Regarded as one of the most popular extreme sports, skateboarding was created by surfers who needed a thrill when they weren’t on the waves. With such a large selection of different shapes, styles and looks to choose from, choosing a skateboard can seem like a daunting task. We’ve devised a quick-start skateboard buying guide to help you make the right decision when buying your son, daughter, or yourself a skateboard.
1. Choosing a Skateboard
With a variety of different shapes, sizes, and styles, choosing the right skateboard can be confusing especially if you’re a beginner. Our Quick Start Guide for Beginners is perfect for deciding which skateboard is best for you.
2. What Type of Skateboards are There?
The classic double kick is what most people think of when they first think of a skateboard. A 'double kick' is a skateboard with two kicks at either end which allows for a range of flip tricks that most skaters perform today.
Double kicks have smaller wheels and low trucks making it more responsive and easier to perform tricks. They are best suited to skaters wanting to perform technical tricks at a skatepark or cruising the streets.
Double kicks are perfect for downhill, flat roads, long distance skating and park & bowl areas. They're also suitable for all ages making them a great all round skateboard.
Cruisers are the original style of skateboard. They give the feel of an 'old school' set up coupled with radical new designs. With bigger and softer wheels and bigger trucks, Cruisers are perfect for riding over pavements and their short length means they're easily manoeuvrable. Ideal for urban commutes or travelling short distances.
Most cruisers also feature a kick tail, meaning you can still perform some old school tricks like Ollies if you're feeling brave! Their small size means Cruisers are easy to transport and are a great beginner skateboard.
Cruisers come in two different sizes - standard and mini-cruiser. Standard sized cruisers are great for flat roads and city and street skating. Mini-cruisers are better suited to downhill, flat roads and park & bowl. Mini-cruisers are perfect for young skaters up to age 8, whereas cruisers are a good size for skateboarders age 9 and above.
The ideal skateboard for those looking to cruise long distances in comfort. As the name suggests, Longboards have longer flexible decks which helps to absorb some of the vibration of uneven surfaces. Large, soft wheels offer plenty of grip and the length and width make them more stable than cruisers and double kicks.
Longboards are ideal for downhill, flat roads, long distance and street skating. They're also great for surf & snow practice and suitable for age 9 - adult.
3. What Skateboards Are Best For Beginners and Kids?
If you're buying your first skateboard, you should consider what type of skating you want to do and what your budget is. Lots of boards are suitable for beginners and it is advisable to go with the board that matches your needs for the best price. Of course, there are lots of boards with great artwork to choose from as well but deciding a board shape and spec first will at least help you to narrow down the decision!
Once you have decided whether you’re looking for a double-kick skateboard or you fancy having a go at longboarding, you will want to find a skateboard with a decent amount of width. If you are a first-time skater, the best way to choose a board is by deck width. Wide decks are much more stable and provide you with plenty of foot space to play around with weight distribution on the board.
Mini Cruisers are a perfect starter set up for young beginners looking to get to grips with riding a board and perfecting their balance. A 6” plastic deck will suit kids 5 years or younger with a shoe size of around 3 or smaller. Mini cruisers are also great for older and more experienced riders looking for a different skateboarding style. Slightly older kids might want to try their hand with a full size double kick skateboard, depending on their confidence. They will also come in handy if they want to learn a more technical style of skating and perform tricks.
4. What Skateboards Are Best For Intermediate/Advanced Riders?
Osprey's range of full-size skateboards offer a complete choice for budding concrete shredders and cruisers alike, the question is what kind of skater are you looking to become?
If it's a more technical style of skating you want to learn i.e. flips and tricks, then a double kick board is probably what you’re after. These decks measure 8" in width and feature (as the name suggests) two kicks allowing for tricks to be executed from nose or tail. These boards are great for street skating and work just as well on the park.
Skating to Improve Surfing/Snowboarding
If you're a frustrated surfer looking for a fix when there are no waves, or you're looking to carve smooth lines as opposed to doing flip tricks then a longboard then you are probably after a Long Board. These work as a surfing simulator on the ground and will help you perfect your carving skills.
Skating to Cruise
If you're looking for a board to smoothly roll around on and if being able to pack it away in your bag is important for you, then a Cruiser might be what you’re looking for. Cruisers are a common shape of deck and feature a single kick tail; they usually feature higher raisers, larger wheels, and larger decks than double kick boards. This allows for a smoother ride, greater stability and better turning.
Skating as a Mode of Transport
If you’re looking for a way of getting from A to B and having some fun with deep carves and going fast, a Longboard may be just the board for you. Some Osprey longboards feature drop through trucks, in which the trucks are mounted through the deck, allowing for greater stability at high speeds.
5. What Size Skateboard Should I Get?
Choosing a skateboard that is the right size for you as an adult or your child is an important step which will affect the level of enjoyment you get out of skating. Picking a skateboard that matches the rider’s height and shoes size are important factors in choosing the right skateboard. Take a look at our guide below where you can find out the sizes we recommend. (Remember these are recommendations and therefore your preferences may affect the board size you choose).
Full Size (Decks 7.5” or larger)
Height: 5’3” and taller
Shoe Size: 9+
Mid-Size (Deck Width: 7.3”)
Age: 9-12 Years
Height: Between 4’5” & 5’2”
Shoe Size: 7-8
Mini (Deck Width: 7.0”)
Age: 6-8 Years
Height: Between 3’5” & 4’4”
Shoe Size: 4-6
Micro (Deck Width: 6.5” to 6.75”)
Age: 5 Years & Younger
Height: Under 3’4”
Shoe Size: 3 or Smaller
6. What Accessories Will I Need?
There is an array of different accessories available for skateboards. Each accessory allows you to fine-tune your skating experience and enables you to affect the way your board performs as well as looks. Accessories can also make your life easier, with a great selection of bags to choose from. We’ve compiled a list of some of the essential accessories that you may need for your skateboard below.
Measured on the ABEC scale, the higher the rating, the higher the precision which results in better roll-out. Those are more confident riders are therefore likely to install high-rated ABEC bearings.
Although an obvious change, replacing skateboard wheels can transform the look of your skateboard as well as affect its performance. For example, a bigger wheel could be chosen for faster speeds, or a harder wheel could be chosen for its hard-wearing properties for those tricksters out there!
A replacement skateboard truck is great for mixing up your skateboard’s look at well as completely adjusting your skateboard’s performance. We recommend you choose a truck that matches up to the width of your deck!
A skateboard bag is a great addition to any skater’s arsenal. Stylish and useful, it makes transporting your skateboard easy when you’re in those un-skate-able areas. It also a great way to keep your hands free when you’re skating and need to carry those all-important snacks or camera gear ready for your next skating session!
Skateboard wax is great for those looking to take their skating up a peg. Skateboard wax can be applied on a variety of surfaces to make it easier to grind and slide your tricks as it helps to reduce friction caused as well as fills in any gaps or imperfections in the surface.
7. What is a Skateboard Made From?
When it comes to buying your skateboard, you can either buy a complete board with all the necessary components included, or you can buy your own components to create a customised board unique to you.
A skateboard is formed with the following features: a deck, grip tape, trucks, and wheels. If you feel like customising your set up with new trucks or wheels, it’s always possible to change components as you wish.
Here's a breakdown of all the components you’ll find on your board:
The plank that you will be riding on usually made of layers of wood (although other materials like plastic can be used).
Grip Tape is the sandpaper like material usually black (or sometimes clear) on the topside of the deck which provides you with grip when riding the board.
Skateboard Wheels are usually made of plastic and available in a variety of sizes and hardness and are generally measured in millimetres. Larger wheels offer more speed but an increase in effort from the rider, whilst smaller wheels offer less speed but a lower amount of effort to get up to top speed. Harder wheels slide easier (great for tricks like grinding) whereas softer wheels offer a lot more traction allowing for speed and control. Skateboard wheels are often measure on the durometer scale ‘A’ and the higher number represents an increasing hardness, for example: 78a is a soft wheel compared to 101a + which offer a pro level hardness.
NOTE: some companies use a B scale which allows for much harder wheels and is 20 points lower than the A scale (for example: 80b=100a) which allows for an increased hardness rating.
Skateboard trucks are the T-shaped metal components mounted to the underside of the skateboard deck. Trucks are important as they enable you to turn by pivoting either left or right. They are formed of several components whilst also playing the role of keeping your wheels and bearings securely attached to your deck! The main features of a skateboard truck:
Baseplate: This is the piece of metal which enables the truck to be attached to the skateboard deck.
Hanger: The hangar is the triangular metal piece that is the largest part of the skateboard truck. The hangar encases the axle which runs through it.
Axle: Protected and supported by the hanger, the axle is a long pin to where the skateboard wheels are attached.
Kingpin: The kingpin is a big bolt that fits inside the bushings and holds the skate truck’s parts together. They are available in a range of different lengths, colours, and designs. Some people even colour co-ordinate their bolts so that they can easily identify which is the nose and which is the tail of the skateboard.
Bushings: Bushings are the rubbery rings that fit around the kingpin and allow the board to pivot and turn smoothly. The stiffer the board, the more stable the board. The softer the bushings, the easier it is to turn a skateboard.
Bearings are a small round part that slots neatly into the wheel of the board and allows you to roll and keep up speed. Bearings vary in their precision which is represented by the ABEC rating system. The higher the number, the greater the precision of the wheel. Those looking to roll for longer and potentially faster should select a bearing with a higher rating.
NOTE: Osprey use the ABEC rating however some brands do not use the ABEC rating and instead use their own rating system.
8. How To Look After Your Skateboard
A board that is out of shape will prevent is firing on all four cylinders the next time you go for a skate. To prolong the life of your board and keep it operating as smoothly as possible, we’ve come up with a series of different care tips and tricks to keep your board in top shape.
Keep Your Board Out of the Elements
Leaving your board to face the elements can have several negative effects. The deck will start to absorb water if it is left in the rain or if left in the sun it will cause expansion of parts which can ruin them when they cool back down. We therefore recommend keeping your board indoors when you’re not using it!
Look After Your Bearings
Keeping your bearing clean and lubricated is essential – after all these are the bits which keep your board moving! Regularly use a recommended lubricant and apply it to the bearings once you have thoroughly cleaned them.
Keep Your Eyes on the Deck
Any signs of wear on a skateboard deck could spell disaster if not fixed quickly. Make sure you clean off your deck (both top and bottom) to prevent the build-up of dirt. Cleaning your board will also prolong the life of your skateboard’s grip tape. We recommend using a moist toothbrush to remove the most stubborn debris and then dry by dabbing the deck with a dry towel.
The Kingpin is King
To keep your skateboard performing as it should it is important to regularly check your skateboard’s kingpin. Ensure you replace any broken kingpins and do not ride if it is damaged. Tightening your kingpin is also important and is a simple task to carry out. A top tip is to ensure that both trucks are the same tightness. This can be achieved by counting the number of rotations you carry out when tightening.
Rotate Your Wheels
Good practice to make your wheels last longer is to rotate your wheels around your board. By doing so it will ensure that your wheels have even wear over time and therefore keep your ride true. We recommend rotating your wheels in an ‘X’ pattern. Therefore, your right rear wheel becomes your left front wheel and vice versa.