By Andres Pachon
A. Pachon, a journalist and skateboard addict, is a full-time writer for SHIT® Magazine.
When it comes to buying a skateboard, every part of it is important, But there is nothing more fundamental than your deck. It is the base of your ride, but also the part of your skateboard that will suffer the most on your journeys. Most of the skaters (from beginners to experts) tend to choose their skateboard decks based just on the graphic design and the aesthetic of the piece, but there are more things you should take into account at the moment of buying a deck: the materials used in its construction, its shape and size, and much more. Here, you will find a complete guide on the important things to think about when choosing the right skateboard deck for you.
Skateboard Shapes: Picking The Right Skateboard Deck Size
The main difference between all deck types is their shape. Throughout the history of this sport, riders have used (or adapted to) different deck shapes for different purposes, like riding on different places and surfaces, performing tricks or just for moving around.
Skateboard decks are divided into four categories: standard or shortboards, cruisers, old school and longboard. Each of them is designed for a specific purpose, and although every type of deck is suitable for taking a ride on the streets, some of these deck types are not specifically designed for doing tricks, riding on rails and ramp skateboarding.
Standard decks, also called shortboards, are the classic and most sought-after skateboards. They are symmetrical and typically made of wood, and have both nosetails and kicktails to perform tricks. Also, these decks are concave on their surface to give riders more control over their board. Because of this, shortboards offer the best maneuvering of all skateboards.
Shortboards are the typical decks for street and vert skating. If your interest in this sport is into riding the classic way, pulling kickflips, and jumping over rails and ramps, this is the skateboard that you need. Here is what Swede Björn Collin has to say about his fresh SHIT® Skateboard Deck.
Cruiser decks, on the other hand, are made for people who just want to ride and move on the streets. Although tricks can be made on cruiser skateboards, they are not specifically designed for that. This type of deck can be found in many shapes and sizes, but they are asymmetrical and often feature a curved tail and a flat nose. You can normally find cruiser skateboards that are fully assembled.
Old school decks are similar both to shordboards and cruisers, but they are made to resemble the style and riding of the skateboarders that started to popularize the sport back in the 70’s and 80’s. Typically, they have a flat nose and a kicktail, and are wider than shortboards. Also, they are not symmetrical. Old school decks are popular among pool and ramp riders, but it’s more difficult to pull tricks on this type of deck than on a shortboard.
The fourth big type of decks is the longboard. These decks are much longer and wider than the other decks, and they don’t feature nosetails or kicktails. Their shapes also vary greatly, from old school-like decks to asymmetrical designs that focus on increasing control over the board by making cutouts on the deck part that is over the wheels. Longboards are designed for riders who want to achieve high speeds and are often used for downhil racing. They can also be used to ride the streets, but they are significantly bigger than the other deck types.
Skateboard Width Size Is The Key
The most important thing to look after when you are buying a skateboard deck is its width, not its length. Deck widths vary from 7.5’’ to 8.25’’ for teenagers and adults, although wider and shorter skateboards can also be found on the market. In order to find the right deck width, you need to take into account your height, shoe size and riding style.
For skateboarders over age 13, people who are 1’60 meters high or more, and those who have a shoe size of 9 or more, the most recomendable width is 7.5’’ to start. However, wider boards are more suitable for bigger people or for larger shoe sizes. Also, shorter decks are more suitable for street skateboarding or doing tricks. Medium width decks, which range from 8’’ to 8.25’’ are better for pool and ramp skating, and wider decks are normally preferred for vert and old school skateboarding.
How Your Skateboard Deck Is Built
Back in the day, and even today, most decks are made from wood. This is because skateboards need to be flexible, in order to allow performing of tricks and riding in general (although some manufacturers have experimented with materials such as aluminum and carbon fiber, to name a few examples).
Skateboard decks are normally made with plywood laminated with glue. There are two types of decks when it comes to manufacturing, and they are classified depending of the amount of layers of wood that they have: 7-ply and 9-ply decks. 7-ply decks are lighter, while 9-ply decks are heavier and sturdier but are more difficult to control.
Most skateboards are made of maple wood because of its great resistance and flexibility, but manufacturers are starting to explore other woods such as bamboo. SHIT® manufactures its decks with 7-ply maple wood in New York City to ensure the best possible materials and building in the world. Check out our designs here, including our exclusive collaboration with Norwegian deathpunk band Turbonegro.
In the end, the most important fact to take into account in the moment of buying your next skateboard deck is your riding style. These tips are great for guiding you, but it all comes down to choosing the deck that is most comfortable for you. This depends on your ride type and skills, and although every deck is made for different purposes, all of them offer you the same core experience: a great ride on the streets.
Read also: How to Choose Skateboard Wheels
Read also: Buying Guide: Complete or Custom Skateboard?