Longboards and Choosing the Best One
Welcome to Life Longboard. By the time you finish going through this site you will not only know exactly what type of longboard you need but you will have an increased knowledge in the whole lifestlye of longboarding.
Longboarding is an amazing sport. It is so versatile and anyone can get into to, no problem. If you want to go easy you can just cruise around but if you want to do something more complex you can actually dance on it, carve with it, and do full blown skateboard tricks on it.
Longboards are absolutely amazing and you will find a nice hobby in them.
The following information was put together in a very intricate way that allows a newbie to come here and leave with full knowledge of longboards. The guide below is setup in such a way where you will know everything you need to before you move on to the next section and before you get your first longboard.
Let’s Get Started…
I assume you know what a longboard is right? If not go here for the origin story and more in depth explanation. Simply put, a longboard is a more comfortable and longer skateboard. It is designed to allow you to move around town, for example, without working hard to balance or push. It is made to bring stability and designed to get you into some nice sharp turns when cruising around on sidewalks.
Getting Started – Find your needs and choose a style
Before you go and just buy a longboard you need to make sure it is right for you. You do not want to accidentally get a downhill longboard if you are only going to freeride or do some freestyle tricks. They are built differently and have very different aspects that will be explained later.
Beginners shouldn’t worry about style quite yet though. Your “job” is to get an easy board and see how you feel. Is it comfortable? Do you think you could invest more to get a better ride? Pretty much – do you want to proceed?
Do you want to live the longboard lifestyle?
An immediate suggestion is to get a basic, cheap longboard. Because you don’t have the skill set, you shouldn’t go and invest $400 into a high end board. It would just be awful if you realized longboarding wasn’t for you and were stuck with a $300 board too advanced for you to learn on.
So a strong suggestion is to get the awesome Atom or Quest board that have both been getting rave review for years. Atom is an entry level company and Quest is actually an intermediate company with a great beginner’s board. Right after that, if not alongside them, is Sector 9. All 3 companies are the best longboard brands to stick with for beginners.
Eventually, down the road you may discover a company that you feel makes longboards just for you and you may just stick with them.
Here are the top 4 beginner boards. These are THE BEST longboards out there at their price. Choose any one and you will be very happy with your decision.
|Quest Super Cruiser|
Get the Quest Super Longboard
|-44-Inch Artisan |
-Multi-ply hardwood maple and beautiful
-Artisan bamboo deck
-Rugged 7-Inch aluminum trucks
-Durable 70mm PU wheels
|Atom Drop Through Board|
Get it Here Now!
|Deck: Maple/Bamboo hybrid laminate with photo heat transfer graphic|
Trucks: Navigator Drone - 40 degree base - 180mm hangers
Wheels: Atom AREA 51 - 70mm, 78A - SHR
Bearings: ABEC 9 with high-speed lubricant
Grip: Coarse 46 grit
|Atom Drop Deck Longboard|
Get it Here!
|Full maple laminate deck|
Reverse King Pin (RKP) longboard trucks
Wide-Lip 70-by-51-millimeter super high rebound (SHR) urethane wheels
ABEC 9 bearings with high-speed lubricant
80S grip tape
|Sector 9 Blue Wave Dropthrough Longboard|
Get One Here
|Deck: 5-ply vertically laminated bamboo|
Trucks: 9" Gullwing Charger trucks
Wheels: 74mm, 78A Center Set Nineball wheels
Bearings: Abec 5 PDP bearings
Grip: clear grip
These boards are going to be great for beginners. They all feature drop down or drop through decks and all round versatility. The drop down deck puts your center of gravity close to the ground so you end up feeling more stable (i.e. less chances are falling on your butt). All around versatility simply means it turns, but not too sharp. The wheels are right in the center between soft and hard and the trucks are average enough to get you around.
For more information on the types of decks go here.
They are all at that sweet spot which allows beginners to explore the different styles and perhaps buy a more style specific board in the future.
But…maybe you are ready to dive right in…Let’s look at the different styles of longboarding
The style: Cruising is a very simple style. You are literally just cruising around. No crazy tricks or anything just plain and simply push and roll. If you are getting a longboard to simply commute then this is your style.
The longboard: You are going to need a flexible board. You want to be able to have some room to pump if you so choose and with all the hopping on and off you want a little bounce in there for comfort. You will need large, flat lipped, soft wheels to get over curbs and rocks and nice soft bushings to get a nice bounce back up after a turn. The large wheels also give more bang for the push. The trucks should be the standard 42 degree ones as you need to turn but not that much. You will want a nice long board for stability at around 40″ with a flat, drop down, or drop-through deck.
Best Cruising Boards:
The style: Carving is cruising but you will be doing alot more cool turns. You won’t be bombing hills but you will be drifting around sharp corners when going down a slight slope.
The board: A carving board is very similar to a cruising board however you will want 50 degree trucks to decrease your turn radius as well as cone-cylinder bushing setup to give you a nice sharp turn with an immediate return to center.
Best Carving Boards:
The style: Freeride is a next level style. It requires practice and a few technical skills. Instead of just going from left to right down a hill you are sliding for speed control and starting some basic curb hops.
The board: Drop the large wheels and get some medium sized ones. You also need some buttery smoothwheels to perform good slides. You can break in almost any wheel but it is best to get slide specific wheels, cause, why not? You are getting smaller wheels so you can maneuver the board more easily. Because I gotta say, trying to slide with giant weights on the ends of the board is not easy ;). You want a stiff, flat or concave deck so you are putting force right on top of the wheels for an easier slide.
Best Freeride Boards:
The style: Have you seen those people zooming down hills at 60mph? That would be the downhill style. You start at the top of a steep hill and cruise all the way down to the bottom. You can slide some depending on how fast you are going but mostly you will be standing on the deck enjoying the thrill of the speed.
The board: STABILITY!!! So important to a downhill board. You want thick cylinder bushings. A long double drop deck(drop down and drop through). Large wheels for maximum speed and stability. A wide wheel base. Add 42 degree trucks and you should be good. Oh goodness, you want that deck to be solid. No flex whatsoever.
Best Downhill Boards:
The style: This is one of the most advanced styles. You pretty do everything you can on the board. Here riders actually implement some skateboard tricks too. You will be doing slides, kickflips, cross steps, tiger claws, shuv its and the list goes on.
The board: A freestyler’s board is a blend of everything with looser trucks and an optional deck with a kicktail. The deck should be flexbile for jumping up and down on and flat or slightly concave. In terms of length. For dancing you may want a realyl long deck. for quick tricks however you will a shorter deck. Around 35″.
Best Freestyle Boards:
Best Longboard Brands
So now you have a good grasp on the different styles, let’s look at the best longboard brands. While I don’t think you should get caught up in brands too much I do believe you should stay within the top ten. It is not like the other companies won’t do well. It’s just these are the known veterans who the majority of longboarders trust.
1. Sector 9
9. Gold Coast
Board Styles and Shapes
On this longboard the deck sites on top of the trucks. This makes the board easier to slide but not extremely stable.They are easy to ride on Top mounts are also the least expensive to purchase for the frugal mind. Top mount boards are widely used for cruising, downhill, freeride, and carving.
A drop through board has a truck which baseplate goes through the board. This brings the board closer to the ground make the board more stable. It is good for long distance cruising since pushing is much easier when the foot can reach the ground faster. Drop-throughs are appropriate for cruising, downhill, and carving.
A drop deck is just as it sounds. The deck is dropped down. This get the same results as drop through only the board is still top mount. The deck is lowered to bring the rider closer to the ground without sacrificing the mobility of a top mount.
Double drop is as low as you can get. The trucks go through the deck bringing the board low to the ground AND the deck is lowered also. For a beginner this would prove to be very useful when starting out riding a longboard. Because of the extreme stability these are great for downhill and long distance cruising.
Longboards for Girls?
Girls don’t need special longboards. It is a widely asked questions but the truth is when it comes to longboarding we are all equal. A girl can enjoy the same board as boy with no issue. So the boards recommended here apply to girls, women, boys, and men alike. The tips shared apply to everyone. I don’t believe gender affects the joy one can get out of longboarding. I ride with everyone and gender really makes no difference.
Build Your Own
If you are interested in building your own board instead of buying a complete you will need to learn about the different parts of a longboard. With that knowledge you can formulate and create an amazing board that fits you perfectly. Read on to learn about wheels, trucks, bearings, and more so you can build your own board that matches your style. Building a custom board is not recommended for a beginner longboarder.
Longboard Parts guide
Longboard wheels come in all shapes and sizes. Each type plays an essential part in your longboarding experience so it is important to choose the right one if you are building your own board.
Square – Square lip wheels feature a lip at a sharp 90 degree angle. It creates a complete right angle to the ground which creates more control and stability. It is not good for sliding though because of the full contact patch with the ground. This is why a square lipped wheel is popular amongst cruisers and downhill riders.
Round – A rounded wheel lip is the typical wheel shape found on skateboards. Instead of coming at the ground with a 90 degree angle it is round off. As a result slides are much easier but the traction control suffers a bit. So freeriders and freestylers might prefer this to perform some awesome tricks.
The size of the wheel is determined by the height and width measured in millimeters. The size is very important to the style. A bigger wheel means more speed after the push – ideal for downhill and cruising. The small wheel is better for quick acceleration if you are trying to build speed, do a trick, and then build up speed a gain. So in other words, a smaller wheel is good for freestyle and freeride. See below for chart.
The durometer determines the softness and hardness of the wheel. Look at the chart below to find the right durometer for you. If you are over 220 pounds you will want to add a couple points. If you weigh less than 130 pounds you will want to take away a couple points. Durometer is important because it determines whether or not you are getting over that rock smoothly or it can also determine your speed. A harder wheel will naturally go faster than a softer one. But choose wisely. If you are cruising around in a city with bad roads you will want a softer durometer around 75a. If you are freestyling or sliding a lot you will want a harder wheel for less wear and tear and quick initial speed.
Centerset – These wheels have bearings which sit right in the center of the wheel. They are the typical wheel for most riders because they are all around great for everything.
Sideset – Sideset wheels feature bearings which sit all the way to the side of the wheel. See picture for better visual. Great for sliding.
|Style||Size||Durometer||Lip Shape||Core Type|
|Cruising||~72-75mm||75a - 80a||Square||Offset|
|Carving||~72-75mm||75a - 80a||Round||Offset|
|Freeride||~65-70mm||80a - 86a||Round||Centerset|
|Downhill||~70-75mm||78a - 82a||Square||Offset|
|Freestyle||~55-65mm||75a - 80a||Round||Any|
Longboard trucks come in all degrees and sizes. They serve a BIG part in make up of a longboard as the wheels attach to them to get the board going. They should not be overlooked in the building process so let’s take a closer the trucks of a longboard.
Longboard trucks are much like skateboard trucks only sometimes the kingpin is reversed and faces outwards. It is called a reverse kingpin and gets the board higher off the ground. Reverse kingpins also give you a tighter turning radius which in turns gives you “longboard agility”. Longboard trucks are typically wider too. This gives the board better stability and control for high speeds and easy commuting.
Base Plates – This is the part of the trucks that connects the truck itself to your longboard deck. You will hardware to connect the two. For a drop-through deck the base plate will be on top of the deck. For a top mount board the baseplate will be under the deck.
Hangers – This part of the truck hoists the wheels and bearings.
Bushings – Simply out, bushings are important. Though often overlooked, they serve a big role in your longboarding experience. As seen in the photo, bushings are placed on the kingpin on either side of the hanger. In the picture only one bushing is visible but there is another one on the other side of the hanger.
Bushing determine the bounce back/resistance after turning. They also aid in the ease of turning as well as longboard agility. There are two main types of bushings.
Cones- These limit resistance allowing easier turns but they are not going to be very stable. As you ride you might find the slightest movement to make you turn or lose control. Cones can also cause speed wobbles. Which are uncontrollable wobbles that you get when going top speed with bad bushings or too lose trucks. Cones are mainly for freeriding, simple cruising and carving, and freestyle.
Cylinder – These are more stable and have a good resistance which will nicely bounce you back to center and keep you there. These are great for cruising, carving, and downhill.
It is important to remember that you can mix and match. The best two bushing setups are two cylinder bushings or one cone and one cylinder. For longboard beginners it is best to start with a two cylinder setup but it is highly recommended to all to buy a bunch of different bushings. Testing anything out your self is alway best when possible.
When choosing bushings, it is important to get ones that fit your weight appropriately.
Risers – Risers have two jobs to do. One, they protect your wooden deck from damage since tightening metal to wood is very stressful on the wood. The risers provides a cushion which absorbs any shock that may damage your deck. Two, they raise your trucks (assuming a drop-through board). This pushes the trucks upwards bringing your deck closer to the ground, giving you even greater stability.
Hardware – These are the nuts and bolts that keep the truck attached to the board. Take the hardware you buy seriously. If you have a drop-through your safety depends on your hardware. The bamboo board above sits on top the trucks for a safe attachment. All the weight is on the complete truck. Now look at the board to the right. It is drop through so the weight all actually depends on the bolts being tightly screwed to the panhead screws.
Bearings – The controversial bearings. Don’t take them to seriously until you are ready to invest in the $40+ bearings. If you are not ready to pay that much just get a set. In the end it is hard to tell any difference between the main budget bearings. The best bearings are Zealous, Abec 9, and Bones Reds. Here is a quick list of the best longboard bearings.
Get Zealous Bearings!
|Bones Super Reds Bearings|
Buy Bones Super Reds Here
|Bones Reds Bearings|
Get the Affordable Bones Reds Now!
|Pacific Flyers Premium ABEC 9 Bearings|
Get Speedy with these ABEC 9s
Longboard Protective Gear
Protective gear is so important. People seem to believe they won’t be the one that bails but you never know. Get protective gear especially when you get into sliding and definitely when you are first starting out. Protective gear includes slide gloves, helmets, and elbow and knee pads.
Slide gloves are used by freestylers and freeriders to protect the hands during the a slide. The puck in the center spins to make the slide or trick easier and prevent tearing of the glove. Be careful with the gloves you choose. You do not want to risk buying a poor quality pair of gloves. When bombing a hill the last thing you want is you gloves ripping on a long slide. The only thing is your fingers scraping the ground. ouch.
Below are a pair of highly recommended slide gloves. They are extremely durable and won’t let you down. They are pricey but your hands can’t afford to get cheaper gloves.
Helmets will to save your life. Damage to your has a thousand unforeseen circumstances and none of them are good. Protect your head by getting a helmet. It is simply not worth it to not get one. It is not worth the risk. Below is the best affordable helmet that you can rely on to protect your head from any damage in case you fall. Triple 8 Brainsaver Rubber Helmet is the best selling skateboard helmet and thousands of people can testify to that.
Knee and Elbow Pads
Knee and elbow pads are not essential but recommended for people who don’t want to be missing a bunch of skin from their knees and elbows. Below is the most affordable yet high quality elbow wrist and knee pad set available. JBM Sports Protective is by far the most affordable protective gear set online for all you are getting. Get them because they will certainly get the job done.