Whether skating vertical ramps or cruising along the boardwalk, skateboards are lots of fun to ride. They can be used for tricks or in competitions or simply as a mode of transportation to arrive at your next destination a little faster.
This buying guide is designed to teach you more about skateboards, so you can find the best model out there to fit your needs. Our top choice is the Penny Classic Skateboard, a lightweight model that's great for cruising.
Considerations when choosing skateboards
First of all, you'll need to decide what type of skateboard you want. Most fall into three main categories:
Shortboards are probably what you think of when you think about a skateboard. They're the kind of board designed for doing tricks -- the slightly shorter length makes it easier to perform ollies and ride vert.
Cruisers are longer in length and are designed for riding around on. If you want a skateboard for transportation rather than for doing tricks, choose a cruiser. Although they sometimes are placed in their own category, longboards are a type of cruiser.
Old-school boards have a different shape to a standard skateboard with wide flat noses and narrower tails. Old-school decks are great for cruising; though you can use them to ride ramps.
Length and width
Wider decks are easier to balance on, but if they're too wide they take more exertion to start going. Longer decks are great for cruising, but they are more difficult to maneuver and perform tricks on.
The wheelbase is the distance between the two pairs of wheels. The wheels are usually pre-mounted with a standard wheelbase of 13 to 15 inches. Sometimes an extra set or two of mounting holes are pre-drilled, so you can easily adjust the wheel base. Vert riders on large ramps sometimes prefer a wider wheelbase.
Grip tape: Grip tape is the name of the rough surface on the top of some skateboards to help you grip. This loses texture over time, but it can easily be replaced.
Design: Although performance is key, the majority of skaters also want a board that looks cool, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's usually the underside of the deck that's the most decorative.
Kicktail: You need a skateboard with a kicktail to ollie, so it's a must if you want to do tricks.
You can find some skateboards for as little as $20 to $30. We'd generally recommend spending at least $50 for a mid-range option if you're serious about learning to skate. If you're an experienced skater, you'll need a high-end board for between $100 and $300.
Q. What's the difference between camber and rocker?
A. You may have heard the terms "camber" and "rocker" when searching for skateboards. Both these terms refer to the curve along the length of the skateboard, from nose to tail. Rocker refers to an inward curve, with the center lower than each end. Whereas camber refers to an outward curve, with the center higher than each end. Generally, skateboard decks are fairly flat or have a slight degree of rocker, which lowers the center of gravity and improves balance. However, you can find decks with camber, which are generally preferred by cruisers and longboarders.
Q. What does concave mean in relation to a skateboard deck?
A. In relation to skateboards, concave is the widthwise curve, from one side to another. The majority of skateboard decks are slightly concave because it gives the rider a better foothold. Although it's rare, you can find convex skateboard decks, which can be beneficial for slalom or downhill skateboarders.
Skateboards we recommend
Best of the best: Penny Classic Skateboard
Our take: This classic skateboard has an old-school shape; it's well-made and built to last.
What we like: Lightweight, so it's great for toting around wherever you go. Speedy with large 59-millimeter wheels that are perfect for cruising. Waffle-top nonslip deck.
What we dislike: Pricier than similar alternatives.
Best bang for your buck: RIMABLE Complete 22" Skateboard
Our take: If you're looking for a bargain-priced skateboard, look no further. Its compact size makes it best for kids or people who don't mind a small board.
What we like: A huge number of colors and patterns available. Waffle-top design. Can hold as much as 198 pounds. Extremely compact and lightweight.
What we dislike: Not the most durable choice.
Our take: A solid shortboard that's perfect for beginners and intermediate vert or freestyle skaters.
What we like: The mild concave keeps inexperienced skaters in control. Double-kick design. Made from quality Canadian maple. Cool cherry blossom design on the underside of the deck.
What we dislike: The bearings aren't great -- it's best to replace them.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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