There are so many types of skateboards. You have a standard type, one for tricks, another for cruising.
There are super large boards called longboards and small, plastic ones called penny boards.
The latter is often a great gift for a child when even a relatively small regular skateboard seems huge for him or her.
But what exactly is the difference between a skateboard and a penny board? Why is the latter called like that? What’s it used for? Which one is better?
All these questions will be answered for you one by one, so by the end of this article, you’ll have a pretty clear vision of the type of board you want to have.
What Is a Penny Board?
It’s a very popular type of cruiser at the moment. You can get a completed one or assemble a board yourself by buying all the different, custom parts.
Penny boards are usually much smaller and are considered mini cruisers, but nowadays, you can find a penny with a 22”, 27”, and even 36” deck, like in a longboard. Don’t let the weight of such a board make you doubt its capabilities.
The materials used for such units are high-quality and very strong. There are certain weight limits, of course, but if you’re after a light skateboard – this might just be your best choice.
Made initially for teens, penny boards come in all kinds of designs, usually very colorful. This is one of the reasons why the brand and the product got so popular. Besides, it’s light and bendy, which is an advantage to a lot of people.
There are two main types of a penny board:
- Penny nickel;
- Penny original.
Nickel Vs. Original
The original penny board has a deck from strong polyurethane. It can withstand a lot of damage and abuse and still look like new. 59mm wheels are usually installed on the thing, as well as 3.125” trucks. Its deck is 22”.
The Nickel version is larger, the deck is 27”. It’s also usually wider than the original. The trucks are 4” wide.
The latter is more of a cruiser type, while the first one is more responsive, handle turns better, and is overall more compact so you can put it in a regular backpack without a problem.
Differences Between a Skateboard and a Penny Board
The two types differ in everything except the fact that you can ride both of them and oftentimes the shape. The use, the size of decks and wheels, their softness, trucks – everything is different. It’s great to have some variety, right?
Penny boards are created as cruisers in the first place. Their wheelbase height can accommodate larger wheels, meaning there will be more stability, which is great for the urban commute.
A skateboard is built mostly for tricks. Although you can customize with a cruiser or street wheels, faster bearings, etc., the main purpose of a skateboard is mastering all kinds of flips on hard, relatively small wheels.
Usually, skateboard decks are made from several (usually 7) plies of cold-pressed Canadian maple. The wood might differ, or the deck may have some bamboo or cork in it, but the basis is still the same – it’s wood.
There’s also polyurethane coating and a griptape on top of that. All this provides smooth slides, high responsiveness, just enough flex for a certain purpose, and overall durability.
A penny board deck is made from plastic or vinyl. It’s also quite strong and durable, but it’s another material.
A skateboard usually has a mild concave on its deck, as well as a kicktail or two, depending on the type you’re getting. These qualities provide a lot of control and feel of the board, which is great for mastering tricks.
Penny boards are usually flat or can have an upturn on the tail for a certain degree of control.
Skateboards usually have harder, smaller wheels (around 55mm, give or take) that provide a lot of response, wonderful slides, and a lot of opportunities to break into a trick. The qualities of the wheels depend on your riding style.
If you’re only after mastering tricks like a pro, choose the hardest wheelset. If you’re interested in riding on the streets, choose something in the middle, both in size and hardness.
And if you’re cruising casually and using your skateboard for the urban commute, larger, softer wheels are the best decision. For the latter, you can also use a penny board or a longboard.
Penny boards are used primarily for cruising around town, so they use larger, softer wheels. 59mm, 78a to 85a will suit a penny well.
Penny boards are hyped a lot these days. At first, a lot of people got the benefits of the thing and decided it might be better than what we used to have.
However, lots of riders have also noticed the drawbacks. But with the fashion for penny boards at the moment, it’s difficult to be objective. It’s a good cruiser. It’s light and opens lots of doors comfort-wise.
But if you want to cruise and make it the best experience, get yourself a longboard. If you want to become a professional and jump between ramps on your board, get a skateboard.
And if you’re a beginner and want to get a taste of skating, a penny board might become the best thing that’s happened to you.
So, purpose-wise, a skateboard is something more professional, while a penny board is something mostly for beginners plus a great accessory to your backpack.
Pros and Cons of a Penny Board
A penny board can offer you a lot of advantages over anything (skateboards, longboards, etc.), but there are, of course, disadvantages. They say you always have to close your eyes on something to make the overall riding experience delightful.
- Size and weight.
The size and weight of a penny board make it super portable and easy to take anywhere you go. In the mood for a walk? Just carry the thing around with you. Got tired and want to ride home? Your friend on wheels is always nearby.
- Great design range.
The design range of penny boards is mesmerizing. Crazy neon or classic black, wild abstraction, or straight lines – there are usually several versions of your wildest ideas online.
A penny isn’t that expensive, which is another perk for beginners. There’s no need to invest in a full skateboard (let alone a longboard with wheels for cruising, sliding, or downhill).
The size and weight of a penny give it an advantage if you’re going to travel and need something portable to put in a bag and wait for a suitable terrain. Put it on a bag, in a bag, or carry around in hand – the environmental damage to plastic is nothing compared to wood.
In case you’ve never stood on a board but want to learn to cruise quickly, a penny will give you that. It’s relatively easy to learn how to ride it if you have no stability issues. After all, it’s quite bendy, usually.
- Stable and speedy.
A penny board promotes higher speeds and offers more stability due to the trucks and wheels. The latter have sharp lips, therefore more contact patch. The latter makes the board more stable, no matter the terrain. In case you’re tired of wobbling when achieving higher speeds, try a penny board.
- It’s more of an accessory now.
Penny boards have become an accessory that has a certain degree of functionality. A lot of people aren’t really into cruising, they just like carrying these around. While it might not be a con for a lot of people, we’re talking about practicality here.
- Weight capabilities.
A tiny plastic board can’t hold a 200-pound man for a long time and offer him a stable, convenient cruising around the city. Although it’s lightweight and very suitable for young people who aren’t larger than average teenagers, there’s not much variety.
- Difficult for beginners who learn tricks.
You can practice tricks on a penny board, but only if you’re a professional at it. For beginners, a regular skateboard will be much more stable and convenient. See, a penny is very flexible, and this may add redundant movement to the moment when you need strong support under your feet.
Pros and Cons of a Skateboard
Skateboards are an eternal classic; they will never get out of fashion. However, like anything else in the world, even the most convenient, lightweight skateboard has its cons, as well as there are a lot of pros.
Seeing what they are may help you make the decision and incline towards this option or the previous one.
- Durable materials.
While there’s nothing wrong with the materials used for penny boards (given you’re looking at a high-quality option), a lot of people consider several plies of cold-pressed wood much more durable than a layer of rather bendy plastic.
- Weight capabilities.
A skateboard is capable of holding, usually, up to 190-220 lbs, which is usually more suitable for adults. A penny board will be too bendy and uncomfortable for a large rider who needs some space for their shoes.
- Easier to learn tricks.
Compared to a penny board, a skateboard is relatively easy to master if we’re talking about tricks. It provides more space, and you can learn a ton of fun flips quite fast. You can feel the board under your shoes and be absolutely sure it will handle the flip.
- More professional board.
When you’re only getting into skateboarding and aren’t sure if this is your thing, a penny will be better. But if you’re about to become a professional rider, learn different techniques and tricks, your goal should be bigger – like a fully completed skateboard.
Compared to a penny board, even a light, regular skateboard will weigh a ton. If you’re young and/or light, it might be very difficult to carry a whole board like that for a long time. Make sure you opt for more lightweight options if a skateboard is what you need considering all the other qualities.
- Shoes damaging.
Mastering tricks can actually damage your shoes. There’s a griptape on skateboards and longboards, which allows you to keep your feet on the deck without slipping on polished wood. In fact, there are special longboarding and skateboarding shoes you can but to minimize damage to your favorite sneakers.
- More maintenance needed.
While a penny board still needs cleaning and maintenance, a skateboard, given the materials, might need more effort. Remember to clean the bearings, put on skate wax, interchange wheels, etc. to avoid performance issues.
So, Which One to Choose?
It’s difficult to say; we have to know what you’re looking for. If it’s a tiny cruiser, not expensive, that you will carry around a lot, then a penny board might just become your best choice. This is given you’re not a heavy rider.
If you’re after sick tricks, more stability, and overall heavier riding, getting a skateboard is a better idea. Just make sure it’s made from high-quality materials and has wheels that you need.
In case you want to cruise and go downhill a lot, that maybe go larger and buy a longboard. The bearings, trucks, wheels, and decks of longboards usually scream, “Stability, traction, and speed!”.
Consider your level and priorities before making the final decision. You don’t have to buy one board and keep it for the rest of your life, after all!
You can start with a penny just to make sure skating is something you’re after, and then go for a complete professional skateboard.