The Board Blazers Blog

Bikes vs. Boards: Which to Choose for College?

A bike or a skateboard is a must for getting around a large college campus, but we know it can be hard to decide between the two! Here’s what to consider to make the right choice. 

First off, if you’re trying to decide if transportation is even necessary, the answer is a resounding YES! Especially if you don’t have a car, a skateboard or bike is practically a necessity. Not only will you be able to get to class faster (perhaps saving a valuable 5 minutes of sleep in the morning!), but it will also allow you to pack more into every day. Want to play on an intramural team, but the games start all the way across campus 5 minutes after class ends? No problem, if you’ve got a ride. Want to meet a friend for lunch, but worried you can’t squeeze it in between classes? With a bike or board, you certainly can! Most of all, transportation affords you a sense of FREEDOM so you don’t feel trapped on campus. 

Board Blazers was born at Arizona State University, so we know a thing or two about riding on campus. Here’s what we’ve found:


In this category, a bike has several advantages that a board can’t match. Most of all, you can go faster and further on a bike. For these reasons, if you’re living off campus and looking for a way to commute to campus, you’ll definitely want a bike. Plus, bikes are much better for carrying stuff. If you’re taking books, a laptop, or a project to class, either use a backpack or get a bike with a rack or basket. Need to make a grocery run? Carrying all those bags home on a skateboard is going to be awfully tough. Plus, your bike can be used for recreation too! Invest in a solid mountain or road bike, then get out and explore the local terrain. Join a local cycling club to immediately make friends and get plugged into the local scene.


Score one for skateboards, and make sure to pick the right type of board. Longboards are common on campus, and will typically cost you $99 – $149. Penny boards (aka “plastic boards”) are a little smaller, and are often the best type of board for campus cruising.  A solid penny board usually costs between $49 and $99. If you’re going to buy a skateboard, make sure to visit a local skate shop, not a big-box retailer. Even if a local shop is a little more expensive, they’ll hook you up with better equipment, personal service, and local insider knowledge that’s worth the extra cash.

Bikes have a much wider price range, but you’re almost guaranteed to spend more than on a skateboard. Expect to pay at least $200 for a decent quality new cruiser, and even more if you want a good mountain or road bike. Plus, bikes require some maintenance. Fixing a flat and an occasional tune-up aren’t costly, but they’re expenses that skateboards don’t require. When buying a bike, a local bike shop is the way to go. If (and when) your bike needs maintenance, they’ll often fix it for free or a reduced price if you originally bought the bike there.

Lastly, remember to look for deals on used bikes and boards! Many students sell their rides when they graduate, so ask around. If you’re a new student, ask your campus tour guide if they know anyone selling a used bike, and which method of transportation they prefer.


Bikes have brakes! College campuses are crowded places, so keep in mind that you’ll be maneuvering through crowds and dodging other riders. Especially at hilly campuses, bikes are better. Sure, you can always brake with your foot or jump off a skateboard, but then your board often goes darting off into a crowd. Many campuses have even implemented “walk-only zones” or other safety measures in an effort to decrease the danger for pedestrians and improve traffic flow. Potholes, uneven sidewalks, and even trash also pose a problem for unstable boarders. In this case, bikes are a better choice.


Once you reach your destination, don’t forget that you’ve got to lock up your bike every single time. Bike racks are common at many schools, but often so crowded they turn into a demolition derby. Sometimes, there’s no rack close to your destination, leaving less desirable options such as locking to a tree, post, or even just running the lock through the tires. Plus, if you move around campus during the day, it might be a hike back to where you left your bike.

After you arrive, you have to carry your skateboard, which has both advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, you’ve always got your ride with you, so you can hop on wherever you’d like. But, it can be a burden to carry around all day, and if it’s a particularly large longboard you’ll have to leave it by the door when you get to class. This is dangerous, because skateboard theft is common at many schools. Because of this, we highly recommend a penny board since it’s easier to carry and you can keep it with you at your seat in class.

Theft of both bikes and skateboards is rampant, so always keep your board with you, and be careful about leaving it in the back of a lecture hall. Or, if a bike is your thing, the phrase “buy a cheap bike and an expensive lock” rings true. Invest in a quality U-lock. Locking skateboard racks are becoming increasingly popular, but still aren’t mainstream.

In the end, choose whichever you feel more comfortable with or the option that best fits your needs. Check out your campus to see what’s most popular. That’s a good sign of the best option in your area. If you’re a commuter, have a lot of hills around campus, or just prefer the speed, practicality, and maneuverability of a bike, go for it! Or, if you’re looking to save some cash and don’t want to deal with the hassle of locking up a bike every time you stop, become a boarder.

What’s your pick? Comment below to let us know!

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The Scoop on Selecting A Skateboard

If you’re looking to buy a skateboard for yourself or as a gift, here’s a guide to the basics. If you don’t know what ABEC means, read on because this article is for you!

This article is designed for new skaters looking to buy their first board or adults buying a skateboard as a gift for kids. We know the sheer number of options can seem daunting, so here’s what you need to know before you get to the store:

Type of Skating

First off, decide what type of skating you’ll be doing. Do you dream of cruising down the beach boardwalk, or know you’ll be using your board as transportation? You’ll want a longboard or a penny board. If you’d like to do some sweet tricks at the skate park, a shortboard is for you. For a first board, we’d recommend a shortboard, because you can do tricks and still cruise with a shortboard, but a longboard is too heavy and bulky to perform tricks.

Still wondering? The type of competitive skateboarding you see on TV, like at the X Games, uses shortboards. The terms “street skateboarding” and “vert skateboarding” also refer to shortboard skating. If the board leaves the ground, that’s a shortboard.

Size and Shape

There are 3 main types of skateboards: longboards, shortboards, and penny boards. Here are some rules of thumb: If the deck is plastic, that’s a penny board. “Penny” is a brand name, but it’s also become the universal term for a plastic boards designed for cruising. If the front (nose) and back (tail) of the board are symmetrical and the edges of the wheels are rounded, that’s a shortboard. If the board is larger than average, the nose and tail are not the same shape, and/or the edges of the wheels are flat, it’s usually a longboard.

Here’s a graphic to show you the differences in shape:

Skateboard Shapes

After you decide on a shape, you’ll need the right size. Surprisingly, width determines the size of a skateboard, not length. The width of an average board is 7.5 to 8 inches. Height, weight, shoe size, the type of skating you’d like to do and personal preference are all factors in choosing the right width, but to keep things simple, use this handy skateboard sizer (click the blue “what size” button).

Check for Quality

Trust us, it’s much easier for beginners to skate on a good quality board. The wheels will roll easier, it will be more stable, and it will be easier to turn (that’s a good thing!). Set yourself up for success by inspecting the board for quality in the store. As an easy rule of thumb, you’re checking for the amount of plastic. More plastic = bad.

Here’s what you’re looking for:

  • The trucks connect the wheels to the deck. If the trucks are plastic, that’s a bad sign.
  • Pass on plastic or rubber wheels. Wheels should be made of urethane (often a whitish clear color), which provide a smoother ride and better grip. Ask a salesman if you’re not sure.
  • Spin the wheels. Do they spin freely, without any grinding or wobbling? ABEC is a scale of the preciseness of a bearing. You want ABEC 5 or 7 for skating.

This guide to avoiding cheap skateboards will give you more information about how to test a board for quality. We can’t understate the importance of picking a high quality board for newer skaters.

Where to Buy

If you’re not familiar with skateboarding, you’ll want to visit a local skate shop. Even though they’re often a little more expensive than a big box retailer, skaters swear by them because they offer quality products, insider knowledge, and personalized service. Ask an employee to help you pick out a board, and then use this guide to check for reasonable quality and price. You can be assured that most boards at a dedicated skate shop will be of reasonably high quality. As a bonus, you can also ask the salesperson about local places to skate. If you’re spending upwards of $50 on a new board, don’t be afraid to ask him or her to throw in some free extras like skate wax or skate stickers.

While low prices at big box stores might be tempting, beware that they often sell low-quality boards that can ruin your early skating experience. In addition, the employees likely won’t have the same skating expertise as those at skate shops, so you’ll miss out on the local knowledge, free goodies, and step by step guidance. Don’t order a skateboard online, because you won’t be able to do the super-important quality inspection that we discussed earlier.


Warning: Don’t cheap out. When you walk into the shop, tell them you want a “complete.” That magic word indicates a pre-assembled skateboard that includes all components. Otherwise, you’ll be left to select the deck, trucks, wheels, bearings, hardware, grip tape, and riser pads separately. A complete will often cost slightly more than building your own custom skateboard, but it will save you time and trouble by greatly reducing the number of decisions you’ll have to make in the store. Once you’re more experienced and have learned about your personal preferences you can switch to a new custom board.

In general, here’s what you can expect to pay for a complete skateboard at a skate shop:

Shortboard: $49.99 - $99.99

Longboard: $99.99 - $149.99

Penny Board/Plastic Cruiser: $89.99 - $124.99

If you’d like more advice about choosing a skateboard, check out these 5 Things NOT To Do. Keep in mind that the ‘perfect’ board is really a matter of personal preference, so comment below to let us know about your favorites!

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Hard-Headed: How To Get Your Kids To Wear A Helmet


If you feel like you’re fighting the Battle of Gettysburg every time you try to get your Tony-Hawk-to-be to wear a helmet, it’s time for an intervention. 

Since the dawn of time, getting kids to wear a helmet has been one of man’s greatest struggles (ok, we might be exaggerating just a bit). But whether they’re biking, skateboarding, snowboarding, skiing, riding a motorcycle (let’s hope not!), or even playing a sport, it can be tough get your child to wear his or her helmet. Board Blazers LED skateboard lights are a great safety feature, but there’s no more important way to stay safe while riding than wearing a helmet. Next time you’re fighting against the “Cool Factor” with your kids, don’t let them be hard-headed – instead, try these tips to get (and keep) their head in the game:

Listen, Think, Act

First off, put yourself in your kids’ shoes. Believe it or not, times might’ve changed since you were a kid (surprise!). The reasons that you didn’t want to wear a helmet as a kid might be totally different than their reasons today. If you take the time to listen to them instead of simply bracing for an argument, you might find that their objections are much easier to overcome that you expected. For example, maybe they think wearing a helmet is cool, but they just don’t have a place to store it at school. I’m sure you’d agree that this is a much easier problem to fix than fighting the prevailing winds of peer pressure. Don’t assume you know why you child won’t wear a helmet: ask them first, then use the following tips to react to their objections.

Work Together

This is the single best way to get your kid to wear their helmet: work with them, not against them. We all respond better to things that are our choice, instead of being told what to do. Don’t demand compliance from your kids. Scare tactics, false threats, and punishment are guaranteed to build resentment. Instead, position yourself as a concerned partner who is genuinely trying to help them avoid serious injury. Show them that you’re on their side by getting them to want to wear a helmet instead of demanding it. With this basic idea in mind, the more specific tips below will help you both trying to avoid a staycation at the ER.   

Get Their Buy-In

Again, put human nature on your side. We’re all likely to be much more supportive when we’re personally invested in something. For starters, always let your child pick out his or her helmet of choice (assuming it meets safety standards and is reasonably priced). This way, you’re building buy-in from the beginning. Plus, rather than trying to guess what they’ll think is cool, you’ll save yourself the guesswork by letting them choose!

Better yet, get your kids to spend some of their own money on a helmet. For example, give them a gift certificate to a local bike shop as a birthday gift, then take them to get the helmet of their choice with that money. Or, if you give your children an allowance, encourage them to split the cost of a helmet with you. They’re much more likely to wear it if they bought it! Pride of ownership is a powerful thing.


This graphic from the Washington Post sums it up perfectly. ‘Nuff said.

Build Habits

Consistency is key. There are no exception to the universal “Always Wear A Helmet” rule. None. Not “just to ride around the neighborhood,” not “if there are no cars,” not even if they accidentally forget it. Trust us – selective safety is not a thing. If you expect your kids to wear a helmet every time they ride, pretty soon putting on the helmet will become as automatic as skipping the ad before a YouTube video. Every time. No exceptions!

Cool It

Helmets aren’t the ol’ bulky plastic brain buckets of yesteryear. In addition to letting them choose their helmet, there’s tons of new accessories to make a helmet look even cooler. Try letting your kids customize their existing helmet with one of these new peel and stick helmet mohawks. Another major problem with getting kids to wear their helmet is that they often take it off as soon as they’re out of sight of your watchful eyes. If you can afford it, an easy and fun way to get your child to keep his or her helmet on is by mounting a GoPro camera to it. They’ll be so excited to capture cool videos from their very own helmet cam that they won’t want to take it off!

cool helmet

Set the Example

Setting the example is a key to good leadership, and it applies here too. If family bike rides or ski trips are your idea of fun family bonding, or you ride a bike to work, make sure that you model good behavior and wear a helmet every time you ride. You already know your son or daughter looks up to you as a role model, so one of the best ways to non-verbally communicate the importance of a helmet is by wearing one yourself. You might want to skip that helmet mohawk we recommended though!

Make it fun!

Most importantly, make wearing a helmet fun! All of these points are designed to get you to work together with your kids to encourage responsible use of a helmet. By listening, accessorizing, and setting a good example, you can make wearing a helmet something they want to do, not have to do. Better yet, print off this article and have them read it themselves, then let them check out Tony Hawk’s website. If the world’s most famous, successful, and rich pro skater wears a helmet every time he rides, your son or daughter can too!

How have you encouraged your children to wear a helmet? Help fellow parents out by sharing your tips in the comments!

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4 Stocking Stuffer Ideas That Will Knock Your Socks Off!

Struggling to come up with cool and creative stocking stuffer ideas? Here’s 4 easy ideas to make your next gift great!

The best stocking stuffers are unique, fun, thoughtful and small in size. They serve as a whimsical ‘side dish’ to the main course of presents under the tree. Of course, Board Blazers are extremely popular stocking stuffers for kids and teens because they’re cool, compact and relatively inexpensive. But, if you’re in need of more inspiration, try these fun ideas!

1. Something hard to wrap.

Homemade sweets and crafts make excellent stocking stuffers because they’re hard to wrap. If you’ve got a present that you’re struggling to wrap because it’s too small, awkwardly shaped, or fragile, make it a stocking stuffer instead. Wrap it in some newspaper or a small baggie and tuck it gently into the stocking. It’s an easy way to beautifully present those delicate gifts, and a thoughtful way to share your hobbies with your friends and family. In addition to homemade items like crafts and sweets, here’s a few more ideas:

Legos – A favorite of both boys and girls for many years, pour assorted Legos into a stocking to build a great gift!

Bear Claw Back Scratcher – We all love a good back scratch, and this is a great example of a hard to wrap item. Make it a stocking stuffer instead!

2. Fido’s Favorite.

Pets are part of our families, so get them a gift too! Treats and toys make great stocking stuffers for pets. Of course, leaving treats under the tree makes them vulnerable to getting opened early (and not by a human!), so hang them in a stocking on the mantle. Of course, make sure treats are tightly sealed so they don’t tempt your pet. Better yet, pick something they can enjoy all year round. Marvin the Moose makes a doggone good gift for Fido! Or, give (and get) Cat Scratch Fever! Read on for more ideas...

Stocking Stuffers for Pets

3. Think in pieces.

Break up larger presents into smaller pieces. Gift cards are an easy example of this. For example, the Amazon Kindle tablet is one of this year’s hottest gifts, so a subscription to Amazon Prime would make a great stocking stuffer so the recipient can begin downloading items right away. Or, use stocking stuffers as clues for bigger items. For example, if you’re gifting an Xbox, give a new videogame  or extra controller for that console first as a stocking stuffer and a hint of the big gift to come. Gift cards, tech accessories, and extra parts all make great stocking stuffer ideas in this category. Think about the biggest gift you’re giving, and then use a smaller item to compliment it as a stocking stuffer.

4. Something special.

Who doesn’t automatically assume the biggest present must be the best? We all do! But, if you’ve got something small but special to showcase, especially jewelry, make it stand out as a stocking stuffer. Tucking a ring, pendant, or bracelet into a stocking can make especially breathtaking stocking stuffer ideas for women. Watches, in particular, are classy stocking stuffer ideas for men. By setting these types of significant gifts apart from other gifts under the tree, you’ll make them stand out even more!

Keep in mind that jewelry doesn’t have to be expensive. Here’s a few of the most popular items on that are all under $50:

Sterling Silver White Round Diamond Heart Pendant – This beautiful pendent might steal her heart but not your money!

SO&CO New York Men's 5101 Quartz Watch– The contemporary silver design of this watch makes it an easy choice for men to wear with all colors.

Alex and Ani Initial Wire Bangle Bracelet – Personalized gifts are definitely a hot trend! Select the letter of the recipient’s first or last name to add a personal touch to this beautiful bracelet.

What are some of your favorite stocking stuffer ideas? Let us know in the comments below!

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Board Blazers Featured By AZ Tech Beat

We’re thrilled to be featured by Arizona Tech Beat this month! Thanks to our fellow “35 Under 35” friends at EXP Trips, we made the trek to North Scottsdale last week for the shoot. Tishin Donkersley (pictured), Editor-in-Chief, quickly put a set of Radical Red lights on her board and showed off her skating skills while a camera crew followed. Part interview, part how-to video, and all fun, we love the final video they produced! As they point out, Board Blazers are an excellent holiday stocking stuffer for their viewers. If you still haven’t seen it yet, head to AZ Tech Beat to see the segment!

 Tishin AZ Tech Beat

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