Whether this is your first journey into the world of skating or you’ve been riding as long as you’ve been walking, it’s important to be aware of how your equipment can help you progress. Take a few minutes to review this guide – it will help clarify what type of skater you are and what type of gear you should buy to help improve your skills and bring you to the next level.
Your level of experience is an important indicator of the type of skateboard you should consider. Here is a very generalized grouping of ability levels:
You haven’t spent too much time on a skateboard yet, but you’re ready to buy a board and work on the basics. You’re starting to become more comfortable pushing off with your foot and balancing atop your board as you ride, but you still have a ways to go before you’re ready to try anything more technical.
You’re comfortable on your skate by now and have begun to work on some more technical moves. Whether it’s dropping in on a ramp or learning how to ollie, your goal is to master the basic skills that lay the foundation for harder tricks down the line.
If you’re an expert skater, you probably already know it. You’ve moved beyond the foundational skills and now focus on the bigger, badder tricks. Whether you’re in the park, the pipe, a pool or on the open road, you’ll find a way to take on the terrain and show it who’s boss.
Skaters can be divided into groups based on the type of terrain they ride, although most skaters find that they fall into more than just one category. Skateboards, wheels and trucks are often designed for use on certain surfaces and for different types of tricks. Here is a list of skating styles to help you pick out the proper equipment based on the type of riding you do.
Vert skaters ride ramps and other vertical structures, catching air and performing grabs and spin tricks. Riders need to find a skate park with vert features (not very common) or build the ramps themselves, making this style of skating generally less accessible than street riding. Vert tricks are about big air, lots of rotation and sick style.
It’s much easier to find a street skating venue than a vert ramp – just look around! This style of skateboarding utilizes almost every aspect of the urban landscape, including curbs, handrails, benches and stairs. These features are often replicated in skate parks, offering riders a chance to grind to their heart’s delight without damaging anybody’s property. Most street tricks, such as nosegrinds, 50-50s and kickflips, are technical and precise, requiring a lot of practice and patience to learn.
Most people will fall into this category. You’re an all-around skater if you enjoy the adrenaline rush of throwing a huge trick off a buddy’s backyard ramp, but just can’t sleep until you’ve nailed that half-cab kickflip you’ve been wrestling with all week. Essentially, you skate vert and street – whatever you can find. All-around riders enjoy the feel and challenge of living life on a skateboard and any terrain is fair game.
Longboarding is very different from the skating styles listed above. The design of these boards allows for a more fluid ride, with skaters making wide turns that resemble the movement of surfing or freeride snowboarding. Longboards are great for use as transportation or to simply cruise around, but they are not made to perform the tricks typical of the vert or street skating scenes.
Your size is going to be part of all skating purchase decisions. Regardless of the type of board – long or short – there are certain features that are tuned to address the weight you’ll be putting on it. The width, length and shape of every board is designed to meet the needs of a certain category of rider, body size included, so be aware of the manufacturer’s intentions when purchasing a new skateboard and get the one that suits you the best.
Complete skateboards come with a gripped deck, trucks, wheels, bearings and all necessary hardware. These assembled boards range in price from around $75 to over $125, depending on the quality of the individual components. (Longboards are more expensive, running anywhere between $100 and $300 for a complete.)