While we focus mostly on longboards around here, we also appreciate all types of skating. One type of skating that we enjoy is riding Penny or Nickel boards. Penny and Nickel boards are quite polarizing for some reason and can be very divisive within the skating community.
We happen to enjoy them for what they are, a fun and cheap alternative to the usual boards. Let’s take a deep dive and learn more about these boards and where to get a good Penny board or Nickel board.
What is a Penny Board?
What’s a Penny board and what is it good for you may ask? Penny boards are shorter skateboards with decks made out of plastic. What’s cool about the Penny and Nickel boards is that they have a cool, retro look to them since they resemble original skateboards back in the day. Because of the simplicity and cheaper materials, they can be purchased for much cheaper prices than standard complete board setups.
The deck is made entirely from plastic which provides surprising sturdiness and flexibility. Normally plastic could be quite a slippery surface for your feet, however these decks are topped with a “waffle top” texture that provides decent friction for your feet. The plastic comes in a wide variety of colors since it’s just dyed plastic. How long is a Penny board? Penny board length is typically 22″, while the Nickel board length is 27″. There are Penny Longboards that are even longer, but we won’t be focusing on those in this article.
The trucks are made from cast aluminum. You can adjust the kingpin nut to alter your ride.
The wheels are made of polyurethane and have plastic cores. The wheel diameter is 59mm ( or 2.32″) for both the Penny and the Nickel. The Penny longboard has larger wheels. The durometer rating is 83A for both styles which is perfect for cruising, the main riding style for these boards. Penny board bushings come pretty standard but can always be changed out. Penny Australia sells separate bushings in two sizes, 78a and 83a. The broadness of Penny wheels make them suitable for skating over slightly rougher surfaces as well as smooth surfaces.
Are Penny Boards Good for Beginners?
Penny boards are not ideal for beginners, but they tend to be very popular with beginners due to the cheap price tag. If somebody is looking to buy their first skateboard online they may get excited at the sub $50 price tag on a Penny knock off. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it should be said that Penny boards can be trickier to ride than a full-sized skateboard or longboard.
The appeal with the Penny is the compact size and featherweight design, it’s the only skateboard that can fit inside a standard backpack which is tough for other boards to compete with from a portability standpoint. If you’re just starting out and can afford to, we’d suggest a better, normal-sized skateboard. For a happy medium, give the Nickel a shot. The Nickel board is going to be 5 inches longer and a little wider than the Penny which makes it easier to balance on and maneuver. We’d say the Nickel style is the better Penny board for beginners.
What is a Nickel Board?
A Nickel board traditionally refers to a larger Penny-style board that is around 5″ longer, and easier to ride because of the increased deck surface area. Nickel boards are still made of plastic, and are light-weight and inexpensive, but can cost $20-$30 more than penny boards.
Penny vs Nickel Boards
Penny boards or Nickel boards, that is the question. Below is a helpful benefits list for both styles to help you choose which is best for you:
Penny Board Pros:
- Cheapest option
- Small & can fit in most backpacks
Nickel Board Pros:
- Easier to control
- More stable
- Better for larger riders and/or larger-footed riders
Downsides to Penny & Nickel boards:
- Really only good for cruising and not much else
- Once the waffle top grip wears down it’s pretty useless
Best Penny Boards & Brands: Our Top 3
The Original Penny Brand
When it comes to the best Penny board brands or best Nickel board brands, the first and most obvious is the original Penny brand from Australia. Over the years the style has been duplicated by lots of other brands for much cheaper. Much like the Kleenex brand has become synonymous with all tissues, “Penny” is the name given to all short, plastic, waffle-topped skateboards.
The original Penny brand from Australia makes the best Penny board, but you’re going to pay for it because their prices are 2-4x more than the off-brand boards.
Penny 22″ Cruiser Skateboard
The latest Penny Cruiser is always a hit. The original is the best and the folks at Penny Australia keep improving on their masterpiece. The quality is unmatched, but you’re going to pay for it. If you know you like Pennys and are ready to spend some money, go with the newest original Cruiser. This cruiser comes in a variety of colors and designs updated each year.
Penny board also has partnered with several well-known brands to create co-branded deck designs. Some of these well-known brands include Star Wars, The Simpsons, and Tony Hawk. You won’t find these fun collaborations with the knock-offs.
Good Penny boards don’t necessarily have to be made by the Penny Australia company. In fact, you can get a pretty decent knock-off on Amazon or other sites online. We’re not sure what this name means or where they’re even from for that matter. But they do make a great variety of longboards, and Penny boards.
Playshion Complete 22 Inch Mini Cruiser
Like the original Penny, the Playshion Mini Cruiser comes in a wide array of color options, but for half the price as the Penny brand. For all the “knock-off” Penny boards out there, Playshion is one of the most well-reviewed boards available online.
If you weren’t already sold on the Playshion because of the price and reviews, it also comes with some Penny board accessories: free stickers and a skate tool!
Last but not least we’ve chosen the RIMABLE as the third best Penny board brand. RIMABLE makes skateboards, scooters, and one of our favorite Penny boards of course!
RIMABLE Complete 22 Inch
RIMABLE is a huge hit in the Penny board brand world and for good reason. Over 880 buyers have rated the RIMABLE 4.3/5. There’s a lot of tough critics when it comes to budget skateboards so this is quite encouraging especially given the low price point.
There is only one original, but there are dozens of Penny board brands for sale online, it’s just a matter of what you’re willing to pay. An original will cost you a lot more, and the off-brands are much more affordable.
Beginner Tips for Riding a Penny Board
Penny boards are popular with beginner riders because of the affordability and portability. When it comes to riding one, the same general tips apply for how to ride a longboard or skateboard, you just have to be a little more careful especially if you’re larger, because they can be a little tricky to balance on. The basics for riding a Penny or Nickel board is basically the same as riding a regular board, but we still wanted to provide an outline of how to ride a Penny or Nickel board below:
- Know which foot you’re most comfortable with being in front.
- Pretend you’re going to run and then slide standing up. Whichever foot you naturally put in front is the same one that should be in front on your Penny board.
- When pushing, use a walking motion, both feet pointed forward as you push with one foot.
- When you’re done pushing, move your feet slightly so they are both pointing the same direction as you cruise.
- To turn, just lean on your heels or toes depending which side you want to turn on. You can also use a kick-turn to turn quicker, this is done by putting weight on the back and allowing the front to lift off the ground so you can swing the board a little to turn.
- Stopping can be done by either lifting your front foot and dragging the tail until you reach a stop or by doing a foot brake. A foot break is similar to the push but as you put your foot down you try to slow your momentum until you can step off the board.
Stick around to the end of the video below to also see some Penny board tricks.
Are Penny Boards Good For Kids?
Yes! Penny boards are a great and inexpensive way to see if a kid will enjoy skating. Make sure the child is wearing proper safety gear, especially a helmet and elbow and knee pads. Kids also have an advantage on a Penny board because of their small size. Some could call them kid-sized boards! Any parent could agree that spending just $30 on a sport or activity to see if a kid likes it is a great deal. If your kid is asking about an actual longboard, we’ve covered our 5 favorites as well as some extra helpful safety info in our article on the best longboards for kids – check it out!
Conclusion: Why Do Penny Boards Get Such a Bad Rap?
It’s no secret that a lot of people in longboard and skateboard communities look down on Penny and Nickel boards. The truth is you need to step back and see them for what they really are: a fun and cheap alternative way of enjoying your favorite hobby. On their own they might be a weird intro to skating for a beginner, but if you just want something cheap, light and portable, why not go with a Penny?
If you look hard enough you’ll see that real skaters agree that Penny boards have their place in the community. There’s even Penny board online communities out there of proud Penny riders like the ones in this subreddit. Penny boards look cool and are fun to cruise on. We think they should always be a compliment to your existing board collection, because there are way better boards out there. If you’re ready for a fun new change of pace, get yourself a Penny or Nickel board!