The truth about dirt cheap longboards – Buying guide
July 18, 2019
I know money has been tight, but that the burning desire to skate simply won’t go. It’s like that itch you need to scratch. A simple solution would be to buy one of those cheap cruisers you see online, but I know that you’re scared that it will break as soon as you step on it, or not ride too well at all.
So in today’s article, I aim to dispel the myths surrounding cheap longboards. I take apart the options available in the market today and describe to you how to figure out which longboards are quality and which aren’t.
After reading the article, you’ll understand which parts matter, which parts don’t and how to choose between them to get the right cheap longboard for yourself.
Is it okay to buy a cheap longboard? (Buying guide)
Short answer yes, long answer no.
One argument against buying a cheap longboard is that the money goes to brands that don’t support the industry, they simply don’t set up or support events and basically do nothing for the longboarding community. They simply take the money and run away.
The other argument is that cheap longboard suck to ride. Whilst this is true in a lot of cases, there is actually a low barrier for what feels good and even if you buy a cheap board you can swap out some parts for aftermarket ones to make it feel better. As long as you got a board that rolls well and turns smoothly, you’ll be ok.
I myself started skating on a cheap longboard under $50. I used it for 6months before upgrading to something better.
As a beginner, it skated pretty well for me. It turned great and rolled nicely.
But some parts of it were bad, it was narrow and I couldn’t stand on it comfortably and it would make my feet hurt after a while. This is what I could tell as a beginner and what stood out to me.
Anyway, all these experiences led me to figure out what makes a good cruiser board good.
I had so much fun on that thing, it really laid the foundation for my love of skating and longboarding.
Though now as a more experienced rider, such a board wouldn’t work good enough for me cause I’m more sensitive to what feels good and bad.
I would later build my own cruiser board to fit my needs.
Will I be sacrificing a lot on quality?
Yes and no. Definitely, most cheap boards cut corners here and there and end up being pretty bad to ride. But if you know which parts make a board feel nice, you can eliminate the cruiser boards that you think will feel bad and go for the ones that will probably feel pretty good.
I expand on what you should look for in a cheap longboard below. And to be honest, longboards under $100 or about, probably have the same equipment as the ones I have mentioned.
You’ll definitely not be getting the best ride experience, but you will have something you can still have a lot of fun on. Finally, if you make one or two aftermarket upgrades, you could seriously improve how a board will feel when you ride it.
What cheap aftermarket upgrades can I make?
Most of the bearings that come with cheap longboards end up being pretty bad. They don’t roll good and make it hard for you to push your board. Upgrading them will improve how your board rolls and rides.
That being said, generally, bearings don’t matter. Most of them will work pretty decently and you won’t have any issues. But to be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to replace them.
Here is a decent, high quality set to check out on Amazon.com.
These are basically the suspension of your longboard and they go in your trucks. They determine how you turn, and how twitchy or smooth your trucks will be.
They are usually pretty cheap and go along way in improving how your board feels. If you have to choose one upgrade, this would be the one.
You can check this decent set out on Amazon if you’re looking to buy a set.
What features should I look for in a cheap longboard?
Wheels are super important, you can have the best deck, best trucks etc. but having shitty wheels will make your board ride disgustingly.
Longboard wheels typically come in sizes from 65mm to 70mm. Some longboards come stock with wheels that are slightly smaller.
Small wheels don’t roll so great and pick up a lot of road vibration, this, in turn, makes them provide an uncomfortable riding experience.
Big wheels (70mm preferably) will roll great and provide a smoother riding experience. They will also roll over cracks, pebbles and rough terrain easier and won’t suddenly stop and jerk you off your board.
Finally, I suggest getting riser pads if you have 70mm wheels. This will prevent wheelbite at slower speeds and even give you a deeper turn on your truck.
Reasonable standing platform
When you have a narrow longboard or cruiser board, it is going to be hard and uncomfortable to skate on it. It will feel like balancing on a tightrope and won’t provide a good riding experience.
This is why I don’t think Penny cruisers are good cruising boards, 5 minutes on one of those things and your feet will start hurting.
Ideally, you should get a board that you can stand across without having your toes or heels hanging off. Such boards are typically 9-10in wide but can be smaller if you have tiny feet.
My first cruiser was narrow and sucked to ride for more than 5minutes. I’d skate it for 10min or more every day and put myself through a lot of unnecessary torture.
Comparatively, my current cruiser is 9.5in wide and is by contrast, a lot more comfortable. I paired it with big wheels and it skates it feels like riding a cloud.
Not too big or too long
Another mistake is getting a board that is 40in or longer in size. Yes, it’s a longboard but that is too long gaddamit. When your board is that size it is slow to turn (because of a large wheelbase), too heavy to push and won’t provide you the best riding experience. You want something either 40in or less in size. This will guarantee that it will turn decently, be easy to push and light to carry around.
Best cheap longboards under $50
Enkeeo 40 Inch Drop-Through Longboard
This is a longboard that would suit a lot of beginners well. It comes in at 40in in length and 9in in width. It has drop through mounting and features 70mm tall urethane wheels.
You can expect a board this long to be super stable and comfortable to skate.
The drop through mounting aids in stability when riding and it will make it easier for you to push and footbrake. This is because the center of the skateboards gravity is lower and you don’t have to bend so far to push/footbrake.
(Check out my review of the Enkeeo brand here).
However, because of the large size and the mounting, it might be a bit sluggish and slow to turn for some. Lighter riders would probably be affected by this so I suggest they instead look at longboards like the SOLA top mount below as they are more suitable.
It has RKP trucks (reverse kingpin trucks) which are most appropriate for cruising. You can expect a smooth, consistent turn with these and decent maneuverability.
Finally, you should also watch out for wheelbite and consider different mounting options if you get it. You should also replace the bearings if it doesn’t roll too good. Check the price of the board and more pictures of it on Amazon.com.
SOLA Top mount Longboard
Coming in at 36in in length and 9.5in in width. This longboard makes for a great addition to my list.
Its design is pretty cool and makes it stand out from other boards, with a surfy kind of vibe. It has clear griptape to show off its bamboo finish.
The longboard itself is great and features a top mounted truck. A top mounted truck (truck mounted underneath the board) makes it maneuverable and allows you to have deep turns when you are riding it just watch out for wheelbite).
The deck also rises at the back giving you a semi-functional kicktail, but kinda makes it look ugly.
This affordable longboard features 70mm polyurethane wheels. This means it will give a smooth riding experience and go over cracks and pebbles like they ain’t even there.
This board might be the best one in my list. However, I do recommend you replace the bearings for a smoother and faster ride. You can check out the longboard here on Amazon.com.
Quest Rorshack Longboard
This longboard is an affordable offering from Quest. It has a classic pintail shape with a width of 9inches at it’s widest point. This narrow width makes it more suitable, especially if you have smaller feet.
The board itself is 34inches long and features a small functional kicktail. It’s made from a combination of maple and bamboo. It is top mounted and has sanded wheel wells to avoid wheelbite. Though some heavier riders might get wheelbite if they aren’t careful.
The wheels used are only 65mm tall so won’t ride as smooth or roll as good as their 70mm counterparts, heavier riders would be most affected by this.
All in all, the longboard is fairly decent and would work well for lighter riders and even kids. Heavier riders should look at a board like the SOLA top mount for something more accommodating.
Otherwise, heavier riders could simply use truck risers to reduce the risk of wheelbite. You can check out the longboard on Amazon.com here and find out more about the price.
Consider building your own cheap longboard
I always like to include an option to put together your own longboard. Maybe you’ve seen a deck you like but need an undercarriage set to complete it? Maybe you just need the tools and the know how to go off and do it yourself.
I’ve included a great undercarriage package so if the deck isn’t to your fancy, you can always get another. Here we go:
Yocaher cruiser deck
This deck is similar to the one I have for my crusier board (look below to see a video of it in action).
It measures at 33in long and 10in wide. The small length of the deck and the wide standing platform are the perfect combinations for a cruiser board that will be nimble, easy to carry around, lightweight but also super comfortable to stand on.
It also comes with griptape!
That being said, because it is small, it might feel a bit twitchy for some riders. It will also be unstable if you go too fast on it.
Click here to check out the deck on Amazon.com and find out its price.
Volador Combo set
Our undercarriage set is an offering from Volador. This set comes at an affordable price and comes with everything you could need; risers, 70mm wheels, rkp trucks, bearings, and mounting hardware.
The wheels will provide a smooth ride and the trucks will give you the best turning possible.
In general, everything in this undercarriage set will work well, but I would recommend you get new bearings.
Click here to check it out on Amazon and to see up close pictures.
The above is a great option for everyone, but will be the best for children. Children will benefit from a smaller cruiser and they can even have fun putting it together themselves. Just make sure you have a skate tool in hand.
If complete options seem better to you, go for the SOLA or Quest longboards.
SOLA Bamboo Longboard
I couldn’t resist putting another SOLA longboard here cause I was impressed a lot by both.
It’s essentially the same as the other SOLA longboard up top but slightly different. This one is 38in long and 9.75 in wide, it is top mounted like the other but features a drop down.
What is a drop down? A drop down is when the standing platform is lower than where the trucks are and basically the wood of the skateboard is shaped/bent down to make this happen.
A drop-down lowers the longboards center of gravity and makes it easier for you to skate, push and footbrake. This also makes the board super fun to skate and it’s why it’s one of my favorite shapes.
It gives a really super fun feel when you’re cruising and carving hard and it makes it feel like you’re on the edge of traction.
But yeah, this longboard is also great for commuting and everyday riding. You should seriously consider it.
You can check this longboard out here on Amazon.com.
So get out there and skate!
There is no shame in buying what you can afford. Skateboarding is for everyone and we should all be able to enjoy it. You shouldn’t let money be a barrier to your happiness and you can get started out for such little cost.
I started out skating on a cheap board and I loved it, You can do the same.
That being said, I definitely recommend you upgrade the parts as you go along and save up for a better longboard in future.