Choosing a board can be hard, especially the first time. First things first, talk to the guys at your local shop. I promise they can tell you way more than what you can learn from reading.
That being said, you should also be educated enough that you understand the terms they're going to use. So let's get to the basics.
There are two main types of boards. We have shortboards and longboards. Each will break down further into subcategories. We're assuming you're here to learn about short boards. You know just standard popsicle shape. I'll throw on a picture.
See like that. That's a shortboard. That's our short board by the way. It certainly is the best in some situations, but not in every single one.
Now what we use a board for plays a huge role in what the best board will be. Think about it for a solid minute.
- Are you getting a board to just cruise around and for transportation?
- Do you want to skate around in half pipes?
- Perhaps you want to jump your board and do all the cool tricks?
- Maybe you just want a cool looking board to collect?
A combination of things? That's for you to decide. Now let's break down the important things to look at! There are 3 Things to Consider When Selecting a Skateboard Deck.
Unless it's just for show, you want the most durable board you can find!
The standard board now days is made from seven layers of maple. Never settle for less than seven layers. These boards are considered to be the best performing by most skaters in the world, that's why we all skate maple, but they only last a short time. Expect three months to a year.
That being said we are also starting to see boards made of bamboo, and carbon fiber.
Carbon Fiber will be almost indestructible, but it's very expensive. In most cases, it wears away, and though it technically will not break, it will start to perform worse as it bends and thins. If you go with it, you're looking at a new board every one to three years. I'd really only recommended this for larger and heavier skaters.
Bamboo skateboards don't actually last much longer than a standard maple, so you can expect about three months to a year, but they have a tendency to be more bouncy. Also Bamboo is lighter than maple, so if you're hoping to jump your board it is definitely worth looking into a bamboo board. They are going to cost a touch more though.
Skateboards break. There really is no getting around it. When I was just starting and only cruising I fell off and my board was hit by a car. As I got better I broke my next board dropping over a curb. You know, like a six-inch fall broke my board. I threw down and jumped on one board crossing the street and it snapped right in the middle. I've broken a board grinding a rail. I've just slipped off and had them split when they hit the wall.
Whatever you choose expect it to break, or at a very least lose performance.
Next, consider the size of the board!
There are only a handful of sizes, and the difference mostly comes back to comfort. The size is measured by the width in inches.
- 7.5 which is essentially a young child's board. You'll probably never see this being used by anyone older than nine or ten years old.
- 7.75 a board preferred by skaters that like to flip their board. The smaller size is easier to control with your feet. Also, this size would be ideal for a short skater with a small foot.
- 8 is the width most skaters will actually use. It's a got a good mix of comfort underfoot, but control when doing tricks.
- 8.25 which would be another extremely common board. The larger size helps you stay on this board more easily. You'll see this often for people skating in half pipes and bowls.
- 8.5 is the largest board you will commonly see. It is a very wide underfoot, and a personal preference of mine. It is very easy to stay in control while riding, but doing tricks on this board has been the most difficult. I can still throw kickflips, shuvs, and anything else. It's just harder.
Now you may be wondering how to decide which is best for you. The short answer just goes stand on them until you find one that feels comfy. Also, it's ok to change your size. I originally rode a 7.75 until I found I could not stand on it anymore. After that, I went to an 8, and now I ride an 8.5. Your preferences will change over time.
Boards also come in other sizes. They can be larger, smaller, or just in between the sizes here. These are what you will commonly see. If none of these do it for you, just ask for something different. You can absolutely find a board that 8.375 or 8.125 inches wide if you look hard enough.
Consider the concave!
The concave is how much the board curves. I was trying to think of words to describe it, but instead, you get this diagram.
See how it curves. This concave it designed to help you maintain control of the board, both while riding and while doing tricks.
A steeper concave, more curve, will provide you more overall control. However, it will be less comfortable to stand on. This would be recommended to a more advanced skater.
A mellow concave, less curve, will be comfier underfoot but provide less control. This we'd recommend to a newer, or a more casual skater. We make mellow concave because comfort is key here.
A medium concave is somewhere in the middle. Best used as a transition piece if you want to start skating steeper, but they can be hard to find.
Of course, as with size, you'll want to stand on them all and decide what you like best.
So to recap.
- Get a good material. Think seven layers of maple.
- Find the right size, measured in width.
- Get a good concave, underfoot curve, for your comfort and skill.