The 10 Best Penny Boards
The Perfect Choice For A Novice Skater
If you're interested in skating, you may be overwhelmed by the many different types of skateboards out on the market. A penny board is the perfect choice for an absolute beginner, especially if you're mainly looking into skating as a mode of transportation. Penny boards, which are sometimes referred to as mini cruisers, are smaller versions of regular skateboards that have colorful plastic decks with waffle-like ridges on top. These are popular among kids and teenagers because of their size, but they're also known for being a decent lightweight option that can easily reach respectable speeds without wobbling uncontrollably.
While penny boards have the same components as any other skateboard, their decks are made entirely of plastic, as opposed to the usual maple wood. These plastic decks are made with materials that make them much lighter than regular boards, but they are usually still durable and flexible enough to accommodate almost any weight without snapping in half. These boards are typically only 22 inches long, which means they're small enough to fit in most backpacks. Though they're smaller than the average skateboard, penny boards have larger and softer wheels that provide more stability when going through rough surfaces.
Due to their size, penny boards are usually only used for cruising. They're an ideal choice for kids and casual skaters who just want to spice up their daily commute, but if you're looking into learning some advanced skating tricks, you'll be better off picking up a regular skateboard instead. With that in mind, they're still great for navigating through urban environments, especially since most penny models have very pronounced kicktails, which are the curved ends designed to help you make sharp turns. With enough practice, you can even learn how to do certain tricks that will help you get over curbs, such as the ollie.
Safely Cruising On A Penny Board
Since skateboarding has its roots as an extreme sport, safety is one of the major concerns of every skater regardless of their skill and experience. While it's highly unlikely that you'll ever sustain any major injuries if you mainly use your board as a mode of transportation, accidents do happen, and the small size and flexible material of the penny board can easily throw you off your balance if you aren't used to it.
One important note is that penny boards typically do not come with grip tape, which is the sandpaper-like material found on the top layer of most skateboards. Instead, their decks are built with a non-slip ridged surface. This is one of the main reasons why experienced skaters tend to shy away from these boards, but if you're only planning on cruising and practicing basic tricks, this shouldn't be much of an issue. Still, they will feel a bit slippery compared to regular skateboards. Depending on the environment you plan on riding in, you may want to buy some grip tape along with your penny board, especially if the areas you'll be visiting are usually wet.
Most skate shops sell all kinds of grip tape, and they will sometimes have smaller variants that are made specifically for penny boards. Some brands also offer clear spray-on grip tape, which is ideal if you have a decorated deck that you want to show off.
If you're new to skating, you should also consider buying some safety gear, namely, a helmet, wrist guards, and knee and elbow pads. People who have no prior experience riding a penny board may find that it feels a bit unstable at first, mainly because of how it bends a lot whenever you put weight on it. As a beginner, you will most likely stumble every now and then, and having safety gear on will help minimize any injuries you might suffer.
If you think that the board is too small for your feet, you may also opt to buy a nickel board instead. These are essentially the same as penny boards, with the only difference being that they're slightly wider and are around five inches longer, hence the name. They're made with the same flexible plastic, so they will still have the same "unstable" feel at first, but the bigger decks make them easier to control, especially if you're an adult with big feet.
A Brief History Of Penny Boards
The origin of plastic skateboards goes all the way back to the early 1950s up to the late 1970s. It all started during the 1950s, which is when surfers in California started attaching roller skate wheels to wooden boards so that they can practice on land when waves were too flat for surfing.
In 1963, one of the pioneering skateboarding companies, Makaha, was founded by Larry Stevenson, a former lifeguard who is known for designing and patenting the kicktail. Makaha started manufacturing the first "professional" skateboards, which were shaped like surfboards. During the early 1970s, they were one of the first companies to mass-produce plastic boards in an effort to appeal to a wider audience. This trend quickly died out towards the end of the decade when seven-ply decks started becoming the norm.
Plastic boards saw a resurgence in popularity in 2010, when skateboard enthusiast Ben Mackay launched the Australian-based company Penny Skateboards. According to Mackay, who used to manufacture and experiment with regular wooden skateboards, the idea behind his company's eponymous boards is that they're supposed to resemble the plastic boards from his childhood, except faster and much more durable. Since then, other brands, such as Rimable and Stereo, started developing their own 22-inch plastic cruisers, and they continue to be a popular entry-level choice for beginners and casual skaters.