Simply stated, longboards are longer skateboards that bring more to the streets than size as they offer unique styles, features and construction which help create an entirely different riding experience. Longboards have become extremely popular in recent years and have helped bring in a new breed of riders. Whether you’re a skateboarder looking to upgrade your traditional board or someone looking for an exhilarating, unique outdoor experience, the following buyers guide is for you.
There’s no denying the experience of longboarding all starts with the board, (I’m a huge fan of Riviera longboards) and to make the most of it all starts with understanding the different styles and riding experience you’re looking for. For instance, if you’re just getting started, choosing a setup that’s best suited for beginners will give provide you more balance and control helping you not only get on the board, but stay on.
The following longboard buying guide breaks down everything you need to know to make the most of any longboarding experience.
Longboard Skill Levels
Being realistic with your own skill level will help you progress from one skill level to the next with ease. There are specific features such as cruising trucks which will help aide you with balance and control which should be considered before progressing to a more experienced-level riding truck which are optimized for performance.
The following depicts the different longboard skill levels which will give you an idea of where you’re at, and where you want to be.
1st time out or minimal riding experience. Stability, control and balance will be an issue as it’s best to look for a wider board with a lower center of gravity. Some of the best types of boards to start out with are bamboo, cruising, pintail and fishtail with cruising being the optimal choice. Longer boards over 40-inches is a great place to start.
Intermediates can typically get on and stay on the board without a problem and are looking for a board best suited for optimizing performance. Mid to longer boards of any style 36 to 40-inches are highly recommended.
Professionals typically look for boards to better match their riding style. Odds are, if you’re here you already know what your take on this is. This is where speed and performance really make the biggest impact as downhill, fishtail, and pintail are the better options.
Types of Longboards
Longboards have been specifically designed to offer unique riding experiences. Some of the most popular styles include downhill, freeride, freestyle, carving and cruising, but to get the perfect ride it all starts with the perfect board type. This is where understanding the type of longboards come into play which is what the following details:
Bamboo longboards offer a unique riding experience you just won’t see with other types of construction. These boards offer a great deal of flexibility and are extremely lightweight which tend to appeal to youth riders. The all-natural look offer distinct visuals which typically can withstand rigorous use without fading over-time.
The lighter weight construction makes bamboo longboards highly portable with a wide range of craftmanship which appeal to all types of users from beginners to professionals. Aside from the aesthetics, performance, price and visuals, there is a drawback concerning wheel replacement which can be difficult with some boards.
Cruising longboards are best suited for those looking for a relaxing experience or are looking for a longer rides like commuting. These types of boards are not typically suited for those looking for a performance board, but that’s not to say they won’t let you land a trick or stunt on the way to the mall.
They’re crafted with wider wheels and trucks which improve stability which make them highly recommended for beginners and intermediates as they offer a great deal of stability and balance. These are great starter boards and makes it easier to progress to a different type of longboard and riding style.
Downhill longboarding has become extremely popular and is typically one of the most popular riding styles among intermediates and professionals alike. The idea is simple, riding downhills at a faster rate of speed without compromising control. These boards are designed with a defined front and rear which makes it easier to move and provides a great bi-directional response.
Speed is more, yet control is the same which is unlike downhill longboarding with other types of boards which is usually seen with more wobble making it harder to control. This isn’t the case with downhill longboards where riders will get the same great smooth, straight ride.
Drop through longboards are typically the choice for beginners as they offer improved stability and are great for cruising. The visuals of drop through boards are usually some of the most recognized as the decks offer a large platform which bodes well for bright color patterns. These boards are best suited for those looking for a stable, safer ride are an optimal choice for parents buying for their children.
Fishtail longboards resemble pintail longboards as they both offer a wider center and narrower nose. The noticeable difference which helps give this board its name is the fishtail design which helps give it a surfers riding style. The tail also makes it easier to take sharper turns and offers a comfortable, longer freeride.
Kicktail longboards are the most popular choice which are highlighted by a fin type upward design creating the kick tail appearance. These are great boards for cruising and riding around town and standout with improved control and responsive, simple steering. For those looking to land tricks along the wave, these boards have a concave which will help you do just that.
Pintail longboards offer a unique shape which is characterized by a wider center and narrower tail and nose. These types of longboards are perfect for those looking to improve their balance and are a great option for directional longboarding. You’ll see a better turning radius which makes for responsive turns while seeing a minimal amount of wheel bite with wheels that are typically carved out.
There are numerous features of a longboard that should be considered with each having their own unique property. The deck of the board itself is the first thing you see and offers visuals, grip and performance features such as balance and stability. When you flip the board over, other features such as the wheels, bearings, and trucks which aide in control, turning and the overall ride itself.
Below, are some of the most integral features of longboards which will all influence your longboarding experience.
The deck is where it all begins and the first thing one notices when looking for a new board. If style and aesthetic appeal didn’t matter, this may be something easy to overlook, but as is the case with most longboarders you only feel as good as you look.
The size of the deck can range anywhere from 33 and 60-inches with longer boards best suited while intermediates and professionals appeal to all lengths. Other factors of the deck including the width, shape and material are all worth considering which influence the riding style, weight and stability.
When looking at the material, there are three main types including:
- Bamboo – lightweight, flexible and affordable and are best suited for cruising, carving and transportation
- Maple – Strong, reliable and durable and are the most common form
- Carbon Fiber – Lightest option with a foam core and offer more speed and better turning capability, but are more expensive and best suited for performance minded longboarders
Influence the side to side movement with loose trucks improving turning capabilities and tighter offering better stability and highly recommended for those looking for speed. The trucks can be adjusted to make for a loose or tighter ride with comfort being unique to the quality of the trucks itself.
If you’ve been browsing through longboards you’ve probably noticed something about the ABEC ratings. This is how the quality of bearings are accessed which has everything to do with how well the wheels spin and speed the board moves. Speed is a huge factor among downhill freestyle longboarding and riders with a bit more experience.
Price of Longboards
As is the case with most everything you buy, quality comes at a cost and this is especially the case when buying a new longboard. Typically, the price of longboards can range from $50 upwards to $300 for a higher quality board and we’ve seen some as high as $400 for the highest performing models.
We recommend start off your buying decision with budget in mind, but consider how much and how often you intend on using it. If you’re a diehard fanatic, then quality is a must which will save you a great deal of money in the longterm with an upgrade or replacement parts such as wheels and trucks.
On the other hand, if you’re just starting out, buying an entry level longboard at a lower price will assure you’re not throwing hundreds of dollars out the window if you’re uncertain if you’re be longboarding a year down the road.
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