The Anatomy of a Skateboard

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As a skater, understanding the anatomy of a skateboard is absolutely essential. Having knowledge of the parts, like the wheels, axles, and trucks, is especially helpful for someone who is buying their first skateboard.

It might seem overwhelming, but once you have a grasp over the parts of a complete skateboard, the buying process will be easy and you can hit the ground running.

When you understand skateboard anatomy, you know what you’re purchasing. You won’t be confused when you start reading about soft wheels vs. hard wheels or see skate jargon like ABEC rating on bearings. Instead, you’ll know what all the hardware is for and how it helps when performing tricks or street skating.

So let’s start at the beginning with the first thing you notice on a skateboard: the skateboard deck.

Table of Contents

The Skateboard Deck

The most important part of a complete skateboard is the deck. It’s also pretty easy to understand decks. This is the central part of the board where the feet go. In most cases, a standard deck is made up of seven to nine plies of wood. Decks come in a variety of widths and lengths.

Types of Skateboard Decks

While length matters, the deck width is most important. If it’s too large, it can be harder to use on rough terrain. You’ll also find skateboard tricks are more challenging. The correct width is based on your shoe size, height, skateboarding style, and preferences. The wrong size board could lead to insufficient grip and comfort.

As a rule of thumb, the different sizes below tend to work well:

  • Full-Size: A skateboard deck of 7.5 inches or larger is best for adult skaters with a shoe size of 9 or above.
  • Mid-Size: This deck is 7.3 inches and works well for nine to 12-year-old kids with size seven to eight shoes.
  • Mini: A deck that is about 7 inches wide and for six to eight-year-old kids with size four to six shoes.
  • Micro: This deck is anywhere from 6.5 to 6.75 inches in width and works for kids who are five and under with a shoe size of three or smaller.

The Grip Tape

Grip tape goes on the deck and creates enough traction to keep a rider on the board and provides friction to handle tricks like kickflips, heelflips, and ollies. The tape can be made of several materials. When it’s made of aluminum oxide, it has a shorter life, while silicone carbide lasts longer.

The tape on a deck isn’t something that always comes attached. Instead, it is sold in long self-adhesive rolls so it can be cut to perfectly fit the length of the skateboard. Then it simply needs to be applied to the board itself. However, some boards are installed with grip tape already.

The Skateboard Wheels

Besides the board, having the best skateboard wheels are the next most important part. In addition, board wheels are not all created equal. Every skateboard wheel can vary based on two factors: durometer and size.

When it comes to size, this is an obvious distinction and is traditionally measured in millimeters.

But what about the wheel durometer? This is an indication of whether the wheels are softer or harder. On another note, these wheels are made of polyurethane.

Here are the basic sizes for skateboard wheels:

  • 50 – 53mm – Slower and smaller wheels that are ideal for small riders or doing tricks.
  • 54 – 59mm – An average wheel size for adult riders and beginners.
  • 60mm and above – Wheels made for downhill, dirt boards, old-school boards, and longboards.

The durometer scale for wheels runs over 100 points and indicates how hard the wheels are. The larger the number, the harder the wheels will be. The typically chosen durometer is 99a.

In general, softer wheels are going to work better on rough surfaces, while harder models will have less grip and control when riding.

The Bearings

Skateboard bearings go inside the wheels and allow them to roll. The type of bearings you choose will determine how quick and smooth the rotation is. Skate bearings have several parts, including: the shield, inner race, balls, retainer, and outer race. Each wheel is equipped with two bearings.

When choosing bearings, consider riding style and experience level. Bearings with quality parts will be more durable and move faster. However, beginners may be fine with entry-level bearings.

If you are experienced and ride your skateboards hard, consider a high-end set of bearings. These bearings will be more expensive but last longer. 

The Trucks

A skateboard truck is the aluminum metal component located on the board’s underside. Each truck is essential to how the board works. Skateboard trucks let riders experience easier turning. Trucks are also used to ensure the wheels connect to the skateboard. During a ride, trucks allow users to do impressive grind tricks.

One of the most essential parts of the trucks is the hanger. The hanger attaches to the pivot cup on the base plate. On the opposite side, it sits on the base plate with the bushings and kingpin.

Bushings are what allow the trucks to turn when on a skateboard ride. These are made of polyurethane plastic and come in various levels of hardness. Harder bushings will be much less responsive than softer bushings.

The trucks have several different parts to be aware of. They include:

  • A kingpin axle nut
  • A base plate
  • A top washer
  • A kingpin
  • A truck hanger
  • A top bushing
  • A bottom bushing
  • Axle nuts
  • A truck axle
  • Speed rings

But remember that for both trucks, you’ll need double the parts. For example, you need two axles, one for each side.

The mounting hardware is what holds the truck to the deck. Each truck needs four bolts and locknuts. Skateboard hardware is sold in sets of eight and may have a Phillips or Allen head. You can also get hardware on an individual basis.

The Riser Pads

Riser pads are made of rubber or plastic and add space between the deck and trucks. This creates more clearance which some people who ride prefer. Also known as shock pads, risers help reduce vibrations when you skate. Risers also add distance between the deck and wheels to prevent bite.

In addition, some risers are made to be angled. If you choose these notable risers, they uniquely angle your trucks. When choosing risers, make sure you select a large bolt of the correct length. The higher the pads, the longer the bolts should be.

The Hardware

We’ve talked about some of the skateboarding hardware you need. A selection of nuts and bolts will help attach trucks and pads onto your skateboards. When you order a skateboard in a complete state, it will come with all the needed items attached so you can get out on the road or head to the skate park immediately.

The Complete Skateboard

Skateboards have a lot of parts, from the axle to the truck and even the grip tape. This guide should provide all the information you need to choose a board that fits your lifestyle. Of course, you can go out and order a skateboard that is already put together if you want the easiest solution.

Another option is picking and choosing the parts you like to get a customized experience. This gives you complete control over the skateboard you end up taking out. But, again, there’s no correct answer here, so choose the option that works best for you.

Wrapping Up

Now that you know everything about skateboard anatomy, you’re ready to find one that suits your needs. Think about how proficient you are on a board, how tall you are, and what kind of skating you tend to do. You’ll be pulling off a back kicktail in no time if you choose the right skateboard.

We hope this helps and gets you out there pulling some sick tricks!