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U.K. Skate Scene

Beginners Guide

Trick Tips
Product Reviews
Build your own ...
Beginners Guide
Skating in London


Here is a guide to the VERY basics of skateboarding, so if you think you are past begginer stage then this section will just make you laugh, but to the people just starting out this information might be very useful and I personally hope it is.

Buying Yourself a Skateboard:

If you want to stark skateboarding, but you don't know what board and setup to get then you should consider things like how much money you have to spend, how often you want to skateboard and whether you want to learn tricks on it or just want to cruise.

If you are just starting and have little money to spend on a board, then you would probably be best off buying a cheap board to start with and then if you really like the sport, buy a pro setup later. You can get cheap 20 boards in places like high street sports stores, but my advise would be to spend a little extra and go for a Maui or United Skates board, as these may not be amazing, but they'll last you longer than the 20 boards and are better quality.

If you don't have any problems with money and you are willing to buy the best board on offer, then you will want a pro board, which will set you back 100 - 130, but for this money, you should get a strong, light andgood quality skateboard. When you buy the setup you can also choose the parts you want for the board. For example, you could have an Element deck, Spitfire wheels, Royal trucks and some standard ABEC1 bearings.

Basics of Skateboarding:

Here is a guide to the basic things you need to know for starting out in skateboarding.

The Ollie

The ollie is the one trick in skateboarding which you need to learn first, as most street tricks are based around the ollie. It basically consists of jumping with the board. . To start off, place your back foot on the tail of the board and your front foot around the area where the truck bolts are. The hardest part of this trick is the timing. First you should smack the tail down really hard and then slide your front foot up at the same time. What this does is 'pop' the board into the air. All you have to do now is keep nice and central over the board when in the air and then land with your feet spread out nicely and bend your knees as your landing. Practice this trick stationary at first until you feel confident enough to try it moving. You might find it hard to do this trick at first, but all it takes is practise and more practise. You might like to try ollieing onto the side of a curb while stationary, as this is good practise, or if you can do moving ollies the practise ollieing onto the curb, or over some small things, like cans or even drains.

Dropping Into a Half-Pipe

Before you start skating half-pipes, or vert ramps you need to learn to drop in, which briefly is when you put your tail on the coping, so the board is hanging over the edge and then lean in and skate down the ramp. It is best to learn to do this on a smaller ramp and before you try this its also best to just pump up and down the half-pipe starting from the bottom and getting higher till you are almost at the top.

Once you are used to this get up to the top of the ramp and put your board on the coping, with your back foot on the tail and your front foot towards the front of the board. The main technique of dropping in is the leaning forward. You have to be confident enough to do this, otherwise you will just slip back and end up on your arse. It might help if you just try and keep your front hand almost touching the nose until the bottom of the ramp. So as you lean in, put the front wheels down and push in. It is as simple as that. Then just go up to the other end and come back down again. After you have learnt these basics you can start doing some tricks on the coping.

The Parts Which Make up a Skateboard:

The average skateboard is made up of many different parts and here are the basic parts which a typical pro setup is made up of:

  • Deck
  • Trucks
  • Wheels
  • Bearings

The Skateboard Deck:
Over the years decks have not changed an awful lot, and for the last 5 or 10 years, the standard maple 7 ply deck has remained more or less the same. Here is a typical example of a deck you will see nowadays:

Skateboard decks are made by pressurising seperate sheets of ply together with a very strong glueinbetween them. This process is done by machines, like the cutting and shaping of most decks. Normally 7 layers of ply are used to make decks, although you can get 6, 8 and 9 ply decks on some of the stronger boards. However, seven ply is strong enough for most people and is not too heavy, whch is why is is so popular. A lot of decks also have crossing beams, where instead of making the grain of each ply sheet go the same way, they change it so the grain goes in different directions.

You get different size decks, the smaller boards tending to be a little easier to control and do flip tricksand the larger boards are easier to carve and give you a more stable feel when boarding. The width of a deck is measured in inches and can range from about 7 1/4" to 8 1/2 inches. The most popular size is around 7 3/4", but you will have to decide which width suits you personally the best. The legnth of decks also varies, although not as much, between about 30.5" and 33"

All skateboard decks have a concave, which is where instead of the deck being flat, it curves up slightly. This makes the deck stronger. You can get different concaves and I personally prefer a deck with a large concave, as it seems to grip my front foot better when ollieing, although you might like a lesser concave, everyone has different preferences.

You can also buy carbon fibre decks now and Libtech have made a deck which is covered in a plastic and contains graphite as well in the tail to give it more pop. You can see how good we found these decks in the REVIEWS of them.

Finally skateboard decks would be hopeless without griptape. Griptape is the sandpaper like black material on the top of skateboards, which gives grip so tricks can be carried out easier. You can also get graphic griptape, which can have various pictures on, although if you ask me this is just a bit of a gimmick.


Trucks have also remained fairly similar over the last 5 or 10 years. The trucks hold the wheels on and act as a kind of axle. They also allow you to turn and when you lean in a particular direction, eg if you lean to the right, it turns right. Here is a picture of a standard truck:

Most trucks are made from an aluminium alloy nowadays and they are very strong. I have only known a pair of trucks to break once and this was when the skateboard was run over by a lorry!. The two red bits on the truck are the rubbers or bushings, which enable the truck to turn. These are held on by a bolt called the kingpin with a nut on the end. The four holes on each corner of the baseplate (bottom of truck) are where the screws go through the truck and deck to hold the trucks on. There are 8 bolts altogether, you can see a typical set on the left.

Trucks come in many different shapes, sizes and colours. On the left is a picture of the different colours trucks come in. There have been many different designs, including the Webb truck, which is fairly small, but very strong and the Grind King Kre-per truck is one of my favorite designs.

You can adjust how much your truck turns by tightening or loosening the num on the kingpin. The tighter it is, the less your trucks will turn and the more you loosen it the more they will turn, so it is best to find out how tight you prefer it.


Skateboard wheels are made out of polyurethene and come in different sizes and hardnesses. The wheels effect the smoothness of the ride on a skateboard and the speed. If you have hard & large wheels you will go faster than if you have soft, small wheels. A typical wheel is about 54mm and about 97A. The 97A is the hardness rating of the wheel. The larger this number, the harder the wheel is. Most wheels are one durometer, but there are also "dual durometer" wheels. These consist of two different hardnesses, usually a harder center, or core, surrounded by a softer outer-riding surface area. If you want to just skate street though then you are better off with a 94A durometer, but if you are mostly gonna be skating in parks, on smooth surfaces, then a 100A would suit you better. It is best to try out different wheels for yourself, to find out what you like best.

Bearings are what enable the wheels to turn and these also come with different types. The standard bearings are normally 608Z or ABEC1. Most bearings today are between ABEC1 and about ABEC7. Basically, the larger the number, the faster the bearings normally go, but I think ABEC 3 are fast enough and the difference isn't very noticable. You can also get spacers to go inbetween the bearings to keep them in place.



Putting Together Parts to Make a Custom Board

It is fairly simple to put a skateboard together from the seperate parts. Here is a summary of what to do:

  1. First of all get the deck and stick the griptape onto it. Cut the excess off with a stanley knife, or file it off for smooth edges

  2. The trucks are metal casted components that mount to the underside of the skateboard. Use the 8 nuts and 8 bolts supplied to fix the trucks to the deck and then adjust the nut on the kingpin to a suitable tightness, the looser it is, the easier it will be to turn.

  3. Wheels go on to the axles of the trucks and there should be 8 bearings, two inserted into each wheel with a spacer between. You may also use washers on the outside of each bearing. Then just put the wheels onto the axles of the trucks and then tighten up the nuts so that the wheel spins well, but doesn't wobble around.

 skateboarding in the U.K.