Not since Michael J Fox took to a skateboard in Back to the Future has there been such an interest in skateboarding. The sport was the surprise hit of the Olympic Games in Tokyo where it made its debut last year, and thanks to spectacular performances by stars such as British skateboarder Sky Brown, who won a bronze medal at the tender age of 13, more and more girls have taken up the sport.
And it’s not just for the kids either, no matter what Avril Lavigne says. According to Skateboard GB, there has been a big increase in the number of people over 30 taking up the sport
Neil Ellis from Skateboard GB explains, “Skateboarding really engaged with people during the Olympics because of how much fun it looked and how accessible it is. Having amazing GB role models such as Sky Brown and Bombette Martin was so awesome and showed that anything is possible no matter how old you are”.
There’s a misconception that skateboarding is an expensive hobby but that isn’t the case, certainly not when you are starting out anyway. A decent skateboard shouldn’t set you back more than £50 and a lot of skate parks will let you hire a skateboard, which is a good way of finding out if it’s the right sport for you. You can find your nearest skate park by downloading MySkate, a free app which shows you all the skate parks in the country.
Professional skateboarder Glen Fox confirms this: “The way a skateboarder needs a skateboard is the same as an artist starting out who just needs a standard pencil. For beginners, just a simple basic model is perfect”.
Once you have your skateboard, the only other thing you need are guts and determination…plus some of the accessories we have reviewed below.
Oxelo Skateboard Complete 100
While the majority of skateboards are American brands, Oxelo the own brand from French sports chain Decathlon is quietly making a name for itself as a good starting point for beginners on a budget.
The Oxelo Skateboard Complete 100 is a great basic model for first timers. It’s popsicle shape so the nose and tail are roughly the same size and is a good board if you want to try any fancy move like ‘Ollies’ (jumping a skateboard which is the basis for all tricks).
The deck (the part you stand on - or try to at least) is made of 100 per cent Canadian maple, making it sturdy and it has durable wheels which offer a smooth ride. They also help you get to grips with pushing and cruising around. It is strong and flexible enough to be used on mini ramps and doesn’t pick up speed too quickly so it’s easier for beginners to control.
Buy now £59.99, Decathalon
Vans The Lizzie Shoes
A lot of skateboard brands have crossed over into street style and Vans, the brand synonymous with skatewear and its spin-off subculture aesthetic, look as good on the red carpet as the skate park. No wonder it has an extensive celebrity fan base that includes Rihanna.
Don’t be put off by its ubiquity, it’s rated one of the best by hardcore skateboarders. We love the new Lizzie silhouette. It was designed by champion skateboarder Lizzie Armanto (hence the name) and is the brand’s first signature skateboarding shoe designed by a woman in 20 years.
Unlike your regular trainers, they have a flat, leaner outsole and good flexibility, so you feel a good connection with your board and the micro-waffle tread offers maximum grip. It also has extra cushioning to protect your feet. They come in three colours but our favourite is the all-white for its retro styling that looks as good on the board as they do off.
Buy now £80.00, Vans
D Street Beach Cruiser Complete Multi Skateboards
Skateboards come in three types – the basic board like the Oxelo, longboards (which are more for posing) and cruisers. This is the latter and comes from US brand D Street.
Cruisers such as this one generally have bigger, softer wheels and a more retro shape and are more suited for riding around. It has the maneuverability of a normal skateboard, but offers a softer ride thanks to the bigger wheels. This is a good beginners board, especially for taller learners. The larger deck means it’s easier to get the hang of standing on it. Ideally, a skateboard should be matched with your weight and height, but a good retailer can advise you. We also love the rainbow design which means you stand out for all the right reasons.
Buy now £74.95, Decathlon
Skatehut Skateboard Tool
The skateboarder’s equivalent of a Swiss army knife, the Skatehut Skateboard Tool is everything you need to maintain your board in one handy tool. It comes in a comfortable T-shape which makes untightening stubborn bolts easier, and also has a slide out screwdriver and truck bolts. The best thing about it is that it is small enough to stick in your bag in case you need to make emergency repairs.
Buy now £3.95, Amazon
Bell Local Skate Helmet
The most important thing any skateboarder needs is a good helmet, after all concussion is not fun. A common mistake that people make is thinking that their bog standard cycle helmet will do the trick, which can have painful consequences. Unlike cycle helmets, skateboard helmets offer more coverage at the back of the head and at the forehead and are designed to withstand multiple impacts.
Californian brand Bell is a safe bet for beginners, and has a low profile, traditional ‘bucket shape’ which gives all round protection. It has a thicker ABS plastic shell to improve the helmets durability, but feels light and comfortable. Plus we love this helmet’s stylish, old skool vibe.
Buy now £39.99, Evans Cycles
Enuff Skully Pre Built Complete Green
When skateboarders get to more advanced levels, they will often build their own skateboards to suit their specification, but a standard complete board is more than enough when you are starting out.
We love this skateboard from UK brand Enuff. With its’ bright, colourful graphics and cool skeleton character, this is a great one for older children and young teens, but don’t be mistaken into thinking it’s just a toy and not the real deal. It is a good all round board with a full-sized maple wood deck. Wheels that are softer than a regular board are included so it is easier to get the hang of staying upright. These also respond well to tight turns, making it ideal for a beginner dipping their toes into the sport.
Buy now £49.99, Skate Hut
Triple Eight Skate Pads 3-pack
It is not just your head that needs protecting when you are skateboarding. Bumps and scrapes are an inevitable part of the sport and your knees and elbows are particularly vulnerable to injuries. Your best bet if you are a beginner is to buy a multi pack such as the Triple Eight -Pack which comes with wrist pads, knee pads and elbow pads. The pack is good value for money and convenient as you get all three items at once so you can get on your board as soon as your parcel arrives.
All three items are ergonomically designed with moulded splints and are not too bulky for ease of movement. The wide, reinforced straps make them feel secure and they don’t slip down your legs and arms which is a definite plus for children.
Buy now £34.99, Amazon
Lazer One Helmet
If you are on a budget, another option is to go for a multi-use helmet which can be used for both skate boarding and cycling. The key thing to look out for when going for a multi-use helmet is that it is safety certified for both activities, such as the Lazer One which is designed for both skateboarding and BMX biking. It is a good, solid helmet for the price and gives good coverage to the all important back of the head and forehead. It feels comfortable and secure and doesn’t slip back mid ride.
Buy now £25.00, Halfords
Adidas Team Track Slacks
Part of the fun of skateboarding is looking the part. However, it is more than just about aesthetics. What you wear is an important part of staying safe and should be given as much attention as your knee pads and helmet.
A key part of a skateboarder’s gear are a good pair of bottoms to give you ease of movement - so skinny jeans are a big no no. They should also be hard wearing enough to withstand the rough and tumble of skateboarding. Your best bet is to go for jeans or joggers designed specifically for skateboarding such as the Adidas Team Track Slacks.
These vintage inspired slacks were designed by skateboarders and look as good as they feel. They are made of durable corduroy and were designed to cater for a spectrum of sizes and forms so you will be able to find the right fit for you.
Buy now £70.00, Adidas
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2
If the weather is not permitting, you can always recreate the skateboarding experience from the comfort of your sofa thanks to this classic game create by legendary skateboard pro, Tony Hawk.
It is considered one of the greatest sports games ever made and when the heart is willing but the knees are weak, it is a fun way of doing all the fancy tricks you dreamt of, without scraping your knees.
The original game has been given a makeover for the 2020s, blending all the original levels, pro skaters, old-school tricks and more that gamers remember from the ‘90s and ‘00s with new, beautifully recreated levels and is available on the PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch.
Buy now £19.99, Argos