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Hello and welcome back to the Square State Skate blog hosted by yours truly, Kyle Garlock. This week I thought we’d step back from my ongoing loveletters to skateboarding to bring up a topic that is both important and pressing; the process of buying your first skateboard. Skateboards come in a seemingly limitless number of shapes, sizes and designs, and picking up the right one for you or your child is no easy task.

Why are some boards so small and others are huge? Is it just an aesthetic thing? First of all, great questions. Secondly, I know from experience that when I’m trying to get informed about something new (mainly beginner cooking blogs), the last thing I need is some long-winded blog post that goes on and on before telling me what temperature to preheat the oven to. Sometimes all we need is the info, not the backstory to your grandmother’s “secret” quiche recipe. No nonsense, no filler. And yes, I realize the hypocrisy of ranting about this, which is why, from this sentence on, I am trimming the fat on the rest of this post and getting straight to the point. You’re welcome.

A Beginner’s Guide to Buying a Skateboard

Step 1- Visit a reputable skateshop

Not a big box sporting goods store, a skateshop. Not only are skate shops a wealth of knowledge when setting up a skateboard, they also serve as the central hub of the skate community. Where else can you brush up on your skate trivia with the aid of videos, magazines, or just a friendly conversation with the person behind the counter. Skateshops can also tell you about which brands support your shop and your community. Unsure where to find a trustworthy shop? Here are several that we personally work with and support.

  • Satellite Skate Shop, 2835 Pearl St, Boulder, CO 80301, (303) 374-3275

  • 303 Skateboards, 1338 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80218, (303) 860-1303

  • Emage Boardshop, 6117, 1620 Platte St, Denver, CO 80202, (720) 855-8297

  • Crisis Skateboards, 6821 W 120th Ave, Broomfield, CO 80020, (303) 465-1706

  • Market Skateshop, 640 S College Ave, Fort Collins, CO 80524, (970) 407-1767

Step 2- Consider the terrain

What sort of skateboarding are you (or the recipient) looking to do? Will the skateboard be just another mode of transportation or do you want to learn tricks? The answers to these sort of questions can lead your setup in many different ways. Here’s a quick breakdown of the two most popular kinds of skateboards:

Standard Board- This is the modern board with the iconic symmetrical nose and tail. This type of board is by far the most popular because of it has been specifically refined over several decades to the tastes of the worlds greatest professional skateboarders.

Cruiser Board- A great way to get from point A to point B. This board has large soft wheels that help to grip the ground and prevent sliding. These large wheels can roll over small rocks and cracks easier than smaller wheels which allows for a much smoother ride, but because the wheels are often so grippy, this setup is not good for doing skateboard tricks with.

Step 3- Consider the skater

Most modern skateboards have a width of 7.5 - 8.5 inches. A good rule of thumb is that the size of a young skater’s board should grow just as the skater does. Some skate shops (or online retailers) still sell “mini” decks, which can be a good option for skaters between the ages of 5 and 8. These boards look the same as other ones, but they are proportionately smaller to fit the you skater. This is a great starter option, but can be easily outgrown.

Wheels-Large soft wheels are more forgiving and will roll over more imperfections in the ground. Smaller and harder wheels are used for tricks because they are lightweight and can slide on the ground more easily.

Trucks- These are the metal components that connect the wheels to the skateboard. This component is usually the longest lasting piece of any setup, so it’s worth it to invest in a quality pair.

The length of your trucks should be pretty much the same width as your skateboard. If you're standing on your skateboard, you should be able to just barely see you wheels sticking out from under your board.

Bearing, Bolts, bushings, misc- As far as these smaller components go, I wouldn't stress them too much.

  • the hardware (screws and bolts that hold the trucks to the board) that the shop offers should be fine.

  • Bearings (turning mechanism inside the wheel)- Bearings display their abec rating (how fast they’re determined to go) on their packaging. The rating scale goes from 1 to 9, the higher the number means the faster the bearing. Although I argue with the difference some abec ratings make, I wouldn’t seek out a high grade case of bearings when first starting out.

  • Bushings (the two rubber pieces found inside the truck) are important. If you’re even a little serious about skating, then I would highly suggest spending the extra 10 or so dollars to get a new pack of bushings. Again it's all your preference. Hard bushings will keep the truck fixed in place; soft bushings will make turning easier. When you are first starting out (and when you weigh less than 100 pounds), softer bushings will help you control your board more.

The great thing about skateboarding is how interchangeable everything is. Don’t like your setup? Then you’re free to change whatever you want about it. To get a new set up with quality components, you should expect to spend around $110 - $130. Fortunately skateboards age in different places. Even though the board may deteriorate rather quickly, some more expensive parts like the trucks and wheels should last much longer, meaning you most likely won't be spend $130 at once very often.

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