Should you buy a complete or custom skateboard?


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

Get a complete skateboard when you’re a beginner. Pre-assembled skateboards are cheaper and fine for beginners. You won’t feel any difference between expensive and cheaper components. Get better quality parts once you can skateboard with confidence. Get a custom skateboard if you know what you need.

If you already have a skateboard, check if the trucks, wheels, bearings, and bushings are still in good condition. If that’s the case you only need a skateboard deck and grip tape.

Pros of buying a complete skateboard

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 skateboard have, completes are usually cheaper. You can slowly scale up. 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.  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 skateboard

The best option on a budget is the CCS complete (link to Amazon). It’s one of the most recommended completes by skateboarders. Once you start grinding curbs you probably should look for better trucks.

You won’t get top-quality components, but you get a decent entry-level setup. Stick with the known brands and don’t get something from China. I think one of the most important things is not to trust any reviews. If you look at the Amazon reviews, you hardly find any real comments left by skateboarders. Granddads and moms reviewing a skateboard they bought should be ignored.

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 often get something around 99A.

If you just want to cruise and still try ollies no and then try 96A. I wrote a huge guide about which wheel you should pick so I suggest you check that out.  Here’s what assembling your own skateboard might cost roughly:

  • $40-$70 for printed skateboard decks
  • $20-$35 for a blank skateboard decks
  • $15-$25 for bearings
  • $25-45 for a pair of trucks
  • $30-$40 for a set of wheels
  • $4-$10 for grip tape
  • $2 for a set of spacers

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.

skateboard parts and components
Cool! my new setup. Now let’s assemble it. Wait, no bearings and spacers? Crap!

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 skateboard starting around $60, 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 better 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 $40 and $65. 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?

First of all don’t ever buy a cheap toy skateboard. They are made of cheap materials and are unsafe. Not only that, the skating experience is just horrible. How much a cheap skateboard cost depends on your budget.

A cheap complete skateboard cost about $60-$70 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 on 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. 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 heavy and thicker than professional skateboard decks. They are made of cheap wood and fillers, hence the weight. 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.
  • 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 is 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.
  • Look for trustworthy brands.

Other features are harder to spot like pop and durability. Quality decks aren’t easy to make which explains the price.

Some brands you should look for

Most of the brands don’t manufacture skateboards themselves, in fact, many 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

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

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.

Alien Workshop

When Alien Workshop came on the market they stood out like no other. Great designs and solid durable decks and one of my first boards. They still rock today and are loved for their pop and grinding. Solid decks coming from skateboard legend Rob Dyrdek. I loved their prints when I was a kid, also skated their slick decks for a while. Probably the most awesome board I ever had (mainly because of the graphic) and it was hard to say goodbye. AW is always a good choice.

Baker

Solid and durable decks. Less prone to chip or snap and offer a great pop. Baker decks offer great concave and sick graphics. Great choice if you like to go in hard and want your deck to last. These decks are beast and many street skaters favor Baker.

Santa Cruz

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 80’s 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.

Prices haven’t really changed over 25 years

When skateboarding was still relatively unknown skateboard decks were really expensive. There were only a few brands out there that manufactured decks. When skateboarding gained popularity prices started to drop. Nowadays there’s a lot of competition, especially online which keep prices from going up.

Also, companies like Zumiez offer cheap complete skateboards which make it hard for smaller skate shops to compete. So the prices stay low and many shops went out of business.

Where is the best place to buy a complete skateboard?

I think it’s best to support your local skateboard shops. 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. The best place to buy a skateboard online is Amazon, great for beginners! There are other online shops that offer great quality skateboards. For cheap blank skateboard decks, I would recommend blankdecks.com. Skateboard parts at warehouseskateboards.com. They allow you to configure your own skateboard but aren’t the cheapest.

Why you shouldn’t cheap out on a skateboard

Durability and safety come first. Always get a skateboard deck that’s made of Canadian maple. These decks have been the best option for almost forever and this isn’t going to change anytime soon. There just is no alternative that will provide the same stiffness and pop.

You’ll have a hard time learning to skateboard on a cheap deck. Low-quality components will break and cause accidents. You don’t want to have an injury on your first day, especially if you can prevent it. Accidents happen and every skateboarder falls, it’s something that is part of the sport.

Summary

There’s a lot of choices out there when it comes to picking a complete skateboard. The cheapest options are blank pre-assembles skateboards that still offer great quality. If you think a blank deck isn’t cool, you’re wrong. Many skaters buy blank decks. Skateboards are meant for skating, not walking down the catwalk. You can always add some graphics or stickers yourself.

If you visit a skate shop you can’t really go wrong, all of the skateboards they offer are 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 comfortable 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. Check if the wheels aren’t chipped and if they still spin properly, if they don’t the bearings need to be replaced. The trucks shouldn’t make noise when you lean on them.

Ruben Vee

I 'm an aged skateboarder, but I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago and I'm out there whenever I can.

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