If you’re stoked about buying your first skateboard, then congratulations!
Not because you’re buying a skateboard, but because you are breaking the norm. In a day and age when thousands and millions choose to go for a cricket bat or a football (which are cool in their own way), you’ve decided to take up something different. Something that floats your boAt and lets you fly...if only for a few jaw-dropping seconds.
And we have mad respect for that!
But before you get used to landing with a thud, doing crazy 360s, and putting on a show as part of the booming skateboarding gangs of India, you must get your drip right. And by drip, we mean the skateboard (of course, you’re stylish enough to rock the skateboarder look, aren’t you?).
Part of the joys of the sport is the simplicity of needing just one good-looking, air-bending piece of equipment. Your skateboard – a wooden deck with trucks and wheels and one hell of graffiti – will make or break the sport for you. So, choosing the right one is super important.
We know you’re anxious about getting it right before you boardslide your way into the arena. So, we reached out to our resident boAthead skate-o-maniacs, and these are the tips they gave us:
Do your K.Y.D before the purchase
Yeah, just like banks have a KYC process, it always pays to complete your KYD before buying your first skateboard. Relax! We’re not talking about documents here - just ‘Know Your Deck’! Often, you would want to buy the flashiest one with an uber cool graphic underneath, but what’s a good-looking skateboard gonna do if it’s bad quality. Hence, it’s vital to equip yourself with information on the various parts of your skateboard.
Here’s a quick skateboard anatomy primer for all our boAtheads.
- The Deck – It is the wooden board on which you stand. Needless to say, it must be very sturdy and adequately sized. Most good quality decks are crafted from seven piles of maple wood that are glued and pressed together. The shape of the deck is also vital and it comes in many varieties. With a duo directional popsicle shape, you have the freedom to perform tricks both moving forward and backward.
- The Truck – The T-shaped metal parts attached to the bottom of the deck. These trucks provide the attachment for wheels, and therefore are what allow you to transfer your movement to the motion of the skateboard. Again, trucks can either be narrow or wide – so choose wisely. The better the truck, the better your manoeuvrability.
- The Wheels – These are obviously the wheels made of urethane – a special polymer – that help you roll along the surface. The hardness of the wheel is an important factor to consider. The harder they are, the easier you will slide – which is ideal for beginners. As for beginner wheel size, anything between 52 to 55 mm in diameter is a good place to start at.
- The Ball Bearings – These are what reduce energy loss due to friction caused by the wheel rotation. While there are super smooth, more expensive bearings out there in the market like Swiss-engineered ones, you should start out with the standard ones and maybe upgrade later.
What we’ve told you here is just scratching the surface. Our next point will tell you where to go to get up, close and personal with everything ‘skateboards’.
Always visit a skate shop
Phew! You’ve already seen how there’s a lot to learn about various skateboard parts and how they matter. Which is why visiting a skate shop before your first purchase is the best thing you can do, instead of ordering a skateboard randomly online! Not only will you meet some of the coolest people who will guide you around, but you can also try a few skateboards and amaze yourself with the drip and merch on display.
Stability over style – always
At the end of the day, skateboarding is all about discovering your balance. Before you learn to soar, you must learn to glide. And glide you will, only if you purchase the most stable skateboard for you. While many recommend buying a skateboard size based off shoe size, it is important to try many decks out and find your footing. Maybe your friend owns one on which you can practice, or maybe you can head out for a day at a local skate park. For beginners, we would recommend going for an 8.5-inch deck, as a wider deck equals more stability. Remember, your first skateboard is to master the basics.
Go for completes
While searching for skateboards to buy, you must have come across the word ‘Complete’. Well, that simply tells you that it is a pre-assembled skateboard. As you hone the craft, you will be more and more interested about modifying your skateboard and assembling a custom one as per your needs...just like with a gaming rig. But for starters, skip all that and get a pre-built. That will save you a lot of time and frustration.
Say NO to plastic
Ummm, no. Don’t buy a plastic skateboard you just saw at a local store. These might look flashy and come cheap, but they are more toys than sports equipment. Plastic skateboards are flimsy and not ideal to learn skateboarding on anyway.
Don’t forget your armour (and some drip!)
Last but not the least, get protective gear. We cannot emphasise on this enough. Just like learning to ride a bicycle or bike, there’s a big learning curve filled with falls and bruises when it comes to skateboarding. So, get a helmet, knee pads, arm pads, etc. before you get to the serious business.
And with that, you are now ready to roll! Kudos for deciding to hustle your way into India’s thriving skateboarding sub-culture. We promise it will be life-changing! Have fun, and don’t forget to add to the drip with your fav audiowear round your neck or over your ears!