A board, two trucks, four wheels, 8 bearings, 8 nuts and bolts and one sheet of grip tape. Seems simple when put like that, but there’s still a lot of variables you need to know about in order to choose your skateboard setup wisely. Let us help!
What board lasts the longest? What shape is the best for your style of skating? What are the lightest trucks? What’s a durometer? Here’s a quick technical guide to help you understand how it works and ultimately help you to find the board that will suit you the most.
Any skateboarder will always remember that time when they walked into the local skate shop to buy a first skate setup. You don’t really know what you like yet and there’s so many items to choose from. You end up choosing based on graphics and colors only. Don’t get us wrong, picking a graphic that you like an important part of the process, but there’s a lot more to it.
Aspiring skateboarders, let us introduce you to the world of skateboard parts and language.
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A skateboard deck is made out of 7 or 8 plies of wood pressed and glued together. Skateboard decks have different shapes, sizes and technical features that you’ll need to know about in order to make a smart choice.
The first detail to check when buying a board is its size. More precisely, the width and the length, always measured in inches. The WIDTH of a board is measured from side to side and usually goes from 7.5 to 9 inches. 7.5 being very small are more street/tech oriented and 9 being very wide and transition skating oriented. Bigger boards also exist, but are more in the “cruiser board” category.
The TRUCKS WHEELBASE is the length between your two trucks and the BOARD WHEELBASE is the length between the NOSE and TAIL of your board. The average wheelbase for a street deck is around 14.25”. However, some decks have a longer wheelbase that can go above 14.75”. Your choice will depend on how you feel on the board when stepping on it. Remember to compare with other boards to make sure you feel comfortable with the wheelbase and the length of your new deck.
The CONCAVE is the elevation of the lateral sides of your board compared to its center. Some prefer flatter concave and others more aggressive ones. Same goes for the NOSE and TAIL of the board. The shape of the board is often a matter of personal taste, so take the time to step on a couple boards at the skate shop before you make up your mind.
Some brands offer a variety of boards that aren’t using the modern shape skateboards typically have in 2022. Those SHAPED BOARDS tend to look like old school boards and although a few skaters almost exclusively skate with shaped boards, they are mostly used as cruisers.
P2 is a technology that makes boards more durable. With it’s fiber reinforced top ply, your board is less likely to break under impact and will allow you to keep skating it for a longer time. A lot of brands like Flip, Creature, Santa Cruz, Plan B and others will offer P2 technology in their boards. If you’re looking for a board that will last, P2 is a good choice for you.
Symmetrical nose and tail
As you already know, a board has a nose (front) and a tail (back). The tail of the board is usually shorter than the nose. That said, a few brands like Real Skateboards are now offering boards with the exact same nose and tail, allowing you to never worry about skating your deck the wrong way.
Other companies offer the Impact Lite technology, allowing boards to last a lot longer all while being extremely light under your feet. Almost, Blind, Enjoi, Madness and a few other brands offer that technology. If you are looking for a light board that will last a long time, this technology will do the trick for you.
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The trucks are responsible for allowing you to turn and are what’s holding your wheels and bearings so you can roll. There’s also a lot of things to watch for when buying new trucks, starting with the size of the trucks and their technical specificities.
The WIDTH OF YOUR TRUCKS must always be in harmony with the width of your board. Usually, the majority of skaters choose between two formats of trucks: 139mm and 149mm. For wider boards (8 3/8 and up) go for the 149s. For a narrower board, the 139s will fit perfectly. Other sizes like 148s exist, but are a bit less common.
Trucks usually have 3 heights: HIGH, LOW AND MID. If you prefer street skating and being closer to the ground, go for the lows. High trucks are made for bigger setups and are great if you like to skate transitions. If you are in between and like a bit of everything, the mids will do the trick.
Once you know the size of your trucks, you need to choose which brand you're going to want to stick to and the technology they offer. After you find the trucks you like, you won’t ever want to switch to another brand. At this level, it becomes very personal. Some people prefer the lightness of the Thunders while others would simply not skate if they don’t have the durability of Independents. Here’s a few terms that will help your choice.
The baseplate is the part of the truck that is physically attached to the deck.
The hanger is the triangular metal piece that is the largest part of the skateboard truck and supports the axle, which runs straight through it.
The axle is a metal rod that runs through the truck hanger, protruding a couple of inches on either side. One wheel is inserted on either end and held in place by the axle nut.
The kingpin is a bolt that connects the hanger to the base plate. Typically, the kingpin nut is placed onto the upper end of the kingpin and is interchangeable. A hollow kingpin is a hollowed-out bolt, which reduces the weight of the truck.
Skateboard truck bushings are the rubbery rings that fit around the kingpin on your skateboard trucks. Typically made of polyurethane, the bushings assist in allowing your board to turn and pivot smoothly. There should be two bushings on each truck (four total).
Hollow Skate trucks are made using standard construction materials, steel axles with aluminum hangers and baseplates. 'Hollow' is referring to the King pin and / or Axle being hollow. Having hollow steel components gives your board a lighter feel, that will pop higher and flip quicker.
The last item you’ll need, but not the least! The bolts are used to attach your trucks on the board.
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Wheels are made out of urethane and are what’s allowing you to roll, obviously. There’s 3 things you’ll need to check before buying new wheels: The size, the hardness and the technical features of the wheels.
Most times, the size and features of your wheels depend on the terrain you like to skate and personal preferences. If you like bowl skating, go for larger wheels (55mm and up), but if you prefer to skate street, we suggest smaller wheels (54mm and under).
53mm is one of the most popular sizes. If you are a beginner and don’t know what type of terrain you like the most, these will do just fine.
The DUROMETER number indicates how hard or soft your wheels are. The harder skateboard wheels are mostly between 97A and 104A. The most popular wheels in this category are 99A to 101A. Above 100, wheels will have a very slippery plastic feel. They are smooth and fast on smooth surfaces, but they can be harder to ride on rough terrain like our Montreal streets, for example. 99A is a great all around choice that good with East Coast skate conditions.
When it comes to Soft Skateboard Wheels, they are usually between 75A and 95A. The most popular hardness or durometer for cruiser wheels is 78A durometer. 78A wheels have a rubbery, soft bouncy feel that rolls very well over very rough surfaces.
Formula 4 is the type of urethane That Spitfire Wheels uses. The wheels last longer, don’t flat spot and take damage well. You’ll notice that all the F4 wheels are a bit yellower than the rest, that’s how you know this wheel is good.
SPF And STF Formula
Bones Wheels came up with the skatepark and street urethane formulas, allowing you to have a wheel that’s truly adapted to the terrain you ride.
Flatter wheels, or “conical” profiles tend to ‘lock in’ easier due the the flat surface on the sides of the wheel.
The usual wheel shape. You’ll find these by looking at the edge of the wheels. If the edge is round, like a radius, it means that the wheels are radials.
A special type of wheel that was invented to help skaters lock in on rails and ledges. It’s an asymmetrical shape, meaning it has a different shape on each side. A flatter side for locking into edges and a chamfered side that won’t catch when sliding.
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The bearings are what’s allowing your wheels to roll. Made of chrome steel metal balls and a circular cover that turns around the balls, they are designed to fit perfectly inside of your wheels and around your trucks hangers. When buying new bearings, watch for the ABEC number and the technical features of the product.
The higher the ABEC NUMBER is, the faster the bearings are. Be careful though, because the faster the bearings, the more fragile they are. And the more expensive! For beginners, there is nothing better than a good set of ABEC 3. For experienced skaters, ABEC 5 is a fair choice and for those who really like to ride fast, treat yourself with a nice set of ABEC 7.
If you just started skating, Mini-Logos or Bones Reds will do the job just fine and won’t cost you a fortune. The bearings are probably the only part of the board that do not include any "feelings", or very little. As long as you have bearings that roll well, you're good to go. Our advice: start with a more common brand of bearings before going for the fastest one on the shelf.
Usually the fastest category of bearings and also the most expensive one. Ceramic creates a heat with the friction from rolling, allowing for more speed than a regular chrome steel balls bearing.
A raw bearing is when you can see the inside as there is no caps or shields on them. Some people prefer bearings to have a cap on and other prefer when we see the balls inside. Aside from a more aggressive sound and helping avoid dirt accumulation under the shield, both styles are good if you are a beginner.
This is the best tool for bearing maintenance. On drop in each bearing every once in a while and they will feel like new for a long time.
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Do not hesitate to visit us in stores and our staff will be happy to help you and answer all your questions about your new skateboard.