Quality longboard brands are rare these days. Some brands used to be great but have been taken over by large soulless corporations that sucked the life out of once great brands. These days one needs to look for smaller brands, mainstream brands are often going to disappoint.
Poor longboard brands prioritize cost-cutting over design. This leads to boards that aren’t rideable, don’t perform well on stunts, and tend to break after a little while. By avoiding these brands, you increase your chance of riding a variety of terrain without the board seizing upon you.
- The Worst Longboard Brands
- What Makes The Worst Longboards Bad?
- Why Are There Bad Longboards?
- What To Do With A Crappy Longboard
The Worst Longboard Brands
Here’s a list of the worst longboard brands:
- Chinese Longboards
- Sector 9
We’ll take a look at the factors that set rideable skates apart from the pretenders. Then we dish out awards to the best of the worst-performing longboards.
1. Chinese Longboard Brands
As with all consumables, China has a mass production advantage that it leverages to great effect. This leads to products with a factory feel, lacking in the attention to task specificity that a craftsperson brings. So it goes with longboards.
The range of issues include:
- Low-quality wood and polymers on the decks. This leads to warping, snapping, and overall poor responsiveness.
- No flex, which increases the risk of breakage and creates a counterintuitive feels to anyone used to skating on terrain with surface variance.
- Weak wheel grips that lead to an increased risk of an accident.
- Excessive use of plastic – not material for responsiveness and durability under impact.
- Heavy woods that make for slow unluggable decks.
China is a vast country, home to smart people. Some of them have turned their talents and resourcefulness to creating the best longboards you’ll find anywhere. But weed out the low-profile factory clones, if its cheap and has a lot of positive reviews you need to stay away.
Ghost has made longboards from translucent acrylic polymer, which makes for a beautiful cruise. That changes if you actually cruise. With cruising comes scuffing, and the Ghosts are prone to scratching under abrasion.
Then there’s the small issue of versatility. These are not. They’re designed around the stereotype of longboards as slow cruising devices. For tricks or downhill surges, they simply don’t perform.
A plus behind the transparent design is that it neatly overlays any other custom design. This makes for great art pieces, as long as you don’t use them. That’s just as well, ‘cause they’re disappointing when you try.
Valador has become popular on Amazon, targeting new skaters with beautiful deck aesthetics. Some of the art has been commissioned from Asia and Europe to develop a portfolio of stunning designs. All of this dazzles in an online gallery, but what happens when the decks hit the streets.
Not too much. These boards offer too little turn and versatility to allow for any of the thrills that a performing skater would want. They are sluggish boards that make cruising feel sluggish – even by its own laidback standards.
It’s all well and good to introduce a pared-down ride to acclimate new riders, but serious skaters risk being baited.
This is a sad tale of a brand with a long history that’s sold its soul to mass production and the lure of a quick online buck. They’ve started in 1965 and remain a leading seller, but several users have started to complain about the lapse in quality.
The Kryptonics 36 model has been a magnet of criticism spanning a range of issues. The deck is overly stiff, killing responsiveness and flexibility. The wheels are fragile, succumbing to wear in modestly challenging terrain. And then there are the plastic trucks that snap when the heat is on.
One of the worst longboard and worst skateboard brands is Krown. I wouldn’t even call it a brand. Despite overwhelmingly good reviews, their boards are garbage. It’s almost as if reviews can be manupulated. Take the crown Freestyle Elite Drop for example
The deck is made of low-grade wood that buckles under the unremarkable weight. This combines with a truck that gets stuck. Stiff bearings create a dangerous machine. When the truck suddenly stops turning, this creates sudden braking, which will lead to accidents.
This proneness to trauma kills the claim that you’re making a cheap board for beginners – the people least able to protect themselves with a quick reaction in the case of an accident.
Walmart is in the longboard business. Lol! While you generally get more accountability from a bricks-and-mortar shop, don’t expect that here. Also, the boards themselves are designed as commodities rather than finished performance machines.
The low-quality employed means that your board can come apart in any one of a number of ways, leading to safety risks. The trucks are particularly fragile. Walmart longboard wheels are asymmetric, causing them to wobble when ridden. Apart from that, they’re too flat, leading to an uncomfortable feeling.
The number one problem is the height of the deck, which makes it unstable when riding at high speeds. Thoughtful design optimizing deck height would have made this a better board. This is what happens when you build an “entry-level” ride and assume that riders will do little more than stand on it.
The usual problems of a stiff, inflexible deck apply. We don’t buy the argument of this being a good beginner board. Beginners who learn that longboards are inherently unmanoeuvrable and dangerous on the downhill might opt out of longboarding altogether and get their thrills elsewhere.
8. Sector 9
Sector 9 has a variety of boards, some of which are really good. The bottom of their range is not atrocious, but there’s something systematic about Sector9 fails that merits a mention in this list.
Sector9 makes a class of longboards that are designed for what I want to call low-ambition skaters. These are people who want to be seen with a board and do some unchallenging midtown cruising on the flats.
If you fit that profile, you won’t be disappointed. Except that the price point doesn’t match the product, and you could pay less for the same product from a bunch of rival suppliers.
If you’re a next-level kind of player, you needn’t leave the brand. Sector9’s higher-range boards offer to grow room. Just steer away from the “cheap” stuff.
This company makes popular boards for the longboarder on a budget. Magneto longboards are cheap, but you get what you pay for.
Low-quality parts that aren’t reliable, wheels that don’t offer much grip, and skateboards that snap when you just look at them.
Those who want the best should consider brands like Comet, Pantheon, and Bustin.
The harshest review is left for last. Landyachtz are, without question, masters in board design, with a number of high-performance models in the stable. They’ve squeezed their way onto the bottom of this list for one reason: We expect more consistent awesome from them.
If this sounds unfair, that’s only because it is. Still, they’re competing against artisan board makers who avoid pitfalls like:
- Heavy decks that make for clunky longboards.
- Excessively long drops.
- Beginner boards are priced at intermediate levels.
- Low versatility boards targeted at intermediate skaters.
I do like their cruisers, for example, but they are overpriced. A prime example of an overpriced Landyachtz Skateboard is the LY ATV. That said, trawling further up the Landyachtz quality chain, it’s hard to fund dud rides.
What Makes The Worst Longboards Bad?
Quality and design are the two features that work together to do or undo the goodness of aboard. Usually, one of these two factors would have been compromised when you’re offered a longboard on the cheap. To get a sense of exactly how it breaks down, we’ll go through the parts that make up a longboard:
The deck is the easiest thing to get wrong, and the worst longboard brands easily get it very wrong. This is because the deck is built with materials that don’t provide durability and are shaped out of kilter.
Bad longboards are designed on the assumption that all you’ll be doing is a slow cruise, with a modest decline. These boards take a beating when executing tricks and often snap.
Trucks are the t-shaped components that attach the wheels to your skateboard. Building and screwing a nice firm right-angled wheel-holder is easy for your average all-purpose mass-production factory, right? Not quite. There’s some art to how the truck attaches, and getting it right is the difference between a maneuverable board and a wobbly plank.
Skateboard trucks consist of a hanger and baseplate connected by a kingpin. The hangar houses the axle. Loser longboard trucks copy the geometry of skateboard trucks. This kills ride quality – a longboard isn’t just a looooong skateboard. Its dynamics require a different truck configuration.
Longboard trucks feature a configuration called “Reverse Kingpin Truck” (RKP.) Here the kingpin points outside, sitting diagonally inside the truck. The result is a more agile board than the “Traditional Kingpin Truck” (TKP) configuration. TKP does have a place with cruisers and retro skaters, but that’s a matter of choice, not default.
Ideally, your truck bearings should align with the outside of your deck. Failing that, there’s a tradeoff between stability and maneuverability. Narrower tracks give the former; wider ones give you the latter.
The worst longboard trucks give you truck width that doesn’t fit into the ideal ranges. 150mm width is best for nifty execution of slaloms, carves, and city cruising. 170-180mm ranges are better for downhill runs, but with the bad longboard design, other features are ill-suited to downhill runs with good grip.
Apart from propelling the longboard, wheels act as shock absorbers, as they make the initial impact with the ground. The worst longboards wheels are built with materials (often plastic) that do a poor job of cushioning shock and are themselves vulnerable to cracking on impact.
Other components that impact the quality of a longboard ride are the bearings and bushings. Quality components can vastly improve your experience. The worst longboard makers choose cheaper products that have the opposite effect.
Why Are There Bad Longboards?
Online shopping has created a distance between shoppers and sellers. This makes the vendors less accountable to their customers, as the risk of actually seeing a disgruntled customer is diminished.
With online shops, it’s also convenient to sell a range of different products – the shop’s skill is in selling, not in building or procuring specialist items. This means that stock choices are driven by economic rather than quality considerations.
A final factor is one for which skating itself is to blame. Sort of. Longboarding looks cool. So it attracts lots of new people with a casual understanding of the activity. The worst longboard brands specifically build products to entice these newbies with low prices and lower regard for the quality that makes a good skateboard.
Lastly, some brands (like Sector9, Kryptonics) got taken over my corporations that don’t care too much about their products, it’s all about profit.
What To Do With A Crappy Longboard
In spite of your best efforts, you might end up with a board that doesn’t work for you. Some options include:
- Take it back: Brick-and-mortar vendors are likelier to exchange a defective product. If your board broke early under mild stress, opt for a different brand.
- Write a review: Warn other users. Manufacturers have an eye on the review boards, and negative feedback helps them. Often you get contacted by the sellers trying to bribe to write a positive review, don’t fall for this!
- Swap: The features that don’t work for you may be up the alley of other skaters. That unresponsive board could suit a casual cruiser.
- Fix it: Some problems (e.g., poor trucking) can be fixed by a knowledgeable longboard mechanic. Or a skate tool.
Cheap skateboards are expensive. As they break, you have to buy them several times over in quick succession. They come bundled with unscheduled medical costs and give you a frustrating ride. By avoiding the worst longboard brands, you’ll improve your overall skating experience.
I’m an aged skateboarder and I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago but also love surfing, snowboarding, or anything that involves a board.