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Should You Buy a Complete or Custom Skateboard?

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Have you ever looked at all the different skateboards, wheels, trucks, bearings before? You probably did and it’s hard for a beginner to make a decision. It doesn’t really matter what you get as long as it isn’t a toy skateboard.

Get a complete skateboard when you’re a beginner and are clueless about skateboard setups. You won’t feel any difference between expensive and cheaper components but make sure to tighten or loosen the trucks. Get a custom skateboard if you know what you need.

Once you can ride with confidence, you’ll get a better idea of what you really need. It’s perfectly okay to start out with a pre-assembled skateboard. Often they are even cheaper than assembling one yourself.

Pros of Buying a Complete Skateboard

skateboard parts

You don’t have to shop around and collect all the components. You might make mistakes like picking trucks that are too wide or narrow. You could also pick wheels that are too big, too hard, too soft, etc.

If you’re new to skateboarding you shouldn’t really go all out. You may even not like skateboarding and give up after a few weeks. It just would be a waste of money.

You also won’t really notice a real difference between a high-quality setup and just some standard components. I’m not talking about those fake toy skateboards, you would really feel the difference.

It’s more about when you advance in skateboarding. If you start grinding rails or curbs you will feel the difference but it’s going to take a while before you’re at that level. Meanwhile, you can just work towards getting better and keep skating until it’s time to replace some components.

Though it’s sometimes hard to find all the same components pre-built skateboards have, completes are usually cheaper. You can slowly upgrade. First, you buy a couple of wheels that suit your style, some better trucks, etc.

Cons of Buying a Pre-built Skateboard

You can buy something horrible which makes you regret your purchase, Amazon, for example, is full of crappy boards with inferior components.  As long as you go for one of the skateboards complete skateboards I recommend, you won’t buy anything that will break on the first day. These are great to get you going until you decide to upgrade.

ccs complete

The best second best option on a budget is the CCS complete. It’s one of the most recommended completes by skateboarders. Once you start grinding curbs you probably should look for better trucks. I tested this board some time ago and was very impressed. I was skeptical at first but this board is amazing for its price.

You won’t get top-quality components, but you get a decent entry-level setup that will last for a while.

birdhouse skateboard

Also consider Birdhouse skateboards, they offer the most durable skateboards you can buy at a reasonable price.  Click here and check for prices (link to Amazon).

Building Your Own Custom Skateboard

If you’re new to this make sure all the components match. Your deck and truck axles should have the same width for one. As for wheels don’t pick wheels that are too hard or too soft. It also depends on the surface you’re going to skate on. If you plan on visiting skateparks, get something around 99A.

If you just want to cruise and still try ollies no and then try 96A. Here’s what assembling your own skateboard might cost roughly:

  • $50-$70 for printed skateboard decks
  • $30-$40 for a blank skateboard decks
  • $15-$20 for bearings
  • $25-45 for a pair of trucks
  • $25-$40 for a set of wheels
  • $4-$10 for grip tape
  • $2 for a set of spacers
  • $3 for hardware

These are estimates, sometimes you can get a great deal on parts. You can go lower or higher but make sure the stuff you buy is reliable.

Cheap materials will break and cause accidents. Don’t forget to maintain your skateboard parts and keep them in mint condition. Most skateboard shops assemble a skateboard if you ask, many skateboarders like to do it themselves though.

Do You Already Own a Skateboard?

If you already have a skateboard and it’s a proper one, don’t just buy a new complete setup. Some of the parts may still be of use. You’ll save yourself money which you could use to buy a nice pro deck with nice graphics. Maybe a friend has some spare parts lying around.

When I started skateboarding we used to lend each other parts all the time. I still get skateboards now and then, only sometimes they don’t match my trucks. I don’t mind though, good excuse to get some new trucks!

How Much Does a Complete Skateboard Cost?

Mini logo sells complete skateboards for cheap, these are great beginner skateboards. You get a proper maple wooden deck but without a print. The trucks aren’t top of the line and neither are the wheels and bearings, as long as you don’t grind curbs all day they are fine.

For around $20 you get something similar like an Element complete deck, but still with the same components as the mini logo. For around $100 you can get an Alien Workshop complete with CSS hardware, also fine for beginners. Once you start grinding though, you probably need to replace the trucks in 4 to 6 months.

If you really want something more comfortable to ride you’re looking at $100-130. These setups have great trucks like Independent, Thunder, Venture or Tensor and wheels like Bones or Spitfire.

Depending on the type of skateboard deck you’re looking for and your budget there’s some great quality stuff out there. Do you want fancy graphics or keep it at the bare minimum and go for a blank? Blank skateboard decks cost between $20 and $35.

Branded decks cost between $50 and $75. As long as you pick a good brand you will get quality. Beware of Chinese import. Some of these decks cost just as much as branded decks but they will break faster. I’ll help you recognize them further down this page.

Cheapest Complete Skateboard?

CCS complete deck side view

First of all, don’t ever buy a cheap toy skateboard. They are made of cheap materials and are unsafe. Not only that, but the skating experience is also horrible.

How much a cheap skateboard cost depends on your budget but I know of one complete that’s under 80 bucks and better than most completes out there. Check out my recommended skateboards and look for the CCS on top.

A cheap complete skateboard cost about $70-$90 if you go for a blank complete. You’ll have a quality board without fancy graphics but all the features of a good skateboard.  If you up your budget a little you can get a pretty good complete skateboard for $100-120.

You can get a cheap skateboard at Walmart or Target for $20 bucks, but you might as well save up and save money in the long run. It’s not uncommon to break a cheap skateboard at the first trick. A proper blank skateboard probably outlasts 10 toy decks.

If You Have the Budget, Assemble One Yourself

If you want the best of the best you’re going to have to pay a little more than the average. A professional high-quality skateboard will cost you around $160 for a full setup. That’s a lot of money but you get the best wheels, bearings, trucks, and an awesome graphic printed at the bottom of the skateboard deck.

I wouldn’t recommend this if you’re a beginner. You still need to find out what you prefer in terms of deck width, the hardness of wheels and the type of trucks you’re comfortable with. This takes time and you might regret spending all that money.

It’s easy to build your own skateboard, you just need to put all the pieces together, grip tape is a bit more challenging. Here’s a tutorial on how to assemble your skateboard.

How to Recognize a Good Skateboard

Skateboard components explosive view

A quality skateboard has a number of features you should be looking for. If you’re new to skateboarding you should pay extra attention. Some low-quality toy skateboards imitate real boards and look real to the untrained eye. Some of them even have concave which makes it even more difficult, again go to your local skate shop.

One thing they usually have in common is that they’re lighter professional skateboard decks. They are made of cheap wood and fillers, hence the weight. If it’s wrapped in plastic, stay away.

The wheels spin only for a really short time which you can test in the shop. In general, just avoid toy stores and stores like Target or Walmart. Here’s a checklist on how to spot a quality skateboard.

  • Ply, the levels of compressed maple wood. Usually, quality decks have seven layers. Low quality boards are made of birch.
  • Lightweight, just hold a cheap deck and compare it to the weight of a good deck
  • Shape and curve of the board from tail to nose known as concave. Concave helps you perform tricks and control your board. A flat skateboard deck makes it harder to perform tricks. Concave go from low to high depending on what you prefer.
  • The nose and tail should have an angle, the nose is usually a bit longer.
  • If it bends without applying much force, it’s a low quality deck.
bending skateboard deck

Other features are harder to spot like pop and durability, but you can clearly hear the difference when you knock on the wood, a soft thud is a sign of a crappy deck. Quality decks aren’t easy to make which explains the price.

Brands You Should Look For

Most of the brands don’t manufacture skateboards themselves, in fact, many skateboard brands come from the same factory! There are a couple of skateboard brands out there that can’t go wrong. Some have been in the industry for decades and provide top-notch skateboards.

Skateboarders disagree on what the best skateboarding brand is, it’s also pointless to debate anyway. It mostly comes down to what team you want to support and which offers the best graphics. Here is a list of the best skateboarding brands, in a nutshell, I’ll save an in-depth analysis for another post.


Girl skateboard bottom view

Girl offers great all-around boards and they are tough and sturdy. Popular among vert and bowl skaters but also perfect for the streets. Concave is not too curvy and not too flat and the decks offer amazing long lasting pops. They don’t snap very often which makes this brand a good choice.

Plan B

used Plan B skateboard deck
Wear from about 60 hours of bowl skating

Another brand that’s been around for a while. Plan B offers great pop and durability and are constructed of quality material. They are less prone to snap and feature great concave.

There are some people that really hate the brand because they bought out all the popular skateboarders.  They have an awesome pro team, which probably explains why they are popular.


WKND skateboard decks are made by PS Stix which is owned by Paul ‘the Professor’ Schmitt. If there is one person that knows about skateboarding tech, it’s Paul.

WKND decks are super poppy, last a long time and offer great concave. They are made in Mexico from quality maple wood.

Thank You

Thank You skateboard decks are also made by PS Stix and just like WKND they are solid and durable decks. Less prone to chip or snap and offer a great pop. Thank You decks offer great concave and sick graphics. A great choice if you like to go in hard and want your deck to last.

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Complete skateboard classic dot

Santa Cruz is an iconic brand, founded in 1973 and one of the original skateboard manufacturers. Santa Cruz won all the legendary titles you can think of in the ’80s and invented everslick. They were also one of the first that started to produce skateboard videos. One of their most famous graphics is the screaming hand artwork.

Note that their completes nowadays a made of birch which is kind of a weird move. Their single decks are great though, especially the VX, one of the most durable skateboard decks you can buy.

Where Is the Best Place to Buy a Complete Skateboard?

I think it’s best to support your local skateboard shop. The skateboards may be a bit more expensive but you get great advice from people who know what they are talking about. More so if you are a beginner. Amazon has some cheap completes but many online shops offer them as well.

If you want to buy a skateboard online there are a number of places to go to. Reliable skate shops that come to mind are  Tactics, Warehouse Skateboards, Skate Deluxe, etc.


There’s a lot of choices out there when it comes to picking a complete skateboard. The cheapest options are blank pre-assembled skateboards that still offer great quality.

If you visit a skate shop you can’t really go wrong, all of the skateboards they offer are of good quality. If you’re a beginner any skateboard will do, it’s up to you which brand you like.

What size skateboard should you buy? Size doesn’t really matter, just keep it between 8.0″ and 8.25″ go for 8.5″ if you’re a little heavier or tall. Just make sure the components have the proper dimensions. Trucks should match the width of your deck and wheels should have some clearance.

I know tall skaters with big feet skate narrow decks and short skaters that skate wide decks. It comes down to what you prefer and you shouldn’t worry about that until you can ride comfortably and start doing tricks.

Make sure you get something that’s sturdy and feels comfortable. Quality Canadian maple wood and at least 7 pressed layers of wood.

You can always try to get a used skateboard. Many beginners give up after a few weeks so you should be able to get a good deal. Here’s what you should look for when buying a used skateboard.

Make sure you inspect it for cracks, delamination, and chips and rust on the trucks. Check if the wheels aren’t chipped and if they still spin properly, if they don’t the bearings need to be replaced.

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