders, They are more responsive and turn better compared to Independents and ventures. Thunder also produces the lowest trucks which keep your center of gravity lower.
If you want to get technical by doing grinds, ollies, flips etc go for Thunders. The downside is that they don’t have a lot of meat to grind through so they won’t last as long as Ventures or Indies.
Independent Trucks for Skateparks and Ramps
If you have a skatepark nearby and are planning to visit once you get the basics I would recommend Independent trucks. They provide more stability which you’ll need when skating transition. They respond well and have a lot of steel to grind which makes them the most durable trucks. They also are the heaviest but that doesn’t really matter.
Venture If You’re on a Budget
Ventures are a bit in the middle here. They won’t wear out as fast like Thunders but won’t outlast Indies. Venture trucks offer great stability and are great for parks and transition skateboarding. They’re a bit stiffer and less responsive but sometimes that is beneficial. Consider them if you’re on a tight budget and want to skate street and transition.
These guys help you turn your board. Depending on your weight you’ll need harder bushings but often the stock bushings are fine. Bushings need some time to what skateboarders call “breaking-in”. This means you have to skate them a few hours or days before they perform like they’re supposed to.
Just Like wheels, bushings vary in hardness, softer will make your board turn better but might feel a bit more unstable. harder bushings will give more stability but less responsiveness.
Step 3. Wheels
If there’s one thing that’s overwhelming it’s the vast amount of wheels available. I’ll make it a bit easier for you and narrow down what you should look for. Depending on where you skate and what you like to do. In general smaller diameter wheels are for technical skateboarding and bigger wheels for bowls and verts. If you want to cruise and do tricks you’ll need something that’s not too soft and not too hard, like Ricta clouds for example.
To determine the wheels that fit your personal preference I’d suggest to check out my wheel guide, it’s a beefy post and has everything there’s possible to know about wheels.
The bigger the wheel to more speed. Bigger wheels from let’s say 55mm and above are great for mini ramps, verts, and bowls but not so much for street skating. Smaller wheels from 50mm to 54mm are more suitable for street, they’re more responsive and carry less weight.
When buying skateboard wheels make sure they fit your trucks. There needs to be some clearance to avoid wheel bite. 56mm and up sometimes require riser pads depending on the tightness of your trucks and the hardness of your bushings. I ride my trucks very tight and have 56mm Ricta’s for cruising and currently 58mm Bones for the mini ramp. I haven’t had any wheel bite issues but my trucks have a high profile and I attached shockpads.
Check out the list to get an idea which diameter you need in different circumstances.
- Street and technical stuff go with wheels sizes between 48mm and 53mm.
- Transition and skateparks go with wheels between 53mm and 55mm.
- Vert and bowls go for anything between 56mm and 60mm.
- Mini ramp should be fine with anything between 54mm and 58mm.
- Cruising around? You’ll need something bigger starting at 60mm up to 70mm (riser pads needed).
- Cruising and tricks anything between 56mm and 60mm.
Wheel Hardness or Durometer
The harder the wheel the more uncomfortable you ride on rough surfaces. harder wheels offer less grip and more slide. Think of tail slides for example. Your wheels come into contact with a curb, your wheel won’t get stuck but instead will slide.
Softer wheels dig themselves into the curb because of their grip and you’ll need to bail because your tail won’t slide. Softer wheels also tend to flat spot more so powerslides are out of the question here.
Softer wheels offer more grip and are great for cruising and long distance rides. I would get with 99a wheels when you mainly want to skate streets.
- Street and technical skateboarding require wheels with a durometer between 96A and 99A though some prefer 100A+.
- Transition and skateparks require a durometer between 96A and 101A.
- Vert, bowls and mini ramp go for anything between 99A and 84D.
- Cruising requires something softer like 78A to 87A.
- Cruising and tricks anything between 88A and 95A.
Wheel Brands and Styles
I’ll mention a couple of brands that you should go for when you’re picking your wheels. Some are more expensive than others but there’s something for every budget here. Bones and Spitfire are the best wheels on the market, Ricta is more affordable but still have great wheels. Mini logo offers the cheapest wheels but still offer wheels that are right for beginners. The cheaper won’t last as long as the more expensive brands and are more prone to get flat spots.
You can’t go wrong with bones these wheels are just superb. They offer street wheels, skatepark wheels, and all-terrain wheels. I currently skate bones and I love how they slide and lock. Bones also don’t flat spot. Their urethane mix has advanced over the years and they found a way to make their wheels very durable.
Bones wheels are expensive, at least compared to the cheaper options. They’ll also last a lot longer and perform like no other (except for Spitfires).
Go for Bones 100’s if you’re on a budget, these 100a wheels are affordable while maintaining a high-quality standard. They go for around 23 bucks and range from 51 mm to 55 mm. go with a smaller size if you want to skate street and pick a larger size for skate parks and ramps.
Bones SPF’s (skate park formula) are designed for skateparks, bowls, verts, and mini ramps.
Right up there with Bones, when it comes to quality and durability. Spitfires are known for their flat spot resistant urethane formula and their fancy graphics. You can spot Spitfires from a mile away. They produce wheels for street and vert in different formulas.
The Formula Fours have a hardness of 99a and 101a, 99a is great for street skating and 101a for transition skateboarding. They produce all kinds of shapes. Some are wider and provide more grip and others have a more narrow profile to increase responsiveness and speed.
Great wheels when you’re on a budget and popular among many skateboarders. I own Ricta Clouds with durometer 92a and a diameter of 56mm. I use them for cruising and doing some tricks. I wanted to get the 54mm but they sold out, they” becomes 54 eventually so I’ll be able to use them a little longer.
Cheapest wheels that are still acceptable. They won’t last as long as the top brands but consider them when you don’t want to spend too much. Ride them for a while and save up for something better.
Step 4. Bearings
When it comes to selecting bearings the choice is rather easy. Bearings have a standard size and will fit all wheels. Bones has the best affordable bearing. If you want good quality bearings that will last for years, get Bones Swiss bearings. These are made of quality steel and can last for a decade. The top of the line are ceramic bearings but unless you’re an extreme downhiller you don’t need them. They’re more expensive than a complete skateboard.
Ignore ABEC rating, it doesn’t matter at all when it comes to skateboarding, Bones doesn’t even use the ABEC scale. There are a couple of important features a bearing should have such as ball precision, materials used, hardness on the Rockwell scale, noise, etc etc. ABEC isn’t about these factors at all. The ones I suggest here are frequently used by skateboarders, can’t go wrong.
the cheapest Bones bearings you can buy. Not the best but if your budget is tight these are the ones you should pick. Be mindful of Chinese rip-offs, even Amazon sells fake Bones Reds so buy them in a skate store or online shop. They should last you a while and you could consider saving money to upgrade bearings later on.
Bones Super Reds
Best bearings which are still somewhat affordable, they can last you a decade if you properly maintain them. Use some Bones speed cream when you cleaned them and they will just keep performing.
Comparable to the Bones Reds although the reds might last a little longer. If you decide to go with Bronson check out the G3’s.
Don’t forget spacers
Often overlooked but in order to get the most out of your bearings buy a set of spacers. Some bearings have them included and they protect your bearings from collecting dust and sand. They also prevent damage when attaching your wheels to your trucks. Some people apply to much force to the axle nut and screw it too tight.
Step 5. Hardware, grip tape, riser pads
Classic mistake, forgetting to buy the bolts. Make sure you get 8 bolts and nuts to attach your skateboard trucks. Also, pick the right length bolts. If you have riser pads you’ll need longer bolts otherwise you’ll have a problem. In case you forget just go to your local hardware store, they should have them laying around.
Most of the time you get free grip tape and often shops apply it for you. Fresh grip tape will wear your shoes down faster so make sure you have some proper suede skate shoes. You can also get different less grippy grip tape if this concerns you. Another method is to sand the grip down a little.
There’s one grip tape that won’t wear down your shoes which is called DKL grip tape. It’s made of different materials than regular sandpaper-like grip tape. I haven’t tried this myself but reviews are very positive. Once the grip is broken in it skates like any other except your shoes will stay intact. Don’t worry about that, standard grip tape is just fine.
Riser Pads and Shock Pads Are Optional
Riser pads are to lift your truck a little higher. In case you have really big wheels, 58mm and above you might need them to prevent them from making contact with your deck. Shock pads are a bit different, they’re a few millimeters tall and made of rubber. They help to prevent cracks in the trucks mounting area and offer a more comfortable ride.
Shock pads aren’t really necessary but they do offer some comfort. If you go with 1/8″ shock pads get 1″ bolts, 1/4″ riser pads require 1 1/8″ bolts.
Optional: Protective Gear
At least get a helmet and knee pads, a helmet can save your life and pads will prevent you from having to take a break because of busted knees. Beginners are the most vulnerable and the majority of skateboarders ending up in the ER just started skateboarding.
Not everybody wears protective gear, some people feel it restrict movement but you just need to get used to it. After a while, you won’t even notice them anymore until you slam the ground. There are many different types of protective gear available, make sure it fits properly. If it’s too narrow it will limit your movement so getting the proper size is important.
Don’t get overconfident, if you’re not ready to do a trick keep sticking with the basics. Even if you wear gear, you still can hurt yourself. There are tons of fun tricks that even beginners can practice. I’m not talking about kickflips and ollies but really basic stuff that still looks impressive. Check out my 23 basic tricks post, be safe!
Now that you have a general idea of what to get I’ll give you a couple of suggestions. I’ve selected a couple of setups for street skateboarding and transition. You need to shop around online or visit your local skate shop. If you plan to assemble it yourself you might also save a few bucks.
The prices of all of these setups are around $150 which is quite some money. You’ll probably enjoy the setups for a while as they all have high-quality components but not the most expensive. You can either save money on decks and wheels or go with a complete setup. Completes are always cheaper and usually fine for beginners. There are a couple of complete skateboards I recommend. They start at $70, are less durable but may just fit your budget.
Street Skateboarding Setup
I suggest getting an 8.0″ or 8.25″ deck, basic Thunder trucks, a set of Bones STF’s and Bones bearings. You can swap components around to make them fit your budget. Here’s an example 8.25″ setup.
- Baker Skateboard Deck Brand Logo Spider 8.25″ wide and 31.875 in length: $50
- Thunder High 148 Trucks (suitable for 8.25″) : $34 for a pair
- Bones STF V-Series V1 Wheels 52mm: $35
- Bones Reds Bearings: $18
- Phillips bolts and nuts: $2
- Grip tape: 4$
- Spacers: $2
Total cost is about $145, you might get it cheaper if you get your parts from different places. If you swap the Bones out for a set of Bones 100’s and get a blank deck you can reduce the cost by $35. $110 isn’t bad considering the quality parts.
Transition Skateboarding Setup
I recommend getting an 8.5″ deck, basic Independent trucks and Bones SPF’s. Again you can always save money on wheels or get a blank deck instead.
- Santa Cruz Screaming Hand Taper Tip Deck, width 8.5″, length 32.3″, price $50.
- Independent Stage 11, 149mm standard trucks, price $40
- Bones SPF P5 wheels, 56mm, price $35
- Bones Reds Bearings: $18
- Phillips bolts and nuts: $2
- Grip tape: 4$
- Spacers: $2
Total cost $151 depending on where you buy the parts. Again you can save money on the deck and wheels but I would advise keeping the trucks.
Cruising and Tricks Setup
- Santa Cruz EGSC Winkowski deck 9.05 x 32.19, $54.99
- Independent Stage 11, 169mm standard trucks, $44
- Ricta Clouds 92a Wheelsor OJ’s, 56mm, $30
- Bones Reds Bearings: $18
- Phillips bolts and nuts: $2
- Risers, $3
- Grip tape: 4$
- Spacers: $2
The total cost is around $158. This is just a suggestion to give you a general direction. Swap out components like wheels, deck or trucks and build your own set to your liking. If you decide to get a pair of 1/8″ shock pads, go with 1″ bolts. 1/4″ riser pads require 1 1/8″ bolts.
I’m going to call it quits now. If I come up with more useful stuff I’ll be sure to add it. Good luck getting your first skateboard and don’t give up too easily. Skateboarding requires dedication and take some time to lean. If you start with the basics and master them you’ll make fast progress later on.