Skateboarding Guide

Skateboarding is often associated with teenage punks and unathletic slackers. Well, let me be the first to tell you, that is a major misconception. Real skateboarding takes time, dedication, agility, patience, and self discipline. But don't let that scare you! Whether you're a beginner or an expert (or a casual or competitive boarder) with the right attitude and equipment skateboarding can be a lot of fun.

A basic skateboard setup is pretty simple, and once you get rolling it doesn't get much more costly. You can buy a skateboard in it's entirety (known as a "complete deck") or you can build it yourself from scratch. To build your own custom board, you'll need some basic equipment: decks ,wheels ,trucks ,bearings ,hardware  and grip tape . This is your basic setup. Other items like risers (hard-plastic, rectangular pads that go between your trucks and your deck) and rails (thin, hard-plastic strips that screw on to the underside of the deck edges and are little used these days) are optional.

Skateboard Decks

A deck  is your standard skateboard -- a smooth wood surface with a double-kick nose and tail. Decks come in a huge variety of sizes, shapes, concaves and a regular assortment of pretty colors and designs. Even further, skateboard companies use different patterns of wood veneers as well as some adding some combinations of synthetics like Lib Tech skateboards.  A complete deck  comes pre-equipped with wheels and trucks, which is probably the best choice for a beginner until you begin developing a style and preferences for what feels best under you. Typically, decks will cost you $30-$60.

  • Materials: Decks can be made of plastic ,aluminum , or fiberglass . The most common material is wood  - this is recommended for virtually everyone. That said, Lib Tech  makes vertically laminated/carbon composite decks (still mainly wood, though there is a fiberglass layer) that are some of the more technically constructed boards in the industry.
  • Length: 30-33 inches is preferable for street and skatepark riding. Most companies will make smaller sizes for kids (28-29 inches), but unlike kids' sneakers, the construction and shape remain the same. Anything over 38 inches is for cruising or novelty purposes.
  • Width: General width ranges from 7.5-8.25 inches. 8" is perfectly average and a good width for a versatile board. Most pros will use a wider deck for vert ramps, mini-ramps, bowls and general park skating. A wider deck has a nice stability, which is especially good for the various transitions a park offers. Narrower boards are good for the more technical side of street skating: flip and ledge tricks, handrails and the kind of flip-in, flip-out stuff that you see in video games.
  • Concave: Concavity strengthens the deck and gives it a measure of control. Instead of having a flat piece of wood that's easy to break, you have more of a bellowed out surface like a C-channel, which gives the board a nice feel as you're skating. You'll develop a preference for a particular concavity over time, so don't worry about this one too much at first.

Brands: Anti-Hero ,Almost ,AWS ,Baker ,Birdhouse ,Black Label ,Blind ,Chocolate ,Cliche ,Darkstar ,Element ,Foundation ,Girl ,Habitat ,Rasa Libre ,Shorty's ,Stereo ,Toy Machine , and Zoo York .

Grip Tape

Grip tape: This is not an optional piece of equipment. Grip tape is the black, gritty stuff on the top surface of your deck. It comes in 33-inch sheets that have a sticky, tacky side and a grippy, sandpaper-y side. This is what keeps the board on your feet and gives you a large measure of control. Grip tape comes in a variety of grits that are usually decided upon by manufacturer (standard is 80-100 grit).

    • Colored grip tape (other than black) and grip tape with designs tend to be some of the kinds you can get. They tear easily when applying, rip easier over time and just aren't that grippy.
    • Perforated  grip tape is newer and seems to work as well as traditional Jessup  and Black Magic  grip tapes. Perforated grip tape decreases the amount of air between the board and the grip tape, which is especially useful when applying.
    • The tiny perforations are mostly invisible after application.
    • Blakhole ,Mob Grip  and Diamond Supply  all make perforated grip tapes.

Skateboard Wheels

Skateboard wheels  are made from urethane, a hardy, durable plastic that was first used in wheels in the early 1970s by Frank Nasworthy, who was a kind of Thomas Edison of skateboarding. Urethane has a unique ability to retain its shape, hardness and flexibility under stress, as well as maintain a good surface grip.

  • Wheels are measured by hardness, or durometer. Every wheel will flatten to a microscopic extent when it contacts a surface like concrete, but harder wheels will rebound (bounce back into shape) faster than a soft wheel. A wheel with slower rebound will lose more energy over time and roll more slowly.
  • Cores: all skateboard wheels should have a core, which is the physical interface between your bearing and the wheel. When you land a trick, your wheel will tend to ovalize a bit on impact and slow down. Cores have a harder durometer than the outside part of the wheel to provide a solid interface so you can roll away faster.
    • Some wheels have "air-cores." These wheels still have cores, they are just a little lighter and usually used for technical street skating (it won't make you ollie any higher).
  • Choose wheels based on hardness, size, width and your usual riding surface.
  • Hardness: As a general rule harder wheels (around 97A durometer) are great for smooth surfaces like concrete parks and street skating. They won't, however, absorb cracks and bumps as well as a softer wheel.
    • Softer wheels (92 and below) are great for transportation and cruising. They won't be as fast, but they have an unmatched grip on the street and good shock absorbing abilities.
  • Size: Avoid buying wheels that are too small (less than 50mm). Beginners should ride a good, all-around wheel of 53mm  or so. City skateboarders will use bigger  wheels (around 57-59mm), but either way, watch out for those cracks and potholes!
    • Cruisers will use big  (60mm or bigger), soft wheels.
  • Width: Thin wheels versus wide wheels: this is probably one of the more personal choices in selecting a wheel. Thin wheels will be a little lighter because there's less surface material, but at the same time they sacrifice some grip. These are good for more technical street skating, while wider wheels will give more grip, while adding a little more weight, but won't hurt your flip tricks.
  • Available hardness strengths: 87A ,95A ,97A , and 100A 

The Rest

Trucks Trucks , aka axles , attach your wheels to your deck, as well as give you stability and maneuverability. These should be chosen according to the wheel size and your style of skating.

Bearings Bearings  go between the inside edge of the wheel and the axle. They come in a variety of speeds and ratings (from ABEC 1-9).

Protection For kids as well as for professionals, protective gear is a necessity. What kind depends on your skateboarding ability as well as style: if you are a beginner or if you participate in contests, chances are that you will need the most protective gear.

Footwear A skater's shoes  aren't there just to look cool, but they are also an element of performance. Shoes meant for skateboarding will enable you to move your best.

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