You’ve decided that longboarding is the thing for you. What remains is for you to pick the right longboard. But, which is the best beginner longboard when you’re looking at gazillions of options each of which looks like it could do the job?
Related: Best Longboards Overall
Choosing a good new-rider longboard becomes significantly easier once you decide on the style, where you’ll mostly ride, and the budget you’ve set aside for the purchase. But the most important thing is knowing which longboarding style you like.
Want a quick list of longboards that most beginners love? Here it is.
5 Best Beginner Longboards
How to Choose a Good Beginner Longboard
To be able to pick a longboard you’ll love, the first thing to do is to make up your mind about the riding style. Not every riding style suits new riders, which means buying a longboard built specifically for expert riders is a surefire path to frustration and possibly danger.
What’s the Best Longboarding Riding Style for Absolute Beginners?
Cruising is without question the most friendly longboard riding style for new riders. This is because it’s the simplest and the easiest to learn and master. As long you can step on a board and can shift your weight for better balance, you can learn to cruise. But this isn’t to say that cruising is exclusively a new-rider boarding style. Pretty much everyone who longboards cruises, at least some of the time.
Freestyle is definitely harder than cruising because the rider performs all sorts of longboard tricks. But it’s a good style for beginners because it happens at moderate to low speeds on most flat surfaces and small hills.
To be clear, freestyle is a technical riding style pretty much like skateboarding. But because you’re not shuttling down massive hills at rocket-fast speed, building the skill set required to learn this art form isn’t as hard.
Are Freeride and Downhill Longboarding Good for Beginners?
No, freeride and downhill longboarding aren’t good beginner riding styles. This is because freeride and downhill are speed-oriented styles that have you descending massive hills at insanely high speeds. These riding styles require the rider to have expert-level board handling ability and speed control ability.
Freeride is the more technical of the two. Because when you ride freeride, you’re doing two things that intimidate new riders. You’re bombing hills at high speeds. You’re also sliding and doing other tricks at that speed.
Neophytes lack the technical capability required to ride safely at these levels of skating. It’s best for anyone wanting to get into longboarding to stay away from freeride and downhill and stick to cruising and freestyle.
It’s time to describe to you what each of the two beginner-friendly riding styles entails so that you can have a clear understanding of what you’re about to get into.
To cruise on a longboard means just goofing around on it. You’re not doing any tricks on the board. And you’re not interested in speed in the same way a freeride or downhill skater would be. You’re simply out there, moving around and noticing things. If this isn’t the best way to get out and just chill, then I don’t know what is.
Whether you’re a college student looking for a quick but steezy way to get around campus or just someone wanting to see their neighborhood on wheels, cruising got you covered.
Terrain: You cruise on mostly flat city streets and roads. Well, most roads and streets aren’t flat everywhere. So, sometimes, you’ll ride down gently sloping surfaces. But skating any kind of big hills is absolutely out of the question.
One thing that makes cruising stand out as a great new-rider style is that it’s easy to learn. But you still need to master how to transition from the street to the sidewalk to avoid traffic. Also moving from the sidewalk back onto the street when you want.
Plus, there’s always people walking down the sidewalk. And you need to be able to ride carefully enough so you won’t bump right into them. Luckily, learning how to cruise through city streets safely doesn’t require any kind of technical skill. Watch this video and see how a new rider can enjoy longboard city rides without worry.
How to Choose a Beginner Cruiser Longboard
What does a good beginner cruiser longboard look like? Let’s see.
Deck size and concave: As a beginner, you want to choose a cruiser board that’s reasonably long and wide. How long? Let the deck be at least 30″ long. The longer the better, but it shouldn’t be too long that controlling the board becomes mission impossible. The longest beginner cruising contraptions measure around 45″-46″. Longer than that and you’re in board walking and dance territory. Most of the cruising options I know of have a 32″-42″ deck.
Deck width: Your shoe size could help you make a good estimate of the right deck width, but 8.5″ works for most people. Basically, you’re looking for a deck that’s large enough for your feet. Taller riders with size 13 feet or bigger often find that wider beginner cruiser boards (10″+) work best for them.
It is easier to balance on a longer and wider board than on a shorter one, especially if you’re just starting out.
Concave: A deck with a radial or even no concave should be fine for new longboarders. A flat-concave/no-concave deck feels comfortable, but you won’t have that much control. A radial concave works better if you want both good board control and comfort. Take a look.
Flex: You don’t want too much flex on a beginner board. Why? Because too much flex makes the board quite turny, which makes ride control somewhat harder. Get a cruiser board with a stiff deck as such an option translates to a decent level of stability, something you need more of as a learner. I’m not saying a medium-flex deck is a bad choice for a novice. I’m saying that less flex works best for beginning longboarders.
Trucks: Get reverse kingpin trucks for your first-ever longboard cruiser. The reason reverse kingpin trucks are a great choice for new longboarders is that this type fosters stability at high speeds. Don’t worry too much about stuff such as baseplate angle at this point. You’re basically looking to learn how to step on a longboard, balance, roll around, and just chill. Little things such as baseplate angle may not make much of a difference at this skill level.
Bearings: If the bearings that come with your cruiser board’s wheels have a decent roll when given a spin, then you’re good to go. Even if you decide to build your longboard from the ground up, don’t be too extravagant with bearings. There are $10 Bones Reds longboard bearings that work like a charm, so why burn money?
Wheels: Get 60-80mm wheels for your first beginner cruiser longboard. Wheels such as these have you gliding through city streets without tripping over cracks, small pebbles, and other small obstacles. Note that the larger the diameter of the wheel, the speedier the spin. I suggest that you start with 70mm wheels and swap them out for larger ones once your board control skills at speed get better.
Wheel hardness: When it comes to a start cruiser longboard, it’s best to choose an option with 78-83A wheels. Harder wheels are for smoother surfaces and bigger heavier longboard riders while softer wheels are for lighter riders and rough terrain full of cracks, small potholes, small rocks, and whatnot.
What if you’ve got a bit of boarding experience under your belt and now want to grow into a more serious riding style? Well, no one came to our planet knowing how to ride a DH or freeride longboard. Each one of the best racers in the world was once a clueless novice. But then they kept practicing and getting better until they became the amazing freeriders and downhill riders we all want to watch on Youtube.
So, get a good freestyle longboard and skate those neighborhood streets like they’ve never been skated before. But how do you choose a good beginner freestyle longboard? Learn how under the relevant section below.
Freestyle vs Freeride Longboarding, What’s the Difference?
Some people think that freestyle and freeride longboarding styles are one and the same thing, but that’s not correct. While both riding styles involve pulling off a bunch of technical styles, freestyle skating is the more technical form.
In fact, freestyle longboarding is 100% park/street skateboarding, but it involves extras not seen in skateboarding namely carving, dancing, and board walking. I guess that settles the long-standing debate as to whether longboarders are skateboarders, huh? Freestyle longboarders are technical skateboarders who do more.
Freestyling is more technical than freeride, but the latter requires the rider to perform a number of highly technical maneuvers such as powersliding and carving at high speed, which can be a scary experience for beginners. In comparison, freeride longboarding resembles going down moderately steep and big hills at speed while carving to check speed all while doing tricks, mostly sliding and drifting.
And because freestyle is more tricks-oriented compared to freeride, the style requires harder wheels than freeride, pretty much the same way skateboard wheels for park and street need to be harder. Also, a freestyle longboard necessitates having a wider deck for stability and a kicktail or two for doing tricks.
How to Pick a Good Freestyle Longboard
Deck: The deck needs to be relatively wide for stability when performing all kinds of tricks while rail grinding, skating ramps, skating tranny, jumping off stairs, and skating vert bowls.
While some freestyle decks may be directional, the vast majority of such decks are symmetrical in design. Being symmetrical means that it doesn’t matter which side of the deck you’re on; you just ride the thing.
Deck design and setup: Most freestyle longboarders prefer drop-through decks. A drop-through deck has the baseplate visible from the top of the deck. This deck design enhances ride stability for new riders. If you can pick a drop-thru deck combined with drop-through trucks, that’s even better.
A drop-through deck is a great option for riders learning freestyle tricks because it keeps you nearer to the skating surface. The ride feels more stable/more controlled, which can give your overall confidence a nice uptick.
You can choose a large board with symmetrical kicktails (same-size kicktails on the front and back) or one with a single kicktail and a nose. Either is OK.
Deck concave: Get a deeper concave so that you stay secure-footed throughout the learning session. As a beginner, don’t overthink rail depth. Nail the fundamentals of freestyle first and worry about technical stuff later.
Flex: When it comes to freestyle decks, go with a medium-flex deck. You want a deck that’s flexy enough for easier turning but not too flexy that landing tricks become an overly sketchy experience. A sturdy, durable 6-8 ply bamboo deck should be fine, but nothing beats good old Canadian maple.
Bamboo bends beautifully without snapping. But if you’re really heavy, consider ditching the popular drop-through mount and go with a top-mount deck instead to avoid deck breakage.
Trucks: Since you’re new to skating and won’t be doing super technical freestyle tricks initially, traditional kingpin trucks would be the best choice because they give you more stability and control. Aside from that, traditional kingpin trucks make for quicker turns.
As time passes and your skating skills improve, you may consider replacing the TKPs with reverse kingpins for a more responsive and somewhat twitchier riding experience.
Wheels: Most beginners should be OK with 80A-82A freestyle wheels. For technical sliding at skate parks and streets, though, get 90A+ wheels. But if the streets where you’re at are really high quality (super smooth), you sure can skate harder wheels up to 85A wheels.
Beginner street riding freestyle wheels stand at 56 mm-63 mm in height. Taller wheels cruise better but might feel a tad less stable. Perhaps it’d be best to stick with 60mm wheels if you’re just starting out. But if you’ll mostly do a less technical, more flowy riding style such as riding park bowls, go for 64-70mm freestyle wheels.
Safety tip: If you see yourself riding mostly in skate parks and tricking all of the time, avoid decks with wheel cutouts. Because decks with cutouts make the kicktails narrower, which makes riding that much harder since your back foot always stays on the kicktail. Also, your heel could touch a wheel when you’re trying to do a hard vert kick turn, and things can go awry pretty fast.
But if you won’t do tons of hard kicks and turns on your board and instead will do more mellow freestyle board fips and kicks, having wheel cutouts and running bigger wheels could be a good thing.
Bearings: Follow the bearing advice given in the previous section. Read more about how to pick the best longboard bearings here.
Choosing a Dancing and Boarding Longboard: Do you intend to start learning dancing and board walking? Get a deck that’s at least 42″ in length. Some dancers use extremely long decks, sometimes as long as 60″. As for flex, it’s moderate, and the deck is largely flat with a small amount of camber or concave.
Freeriding for Beginners
As mentioned above, freeriding isn’t the best skating style for learners. Because you’re bombing hills at speed while sliding and carving and drifting, all of which can be too technical to handle for novice skaters. Be sure to wear gloves with a puck when learning to freeride to protect your hands. You’ll stick out your hands and place them on the rough asphalt a lot, so stay safe. Think of freeride as a more technical or more artistic form of downhill.
How to Choose a Good Freeride Longboard for Beginners
The best beginner longboard for freeride is specifically designed to enable carving, sliding, skating at speed, and performing tricks. Carving is when you apply force to the toeside rail or to the heelside rail with your heels to turn either to the right or to the left depending on whether you ride goofy or regular.
Before you get into freeride as a new rider, it’s critical that you master sliding and foot braking. There’s a bunch of stops to master, and it can be all overwhelming, so why not start with the beginner-friendly freeride slides.
Let’s look at what you should consider when picking a beginner freeride deck.
Deck: As a beginner. I suggest that you stay away from those narrow decks that expert-level downhill and freeride skaters like. They have the skills needed to get the most out of such a narrow board while staying safe at very high speeds. Instead, get a wider, longer board.
The deck also needs a sufficiently gritty grip tape to keep your feet locked in for slides and other freeride maneuvers. You can ride a drop-through or a top-mounted deck, but I recommend a drop-through since it keeps you slightly closer to the road.
Flex: A relatively stiff deck is the best for new riders. A deck that flexes excessively can be a disaster waiting to happen when you’re traveling at 25mph because…wheel bite, especially when turning.
Concave: A deep concave works best. You also need good grip tape on the deck for that safe, locked-in feeling.
Wheels: You can get freeride-specific wheels, but most downhill wheels are also good enough for freeride. You can use square-lipped wheels initially and do fewer to zero sliding on mellow hills. Once you get comfortable riding down hills at speed, go for slightly rounded wheels because they grip and slide great and are the best freeride wheels for most people. Get center-set or side-set wheels for sliding.
Stick to 60-65mm wheels as a starting skater. 70mm freeride wheels might be too fast and too unstable at that riding level.
Hardness: 80A-88A is a good place to be as far as wheel hardness rating. The wheel’s urethane formula also affects slideability. A wheel may have a lower durometer number but still be harder/easier to slide on because the thane was formulated to make sliding easier. Be sure to read the listing’s details to learn what the manufacturer says about the wheel’s hardness.
Related: Best Sliding Longboard Wheels
You need grippy wheels when flying down a hill that fast, but the wheels should also let you break into a slide whenever necessary, which is quite often. But the wheels should be smaller and harder than downhill wheels for stability and slideability.
Harder wheels generally slide better, last longer, and are less prone to flat spotting. Since you’ll do slides a lot, the wheels shouldn’t be too grippy that sliding becomes impossible or even dangerous. You need wheels that give you a sweet mix of grip and slideability, meaning wheels that aren’t as grippy (less wide).
Trucks: Beginners should stay away from older DH slalom-style trucks. These trucks can get a little too twitchy at high speeds, and that can’t be a good thing for a new rider. That said, many modern/recently released DH slalom-style trucks are beginner-friendly because they’re reasonably stable.
Trucks tip: You can actually ride any kind of trucks as long you can stabilize the rear of the board by using a lower-angle baseplate. You can have higher-angled baseplates (maybe 50 degrees) at the front for better responsiveness and lower-angled rear trucks (42-degree baseplates) to sort out speed wobble issues especially when you encounter road bumps.
Downhill for Beginners
Before you do any kind of downhill riding on a longboard, be sure you can carve, slide, and bail at speed safely. This riding style is for skaters who have lots of confidence in their riding ability and is not recommended for new riders.
How to Choose a Good Beginner DH Longboard
Experts recommend that beginners start with their freeride board and tweak the deck/truck accordingly to increase stability. Also, always have a good skate helmet on your melon and pads before you start bombing any hills. Stay safe. I listed down a few downhill beginner tips here if you’re interested.
Definitely use reverse kingpin trucks because they’re known for their matchless stability. Also, try to have the deck’s width aligned with the width of the trucks. Why? Because this is how you get maximum leverage for turning and control.
The deck being roughly the same width as the trucks applies to all other riding styles BTW. If the deck’s width is far greater than the trucks’ width, the ride is more stable but less grippy. But if the deck is narrower than the trucks, you have a tippy board.
Flex: Get a stiff board for DH longboarding whether you’re a beginner or a more experienced rider. Because greater stiffness at speed equals more stability. As for concave, it needs to be deep so that your feet can stay where you want them…in the center of the platform.
Trucks: Read the section above (freeride decks) since that information applies to DH as well. Some downhill riders prefer narrower decks and trucks, but that can’t be a good idea for a beginning longboarder. Stick with wider trucks and a wider deck for stability and safety. Definitely use a drop-through deck to maximize stability.
Wheels: Get wide-contact-patch wheels with square-edged wheels for maximum grip. These wheels won’t slide out when cornering, and that’s what you want. Ride at 78A and 80A if you’re heavier. Keep the diameter at 65mm-70mm.
Grip tape on the upper side of the deck is a must when it comes to a beginner DH longboard.
Reminder: don’t attempt DH longboarding until you’re 100% sure you know what you’re doing.
Beginner Longboarding Tips
- Always wear a helmet when out there learning. Make sure it’s a properly certified skate helmet. Triple 8 offers a bunch of options that many skaters around the world love.
- Wrists and elbows tend to break especially when an inexperienced skater leaves them vulnerable. So, wear fitting elbow pads and gloves. Your kneecaps are hard, but putting hard-shell knee pads on them helps.
- Learn how to fall. Falls in skating happen a lot, so why not learn how to fall in a way that saves you bruises, cuts, and scapes? Youtube should be a great help as far as learning how to go down like a pro.
- You won’t become an overnight success in longboarding, and getting some board tricks down can seem to take forever. Don’t let your frustration turn into despair, for quitting is the only sure thing at that point.
- Stick to level terrain at the start. Avoid hills of all kinds until you get your balance and board control to a good safe place.
- If your longboard pulls to the side during rides or turns too easily, it means that the deck has tons of flex and that your bushings could be too soft. To correct the situation, try fitting in harder bushings. Alternatively, swap out cone bushings if that’s what you for barrel bushings. Learn more about bushing shapes and sizes and hardness here and how all these aspects impact the “turniness” of trucks.
- Wear decent skate shoes. Get a shoe that protects your feet while offering a decent level of ankle support. If you can get durable skateboard shoes, that’s even better. Because foot braking eats up skate shoe soles real bad.
Beginner Longboard FAQs
What is the Best Longboard Length for a Beginner?
The best longboard length for a beginner is 30″-46″. If it’s too small, rides become unstable and if the board is too long and wide, it becomes harder to control the ride even though stability gets a boost. Every new rider needs to decide how long they want their deck to be on the basis of height, shoe size, and personal preference. This post explains the correct way to size a longboard.
What is the Easiest Longboard for Beginners?
The easiest longboard for beginners is a cruiser board. A cruiser is designed for cruising around and just chilling. The rider doesn’t do any kind of technical tricks or bomb huge hills. That’s why this is the most beginner-friendly longboard.
Should a Beginner Start With a Longboard or a Skateboard?
An absolute beginner can learn on a skateboard or longboard, but it’s definitely easier to balance on a longboard. And because riding the most basic longboard (cruiser board) doesn’t require technical ability of any kind (while there’s no skateboarding without tricks performance), it’s correct to say that riding a longboard is easier than riding a skateboard. But certain forms of longboarding such as freeride, and downhill can be extremely exacting and aren’t the best fit for first-time longboard riders.
What Are the Differences Between a Skateboard and Longboard?
A skateboard is shorter and in many cases narrower than a longboard. While both have 4 wheels, a longboard uses larger softer wheels. For this reason, there’s many places you can ride a longboard but can’t ride a skateboard. A longboard sits higher off the ground than a skateboard, but being longer and wider makes it somewhat more stable and therefore a great choice for learners.
Another key difference is that skateboards typically use standard kingpin trucks (SKPs) while longboards generally use Reverse Kingpin Trucks (RKPs). Finally, while you can use both boards in pretty much the same way, a skateboard isn’t a great option for cruising over long distances, carving, or going downhill at insanely stratospheric speeds.
What’s Cheaper Longboard vs. Skateboard?
Generally, longboards are pricier than skateboards, but the actual price of the product depends on material and component quality as well as the riding level the board’s designed for. With that said, there’s a bunch of budget longboards and skateboards that aren’t complete pieces of junk. If you’re considering getting either sport, be willing to pay at least $100, and you’ll get a rideable board.