Finding the best beginner longboard for your riding style can be confusing.
Especially if you're completely new to it, you probably don't know where to start.
On top of it all, most websites are recommending cheap boards that they've never tested.
My goal is to make this as simple as possible for you.
I'll cover different riding styles and then recommend a few reputable longboard brands based on my experience.
If you'd rather watch a video, check it below.
Okay, so the first thing you'll want to figure out is your…
1. Riding Style
We all have visions in our minds of how we want to shred.
Determining your ideal riding style can be confusing if you're a complete beginner.
So to make this as simple as possible, I put together a quiz.
If you answer “Yes” to a question, click the yes button and it'll direct you to your ideal riding style. If your answer is “No”, move on to the next question.
Do you want to bomb hills at break-neck speeds?
Do you want to fly downhill and throw big slides?
Do you want to cross-step, throw a shuvit, or stomp a flip trick?
Do you want to cruise around town?
If you're the type of rider that dreams of bombing massive hills and hitting insane speeds, then downhill is for you.
Now, if you're a complete beginner, you're not going to want to do downhill since it requires more skills and gear.
There are exceptions, but downhill boards are typically very stiff and have wide trucks for stability. The boards are also topped with aggressive griptape to help keep your feet locked into place.
So mark this category of longboards as a “not yet” if you’re a beginner.
Recommended Downhill Companies
- Loaded Boards
- Original Skateboards
If you want to get lots of speed but also throw big slides, then freeride is for you. Similar to downhill, it's not a beginner-friendly longboard style.
In most cases, freeride longboards have more flex than downhill boards. The enhanced flex of the boards allow a more progressive feel when doing slides.
Freeride longboards typically have harder wheels since a lot of sliding is involved.
Recommended Freeride Companies
- Loaded Boards
If cross-stepping, throwing shuvits or doing flip tricks sounds like your style, then freestyle is right for you.
Freestyle riding incorporates longboard dancing, carving and general tricks. It's more about style than anything else and every freestyler develops their own unique character. Freestyle is limited only by the imagination and is a true form of artistic expression.
Longboards intended to be used for freestyle riding are usually beginner-friendly. Freestyle longboards are often long and wide to offer significant stability to perform tricks and maneuvers. On many freestyle boards you can find kicktails to further help with performing tricks. The deck designs are often a platypus shape with a drop-through truck mount that lowers the deck for stability.
Recommended Freestyle Companies
- Loaded Boards
If you'd rather just cruise around town in a chill manner, then cruising is for you.
Cruisers are a catch-all category of boards that aren’t too aggressive or stiff, aren’t too concaved and don’t have super hard wheels.
They're designed to let you enjoy the ride while still being nimble enough to maneuver and carve when needed. They’re utilitarian in nature and will serve you well in many ways.
Cruiser boards can be found in many different shapes and sizes. Pintail shapes are popular with wheels that are usually soft and wide, offering a smooth riding experience.
Mini-cruisers are popular spin-offs of larger, heavier longboard cruisers and are made with portability in mind. Unique design features of mini cruisers allow the boards to offer enhanced stability while reducing the overall size and weight. The Landyachtz Dinghy is a great example of a high quality mini-cruiser.
Recommended Cruiser Companies
Apart from the Landyachtz offerings of capable cruiser boards, other popular brands include…
- Loaded Boards
As in everything, identifying your budget for a longboard is a critical step in the selection process.
The general rule-of-thumb when considering what to spend on a board is to decide what you are comfortable paying and try to stay on the higher side of this range. I know that it may be difficult, but the difference in deck and component quality as the price increases is often quite substantial. Bearings, spacers, and hardware that are made and priced cheaply wear more quickly and need to be replaced earlier than those that are of higher quality and, in turn, a bit more pricey.
Consider too that ride quality degrades as components do, so paying a little more for quality will increase your riding time and improve your skills more effectively than cheaper models.
Apart from the obvious quality differences that are important to consider when selecting your budget are the shipping fees. Shipping longboards is an expensive endeavor for those buying boards online. By their nature, longboards are large and heavy so the fees for shipping can be shocking, especially when shipping internationally. A key point of consideration when buying online is where the board is shipping from.
Sometimes companies price the shipping into their boards, sometimes companies offer free shipping in-country, and at other times the shipping costs make you want to cry. Be sure to watch out for shipping costs when you are shopping online.
Or better yet, support your local skate or surf shop and buy directly from their store. Doing this not only helps you compare different options in person but also helps the local economy by keeping your money within the community.
The following section is a what-to-expect guide for each of the different budget categories. Brands generally stick to their own price points so it's easy to get a sense of what you should expect in a board within a given price range. We’ve identified some general characteristics for each budget that will better help you identify which pricing band is your best fit.
Low-tier (Under $100)
Brand new boards falling below $100 can mostly be found on massive online shopping sites like Amazon. The price of these boards always suggests that some aspect of the board is of lower quality, usually the bearings and wheels being the parts that are compromised to attain such a low price. Boards in this pricing tier can be a lot of fun to ride but they can’t be expected to last since the lower quality directly correlates with the speed of wearing.
Popular Low-Tier Brands
- White Wave
Some of these brands sell lots of boards since they’re popular with beginners and will get you started riding without breaking the bank. They’re a good option for people who are on a tight budget and don’t really know if you’ll even like longboarding.
Recommendation Before Buying
- Borrow a longboard from a friend, or go riding with a friend for a few hours or a few days to see what you think. This will allow you to try things out without committing money to something you’re not sure of. It would have to be a good friend though, beginners tend to damage or lose boards quite easily.
- Check for used boards at garage sales, eBay, Facebook Marketplace or other sites. Oftentimes you can find quality used boards that may have only sparingly been used that are around the same price as cheaply made, new boards. Reasons people sell their boards vary but maybe they bought the board and hardly used it so now it just takes up space. In these cases people will often unload the boards that have a lot of miles still left in it at a steep discount from the new price. You’ll also be helping the environment if you go this route since reusing items creates less wastes and less emissions than manufacturing a new board.
The mid-tier budget range falls between $100-$200 and starts to open up options for good quality boards. Within this price range buyers start to see better quality bearings, trucks, and decks.
One thing that is often overlooked by buyers for most boards is the quality of the grip tape. Boards at this budget and higher offer better quality tape that not only offers better traction but also lasts substantially longer. The grip on your deck is critical for all riding but even more so if you’re just starting out. If you’re able to buy a board in this budget range you’ll undoubtedly purchase one that will last you years while maintaining good grip and riding performance.
Recommended Mid-Tier Brands
(Some of these brands go beyond the upper limit of this tier)
- Penny Skateboards
The last budget category is available to those who have either saved diligently for their purchase or are fortunate enough to afford a board over $200. A board in this budget will last you a long time and the ride quality will stay at the highest level the longest.
To give an example of the longevity of these more expensive boards, I bought a Loaded Tan Tien almost a decade ago and it still provides a wonderful ride to this day. If you can justify the greater expense at the outset, you’ll definitely have a board that will last much longer than lower-budget models.
Another upside to buying a board in this budget range is that the resale value is considerably higher than cheaper brands. Better quality boards maintain their value and are often easier to sell if you decide that you need a different model or are no longer interested in riding the board.
Some companies in this budget range offer more environmentally-conscious programs and production methods, utilizing locally produced materials and components to reduce emissions created during transport. A good example of this is Landyachtz who partners with several organizations to replant trees in various areas of the world. Dubbed the One Board One Tree project, Landyachtz donates one tree for every board they sell. It’s good to see companies making a commitment to the environment to offset their material and resource usage.
Loaded and Landyachtz are two reputable companies that offer the highest quality boards in the upper-tier of budgets. Boards from either brand are made with great bearings, bushings, trucks, hardware and decks which will last you for years.
Recommend High-Tier Brands
- Loaded Boards
- Bustin Boards
- DB Longboards
Your riding environment is as important as any consideration in purchasing a new board. The riding environment is as unique as any other aspect of your newfound longboarding hobby. You may be riding in areas that have degraded pavement or cobblestone so you may need a board that is better at handling rough surfaces. Sharp, tight corners in your riding area are also important to be aware of since some boards are more agile and adept at maneuvering through these features than others.
Generally, boards that have larger and softer wheels (a lower durometer value – 75A-87A) are better at handling rough surfaces while boards that have a smaller wheelbase are better for tight cornering. Possibilities for each environment are mostly limited by rider skill, however, for those just starting out, be sure to really consider the size of the deck and the wheel characteristics to ensure you get the best board for your environment.
4. Where To Buy?
Check your local shop and see if you can buy it through them. It’s always good to support local.
Once all of the necessary decisions have been made, the prices and specs considered and compared, the graphics and deck shapes carefully scrutinized, you need to finally buy the board you want. There are several ways to make your purchase, each with its own advantages.
Buying from your local skate or surf shop is the best way to get into longboarding or any type of board riding. You’re helping the local economy, reducing shipping costs and also getting the chance to see and feel the board before you buy it. The prices you see at shops are almost always the same as you’ll see directly from a company’s website since the shops are able to buy the boards at wholesale prices. Keep an eye out for sales and promotions too which can help get a bit of a discount or maybe some useful gear or gadgets you may need at some point. Local shops are also the best place to get your board fixed or serviced so buying from them creates an indispensable relationship that will no doubt come in handy in times of need.
Other local purchasing options include garage sales and used goods sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Usually these offer used boards and, as we mentioned earlier, can sometimes reveal some hidden treasures.
Whichever avenue you choose to pursue in procuring your board, try not to wait too long when buying your chosen board. In our experiences we’d rather be out riding than hunting for days or weeks for a deal. If you’re looking for boards to add to your quiver then absolutely take some time to see what’s out there. For those who are just getting started though, the ride is the game, so get a board and get riding.
Buying directly from a company’s website is probably the easiest purchasing option and maybe the only way for many riders who don’t have a skate or surf shop nearby. I’ve exercised this option numerous times since sometimes specific boards I am interested in are not available at my local shop. For a beginner though, you do lose out on that buying experience and relationship you create when you deal directly with a shop crew. Talking to someone in person who knows about, and has ridden the boards you are considering offers indispensable insight.
An interesting online option is to buy from a wholesale online shop. I have purchased boards from Muirskate, a retailer based in San Diego, California, and I cannot say enough good things about them. The Loaded Tan Tien I bought more than 8 years ago came from them and when I bought it, I accidentally ordered the wrong wheels. To my surprise, Muirskate sent me another set of wheels completely free without requiring that I return the set that I originally selected in error. I wouldn’t ever buy a board and expect this to happen, and you shouldn’t either, but it does speak to the quality of customer service you can expect from Muirskate. A quick side note on Muirskate though: I am not affiliated with them in any way. I’ve had only positive experiences buying from them and they will continue to be one of my first choices when looking for new boards.
Online options on eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Yahoo Auctions and others are great ways to find boards too. You can typically find good deals in online auctions but do be careful that the discounted prices aren’t offset with inflated shipping costs.
So there you have it.
If you want the best beginner longboard, you should consider your riding goals, budget, and environment to narrow your purchasing options.
If you like to build things and customize, you have even more options for your first board, however, this might be a little more challenging if you are new and don’t have a clear idea of what you want. Almost all reputable companies offer excellent complete units that take the guesswork out of the sizing and component characteristics of selecting the parts on your own. Take our advice, get a complete set-up using the guide above to help you select the best option for you.
And if you’re wondering more about technical information on boards such as deck concave, flex ratings, truck types and pivot angles, wheel durometer ratings, and more, we’ve intentionally left this information out to make this article accessible for beginning riders. Advanced tech specs are more useful when you’ve already had some riding experience and have a better idea of what you want from your board.
So for now, get a board and get out there and ride; there’s never a better time to start shredding than right now.