A skateboard is a type of sports equipment used primarily for the activity of skateboarding. It usually consists of a specially designed maplewood board combined with a polyurethane coating used for making smoother slides and stronger durability.
A skateboard is propelled by pushing with one foot while the other remains on the board, or by pumping one's legs in structures such as a pool or half pipe. A skateboard can also be used by simply standing on the deck while on a downward slope and allowing gravity to propel the board and rider. If the rider positions their right foot forward, he/she is said to ride "goofy"; if the rider positions their left foot forward, he/she is said to ride "regular". If the rider is normally regular but chooses to ride goofy, he/she is said to be riding in "switch", and vice versa. A skater is typically more comfortable pushing with their back foot; choosing to push with the front foot is commonly referred to as riding "mongo."
Recently, electric skateboards have also appeared. These no longer require the propelling of the skateboard by means of the feet; rather an electric motor propels the board, fed by an electric battery.
There is no governing body that declares any regulations on what constitutes a skateboard or the parts from which it is assembled. Historically, the skateboard has conformed both to contemporary trends and to the ever evolving array of stunts performed by riders/users, who require a certain functionality from the board. Of course, the board shape depends largely upon its desired function. Longboards are a type of skateboard with a longer wheelbase and larger, softer wheels.
Skateboards have three axes. The tail axis (running from nose to tail), the central axis (running straight down through the center of the board), and the short axis (running from the width of the board, perpendicular to the tail axis).
The two main types of skateboards are the longboard and the shortboard. The shape of the board is also important: the skateboard must be concave to perform difficult tricks.
Descriptions of the following skateboard parts are the ones most prevalent in popular, modern forms of skateboarding. Many parts exist with exotic or alternative constructions. Most decks are constructed with a six to seven-plywood, the deck, trucks, wheels, bearings, hardware, bushings and griptape. Older decks also included plastic parts such as side, tail, and nose guards.
Modern decks vary in size, but most are 7 to 10.5 inches (17.78 to 26.67 centimeters) wide. Wider decks can be used for greater stability when transition or ramp skating. Skateboard decks are usually between 28 and 33 inches (71.12 and 83.82 centimetres) long. The underside of the deck can be printed with a design by the manufacturer, blank, or decorated by any other means.
The longboard, a common variant of the skateboard, has a longer deck. One of the first deck companies was called "Drapped" taken from Jonny's second name. "Old school" boards (those made in the 1970s–80s or modern boards that mimic their shape) are generally wider and often have only one kicktail. Variants of the 1970s often have little or no concavity, whereas 1980s models have deeper concavities and steeper kicktails.
Grip tape, when applied to the top surface of a skateboard, gives a skater's feet grip on the deck. It is most often black but can come in a variety of colors including clear, allowing the top of the deck to be decorated. It has an adhesive back and a sandpaper-like top.
Attached to the deck are two metal (usually aluminum alloy) trucks, which connect to the wheels and deck. The trucks are further composed of two parts. The top part of the truck is screwed to the deck and is called the baseplate, and beneath it is the hanger. The axle runs through the hanger. Between the baseplate and the hanger are bushings, also rubbers or grommets, that provide the cushion mechanism for turning the skateboard. The bushings cushion the truck when it turns. The stiffer the bushings, the more resistant the skateboard is to turning. The softer the bushings, the easier it is to turn. A bolt called a kingpin holds these parts together and fits inside the bushings. Thus by tightening or loosening the kingpin nut, the trucks can be adjusted loosely for better turning and tighter for more stability. Standard Kingpin nut size is 3/8" - 24tpi.
Skateboard trucks are manufactured in a number of different axle widths. In general an axle width should be chosen that is close to the width of the deck it will be used with. For example, a 7.75" wide deck will usually be fitted with trucks that have axles between 7.5" wide and 8.0" wide. (Standard truck axel nut size is 5/16"-24tpi UNF, and the thinner "jam" style with an optional nylon lock.) Trucks that are too wide can make doing tricks difficult and can cause the wheels to get in the way when the skateboard is being ridden. Trucks that are too small can be hard to maintain stability and can cause wheel bite to occur when turning.
Longboard specific trucks are a more recent development. A longboard truck has the king pin laid at a more obtuse angle (usually between 38 and 50 degrees) to the deck, this gives a greater degree of turning for the same tilt of the deck. This allows riders to go much faster while still maintaining stability and control.
Giant strides have been made in the truck industry over the years. In late 2007, Gullwing Truck Company manufactured a truck named "Sidewinder" that can pivot on two different angles, thus greatly decreasing the turning radius of the board, resulting in a greater feel between the rider and the sidewalk.
The wheels of a skateboard, usually made of polyurethane, come in many different sizes and shapes to suit different types of skating. Larger sizes like 54–85 mm roll faster, and move more easily over cracks in pavement. Smaller sizes like 48–54 mm keep the board closer to the ground, require less force to accelerate and produce a lower center of gravity, but also make for a slower top speed. Wheels also are available in a variety of hardnesses usually measured on the Shore durometer "A" scale. Wheels range from the very soft (about Shore A 75) to the very hard (about Shore A 101). As the A scale stops at 100, any wheels labeled 101A or higher are harder, but do not use the appropriate durometer scale. Some wheel manufacturers now use the "B" or "D" scales, which have a larger and more accurate range of hardness. Modern street skaters prefer smaller wheels (usually 51–54 mm), as small wheels with lighter trucks can make tricks like kickflips and other flip tricks easier by keeping the center of gravity of the skateboard closer to the deck, thus making the deck easier to spin. Street wheels are softer. Vertical ramp or "vert" skating requires larger wheels (usually 55–65 mm), as it involves higher speeds. Vert wheels are also usually harder, allowing them to maintain high speed on ramps without sliding. Slalom skating requires even larger wheels (60–75 mm) to sustain the highest speeds possible. They also need to be soft and have better grip to make the tight and frequent turns in slalom racing. Even larger wheels are used in longboarding and downhill skateboarding. Sizes range from 65 mm to 100 mm. These extreme sizes of wheels almost always have cores of hard plastic that can be made thinner and lighter than a solid polyurethane wheel. They are often used by skateboard videographers as well, as the large soft wheels allow for smooth and easy movement over any terrain.
Grip tape is a sheet paper or fabric with adhesive on one side and a surface similar to fine sand paper on the other. Grip tape is applied to the top surface of a board to allow the rider's feet to grip the surface and help the skater stay on the board while doing tricks. Grip tape is usually black, but is also available in many different colors such as pink, yellow, checkered, camo, and even clear. Often, they have designs die-cut to show the color of the board, or to display the board's company logo.
Each skateboard wheel is mounted on its axle via two bearings. With few exceptions, the bearings are the industrial standard "608" size, with a bore of 8 mm, an outer diameter of 22 mm, and a width of 7 mm. These are usually made of steel, though silicon nitride, a high-tech ceramic, is sometimes used. Many skateboard bearings are graded according to the ABEC scale. The scale starts with ABEC1 as the lowest, 3, 5, 7, 9. It is a common misconception that the higher ABECs are better for skateboarding, as the ABEC rating only measures tolerances, which do not necessarily apply to skateboards. Bearing performance is determined on how well maintained the bearings are. Maintenance on bearings include periodically cleaning and lubricating them. Bearings that are kept unmaintained have their performance greatly lowered and will soon need to be replaced. Bearing cleaning kits are commonly available on the market. Example kits include the Bones Bearings Cleaning Unit. The ABEC rating does not determine how fast or how durable a bearing used for skateboarding will be. In particular, the ABEC rating says nothing about how well a bearing handles axial (side-to-side) loads, which are severe in most skateboard applications. Many companies do not show the ABEC rating, such as Bones Bearings, which makes bearings specifically for skateboarding, often marketed as "Skate Rated". Each bearing usually contains 7 steel or ceramic ball bearings, although other configurations are used as well.
Mounting hardware is a set of eight 10-32 UNC bolts, usually an Allen or Phillips head, and matching nylon locknuts. They are used to attach the trucks to the board. Some sets have one different colored bolt to show which side is the nose of the skateboard. Hardware is available in various lengths for mounting trucks with or without risers.
Risers increase the space between the truck and the deck. This allows the truck to twist further without causing wheel bite (when the wheel touches the deck and stops rotating). Wedges can be used to change the turning characteristics of a truck.
Narrow strips of plastic or metal that are attached under the deck lengthwise along the edges. They are used for additional grip for grabs, and to enhance sliding while protecting the deck's graphics at the same time. Rails also provide a more consistent feel for slides, as the slide of a regular skateboard will suffer from the wear of the paint or varnish on the bottom of the board. Although rarely used anymore, they are useful for experienced skaters that are capable of grabs.
Sliptape is a clear piece of self-adhesive plastic that sticks to the underside of a deck. It helps protect the board's graphics and allows the board to slide easier. Another name for this is everslick.
A lapper is a plastic cover that is fastened to the rear truck and serves to protect the kingpin when grinding. It also prevents hang-ups by providing a smoother transition for the truck when it hits an obstacle or a metal pipe or round bar.
A plastic bumper used to protect the front of a skateboard. Used in older board models.
Tail guard (a.k.a. Skid Plate)
Bolted onto the underside of the tail end of a skateboard, the tail guard (also known as a "skid plate") protected the tail end from skid stops and other maneuvers that would otherwise wear away the wood and decrease the longevity of the tail. Typically made of plastic, these were widely popular in the '80s, yet quickly dissolved their usage upon the arrival of the '90s and the increasingly popular board design which incorporated two tails.
Sparking device placed on the tail or nose of the skateboard.
Plastic half tubing that protected the axles of the trucks. In the 1980-85 period, stolen shopping cart handles were cut by some to fit as a makeshift coper.
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- "SKATEBOARDS: FIT & TYPES". LiveStrong. Retrieved 2012-23-06.
- Has a guide to choosing the right size trucks for a skateboard deck http://skate-parts.com/blog/choosing-right-size-trucks-your-skateboard-deck
- Contains a list of dimensions for popular longboard truck manufacturer http://www.randal.com/guides_faq.html
- A guide describing turning characteristics of different Riser/Wedge types http://www.randal.com/guides_faq.html