Skateboarders come in all shapes and sizes and, of course, they progress through different skill levels. Some consider themselves transition skaters favoring pool bowls, ramps and DIY spots. Some prefer more authentic street terrain, seeking out gaps, ledges and rails. Others prefer the speed and the rush of downhill longboard. Hit a college campus and you'll see a lot of cruisers - larger than a standard skateboard but not a full longboard; less about tricks or speed and more about easy, affordable transportation. Many skaters do a little of everything.
This skateboarding buyer's guide will help connect the dots between the type of skater you are and the equipment that is going to make it easier for you to improve your skills and bring your skateboarding to the next level. Beginner skateboarders often start with a "complete" set up, where all the components are pre-selected and assembled. You can check out our selection of skateboard completes, cruiser completes and longboard completes.
Over time every skateboarder develops preferences. Favorite shapes, favorite sizes and favorite brands. Building your own custom ride is all part of the fun. When you're ready to dig into the individual components, be sure to check out our helpful guides:
Choosing A Skateboard Deck
Choosing Skateboard Trucks
Choosing Skateboarding Wheels
Choosing Skateboard Bearings
When you've got all mastered - or you're just ready to go for it - we make it easy to build your perfect new set up with the Tactics Skateboard Builder tool. First, let's figure out where you're at with skateboarding and determine what products are going to best meet your needs.
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. Recommendation: Start with an affordable complete skateboard, cruiser or longboard.
You’re comfortable on your skateboard by now and have begun to work on 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. Recommendation: You're starting to get it dialed. Take some chances with different trucks or wheels and see how those impact your skating. If you need some advice, give us a call or hit us up on chat - nearly everyone on our crew skates every day and has tried a lot of the stuff we sell.
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 your favorite skate spots, you find a way to take on the terrain and show it who’s boss. Recommendation: Our Skateboard Builder let's you customize your perfect set-up right down to the exact hardware, bearings and grip you demand.
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 (also commonly called Pool and Bowl skaters) ride ramps and other vertical structures, catching air and performing grabs and spin tricks. This type of rider looks to find a skate park with a variety transition features, empty pools (uncommon but awesome) or they DIY ramps themselves. Vert tricks are about big air, high speed, and sick style. Transition skaters usually prefer a wider skateboard deck size to feel stable at higher speeds. Recommendation: Often, you'll find vert skaters on boards with unique nose and tail shapes to add a little more style to their riding. Check out brands like Welcome, Black Label, and Anit-Hero for wider and uniquely shaped decks.
STREET & TECHNICAL
It’s much easier to find a street skating venue than a vert ramp – just look around, get creative and skate everything! Street style utilizes almost every aspect of the urban landscape, including curbs, handrails, benches, stairs, fire hydrants, dumpsters...like we said, get creative. These features are sometimes replicated in skate parks, offering riders a chance to grind to their heart’s delight without damaging anyone’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. Recommendation: Trick-minded street skaters usually prefer a standard "popsicle" shaped skateboard with a rounded nose and tail. The round shape helps the board flip more naturally in the air during technical flip tricks. Take a look at our massive selection of standard decks and find a deck that suits your style.
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 transition 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. They also enjoy the freedom of riding whatever style of board they choose. Recommendation: Start with a standard shaped skateboard that's versatile and expand your board and hardware preferences as your skills progress.
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, bombing down hills or to simply cruise around town, but they're not designed to perform the tricks typical of transition or street skating. Longboards come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Recommendation: Spend some time with our guides for longboarding. Once you've got a handle on what types of riding you'll do most often, check out our selection of longboard decks and longboard completes. If you have any questions, reach out to us. Tactics longboarding experts will steer you in the right direction.
RIDER HEIGHT & WEIGHT
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 $65 to over $125, depending on the quality of the individual components. Larger longboards are a bit more expensive, running anywhere between $100 and $300 for a complete.
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