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How to Choose a Longboard Skateboard -- A Beginner's Guide

By Edited May 15, 2015 1 2

Longboard skateboards have become very popular with good reason – they are fun. The idea for a longboard has its roots in surfing with a skateboarding twist. Some say longboards came about from snowboarding with a skateboarding twist. Longboards are not just very large skateboards, the ride of a longboard has a completely different feel, more like you are surfing or snowboarding than riding. They are used for riding or racing down hills and not necessarily big hills, just hills where you can basically cruise down. Longboards are also ideal just riding around. Most longboarders don’t buy or ride to do tricks or any stunts, which would be typical of skateboarding, it’s more a mode of transportation, exercise and pure enjoyment.

Longboards come in a variety of styles, which are based on the rider’s ability along with where and how they intend to use it. There are a few considerations when making the decision including wheel type, bearings, trucks and finally, but certainly not the least important is the longboard’s deck. When choosing a longboard for yourself or someone else, there are many things to think about that will ultimately influence your decision.

Longboard Skateboard Considerations

One of the first things to consider when choosing your board is how much experience do you have as a longboarder. Don’t count surfing, snowboarding or skateboarding experience into the decision making process because while those sports may give you an advantage, it’s not totally the same.  

Those that have some prior experience already know what type of longboarding they are looking to do. If you don’t have much experience and aren’t quite sure of what type of boarding you want to do, you are better off sticking with sometime more basic and versatile.

Ready to Use or Custom Longboard

Again another decision that is determined by skills and abilities. Custom longboards are very cool, but not always very practical. If you are really into longboarding and know exactly what you want to do with the board, be it racing, carving or dancing – then you need a custom board. If you are new to longboarding, you probably want to stick with something more on the basic side that will allow you try a variety of uses until you find your niche. Once you find you niche, you will know exactly what to look for in your longboard.

 Beginners and those who don’t have a particular longboarding style will do well with a ready to use, pre-assembled board. Even if you are an intermediate boarder with a good sense of what you like to to do, there are many ready to use, assembled boards to choose from. Just because it is pre-assembled it doesn’t make it less of a piece of equipment – it just means it’s ready for you to use as soon as you open the box.

Longboards as a Mode of Transport

A board made for those who just want to cruise around, also known as a commuter board – which happens to be the most popular use of a longboard --  are an excellent choice for beginning boarders because these types of boards are easy to maneuver and you can move along at a slower speed. These are called either transportation or cruising longboards. Commuter, cruing or transportation boards are available in a wide variety of shapes with trucks that tend to be on the looser side so that turning is easier. When buying this type a kicktail is a good idea because it lets the rider easily go up and down curbs. Medium to larger wheels make going over shallow pot holes, cracks and uneven surfaces without falling.

Longboards For Slalom

These type of boards are typically for the more experienced boarder who likes to cut and weave through obstacles and around a sidewalk full of people – not the safest choice to slalom through a crowd, but that is what many riders do. The wheels on a slalom board are usually softer and are kind of squishy in the back, which allows for a good grip on the pavement. The front wheels usually are more firm to gain allow the rider to gain speed. The decks are the shortest of the longboards. Slalom boarders usually pump their bodies to move the board. Slalom boards come

Longboards forDancing and Tricks

Longboards used for any types of tricks or dancing are for the experienced boarders. Typically these are custom boards where the rider has chosen the wheels, trucks and deck to their own specifications based on their use and the level of comfort. Dancing on longboards is basically moving around on the deck it a dance pattern – going from the back of the board to the front and side to side. Those who can accomplish this feat of staying balanced on a moving object while travelling the length are in touch with their center of balance and have practiced long and hard. These longboards usually come with heavy trucks to keep the rider stable. The deck will have a rough texture or tape to keep the rider on the deck.

 Longboards for Downhill Racing

Definitely a board for the experienced rider. These longboards, also known as speedboards allow the rider to reach high rates of speed. Speedboards are typically in between commuter boards and slalom boards in terms of length and overall size. They tend to be lower to the ground to increase the center of gravity, which gives the rider greater balance and stability at high rates of speed. Speedboards are very stiff and not highly maneuverable because they are built for speed.

Longboard Decks

Beginners should choose a longer wider deck because it gives you a more stable ride. A long, wide deck will not be capable of making tight turns and quickly cutting around obstacles. Look at the weight restrictions from the manufacturer – they are not just suggestions – pay attention to the limit.

Wheel Sizes and Firmness

Large wheels will let you ride over small variations in levelness and small stones and rocks without being thrown from the board. Soft wheels help to grip the riding surface. Hard wheels will give you more speed. Wide wheels make for a more stable ride.

Longboard Trucks

The softer the bushings the more maneuverability the rider will have. The manufacturers state the trucks ability to take turns.

Board Bearings

Most non-custom longboards come with steel wheel bearings, which are fine for the beginning or average rider. As you move into custom boards, you have the choice to pick from a variety of bearing types with ceramic being the most durable.         


Atom Pintail Longboard
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Surf One Robert August II Complete Longboard (8.875 x 43.75)
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46" complete 8 ply maple longboard skateboard NEW Pinstripe Blue
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Surf One "Classic" complete skateboard (KXL, 8.875-Inch x 43.75-Inch)
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Krown Wave Crest Pin Complete Longboard Skateboard
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Mar 27, 2012 2:34pm
I wish I would have read this yesterday! My son was going on and on about a "longboard". I told him he really had no need for a surfboard! Wow, he's probably still rolling his eyes at me. I'll have to post this article link on his Facebook so he sees I spent time learning about his newest skateboarding wish.
Mar 27, 2012 2:51pm
That's funny! Longboarding is fun and not as challenging as skateboarding -- so why not join him?
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