What Size Skateboard Is Right For You?
Nowadays, skateboards come in all shapes and sizes. Veteran riders already know which deck size and shape works best for them, but for someone just picking out their first skateboard all the variety can be confusing.
Beginners are generally going to do best with a standard, or “popsicle” skateboard, which is shaped like a popsicle stick and has medium to small wheels. Cruisers, which are shaped more like surfboards and have large, chunky wheels, are made for riders who want to use their skateboard for transportation.
Looking at size differences in a standard board, the two most important measurements for beginners are width and wheel base.
What About Length?
A standard skateboard, such as those offered in the Cal 7 line, will generally run from 28 to 32 inches long, and beginners aren’t going to feel much of a difference in the ride as they move along that scale on a standard deck. Longer and shorter decks are available to suit specific uses and styles, such as for skating pools, cruising at speed or executing specific types of trick riding, but in this post we’re only talking about an all-purpose skateboard with a standard deck, and offering guidance to the beginning skater.
A standard skateboard that’s suitable for beginners will typically have a width from 7.5 to 8.25 inches. Since the beginning rider’s feet will be positioned across the width of the deck, it’s not surprising that the choice of width is usually guided by the rider’s shoe size.
It’s normal for the front of your foot to extend out beyond the width of the board a bit, and the back of your shoe may stick out a little off the other side of the deck too, but you definitely want the balls of your feet firmly on the deck since you’ll be using them to control the speed, direction and angle of the skateboard as you ride by leaning forward and back, or crouching and straightening, to adjust your speed and center of gravity.
While you don’t want your feet extending so far over the edge of the deck that you feel unstable on the board, you also don’t want to start with a deck that’s so wide it requires a lot of effort to control when you want to turn or pivot. Some experienced riders will eventually come to prefer a wider deck, but it’s not recommended for beginners.
7.5 inches in width is a good, all-purpose measurement for a beginning skater to start with, and it’s easy to find standard skateboards at this width. A 7.5 inch deck is wide enough to offer a firm footing for the average sized youth to adult skater, 4 feet or taller, who wears a shoe size of 5 or greater. Those who are very tall, have very large feet or a bulkier frame will want to go for 8 to 8.25 inches.
Wheel base on a skateboard deck is the measurement between the two inner pairs of holes that are drilled for attaching trucks. The wider the wheel base, the further apart the wheels will generally be, the wider the rider’s stance will be, and the lower the rider’s center of gravity will be.
The most stable stance for a rider is with feet slightly more than shoulder length apart, forming a kind of triangle shape with their legs. Skateboards that work well for beginners will have a wheel base from 12 to 15 inches, and if you try positioning your feet at different distances within that range you can pretty quickly determine a comfortable wheel base range for yourself. For most teen and adult skaters, 14 to 14.5 inches hits the sweet spot for stability and control. It’s all personal preference.
In time and with experience, every skater will gravitate toward specific widths, lengths, shapes and wheelbase measurements that work best for their style of riding. For those just starting out, a standard board with measurements to suit the majority of beginners will be the smartest choice.
- Outdoors Staff