Skateboarding is not only extremely fun but it’s also a really practical way to get around. I took up skateboarding in the last two years and there was definitely a learning curve. But with a little key knowledge about the parts of a skateboard and the best skateboard for beginners, you can be zipping along like me in no time.
What you should know about skateboards before buying
We’re going to assume you know what a skateboard is, otherwise you wouldn’t be here. But if you don’t understand the basic constituent parts, it can make buying a skateboard feel like a guessing game when it doesn’t have to. Plus, once you know exactly what it is you’re buying, you can decide to buy a complete skateboard or buy the parts you want to assemble on your own. Here are all terms you need to know:
- Deck: The deck is the actual board part of the skateboard. Typically made from seven or eight pieces of maple or equivalently strong wood, they’re typically about 2.5 feet long with a concave (curved upward) shape for improved balancing.
- Truck: The truck is the component attached to the deck that holds the wheels, consisting of the base plate, attached to the bottom of the skateboard, and the axle, which holds the wheels. The kingpin — the plastic-looking knob with the large lugnut in the center of the truck — determines how easy or difficult it is to turn. Tight trucks provide a more stable ride and more difficult turning. It’s vice versa with loose trucks.
- Wheels: All skateboards need four wheels, typically made from polyurethane of varying degrees of hardness. Bigger, softer wheels are better for cruising while smaller, harder wheels are better for tricks and board control. Except for longboards, which typically require wheels too large for other decks, most decks can work with somewhat larger, softer wheels or the smaller classic wheels you see in skateparks.
- Bearings: These are the little metal circles with balls inside that go inside the wheels that make skateboarding possible. Proper maintenance includes cleaning the bearings, but more casual skateboarders can also just buy new wheels and chuck the old ones when the bearings inevitably break down. Some wheels come with the bearings already in them and others need to have the bearings placed inside them.
- Grip tape: Grip tape is the sandpapery surface on the top side of the deck that gives you enough friction to actually stay on the board. Many decks come with grip tape already on them, but nicer decks will frequently leave it off. It’s cheap and easy enough to buy on its own and is an absolute necessity for all but the craziest skateboarders.
- Penny board: A penny board generally refers to a small, plastic cruiser-style skateboard. Because they’re plastic, they’re light, durable and tend to be much cheaper than traditional wood-based decks. (In case you were wondering, the name comes from an Australian brand, Penny Skateboards, that popularized the board style and the name has become generic for this kind of board.)
- Longboard: A longboard is, yup, a longer style of skateboard typically used for faster kinds of rides like downhill racing or cruising. Because they have bigger wheels and heavier weight, they tend to keep on rolling more easily than regular skateboards.
- Skate tool: Because skateboards have a distinct but finite amount of tools needed to put them together, you can buy one multitool, a skate tool, that has all the component tools you need in one tool, kind of like a Swiss Army knife for skateboards.
Now that we’re familiar with the basics, let’s talk about assembly. Though we’d love to take you bullet by bullet through all the steps, it’s a heck of a lot easier to watch a short walkthrough video. Nate over at the Skate Warehouse has got you covered below.
OK, now that you know the basics of skateboard anatomy and how to assemble a skateboard, it’s time to shop. We’ve assembled a list of all the skateboarding stuff you’d need to get started as well as a few different boards that can all compete for the title of best skateboard for beginners.
Take it from a guy who was recently a beginner and who’s used everything below: The thought is harder than the reality and even though you won’t be doing kickflips and shove-its in your first week, any of the equipment below will help get you to cruising speeds in no time at all.
1. WhiteFang Complete Skateboard for Beginners
When it comes to the best skateboard for beginners, it’s best to start with the standard concave skateboard like the WhiteFang Complete Skateboard for Beginners. As suggested in the name, this skateboard ships complete, with a grip-taped deck, trucks and small hard wheels. Seven layers of Canadian maple wood offer plenty of toughness and durability, and the magnesium alloy trucks and strong bearings deliver more than enough stability and balance. Factor in the very agreeable price and cool deck design and you’ve got the best skateboard for beginners on your hands.
2. Magneto Mini Cruiser Skateboard
The Magneto Mini Cruiser Skateboard is a great skateboard for beginners looking to skip the tricks and get rolling quickly, and it comes ready to roll right out of the box and with a skate tool too. Though this board is smaller than a traditional skateboard, the learning curve is negligibly less and this board is way easier to actually start cruising with thanks to the light but durable six-ply maple design and the larger 60mm wheels. Plus, it’s much easier to carry around because it’s lighter and smaller.
When I first got started, I actually took to cruiser skateboards way faster than traditional skateboards. If you’re trying to be able to skate around New York City quickly, I think you’ll pick up skating on this pretty fast.
3. Meketec Skateboard Mini Cruiser
BEST PENNY BOARD
I would not recommend starting with a penny board like the Meketec Skateboard Mini Cruiser, but it’s definitely doable if you don’t want to spring for a traditional deck. Though this skateboard comes complete and ready to roll, the main problem for beginners, with all penny boards, is the size. The smaller the board, the more difficult it is to learn balance, which is, you know, pretty important in the beginning. But if you can manage to learn to skate on a penny board, learning how to skate on other larger boards is a piece of cake.
4. Minority Downhill Maple Longboard Skateboard
Though it seems counter-intuitive to begin with a longboard, the size can actually make it easier to learn how to balance. I love this particular skateboard, the Minority Downhill Maple Longboard Skateboard, because it uses a drop-trough deck where the deck is dropped to be more level with the wheels instead of clearly above them like with traditional skateboards. In my experience, this style made learning to turn and eventually carving up city streets a complete breeze. It was also incredibly convenient that it arrived complete and ready to use out of the box.
Alas, my skateboard eventually broke after a year because I rode it through rain and snow and took zero care of it, but as long as you’re not dumb like I am, this skateboard will give your money’s worth and then some. For what it’s worth, I loved riding it so much and it’s so comparatively inexpensive that I bought another one. Go figure.
5. Birdhouse Beginner Grade Tony Hawk Complete Skateboard
THE GOAT DECK
No, this deck doesn’t have a goat on it, but it is made by Tony Hawk’s Birdhouse Skateboards. The Birdhouse Beginner Grade Tony Hawk Complete Skateboard was designed for beginners by people who know skateboarding inside and out. Thankfully, knowing beginners would be buying it, Birdhouse ships this board complete so you can get rolling as soon as you get it.
6. Primitive Skateboarding Universal Survival Team Deck
Laugh it up, but if you didn’t watch and love some kind of “Dragon Ball” growing up, then I question your childhood. In all seriousness, I own multiple decks from Primitive Skateboarding and they’re all high quality and highly rideable, even for beginners. You can pick it up in two different widths, 8.125 inches and 8.25 inches. The wider deck will be easier to start with, so we’d recommend starting there. Just be aware that you will need to supply your own trucks and wheels for any Primitive decks.
7. BooTaa Skateboard Grip Tape Sheet
BEST GRIP TAPE
Though many decks come with grip tape on them already, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got some handy if you know you’re getting a deck without it. I bought this BooTaa Skateboard Grip Tape Sheet for one such deck of mine and, after hundreds of rides, it’s still stuck and I still get pretty great traction.
8. Everland esKape All-In-One Skate Tool
BEST SKATE TOOL
Some of the best skateboards for beginners ship with a skate tool, but if they don’t, the Everland esKape All-In-One Skate Tool has everything you need to put together or take apart a board from soup to trucks.
9. Spitfire Classic Series High-Performance Skateboard Wheels
BEST WHEELS FOR TRICKS
If tricks are in your future and your skateboard doesn’t come with traditional small wheels (which it almost certainly will), the Spitfire Classic Series High-Performance Skateboard Wheels have got you covered. They’re hard, they’re small and though they won’t handle big street potholes, they’re perfect for skating on smooth roads and tricks in skateparks.
10. Bones Reds Skateboard Bearings
In case your wheels of choice don’t come with bearings (ahem, Spitfire), the Bones Reds Skateboard Bearings are industry standard and among the most popular bearings for beginners and pros alike.
11. Freedare 58mm Skateboard Wheels
BEST WHEELS FOR CRUISING
I quickly learned doing tricks was way harder than it looks, so I pivoted to cruising almost immediately. If your journey goes the same way, you’re going to want these Freedare 58 mm Skateboard Wheels. At 58 mm, they’re noticeably bigger than traditional skateboard wheels and the polyurethane is softer, so they’ll just keep rolling and rolling and rolling. Plus, these wheels come with the bearings and spacers you’ll need for a proper wheel swap.
12. JBM Skateboarding Protection Gear
BEST SAFETY GEAR
Now I’m not going to preach to you about safety, but I will tell you that skateboarding is not only inherently dangerous, it’s also risky in high-traffic areas. Though safety gear isn’t a silver bullet against injury, it could be the difference between life and death, so we strongly encourage you to pick up the JBM Skateboarding Protection Gear to use according to your judgment. This set includes a helmet, two elbow pads, two knee pads and two wrist guards. If you know you’ll be riding around cars or attempting tricks, we promise you’re going to want to be protected.