Skateboarding is an activity with many disciplines. Some people ride skateboards as a means of transportation while others ride for fun. There are several skateboarding disciplines, such as street, park, and downhill skateboarding. In this article, I will show you how to choose the right skateboard sizes and skateboard types that are suitable for your height and riding style.
Whether you want to rip the local skate spots or ride parks with ease, buying the correct setup will help you ride more comfortably. As you already know, skateboarding is considered to be an extreme sport, so choosing the right skateboard size and type for each purpose is essential.
You do not want to blast down the hills going over 30 miles per hour on a shortboard with tiny wheels, so it’s best to know not only the right size but the right components as well. This guide will teach you all there is to know before choosing a skateboard, such as the right wheels, the type of deck, and many more.
What Skateboard Size Should I Get?
The general rule of thumb when choosing the right size deck is presented in the skateboard size chart below:
Skateboard Size Chart
|7 inches and below
|7 to 7.5 inches
|7.5 inches and up
|8 and below
|9 to 12 years old
|13 and up
|Shoe Size (US Men’s)
|6 or smaller
|6 to 8
|9 and above
|4’4″ and below
|4’5″ to 5’2″
|5’3″ and up
The chart represents a general rule of how to choose the right skateboard size based on your age, height, and shoe size. However, it only works when choosing a shortboard or street-type deck. When choosing the components such, as trucks and wheels, it should fit the skateboard deck size.
Choosing the Right Skateboard Deck Size Based on Purpose
Following the skateboard size chart is a good general rule to follow, but there are many instances that you will need a wider or narrower deck. Here is another chart for choosing the ridge skateboard sizes based on the purpose:
|Skateboard Deck Width
|7.5 inches to 8 inches
|Street Skating, Technical Tricks
|8 inches to 8.5 inches
|Skating pools, ramps, rails, and parks
|8.25 and wider
|Skating vert, mega ramps, pools, cruising, and downhill
Skateboard Length and Wheelbase
The skateboard length will depend on your preference and riding discipline. In standard skateboarding, any length up to 33 inches is considered to be a shortboard or cruiser. These boards are excellent for doing tricks and cruising around town.
Longboards, on the other hand, are longer boards that are made for more other disciplines such as downhill skateboarding, freeriding, and commuting. Beginners who don’t have a lot of riding experience will find it easier to ride a longboard (1). The only disadvantage of a longboard for commuting purposes is its bulkiness.
The length of a longboard ranges from 33 inches up to 42 and higher. A standard pintail longboard that is designed for cruising and surfing the concrete is measured at around 36 to 42 inches long. Cruising longboards are often made with flexible bamboo material for additional ride comfort.
Boards that are made for speed and downhill riding are often made out of plies of solid maple. Some downhill riders can ride over 60 miles per hour, which requires stability from the deck itself and the trucks.
The wheelbase of the board is the distance of the front and back wheels. If you are not planning to go really fast on a skateboard, you don’t need to get particular with the wheelbase. When you try out a skateboard, make sure that your height is within the range based on the skateboard size chart.
Skateboard Length Chart
The board width might be the most important thing to consider when choosing the right board size, but knowing the length and wheelbase that corresponds to the width is also important for each riding style. Here are the basic lengths and wheelbase measurements of a board based on its width:
Skateboard Types and Purposes
If you are new to skateboarding, familiarizing yourself with the different varieties of decks could be helpful when choosing the right one for you. Skateboards come in different shapes and sizes, and each style is made for different purposes. Before choosing the right size, it is better to start on what type of deck you want. Choosing the right skateboard style is essential. Here are the four different types of decks you can choose from:
Shortboard or Popsicle Deck
A shortboard is the standard type of skateboard, which is designed for doing tricks. If you plan on shredding the streets and doing tricks, you should get one of these boards.
These boards are often shaped like a surfboard. They have a directional shape with a kicktail on the back. Mini electric skateboards are modeled from cruisers and included the kicktail for a more fluid ride.
Longboards are excellent for both cruising and transportation. Electric skateboards are made with longer boards so that they can accommodate larger wheels for a comfortable and stable ride. Longboards come in different shapes and sizes. Some are designed with a symmetrical shape, while some are modeled after longboard surfboards. Whether you are into cruising or freestyle skating, a longboard is an excellent choice.
Old School Skateboard
Old school boards are not as popular as they used to be. Because of their flat nose and kicktail, the tricks on this board are limited. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes that are excellent for cruising, slaloming, and riding pools like in the old days.
Here are some skateboard disciplines and what size board you should get for each one:
For doing technical tricks such as your ollies, kickflips, heelflips, and 360s, you should get a board that is narrow in size. Something between 7.5 and 8 inches is the best skateboard size for this riding style.
Cruising and Transportation
If you are looking for a board for cruising, the skateboard dimensions do not really matter, but the best size for this purpose is around 8 to 10 inches wide. The length will depend on your preference. Some people buy electric skateboards for commuting, and most of these boards are longboards with a wider deck for stability.
Riding Bowls, Park, and Transitions
When riding bowls and transitions, people prefer a wider shortboard that measures around 8.3 to 8.5 in width. Some people with a bigger shoe size even choose a wider board for this purpose.
For downhill skateboarding, people choose a wider deck. Because these boards are designed to go fast, the rider will need a wider surface for increased stability. The length of the longboard should be around 9 to 11 inches. Because longboards come in different shapes where the nose and tail might be narrower than the middle part, it is best to measure the width of where you will be placing your feet.
Skateboard Deck Features
Skateboard decks do not only vary in shape and size, but they also differ on some features. Now that you are familiar with the size of the skateboard that suits you, it is time to select a board and figure out which features you need.
Here are some skateboard features to consider when choosing a skateboard:
Nose and Tail
The nose and tail of shortboards are mostly the same, so you would not have to worry about that. However, when choosing a longboard or cruiser, make sure you choose a shape that fits your riding style. Some boards have a longer nose and mellow tail, while some are exactly the same.
Skateboards are made out of plies of wood (commonly maple), fiberglass, bamboo, and more. The more layers of ply will make the board heavy but more durable. If you are into street skating, you should get a lighter board with at least seven-ply. They are much lighter, but they do snap easily. One board company in the United States developed a board that is sturdier than most boards. The Flight deck (2) from Powell-Peralta is excellent for street skaters looking for a virtually indestructible deck.
Longboards are often made with bamboo and fiberglass, which makes the deck more flexible. The flex adds more comfort to the ride. Some electric boards are also made with the same material while higher-end boards are built with carbon fiber for maximum strength.
The concave is the curve of the surface of the wood between the nose and tail. The concave keeps your feet in place and allows you to control the ride. Some concaves are more subtle than others. Here are the different concave types:
Old school skateboard decks often have no concave at all. These boards are suitable for doing board walking tricks where you need to move your feet on the board more often.
- W concave
Some downhill skateboard decks are built with a W-shaped concave to keep your feet secured especially when going fast. It allows the rider to bust out slides and pre-drifts without slipping.
- Radial Concave
This concave style is the most common type of concave. It is a subtle U-shaped concave that gives the feet a better grip and allows you to move your feet when required. These are excellent for street decks as the rider often shifts the position to do specific tricks.
- Progressive Concave
This concave is similar to a radial concave. It has more emphasized rails with steeper walls to secure the rider’s feet in place. It gives a more locked-in feel than a board with radial concave.
- Tub Concave
A tub-style concave is also similar to radial, but instead of a gentle round curve, it features sharper edges. The sharp edges provide a flatter surface for extra ride comfort. Some longboards that have a tub concave are often equipped with what is called a gas pedal. It allows riders to grip the rails to go sideways when sliding.
A standard shortboard will have two kicktails, one for the nose and one for the tail. This feature allows riders to pop tricks on both ends of the skateboard. Kicktails are not only used to pop tricks, but you can also use them to pivot the board when you want to quickly change directions and use them to ride through small cracks and debris.
Not all types of boards have kicktails. Some longboards have a more mellow kicktail or don’t even have one at all. Because longboards are equipped with bigger wheels, you can ride through small cracks on the road without one.
Choosing the Right Skateboard Components
If you are buying a full skateboard set, it would often be equipped with the right components that are suitable for the riding style and skateboard size. However, if you want to customize your skateboard or assemble a skateboard on your own, it is best if you familiarize yourself with each of the components you will be needing.
The trucks are used to attach the wheels to the deck. They are also responsible for turning and pivoting on the axle. Some trucks are made out of cast steel, but high-end trucks are forged with precision.
Trucks are composed of a hanger, a baseplate, a kingpin, and bushings. It also has axle nuts to keep the wheels and place. You can customize a set of trucks by changing the bushings, which is done by most downhill skateboarders for better response and less wobbling, especially at fast speeds.
Tightening the nut on the kingpin will compress the bushings and give a stiff feel. It also decreases the chance of speed wobbles when going fast. However, some riders prefer a loose setup, especially for carving and smooth turning.
- Standard Kingpin Trucks
Most shortboards and cruisers are equipped with a standard kingpin, which is usually shorter. These trucks keep your board closer to the ground and are suitable for smaller wheels.
- Reverse Kingpin Trucks
Longboards are often equipped with these kinds of trucks. These trucks are better for turning, and they are often much taller and suitable for larger wheels.
Skateboard wheels vary in size and hardness, but most wheels are made with urethane. Skateboard wheels are measured in millimeters and the hardness is measured by a durometer. Choosing the set of wheels will also depend on the size of your board and your riding style.
- Street Skateboarding
The ideal size of the wheels for street skating is around 50 to 60 mm. Anything larger than that could add more weight to the board and make it harder to perform air tricks. Harder wheels with a durometer of 90a and up are ideal for street skating.
- Cruising and Downhill
For cruising and downhill, it is a good idea to choose larger wheels at around 65 mm and up. Some downhill longboards are equipped with wheels as big as 96 mm. Because cruising and commuting will require you to ride on asphalt and rough concrete, softer wheels at around 78a to 83a is an ideal choice. The right amount of softness allows the wheels to grip when cornering and roll smoothly on any surface.
Electric skateboards that are made for off-road riding are equipped with pneumatic tires. These tires are made for riding on almost any kind of terrain. However, you will need a skateboard that is explicitly made for this purpose.
Choosing the right skateboard size is essential especially if you have a specific purpose in mind. When choosing the right skateboard size, you should also choose the best features such as the concave and shape of the deck. When buying a pre-built skateboard, it should have most of the suitable components such as trucks and wheels, but you also have the option to choose your own components. If you decide to go to your local skate shop, they will help you get the components you need as long as you know what size skateboard you need.