A skateboard is a narrow wheeled platform (usually made
of plywood), used for recreation and transportation. It
was developed in the twentieth century by surfers, who
first made them using rollerskates. They are typically
part of western youth culture.
The skateboard has evolved a lot since the 50s, not only
in shape but also materials used. Boards in the past were
often in the shape of a surfboard, with little concave
and had 1 ply of wood. The wheels were rather large compared
to most of todays sizes and were usually made of clay.
The trucks (axles) were also larger in size and less sturdy.
Another difference is that the boards of the past had
a very small nose, todays boards have almost identical
noses and tails (the tail is usually a bit steeper however).
The Deck - Skateboards are composed of several parts.
The deck forms the body of the skateboard and provides
a place to stand. It is covered with grip tape, which
adds friction to its surface. The deck is normally 76-91
cm long (2 1/2 to 3 feet). The longboard, a common variant
of the skateboard, has a longer deck. Decks were originally
a single piece of wood but are now made from usually seven
plys of Canadian Hard Rock Maple glued together, or (more
uncommonly) other composite materials.
The width of the deck varies from smaller models like
7.4" to larger ones like 8.25" or 8.38". Larger decks
are better suited to vert skaters who need more control
and stability while riding down the steep slopes and riding
the transitions and walls of a quarter or halfpipe. Thinner
decks are suited to street skaters who like to perform
more technical tricks; a wider board often makes it awkward
to pull off such maneuvers.
The Trucks - Attached to the deck are two metal (usually
aluminum) trucks, which connect to the wheels. (The corresponding
parts of trains and other vehicles are also called trucks.)
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. Between the
baseplate and the hanger are bushings, also rubbers or
grommets, that provide the spring mechanism for turning
the skateboard. The bushings cushion the truck when it
turns. The stiffer the bushings, the more stable the skateboard.
The softer the bushings, the easier it is to turn. A bolt
called a kingpin holds these parts together.
The Wheels - Two polyurethane wheels attach to each hanger.
The wheels come in various sizes and like the deck both
suit different types of skating. Larger sizes like 60-65mm
roll faster which makes riding vert ramps easier. Smaller
sizes like 50-55mm keep the board closer to the ground
and are lighter which makes tricks easier to perform.
For general cruising you want larger, softer wheels, alternatively,
look into longboards and dirtboards.
Bearings - Inside each wheel is one bearing. Bearings
are reported according to the ABEC scale, which goes from
1-9, in odd numbers. It was designed with machines in
mind, not skateboards, so the ABEC rating rates the precision
of the bearing. This means that as the rating goes up,
the bearing usually gets weaker but smoother - since skateboarding
puts a lot of pressure on the bearings anyway, they won't
last long. It's better to use ABEC 5 bearings, because
they are durable and smooth enough. Even though ABEC 9s
are smoother than ABEC 5s you won't notice the difference,
unless you are going incredibly fast.
Risers - There are special products available to help
raise the board away from the trucks/off the ground. Risers
are placed inbetween the underside of the deck and the
truck. This elevates the deck from the ground slightly
(which will avoid "wheel-bite"; where the deck makes contact
with the wheel, often on a hard turn, causing the board
to stop suddenly). Another good reason to use risers is
that they help relieve stress from the trucks, meaning
less chance of the deck cracking under all that pressure.
More risers will equal a higher board which also lowers
the "pop" you get when you push down on the tail to perform
an ollie (it will require more effort to maintain a higher