Considered both a sport and a mode of transportation, skateboarding has found its way into mainstream culture and can be seen not only on the streets and in neighborhoods, but also on TV, in movies and in advertisements across the nation.
The origins of skateboarding are tricky, at best. Some consider it erupted out of an accidental phenomenon-that is, when kids on soap-boxes in the 1930s and 1940s detached the box from the soap-box cart off the plank and attached rollerskate wheels to the plank. Others argue the sport began as a pre-meditated move by Southern California surfers in an effort to recreate the smooth carving motion of surfing on land. Whatever the origin, skateboarding has caught on. Not only are skateboards widely available for purchase, but also cities are covered with sometimes gated, concrete areas designated for skateboarding. These areas are known as skate-parks.
Skateboards are made up of the following parts:
- Skateboard Deck
- Skateboard Bearings
- Skateboard Hardware
- Skateboard Trucks
- Skateboard Wheels
Skateboard decks are usually 7-ply maple planks that are anywhere from 7-10 ½ inches wide. Wide planks are used for trick-skating, while skateboards in the 7-8 ½ inch range are used for street-skating. Decks usually have “grip tape" on the top of them. This tape adheres to the top of the deck, while the surface provides a sandpaper material, which helps the individual “grip" the board. Decks also have a wide range of designs on the bottom of them from patterns or solid colors (which allow the individual to add stickers without disrupting any art) to figures, structures and landscapes.
Bearings help mount the deck on an axle. Most bearings are graded according to a scale called an ABEC scale. Industrial “608" size bearings are standard and bearings are usually made of steel.
Hardware consists of a set of bolts, usually 8 in a set (10-32 bolts). An allen (or crosshead) is also part of hardware. Additionally, self-lock nylock nuts are used.
Skateboards have two metal trucks, which are usually an aluminum alloy. These connect the wheels to the deck. The trucks are made up of a baseplate and a hanger. The baseplate is screwed to the deck and the hanger holds the axle. There are also rubber grommets or bushings between the hanger and the baseplate, which help the board maneuver and turn. The stiffer the bushings or rubber grommets, the stiffer the turn. The bushings also cushion. A kingpin bolt is used to hold the parts together.
Wheels are made of polyurethane. They can come in different shapes and sizes. Sizes and shapes are suited for different types of skating, such as street or trick skating. Smaller sizes keep the deck closer to the ground, which requires less force to speed up or slow down. The hardness of the wheel also affects the overall performance. Hardness is usually measured by durometer ‘A’ scale. A very soft wheel is about 75a and a very hard wheel is about 101a.
Optional parts include:
- Nose guard
- (Angled) Risers
- Grip tape
- Tail guard
Anne Clarke writes numerous articles for Web sites on gardening, parenting, fashion, and home decor. Her background also includes teaching, gardening, and recreation. For more of her useful articles on skateboards, please visit Skateboard Decks , supplier of information about skateboards.