For many first-time skateboarders (or the parents who discover “skateboard” on their child’s Christmas list), the fact that most boards don’t come already assembled is a surprise. Sure, you can get beginner boards that are ready to ride right out of the store, but these tend to be made with low-quality components that can be dangerous. Even for beginners, it’s much better to build your own custom board with the components you need. Here’s what you need to build a skateboard that will suit any rider.
Table of Contents
The first part of building your skateboard is to choose a skate deck. The deck is the part that you stand on, and the most important parts about this are its size and shape. For the size of the deck, choose something that works for your height. If you are under 5’3”, go with something no longer than about 31 inches. If you are under 6’, go with something around the standard 32 inches. If you are over six feet tall, you can go up to the longest skateboards, which go from 32.4 inches and up.
You can choose the width of the deck based on what is comfortable for the size of your feet. The wider the deck, the less likely you’ll be able to do tricks, so keep that in mind. Be sure to do a little research on the shape of the deck and get the shape that works for what kind of riding you want to do. The more curved the edges are, the more the board is suited for trick riding.
Next you need two trucks. These are the metal T-shaped components that connect the deck to the wheels. Make sure you match the width of the truck to the width of the deck, leaving only about a quarter of an inch of difference. Pay attention to the part of the trucks called the bushings, which make the skateboard easier or harder to turn. If you are a beginner, you may find the stability of stiffer bushings better suited to your skill, but medium bushings are usually perfect.
Finally, pay attention to how tall the trucks are. Choose taller trucks if you want to use larger, more stable wheels, and smaller trucks if you want to perform tricks and flips easier.
Two Riser Pads
Riser pads protect the deck so that this investment doesn’t go to waste with your first big crash. They also keep you rolling when you make sharp turns. The standard riser is about an eighth of an inch high, but if you have large wheels, choose a higher riser.
The wheels can take some time to research and choose to get the perfect fit for you. Wheels more than anything will be determined by what type of riding you want to do.
- Want to do a lot of flips, street riding, and technical tricks? Aim for smaller wheels (less than 55mm), with a hardness rating of between 97 and 101.
- Want to ride on ramps and bowls at the skate park? Aim for wheels between 55 and 65mm, with a hardness rating of between 95 and 100.
- Want to cruise around for long distances or try downhill riding? You want larger wheels, up to 75mm, with a softer hardness rating between 78 and 85.
There are wheels that are made as a sort of “catch all” that can work for many things. These are usually around 60mm and between a 95 and 100 hardness.
Bearings go inside the skateboard wheels to keep them in place on the trucks. The big thing to look for with bearings is that you want them to be smooth and precise, but still very durable. Look for an ABEC rating between three and five for a good all-around bearing, but don’t be surprised if you have to try a few different types till you find the right fit for you.
Grip Tape and Hardware
Finally, you’ll need a few nuts and bolts to get the trucks connected to the deck, and grip tape for the top of the deck. Grip tape is meant to help you keep your feet on the board, and as long as it has plenty of grippy texture, it’ll work just fine.
Now that you know the components you need to build a skateboard, and how to choose them based on what you think you’ll be doing the most, don’t be afraid to experiment! Every rider is different, and skate boards will always reflect that.
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