Buying a Beginner Skateboard: A Complete Guide to Set-Ups

I get a lot of questions about equipment so thought I would make life easier for everyone with a guide to buying skateboards.  

Buying someone’s first skateboard can be tricky. You want to get one that’s good quality but won’t break the bank. I’ve picked some possible completes with both budget and quality in mind.

If you’d like a ballpark figure then I would say you have to spend about £40+ to get a skateboard that isn’t going to be terrible but read on if you’d like some more detail on brands and boards that might be right for you. 

In my book, I run through each component of a skateboard and what you need to consider when purchasing it. The cheapest and easiest way to do it is to buy all the parts together, these are known as ‘completes’ or ‘set-ups’. And to the joy of consumers, if you Google ‘complete skateboards’ you’re spoilt for choice! So much so that you may find yourself scrolling for days without making a decision. 

So let me lend you a hand and run through some of the most common options you’ll find adorning the pages of online retailers and the racks of brick-and-mortar skate shops (which I would encourage you to support 😊). 

Before we jump in, I’d like to state the blatantly obvious: you get what you pay for. If you buy someone a crap skateboard, it’ll be so difficult to ride that it will most likely put them off skating for life and that will be the only board you ever buy. 

What Size and shape? 

Before we get into brands a quick note on sizes. 

Board sizes vary from about 7” to 9” but can be larger. This size refers to the width. 

If your child is aged 3-6 then you can get a 7” – 7.75”. If it’s referred to as a “mini complete” then it will also be slightly shorter in length which can help those with little legs. 

From ages 7+ I would recommend getting a normal-sized board, anything from 7.75” – 8.25” will work fine. 

Once they have skated a bit they’ll start to develop a preference for a certain width that will depend on what tricks they prefer doing but to begin with it’s not that important. 

In terms of shape, it’s best to start with the classic “popsicle” shape for a first skateboard and then decide if you want something a bit more outlandish once you’ve found your feet. 

My Picks

Will do the job: Mini Logo

Mini Logo sell completes with blank decks – this means the board doesn’t have a fancy graphic on it, just a little (mini) logo. This means they can produce them at a lower price but maintain quality, it’s a pretty good deal. 

I’ve read of when board/distribution companies haven’t sold their decks to shops if they carried blank decks so they don’t have to compete with them.

I’m also under the impression that Mini Logo is owned by Powell Peralta, although they don’t use their name anymore. My first ever proper board was a Powell Mini Logo so I’ve definitely got a soft spot for them. 

In terms of hardware, the trucks do the job. I’ve somehow managed to break the baseplate (the bit that screws into the board) of a pair before but it took some real effort. I’ve worked at a skate school that has some of these and, although I think the geometry of the trucks is a bit off and could turn better, they’d be fine for a beginner.

My verdict: If you’re a beginner and you’re not bothered about a snazzy graphic then this will do the job. Some of the brands below offer something at a similar price with a range of graphics though. They’re all average and will do for a beginner but aren’t ideal.

Brands with products of a similar standard: 

  • Venom – the fab ice lolly graphic is a fave 😋
  • Enuff 
  • Fracture 

The nostalgia pick: Blueprint 

There are plenty of brands that have come and gone over the years. Some fade into obscurity and some get randomly bought up and rebooted. Blueprint seems to be one of the brands that’s been given a new lease of life, this time as a brand offering budget completes.

I’ve seen a few of these setups and they seem to be of a pretty good standard with all the individual parts passing the check. I had quite a few of these spray heart decks back in the day and have fond memories of time spent on my Danny Brady Blackpool pro deck model.

If you’d like to get a true sense of the levels of nostalgia then check out Blueprint’s video Lost and Found. It truly is a work of art. 

My verdict: I’m not sure whose idea it was to reboot Blueprint but I wish you all the best. Your completes are relatively cheap and suitable for beginners. You pass the check. 

Other similar brands: 

Enjoi – R.I.P. 😢

Cliche

Globe

Potential bargain: Second-hand

Facebook Marketplace and eBay are sometimes the hiding places for seriously bargainous second-hand skateboards. Unfortunately, there are also lots of people selling some absolute crap on there – skateboards that they couldn’t pay me to take when they’re new, let alone once they’ve been ridden in the rain and left in a shed for three years. 

Truth be told, a kid’s first skateboard will last them quite a while a a good quality second-hand setup could go for years before anything needs replacing (most likely the deck). When you buy a used complete you could get something that cost £100+ brand new so it’s worth having a browse. 

If you know what you’re looking for then you can save some serious bucks. If you don’t then you might get ripped off. So here’s a little offer for you. 

If you send me a photo of a skateboard on Facebook Marketplace then I will tell you if it’s worth getting. I will respond in one of three ways: 

👍- It’s good, go for it! 

👎- It’s bad, don’t buy it. 

💰- too expensive, make a lower offer.

Drop me a message on Instagram or Facebook and I’ll try to get back to you as soon as possible. 

My verdict: TBC

All about the trucks: Route One

One of the things that I always find annoying about low-end skateboards is the trucks. They either have bushings (the little rubber bits) that are too hard or the way they turn isn’t quite right for me. Admittedly, I am a bit picky but I know what I like. 

One way to make sure your trucks turn the way people like them to turn is by copying the design of one of the most commercially successful trucks on the market, independent trucks. And, this is exactly what Route One have done with their higher-priced own-brand skateboard. 

My verdict: The deck shape and concave are decent, the wheels and bearings do the job, but, most importantly, the trucks turn exactly the way I like them to. That’s the main reason we’ve got them at The Skate Club.

The pricier option

In any shop or website, there will be a more expensive complete with a deck from one of the more established skateboarding brands. These will usually cost between £70-£100 and while they will be a good quality skateboard I don’t think they’ll be the best value. 

Usually, these skateboards will have the same wheels, trucks and bearings that you’ll find on a complete in my “Will do the job” category (often Mini Logo, Venom or Enuff). This means the extra money you’re paying is just for the branded board. It may be slightly better quality but this will most likely be lost on someone who hasn’t spent much time skateboarding. 

Having said that, you can pick up a bargain in the sales so have a browse around for something at a good price. If something is reduced from £120 to £40 then you’re most likely getting a good deal. 

When I was a kid I was desperate for a Toy Machine deck and it would have made me very happy to get one (I never did). So if you’ve got a child that knows his brands then you might consider paying that bit extra. 

My verdict: If whoever you’re buying for would like a deck from a specific brand then go for it but there are much better deals for very similar levels of quality. 

Big brands commonly in completes: 

– Krooked 

– Primitive 

– Element 

– Jart 

– Santa Cruz 

– Creature 

– Birdhouse 

By far the coolest: Blast’s My First Skateboard 

This one differs significantly from the others but I had to include it. Made by UK company Blast Skates, this shaped skateboard comes in the most amazing packaging with some instructions for putting the separate components of the skateboard together. Don’t worry, it also comes with a tool! 

Although it’s wide, this board is much shorter than your average board at only 26” so it’s perfect for the littlest beginners. It even comes with a space between the two gripped patches for the owner to write their name, so cute! 

This one brings back real memories for me because the first skateboard I ever rode was my brother’s and it was a yellow fish board with two patches of grip, just like this. I accidentally left it up the road where we used to play and it got nicked. Sorry bro! 

Although this one is the coolest, it is by far the most expensive too, retailing at £125. But you know with Blast that you’ll be getting the best possible quality and it’s always nice to know you’re supporting a British company. 

My verdict: If you’re buying for a little skateboarder and you’ve got the money then you might not be able to resist getting this! 

Don’t get caught out: Tony Hawk Series

Tony Hawk is a certified skateboarding legend and his name is universally recognised so it makes total sense to have his name plastered over skateboards that parents will buy for their kids. It’s important to point out that these boards are available at two price points, a cheap one and a cheaper one. 

Cheapest Tony: “SS 180”

I’ve really tried to find something positive about this one but each component is subpar. Let’s start with the deck. A key feature of boards is their concave, it’s not just a flat piece of wood but is raised around the edges and at the tail and nose, this allows you to grip and manoeuvre the board more easily. I’m not sure how this has happened but they don’t even appear to have any concave whatsoever. I don’t know how a board that was pressed like this was allowed to leave the factory. 

The trucks are made poorly and have rock-hard bushings which make it difficult for small people to turn even once the trucks are loosened. The wheels are just as bad; they’re made of cheap plastic which, combined with terrible bearings, means a top speed of 1-2mph (probably). 

Someone once said to me skateboards that roll slowly due to poor-quality parts can be useful for beginners as they won’t go too fast but I strongly disagree. Kids find it hard to push at a good pace so they should learn to use a skateboard that rolls at the standard speed or they’ll struggle. 

My verdict: Tony, I think you owe us an apology. You’ve given a lot to skateboarding but you’ve put your name on a poor-quality product. Bad Tony!

Cheap Tony: “SS 360” 

The higher price point deck of the Hawk series is an improvement on the first one, and you would hope so. 

The deck is made to an acceptable standard with materials and a production process that has resulted in a board that will do what it needs to do. 

We can also see a marked improvement in the undercarriage. The trucks are made to a much higher standard but the bushings still make it tricky for lighter skaters to turn easily, not ideal but a cheap fix.

The wheels are made of proper polyurethane and have some decent bearings inside them so they actually roll without the rider having to push every two metres.

Verdict: Admittedly this is a significant improvement on the cheap one and won’t frustrate its user. But I’m still a bit annoyed that Tony put his name to something terrible so I won’t be recommending this out of principle. 

EDIT: I’ve just found out there’s an SS 540 which should, in theory, be less bad. I’m yet to see one in the wild so can’t attest to its quality.

The awful ones

There are a few brands that consistently produce terrible skateboards. The wheels and bearings might make it hard to roll, the trucks might not turn properly or the deck could be poorly manufactured with low-quality materials. 

Whatever the issue, some companies don’t make quality skateboards, they sell rubbish products that people are fooled into buying because they’re cheap, please don’t fall for it! 

Avoid these brands like the plague: 

United Skates 

No Fear 

Airwalk – how the mighty have fallen 😵

Osprey

Rampage

Decathlon/Oxelo

Anything in Argos 

I hope that you or the person you’re buying a skateboard for absolutely loves it! You’re potentially about to embark on a lifelong journey so buckle up.

You may also want to consider purchasing the perfect accompaniment to your first skateboard, my book entitled “How to Train Your Skateboard“. It goes through everything a beginner skateboarder might need to know from what to wear, where to skate and some basic skills and tricks to get you going.

If you’re not into reading and are more of a hands-on learner then don’t worry, I’ve also got you covered as I offer skateboarding lessons. I do lessons for different ages and abilities, in groups or privately so have a look for something that works for you.

If you like what I do then be sure to give me a follow on Instagram or Facebook and sign up to my free e-zine, The Flipside.

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