An Introduction to Skateboards

I did a project at school that was designed for skateboarding for beginners, which included how to learn the basic tricks (e.g. ollie, pop shuvit and foot stomp) and how to put one together. A few people told me they found the section on the various parts (of a skateboard) quite interesting so I decided to share a summary of those here. So here are the basic parts of a skateboard.

The Deck

Also known as the board, this is the part of the skateboard that you stand on while riding it. It is usually made from a number of layers of maple wood which is known for its strength and durability. The front of the deck (as you are riding it) is known as the nose and the rear is known as the tail. The tail is often a little smaller than the nose and a little bit lower to the ground.

Decks come in different sizes and are measured by their width from side to side (as opposed to nose to tail). Sizes typically range from 7” to 9” with beginners usually choosing an 8” deck. Larger decks are easier to ride and control but can be harder for some tricks (e.g. kickflips). Decks also have small holes in them to help with attaching the trucks (below).

Decks are usually decorated with artwork on the underside, where the bit you stand on is always covered in what’s called grip tape. The artwork (on the underside) has no bearing on the performance of the skateboard but is usually something that people are most interested in when they see one for the first time.

The Trucks

The trucks connect the wheels to the deck. Inside the truck are things called bushings and these are the part of the skateboard that allows it to turn as the rider leans from side to side. Trucks are usually made from aluminium and the bushings are made from what looks like rubber but which is actually polyurethane. The wheels (below) are made from the same material.

The trucks are measured by size, which is how far they are from side to side. Sizes range from 5” to 9” and a typical size for beginners is 7.5”.

The Wheels

The wheels are also made from polyurethane and contain bearings on the inside, which allow them to spin. These bearings are very similar to those used in bicycle and scooter wheels. There are two different ways that wheels are measured – their diameter and their hardness.

When measured by diameter, sizes typically range from 48mm to 60mm with typical diameters used by beginners being 52mm – 54mm. The hardness of wheels tends to refer to the amount of grip and impact (or amount of shock) they can absorb. Most wheel manufacturers use the Durometer A Scale to define the hardness of their wheels, with wheels in the range of 75a-90a considered to be soft, 90a-98a being medium and anything above that being considered hard.

The Grip Tape

The grip tape is stuck to the top of the deck so there is something for your feet to grip to while controlling the skateboard. While it looks like sandpaper, it is actually made from a mixture of Silicon Carbide and Aluminium Oxide, which gives it its rough, but durable and grippy, texture.

Many skateboarding companies are now selling lots of grip tapes with different designs and colours on them, some of which are very artistic. I guess this is because the normal artistic elements of a skateboard (e.g. the underside of the deck) is normally hidden from view, so it’s probably a popular idea to have more of the artistry visible.