Much like a classic skateboard’s baby brother, the penny board originated as the creation of an Australian company, Penny Skateboards. Born in 2010, their ethos was creating stable, heavy-duty boards that could take hit after hit without sustaining long-term damage. Durable enough to withstand the weight of a car but lithe and lightweight, they are often compared to mini-cruiser style longboards.
Smaller than an average skateboard for maximum portability and composed solely of flexible plastic, penny boards are now a niche of their own. Penny Skateboards intended to recreate the plastic variety you might fondly remember from childhood, resurrecting a more accessible route into skating for the next generation.
However, though more than worth it for their craftsmanship, the official Penny boards will set you back a pretty penny, and the market is saturated with cheap imitations of the lowest standard. It is more than possible to find an alternative that doesn’t sacrifice quality for cash, though, and we’ve collated a list of the best substitutes to the real thing that won’t break the bank but still offer the smoothest rides. We’ve also put together a buyer’s guide and a list of FAQs to help you decide exactly which board will suit your needs.
Top 5 Best Cheap Penny Alternatives
OUR TOP PICK
If you want to get out and impersonate Bart Simpson ASAP, allow us to recommend this offering from Cal 7. Its 22.5-inch plastic deck is portable perfection, easily fitting into any backpack or tote for commuting or skating on the go. A pair of aluminum alloy trucks are hard-wearing and promise to hold your bearings and wheels securely no matter how many times you crash into the curb.
Speaking of bearings, this board is made with premium, upgraded ABEC models that guarantee durability. Super-smooth 60mm wheels are the perfect size for gathering speed whilst maintaining some control, absorbing shock for a ride that’s easy on the feet. Versatile in design and great for all ages, a classic waffletop deck offers more than enough grip, suitable for tentative beginners and old pros.
Shaped to mimic the classic cruiser boards, this baby carves with ease; tight corners are no match for its deft, easy to maneuver turns. Available in seven attractive colors - soft-toned pastels or bold and bright - the only difficult choice you’ve got to make is which one to go for!
- Affordable and cost-effective
- Variety of designs to suit any skater
- Quality materials for the best possible ride
- Fits in any bag for easy transportation
- Not available in a 27 or 36-inch model, so might not be suitable for beginners
This retro tribute is a delightful nostalgia trip for newbies and oldies alike. A 22-inch plastic injected high-performance deck comes in more than twenty colors and original designs, surely offering a pattern to suit any skater. Skatro design and produce every single board with their patented Flexy technology - a copyrighted process of manufacturing to ensure the perfect amount of flexibility every single time. Hard-engineered reinforcement molding offers a built-in hand grip for transport and tricks whilst providing increased durability for the whole board. Tight corners are easily maneuvered with Abec 7 stainless steel bearings, 59mm urethane wheels, and lightweight 3-inch trucks. Weighing barely anything at 4lb, the Skatro promise is to outperform any leading penny brand whilst being available at a fraction of the cost; thousands of positive reviews assure you that this is the case. All boards come with a gold t-tool, a skater’s best friend for easy adjustments on the go, included absolutely free. Now that’s quality service!
The waffle-style tread offers excellent grip
High-quality in-house designed components produced with care
Portable, sleek and rides like a dream
Made by skaters, for skaters - so you know it’s good!
One size fits all model may not be suitable for those with bigger feet
Unlike the majority of penny boards available on the market, the Magneto Mini cruiser is beautiful and eyecatching with a deck crafted from six full plies of quality Canadian maple. The bold graphics of its stunning artistic design were made to awe and impress.
Quality gravity-cast aluminum trucks are reliable for a smooth ride, whilst wheels and bushings are cast in super-sturdy SHR polyurethane, promising a long life span. The double kicktail allows for even more trick opportunities, taking this penny above and beyond for fun and performance: manuals, ollies, aerial flips, and tick-tacking all become possible.
Distinctively different, the symmetrical tails at the front and back offer a unique, surf-style design whilst maintaining all of the performance you’d expect from a standard board. 27.5inches in length with an 18-inch wheelbase, the Magneto is perfect for every day skating and commuting, a go-to for those who want both fun and portability.
Quirky, inimitable design - you’ll never lose this board!
Lightweight despite wooden deck at only 6lb
Ready-assembled right out of the box
Excellent for beginners with an easy roll and smooth carving
Wooden rather than standard plastic - may not withstand heavyweight damage
One of the cheapest boards on this list in price, but by no means in quality, the Quip from Retrospec is perfect for keen kid skaters and adults alike. It also happens to be the lightest offering we’ve picked out, at an incredibly svelte 3lb, perfect for popping in your bag or using for work commutes. Incredibly flexible polyurethane-cast wheels offer shock absorption and increase durability for an ultra-smooth gliding experience. With ABEC-7 high-speed carbon bearings for precise, lightweight skating, the components are all of the highest quality and built to last. As the company name suggests, the Quip is a retro tribute to the 70’s style street cruisers of the past, demonstrated by its injection-molded plastic deck. Choose from thirteen styles, colors, and designs for a unique board that suits any skating personality - young or old, punk or funky, there’s a style to suit you. Available in 22 or 27 inches, you can guarantee a secure, stable skate no matter your requirements. Delivered fully-assembled, this board is ready for riding right out of the box.
Excellent grip from tough waffletop deck
Two sizes to choose from
Soft but strong wheels minimize bumps and bangs
Newly redesigned with 5-inch trucks for added balance
220lb weight limit
Ideal for kids or skating novices looking to get started, the Meketec Mini Cruiser is Amazon’s choice for the best penny alternative. At 22 inches and weighing a tiny 3.8lb, the bendy polypropylene deck has smooth, soft casting for a stable, sturdy ride. The plastic deck, high-quality aluminum trucks, and durable wheels are built to withstand any and all damage, making it the standout choice for children or the clumsier folks among us. Cheap to buy and replace, you won’t have to grit your teeth every time the board nearly ends up under a car, because chances are, it will come out unscathed! More than twenty bold and vibrant designs are available to choose from, with matching wheels for each individual style. It’s not just the deck that will help you stand out from the crowd! Meketec ensures that this board has been CE-certified, so parents can rest easy knowing it is safe to ride for beginners and experts alike.
- Great for kids and skating novices
- A huge range of designs with matching wheels
- The most economically friendly board listed
- Designed to take a beating
- Only available in a 22-inch size
Best Cheap Penny Alternatives Buying Guide
You’ve seen our top five choices and you’re ready to get out and skate, but you’re still not sure which model to go for? Luckily for you, we’ve listed the biggest factors to keep in mind when choosing the penny that’s perfect for you, to make it just that little bit easier.
Penny boards typically come in three sizes: twenty-two inches, twenty-seven inches and thirty-six inches; each comes under the category of ‘penny’ as they are all smaller than a typical board. The smallest of the bunch, 22, is closest to the original penny and our pick for thrill-seekers who prioritize speed. Those who prefer a little more surface area should go for a 27, with all the same wonderful features as its smaller counterpart with just a little more stability. Built for cruising, if you start out practicing to carve quickly on a penny, you’ll no doubt be able to transfer your skills to basically any other board - adjusting your stance to suit the deck size, of course.
It might seem impressive to have some really huge wheels on your penny, as many people believe the bigger they are, the faster you’ll go. In most cases that would be correct, but with boarding, it actually leads to ‘wheel bite’, which is incredibly dangerous. When the top of the wheel is too big, it will grind against the deck when you’re in transit, which can damage both parts as well as cause serious injury to the rider.
You might be asking yourself: is it worth the potential drop in quality to pick up a penny alternative for less? Many would advocate for picking up a cheaper model, especially in a sport as rough and tumble as skateboards can be. Your board is sure to see a lot of damage if you’re going to use it a lot and, particularly if you’re a beginner, it would sting a lot less if you break it, as the cost to replace an off-brand penny is nowhere near as high.If you’re a parent, we highly recommend purchasing an alternative board for your child first, as accidents are sure to happen and many of these boards are arguably just as good when you consider the difference in price.
Deck, components, and materialsThe deck, or the board’s main body, is available in thousands of colors and designs, but in this case, you should put substance over style. Picking a penny with a non-slip surface that offers enough grip is a must for any skater, from beginner to pro.
The components, everything else that the board is comprised of, should be made from the highest quality materials. You can pick up each individual part separately should you find yourself needing to replace them, but it’s important to check product reviews to make sure other customers are happy with the board’s longevity.All of the best penny boards are made from high-quality plastic - stiff enough to withstand all of the damage that comes with boarding, but flexible enough to allow for quick and easy movement. However, the trucks, or the T-shaped pieces that attach and support the wheels and bearings, should always be made of durable metal.
If you’re looking for a board to learn some radical tricks on, the penny can satisfy those needs, but only to a certain extent. Eager newbies can learn pushing, riding switch, power slides, manual, layback carves, kick turns, and how to roll off a curb - all of these are possible on a penny.Unfortunately, these mini boards are not built for performing the more rigorous and advanced tricks; any fancy footwork that involves leaving the ground is going to be difficult as a result of their dinkier nature. You might see videos online of more seasoned skaters performing kickflips and other aerial tricks on a penny, but chances are, they started out learning on a bigger board first.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I get a penny board or a skateboard?
The eternal question! It entirely depends on what you intend to use your new board for.
Where penny boards are smaller, highly portable, and ideal for commuting, a good quality board will come at a higher cost than the average wooden kind. Whilst full-sized skateboards are perfect for doing tricks of all difficulty levels, the penny is only suited to non-aerial action, so if you’re hoping to be the next Tony Hawk, a skateboard is probably for the best.The deck of a penny board is made from plastic, which means the huge variety of designs and colors available make it popular with kids and teenagers. It also results in an incredibly flexible product that is able to withstand the full weight of a car by bending out and back into shape. Skateboard decks are usually wooden, which limits the opportunities for customization and makes them more susceptible to damage. This does, however, mean they are more cost-effective and cheaper to replace when they inevitably bite the dust!
Which is the best penny board for beginners?
The best penny for a new skater is probably the 27-inch or 32-inch variety: maintaining the svelte stature in comparison to full-sized boards, whilst offering more of a platform with a larger deck. Opting for any sized penny is best for beginners because they promote much more stability when traveling at high speeds. An angled axel and center of gravity also means they are less prone to wobbles, therefore promoting fewer accidents!
Skating is a sport that necessitates a lot of falling, so it is important to make sure that, regardless of the penny you choose, helmets and pads are worn at all times. Learning how to fall safely might sound counter-productive, but it is a practice that all pro-skaters recommend!
Are penny boards harder to ride?
Whilst they aren’t harder to ride in general, it is said to be more difficult to learn to skate from the beginning if you start out on a penny. If you’ve never skated before, pick up one of the bigger models to make life easier, or consider trying out a full-sized wooden board first. Skating on a penny is much easier if you already know what you’re doing!
Are cheap penny boards as good?
The differences between an official Penny board from Australia and the alternatives available on the market are usually minimal, provided you pick one up from a reputable seller. Only the most experienced riders would be able to notice where they might fall short in comparison, so if you don’t intend to ride professionally, we wouldn’t worry too much about it.
Why do skaters hate penny boards?
It’s probably a slight exaggeration to suggest that all skaters hate penny boards! However, there are some reasons that they tend to get looked down on from the wider skating community. Namely, whether it’s a penny board, a longboard… anything that isn’t a full-sized, standard popsicle stick board, then some pretentious skaters don’t want to hear about it. If it isn’t the original, then the seasoned veterans will find something to dislike about it. Don’t worry too much about what other people think - if you think you’ll have fun on a penny, go ahead and try it!