Choosing a skateboard for a young kid is no easy task, especially for non-skateboarding parents. Most options on the market are either toy/cheap skateboards or real skateboards that are too big for a child.
SkateXS Skateboards, based in Carlsbad CA, specializes in making “real”, brand name grade skateboards for kids aged 5 to 12. These boards are built using the same high-quality components – decks, trucks and bushings, wheels and bearings – found in leading brand models for adults. However, SkateXS boards are sized specifically for younger skaters, which makes a huge difference.
For a young child, it’s tempting to just start with a cheap board so s/he can familiarize him/herself with the sport and test whether s/he wants to pursue it. Getting a low-quality skateboard for a beginner child, however, can lead to a negative and even unsafe experience.
In this post, I take a close-up look at SkateXS skateboards, what’s special about them, and why they’re so widely praised by parents of kid skaters, beginner and advanced.
See the SkateXS kid skateboard lineup here on their website
Choosing a good skateboard for a child
If you’ve been looking for a skateboard for your child or grand-child, chances are you’ve come across millions of options with prices ranging from under $50 for toy boards to close to $200 for quality cruisers.
To the novice parent, many kids skateboards out there look just about the same. The difference lies in the quality (and hence price) of the components. This applies to any skateboard but particularly to kid skateboards since there are so many attractive-looking cheap boards everywhere.
You may also find skateboards for kids in department stores that are pricier yet don’t offer the kind of quality you would expect for the price.
These are a few key things all “real” skateboard, like SkateXS boards, have in common:
- Quality decks (the actual standing platform) are made from strong maple and/or bamboo layers and are shaped with the right concave (U-shaped widthwise curvature) and kicks (angled raised ends) for comfort and tricks.
- The trucks (which hold the wheels) should be made from strong metal alloys – not plastic or cheap metal, have the right size relative to the deck, and have well-tuned, quality parts (axle, baseplate, hanger).
- The wheels should be made from quality polyurethane (not a plastic mix) and have the right diameter and hardness relative to the kid’s weight. The bearings fitted inside the wheels should have good quality to allow the wheel to spin long and smooth.
In contrast, cheap, low-quality skateboards for kids typically have subpar components that often result in a mediocre experience for the child, or even a dangerous one.
Decks made with cheap wood and fillers, cheap metal trucks, and plastic wheels can quickly fall apart. Even if they don’t, the performance will generally be quite bad as the board won’t roll and turn as it should.
SkateXS skateboards are real skateboards that meet or exceed the quality of boards found in skateparks and used in professional competitions such as the X-Games. Keep reading for more on the SkateXS components.
Check out the SkateXS range of quality skateboards for kids here
See also Choosing the best longboard for a teenager
Why kid-specific skateboards? Size matters!
At this point, you probably got the idea that young children, including beginners, should be using skateboards with decent-quality components. Does this mean you can get a regular board from a skateboard shop?
Besides quality, the next main challenge when it comes to choosing a good skateboard for a child is size, and that’s where SkateXS comes in.
SkateXS puts a lot of focus on building skateboards that have the right distance between the nose kick and the tail kick, that is, the “flat” (not inclined) part of the deck.
Skateboard sizes are often expressed as the width of the deck. Although deck length is generally what matters most, length and width go hand in hand. E.g. an adult deck may be 7.75″ x 31″.
For a younger teen 5’+ tall and size 7 shoe or more, a 7.75” deck width is ideal as his/her feet can leverage the inflection points (where the angles of the kicks start) while in a powerful stance.
Shorter skaters riding a 7.5″ or larger deck, on the other hand, typically need to spread their legs too wide and lose strength, or they don’t reach the nose of the board.
This can work, but SkateXS thinks kids should be able to leverage the tail and nose without doing leg splits.
Kids should be able to place their front foot on the nose kick while their back foot rests on the tail WITHOUT having to widen their legs so much that they lose power.
That is, a kid should be able to get in that position with their legs about shoulder-width apart, thus using the same angles and muscles as older skaters on larger boards.
Thus, choosing a correctly sized deck ensures the young skater has more control, stability, and maneuverability of their skateboard.
To achieve this result, SkateXS makes skateboard decks with proven sizes of 7 x 28″, 7.25 x 29″, and 7.4 x 30″. The smaller size is recommended for skaters under 60lbs (generally ages 5-7).
The middle size is for children between 60-80lbs (generally ages 8-10). The larger size for kids over 80lbs. Bigger kids can typically start riding “standard” skateboard decks which start at 7.5″ wide and about 31″ long.
The SkateXS approach to building skateboards proportionally correctly sized for kids has proven to be very effective as most of the kids on the SkateXS Team got enrolled by the top brands around age 10: Fox Rio by Almost Skateboards, Gavin Botger by Powell Skateboards, Will Morton by Element, Zion Effs by Santa Cruz, Kristion Jordan by Baker.
SkateXS skateboard for kids components
As mentioned, besides proper sizing, SkateXS provides younger kids access to quality components at the same level as the top-shelf skate shop components.
SkateXS skateboard decks for kids are high-quality decks. They are built from bamboo layers, providing an optimal mix of stiffness and flex resulting in great “pop” – responsiveness when doing jump tricks such as ollies.
Besides great pop, the Bamboo material makes for very strong and durable decks that can withstand a lot of abuse from kid skaters. Bamboo is also environment-friendly.
Aside from the choice of material, SkateXS decks have quality craftsmanship as witnessed by the shapes and contour, raised edges, and functional angled kicks, comparable to pro decks for adult riders.
This, combined with the nice concave that runs along the deck’s full length, makes for comfortable and secure foot cupping and lock-in for a kid skater when riding and during tricks.
The SkateXS trucks are specially adapted to the brand’s deck sizes. In general, skateboard truck width should match the deck so the wheels align with the deck – wheels that stick out could lead to dangerous shoe bite.
SkateXS trucks are also designed to have a lower height than regular adult trucks, allowing kids to ride closer to the ground – this is important for pushing, tricks, and jumping on and off the board in light of young skaters’ much shorter legs.
Besides being shorter, the SkateXS trucks are also lighter due to the hollow kingpin – the part that connects the hanger and baseplate. A lighter truck means a lighter complete skateboard that a kid can pop and flip more easily.
The Advanced and Pro setups are fitted with Thunder Performance trucks which are reputable U.S-made lightweight quality trucks.
The bushings used in – the rubber parts inside the trucks for cushioning and turns – are also softer to match the small weight of child skateboarders.
SkateXS wheels and bearings for kids
The wheels that come with SkateXS skateboards are made by Bones and Spitfire, two highly-regarded wheel and bearings manufacturers, ensuring the quality of the polyurethane and wheel shape.
Here again, SkateXS picks the right wheel size and hardness to match the special truck height and rider weight they combine with. The wheels have diameters of 52-53mm and 100 durometer – appropriate for lightweight younger skaters on various kinds of terrain.
The Advanced setups come with Bones 100s wheels, a recognized wheel in the “grow-up” pro skateboarding community. The Pro series comes with Spitfire Bigheads high-performance wheels with slightly larger contact.
The wheels on the Advanced and Pro setups are fitted with highly-rated Bones Reds bearings, the best selling skateboard bearings in history, which have long-proven excellent performance and removable shields for easy cleaning. These bearings are pre-lubricated with Bones Speed Cream.
See the SkateXS advanced skateboards for kids series on their website
What SkateXS parents say
SkateXS consistently turns parents into big fans and has earned a continuous stream of very positive customer feedback. The following are a few examples of comments from happy parents who’ve purchased a skateboard for their child or grandchild:
- Great handcrafted skateboard, nowhere near in the same class as many products on the market for kids. If quality matters, these are the best option.
- Similar proportions to boards the pros use but with better-suited proportions for little riders.
- Impressed by the lightweight and durable build.
- Easy process (unlike most skate shops) for ordering a customized board with something special written on it
- SkateXS is a small company with quality products and great customer service, with quick responses to questions.
- Bryan, the owner, is personally involved and often takes the time to answer parents’ questions or issues over the phone.
- The skateboard is made of quality parts and strong enough for a 200+ lbs parent to jump on the board and ollie/kickflip it.
- The SkateXS board holds up to hours and hours of my kid trying new tricks that are very hard on the parts.
- After weeks of usage, the SkateXS board surpassed my expectations, the wheels and trucks handle abuse with minimal wear, better than some costly skate shop boards almost twice the price that don’t hold up nearly as well over time (trucks or full board need replacement).
- The SkateXS setup is initially tightened so the wheels don’t spin as fast as a normal board to help the beginner get started – it can then be loosened as they learn. The knee/elbow/wrist protection pack also helps for safety and confidence building.
- Getting a SkateXS kid-sized real street skateboard is a better choice than getting a mini-cruiser, as it’s better for learning traditional skateboarding tricks and riding skateparks in the future.
See parent comments for the Purple Panda Advanced skateboard, one of the most popular in the lineup, on the SkateXS website.
The SkateXS Beginner Series for kids
The beginner series – like all the models in the SkateXS lineup – are genuine, high-quality skateboard completes designed for kids for getting started all the way to learning more advanced tricks.
As mentioned earlier, the SkateXS decks are kid-sized and have a lightweight and durable bamboo construction and good pop.
The decks are fitted with pre-assembled quality Jessup Premium grip tape, in various color options (see next section), which offers great control and renowned durability.
The trucks on the beginner boards are skate shop quality and sourced from top manufacturers.
The 53mm SkateXS wheels included have a softer 90A durometer to allow for easier and smoother riding when learning. The SkateXS bearings are pre-lubricated high-precision ABEC-7 with removable shields.
The completes are professionally custom-assembled by hand in the USA and ship ready to ride out of the box.
Deck artwork and colors
The decks boast beautiful artwork on the bottom that kids and parents alike constantly rave about, with a base choice of 3 attractive design themes on the deck bottom: Panda, Unicorn, Starboard. Pirate.
The Panda theme features a cool cartoon panda character acting crazy on a wooden background. The Unicorn, typically a girl-oriented design, shows a colorful and flowery Unicorn mythological character.
The Starboard theme features nice stars and stripe patterns on the deck bottom and camo-like graphics on top. The Pirate theme has a stunning skeleton pirate holding out his saber and black flag on top of a ship mast.
Each deck also comes with a choice of 8 colors for the top side of the deck:
A very popular feature of SkateXS is the ability to easily personalize decks by having the kid’s name printed on the top side of the deck. The design customization is smoothly integrated into the assembling process.
Check out the Beginner series kids skateboards here on the SkateXs website.