One of the most common questions I get asked is something along the lines of…
“What is the best longboard for beginners?”
So in this article, I’ll go how to choose the best longboard skateboard because if you're just getting into this, it can be super overwhelming.
Don't sweat, I've put together all the necessary info in a simple & clear format. Anyone can understand it, even if you've never stepped on any type of board before.
First, if you’re not a beginner, then I wouldn’t read this because this whole article will probably just be common sense and I don’t wanna waste your time.
After doing a bit of Googling, I realized most websites out there are writing a bunch of nonsense where their sole purpose is to drive you to Amazon so they get a commission. If you've done any research, then this should sound familiar to you.
Doesn't it make you so frustrated?! Maybe not, but it frustrated me! It really got me feeling like that panda below… 😂
Now, don't get me wrong there were some websites with helpful info, but they were pretty disorganized and straight-up overwhelming.
So I thought to myself, if I was just getting into longboarding, what would be the most important factors to help me pick the best longboard.
Because let's be real, you can't try a longboard and then return it. That's not how this industry works haha.
I ended up breaking it up into four main sections, which you can find just below this. If you wanna skip to a specific section, just click it below.
Contents (Click to skip)
And at the end of this article if you really wanna dig into the nitty and gritty of longboard terminology, then I’ve linked some helpful resources at the bottom.
And finally, don’t take this information as the end all be all.
There’s always someone out there that’s gonna be like…
“But billy my best friends uncles college roommate told me I absolutely need a drop-through longboard or else I’m an idiot”
First, you’re not an idiot and second, at the end of the day, only YOU are going to know what is the right board. So take all this information and use it as a tool to pick your board.
Alright, now lets get into it – first up…
1. Riding Preference
The first and probably most important thing you need to ask yourself is… what’s your riding preference?
As far as longboards go, there are pretty much four categories, which are…
These categories aren’t set in stone, in fact, there are many ways to categorize longboarding (depending on who you talk to), but this should give you a rough idea.
Now I'll go a little more in-depth on each category to help you fully understand.
Downhill is pretty self-explanatory, those boards are used to go as fast as possible down huge hills, usually in a racing scenario. If you’ve ever seen those dudes with helmets and full suits, that go a bazillion miles per hour… well then, yup those are downhill dudes.
We love those dudes, but if you’re a beginner, you’re not gonna wanna do any downhill stuff. Downhill requires a more intense skillset.
Boards that fall under the downhill category are typically very stiff, have wide trucks for stability and equipped with more aggressive griptape.
Pretty simple to understand, right? Alright, now let's move onto…
Then there’s freeride, which is essentially going fast and doing slides. Downhill and freeride pretty much go hand in hand because they’re both all about high speeds.
The difference is downhill is mainly going as fast as possible, whereas freeriding involves sliding, like stand up or hand slides. It's a crossbreed between downhill and freestyle.
These boards usually have a little more flex than downhill boards and will have harder wheels, making it easier to slide.
But chances are you’re not looking to do high-speed racing or sliding if you’re a beginner, so I wouldn’t suggest a downhill or freeride board to start. Everyone is gonna give you different advice, but my personal opinion is to avoid these as a beginner.
Moving on we have freestyle, which is pretty much the most versatile category. Freestyle includes…
- Flip Tricks, etc
Honestly, it’s pretty open for interpretation and one of the most expressive forms of longboarding. Personally, I come from a background of skateboarding, so this is one of my favorites. If you’ve ever seen someone do flip tricks, shove its, or walk up and down their board, that all pretty much falls under freestyle.
These boards usually have some sort of a kicktail so you can throw tricks, will often have a platypus shape with a drop through truck mount. But there are also so many other board variations out there.
You can get a freestyle board as a beginner because there will be enough deck space and if you know right off the bat that you’ll eventually want to do some tricks or learn how to dance, then it would make sense.
But if you’re not interested in doing any sort of tricks then the final category is for you, which are cruisers.
This is the type of board to get if you’re looking to do some mellow riding… ya know go from point A to point B. It’s basically the most chill type of riding.
These boards often come in a pintail shape with wide and soft wheels, but there are so many different size and shapes for cruisers. There are even mini cruisers that have that retro old school style, like one my favorites the Landyachtz Dinghy.
My first ever longboard was a Pintail Sector 9 and was perfect for cruising around my town. It was the perfect board to learn on.
So that’s a broad overview of the type of categories. That’s how I like to categorize it, so hopefully, that’s simple & clear to understand.
Take some time to really think about it and once you have an idea of what type of riding you wanna do, congratulations, you completed step one.
To give you an example, say you want something to casually cruise around on, but you also want it to be portable. Well, in that case, I’d suggest going for a mini-cruiser in the 25-30inch range.
Step two is to determine your budget, which is another vital key to your selection process.
Consider Shipping Fees
One thing that not a lot of people think about when determining their budget is factoring in the shipping fees because shipping longboards isn’t a cheap process given their size and weight.
A quick tip is to buy from a company that’s located in your country, that way you don’t have to spend a crazy amount on shipping.
There are quite a few companies out there that work free shipping into their pricing, which is something you might wanna consider.
I broke budget into three different categories.
Low-tier (Under $100)
There’s lower tier, which I’d categorize as under $100. Typically if you have this budget, Amazon is really the only place if you want something new. I’ve bought a few boards in this price range and I’ve noticed that the bearings and wheels are where they cheap out, which isn’t good if you’re gonna be riding a lot.
Some popular brands in this budget range are Volador, Retrospec, and Magneto. The only time I’d recommend these boards is if you’re not sure if you’ll even like longboarding. You’re just testing the waters.
If you have this budget, and you know you’re gonna ride a lot, then I’d highly recommend searching on EBay, Facebook Marketplace or even going to local garage sales. Ask around in your area if someone has a used longboard laying around, because chances are… theres something out there. You should be able to score a higher quality board, you’ll probably just have to swap out the bearings or in an extreme case the trucks as well.
Then there’s a mid-level budget which ranges from 100 to 200 dollars. Right in the middle is where you can typically get an overall solid board.
My favorite companies in this range are Landyachtz, although quite a few of their boards go past the 200 dollar range. Sector9 is another brand that’s been around for a long time and like I mentioned earlier, was actually my first ever longboard.
Penny Skateboards (which I know get a lot of hate but their longboard is actually pretty solid for beginners) , Globe and Arbor.
There are obviously a bunch of others out there, but I didn’t wanna make it too overwhelming.
And finally if you have a budget of 200 dollars or more, then congratulations you’ve got options. At this level, I’d probably recommend going with either Landyachtz or Loaded. Two really solid companies that make super high quality boards.
Just put it in perspective, I’ve had a Loaded Tan Tien for the past 8 years and literally have no complaints. It’s sooo solid. If you can afford to spend this much, it’s almost better because you’re investing in quality. It’s typically going to last you much longer than the other budgets.
But at the same time, if you’re just getting started, the 100-200 dollar budget probably makes the most sense, especially if you don’t even know if you’ll stick with it longterm.
Alright and finally, you want to take your environment into consideration. And what I mean by that is – are you riding in a city that has a lot of cracks in the pavement, is there cobblestone, do you need to do sharp turns – you get the point.
The reason that environment is so important is because it’ll help you determine what board characteristics you’ll want.
For example, if you’re going to be cruising to work in a city environment then it’s probably safe to say you’ll need something that’ll allow you to do tight turns around corners, hop up on curbs if necessary and easily ride over cracks. So then your best bet is a small cruiser that has a kicktail and soft wheels.
But if you live in a more rural area, where you just want to cruise and do longer more drawn out turns, then you’ll want a longer board.
I could probably talk for hours on hours about different scenarios, but I’m hoping this gives you a solid idea.
To summarize, if you take into consideration your riding preference, budget and environment, you’ll be in a solid position to pick the right longboard for you.
Downhill and freeride I would avoid especially since if you’re watching this, you’re probably a beginner. Freestyle boards are a viable beginner option, but only if you think you’ll get into doing tricks or dancing in the future. And cruisers are gonna be the best for most beginners.
Don’t bother buying all the parts individually – there are some really solid completes out there so you can ride it out of the box.
Where To Buy?
So, now you’re probably wondering, this is all great, but where should I buy my longboard? Well, it obviously depends but personally I think Amazon is the best place because I get a commission, haha nah I’m playing.
If you have a local skate or surfshop, I’d start by looking there because that’s the best way to avoid shipping costs. Plus you’re pumping money into your local economy which is always a dope thing to do. These shops buy them at a wholesale price, in bulk, so they’re able to retail it for the same price you see online.
Another local option that I briefly mentioned in the beginning would be to go to a garage sale in your area. Chances are they have an old longboard laying around that you can get for a steal.
Your next option is to buy it directly from the longboard company’s website. I’ve done this a numerous amount of times, especially since I don’t have any local skate or surf shops near where I live. But also, you don’t have to worry about getting knockoffs – you’re dealing directly with the source that makes the boards.
Another online option is to buy form a wholesale online shop. I have experience with Muirskate and honestly can’t say enough great things about them. I ordered my Tan Tien from them about eight years ago and I accdientlly ordered the wrong wheels. And instead of having me send them back, they sent me another set of wheels completely free. Now I’m not saying that’ll happen in your situation, but it just shows what type of people are running Muirskate. I’m not affiliated with them in anyway, I’ve just had a super positive experience with them.
And your final online option is to search Facebook Marketplace, Ebay or any other type of auction marketplace. You can typically find great deals.
Now that I think about it, I didn’t even really cover characteristics like concave, flex, truck types, and so on. But like I briefly mentioned earlier, I wanted to make this as simple as possible for a beginner to understand.
Helpful resources are linked below if you want to take a deeper dive into longboarding terminology. Out of everything, Muirskate has helped me understand longboarding the best.
If I made any mistakes, let me know because I’m definitely not claiming to be the absolute expert – I’m just sharing the knowledge I have to make your life easier.