Read these 22 Skateboard Parts Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Skate Board tips and hundreds of other topics.
Skateboard wheels come in so many beautiful colors, it makes it hard to choose your skateboard wheels. If you like to mix function with fashion, then go ahead and try those colored wheels. But there are some avid skateboarders who swear that the most durable skateboard wheels are the transparent ones. Here's why. Pure polyurethane is clear and transparent, but to get those beautiful colors, the polyurethane is mixed with dyes and plastics that may affect how long the wheels last. Others say that the pure polyurethane, clear wheels grip too much.
Don't let common dirt and dust get in the way of an awesome skateboard day. Clean off mud and dirt with a simple damp rag, and use a soft bristle brush, if necessary. And check on your bearings. Usually, when they're dusty, you can hear it. Dirty bearings will add friction to your ride.
Lots of people get confused over the difference between sealed bearings and shielded bearings. All skateboard bearings have shields on at least one side. Some are double-shielded. Sealed bearings have a shield made of metal and a coating over them. The seal protects the bearings from dirt, moisture and road salt. While shielded bearings have the benefit of producing no friction, there is a tiny amount of open space where dirt and moisture can enter. The choice is yours.
If you've been riding on your wheels for some time, take a good look at them. You might find that one side has become more worn than the others. This is a result of regular wear and tear. Just rotate your wheels. The more often you rotate, the longer they will last. It's the same principle as for a car.
Tuning your skateboard will greatly help you control the kind of ride you want. There's no right or wrong way to do this – it's all personal preference, and a little experimentation will help you learn what's best for you. Tuning your board involves tightening or loosening the various parts. All trucks use either a 1/2” socket head and a star screwdriver or an allen wrench. You might already have these common tools in the garage. If not, they are easy to find and inexpensive too.
Skateboard trucks are basically the axles of your board. They hold the wheels on the board, and allow you to turn. The four parts of the truck are the hangar, kingpin, bushing and the base plate. Trucks can be adjusted to be loose or tight, depending on individual preference. Lots of skateboarders agree that for doing tricks, a tighter truck make balance easier.
Experienced skateboarders sometimes cut patterns and shapes into their grip tape before applying it to their boards. This not only serves to make their boards more uniquely individual, but has some practical use as well. The pattern lets them quickly discern the nose from the tail of their skateboard.
The inside of your bearings contain small steel balls that will cause friction when not clean. So every once in a while, your skateboard bearings will require cleaning to fee them from the dust and dirt that build up both on the inside and out. This will keep your skateboard rolling fast and you'll find you won't have to push as hard, making your time on your skateboard much more enjoyable.
The hardness of your skateboard wheels is measured in durometers, and it is one of two main considerations to think about when making your purchase. Most wheels are one durometer, but there are also dual durometer wheel, which have a harder center and a softer outer riding surface. Generally a softer wheel is better for the street and harder wheels are better for ramps and skate parks.
Risers are used to give you more clearance between the bottom of your board and the surface of the wheel. They are the only skateboard part that is optional. Sold in pairs, they range from 1/8” to 1/2” thick and help to prevent wheelbite. Wheelbite can occur from putting too much of your weight on one side of the board, causing the deck to touch a wheel and stop its rotation.
Go into any skate shop and you'll turn green with envy at the array of wheels to choose from. The colors and graphics are astounding, but don't let them distract you from thinking about what's best for your ride. Skateboard wheels are made out of urethane, and each company has a different urethane formula, giving them a different ride or wear. For best consistency, stick with a reputable company for wheels.
There is much debate over whether grease or oil make a better lubricant. But like many things in life, better is a subjective word. And what works better for one person, isn't always the case for another. Racers consider oil or a synthetic lubricant better for speed. But, its viscosity breaks down faster. You have to lube more often to keep up on its lubricating ability. Grease has the added benefit of protecting the surface of your ball bearings in addition to lubrication, so your bearings will need to be cleaned less often. Because the grease is thicker than oil, it does make the bearing a tiny bit slower.
If you take a hard fall, or in the words of the game, if you take a harsh bail, and your deck chips, the sooner you take care of it the better. Use an electric sander to sand down the chip until its gone or close to gone. If left unchecked, the chip will get worse, and you'll find yourself needing a new deck sooner than you anticipated.
Deck size is determined by individual need and desire. Most skateboards fall within the width range of 7.5 to 8 inches. And there are some that are slightly smaller or slightly larger. Smaller boards are easier to control and do flip tricks with on the road. Wider boards are easier to manipulate in a pool.
You may notice that some skateboard bearings have an ABEC rating that refers to the bearings precision. The rating was developed not for skateboards, but for machines, so many manufacturers don't even bother with the ABEC rating. The ABEC numbers range from 1-9 using odd numbers only. An ideal rating for skateboards is between 3 and 5.
Your choice of skateboard wheels will be dictated by the type of riding you do. Do you ride in the street, in a pool or indoor skate park, a vertical ramp? There is no one wheel that works well on all surfaces, so if you ride in a variety of places, why not have multiple pairs of wheels?
Uneven wear in your skateboard wheels can be a cause of performance loss, so check your wheels regularly. Wheels that have developed flat spots or have become smaller than the other wheels can decrease your speed. Polyurethane, over time will begin to discolor too, but that doesn't seem to affect their performance in the least.
The deck is the flat part of the skateboard – the part you stand on. So naturally it is the most important part of your set up. Different decks are best for different types of skateboarding, so the one that's best is the one that accomplishes what gives you the most pleasure.
Ask around to find which one ollies the highest or slides the best. Durability is also an important issue. You don't want to be replacing that deck too often.
Skateboard bearings are made of small metal rings that fit inside your wheels. And because even normal skateboard use is abusive to any bearings, you want to look for durability along with precision. But perversely enough, the more precise the bearing, the more delicate they are. So, if you do a lot of jumping with your skateboard, you may want to err on the side of strength.
Grip tape is the sand paper-like substance that is applied to the top of a skateboard deck. And, applying grip tape is the first step in skateboard assembly. It is sold by the sheet, and one sheet is all you need. There are lots of choices, when it comes to grip tape, but most skateboarders agree that there's not much difference between them.
Your deck's shape is highly personalized. Each manufacturer has their own philosophy, and it's largely based on feel. But the two basic shapes of your board are its concave and its plan form. The concaves are the curves that are in the board itself, and the plan form is its outline shape. A good shape is what feels good to your foot.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|