Tips for buying your first longboard
Rule number one of buying your first longboard
1. There is no longboard that does it all
The hardest thing in buying your first board is narrowing down the choice. usually skaters are thinking if I can buy one all round board that does it all, I'll only need one board and it will be perfect for me. Well...it does not work that way.
We are here to help, and the advice here is based on years of helping skaters buy their first longboard in the old Hopshop.
What type of longboarding?
What type of longboarding do you want to do? Where are you going to skate?
What boards do your friends have?
We don't all want to be the same. If your mate has a Dervish, do you really want the same deck? If you said yes, think about that question a bit more.
You could buy a variation, like the Tan Tien that is a bit smaller. Or a board that is like the Dervish like the Prism Trace. You could visit a skateshop and ask the sales assistant you are looking for boards like the Dervish or perform like it or have the same dimensions.
Most skaters get introduced to longboarding by friends. You borrow a board, have a try and decide you are going to longboard for life. Knowing what boards you have tried and like is a good starting point to finding your first longboard. Length, width, board construction.
Is there a budget?
This is the biggest factor in buying a board. There are two types of longboards: Brand assembled or skateshop assembled. A brand assembled longboard can be of the same quality components but because it comes complete from the factory there is usually a discount and saving, it can be up to a third cheaper.
A good factory assembled longboard from Sector 9 or Prism will cost around $200-$300+.
A skateshop assembled longboard using components you have chosen can be anywhere from $350 - $400+.
Obviously these prices depend on the type of longboard - smaller the board the cheaper the price. A mini cruiser is price between $100-$200.
If you are looking at a $100 longboard complete, then it will be low quality and have no resale value and a short life. Typically if you buy a cheap longboard from Rebel or Kmart you pay twice. The board will last a few months, it will not perform the way you want so you will be unsatisfied, and then you'll start looking at upgrading the components and realise you should have bought name brand in the first place...so you buy the longboard you really should have got originally and hence you have just paid twice!
I dont have enough money for the board I want
Life's number one problem, not enough money. It is better to wait, and save a bit more money than compromise on the board you really want. Alternatively buy the deck you want and compromise on the components. Wheels and bearings are a good way to cut down the cost. Try not to compromise on trucks and deck.
As we mentioned above, buying a brand assembled deck can get you in the game cheaper. Sector Nine usually uses Gullwing trucks - excellent brand and quality. They also put premium wheels on their completes like Butterballs, RADs and their Race Formula wheels. For example, if you are looking for a good complete for freeride and downhill then check these out:
What type of wheels?
Wheels fall into two main categories. Carve or freeride. Carve/cruise wheels have sharp edge to help them grip. Freeride/slide wheels usually have a rounded edge and stone ground finish.
The other factor that influences wheel type is the durometer. Basically how hard is the wheel. The smaller the number the softer the wheel. Common wheels duros are 78a, 80a, 82a, 84a, 86a, 90a, 94a, 98a, 99a, 100a, 101a.
99a+ wheels are used for technical sliding or skateparks.
94a to 98a are used for ramps.
90a to 94a are used for a softer old school ride.
Most longboarding wheels fall between 78a to 84a.
78a or below = soft carvy feel, or if your main skating surface is rough
80a is the sweet spot - best all round - most common on a standard set up
82a is the slide sweet spot, slides well but can carve if required
84a to 89a are the hardest and quickest to break out and slide. If you are learning to slide these duros are best because they slide easily and wear less and less prone to flat spots.
The other factor in duro is your weight. A heavier skater will find a higher duro will perform different. If you weight 90kg to 110kg then a 83a wheel will feel more like a 80a. So if you are heavier consider going up a duro.
Wheels size is important. Most common wheels size now is around 70mm.
A smaller wheel will be quicker to take off, be easier to carve tighter. The bigger the wheel the bigger the roll speed. The wider the wheel the bigger the contact patch to the road the the gripper it will be.
Most new longboarders should start on a wheel between 69mm and 72mm.