If you’re new to skateboarding or looking for a skateboard for your child, you might consider buying a Walmart or Target skateboard. It’s important to not just buy any skateboard. Avoid toy shops and visit your local skate store instead.
The reasons to avoid Walmart skateboards are because they are low-quality and unsafe. The trucks consist of cheap materials and are likely to break. The wheels are often out-of-round, causing them to wobble. They have a bad concave (curved shape) and feel uncomfortable.
Before you decide to buy low-quality skateboards, think of the cons. It will be harder to learn skateboarding and may become a frustrating experience.
Why are Walmart skateboards bad?
Walmart skateboards are bad because they use cheap material. They are fine to use a couple of times but they will wear out soon. Also like any cheap skateboard, it’s a lot harder to learn skateboarding not to mention it can be very frustrating and demotivating.
Other than poor performance, they can be unsafe. Wheels can come flying off and trucks can break. The also decks tend to chip which caused sharp edges. You don’t want to happen, ever. Don’t compromise safety when it comes to skateboarding, save up and buy something that will last.
I’m just a beginner, does it really matter?
Yes, it matters a lot actually! You will struggle more to keep your balance and might get frustrated. Low-quality bearings and wobbly wheels feel very uncomfortable making it harder to get familiar with your board. Less balance will make you fall more often. You’re going to fall anyway but it’s better to avoid that when possible. Make sure you wear proper protection if you just start skateboarding.
However, you could also argue if it’s your first board it might be better to find out if you like skateboarding at all. If you like it you can buy a quality skateboard later on. You can also go for a blank skateboard which is cheaper than a printed deck. They last longer and won’t take away the fun in learning. Many new skaters get discouraged because they use cheap crappy skateboards.
I’ve selected a few cheap skateboards that still consist of quality components. They will last for a long time and won’t burn your budget.
Are all toy skateboards bad?
Generally speaking yes, all toy skateboards are bad at least the wooden completes. The plastic penny boards are usually ok. The trucks break easily causing a dead stop. Tails and noses tend to break off causing rolled ankles. Bearings just fall apart which blocks the wheels and could cause injuries.
I understand if you don’t have the budget for a real skateboard, you don’t have a choice. if possible, try to save up and wait for a while.
The problem is that if you don’t know what to look for you don’t see any differences between a real and a toy skateboard. If you happen to know someone who knows a thing or two about skateboarding, bring them along.
The problem is low quality
Like I said, it’s the low-quality material. Trucks consist of cheap metal and will break, even with normal use. The decks are constructed with less plywood and can’t handle much impact. The wood will chip, cracks will form, and the layers will come loose.
Cheap bearings which hardly spin and wheels made of plastics instead of urethane.
It’s incredibly frustrating to skate a cheap board, but this doesn’t mean you can’t. I’ve seen kids killing it on the streets with cheap decks! Problem is they can’t enjoy them for long and you have to get a new one. You also can’t swap components as cheap skateboards always come assembled.
What makes a good skateboard?
A skateboard consists of a number of parts, a deck, trucks, bearings, wheels, and grip. Some use spacers and riser pads but I won’t go into that, it’s not important.
You need quality and sturdy trucks that can take a beating. Bearings that spin well and wheels made of quality material. A deck should consist of 7 layers of bamboo or maple. A good skateboard needs quality components, you can’t have bad trucks and great wheels or vice versa. Not only will it provide a smooth ride, safety is really important. For that, you need proper skateboard equipment.
I tried to sum up what exactly you need to look for when you buy a skateboard. How to recognize good components and how to spot bad components. A few brands are mentioned to give you some idea of what to look for.
A quality Skateboard deck
A good quality skateboard deck consist of layers of bamboo or maple wood. They are pressed into a shape, the front (nose) of the board is usually a bit longer than the back (tail). Some decks also have The nose and tail angle upwards which is useful for tricks. Note that longboards are shaped in a different way and often lack an angled nose and tail.
A good skateboard also has concave, which is a subtle U shape that covers the length of the board. It helps skaters perform tricks as it supports the balls of the feet and provides balance. There are low (mellow), medium and high shaped concave boards. Mellow concave provides more balance where high concave makes it easier to flip a board.
Trucks are the metal T-shaped components and play a big part in the feel of a skateboard. They come in different sizes and it’s important that they fit properly. The outer edge of the wheels should align with the edge of the skateboard.
Never ever buy plastic trucks, they are dangerous but easy to spot. It’s harder to see which trucks are made of cheap metal. To avoid making a mistake it’s wise you buy trucks from a good brand! A set usually starts at $30 USD and goes up from there depending on what you want.
Some good brands from the top of my head are Independent, Grindking and Tensor. Quality skateboard trucks can last for over 5 years or longer, depending on how often and how aggressive you skate.
Toy skateboard wheels often are made of plastic or a mix of polyurethane but low quality. Cheap wheels perform poorly and feel very uncomfortable when riding a skateboard. They also tear easily and will soon show signs of cracks which can be risky.
Good wheels (and bearing) spin a long time before they stop. Cheap wheels sometimes don’t even spin for a second which is a good indicator of low-quality wheels.
Quality skateboard wheels are made out of polyurethane with a low amount of additives. Manufacturer’s usually print their name on the wheels as well as the wheels durameter (hardness) and diameter. If you see wheels like that, you can’t go wrong. Some good brands are Spitfire, Bones, Ricta, OJ Wheels (discontinued), and Wayward.
It’s very important to have good bearings. Without quality bearings, wheels won’t spin properly which is very frustrating when you ride a board. Great wheels are nothing without a good set of bearings.
Quality bearings will last a long time, even longer if you maintain them well. They can be taken apart and cleaned which increases their lifespan.
Low-quality bearings don’t spin well and tend fall apart. They have low-quality lubricant which often smells bad. It sounds strange but you can spot great bearings by their nice smell!
Grip tape is a bit like sandpaper and is attached to the surface of the board. It provides grip so you won’t slip and fall. Poor grip will come off a skateboard sooner than quality grip. It also tends to degrade fast losing its grip.
Buy grip tape from a good brand to be sure. Low-quality skateboards already have the already grip attached so it’s hard to see who the manufacturer is. Brand awareness should help you make the right choice.
Some last tips
If you are looking for a cheaper skateboard, but also want quality you could buy a blank complete. This means everything is already assembled. Blank decks don’t have a fancy graphics, sometimes just a logo and are perfect for beginners! Once a skater learns how a skateboard feels and responds it’s easier to know what to look for when buying new components.
If you still don’t have a general idea of what you need, my advice is to visit your local skate shop. They know everything there is to know about skateboarding and appreciate you not buying a cheap skateboard. Tell them your budget and will be happy to help you get a proper skateboard.
And for you kids out there that skate cheap toy decks, keep rocking! This post is meant to provide information about the differences between a pro deck and a toy deck. Don’t let this discourage you and ignore anyone that makes fun of your skateboard. We all share a passion called skateboarding!