What is the best longboard for beginners? This is probably the first question most of the newcomers ask. And getting your first board right is important as a poor choice might discourage you from further pursuit of this awesome hobby. I’ve been there and made pretty bad choices buying my very first longboarding gear so I’ll try to help you not to repeat my mistakes. In this post I’ll provide you some useful information on board types and review some of the best bang for the buck choices you can get.
That’s probably one of the key questions you have: How much should I spend on my first longboard? To give you a short answer: at least 100 dollars. The problem with cheaper no name boards is that they are built from poor materials and give you a quite disappointing ride overall. Wheels don’t spin that well, trucks are not very responsive and the deck itself feels uncomfortable, too springy or unstable. I’ve experienced this myself and some of my friends had made this mistake as well. Also, the resale value is usually very low which is not the case with major brand boards. Therefore, in order to get the right impression on the longboarding and have the option to sell the board in case you realize this activity is not for you, one should be looking at these brands: Jucker Hawaii, Sector 9, Landyachtz, Globe, Santa Cruz, Atom.
There are different longboard types suited for different riding styles. And there are quite a lot of those but for now let’s take a look at the four most popular ones.
Cruising is all about going down gradually sloped streets, pushing long distances on flat ground and just enjoying an easy ride. This is the style most recommended for beginners, as it comes naturally when you get into it.
The purpose in downhill is to go as fast as possible, minimizing wind resistance and maintaining control. However, if you want to properly ‘bomb’ some hills you need to learn the most effective longboard braking technique called sliding, so it’s not the best style for beginners. Check out a cool downhill longboarding edit below.
This style has no limits – it’s all about various technical tricks, sliding, dancing, etc. Take a look at this video to get a sense of what Freestyle actually is.
Freeride sort of combines downhill and freestyle as it’s about riding hills with affair amount of speed while styling it up with slides and various tricks. Solid board control skill is required, so it’s reserved for more advanced riders.
So, as we’ve established the most recommended riding style for beginners, let’s take a look at the most suitable board types.
This is the most traditional longboard type and usually the least expensive. However, as the deck is mounted on top of the trucks, the center of gravity is higher and it feels less stable than dropped decks, though they have better maneuverability. It’s the most versatile type and could be used for all riding styles.
On these boards trucks are mounted “through” the board which lowers the deck and rider’s center of gravity. It’s more stable and better for long distance cruising as it’s easier on your knees when you push. These are also used for freeriding and downhill.
In a dropped deck, the trucks are attached in a traditional top mount style but the deck itself “drops” down in the middle. These are pretty comfortable for beginners, as it has a lower center of gravity like drop through but also locks in your feet pretty good so you feel really stable.
Longboards come in many different shapes and sizes but at the base level you can sort the shapes into two: directional and twin (symmetrical). Directional boards are meant to go just in one direction, whereas twin ride the same both ways. Directional boards are more used in downhill and cruising styles, whereas twins – in freeride and freestyle where you need it to roll the same both ways because of the many tricks you’re doing. As a beginner you’ll be mostly cruising, so there’s not a big difference if you choose directional or twin board.
Longboard length varies from 24 inch mini cruisers to 44 inches long pintails. It’s not really relevant to the rider’s height (as in snowboards), mostly it’s just personal preference. However, a longer board, hence a longer wheelbase means that the board will be more stable but will have wider turn angle, whereas short board will be easily maneuvered around people when commuting. In my opinion the best longboard length for beginners is between 38 and 42 inches.
For your first board I highly recommend getting a complete longboard instead of building it from separate parts. The reason is because you have to get some experience first to properly identify your needs and what works for you best.
Usually trucks are about as wide as the deck – the standard hangar length is 180 mm. Three most widely recommended and used truck brands are Paris, Caliber and Bear. They make really solid trucks suited for various riding styles.
What is important for you to understand in trucks is the part call bushings. These are rubbery rings that fit around the kingpin and they determine how smooth and easy your board turns. Stiffer bushings give you more stability and resistance, which is necessary going downhill or performing tricks whereas soft bushings eases the movement and let’s you cruise or carve easily. The indicator which determines bushing hardness is called durometer – it’s a scale from 1-100 (the higher number means harder bushings). The most used average bushings durometer is 90. Keep in mind that your weight is important here too – lighter riders should use softer bushings and the opposite is true for heavier riders. They could be replaced easily so don’t worry about them now.
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.
Wheels probably play the biggest part when it comes to comfort of the ride. If wheels are too hard, you’ll feel every little crack or bump on the road and if they’re too soft, you will roll a short distance after every push. Same as bushings, they are measured on a durometer scale, with 80 being most common. Also, as with the bushings, heavier riders should choose harder wheels and vice versa. One more thing to keep in mind – if you want to try and learn sliding, it’s a lot easier to do that with higher durometer wheels.
Basically there are two types of wheel shape: round and square. Round lipped wheels have less traction on the edge and therefore are easier to break out into a slide. Square lipped wheels give you better traction with the road.
Size is also important. The width (also called contact patch) is measured in millimeters. Wider wheel generally has more grip, however it will be slower due to stronger ground friction. The diameter of the wheel determines how fast you can accelerate and what distance you cover with each push. Higher diameter wheels accelerate slower but provide a smoother ride when rolling over cracks and bumps. Smaller wheels accelerate faster but can throw you off the board if you hit a crack or some other obstacle.
OK, enough about theory, now let’s take a look at some particular longboards I would recommend for beginners.
JUCKER HAWAII Makaha
This is one of our top recommended top-mounted cruising longboards which goes for around $130. It’s 42 inches long so there’s plenty of space to place your feet comfortably.
The deck is made from 5 layers of Canadian Maple and 2 layers of bamboo which grants a nice flex, easier pushing and is just really fun board to ride. It also has a kicktail so you’ll have an option to learn a few tricks using that.
The trucks are also made by Jucker Hawaii and are really solid at this price point. They come preinstalled with riser pads so wheel-bite risk is reduced to almost non-existent.
Wheels are also suited for cruising very well. They are 69 mm in diameter and 55 mm width. Durometer is 78A which is a bit less than the standard average of 80A which means the wheels are a bit on the softer side and lets you ride out road cracks or rough patches quite smooth.
The only downside (which is usually the case of all lower priced longboards) is bearings. They are good enough when you’re just starting to learn but a bit later you’ll want it to push less and roll longer. However, that’s a minor issue as replacing the bearings is really easy and proper bearings are not expensive at all. We almost always recommend our best bang for the buck pick – Zealous bearings which go for around $15 and require zero maintenance.
Last but not least – this board looks really cool with the unpainted wood, clear grip tape on top and black tribal ornaments on the bottom.
ATOM Drop Through Longboard
Another solid pick and more suitable for those who want to feel more stable standing on the board – Atom Drop Through longboard. The length is 40 inches and it‘s a drop through, so your center of gravity will be lower.
The deck is also a maple and bamboo hybrid so it‘s perfect for cruising or carving. The grip tape is a bit coarser than the standard so your feet locks in nicely.
The trucks here are a bit uncommon – the baseplate angle is at 40 degrees whereas the standard angle for non-downhill setups is usually 50 degrees. This means that the deck is even lover to the ground than it is with other drop through boards. Therefore, you‘ll feel really stable on this one.
The wheels are softer at 78A durometer, and a nice size at 70 mm diameter, 51 mm width.
We didn‘t like the bushings on this board – they are very stiff and would be suitable only for very heavy riders. Bushings are easily replaced though – we recommend Venom. Use the chart below to determine which durometer fits you best
There are are few deck graphics available, I think the ‚Owl‘ one looks pretty sick.
LANDYACHTZ Chief Cruiser
This is a bit more expensive pick, however the components are premium and will last you a long time as well as make riding really enjoyable.
This one is a bit shorter at 36 inches, top mounted. It‘s also very lightweigh, so it‘s perfect for commuting or simple cruising.
The deck is again a mix of bamboo and maple, pintail shaped.
The trucks are Bear Grizzly which has a unique feature of flippable hanger. It means that you can change the baseplate angle by simple turning over the hanger. So you can choose between an angle of 52 for more responsiveness and 47 for more stability/lower center of gravity. Very useful option.
The wheels are Hawgs Mini Monster – these are my favorites. The diameter is 70 mm and width – 55 mm. They are really grippy and roll well.
Bear Spaceball bearings are great as well, so you don‘t really need to replace anything in this longboard!
ATOM Drop Deck
This one has a dropped deck – it doesn‘t get much lower to the ground than this. The sense of stability gives you more confidence when learning so it‘s a great longboard type for beginners. Board‘s length is 41 inches.
The deck is full maple so it‘s a bit sturdier than those with bamboo mix and a bit less flexible.
The trucks are a bit wider than standard which makes this longboard even more stable. However, it also sacrifices manouverability so it isn‘t the best choice for commuting.
The wheels‘ durometer is not specified, however they feel around 80A. Their size is 70 mm diameter and 51 mm width.
The bearings are really bad here and I suggest replacing them with Zealous asap.
That concludes my suggestions for the best longboards for beginners, however I may expand the sugestion list further at a later date. I hope you know have some basic knowledge about longboards which will help you with your first steps in this hobby. Check out our other articles and don‘t hesitate to contact us or leave a comment if you have any questions.