From a beginners perspective skateboarding has a steeper learning curve because you have a smaller surface to keep your balance. Longboards have a larger surface which helps you to stay on your board. At higher speeds, you’re also less likely to experience speed wobble because of larger wheels, trucks, and board.
Skateboarding and longboarding are quite different sports and also have much in common. In order to find out what is easier for you, ask yourself what is you want to do. You won’t take a longboard to a skate park and you won’t be bombing the hills on a regular skateboard. Just a bit of cruising can be done on both if you slap on the right wheels.
So let’s see what types of styles are out there so you can determine for yourself which type of board you should get.
Differences between skateboarding and longboarding
Many people don’t have a clue, to them skateboarding and longboarding is just the same. To me and you the differences are pretty obvious just by looking at them but there are a few key factors that set them apart.
Longboards are made for smooth rides and turning, have bigger wheels and trucks and are much bigger. Longboards are less agile and take more time to get up to speed, it’s easier to go for long rides because they offer a smooth riding experience.
Skateboards are much smaller, have harder and smaller wheels and are made for tricks and accelerate much faster.
I’d argue that longboards are more expensive, sure you can get a cheap board but that’s at your own risk. Low-quality parts can be outright dangerous and you wouldn’t want a truck or wheel coming off at full speed. The same goes for regular skateboards, cheap boards are a bad idea.
What they have in common
Skateboarding and longboarding both come from surfing. In the early days, surfers found a way to practice their moves when there weren’t any waves to ride. This quickly evolved into pool skating and a new type of board came to life. There’s much more to it but I’ll save that for another post.
Both have their own subcultures, music, and apparel. To some, it’s a lifestyle and both are great ways to make new friends. Up to this day, I’m still friends with many skateboarders from my childhood.
Obviously, both have a board, bearings, bushings, trucks, wheels, etc. Oh, and both sometimes have issues with this thing called gravity. We all eat sh*t now and then and both skateboarders and longboarders like to just cruise around sometimes.
Regular skateboards and styles
It’s hard to pin this down. Most skateboarders like to do a bit of everything but at some point, some skateboarders love to shred the streets where others only skate bowls, verts, and mini ramps.
Just riding is something that everyone can learn with a bit of patience. Once you want to move on to tricks it becomes much harder. There are a few beginner tricks you can pick up relatively fast, but grinding rails and jumping huge stairs is something else.
If you just want to learn how to commute but feel like at some point you want to hop a few curbs, go with a regular skateboard. Buying an expensive longboard and then buying a regular skateboard is a waste of money unless you really like both.
Here are a few styles, vert, park, mini ramp, bowl/pool are often addressed as transition skateboarding. The street is the gnarly hardcore stuff which is often more technical. Big air is sort of new where few mortals dare to thread, but it’s spectacular! Freestyle is one of the oldest forms of skateboarding and very technical.
- Min ramp
Longboarding and styles
Again, lots of overlap and many longboarders do a bit of everything (except for bombing the hills perhaps). Just cruising can be a relaxing experience where downhill is for adrenaline junkies (that stuff is scary). Depending on the style you like you’ll need different setups more so than regular skateboarding.
Dancing is a gracious form of longboarding requiring lots of skill and technique. Fluid cross-stepping and flowy movement while maintaining your balance.
Downhill is for very experienced longboarders that seek thrill and adrenalin rushes. This is not I would recommend to beginners before you know it you don’t know how to slow down and you’re in a world of trouble.
Slalom is about weaving in and out of obstacles on a course. it requires a technique called ‘pumping’ to maintain speed which you also see longboarders sometimes do when they’re just cruising.
- Downhill (bombing the hills)
What is a good longboard for beginners?
That’s a tough question. It depends on what you want to do, as mentioned before. You need something reliable and a setup with decent quality parts. Buying cheap longboard will make it harder for you to learn the basics. It might even get you frustrated and give up. Sure they are cheap but from what I can see, most people return them within a few days.
The best thing to do is to start with the basics. Just riding, a bit of carving and when you get more confidence, work on pumping. There are many options but not all are equal. Go with something that gets you the best bang for your buck and still offers high-quality components. I wouldn’t splurge all my money on something that I might or might not enjoy.
I know of a couple of boards that offer both quality and a good riding experience for a reasonable price. You can check them out here.
Something in the middle, a small cruiser
I often see people asking about just a board for commuting. You know, cruising on campus or just small commutes to work or anywhere. This requires something portable, lightweight and reliable. Mini cruisers are excellent for this purpose but are harder for beginners.
Because of their small size and agility, it’s harder to keep your balance. I suggest to practice a lot before and become familiar with it before you decide to take it out for a cruise in a crowded street.
There is one board that really stands out, the Lanyachtz Dhingy. It has been specifically designed for this purpose and it even allows you to hop curbs once you get the hang of it. It’s the most popular mini-cruiser for over a decade now and for good reasons. Check out my more in-depth review of this board.
What is a good skateboard for beginners?
Like longboards, you shouldn’t go for a cheap toy skateboard. it will be an incredibly frustrating experience. You can either assemble one yourself or buy a complete and be done with it. Assembling one yourself means you pick the trucks, bearings, wheels, grip, and board. It’s not rocket science and you get to pick higher quality parts.
Assembling one is more expensive though and it requires a bit of knowledge of wheel specifications, decks and trucks. You can get a decent complete skateboard for around 70-80 bucks and gradually upgrade. Sure the wheels on these boards are less forgiving, but you won’t notice that until you become better. I recommend buying one of these completes, you get a lot of skateboard for a good price.