Getting the right longboard that’s affordable, durable and reliable is a challenge if you look at the vast amount of boards out there. Too cheap is usually a recipe for disaster but you also shouldn’t buy something ridiculously expensive. I made a few mistakes when I first tried out longboarding and I’ll guide you through the process so you can make the right choice.
I’m going to review a couple of longboards but to save you all the reading I’d suggest to go with Atom Drop Through. Its price is fair considering the quality components and is very stable. This board is perfect for beginners and won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
So how much should you spend?
We all have limits to our budgets but you want the best bang for your buck. I’m not gonna lie, longboards are expensive. Sure you’ve seen them under 50 bucks, but that will just lead to buyers remorse and returns. Even worse, many boarders give up after a negative experience. I don’t want you to give up on longboarding just because you had a bad experience with a crappy board.
You’re looking at least 100 USD and that’s just entry-level. Cheap longboards might seem appealing, sure they usually look great but how do they perform? Not well, they’re made of cheap materials; Low-quality bearings that hardly spin, wheels of cheap urethane that are a nightmare to ride. Trucks can be unreliable which breaks without warning. A non-responsive board that feels unstable and springy is just a nightmare. Not to mention resale value, at some point you might want to upgrade and get a fair amount back which you can invest right back.
In order to get a positive longboarding experience, there are a couple of brands to pick from. These brands have been around for a long time and produce quality stuff.
- Sector 9
- Comet Skateboards (check my review)
Longboard riding styles
In order to get the right longboard make sure you know what style you think is best for you personally. It would be a shame to buy a board that excels at downhill but you just wanted to cruise a little. It’s a completely different experience and many boards are designed for a single purpose, so let’s take a quick look at different styles.
Most beginners should consider cruisers. You’re probably not ready for anything technical and these boards are the best way to learn how to ride. If you want to gradually go down sloped streets, ride long distances, smooth flat surfaces, and enjoy the riding experience, this is the style for you.
Bombing the hills is for more advanced riders, don’t even think about this when you want to get into longboarding. It’s like dropping in on a vert when you haven’t even touched a skateboard before.
Downhill is going as fast as you possibly can while being in full control. You won’t be able to bomb hills if you don’t know how to slide properly first so let’s move on.
Sliding, longboard dancing, technical stuff. Probably also not for beginners but it’s really an awesome activity. Once you get better and more confident, freestyle can be a very thrilling activity. I always admire longboarders that gracefully ride the streets, not to mention dancing, that stuff is something else.
Freeride is pretty broad, it’s a combo of a couple of styles. Mainly freeride is about riding hills at reasonable speeds and combining tricks like sliding. You guessed it, this is not for beginners so let’s move on.
I guess you already came across longboards and they don’t all look the same, for good reasons. Some are better for specific disciplines like downhill or freestyle. Let’s do a crash course to understand what all this terminology means.
A top mount is a very traditional type of longboard and pretty affordable. If you’re looking for an all-around longboard consider this type. It has its pros and cons. Top mount means the deck is mounted on top of the trucks making your center of gravity higher. The higher the center of gravity the less stable a board feels. They have great maneuverability and are very versatile making it a great all-around board for different styles. The downside is that it doesn’t excel in any discipline.
Also a pretty common board. Drop trough means that the trucks are mounted through the board. The lower center of gravity makes these types of board much more stable. This is a solid choice when you want to ride long distances and they are more forgiving on the knees. when pushing your board.
Another great option for beginners is a longboard with a dropped deck. The trucks are attached to the top of the board but it’s shaped in a way that the board sort of drops in the middle. As discussed before, this means your center of gravity is much lower allowing for more stability. Pretty good option for beginners and as a bonus it also sort of locks in your feet. This is an excellent choice for beginners that want a stable and fun longboard for cruising.
Generic longboard specs
Now that you got your crash course on types of longboards it’s time to address various shapes, wheels, trucks, bushings and other components that have impact on behaviour and performance. I’ll keep it brief and then get on to my recommendations. It’s still important to read up on this in order to make the right choice.
Longboard deck shapes
You’ve probably seen all sorts of shapes and sizes which makes picking the right longboard even harder. So let’s explain what these shapes and sizes are and what to look for.
There are two main shapes if you look closely, directional and twin shape (symmetrical). As expected, directional boards are meant to go in one direction (forward) but twin shapes can go both forward and backward.
If you want something to cruise or bomb the hills go with a directional shaped longboard. Twin shapes are for more technical longboarders as it provides more directional freedom.
In general longboards go from 24 inch to 44 inch long pintails. I wouldn’t consider a 24 inch mini cruiser a longboard but let’s deabte that some other time. Picking the right length depends on how stable you want a ride to be. While personal preference plays a part in how you want a board to respond, a beginner probably should go with a longer uh.. longboard.
Shorter boards are more agile. They ar more responsive and easier to carry around. Perfect for commuting!
Longer boards responds slower and have a wider turn angle. Perfect for long distances and a stable ride.
I would advice to pick a longboard between 38″ and 43″, not too long and not too short.
trucks are the T-shaped metal parts attached to your board. Trucks consist of several parts depending on the type. Usually they consist one (or more) kingpin, a hanger, bushings, nuts and washers.
Bushings have to ability to be squished which allows your truck to steer. Hardness (durometer) plays a huge role and the more you weigh the harder your bushings should be.
I wouldn’t worry about that too much, bushings are cheap and easily replacable and as a beginner you’ll hardly feel the difference.
Longboard wheels is another topic about which you can write a whole book about. But for now let’s review the basics which will be enough for you to get a proper board and start riding.
Quality wheels make a huge difference in how a longboard performs. I’m not going into excruciating details here but there are a few things you should know.
Wheels vary in hardness, the harder the wheels the more uncomfortable. Wheels also shouldn’t be too soft because too much friction will make it harder to push and maintain speed.
Size matters, a lot. The larger the wheels the easier you roll over cracks, rocks, twigs, or other objects. Hardness also plays a role here. Bigger wheels also allow you to maintain speed and a much smoother ride.