Building a pro scooter is complicated. We're going to write a multi-series blog that walks through pro scooter compatibility issues. Before you start building any scooter, you should pick out a compression system. The scooter compression will drive most of the parts that you need to purchase when building your custom scooter. We recently wrote an article on choosing your scooter compression, which you can read here.
FACTORS IN SELECTING YOUR PRO SCOOTER DECK
Before we get into what parts are compatible with your scooter deck, let's take a look at where you intend to ride. Many kids are going to pick out a deck that they think looks cool but there are a lot of factors to consider before finalizing your decision on which deck to purchase.
PARK OR STREET?
The first thing that you need to consider is where you will be doing most of your riding - on the street or in the skate park. Park and street decks are fairly different. Park riders want a light deck so the dimensions are usually smaller on a park deck than on a street deck. Park decks are typically around 4.5 - 5 inches wide and 19 - 21 inches long. Their smaller dimensions make park decks light weight and perfect for whips and park tricks. The tapered back end is a tell tale sign that the deck is a park deck. Street decks are typically much larger in size than a park deck and can be as large as 6 inches wide by 23 inches long, providing maximum foot space for street riders to lock in to their favorite tricks. Unlike the tapered back end of a park deck, street decks will typically have a boxed end.
Once you have decided where you will spend most of your time riding, you need to determine what size deck you need. Pro scooter decks range in size from widths of 4 - 6 inches wide and from 17 inches long to 23 inches long. An 8 year old buying their first deck isn't going to want a 6 inch by 23 inch deck, as they would never be able to whip it. Conversely, a 16 year old with size 12 shoes probably wouldn't fit on a 4.5 inch by 19 inch park deck. Foot space is a critical component in the comfort of the rider. Pick a deck that has an appropriate length and width for your rider's size. Use this sizing chart as a general guideline for choosing your deck size:
AGE DECK WIDTH DECK LENGTH
6-7 4 - 4.5 INCHES 17 - 19.5 INCHES
8-10 4.5 - 5.5 INCHES 19 - 21 INCHES
11 AND UP 4.5 - 6 INCHES 20 - 23 INCHES
Weight is a major factor in every rider's decision. While weight does play a role in picking a pro scooter deck, it is much less important than, say, the weight of your bars. Aluminum bars will shave nearly a pound of weight off versus steel bars. Scooter decks are only made of aluminum (for now). A steel deck would be way too heavy and a titanium deck would be insanely expensive so most manufacturer's opt for 6 or 7 series aluminum. Most decks that we sell only vary by a few ounces in weight. It goes without saying that a 19 inch deck is going to weigh several ounces less than a 23 inches deck due to the fact that far less material is used to create the 19 inch deck. So deck width and length are going to play a factor in the weight of your deck. If you're locked into a 5.5 x 23 inch deck, you're obviously not going to be able to get a deck as light as a rider of a 4.5 x 19 inch deck. So, what other factors play into the weight of a deck? District boxed their decks many years back and hollowed out a lot of the inner section of the deck, reducing weight significantly. Cutouts in the headtube also create weight savings. And, companies like Root Industries, are starting to implement honeycore cutouts in the tops and bottom of decks to reduce weight without sacrificing structural integrity.
Now that you know what type and size deck you want to purchase, you have most likely picked out your deck of choice. So, what parts are compatible with your new scooter deck? We often get asked - "Are these bars compatible with my deck?". The answer is "no". Decks and bars don't have to be compatible with each other. So, what pro scooter parts do need to be compatible with your deck? We're glad you asked.
DECK COMPATIBILITY - HEADSET, WHEELS, GRIPTAPE, FORKS
The scooter headset is an often overlooked but critical component on your pro scooter. While the headset does not have compatibility issues with scooter forks or scooter bars, the headset contains ball bearings that allows the forks and bars to spin together. The headset IS compatible with your scooter deck. Smokin Scooters does not sell threaded compression systems so every pro scooter deck that we sell has an integrated headtube and is compatible with every headset that we sell. All headsets that we sell are both threadless and integrated and work with every deck that we sell.
(1) The scooter brake on your deck will be able to accommodate a certain size diameter wheels from 100mm up to 125mm. Make sure that your brake can accommodate the wheel diameter that you are interested in purchasing. Not all deck brakes will fit all wheels. For example, the wildly popular Ethic Pandemonium deck is only compatible with 110mm wheels so if you're running 120mm wheels, which is a very popular size, the Pandemonium doesn't work with 120s out of the box and you can't purchase a larger brake for it to accommodate them unless you go with an aftermarket brake. Your deck is obviously going to utilize one of the 2 wheels that you use so your scooter forks must also be compatible with the wheel diameter that you choose.
(2) Wheels not only come in different diameters, but different widths, as well. Your deck will come with deck spacers that are made for a specific width wheel - usually 24mm or 30mm. If your deck comes with 24mm spacers, you will need to pick a wheel with a core width of 24mm. Note that some core widths are 24mm while PU width is 26mm or 30mm for additional grip. As long as the core is 24mm, it will work with 24mm deck spacers. If your deck has 30mm spacers, you will need a 30mm wide wheel. For most decks, you can pick up different sized spacers to work with other sized wheels. For example, if your deck comes with 24mm spacers and you want to run 30mm wide wheels, you can pick up 30mm spacers to convert over.
(3) The rear wheel of your pro scooter will slide over the rear deck axle. Deck axles come in 2 different sizes - 8mm and 12mm. Most decks are sold with the conventional 8mm axle. Ethic has created a 12 STD, or 12mm deck axle, which means that your bearings, wheels, forks, and deck would all have to be compatible with a 12mm axle. As noted, 95% of the decks on the market today are sold with a conventional 8mm axle. Please make sure that your deck, fork, and wheels all have the same size axles compatibility.
While all pro scooter grip tape is compatible with all scooter decks, there is one important note. Grip tape and decks are sold in all different shapes and sizes. Make sure that the grip tape that you purchase is at least the same size as the deck that you are purchasing. If you purchase 4x19 griptape for a 6x23 deck, it's going to be way too small. Most manufacturers make one size grip tape. 6x24 is very common these days. That allows manufacturers to create a single sheet of grip tape that will work on every deck out there. Most of the time, your grip tape will need to be cut down to fit your scooter deck.
We hesitate to mention scooter forks, as compatibility isn't much of an issue these days. Early on in the industry, some manufacturers made different length deck headtubes and steerer tubes on forks varied widely in length. So, if you paired up a Madd Gear fork, which was very short, with a District deck, which had a very long headtube, they didn't work well together. While deck headtube length and fork steerer tube lengths aren't standardized today, there aren't wide discrepancies in the lengths and compatibility usually isn't an issue but we thought we would mention it. If anything, manufacturers will lean towards the fork steerer tube being longer than it has to be. Headset spacers remedy a fork steerer tube that is slightly too long for a deck headtube when using SCS compression.
We hope that helps answer all of your pro scooter deck compatibility questions. If you have any questions about deck compatibility, please don't hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.