If you're looking for a cheap longboard, there's a high chance your journey will lead to Amazon.
Since I've had quite a few people ask me if cheap longboards under $100 are even good, I wanted to see for myself.
Especially since the top Amazon boards were averaging close to five stars with thousands of reviews.
Even those reviews are overwhelming positive, I found some major issues you’re gonna wanna know about.
Do a quick google search for the best longboards and you’ll see the first page is dominated by crappy websites that only know how to manipulate the algorithm rather than recommend a good longboard.
Just about every site is referring you to Amazon so that they get a commission. They could care less if it’s the right board for you or not.
Both of these boards I picked up for under 100 dollars and after riding them I have a solid idea of their issues.
Awkward Deck Shapes
The first issue I noticed was the deck shape of these boards. You can easily tell that whoever is manufacturing these boards doesn’t actually ride them. The subtle details make a big difference when riding and the pintail especially felt weird.
If you’re dead set on buying it from Amazon, go to the product page and click the “visit the brand’s name store” link just below the title.
Check to see what else they’re selling because if they’re selling a variety of things that don’t relate to each other that’s a bad sign. A company that’s manufacturing a longboard and a Christmas light tree topper, that's not good.
My theory is that they look at a popular longboard shape done by a reputable company and say okay yup, lets do that and do a rough copy. It doesn’t seem like there’s any thought or research and development that goes into it. I mean this is kind of just like a lifelong tip – buy from a company that specializes rather than does everything.
Specifically, this pintail is too long in my opinion – it’s 44 inches which just feels awkward. If you go to use the kicktail you have to walk to the back and then there’s too much deck in the front – just not well thought out at all.
Cheap Deck Material
The other issue I noticed is that the wood material that these decks are made of just feels cheap while riding it.
And after reading a bunch of reviews, there were numerous people that mentioned how their deck cracked and had to get a new one.
This is probably because they’re made of some crappy maple.
Cheap Wheel Material
Next, the wheels and bearings are a pretty big issue. Riding these you could feel a lot of resistance instead of just smoothly rolling like a good longboard should.
Contrary to what I originally thought, this has more to do with the wheel material rather than the bearings.
Bearings really don’t make a huge difference, especially on a beginner board.
My main complaint would be that the material they use for the wheels makes riding extremely painful.
I even cut them in half, comparing to a well-known brand orangutan and even though the inside might look similar the rubber material is vastly different. They claim they’re 78a when in actuality I used my durometer to see and they’re around 83ish+ which is much harder.
I think the main takeaway here is that the wheel material that they use adds much more resistance when you’re cruising.
The trucks and bushing on both boards feel extremely stiff. I don’t wanna bore you with extreme specifics but from the material used to the geometry of the truck, there’s a big difference in feel versus a brand like bear trucks.
And the final issue about these cheap longboards are the companies that are making these boards. The majority are coming straight from a foreign factory that is completely disconnected from the longboarding industry. You can tell they have no genuine passion for their products.
Most beginners probably don’t care about that though and just want to spend the least amount of money possible, which is totally fair.
Personally, I don’t like to support these companies because you’re pumping more money into their pockets, which in turn beefs up their marketing budget allowing them to capture more beginners.
If I bought one of these when I was first starting out, I probably wouldn’t still be longboarding because of how poorly they ride.
Here's a better alternative…
So, if your budget is under 100 dollars, what should you do?
I would suggest going on Facebook Marketplace, Ebay or ask around in your community if anyone has an old longboard laying around.
Best case scenario is to buy a used one that’s made by a decent brand and then replace the bearings or wheels if needed. This will most likely cost you similar to an Amazon board but you’ll be getting a higher quality build.
Sure it might require a little more time and effort to get right, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.
If you really don’t have time to spare and have no idea if you’ll be doing it long-term then sure, go for an Amazon longboard, but just know there’s a solid chance it won’t last long.
Lemme paint the picture here… say I go to buy a longboard for my nephew and decide on the 60 dollar pintail that’s the most popular on Amazon.
He rides it for a few months then realizes he doesn’t like to longboard. Okay, in that case I’d say that was worth it and it served it’s purpose – it didn’t break the bank.
But if he really enjoys it and after a few more months the board breaks and customer service refuses to do anything, then buying another one is gonna set you into the budget of an actual mid-tier board that you could’ve spent the first time.
I’m a big believer in buy nice or buy twice but that doesn’t make sense if you don’t know if you’ll be longboarding long term.
So I always urge people to really think about it before buying.