Skateboards have a front and back, which we call the nose (front) and the tail (back). The nose of a skateboard longer and has a steeper angle than the tail, often noticeable when standing on one side or the other on your board.
After over 20 years of skateboarding I still check if I’m holding my skateboard the right way before I drop in. The thing is, even experienced skaters sometimes check the front and back of their skateboard because the difference isn’t always immediately obvious.
There are a couple of ways to make it easier to check the front and back. The front of your board is the nose and the back is called the tail. The nose of a skateboard is longer and higher from the ground compared to the tail. Only twin tail shaped skateboards have the exact front and rear dimensions.
- 5 Ways to Determine the Nose And Tail of A Skateboard
- Difference Between Nose and Tail of a Skateboard
- Cruiser and Longboard Shapes
- Twin Tail Decks
- Some Last Tips
5 Ways to Determine the Nose And Tail of A Skateboard
There are a couple of ways to make it easier to determine the front and back of a skateboard. Once you go through step 1 and step 2, you can use step 3, 4 or 5 to never have to worry about this again.
- Inspect the graphic, they are usually directional
- Check the shape, the higher and longer end is the front
- Mark your grip tape
- Use colored hardware
- Use a different colored wheel
1. Inspect Your Graphics
This doesn’t work when you have a blank skateboard deck, but usually there is a heat-transferred graphic that goes from the back to the front of a skateboard.
Often there is a brand name or some typography which makes it easy to identify the front of your skateboard.
If there isn’t any logo or typography present, the orientation of the graphic should give away the nose and tail of your skateboard.
2. Inspect Both Ends For Length and Angles
While it’s hard to see on this image, if you inspect both ends of a skateboard in real life you will see differences. It’s clear that the nose is longer (green area) and slightly more elevated (red line).
- The front (nose) is often longer and has a steeper upward curve.
- The back (tail) is shorter and less steep angle.
The Nose (front) and tail (back) are shaped differently, with the exception of twin-shaped decks. The nose is a bit longer and further from the ground than the tail.
When you put your skateboard on the ground on an even surface, the difference should be visible. This is especially useful when you don’t have a graphic on the bottom of your deck.
3. Mark Your Grip Tape
I always make a cut out on my grip tape near the back of my skateboard. This makes it immediately obvious that you’re skating the ‘wrong’ way.
You can make a circle, a square, or any shape you desire. Another simple way is to just make a deep scratch at the end of the nose.
I usually do cutouts from a functional perspective, but you can get creative and create an awesome custom cutout.
4. Use Colored Hardware
Last practical solution is to use different colored bolts. If you place 2 colored bolts at the front it’s easy to identify the front and back.
The only downside is that some colored hardware gradually fades. It’s just a colored coating or paint which doesn’t last forever.
As soon as you identified the nose and tail, put the colored bolts where you prefer. Some brands sell hardware with 6 black and 2 colored bolts.
5. Use a different Colored Wheel
I was watching the documentary Tony Hawk: Until The Wheels Come Off’ and noticed he had 3 green wheels and one white wheel in front, and thought it was an interesting approach.
I guess this is way over the top because it would require you to buy two sets of the same wheels, but a pretty cool solution nonetheless.
A cheap solution would be to swap one wheel and put the graphic on the inside (or the other way around).
Difference Between Nose and Tail of a Skateboard
The nose and tail are shaped differently because you use your front and back foot for different purposes. Your dominant foot which you use to pop a deck, is usually in the back and is often stronger.
Your front foot is arguably faster and used for flip tricks, a longer and steeper nose makes this easier.
Usually you either skate regular or goofy where your back foot is always on the tail. You hardly ever ride with your front foot on the nose, except when doing tricks like nollies.
A shorter tail which is lower to the ground takes less time to pop. A longer and steeper nose will help you to flip your board faster.
Cruiser and Longboard Shapes
For cruisers, longboards, and even those dreaded Penny Boards, it’s easy to identify the front and back. These types of boards are directional and the shape should give it away.
Old school decks, and pool decks are also pretty straight forward. Street and flatground decks are a bit of a challenge.
Twin Tail Decks
Recently twin tail decks made a comeback. There is no difference between the front and back of the deck. If you still can’t figure out the front and back after my tips, you might have bought a twin tail.
Twin tail decks are almost completely symmetrical, Both front and back are the exact same size, shape and angle.
This means you have a double kicktail! There are always minor differences because woodwork is never 100% precise but you get the idea.
Some love twin tail decks and others hate them, it’s (like always) personal preference. The benefit is that your deck might last longer because usually the tail does the heavy work.
When you have two tails to pop, the deck might last you a bit longer. This makes it a great skateboard deck from an economical perspective. Flip tricks will require you to kick harder.
Some Last Tips
When you assemble a skateboard yourself and replace your skateboard deck, make sure to pay attention when transferring over your old trucks.
If you put the rear truck in front and vice verse, you are going to have a rough time skateboarding.
I recently had this problem and had the worst session in a long time when skating my local bowl. The board behaved different but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
Turns out if swapped the trucks around, your rear bushings will shape according to your skate style which impacts the way it responds to your input.
Your rear truck usually is slightly more worn at the outside of the hanger bushing seat. This is because of hitting objects like curbs or ledges.