Help a skateboarder understand skateboards
January 15, 2012 6:05 PM   Subscribe

Please explain skateboards to me. Decks, bearings, trucks, bushings, wheels. Hardness, softness, size, other attributes, etc.

As if I have a really good knowledge of skateboarding, but only a very basic knowledge of the fact that these material things about it even exist (because I was able to ask this question), but no idea about what any of them are or do. I'm interested specifically in getting to know these things on the type of level level where I can make choices as to which ones are right for me for the specific kind(s) of skating I want to do. I am talking longboard and shortboard. Please teach me! Please include maintenance of these items as well. Thank you.
posted by jitterbug perfume to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would really suggest that you visit the nearest skateboard shop and ask this question. Folks are usually happy to talk about the sport they love. You might also want to hang out at a skatepark and just talk to people.

I suspect that the scope of your question here might make it difficult for folks to provide comprehensive answers.
posted by HuronBob at 6:19 PM on January 15, 2012

Yeah, echoing the above. What do you need to know, specifically? What are you using now and why aren't you happy with it?

"Teach me everything there is to know about skateboards" isn't really what AskMe is good at.
posted by cosmologinaut at 6:38 PM on January 15, 2012

To get to the bare bones of what I actually need to know right now, let me lay out my situation. There are a lot of boards involved because I was victim of a shitton of theft recently and my boards had to be replaced, so please no comments about how I don't deserve these boards if I know so little about them, or anything. It's just that I've never had to put my own boards together before. I am very much an experienced skater, but again, have always bought completes. Decided not to this time. So let me rephrase:

I need to know what the best wheels would be for my shortboard, deck of which is 32 x 8, if I want to make it into a good street AND medium-sized ramp board, like for a little backyard-style skate "park"? I have gotten Independent Stage 10 Skateboard Trucks, size 129, to get me closer to the ground for flip tricks and stuff, but I need still need to be able to get enough speed to go up half-pipes and quarter-pipes. What kind of wheels would be best for this situation? Can you explain how you came to your conclusion, so that I may understand how to figure out what wheels I need in the future (teach a man to fish...), on my own, based on the circumstances involved? Same with the trucks if you have an opinion on them. Or deck. Is this change to my board going to make it not a good "go-to" board for general skating and more "specialized", or will it still be versatile? If not, what do you suggest as a versatile board to go along with this one?

Then I have another board which is a new Roggs Rumrunner. (39 3/4 x 9 5/8) This is a longboard, upon which I would like to bomb big (but not incredibly steep) hills, skid out a bunch, do skid spins, do 180s and 360s both with the board and with my body on the board, footwork tricks, ollying, mainly fun mountain cruises. Is this board all I need for my downhill longboard desires? Can you please explain your answer? Do I need gloves for these things?

Another new board - The Jay Adams Complete. (29.75 inches long; 7.5 inches wide; 15.5-inch wheel base) It's obviously not a longboard, but it's an old-school style deck. What do I do with this one? What is it's main purpose? I want to shred it, whatever it's best at.

In general, how do I figure out what kind of truck and wheel I need for different circumstances? What about bushings? What... are they? Which would you use for the shortboard I'm updating? Thank you so so much for anyone who is willing to help me out with your knowledge! Trying to get a good quiver built. Sorry for the general nature of my first question, and thanks again.
posted by jitterbug perfume at 7:32 PM on January 15, 2012

My experience with the old-school complete you have is that it's a fun sort of a general daily cruiser. I have something like 70mm Cadillacs on mine and keep it under the desk in my office for coffee runs or skating the parking garage at night. It's little enough that it straps to a backpack easily. Mine is set up real loosey-goosey with soft cushioned trucks and a lot of wheel clearance to carve.

To get the most fun out of it check out how Jay Adams used to rock the Z-Flex, for real. Get low on small banks and berms and imagine you're surfing. Just think of it as your longboard shrunk in the wash.

For all your shortboard questions, are you near a shop with a ramp? That'd be my first stop probably. That way you can use their boards and see what you like best with your new deck.
posted by last night a dj saved my life at 9:11 PM on January 15, 2012

That is one huge question, not only is it huge, its really two different questions. First shot decks, then the other is long boards. I have little to add about shorter decks, but some experience playing with long boards. For the long board, first off, no, sounds too short for real bombing to me, in general the longer the board the better the bomber, the shorter the board the better for tricks while your going down. The trucks and the wheels make up the bomber, tougher wheels mean better spins and skids. Sticky wheels means better carving. Kriptonics are awesome for bombing, Bones bearings are sweet. I like sticky wheels, tight trucks, and long boards (faster runs, more control, better carving). Buck and indy make the best trucks imho, but the people above are right. Go to a shop and ask people questions while looking at the actual parts. If they are not nice and helpful, find somewhere else.

And gloves, yes gloves, and a dorky looking helmet, elbow pads, and knee pads. You might not look awesome, but I have called an ambulance for a longboarder who was missing a good portion of skin. I would rather look dorky then look like road rash.
posted by Felex at 12:33 AM on January 16, 2012

OK, I am going to take a shot at this, though I can only talk in general terms as I am a gear nerd of a quad skater, not a skateboarder, and as such I can't make skateboard-specific wheel recs etc.

In general, harder wheels : more speed : less grip. The material of the hub is also important for maintaining speed - the softer your hub, the more it will flex and the less the wheel will run true. I like aluminium hubs for speed but I don't know if you can even get those for skateboards. I have soft outdoor wheels for street skating which run about 78a hardness, these are good for absorbing bumps on the ground and are probably more the style you want for a longboard. On the rare occasion I venture to a skate park I use those or some crappy old hard wheels (90a+ or something) which hold speed better and allow me to skid out more.

(The XXa scale is referring to durometer which is a pretty useless indicator of the hardness/grip of the wheel. When it comes to grip a lot depends on the quality of the urethane and the flexibility of the hub and two wheels rated 88a may have wildly differing grip levels. Better quality urethane and softer hub materials lead to more grip.)

Tall wheels need to make less complete rotations to get you the same distance as short wheels. You'll roll for longer on a tall wheel; short wheels will supposedly be more responsive though I can't tell the difference myself.

Bushings/cushions and truck tightness:
This covers stability. I am led to believe that you always want your trucks fairly snug up against your bushings (loose trucks with hard bushings can lead to your kingpins snapping) and you should select an appropriate hardness of bushing for the turning ease/stability you want. Soft bushings allow you to turn more easily but provide less stability, vice versa for hard. Hardness works along the same durometer scale as above. You probably want softer for the longboard and harder for the park shortboard.

Bones Reds are pretty much the only bearings you need. Cheap and good. Can't really speak to trucks and decks, sorry.
posted by corvine at 11:15 AM on January 16, 2012

Oh, maintenance. Here's what Bones say about cleaning their bearings.

I usually just pop the red rubber covers off my Reds, wipe the covers with soapy water and dry well, then shake the rest of the bearing in a bottle of white spirit. Allow to dry thoroughly, add lube, pop the covers back on. Works well enough. Ultrasonic cleaners are better, I'm told.

I wash my wheels (sans bearings) in warm soapy water from time to time or just wipe them down with a baby wipe if they get too dusty. Every now and again I strip down my skates and wipe the parts clean with a baby wipe. I think it's good practice to be able to take it all apart and put it back together again.
posted by corvine at 11:18 AM on January 16, 2012

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