Longboards are a type of skateboard. They can be great for beginners because they offer stability and balance. They also allow the rider to move at high speeds.
Longboards are usually longer than regular skateboards – but they won’t allow the rider to shred half-pipes and do tricks. They’re better as a form of transport and cruising about.
In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at how longboards are made and why they can make a great choice for beginners.
Parents, we’ll include some handy hints here and jargon-busting to guide you in your buying decision and how to pick out the essential features you’ll want in a beginner skateboard for a child.
How To Choose A Good Longboard For Beginners
A longboard looks a little different from a regular skateboard that you may see at a skate park.
Let’s look at the key features of a longboard so you can tell what one looks like, and therefore how it functions for a beginner learning to ride.
Longboard Deck Size & Shape
The deck – that’s the part the riders stand on – varies significantly between a longboard and a standard skateboard.
- Skateboards have a slight concave on the nose and tail. A longboard is completely flat (though some models also have a drop deck – the part where the feet go is lower than the ends where the wheels go).
- Longboards are generally speaking (but not always!) longer than a regular skateboard. Most longboards are at least 32 inches long, even up to 60 inches!
- Longboards vary in width but are generally 8 inches to 10 inches wide.
- Longboards have thicker decks with less flex than skateboards, usually made from wood – 7 to 9-ply maple or bamboo.
- Longboards can vary greatly in shape, including hybrid, pintail, and drop-deck designs, or cruiser designs similar to regular skateboards (more on longboard types and shape below!).
The next important factor is the wheels.
- A longboard has larger, softer wheels than a regular skateboard for a smoother and faster ride on all sorts of terrain.
- They are usually rated 78A to 85A on the “durometer scale“, meaning they can absorb vibrations better than harder wheels you’ll find on a regular skateboard.
- The wheels can vary from 55mm to 75mm.
Longboard Trucks & Wheelbase
Next, check out the trucks. These are the parts that hold the wheels together. They have a lot of impact on how well a longboard performs.
- Longboards have a more flexible truck than a regular skateboard to give a smoother ride.
- Longboard trucks tend to be wider than skateboards – around 150 to 180 mm (5.9″ to 7″).
- You may hear the trucks being referred to as “reverse Kingpin”, this is the preferred style of trucks on boards over 32″, designed for speed.
- You should choose trucks with an aluminum core. Aluminum provides strength and durability, which means that your longboard will last longer.
- A longer wheelbase generally accompanies a longer board – meaning the wheels are further apart providing more stability.
- You should also make sure that the wheel bearings used are top quality. Cheap bearings won’t last very long and may even damage your board.
Longboards Vs Skateboards For Beginners
It is essential when deciding on a board for a new rider to understand their riding intention; your child may not actually know what they want yet, other than a “skateboard”. Here are a few things to think about:
- Longboards are ideal for cruising around town, riding at pace and tackling hills, whilst skateboards are designed mostly for doing tricks.
- Due to the stability and smooth ride offered by a longboard, they can be a better starting point for a complete beginner.
- Longboards are the best choice if your child wants a new set of wheels for getting to school or cruising about with friends.
- If mastering kickflips and grinding rails are in their sights, then you may be better starting them with a regular skateboard.
The basic manoeuvers of standing, starting, and stopping on the board will be the same regardless of what type of board your child starts with.
If you are starting them with skateboarding lessons in a skate park, the instructor will no doubt sway you towards a skateboard!
Now we know a little more about longboards compared with traditional skateboards, it’s important to distinguish between the different types of longboards for beginners.
Not all longboard designs will suit a complete beginner but equally many longboards share similarities with cruisers and skateboards! Try to find the type of skateboard that packs in the most features your beginner will use.
These are the best type of longboards for beginners. They are long, wide, and easy to balance on with large, soft wheels.
We compare longboards to smaller cruiser boards over here – the terminology can certainly get confusing if you’re brand new to skateboard buying!
These are closer in design to traditional skateboards and would suit those who still want to do some flip tricks and carving. They can still work for beginners as the deck is large and wide for easy balance.
They also have soft wheels, though not as soft as cruisers. You’ll find some freestyle boards are designed with kicktails and shaped noses to allow your beginner to work up to some tricks.
These are not for beginners! Your child will most definitely need a lot of practice before attempting downhill skating where skaters can reach speeds up to 65mph!
These are normally stiffer longboards with lower-angle trucks and are only suitable for those who really know what they’re doing and have all the accompanying protective gear including specialized downhill skating helmets.
Boards that combine elements of downhill with freestyle, they’ll have more flex than a downhill-only board. They have harder smaller wheels designed for sliding.
Again, Freeride longboards are probably not something your beginner longboarder will need to consider just yet.
Importance of Longboard Deck Shape
- Longboards such as pin tail are considered “one directional” – they are designed to go forward, most commonly seen on cruisers and downhill boards.
- Conversely, a twin or symmetrical longboard is great for 180 degree slides, more commonly seen in freeriding and freestyle boards.
- Some longboards will have cutouts for the wheels and drop-mounted trucks (on top). Other longboards see the deck covering the wheels, these are called “top mount longboards”.
- Drop through longboards lower the deck height, which can increase the stability of the board.
- A drop-deck on the other hand, the board is actually lowered between the trucks. The rider’s feet are nearer to the ground which helps with pushing and stability, considered the best style for commuting.
- One more deck type you may see on a longboard is a double drop; it features both drop through trucks and a drop deck style. You’ll largely see this style only on downhill boards built for maximum stability.
What Is The Best Deck Size For Beginners?
When choosing a skateboard for beginners in general, the smaller the deck size, the easier it will be for a child to learn how to ride.
- For a complete beginner, you should probably stick with an 8-inch wide deck. This is a decent size to keep the rider stable but still provide a decent amount of maneuverability.
- If they plan to use the board for commuting purposes, opt for a shorter model. The reason is that these are easier to maneuver and control in crowds.
- Longer longboards are inherently going to be heavier than say a smaller cruiser board. This is fine for a strapping young teen, but if you’re looking for a preteen or younger, you may want to choose a shorter board for a beginner.
Are Longboards Appropriate For Smaller Kids?
When you first see a longboard the size may seem daunting – especially those 40″ plus! Rest assured, not all longboards are huge, in fact, some longboards are even shorter than traditional skateboards!
Whilst there’s no set rule on how long or heavy a child’s longboard should be, the child still needs to have enough weight to leverage the board and make a turn. For a child under 10, you should start with boards under 36″ as a general rule of thumb, and slightly smaller wheels (60-66mm is about right).
A smaller child could get started on something like a 28.5″ Landyachtz Blunt longboard.
Do note that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that skateboarding and longboarding are not appropriate before the age of 5.
How Much Does A Beginner Longboard Cost?
The average price of a beginner longboard ranges between $50-$100. Of course, you can spend more or less depending on the features you need.
For example, you can pay more for a carbon fiber deck as opposed to a wooden one, but does your beginner really need this?
Best Longboard Brands
There are many brands out there that produce excellent longboards. Here are some of the best ones to keep an eye out for”
Gravity offers a wide range of decks including both classic shapes and modern designs. Their boards come in different sizes and colors, making them perfect for beginners.
Ripco makes some of the most popular longboards on the market. Their boards are known for their durability and high-quality construction.
Blankskates is another company that produces high-quality longboards. They offer a variety of models ranging from budget options to higher-end models.
K2 is another brand that produces a large selection of affordable longboards. They offer several different styles and materials, allowing you to find something that suits your needs perfectly.
Final Thoughts on Longboards For Beginners
If your child is up for a great active outdoor hobby, skateboarding can be a great choice. Longboards can provide a great stable base to learn on, whilst still allowing them to have plenty of fun out riding with their mates.
Once they get the hang of it, they may want to move onto smaller boards that allow them to do a few tricks too. In any case, remember they should always wear protective gear including helmets and pads.
They’ll find a few more tips for how to get started with a longboard here:
Jump back over here for all our kids’ skateboard buying guides and advice
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