Nickel Board vs. Penny Board: What’s the Difference?

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What Is a Nickel Board?

A nickel board is a specific type of penny board. The public adopted this variation after the popularity of the original penny skateboard version.

Many riders could not achieve a comfortable ride with the original version because of the short length. This was especially true for skateboarders of large stature or minimal experience.

The only viable option was to extend the length of the board. The nickel board was birthed from this extension and got designated as the 27-inch cousin of the penny board.

The difference in size is five inches, hence the name nickel board. Nickel boards never stray from this 27-inch length.

What Is a Penny Board?

For some skateboarders, the terms penny board and nickel board may be somewhat unfamiliar. This is especially true for American skateboarders. There’s a good reason behind this.

The namesake has been trademarked by an Australian company (Penny Australia). However, the name has been famous in the US since the 1960s and 70s.

Several factors make up the characteristics of a penny board. These skateboards are usually smaller than regular boards and are made of plastic instead of wood or fiberglass. Generally, these boards are comprised of multi-colored designs as well.

Regular skateboards will measure up to 33 inches in length until they fall under the longboard category. Original penny boards are exactly 22 inches long, and lack grip tape.

Penny and Nickel Boards: Ride Comparisons

Five inches may not seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things. However, in the world of skateboarding, five inches can make a huge difference.

The nickel board has a larger deck, even if you only measure by length alone. However, the nickel board also has the penny board beat in the width category.

Because of this size advantage, the nickel board will typically offer a smoother ride than the penny board. It’s much easier to notice little bumps when you’re riding the smaller version.

When you are turning, the larger trucks on the nickel board make a huge difference. It’s easier to perform carving-style turns on the larger variation. When you attempt these turns on a penny board, the instability makes it easier to wipe out.

If you’re on smooth surfaces without many turns, the penny board can still offer a fast experience. However, it may be better suited for a rider with more experience who has better balance. Holding yourself steady doesn’t come easy on a 22-inch deck.

Pros and Cons

To better understand how the two boards compare, it’s easier to do a side-by-side of both. Let’s examine the advantages and disadvantages of each board respectively.

The Original Penny Board

Pros

  •         The original penny board is incredibly lightweight. The small frame is very convenient as well. These skateboards can be thrown in pretty much any sized backpack for easier carrying when you’re not riding.
  •         The lightweight design of the plastic deck makes heel-turning easy on this board. Not much pressure is needed from the rear foot to lift the nose of these boards.
  •         These skateboards will also be much easier on your pocketbook. Compared to the nickel board, the penny version can be $30 to $50 less expensive.

Cons

  •         People with large feet should probably skip this offering. It’s nearly impossible to ride this board if you have bigger-than-average feet. If you can manage to get two feet on the board, they’re too close together during your stance, making it very uncomfortable.
  •         Sometimes if you’re moving at higher speeds, control can be hard as your feet fight each other for space on the board. If you’re not careful, this can lead to a wipe-out.
  •         As we mentioned previously, the small stature of this skateboard can make it difficult to keep your balance. Many people ride using one foot, which can take time to adjust to.

The Penny Nickel

Pros

  •         Five inches is a lot of space when it comes to the deck of a skateboard. People with larger feet will find riding the penny nickel much easier.
  •         Longer and wider deck conditions make the nickel a more viable option for rookie skateboarders. The added size makes this version much easier to handle.
  •         The nickel board may not be as quick as the original penny board, but it can still seem to hold its own on the streets. Because it has larger trucks, the nickel board may handle terrain with hills much better.

Cons

  •         If you’re in crowds or navigating obstacles, the larger board size may make it harder to perform heel turns.
  •         The nickel board is more expensive than its original counterpart.
  •         You won’t be able to generate as much speed when you’re on a nickel board. For more experienced skaters seeking a thrill, this could be a bummer.

Making Adjustments in Design

One major difference between these two skateboards is that the nickel board has remained the same throughout its lifespan. It’s true; the original penny board was 22 inches and remained that size for a long time.

However, recently there have been different variations released to accommodate different skills and sizes of skateboarders.

The penny boards are now available in three different deck sizes. Instead of just the 22-inch option, skateboarders can now choose from 27 and 36-inch deck sizes.

The 36-inch deck is an extension of the normal longboard size. Most longboards measure 33 inches in length.

The longer version of the penny board offers three more inches plus additional width to promote faster speeds and smoother turns. This makes the current penny board brand very versatile, as they can offer board lengths from both ends of the spectrum.

Another dynamic that gives penny boards a massive appeal is an eclectic design. Penny boards are known for their multi-colored designs that cover their decks.

These various color and design schemes make these boards very popular among teenagers and young adults. Younger skateboarders sporting these boards at skateparks and urban areas frequented by other riders are often spotted.

A Matter of Durability

Let’s talk about one other factor that separates the penny board and the nickel board. Remember we mentioned that the penny boards have decks fashioned from plastic?

More specifically, the decks get made from an incredibly durable polyurethane design that sets them apart from other skateboards. This may sound like an exaggeration, but these miniature skateboards are nearly indestructible.

One of the most recognizable elements of penny boards is their durability. More specifically, it’s their proven ability to be run over by cars time and time again without breaking.

All you have to do is do a simple search online to find thousands of videos of penny boards strength getting put to the test. Not only do they pass the car test, but slamming these boards down on curbs and rails without the risk of breaking them is very appealing for street and freestyle skateboarders.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Penny Boards Used Best For?

Originally, penny boards were designed for long-distance trips through urban areas. Technically, these skateboards fell under the cruiser skateboard category. The wheels on a penny board are larger but softer than a trick and double-kick skateboards, so cruising over cracks and smaller debris isn’t the end of the world.

Skateboard wheels get rated for hardness. Penny board wheels get a rating between 100 and 104a, which means they have light and soft wheels that require minimal pushing and provide a very smooth ride.

Should a Beginner Use a Penny Board?

This question is best answered based on what elements you’re approaching from. Suppose the beginner is a younger person that can benefit from the small size and added durability. In that case, the answer is most likely yes.

However, if the beginner is a full-sized adult that still has to learn kick and flip tricks that would make the durability relevant based on their use, then no.

Before a full-grown skateboarder attempts to use a penny board, they should get used to riding comfortably on a different type of board. The small stature of the original penny’s deck doesn’t provide a comfortable or stable ride for a newcomer.

When Should You Consider Buying a Penny Board?

A penny board is a great option for a smaller framed person that wants to learn how to carve but not learn tricks. Turning and carving can be great fundamentals to learn by someone smaller, assuming the board accommodates the size of their feet and body.

Penny boards can fit under seats, in overhead compartments, in lockers, under desks, and most bags. There’s almost no restriction for storing a penny board.

If you constantly have to pack and unpack your board during your commute to work or school, this board is for you. Getting on and off buses and starting and stopping your skateboard ride can be inconvenient with a full-sized board or a longboard. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a backpack you can fit a longboard in.

However, the penny board creates a unique experience that allows a rider to carry a board efficient for cruising and carving that can still get stowed away. If the board ends up being too small, a user can still upgrade to a penny nickel design and still enjoy some of the compact benefits.

Why Aren’t Penny Boards Good for Tricks?

Maybe you’ve seen videos of skaters performing certain tricks on penny boards you’ve gotten told weren’t possible. We’re going to say that these skaters probably learned these tricks on other boards before they performed them on the penny.

It’s not impossible to do any tricks on a penny board. Ride switches, kick-turns, power-slides, manuals, and old-school lay-back can be performed pretty easily on penny boards. These are tricks where you’re not required to leave the ground.

Tricks with an ollie as a base are extremely difficult on a penny board. This is because it’s hard to do an ollie or flip-trick and land back on the board efficiently when it hits. The board is just way too small.

Performing ollie and flip-tricks is a good way to end up with a broken ankle. Grinding tricks are also difficult because the board and trucks are too thin to lock the skateboard into a grind.

Conclusion

The efficiency of both of these boards comes down to a couple of simple elements. Your size will weigh heavily, as will your experience level.

Mechanically, the original penny board makes a great cruiser. The wheel size, softness, and other elements are ideal for cruising. However, the small stature makes it difficult for larger people with big shoe sizes to get comfortable on this board.

Thankfully, the penny nickel or a larger version of the penny (36 inches) can be great options for a more comfortable cruiser or a longboard. It’s a good thing the manufacturers of penny boards expanded their horizons.

This is the best way of summing up our final verdict with all these things in mind. The penny board is a great option for younger skateboarders learning to carve and cruise small-framed adults with city riding in mind. However, the penny nickel is a better choice for larger adults who are new to the sport.

Let’s not leave veteran skaters out of the mix here, either. If experienced skateboarders want to challenge themselves with a board that takes balance to carve and do flat-land tricks, a penny board can be a great way to test their skills. Both of these skateboards have a place on the wall with many skill levels of skateboarders.