Maybe you have been surfing and find yourself needing a hobby when the waves aren’t at their peak.
Perhaps you have been snowboarding and find that your summer legs need some movement. Or, you just want basic transportation and are looking for best longboard for college.
Whatever the case may be, longboarding is an exciting, energetic sport that has been picking up speed in the boarding community and can keep you active while putting a smile on your face. But you may wonder what is the best all around longboard.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the options available.
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Note: This is a long article — about 4,000 words — so please share it and bookmark it for future use! Also, we have links to each section below in the “Contents” section.
Custom vs pre-built
Companies that make longboards
Make a custom board?
What parts do I need to build a custom board?
Rockin’ it with good trucks
High quality, fast wheels
Rolling fast with good bearings
Best longboard bushings
Custom vs pre-built
The two options are a complete, preassembled model or a custom board with each piece hand-picked by you.
There are tons of complete options available and this is going to be a great way to go for those of you just starting out in the sport and wanting to get a taste without the big price tag.
You will find options running anywhere from $50-$200.
Although not comprehensive, a few longboard companies include Sector 9, Landyachtz, Arbor. Each company has a reputation in the longboard community for quality, durability and dependability.
Whether you are a beginner or advanced longboarder, choosing the right style board is important. But what about board manufacturers? That raises a good question: What are some of the best longboard brands? Note: The below list is not comprehensive — just companies I have found info about.
Sector 9 decks
For all you beginners out there, Sector 9 is a company in which you will definitely be interested.
The company has been in the business of making longboards in LaJolla, California since 1993 and offering affordable rides to those who want to use their boards as alternative transportation.
They offer a lower price point so it won’t break the bank to get a feel for the wind in your hair.
With a traditional pintail shape and simple hardware they lend themselves to easy upkeep for those new to the sport.
In addition, they offer a 120 day warranty on defects in materials, workmanship or glue so you can rest easy you got a decent product at a reasonable price.
For you more expert riders who are familiar with different types of longboards and what they can do Landyachtz is a killer company based in Vancouver.
The company was started in 1997, was founded by and still owned by boarders, who better to design and ride the up and coming models.
Their company was the first to introduce lowered boards. The company has done more than its fair share to foster the sport of longboarding by partnering with Bricin Lyons and Coastlongboarding to sponsor countless longboarding events including the well know Danger Bay.
They have a nice selection of longboards designed with the novice on up to the elite rider in mind at various price points.
Anything from a natural pintail to drop-through deck for the cruising or downhill you desire.
Plus their one-year warranty against manufacture defects on all decks keeps you covered.
You know the adage – you get what you pay for. Well, Loaded gives you high quality with the price tag to match.
If you ride to compete or just want the best money can buy, Loaded Longboards are your choice of poison.
They have a huge selection of longboards ready for cruising, downhill, dancing and carving and freestyle.
What makes their boards stand out is their unique Orangatang wheels produced in house.
These wheels are color-coded for different durometer and are reportedly some of the best in the sport.
All this, and their products come with and manufacture and material defect warranty for the lifetime of the original owner. This company is confident they are selling only the best.
Perhaps you dig products with an environmentally friendly spin. Look no further, Arbor is the company for which you have been searching.
They were recycling old snowboards into longboards before it was popular, using their eco-friendly cruisers as a past-time for when the snow was scarce or ocean waves weren’t cooperating.
The Sugar Formula or the Sucrose Initiative, the company claims will help to reduce the urethane footprint left behind by wheel skids during slides.
If that weren’t enough for the environmentally conscious consumer, the company supports several green projects such as the Surfrider Foundation and the Hawaiian Legacy Rainforest Initiative.
To top it all off, Arbor provides a warranty on defects in material or workmanship for three years.
Kebbek, another Canadian company that’s been around for over twenty years and self-reportedly pulled up from the mire by German woodworker Tim Brodesser to a miraculous company rebirth in 2011, advises people to ask around about their products.
Word of mouth is the best salesman and the company posts links to many sites where reviews on their products can be found, including Silverfish, the mega magazine for all things longboard.
All products sold by the company are covered by a one year warranty against defects during fabrication.
Rayne is another longboard company which boats little to no advertising budget over the past six years, relying heavily on word of mouth to bring in business.
Take it from a couple of successful companies, as you look for the best, keep your eyes and ears open.
I would be remiss if I didn’t include the well-known Never Summer brand from my home town of Denver, Colorado.
You can’t go wrong with their red eagle logo spotted on apparel round the country.
The company first produced snowboards for carving the infamous Colorado high country and made the natural progression into longboard production.
All their products are hand built in their Colorado factory and get consistently good reviews from the longboard community with attention to detail and quality being one of their admired traits.
They also offer a three year warranty from date of purchase on material and manufacturing defects.
As you can see, there are many good longboard manufacturers, and competition for your business is fierce so innovation and product creativity are at the forefront of most companies.
Get a custom built longboard
For those of you who know what you want in a board, need it to have your personal stamp and of course for you more advanced riders, a custom built board is certainly the best way to go.
While it might be a bit more expensive depending on your taste and needs it doesn’t necessarily have to be excessively so.
The extra cost can be well worth it in terms of performance and looks and can range anywhere from $90-$500.
Plus, how cool will it be to take it out after all the pieces arrive, you have lovingly assembled them and then ride it for the first time in front of your jealous friends!
What parts do I need to build?
Below are the items you can’t live without when it comes to a custom longboard.
But really other than the deck, wheels, trucks, and bearings are the only absolutely necessary items you need to put together a functional longboard.
Deck – The deck is the heart of your longboard, the meat and potatoes, the backbone if you will, so choosing one is important.
For some of you the look will be as important a choice as the length and shape but keep in mind that the design can jack up the price tag significantly.
You really need to consider your skill level and riding function as you consider your options in length, style and flex.
Landyachtz, Sector 9, Graveity, Never Summer, and Kebbek are some of the best companies in the deck category.
Truck – Because the truck takes so much of the pressure from the rider during the ride its function more than look that should help to determine your pick the best longboard trucks and wheels.
What are the best longboard trucks? That’s the question every beginner longboarder wants to know — whether for downhill speed, cruising, sliding, or carving the turns.
But for those of you who are seasoned to the sport this information will provide a quick refresher.
What do trucks do?
The longboard truck functions essentially like an axle on your vehicle.
It is the larger, visible metal part hooked to the bottom of the board and connects to the wheels. Well actually two metal parts, one to the front and one to the rear of the board, each facing one other or facing outward.
Trucks have five components.
- HANGAR: The hangar is the largest part of the truck, the big metal triangle shaped piece.
- AXEL: The axel fits through the truck and holds the wheels.
- KINGPIN: The kingpin is the large bolt that will hold the hangar in place.
- BUSHING: The bushing is rubbery and through which the kingpin will go.
- BASEPLATE: It lies flat against the board.
Best longboarding trucks for your style
First it is essential to know the type of riding you are going to be doing as the type of truck you need should be catered to the usage of your longboard.
Since freeriding is intense and can encompass all the various uses of your board you need the most durable truck able to withstand a beating.
Tricks can be done on anything including rails so you need a truck that can’t be easily broken when the board is bending.
Downhill comes with the need for speed so you need a wider truck that can deal with the pressure of high speeds.
And finally for cruising you just need something with a good turning radius for maneuvering about everyday objects and your friend on the board next to you.
Measure twice, buy once
While there are some standard or conventional kingpin trucks which face inward to be seen on a longboard, the reverse kingpin trucks are the most popular and widely used because they give the board more clearance.
Now since there are two standard widths for the hangar of the truck, it makes the choice easier particular for you newcomers to the sport.
Get out that ruler again…the 150mm and the 180mm are the standard widths.
It is smart to choose a truck with a hanger that is closest in size to the longboard you have picked out.
The wider the hangar the more stable it should be but with lesser ability to turn quickly, thus often fitted to downhill boards.
So it figures that the more narrow the hangar the quicker the turns can be making them better fitted for tricks.
One more important tidbit about your truck is the angle of the baseplate or the part that is screwed on and lies flush with the deck of your board.
A standard angle that you will see on baseplates is a 50 and is good for any type or longboarding usage.
There is a trade off to consider when looking at a smaller versus a larger angle.
A smaller angle will provide more stability but lesser turning radius good for sliding, whereas, a greater baseplate angle will provide less stability, but greater ease in turning so good for carving.
Who makes the best longboard trucks?
Lastly, here we are at the good stuff. Check out these three companies that are at the top of their game, giving you high quality products with good reputations in the longboard community.
Independent Truck Company – This well-known company started in 1978 in Santa Cruz, California and all their trucks are made in California at “the only dedicated skateboard truck foundry in the USA”.
They are arguably the most popular truck brand company out there today and their prices start at $42 go on up into the $80 range. You will find a quality product with an affordable price tag from this reputable company.
Randall – Another impressive company making their products available since 1978 and referring to themselves as the “Standard” in the reverse Kingpin industry.
They boast an all American made line of quality inexpensive trucks and pricey options too for the expert riders. Their prices start at $24 and on up to $120.
Thunder – They sport an impressive list of riders on their team so you know they must make good, respected parts. Plus their design selection is sick, probably the best the industry has to offer.
Their Thunder Titanium Light line offers the lightest and strongest trucks boasting aircraft quality kingpins available with quickest turning they call Quick Response Geometry. Prices are midrange, not the lowest and not the highest either, running around $40 to $70.
As with all the working parts and pieces of your custom board it takes time to find the perfect fit.
Knowing your riding needs, educating yourself about the products available and trying out a few quality options and you are sure to have the best truck for your best longboard.
But you surely can’t go wrong with any of the reputable companies we have listed above that are constantly turning out the best in the longboarding community.
What about good wheels for longboards?
Wheels – Wheels can make or break a smooth ride. Top rated custom longboard wheels can improve the look of your ride.
What to look for when buying the best longboard wheels
There are five things to keep in mind when checking out wheels for your ride: Diameter, Durometer, Shape, Contact Patch Size, and Wheel Core Placement. Following is the low down on each.
Diameter: Pull out your ruler cause you’ll be looking at millimeters for wheel sizes.
Smaller sizes are recommended for beginners because they mean a slower ride.
The larger the wheel the faster speed can result. Larger wheels are also better for rougher surfaces.
The ability to accelerate and the ability to turn are both determined by the size or diameter or the wheels as well.
To summarize, the larger the wheel the slower the acceleration rate but the faster the speed. The smaller the wheel the quicker the acceleration but the less speed can be achieved.
Durometer: Polyurethane is the material of choice. The rebound of a wheel is what determines its worth.
The higher the rebound the more quality the wheel, the safer and smoother the ride.
The higher the durometer the harder the wheel so the higher the durometer the more slide.
Harder wheels of 95 up to 100 are better for amateur riders and smooth surfaces. On the other hand soft wheels around 75 to 85 are best for smoother rides on rough surfaces.
In addition to the numbering wheels will have a classification of A, B, C, or D. A indicates a softer wheel so most longboarding wheels with be followed by an “a” such as an “80a” or “90a”.
Contact Patch Size: Contact patch simply refers to the amount of wheel that touches the ground while you’re riding.
Naturally the larger the wheel the more of it will touch the surface you’re riding.
Wheels that have a square shape will also have more of the wheel touching the skating surface while round wheels will have a smaller contact patch.
This is important to know because the more of the wheel that touches the surface the more it slows down the wheels.
Wheel Core: The wheel core is the inside of the wheel where the bearings rest and prevent melting of the wheels due to friction resulting in heat at high speeds.
Centerset cores are the most long lasting because they are able to be rotated and flipped whereas sideset and offset cores cannot.
Centerset cores are typically used for street and vert skating and sliding, backset cores are used for carving and sliding.
The most common of wheel is the offset wheel with the core placed the inside lip of the wheel and the center. Most freeride, downhill and slalom wheels are offset and are grippy.
Edge Shape: Square, rounded and beveled wheels each provide their own unique advantages.
Square edge wheels as we mentioned above make more contact with the ground and are great for downhill and slalom since they help with speed.
Rounded edge wheels make lesser contact with the ground so make more sense for sliding and carving. And lastly beveled edge wheels are in between the two with one or both edges forming a sharp angle giving it a softer edge and thus keeping the ride smoother and allowing for easier passage over objects.
There are quite a few brands available so it’s helpful to have an ear to the street. When doing a search of the options out there a few companies come up time and again so we have listed five below to help you get started.
Choose a wheel from any of these five companies and you are sure to have the best whether it’s for your first ride or so many you can’t count!
Orangatang has the most awesome website for advertising their wheel offerings.
It’s colorful, informative, clever, easy to navigate and each wheel has its own video so you can see them in action before you purchase. They have many options available to suit any rider. Prices start around $45 per wheel and can be purchased with or without bearings.
Abec11 seems to be the wheel of choice for longboarders the sport over. They come in LOTS of different sizes and check out the hot green and hot pink!, The price range also is varied so be ready to fork over the dough for some of their pricier options.
Seismic claims at their website to collaborate with, “the most advanced urethane factory,” with all their wheels being made in the USA. They are sold in sets of four at start at $40 per set so you can try a few different kinds and find your ideal match.
Sector 9 has a wicked design team. They have an extremely creative array of wheel designs sure to get looks when you are sitting still. Plus their site sports wheels from small to large mm sizes. Their price range varies with the low end starting at $30.00.
Gravity gets right to the point with a straight forward site and showcases their smaller mm size wheels for sliding, burning, drifting and more. Prices start at $32 on up to $52. They sell a Sac O Bearings in sets of eight for an easy $14.
Armed with the above information you are ready to find a quality wheel. Despite the information no one wheel is best for any person or style of skating so each person will eventually have a favorite of their own. Try a few and find the best fit for you and your longboarding style.
What are the best bearings for longboards?
Bearings – A small but significant purchase for your custom, bearings are made of steel or ceramic and allow your good longboard bearings to move.
The price tag can be big or little depending on the material. Steel is the choice of many and a worthy of most skill sets with a small price tag starting around $10.
If you are a professional rider the minute differences that ceramic bearings can make will be worth the $100 price tags.
Bearings are essential to giving the wheel on any board, including longboards and skateboards, the ability to turn.
Whether it be ceramic or steel, tiny balls turn within a track called the race giving the wheel the capability of turning.
So what are the things that you need to consider when checking out bearing and finding the best ones available?
The ABEC scale, material of the bearing, cost, spacers, lubricants and finally the best companies producing bearings currently are things to keep in mind.
Annual Bearing Engineering Committee
First let’s discuss the ABEC scale which stands for Annual Bearing Engineering Committee.
The ABEC scale is associated with bearings and at first glance seems like it could be confusing but doesn’t have to be.
While it is the scale known sportwide for assessing bearing quality, not all companies have their bearings rated.
The tolerance of the bearing or the distance between the inner and outer race and the steel balls is what the ABEC scale measures.
It appears as though bearings with higher ABEC ratings sometimes use processes during manufacturing which attempt to assure the smooth inner workings of the bearing.
This however does not mean that they will add much speed to your equation particularly for the novice or beginner riders.
Overall for most any rider from novice to more advanced, the ABEC rating has little to no bearing on the bearing, and some of the best bearings aren’t even rated so don’t sweat it.
Ceramic vs steel longboard bearings: Who’s rollin’ faster?
Ceramic and steel are the two materials from which bearings are made.
A set of ceramic bearings can run you around $100, whereas the steel bearings come in around $10.
This is a pretty substantial difference so it makes it important to ascertain the differences in the two so you can make an educated purchase.
Bearings made from ceramic are pricey because the material is more costly so it goes to figure.
Pros and cons of ceramic bearings for longboards
Ceramic bearings are able to last longer theoretically but are more susceptible to blow outs than their steel counterparts as they are fragile.
While they don’t accelerate faster ceramics are capable of greater speed as they are known for their ability to spin fast at higher speeds due to their awesome heat reducing capacity.
So if you are downhill racing and need every last drop of speed your equipment can muster and the best heat tolerance imaginable in hot weather or repeatedly on the ramps then ceramic bearings just may be for you. Ceramics make the fastest longboard bearings.
However in most cases, steel bearings are going to work just fine and the cost savings is significant and a smart choice for the majority or riders.
Space it out
While it is possible to ride without spacers, it is highly recommended that you do not.
Some bearings come with spacers built in, but for those that don’t make sure you include these in your list of must haves.
The spacers help to maintain the integrity of the bearings, prolong their lifespan and prevent dangerous blowouts which no one wants.
Lubricants are another important if not overlooked element of the bearing that should not be ignored.
Like any sport, the maintenance of your equipment is essential to increasing the durability or your stuff, protecting your investment and your safety.
Cleaning and lubrication will add to the lifetime and safety of your bearings and thus your board too so make sure to add it to your list.
Companies that make bearings for longboards
Last, but certainly not least, you need to know the top companies out there for bearings. There are so many and again it all comes down to personal preference.
It may take you a few kinds to fine tune your custom board and as with wheels, the bearings are cheap enough to be able to try a few before you hit the right one.
A few companies seem to be most popular for their bearings and have products that are known for their durability and quality.
Bones: If you have some more cash to put out on your bearing and want a killer ceramic set check out this company for sure. As previously mentioned some companies don’t have their bearings rated and this is one prime example.
Zealous: These affordable bearings feature built in spacers, Archoil Nanoceramic Greese and rubber seals to keep dirt out.
Daddies Ceramics: A good choice for those who want a quality ceramic at an inexpensive price.
Sector 9: They have good bearings that are known to combine speed and ease of cleaning with their rubber coated steel shields.
Take our word for it, with this info and the above options your wheels will be spinning pretty with quality and functional bearings.
Best bushings for longboards
Bushings – Even more insignificant you might think but equally as necessary for more experienced riders, bushings come in several shapes and varying hardness and can really impact the way your board responds as you turn and carve.
Your body weight and style will determine the type you choose so figure out how you ride and search accordingly. You can find quality bushings at Khiro, Venom and Bones.
Hardware – It’s all in the details as they say.
You may or may not need grip tape depending on the deck you purchase so keep your eyes open and ask questions at your local board shop or online as you make your deck purchase.
Risers, shock pads, washers, pivot cups, kingpins, bolts, lubricant are all items that you will want as your skill increases.
Plus you want to protect your investment and your safety by maintaining your longboard.
Keep in mind that there are a lot of online sites offering easy and comprehensive ways to assemble your own custom longboard or even the best starter longboard.
It can be a fun and easy way to end up with the board of your dreams.