The anatomy of a skateboard

December 15, 2020 | Skateboarding
Skateboard: its three main components are the deck, the trucks, and the wheels | Illustration: Shutterstock

A skateboard is essentially composed of three main parts - the deck, the trucks, and the wheels.

However, a complete skateboard features a total of 12 different individual components. Each of these elements has a function and requires fine adjustments.

The most intricate and complex component is the skateboard truck.

Trucks hold the deck a few inches above the ground, sustain the skateboarder's weight, and are responsible for keeping the wheels rolling.

If you want to assemble your skateboard with select components, all you need is a good skate tool for tightening wheels and mounting hardware and adjusting the kingpin's height.

Let's take a detailed look at the skateboard anatomy.

Skateboarding: a complete skateboard is comprised of 14 different parts and components | Illustration: Shutterstock

 

The Deck

The deck is the skateboard's wooden platform where the rider places his or her feet and to which other parts are attached.

They come in different sizes and shapes, but most popsicle-shaped skateboard decks feature a kick in the tail and the nose.

Skateboard decks have subtle differences that distinguish the front (the nose) from the rear (the tail), so they're not exactly symmetrical.

The deck also incorporates some kind of concave and a more or less gentle end-to-end curve - rocker or camber.

Generally speaking, a narrow skateboard is more responsive and flips easily but will also be less stable; a wide board provides stability but is more difficult to maneuver.

If you are buying your first skateboard, place different decks on the ground, and choose a size that is slightly narrower than the length of your feet.

In other words, when your heels are even with one side, your toes should stick off the other side by about an inch.

A standard deck is made from seven layers of 1/16-inch thick hard maple veneer laminated with PVA glue and pressed to a complex form.

Grip Tape

Grip tape: sandpaper-like sheet that helps the skateboarder to grip the skateboard

The grip tape is a top surface sandpaper-like sheet that helps the skateboarder to grip the skateboard.

Bolts

Bolts: a skateboard has a total of eight bolts holding the trucks onto the board

Trucks are attached to the deck by bolts.

There are two sets of four holes drilled into the deck. A total of eight bolts hold the trucks onto the board.

You can loosen them for easier turning, but make sure they're tight enough so that you cannot undo them with your fingers.

 

The Trucks

Trucks are the central and most complex part of a skateboard deck.

They feature the mechanics that allow the rider to skate around, turn, and get to the air.

A skateboard truck is made of steel and is exceptionally resistant. Often, it outlives all the other components of a skateboard.

The truck comprises several parts: the baseplate, the kingpin, the hanger, the bushings, and the axles.

A truck's width is determined by the length of its hanger (127-187 mm) and axle (193-254 mm).

In the end, and ideally, a rider wants the outside of the wheels slightly hidden inside both sides of the deck.

So, ultimately, the choice of a deck has an impact on the correct size of trucks for the board.

Baseplate

Baseplate: the metal plate featuring machine-drilled holes that mount to the skateboard's deck

The baseplate is a flat and solid base metal plate featuring machine-drilled holes that mount to the skateboard's deck.

Kingpin

Kingpin: the large bolt that sticks out of the baseplate

The kingpin is a large threaded pin - or large bolt - that sticks out of the baseplate.

Hanger

Hanger: the T-shaped metal component that attaches to the other end of the kingpin

The hanger attaches to the other end of the kingpin.

It's a T-shaped metal component that takes all the beating. As a result, it is the heaviest and sturdiest part of a skateboard.

It is usually made of steel, but there are also lighter, more durable, and more expensive alloys available in the market.

The hanger houses the axles that stick out and incorporate both wheels.

Bushings

Bushings: the small rubber cups that allow the skateboard to turn

Each truck has two bushings, the elements that allow the skateboard to turn.

The bushings are two small rubber cups that pivot when the skateboarder leans left or right.

They are sandwiched between the baseplate and the hanger, i.e., the metal parts of any skateboard.

There's a bolt holding the bushings and hanger onto the kingpin that can be tightened or loosened to adjust how easily the board turns.

Bushings have a variety of hardness levels, depending on the riding conditions.

Technical and heavy riders often opt for stiffer bushings; cruisers and light skaters prefer softer bearings for easy turning.

Bushings may need to be replaced when they become worn out and start to crack.

Axle

Axle or hanger shaft: the extremity that connects the wheel on each truck

The axles, also known as hanger shafts, connect the two wheels on each truck and are held in place by axle nuts.

They range from 193 to 254 mm and set the standard for how trucks are measured.

As a general rule of thumb, the axle length should put the wheels within one-quarter of an inch of the deck's edge.

Skateboard wheels should run smoothly on their axles.

Risers

Risers: plastic or rubbery pads that absorb shock and offer extra cushion

The riser is an optional element that can be placed between the baseplate and the deck.

It's a plastic or rubbery pad that absorbs shock and offers extra cushion.

It may increase the wooden deck's life by protecting it from sudden and powerful impacts transferred through the wheels and trucks.

They also add space between the wheels and the bottom side of the deck to prevent the wheels from hitting the board's underside.

They make flip tricks difficult to land because they raise the skater's center of gravity.

 

The Wheels

Wheels: a complete skateboard features four urethane wheels attached to the trucks

A complete skateboard features four urethane wheels attached to the trucks and are categorized by diameter and hardness.

They range in size from 50 mm to 70 mm+ and have a hardness scale (durometer) that goes from 78A to 100A+.

Large and soft wheels are more forgiving and absorb impacts better. They're good for cruising and vert riding and range in size from 67 mm to 80 mm.

Small and hard wheels are fast and good for performing tricks and shredding skateparks and sidewalks. They range in size from 52 mm to 58 mm.

Axle Nuts

Axle nuts: they keep the wheels in place and spinning

A complete skateboard uses four axle nuts that keep the wheels in place and spinning.

They tend to wear out quickly, so they should be replaced once in a while.

The standard size is 5/16'' for trucks that have 8 mm axles.

Washers

Washers: placed between the nuts on the axle and between the hanger's inner bearings to help wheels spin smoothly

Most skateboards assembled in skate shops have two small washers between the nuts on the axle and between the hanger's inner bearings.

Washers help wheels spin smoothly.

Bearings

Bearings: rings with small steel balls inside that allow wheels to spin smoothly on the axle

A complete skateboard has a total of eight bearings - two inside each of the four polyurethane wheels.

They look like rings with small steel balls inside.

Bearings fit into either side of the wheel and allow it to spin smoothly on the axle.

The most expensive bearings are ceramic bearings.

These high-performance bearings absorb the heat generated from the friction of a fast-spinning wheel and make the skateboard go fast.

However, precision steel bearings are the most common bearings used in skateboards.

Sometimes, there's also an aluminum spacer inside the wheel, between the bearings, that keeps everything aligned.

Bearings are rated for their ABEC (Annular Bearing Engineer's Committee) factor. That is to say, they are rated for their quality and smoothness.

The ABEC scale ranges from 1 (low quality and cheap) to 9 (better quality and expensive).

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