The Best Longboard for a Beginner
Is the One You Will Ride the Most
So you’re just starting out on your longboard journey. There are probably a good number of types of skateboarding that are turning you on. Maybe you want to dance. Maybe you’re just considering riding your board to school or work, or you’re trying to get in shape. You might want to pump sidewalks. Or maybe you want to ride down hills. How do you figure out where to start? Here is a simple guide to find the best longboard for beginning riders.
Hands down, the best board for a beginning skater is the board that you will ride the most–NOT the one that is most expensive, made out of the fanciest materials, or the cheapest, either. It is the board you keep riding and leaves you with the experience you’re imagining for yourself. There is no point in purchasing a cheap longboard if the ride is going to suck, and it’s going to sit in your closet. Equally, there is no point in purchasing an expensive, over-built longboard that doesn’t suit your needs. Expensive and fancy don’t always equate to “the best.”
What is your skate environment?
Your terrain is going to largely dictate the type of skating you do. If you are a young professional in a highly urban environment planning to use your longboard to get from point A to point B, that is a lot different than if you’re a high school student in a hilly neighborhood planning to learn freeride, and different still from a high school student in a flat neighborhood looking to hone the art of balance.
It is important to consider your skate environment because no matter how turned on you are to screaming fast downhill longboard riding, if you don’t have any hills nearby, you aren’t going to get much use out of your downhill board. Beginners may get enticed by beach carving on perfect bike paths while their neighborhoods are made of pavement that look like the cement truck threw up on the ground. Make sure your entire longboard setup suits your environment.
Here’s a double drop longboard — The Pantheon Trip — riding through Central Park, NYC. What’s your skate environment?
Sifting Through The Bullshit
We were inspired to write this article because there is a lot of misinformation out there. Beginning longboarders often don’t know how where to start, and if many of the Amazon affiliates have anything to say about it, they’ll gladly sell you a complete longboard for $69.99. And first-time buyers will get what they pay for.
Now the truth is, there are good stories out there with crap product at the helm. Sometimes people hook immediately into the flow of the longboard. They fall in love and never look back, no matter what they’re riding. That was actually my own personal story, and though I bought my first beginner longboard before Amazon took over, I bought my first complete for exactly $69.99 on eBay. I fell in love and here I am today, so enamored with longboard riding that I aim to make a living by doing it as much as possible. That I dream about shapes and ergonomics and conveying messages through art. And finding a path across the Rocky Mountains and backpacking in the mountains on a great American wheelieboard adventure.
But I’ll tell you what happened with that cheap board. I replaced it as soon as I could afford to. The wheels had no grip and wore down super fast, the board surprisingly never broke but I couldn’t take a hard turn without it flopping against the ground, and the trucks were terribly unstable. I was never advised toward any safety gear because the longboard company I bought a board from looked at me as a sale and not as an investment. And they looked at their longboard as a commodity and not as a relationship. I eventually took a big fall and even took some away from skateboarding.
In retrospect, if I didn’t have enough cash for a decent longboard, it would’ve been much more cost effective and less wasteful to purchase or borrow a used setup from a friend until I had saved enough for something decent of my own. Had I gotten into Sector9 at that time, I’d have seen riders with helmets and gloves and likely would’ve deemed that equipment necessary for the type of riding that eventually got me in trouble.
This was back in the days during the beginning of YouTube. The only gloves I saw online were home made by Canadians bombing down golf paths on EVOs. Nowadays, information is at your fingertips more than ever before. Nowadays, we don’t put up with the inefficiency of not knowing. But that doesn’t stop someone from misinforming you.
Frankly, it just plain pisses me off to see poor product proliferating across websites aimed at nothing but gathering your clicks and relaying a cookie toward an Amazon page for some cheap commodity product that may fail another would-be longboarder. This is my fear. That poor experiences result in less skating. My goal is to inspire would-be longboarders to find their proper experience and have a proper go at it with the right tools for the job, and my expectation is that through these experiences, we can grow beginner longboard riders into lifelong, passionate enthusiasts. Or at least people who just enjoy going out for a rip once in a while.
MORE TO COME
We kept this article going for a while and got real deep into some details but decided to save it for a future blog. I don’t want to scare our beginner longboarder friends away. One thing I’m trying to learn and be responsive to is people’s bandwidth. So we will save it. In our next article, we will talk about specs, concave, mold features like our crescent drop on our commuter longboards like the Ember, consctruction, wheelbase, shape, trucks and wheels, and some other topics that will require a good bit of detail, but maybe would take away from the very important point we are attempting to make here.
To beginner longboarders: the best longboard is the one that is designed around what you going to use it for. Give yourself a chance. Get the RIGHT board. Don’t get the cheapest board you can find, because you are setting yourself up to not even like skating. And that’s a waste of a perfectly good tree. They deserve to become something you love.