It is never too late to pick up a new hobby or skill, and skateboarding is no exception to this.
Whether you have only recently become interested in skateboarding or you grew up admiring Tony Hawk and playing his games on your PlayStation 2, now is as good a time as any to pick up the hobby.
While it can seem quite daunting, purchasing your first skateboard as an adult does not need to be a difficult task.
While there are many things that you will need to take into consideration, once you know what you need to be looking for, this becomes easy.
To help you along, in this article, we have compiled a list of 21 tips that you need to be aware of when you purchase your first skateboard.
We hope that you will find these tips useful and that they will help you to ollie on a halfpipe in no time!
1. Set A Budget
Before you decide on a skateboard, the first thing that you will need to take into consideration is your budget. This is arguably the most important factor to consider.
While it can seem tempting to purchase the most expensive option, your first board does not necessarily need to cost a lot of money. There are many more affordable options. Given this, for your first board, we would recommend a less expensive option.
That way, if you decide that this sport is not for you, you will not have spent too much money on a starter board.
If, however, you decide that you enjoy skateboarding, once you have improved you can look into purchasing a more expensive board.
2. Know Your Skateboard Anatomy
After you have set your budget, the next step you need to take is to learn the anatomy of a skateboard.
You need to be comfortable understanding and recognizing the different components that make up the anatomy of a skateboard before purchasing.
While an assistant at a skateboard store can help you to find everything you will need, it is better to be familiar with the components already.
Here are all of the different components that you will need to become familiar with:
- Skateboard deck
- Base Plate
- Grip tape
- Axle nut
We will be talking you through the majority of these components as the article progresses to give you a better understanding of their purpose.
3. The Correct Board Width
Once you have become more familiar with the different parts of a skateboard, you will need to consider the board size you need to purchase. The board size will vary depending on the individual.
When looking at adult skateboards, the width can vary from around 7.5 inches to 10.5 inches. However, this will vary depending on gender and height. While larger-width skateboards are not as common, they are still available for those who are particularly tall.
While the average deck width is around 8 inches, this width may not be the most suitable for you. Given this, we would recommend trying out a few different sizes to see which feels right.
When you are a beginner, ideally, you will want to choose a stable skateboard, one that is around 8 to 8.5 inches would be a great place to start. However, if you prefer to purchase a slimmer skateboard this is suitable too.
4. The Correct Board length
Once you are happy and comfortable with the width of your skateboard deck, next you will need to decide on the right board length for you. Just like the width of a skateboard, the length will vary depending on your height and personal preference.
It is worth noting that the length of a skateboard does not matter as much as the width. The majority of skateboarders choose to use a regular-sized deck. These can range anywhere from 28 inches to 32 inches in length.
If you are taller, you will likely need the larger length board to enable you to have a good overall stance. If you are fairly short, even the smallest regular skateboard may be too long. You will want to avoid having a stance that is uncomfortable or too wide.
If you try the smallest regular length skateboard and it still feels too long, you can try a smaller skateboard. There are many skateboards that are smaller in length. While they are mainly aimed at teenagers, they can be used by adults too.
In terms of height measurements, a full-size skateboard deck is suitable for those 161 cms and above. If you are shorter than this, you may feel more comfortable using a mid-size deck.
5. Choosing Your Deck
The deck is the most popular part of a skateboard and one that the majority of people are familiar with. The deck is the main component of the skateboard and it is what you will stand on.
To give you some context on the deck materials, the majority of good-quality skateboard decks are made from maple wood. Decks are usually made up of 7-ply (thin sheets) of maple wood. This maple wood is particularly durable and built to last and withstand tricks and grinding.
The seven individual pieces of maple wood are glued securely together. They keep the board rigid. Some cheaper skateboards will feature a lower number of ply layers.
These are not as durable and well made and tend to be the cheaper option. Ideally, you should avoid this. In contrast to this, more expensive decks can feature more ply layers.
You can purchase a good-quality 7-ply deck for a reasonable price. There are carbon fiber, plastic, and resin boards available too, but wood decks tend to be the better option overall.
6. The Correct Concave For You
In addition to the width and length of a deck, you will also need to take into consideration the type of concave that a skateboard has.
The type of concave you choose will vary depending on the type of skateboarding you want to do.
The concave is how the skateboard curves across its width. There are three main types of concave you can choose between:
A deck with a steep concave is typically more difficult for beginners to get to grips with. This is because it is slightly less stable in comparison to the other two concave types.
This type of skateboard is the best when it comes to ollies as it will flip around the quickest. It is by far the easiest deck to perform tricks with, but for a beginner, it may take some getting used to.
Standard or Medium:
This type of deck is often referred to as both standard or medium.
A medium concave would be a great place to start for a beginner as it has stability, but you can still perform tricks to an extent with it.
The mellow deck is a great choice for beginners, especially if you are starting with no previous riding experience at all.
This deck is by far the most stable and is the best deck to help build confidence when riding.
It is a particularly comfortable board to use when getting to grips with the basics. It is worth noting that it is not easy to perform tricks on this board as it does have the least concave.
These are the most common types of concaves to consider when you are a beginner. However, as you progress with your skateboarding skills, there are other types of concaves you may want to consider too.
The kicktails are often called the nose and tail of the skateboard. While all skateboards will feature these, it is useful to know their purpose.
The kicktails are an important part of a skateboard and they are responsible for how the skateboard maneuvers. The kicktails also enable you to perform tricks such as ollies and help you to turn and pivot on the skateboard.
While the more old school skateboards only feature a back kicktail, the vast majority of modern skateboards will feature both.
8. The Best Grip Tape
After you are happy with all of the deck specifications, next you will want to choose some grip tape. The majority of people will be familiar with what grip tape is without necessarily realizing it.
The grip tape is what covers the top part of the skateboard that you stand on. The grip tape has a similar coarse texture to sandpaper. As it suggests in the name, the grip tape enables the user to remain securely on the skateboard without sliding off it.
When choosing a deck, you will want to ensure that you are purchasing one with good-quality grip tape. While all grip tapes will work, the coarser the tape, the better the board will be overall. It will be slower to wear down too.
While there are cheaper options of grip tape available, you will want to avoid this as the quality tends to reflect the price. A good quality black, traditional, grip tape is the best option.
If you want to get creative with the design of your deck, the grip tape is available in many different colors and designs.
9. Choosing Your Deck Design
Once you have decided on the most important aspects of your skateboard deck, now it is time to get creative and choose a design.
When it comes to deck designs, it is common to choose a cool or bright design for the bottom of the deck.
The deck design is an aspect that will be personal to you. There are thousands of different deck designs and colors to choose from.
While the majority of skate shops will have several different premade designs, you can also create your own designs too.
In addition to the deck designs, there are many popular brands you can choose from, such as Anti Hero, and Santa Cruz.
As these are popular brands, they do tend to be more expensive in comparison to non-branded decks.
While some of these designs and brands can quickly increase the price of your skateboard, you can opt to go for a plain deck or simple design for your first board too.
11. The Correct Size and Truck Material
Once you have “decked out” your skateboard (we could not resist that pun), it is time to consider the wheel components.
The trucks are a vital part of your skateboard as they are what will attach your wheels to the deck. The trucks are responsible for turning your wheels and they are what you will also use to grind.
When you purchase trucks, you will need to ensure that they are metal. If the trucks are made from any other material, they are likely to be of low quality and will not stand the test of time.
The best types of trucks will be made from metals such as titanium, steel, and aluminum. They are usually available in hollow or solid versions. The hollow trucks will make your board lighter, and the solid trucks are typically slightly heavier.
The most important thing to consider is the size of the trucks. You want it to fit the width of your deck well without being too small or large.
The size you will need will depend on the size of the deck you choose. The shop you purchase your skateboard from will be able to advise you with this.
12. Truck Height
In addition to choosing the correct size and material, you will also need to take into consideration the height of the truck.
The height will make a surprising difference to how the skateboard is ridden.
It is worth noting that while there are typically three different heights, these heights are not a standard across all different companies and skate stores.
They will vary slightly depending on the store or brand you choose, but the concept remains the same.
High trucks are the best option if you are choosing large skateboard wheels.
They help to prevent wheel bite which will provide a smoother ride overall. Higher trucks allow the wheels to move more before they scrape against the deck.
The regular truck size can also be referred to as the mid-range. This is the ideal size that is in between the low and the high truck sizes.
Your center of gravity is likely to be better with the regular or low truck size.
For beginners, a regular or low range truck size is likely the best option.
While the steering is slightly more difficult, your overall center of gravity will be better. This will help with your overall balance too.
13. The Perfect Wheels
When it comes to choosing the wheels for your skateboard, there are different sizes to choose from.
There are two things that you will want to take into consideration when you are choosing wheels for your skateboard - the size and the hardness.
The size of the wheels, while it may seem insignificant is rather important. The smaller the wheels are the faster you will travel. The larger the wheels, the slower the travel will be.
While you may assume that larger wheels are better for beginners, they can be more difficult to operate. However, they are slower and easier to control overall.
The hardness of the skateboard wheel may not be something you have considered.
Typically you will want to choose a softer or medium wheel. These are easier to maneuver and will allow for a quicker ride overall.
While harder wheels can give you more control, they are more difficult to use when riding on a rougher surface, even smaller stones can affect harder wheels.
As you become more comfortable using a skateboard, the bushings will become an important aspect to consider. The bushings are typically made from silicone and can be found between the hangar and the baseplate.
There are three different types you can choose from - soft, medium, and hard. The soft bushings allow you to turn the skateboard with ease but make the skateboard more difficult to control overall.
Hard bushings allow you to perform tricks easily and give you more control of the board overall.
As a beginner, we would recommend the medium bushings, these are the best of both and would be the easier option, to begin with.
The bearings are an important component as they control how the skateboard wheels turn. While the bearings are only a small part of the skateboard anatomy, it can be difficult to know which are the best options to purchase.
The bearings can range quite significantly in price, from really inexpensive to a few hundred dollars. To begin with, you do not need to spend a large amount of money. Mid-range bearings would be a great option.
When looking at the less expensive options they will likely be of lower quality. As you will want the bearings to last and withstand much use, it is best to choose a mid-range option, to begin with.
After you have chosen suitable bearings, next you will need to choose spacers. These spacers are responsible for protecting the bearings. They help to prevent damage to the axle and bearings.
While some wheels will come with their spacers, others will not. Given this, it is important to double-check this before purchasing. While spacers are an important part of a skateboard’s anatomy, they do not make an overall difference to how the skateboard rides.
However, you should purchase bearings that are of good quality to ensure that they will not damage and break over time.
17. The Correct Shoes
When you are choosing your skateboard, if you are shopping in a store we would recommend wearing suitable footwear. You do not want to show up at the store wearing shoes that are not fit for the purpose.
Ideally, you will want to choose the shoes you plan to wear when you are skateboarding. This will help to give you a truer feel of the board.
This tip can also apply if you are purchasing a skateboard online. When it arrives, ensure that you are wearing suitable footwear to test that it is the correct match for you.
If you are unsure of what footwear to use, we would recommend sneakers or shoes with a flat sole and a good grip.
Even as an adult safety has to come first - even for beginners! While you may shoo away the idea of wearing protective equipment thinking that it is reserved just for children, we highly recommend that you invest in some.
A helmet is so important when you are just starting on your skateboarding journey. Even if you are taking things slowly it is so easy to pick up an injury if you fall off your skateboard.
A protective helmet is even more important as you pick-up speed, practice jumps, or are using skating ramps.
Accidents do happen and falling off a skateboard can be painful. At the least, you will want to protect your head. Helmets are fairly inexpensive to purchase. There are also many great designs that you can purchase online and in skate stores too.
19. Knee And Arm Pads
In addition to a helmet, we would recommend knee and arm pads. While you may not look like the “coolest” adult at the skatepark, they do help to prevent injury. Being a beginner you are far more likely to pick up an injury, and it is always best to be safe.
Again these do come in different colors and designs and are fairly inexpensive to purchase. They are useful if you are learning to skateboard for the first time.
20. Shop at a Skateboard Store
This is a fairly obvious tip and one that we have mentioned multiple times throughout this article. While you can pick up skateboards from many different stores or online shops, the quality may not be the best.
If you are looking to make skateboarding a real hobby that you want to put time and effort into, you will want to ensure that you have the correct deck and set up. Shopping in a skate store is the best way to do this.
The assistants in-store will have a great knowledge of all of the different components and will be able to advise you as best as possible. This will also allow you to try out different sizes of decks and wheels for yourself to find the best option for you.
You will be able to see the different components and deck sizes in person to find your preference. It allows you to have better customization, and you will be able to find protective equipment that fits correctly too.
When you become more familiar with skateboarding, then you would choose to purchase different items from online skate stores. However, if this is your first rodeo, having a professional talking you through your options is a great idea.
If you are choosing to shop online instead, we would always recommend choosing an online skate shop as you know that you will be choosing a deck and accessories that are of good quality.
21. Have Fun
Finally, you will also want to have fun. While it can be easy to get sucked into the technicalities of a skateboard and choosing the correct specifications to purchase, remember that it is a fun hobby too.
Try not to take yourself too seriously when you are just starting and remember why you wanted to take up skateboarding in the first place. While it may take a good few months for you to even master the basics, the most important thing is that you are having fun doing it.
As we mentioned at the beginning of our article, you are never too old to pick up a new hobby that you love and enjoy.
We hope that you found these 21 tips interesting and insightful. As an adult beginner, it can seem daunting to purchase a skateboard for the first time.
However, it is a great and fun experience. Once you know the basics and are comfortable with the anatomy of a skateboard, choosing the best one for you becomes a lot easier.
If you would prefer to purchase a full skateboard then this is completely acceptable. Being a beginner, all of the aspects can be a lot to take in.
If you decide to purchase a skateboard that is already complete, ensure that you test it thoroughly before purchasing. You will want to feel comfortable standing on the board and maneuvering it.
Remember that the most important part about skateboarding as an adult beginner is to have fun. You are never too old to pick up a new hobby, and skateboarding is a great way of keeping fit, but also having fun and developing new skills too.
Skateboarding does take time to perfect, so do not be disheartened if you cannot grind or perform ollies soon after purchasing your first skateboard!