Reviews You Can Rely On

The 6 Best Skateboards of 2023

We tested out skateboards from Element, Powell, Baker and others to find which models were best
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Best Skateboard of 2023
Adam doing a frontside 5-0 grind on the Z-Flex at the skatepark
Credit: Amber Kissner

Our Top Picks

By Adam Yee ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 22, 2023

To help you find the best skateboard, we researched dozens of different styles available today and bought and tested 10 of the top-selling completes on the market today. Our experts spent weeks riding all kinds of setups, from cruisers to legendary pro's signature models, and even toy-store boards. Each product was purchased as a complete and rated on its durability, ideal skill level, and the quality of each of its components: the deck, wheels/bearings, and trucks. So, whether you're a parent looking to buy a starter board for your child, or a full-grown adult who's just wanting to cruise around, there's a skateboard to fit any size, skill level, age, or budget.

Make sure to check out our other skateboard and scooter reviews, where we've tested everything from electric skateboards to hoverboards to find the best models on the market.


Best Overall

Element Section

Board Type: Popsicle | Deck Size: 7.62" x 31"
All parts are reliable and made by Element
No flaws in assembly
Good for transportation and tricks
Good for many skill levels
Deck was a different size than advertised
Wheels are slightly slick at first

The Element Section is a great starter board for teens, kids, and some smaller adults. We found the high level of quality we have come to expect from Element, a well-respected and dependable brand in the skate industry for decades. Many brands sell completes with a decent deck and generic parts, but this Element model has quality components in every piece. The trucks are responsive when turning, and they grind well on rails, ledges, or coping. The bearings roll quickly and maintain speed, while the 'all-terrain' wheels keep the ride pleasant and fluid. It comes with grip tape that keeps good traction when applied correctly without any air bubbles. Testers could also get a high level of pop out of the deck when doing tricks.

Our biggest gripe with the Element Section is that the deck size we received is not what was advertised. The deck we got was just 7.62" wide instead of the 8" width we expected. Such a small size difference might seem minimal, but a veteran skater can easily feel the difference in just a quarter of an inch size difference in a deck. The small size makes this model a good fit for teens or kids, but might not be the best choice for adults with larger feet or long limbs. Due to their small and hard design, the wheels are a bit slippery. It probably won't be an issue at a skatepark or on a solid surface, but on the street where you might roll over rocks or a crack in the sidewalk, the wheels are more prone to snaring. Like all boards, the Element Section will begin to show wear and tear with use, and it may potentially snap if you land on it wrong. Overall, it features quality parts and a complete professional setup. The Element Section Complete is a great option for new skaters to learn the foundations, yet is suitable for skaters of all skill levels.

skateboard - best overall
Adam doing a frontside boardslide on the Element Section Complete, emphasizing this board's durability.
Credit: Amber Kissner


Best Hybrid Board

Z-Flex Shadow Lurker Pool 9.5

Board Type: Hybrid Pool/Cruiser | Deck Size: 9.5" x 33.25"
All parts are top quality
Combines transportation and trick capabilities well
Great wheels and bearings
Trucks turn and grind well
Uniquely shaped deck
Harder for kids to control
Heaviest in the bunch

The Z-Flex Shadow Lurker Pool 9.5 is a signature model of the late Jay Adams, a professional skateboarder in the mid-1970s and a legend in skate history. So, it makes sense that this board's style is a throwback to those days, boasting a 9.5" wide deck, the biggest board we tested. Every component is high-quality and made internally by Z-Flex. The large wheels make the ride especially smooth and effortless, even on choppy surfaces, while the trucks turn and grind nicely. We found this setup's bearings to roll the quickest amongst any other we tested, with one push sailing past 65 ft on this hybrid board that falls between a regular style and a cruiser model. It's a great transportation board because of the soft wheels; however, the full nose and tail still make it possible to keep good control and manage tricks. This board isn't quite the standard-shaped deck, though. It has a pointed nose and a squared-off tail, giving off those 'old-school' vibes. There are also wheel wells on the underside to avoid getting "wheel bite" (when the wheels rub against the deck and stop it from rolling). Along with the dagger-style shape, everything on this model is black with minimal branding, adding to Jay Adams' tough, punk rock aesthetic.

This board came with a large air bubble in the middle of the grip tape. Luckily, this was easily fixed by simply pushing it down, and the bubble completely disappeared once we stepped on and began riding. This was the only visible flaw on this skateboard and was minor. This setup is bigger and heavier than the others tested, making it less ideal for kids; it's a lot of board to handle. And though doing some tricks is possible with this board, the width and the weight make more technical maneuvers like flip tricks quite difficult. However, it's an excellent setup for rolling around town while throwing in the occasional trick. Overall, the Z-Flex Shadow Lurker was one of the most versatile and fun boards we tested.

skateboard - best hybrid board
The Z-Flex Shadow Lurker is the most versatile board we tested. Its large wheels give it a smooth and carefree ride and its shape enables it to transition from transport to tricks seamlessly.
Credit: Adam Yee


Best Bang for Your Buck

Cal 7 Complete

Board Type: Popsicle | Deck Size: 7.8" x 31.75"
Decent deck and grip tape
No flaws in assembly
Trucks are stable
Trucks turn and grind
Wheels & bearings are not fast
Deck has little concavity
Heavier than most

The Cal 7 Complete doesn't match the quality of products made by a reputable skate brand. However, out of the boards that we tested in this lower price range, this one clearly felt the best and performed far better than the others. Although the deck has virtually no concave, it is not as thick and heavy as the PHOEROS or WhiteFang models, and it has better pop and higher quality grip tape. The generic trucks on this complete are also much better than the others at a similar price point, as they are more stable, and they turn and grind decently well. The one area where the Cal 7 excels is in the graphics department. While the picture on the deck doesn't affect the board's performance and ends up getting scratched off over time, our testers and friends thought the Japanese Oni mask artwork was really cool. Even though the Cal 7 Complete is in a lower class compared to the models from more recognizable skate companies, it is a decent option for those who want to give skateboarding a try at a low price.

The Cal 7 is a beginner-friendly model that allows riders to develop their balance, get comfortable riding, and learn basic tricks. That said, some aspects of the lower quality can hold a skater back from progressing. The deck is not as crisp as a pro-quality board. Though it's better than some models, it has a rather dull pop, requiring more effort for tricks. The deck is also a little bigger at 8" wide, making it more suitable for teens or young adults than children, who may find it harder to control. The bearings on this setup do not roll very fast or far and don't maintain speed very well. When the rider stops pushing and has both feet on the board, the bearings start to lose speed quite quickly. During our bearing test, the Cal 7 had the poorest performance and only rolled about 30 feet from a single push on a smooth flat surface. Still, the Cal 7 Complete is a decent introductory model if you're new to the sport and not sure if you need a pro-quality setup just yet.

skateboard - best bang for your buck
Adam popping an ollie off of a bump while the riding the Cal 7 Oni at the skatepark
Credit: Amber Kissner


Best Deck

Baker Complete

Board Type: Popsicle | Deck Size: 7.8" x 31.25"
Great quality deck
Opportunity for customization
All parts are good quality
Good for transportation and tricks
Does not come assembled
Trucks require some adjustments

The Baker Complete is a standout option for someone just starting, as well as a more serious and dedicated skateboarder. The setup that we ordered came with a 7.8" wide deck, which can be used by kids, teens, or adults. However, this model is also available in a handful of additional sizes going up to 8.5", which may be more ideal for a bigger person. This deck is very crisp and has a steeper concave than any of the others we tested, allowing for more control and giving it the most pop of any board we tested. This board is fun to ride. The bearings, made by a brand called Amphetamine, have an ABEC-5 rating, but they roll better, faster, and farther than some of the others with much higher ratings. The wheels are of average size and hardness, which allows them to deliver a smooth ride on most surfaces. While the grooved lines on the wheels make them a little slick at first, they lose their slickness and grip the ground well once the lines are worn off. This complete is one of the best we tested. The deck is great, and this model will assist riders in developing their skills.

The Baker Complete is the only model in our test group that doesn't come already assembled, and there are no tools included. But for anyone with a serious interest in skateboarding, learning to put your board together is necessary as one progresses and develops their personal preferences. Assembling a skateboard can provide a sense of accomplishment, along with the opportunity to get creative and customize certain parts. There are numerous videos online for how to assemble a complete, or you can take it to your local skate shop and have them show you how it's done. Baker is a popular and reputable skate company with great quality parts, but the majority of the other parts included are from lesser-known brands and are of varying quality. This won't make a noticeable difference for anyone new to skating, and this is still a suitable option for a wide range of skill levels. The main part of this setup that was a little disappointing was the Core brand trucks. These trucks were extremely tight, and the bushings were quite stiff, so they did not initially turn very well. Fortunately, some minor adjustments made a big difference, and after loosening them up, they started to turn better. New trucks often require some breaking in, and the more you ride them, the better and more responsive they get, so this wasn't a huge surprise. Overall, the Baker Complete is a great skateboard for all skill levels and can help any rider improve their abilities.

skateboard - best deck
The Baker Complete is a good size for any age or skill level. Adam is seen here popping a kickflip in the street.
Credit: Amber Kissner


Best for Kids

Powell Golden Dragon 3

Board Type: Popsicle | Deck Size: 7.38" x 31"
All parts are made by Powell-Peralta
Good for transportation and tricks
Great deck
Trucks turn and grind well
Fast wheels and bearings
Too small for adults
Wheels are small

The Powell Golden Dragon 3 is a great quality setup, similar to the Element or Baker. It's smaller in size, making it the best option for younger kids interested in learning tricks. This is a mini version of a signature model from legendary Powell pro Steve Caballero. Every part of the setup is made well and has a dragon motif throughout, so the function keeps up with the fashion. This complete is ideal for ages 5-12. The smaller size will help young ones find their balance and learn the basics and allows for progression and more advanced tricks. The deck is nice and poppy with good grip tape that provides excellent traction but isn't too grainy. The wheels and bearings for this skateboard are top quality. The wheels are pretty small, so they work best on smooth surfaces, but they are slightly softer and, therefore, less slick than the others of similar size. The bearings are good and maintain their speed well, giving the board a smooth ride that will help the rider build confidence as their legs grow. The Golden Dragon trucks are solid and reliable. They respond well while turning, even for those with less weight, and also grind smoothly on all suitable obstacles.

The Powell Golden Dragon did show more signs of wear than the Baker or Element after enduring our testing process. This was likely due to having full-grown men riding a kid-sized board, which put more stress on it. However, the deck didn't crack or break. The fact that it felt less crisp after rigorous testing wasn't too surprising. The trucks were a bit tight initially, but any adjustments made to the kingpin (the biggest and central bolt on the trucks) were reflected immediately and made them more responsive. Like with all of the non-cruiser options, rougher asphalt will make for a bumpier ride, and the smaller wheels can get caught on rocks or cracks. But overall, the Golden Dragon Complete is a professional quality setup and our top recommendation for kids who have a serious interest in skateboarding and a desire to not only ride but learn tricks as well.

skateboard - best for kids
Adam doing a 360 flip on the Powell Golden Dragon, which spins and flips faster due to its smaller size.
Credit: Amber Kissner


Best Cruiser

Magneto Mini Cruiser

Board Type: Cruiser | Deck Size: 7.5" x 28"
Better deck than other cruisers
Basic tricks are still possible
Great wheels and bearings
Smooth and easy ride
Trucks taking some breaking in
The grip tape has a thick grain

The Magneto Mini Cruiser is another versatile model and our favorite for use as transportation. Even though it's called a mini-cruiser, it's slightly bigger than the plastic cruisers we tested and has more options for use. This one has a larger deck of maple, with a longer wheelbase (the space between the trucks), which allows for a wider stance and gives the rider more stability and control. The deck has a kick tail and a very short nose, increasing the maneuverability and allowing for some basic tricks. The top side has a clear sandy grit finish in place of grip tape, which shows off the wood grain underneath. The wheels are thick, soft, and wide, and the bearings are fast, enabling them to roll smoothly and maintain speed on any ground, whether concrete or asphalt. The soft wheels also grip the ground well, so even at high speeds, there's a lower likelihood of slipping out or losing control. The bearings on the Magneto Cruiser were among the best in our test group and could roll about 60 ft. from a single push. Similar to a longboard, the trucks on this cruiser are wider than the deck and stick out from the sides, but they respond well to any shift in weight and have an excellent turning radius. The Magneto cruiser also comes with an all-in-one skate tool to make adjustments or replace any parts. This cruiser is a lot of fun to ride and is a great option for anyone looking for something to get them from point A to B, but it also gives them the ability to ollie up curbs and do some simple tricks.

We didn't have too many complaints about the Magneto Mini Cruiser, but a few things took some getting used to. The bushings in the trucks are very soft, which helps them turn well. However, we found they were so soft that it made them slightly sticky at first, causing the trucks to pull one way or the other, like a car out of alignment. This issue improved over time, but it caught one tester off guard when stepping on during one of the first rides, causing him to jump off and go for a tumble. Also, the wide wheels reduce the surface area of the hangars on the trucks. While some tricks are possible, doing any grinds is highly unlikely. The gritty finish on top of the board has a very thick grain, much thicker than an average grip tape. It offers good traction when riding, but riders should use caution when carrying this board. It can also easily tear through shoes if tricks are attempted. All things considered, we feel the pros greatly outweigh the cons. We recommend the Magneto Mini Cruiser for both kids and adults looking chiefly to cruise around town.

skateboard - best cruiser
The Magneto Mini Cruiser has a clear grit finish, which shows off the wood grain of the deck, but has a much thicker grain than normal grip tape.
Credit: Adam Yee


A Good Option for Kids

Retrospec Quip 22.5" Classic

Board Type: Plastic Mini-Cruiser | Deck Size: 6" x 22.5"
Lightweight and compact design
Supreme maneuverability
Excellent turning radius
Great wheels and bearings
Not made for doing tricks
Plastic can be a little slick

The Retrospec Quip 22.5" Classic is a "Penny" style cruiser and a fun option for all ages, but especially for kids. This cruiser is much smaller than any of the other boards we tested, which gives it excellent maneuverability and the greatest ease of control while riding. The plastic deck is only 22.5" long and 6" wide, so it's ideal for kids, but most teens and adults will still be able to have fun with it. Fortunately, for anyone who needs a little more board to hold onto, these cruisers are also available in a 27" model. Both sizes are offered in a large number of color combinations as well. The flexible plastic deck is molded with a textured pattern on the top side for traction, which won't damage shoes like boards with grip tape but also doesn't allow for much aside from simply rolling. The bearings maintain their speed quite well, and the big and rubbery wheels roll over cracks easily, providing a smooth ride on any type of surface. While the trucks are very small and aren't meant for grinding, they do perform well and can turn on a dime. With its compact size, this cruiser is great for transportation and can be stored in nearly any space.

As its name states, the Retrospec Quip is a cruiser and is not designed for doing tricks. There is a kick-tail to assist with control, but the small size and lack of grip tape make getting this skateboard up into the air extremely difficult and landing back on it nearly impossible. While the textured pattern does provide some traction, the plastic can still be a bit slick, so use caution when adjusting your feet while riding. Being that this cruiser is so compact, even the larger model may be too small for anyone with larger feet. Also, having such a short wheelbase requires the rider to keep their feet close together, making it harder to lower their center of gravity, which decreases one's stability. While these plastic cruisers are very agile and are the most affordable models that we tested, they are only meant for transportation and do not have the ability to get off of the ground or up a curb without the assistance of some sort of ramp. Overall, the Retrospec is a very fun option for zipping around and is great for kids improving their balance and learning how to ride.

skateboard - retrospec quip classic plastic cruiser has a molded pattern instead...
Retrospec Quip Classic Plastic Cruiser has a molded pattern instead of grip tape, which does not provide as much traction.
Credit: Adam Yee


A Mini-Cruiser With Light-Up Wheels

BELEEV 22-Inch Mini Cruiser

Board Type: Plastic Mini-Cruiser | Deck Size: 5.5" x 22"
Wheels light up when rolling
Lightweight and compact design
Smooth ride
No assembly required
Not made for doing tricks
Wheels can be distracting

The BELEEV 22-Inch Mini Cruiser is nearly identical to the Retrospec Quip in size, looks, and performance. The most notable difference is that the wheels on this cruiser light up when rolling. The light-up wheels are a fun, unique effect that none of the other models have. The wheels have bright, multicolored lights inside that begin to glow as soon they start to roll, and there are no batteries to insert or electrical components, so they don't require any charging. This mini cruiser is even smaller than the other "Penny style" board, with a length of 22" and a width of 5.5", so it's meant for smaller kids, around 5 - 8 years old. The molded pattern on the top is slightly deeper on the BELEEV, giving it a little more traction, and the deck is also not as flexible and bouncy as on the Retrospec. The wheels are big and very soft, providing a smooth ride and excellent shock absorption, and the bearings outperformed the other plastic cruiser, going 45 ft. from one push. The BELEEV also includes a T-tool for minor repairs and adjustments, as well as some extra nuts and bolts, just in case any fall out or become damaged. With its light-up wheels and compact size, this cruiser is ideal for young kids who want to develop their balance and roll around.

Like the other plastic model, the BELEEV Mini Cruiser is meant to be used as a mode of transportation. It has a high level of maneuverability, but it is not designed for tricks or technical skating, so anything more than cruising isn't very likely. While the light-up wheels are a fun and added draw for this board, they aren't nearly as enjoyable for the rider as they are for a spectator. In fact, the wheels have the potential to divert attention away from what's ahead of the rider. The trucks on this cruiser weren't as responsive and didn't turn as well as the ones on similar models, but some small adjustments helped, and they will get better as they break in. This mini cruiser doesn't come in any larger sizes, but it is offered in a handful of colors and at a very reasonable price. Being the smallest board in our test group, the BELEEV Mini Cruiser is an option for kids who are starting to explore their interest in skateboarding, but that doesn't mean that it won't be fun for slightly bigger or more advanced skaters.

skateboard - adam pushing down the sidewalk on the beleev mini-cruiser with its...
Adam pushing down the sidewalk on the BELEEV Mini-Cruiser with its light up wheels.
Credit: Amber Kissner


A Decent Option for Beginners

WhiteFang Complete

Board Type: Popsicle | Deck Size: 7.8" x 31.25"
Decent introductory setup
Symmetrically shaped deck
Good bearings
Thick and heavy deck
Trucks are unstable and don't turn well
Hard to remove all plastic wrap

The WhiteFang Complete is an example of a model that would be sold at a big box store. So, while the quality is far lower than anything from a recognized brand, this is still a suitable option for any kid that's still figuring out if skateboarding is for them or not. This board will help beginners learn the basics of riding, build their confidence, and assist them in developing their ollie and possibly some tricks. The deck is 7.8" wide and 31" long, so it's a decent size for most ages, but it may feel a bit short for anyone that's fully grown. Both ends of the board are symmetrical, so it doesn't matter which way you ride it, and there is a mellow concave throughout for added control. The wheels are the same size, shape, and hardness as those on similar setups in this price range that we tested, so there isn't a noticeable difference there, but they were among the hardest of all the wheels, which made riding on rougher surfaces more difficult. The WhiteFang bearings rolled better and farther than the other two budget boards but still were only mediocre at best. This board won't be seen under the feet of your favorite pro on the X-Games, but it is a decent starting point for those with a desire to learn.

The WhiteFang Complete arrived fully assembled with just the deck wrapped in plastic, which is fairly standard for toy store boards. However, to fully remove all of the plastic, one would have to take the trucks off, so we just peeled it off the best we could, but there were little bits of plastic wrap left sticking out on both sides of the deck. Like the Cal 7, the deck is not as crisp and snappy. This one is also quite thick and heavier than a pro board. The trucks' material seems softer than any of the others, and they are not very stable or responsive while riding or turning. Although they seem capable of grinding, the instability makes it hard to reach any obstacle to grind it. When compared to those on the Element or Powell, the wheels are skinnier, harder, and slicker while riding. So, even though this complete did not receive high marks in any area, the WhiteFang is still a passable model for anyone that's just starting.

skateboard - the white fang complete is not a pro-quality skateboard, but it is a...
The White Fang Complete is not a pro-quality skateboard, but it is a decent introductory setup for beginners.
Credit: Adam Yee


Our Least Favorite

PHOEROS Starter Complete

Board Type: Popsicle | Deck Size: 8" x 31.25"
Comes with bonus items
Good for beginners
Allows for basic tricks
Decent wheels
Arrived with damaged deck
Grip tape is facing the wrong way
Trucks are unstable
Bearings do not maintain speed

The final board in our test group is the PHOEROS Starter Complete, which is the last of the modestly priced setups we tested. What sets this board apart from all of the others is the additional goodies that it comes with, including a tool, two extra bearings, a sheet of stickers, a set of different colored paints, and a carrying bag. While we understand that this product is meant for kids, and we appreciate the encouragement of creativity, these bonus items didn't make up for the low quality of this model. This starter complete is similar in size and quality to the WhiteFang, so it will help a novice-level skater develop some basic skills. However, this product arrived damaged and performed worse than any other during testing, so we don't recommend it.

With the PHOEROS, you get what you pay for. The damages we found upon unboxing included numerous air bubbles and a dirty, wrinkled-up spot in the grip tape, along with some scratches already on the deck. The grip tape was also applied with the graphic facing the wrong way, making it easy to accidentally ride the board backwards. The deck is thick, heavy, and lacks the snappy nature of a good board, and also came preassembled with the deck wrapped in plastic, so there were bits of plastic wrap left sticking out under the trucks on the bottom side, as well as around the bolts on the grip side. Damages and poor packaging aside, there are aspects of this skateboard that actually make it harder to ride than any of the others. For starters, the trucks are squirrely and hard to control, and tightening them didn't seem to make a difference. The rider can lean one way or the other, but there's a better chance of getting "wheel bite" than actually getting the trucks to turn correctly. The bearings were among the worst we tested, as they lost their speed almost immediately after pushing and only rolled a little more than 30 ft. from a single push. If price is your main concern, there are other options with better value available at a similar price. Bottom line, the PHOEROS is an option for a kid that has never stepped on a skateboard and wants to learn to ride, but it's our least favorite model in the test fleet.

skateboard - the phoeros standard is typical for the type of setup one would find...
The PHOEROS Standard is typical for the type of setup one would find at a toy store, so the quality isn't great, but it will work for kids who are just starting out.
Credit: Adam Yee

Why You Should Trust Us

After researching over 40 skateboards and strongly considering 22 potential options, we purchased 10 of the most popular models for testing. They were all purchased as a complete setup at their current retail price, so there was no mixing and matching of parts to create a custom board. To find the most fun and functional models, we spent weeks testing boards of various shapes, sizes, and materials to determine the best model for each skill level and age group. Some are designed strictly for transportation, others are meant for learning tricks, and while most can be used for both, there were a couple more versatile models that excelled in all areas. Each was tested on the sidewalk, street, and in a skatepark to see how they performed on different surfaces. Our testing methods were consistent in all areas to keep the process as objective as possible. After all of the research and a few bumps and bruises from testing, our experience and test results make us confident in our recommendations.

As a dedicated skateboarder for two and a half decades, our lead tester Adam Yee is a total skate nerd and has ridden skateboards from countless brands of all sizes and shapes. As a teen and young adult, he had several sponsors and traveled for demos and competitions in the local circuit. As he got older, Adam began to teach skateboarding lessons privately and as a skate camp counselor. He continues to share his love of all things skateboarding with people of his generation and the next. As the sport and skate lifestyle has grown to become a worldwide phenomenon, more people are getting into it, and more companies are making products for skaters to try. Adam is always at the forefront of new technology in the latest boards and passionately follows all things skate.

Adam doing an ollie while testing at the skatepark
Adam doing an ollie while testing at the skatepark
Adam making some adjustments to the trucks on the Baker while testing
Adam making some adjustments to the trucks on the Baker while testing
As the biggest board in the bunch, the Z-Flex Shadow Lurker will be...
As the biggest board in the bunch, the Z-Flex Shadow Lurker will be harder for kids to control but has a smooth and stable ride.

Analysis and Test Results

The best boards are easily maneuverable and should be versatile enough to be used for transportation and for basic tricks. A great setup should have trucks that are stable and responsive while riding, wheels that roll smoothly, bearings that maintain their speed, a crisp and snappy deck, and be durable enough to take a beating. Each component serves a specific purpose, so we based our tests on the performance of each of its parts, along with how well it performed as a whole. We spent hours with every board, rating them on these features to determine our recommendations for any age and ability.

Deck Quality

The deck is the main feature of any skateboard and should be sized according to the height and shoe size of the rider. Although the deck usually doesn't last as long as the other parts, having a good quality deck makes a huge difference in the skater's ability to develop their skills. We rated each deck on its size, weight, flexibility, and the amount of "pop" or recoil it produces, which affects how easily and how high tricks can be done. We also included the quality and application of the grip tape in this metric.

skateboard - the golden dragon is the smallest of the pro-quality boards, making...
The Golden Dragon is the smallest of the pro-quality boards, making it the best option for kids who are wanting to learn tricks.
Credit: Adam Yee

The deck quality varied considerably between the boards in our test group. Like the Powell, Element, and Baker, some are the same caliber as the pros use. Some were molded plastic, which could last a lifetime, but didn't have the same amount of capabilities, while others were thick and heavy or arrived in poor condition.

Our favorite deck overall comes with the Baker Complete. Its steep concavity gave our testers excellent control, and it felt crisp and poppy under our feet. It allowed us to get higher on our tricks and withstood our landings, too. As the most fundamental component of any setup, the quality of the deck is a good way to gauge the overall grade of any complete.

skateboard - all of the parts on the element section complete are reliable and...
All of the parts on the Element Section Complete are reliable and performed well, making it the best model overall.
Credit: Adam Yee

Quality of Wheels & Bearings

The wheels and bearings have the greatest effect on how smooth and how fast a skateboard rolls. Bigger and softer wheels grip the ground better and provide a smoother ride, while smaller and harder wheels are better for tricks but can be more susceptible to getting caught in cracks or slipping out. We tested the wheels by trying each set on different surfaces: sidewalks of variable roughness, asphalt, and at a skatepark. For the bearings, we tested how far each board could roll from a single push on a smooth flat surface.

skateboard - the wheels on the golden dragon are slightly softer and grip the...
The wheels on the Golden Dragon are slightly softer and grip the ground better than those of any other popsicle shaped board.
Credit: Adam Yee

All of the popsicle-shaped boards, like the Powell, came with wheels that are 52mm in diameter and 99A durometer, which is an average size and hardness for many boards that are sold as a complete. However, even between these models, there was still a difference in the width and amount of grip of the wheels. All of the cruisers had wheels that were much bigger and softer. The Magneto Cruiser has some of the widest wheels of all, but only the BELEEV had wheels that lit up while providing a smooth and gentle ride. Most bearings are rated on the ABEC scale, with the lowest being an ABEC-3 and the quality ascending with the number. Unfortunately, this alone didn't strike us as a very reliable system of measurement, as some of the ABEC-5's outperformed those listed as being ABEC-11's.

skateboard - the wheels on the magneto mini cruiser are thick, wide, and soft...
The wheels on the Magneto Mini Cruiser are thick, wide, and soft, which grip the ground well and provide a smooth ride.
Credit: Adam Yee

Quality of Trucks

The trucks are a crucial part of a skateboard's anatomy, as they are what give the board stability and allow you to turn. Many skaters will keep the same set of trucks for years and hate to replace them, as nothing changes the feel of a board more than changing the trucks. During testing, we rated each pair of trucks on their stability and responsiveness while turning, and if and how smoothly they were able to grind. While some cruisers aren't designed for doing tricks or grinds, their trucks had a better turning radius and a quicker response time. Overall, only a few boards with trucks covered all of the bases, which was quite surprising.

skateboard - the element trucks are stable, responsive, and grind well on ledges...
The Element Trucks are stable, responsive, and grind well on ledges, rails, or coping.
Credit: Adam Yee

Virtually all trucks take some breaking in and getting used to. The Z-Flex Shadow Lurker and the Element Section Complete had the highest-rated trucks due to their stability, response time, and grinding capabilities. The Magneto Mini Cruiser was another model with good trucks that performed well and had the best turning radius of all, but using them for grinds isn't very likely. Some of the trucks didn't turn very well at first but were easily fixable with minor adjustments, and others felt wobbly and unstable no matter how much you tighten them. Regardless of one's skill level or size, having good quality trucks makes a huge difference.

skateboard - the trucks on the magneto cruiser are stable and responsive.
The trucks on the Magneto Cruiser are stable and responsive.
Credit: Adam Yee

Overall Quality & Durability

The durability and overall quality of each model produced the widest range of results. It was interesting to find that these two features weren't necessarily connected or reliant on one another. For instance, the plastic mini cruisers are more durable than any skateboard with a wood deck, but they are also limited to simply rolling, so they don't have to put up with the same demands that a regular skateboard does. We gauged the durability based on each skateboard's condition after jumping on and off various obstacles (where possible) and putting each through intense impact scenarios. We assessed the overall quality by the sum of each of its parts and performance. Although this metric yielded some surprising results, it wasn't shocking that the higher-quality boards held up the best.

skateboard - adam cruising down the sidewalk on the beleev plastic cruiser.
Adam cruising down the sidewalk on the BELEEV plastic cruiser.
Credit: Amber Kissner

As previously mentioned, the plastic boards, like the BELEEV Mini Cruiser, have limited capabilities but are virtually indestructible. So, you might break a bearing sometime, but since it's only designed for transportation, the deck, trucks, and wheels will last for many years. All of the wood boards will soften up over time and lose their pop the more they're tossed around, but the possibilities for use are far greater. The Cal 7 was unique in that it obviously wasn't at the caliber of the Element or Baker, but it proved markedly higher quality than the other popsicle boards in its price range. For a beginner, the quality of the Cal 7 suffices. As one progresses and gets more comfortable on a skateboard, having good quality equipment makes a world of difference.

skateboard - adam doing an ollie off of a ramp while riding the cal 7 oni at the...
Adam doing an ollie off of a ramp while riding the Cal 7 Oni at the skatepark.
Credit: Amber Kissner

Skill Level

Each complete was rated according to the skill level that it is most suitable for. While a toy store board may work for a beginner that doesn't know how much the parts can vary, an experienced skater very likely knows how much of a difference a good pair of trucks or the right size board can make. This metric was heavily based on the size of each board, as it's important to have a deck that one can control and will support them. We also considered how many uses each model has, which correlates to the amount that each allows the rider to progress. Even though most skaters can adapt to varying setups over time, some boards are definitely better for certain skill levels than others.

skateboard - adam doing a 50-50 grind at the skatepark. higher-end popsicle...
Adam doing a 50-50 grind at the skatepark. Higher-end popsicle boards are our favorite to bring to the park, as their pop and responsiveness allowed us to perform more tricks successfully and with style.
Credit: Adam Yee

The ideal skill level is directly related to each model's size, materials, and overall quality. A mini-cruiser, like the Retrospec or BELEEV, can be an excellent introductory board for small kids that are just learning to ride but won't be trying tricks quite yet. Many beginners start on a budget board, such as the WhiteFang, and graduate to a higher quality setup if they decide to continue. However, any board from a respected skate company, like Element, Baker, or Z-Flex, will provide more options for use and be easier to ride and develop tricks with from the start.

skateboard - adam pushing down the sidewalk on the beleev. this small board...
Adam pushing down the sidewalk on the BELEEV. This small board performs best for younger riders learning to ride before evolving into learning tricks.
Credit: Adam Yee


As one of the most popular activities amongst young people today, skateboarding is growing at a rapid rate. It's even one of two new sports recently added to the Olympic Games. Our lead expert spent weeks reviewing numerous styles of completes to deliver our best recommendations. Many people think that skateboarding is only for kids, but the truth is that people of all ages are picking up a board for the first time or getting back into it after a hiatus. So, no matter your age, size, or budget, there is a skateboard to help you have some fun.

Adam Yee