Portishead, the town where Sk8 or Die was established in 2018, was once a sleepy village with a monstrous power station, phosphorous plant and industrial dock latched onto it.
When that type of industry was no more the sleepy village blossomed into a commuter town, or satellite suburb of Bristol. With the city only about 8 miles away and the M5 even closer the growing community attracted professional types and families. The demographic changed from mostly retirement age folk to new mums and dads.
And that’s the reason I reckon Sk8 or Die attracts very new skateboard beginners looking for their first skateboard. Not only that though, Portishead has had a pretty dead skate scene since the end of the 90’s. Not that it was great then but it was better than the following 20 years or so. That is despite the tenacious efforts of those rooting for a new skatepark.
It’s getting closer, that’s all I’m going to say right now.
More positively, Clevedon just a few miles south, will be having a new skatepark built by Maverick. We have to thank the Clevedon Skate Project for that.
These efforts lend hope to the future of Sk8 or Die, a humble and independent skate shop. But it’s the young’uns who deserve the gratitude the most. The kids that come in Sk8 or Die for their first set-up or complete skateboard.
So while we’re all stuck in this hellish lockdown waiting for times to improve I thought I’d give you a little insight into what we stock, what I recommend, value for money and the right skateboard for you.
Skateboards for Tiny Riders
Little riders will certainly benefit from mini skateboards. Minis will likely be advertised as 7″, 7.25″, 7.38″ up to 7.5″. These are the deck widths. The length of the deck are also slightly shorter that standard. The pint-size rider benefits from ease of control and an overall lighter set up.
There’s no right or wrong choice and no cut off in age or size. It’s whatever you like and feel comfortable with. Most importantly, it’s what skateboard will assist in your improvements. A rule of thumb suggests by the time the young skateboarder gets to the age of say 9 or 10 it’s time to look at mid size boards. These are sized 7.5″ up to 8″.
The choice of boards for smaller riders is blessedly vast. Most of the time a new rider will start off with a decent complete straight off the peg. Tony Hawk Signature and Rocket produce mini skateboards between £30-40. That is great value. Fracture skateboards are a slight step up in quality, priced between £45-55. The brand I recommend is Birdhouse. Birdhouse Stage 1 completes are priced at £65.
One of the dilemmas often faced by a parent unsure of how much money to spend on a skateboard is whether it’s a flash in the pan activity. The concern is if the kid will not be interested after a day or week falling off the board and getting frustrated they can’t immediately do a kick-flip.
To be straight to the point – the better the board, the more it should inspire the rider to use it. Too many cheap rubbish skateboards do more harm putting kids off skating. A Birdhouse Stage 1 complete won’t be putting any kid off. That’s my professional opinion.
Boards for Bigger Kids
New skaters aged 9 to 13 seem to be Sk8 or Die’s best customers. These kids want the best skateboard, with the best names, cool graphics and for the best price. Mid to standard range sizes, 7.75″ up to 8.25″ are best suited for this age category.
Although our lowest price completes start at £27.50, they are not always a wise choice. This is because the build quality and components leave a lot to be desired. Firstly, the bearings, which makes the wheels go round often don’t. This is enough to deter any kid from skating. Furthermore, the wheels can be hard and plastic feeling, ensuring a jittery ride. These budget skateboards are ok for learning the very basics. In addition they boast some awesome graphics. Something is better than nothing, right?
My advice would be to look at Fracture skateboards for around the £50 if you’re on a budget. Like I said before, you can’t go wrong with a Birdhouse Stage 1. As well as the mini sizes they also come in 7.75″ and 8″.
You may be fortunate to have a higher budget. In which case the world is your oyster. For £90 and under you can pick from a huge range of pro brand names in skateboarding. Alien Workshop, Santa Cruz, Real, Primitive, Toy Machine, Sk8 Mafia, Globe, Anti-Hero and Powell Peralta are just some of the brands we have in right now.
Advanced Skaters’ Choice
Once you’ve got to grips with the basics and you’re developing your skills you’ll be getting to know your board better. This will lead to exploring the vast range of components that will complement your progress.
And it is vast. From different deck shapes and sizes, hardness of wheels even griptape preference. This is where you might want to go with a pro set up.
It’s pretty standard requirement to go with a Canadian maple deck made from seven sheets of plywood glued and pressed. Canadian maple is reputed to have the best pop of all maple types. Pop is what you get when you pop the board in the air from an ollie or other tricks.
Like your style of skating there is no right or wrong when it comes to deck choice. It’s what you feel comfortable with and what gives you the confidence you need to progress.
Same goes for trucks and wheels. Of course you’re going to want something that is going to do the job, to hopefully last and will be affordable.
Top brands such as Independent and Thunder make lighter trucks now with hollow king pins or even titanium axles which is both strong and light.
The general rule is you want a truck to be as light as possible for ease of getting air. Although the most important attribute is a truck that gives you complete control.
Sk8 or Die stocks several brand of truck. Fracture and Sushi are value for money options. Iron and Bullet trucks offer competition. Theeve and Royal are definitely worth considering in your set up. Theeve trucks offer a fantastic titanium option at a great price while Royal has an inverted Kingpin to prevent hangups on the coping.
Krux trucks have some adventurous designs if you want something a bit wacky that doesn’t compromise on quality.
Wheels come in several different shapes, sizes and hardnesses. The hardness is quantified on the durometer scale. 78a on the durometer scale is very soft. Consequently big soft wheels are most often found on cruiser boards. In contrast, at the other end of the scale, riders who like to power slide use 99a or higher hard wheels.
Top of the range wheels like Spitfire and Bones offer different shaped wheels. Specifically these nuances in shape offer varying factors of control which the skater can explore on their journey of skate enlightenment.
Ricta wheels offer the cloud style. These clouds come in 3 hardnesses, 78a, 86a and 92a, so even on rougher surfaces you can still get a smoother skate. Similarly OJ offer soft to mid-hardness wheels.