Skateboard for a 7 year old

My son will be 7 in November, and he’s begging for a skateboard. Currently, he’s using a board he borrowed from a friend, and for a little kid, he’s pretty good at getting from point A to point B. He wears a helmet, of course.

He desperately wants one of his own, and I have been researching. I see that skateboard pros recommend a good wooden board (upwards of $100) over your typical Target/Toys 'R Us board (around $25). I understand why, but I’m not sure it would matter for a kid who’s just riding up and down the block.

He’s really into it right now, but I’m not sure he’ll stay interested, so I’m leaning towards a cheaper board. I can be convinced, however, to go for a more expensive board.

Do you think we can stick with the less expensive boards for now? Is his bike helmet okay head protection or should he get some other kind of helmet? Also what else, besides elbow and knee pads, does he need?

Thanks for your help.

Cheaper, but not so cheap the wheels fall off. I got one in the $45 range for my kid, because the cheap one I got him first seemed to be kind of unsafe. (He was 9 at the time; the first one was a gift from his big brother–who never got a skateboard as a kid.)

Not that any variety of skateboard is “safe.”

My kid used the same helmet for bike and skateboard. He also had knee pads, wrist pads, and elbow pads. Good luck getting him to put all that stuff on (but note that long, baggy shorts are good for hiding the knee pads–I think that’s why they started wearing them that way).

They are going to fall while learning this stuff, but probably not as much as you think they would. The trick when wearing knee pads is to fall forward, onto the pads, but everybody’s tendency is to fall backwards and land on the tailbone.

For a 7 year-old the cheap Target board is just fine.
What you’re getting with a more expensive board is something that can withstand very high impacts by a larger more heavy teenage rider.

Thanks to you both. Middle of the road board it is.

Its just like anything else - the cheaper ones are just made from very low-quality materials. Its the same difference as getting a bike from Wal-Mart and one from your LBS. Both bikes will do the same thing, one just does it better.

Skateboards have four components - deck, trucks, wheels, and bearings. A toy store deck will be heavier and will have a very basic shape, i.e. a flip at both ends but flat. A “real” deck will have the flips at both ends and will be slightly bowed (the center of the deck is lower than the sides). It may not seem like much but if you’re trying to do tricks it makes a huge difference. Toy store trucks will be heavier and made of a much lower quality metal than “real” trucks. The wheels are fairly comparable but the toy store wheels will wear out faster. There is a huge difference in bearings. Quality bearings will enable the board to go much, much faster with a lot lower effort.

In short, the toy store board is fine if your son is just interested in going up and down the block. If he wants to do tricks, go to the skatepark, go off ramps, etc. then I would suggest spending the extra money. Most skate shops do sell complete setups, with generic but quality components, for about $75. I got my 9-year-old one of these (along with about 25 stickers so he could decorate the board) and it works fine and he rides a lot. We go to a skatepark probably twice a month and have a half-pipe in the backyard.

Thanks Ol’Gaffer. I was thinking of spending more than the $15 amazon is asking for a Spiderman board, something more along the lines of POSITIV Complete Skateboard - Andy Mac (made with birch; there are also maple decks available) or a World Industries Complete Skateboard (maple). They’re both at amazon at http://www.amazon.com/POSITIV-Complete-Skateboard-Amazon-Exclusive/dp/B000W3RFMQ/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=sporting-goods&qid=1222372615&sr=1-3 and http://www.amazon.com/World-Industries-AM-Vice-Skateboard/dp/B000TUNDCS/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=sporting-goods&qid=1222372396&sr=1-5. Do these look okay?

I hadn’t considered a generic board from a skate shop, although I had thought to take him to one to get him fitted for pads. I’ll look into that. He’d probably like decorating it himself.

What do his friends have? A bulky, cheap board with cheap wheels and bearings requires a lot more effort, and he may get frustrated if he has trouble keeping up with his friends.

You might check with your local skate shop. Give them an opportunity to go over the advantages of quality equipment to a youngster and to make a young starter a great deal on last year’s deck with slightly used bearings, etc. If it’s a good shop, they’ll recognize the value of gaining a new customer’s trust by cutting you a good deal. One local skate shop treated me pretty good when I was first starting out, and now I shudder to think about how much money I spent in that place between the ages of 9 and 25.

And you want me to take him there at 7 years old? I don’t have that kind of cash. :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m looking around now at the local skate shops and trying not to be intimidated by the fact that I’m old and terminally unhip. I think I found a decent one nearby; I’ll have to check them out.

Those both look great.

As far as the safety equipment goes, he really only needs a helmet (a definite, definite must) and knee pads if he’s on a ramp.

Aw, don’t be intimidated. All through my teens and early 20’s I worked and managed many skate shops, and I promise we never looked down on parents. No, you look down on the poser kids who wear Hot Topic clothes!

Seriously though, I think middle of the road is your best bet, don’t get him one of those heavy junky toy boards. If you do, you are just going to end up buying him a better complete not too far down the line. Also, kids are really savvy, and even at that age, other kids will know they are dorky. I think getting a blank deck is your best bet, he can put whatever stickers he wants on it, and I think we sold ours for 35 at most places. You can get cheap trucks and wheels, and with a good complete, if the deck breaks or anything, you can still use the other components. Those toy decks won’t give you that option.

Good luck to your son!!! Little skater kids are great, and growing up with them, most of them went to film school later in life, so don’t be surprised if he gets into filming once he’s able to pull a couple tricks!

Thanks everyone. I’ll try not to feel too out of place at the skate shop. I’m definitely not a poser, I wouldn’t even know how to try and fake it. :slight_smile:

Ugh, I know I’m old when this pops into my mind, but it’s worth a mention.

Those toy store boards can be quite expensive, especially in the long run. One way is, as mariposalabrown said, if something breaks you’re stuck buying everything over again, whereas skate shop boards allow you to replace old or broken parts. Once you have one, the upkeep cost is fairly low, and the benefits are long-term. I still have my old board, it was middle of the line in the 80s, and when I get bored I still fool around with it, and the parts are still available. Well, it’s not really my old board, everything has been replaced over the years, but you get the idea.

More importantly, your kid’s riding on it. While it’s not exactly the safest sport, using a cheap board only makes it worse. At some point, whether he sticks with it or not, he’s going to do something really, really stupid. (When I was just a little older than he is, jumping off garage roofs was a way to pass the day.) Maybe after he’s stuffed it in a closet for a couple years and his teenage friends talk about skating, and he pulls out the only board he has.

While a better board may not always be safer, they tend to be more durable, or at least absorb an impact that would wreck a cheap deck. Worse, really cheap toy bearings/wheels can fail unexpectedly, throwing him at the worst time. Saving a few bucks might cost you more in copays in the long run. Buying a better board doesn’t eliminate the problem, but it can mitigate these problems a little, simply because if his friends can do something, his board should keep up, and it won’t surprise him as easily.

If he does stick with it, a full set of pads are a good idea, too. He won’t want them, and he definitely won’t want to wear them if his friends aren’t. Buy them anyway. Stick them into a corner someplace. If he does move beyond casual sidewalk skating, and starts doing the more dangerous stuff, he might start wearing them on his own. They lack the coolness factor for some, but they allow you to fall when you need to, preventing those bad, uncontrolled falls that happen when you stay on the board too long. After a while you don’t even think about them, and you can focus on your skills instead of worrying about scrapes and bruises.

It’s probably a good idea for you to at least skim wikipedia or google a few related sites so you have an overall idea of what to look for when buying one, away from sales pressure and your own awkwardness around the subject.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skateboard

Please get him into the habit of knee, elbow and wrist pads before he starts doing tricks.

You may not think he needs them for going up and down the block, but he’ll probably be starting tricks or trying out someone’s home-made ramp before he tells you he’s stepped up the danger level.

I’ve watched maggenkid at our local skate park all this year and insisted on full pads every time, she used to argue, but now she doesn’t. We’ve seen a couple of kids carted away with head injuries (helmets then became compulsory) and a couple more snap their wrists, one of them was standing still - on flat level ground and simply got bumped and landed badly (all pads are now compulsory).

It’s easier to get him into the habit that boarding = full safety gear, than to argue for each additional set of pads *after *he needs them.