Should you pay $100 for a longboard? Buying guide
December 26, 2018
Well, not exactly. Most complete longboards under $100 probably genuinely cost $50 at production. You’re actually better off buying a board costing $50 and spending the rest of the money on small upgrades for it to improve how it rides and feels.
HOWEVER, you can buy $100 worth of longboard parts separately and have something high-quality and reflective of the money you’ve spent. So yes, you can pay under $100 for a longboard and get something good, BUT you’ll have to take a different approach.
In my guide today, I break down how you can do this and get the best bang for your buck.
What are some great longboards under $100 worth my money?
All the options below are longboard decks with griptape only, followed by undercarriage options you can get for them – the undercarriage has everything you need, including nuts, bolts, wheels, bearings and a set of high-quality trucks. All that is missing is a skate tool.
If you buy the deck and undercarriage this way, you get the best value for money and all you have to do is put them together.
All my choices below would normally retail for $120-170 normally as completes, but buying them this way works out cheaper. This is because the undercarriage package sacrifices on the quality of wheels and thats where you save money. The wheels don’t really need to be “the highest quality” as all they do is roll.
All the above (and below) said, I’m not against expensive boards. I simply believe in getting the most appropriate setup for your needs and your wallet. Expensive completes make sense if you have the money and the need for them. I’ll make a guide later on expensive boards that are worth it.
Sector 9 Nica
Coming in at 9.37in in width and 39.75in in length, this pintail longboard is Sector 9s affordable offering. I recommend the TGM undercarriage package for it because it is wide.
It comes with clear griptape on top, showing off its vertically laminated (vert-lam) bamboo deck. The bamboo deck only uses 5ply’s of wood allowing the deck to be flexible whilst the vert-lam allows it to be pretty strong. The flexibility adds comfort, helps absorb road vibration and adds a bit of bounce to the ride.
It’s a good option for heavier riders and can hold people up to 230lbs in weight, which is crazy! That vert-lam technology is pretty cool.
Finally, the board has a beach life inspired graphic underneath, with wheel wells sanded to help you avoid wheel bite when cruising.
I think the deck is great, but it is a bit on the longer side. Unless you use it for cruising, it might be a bit cumbersome for other applications and carrying it around might be a pain. Take a look at the Arbor mission for a smaller and lighter cruising longboard.
Check it out on Amazon and find out more about its price here.
The smallest and most expensive option on my list. The Arbor Zeppelin comes in at 32in in length and 9in in width. This longboard is relatively small and compact. For trucks, I recommend the TGM 180mm undercarriage package below.
It has drop through and top mounting truck options, allowing you to choose whatever style of skating you want. The drop through option makes pushing and footbraking easier and is much better for cruising, but the topmount option feels better when carving. I suggest you experiment to find what you like.
The deck is made from 7plys of American maple and features a fairly cool graphic on the bottom. This deck genuinely my favorite longboard on the list, I really like the graphic and it’s compact shape. I don’t think cruisers should be waaay too large (but thats personal preference) and this one is perfect.
However, it does exceed our $100 budget when combined with the trucks. I think it’s worth the money though and would recommend saving up a little bit more for it. For something more affordable, check out the Swami below. You can check out the Zeppelins price on Amazon.com.
Riviera Dawn patrol
The longest board on my list, the Riviera dawn patrol comes in at 41in in length and 10in in width. This is a board with a lot of room.
For its trucks, I recommend the TGM package due to how wide this board is.
The board is really wide and long, and it is a great option If you want something stable, easy to skate and that has loads of real estate. But because it is so wide and long, it will be hard to turn and it will be heavy to carry around.
The board is made from 8plys of maple so it will be a bit stiff. If you want to also use it for downhill skating, it will be appropriate. The 8plys also make it really strong, so heavier riders can really make the most of it.
Also because it is stiff, it will pick up road vibration and won’t be the most comfortable to skate if you aren’t cruising on smooth roads.
For something a bit more comfortable about the same size, check out the sector 9 Nica above. Check it out on amazon.com and find out its price and more.
Easily the best looking longboard on this list (imo). The Arbor mission comes in at 35in in length and 8.4in in width. I recommend the 150mm Paris undercarriage to go with it because of it’s narrow width.
The board is made from 7plys of maple and features clear grip tape to expose that beautiful maple finish.
The 7plys allows for some mild flex which absorbs vibration and adds comfort when riding. You don’t want a board that reflects every little bit of road vibration.
The board has a kicktail, allow you to do kickturns and maneuver in tight spots and even ollies if you’re talented enough.
I think this board is stylish and would make a great cruiser but it is a bit narrow so I would mostly recommend it to people with small feet. If you have bigger feet, take a look at the Arbor Zeppelin above for something a bit more comfortable.
Click here to check out it’s pricing on amazon.com
Sector 9 Swamis
Super similar to the Nica above. This deck also has 5ply of vert-lam bamboo. It features the same flex and the same clear griptape, but it has a different cutout and a different graphic underneath. The deck is also smaller at 34in in length and 8.4in wide. The board has a kicktail which can be used for turning or to even learn ollies which are a challenge to do on the Nica.
The deck is affordably priced and costs about the same as the Nica.
However, the board is kinda narrow and because of this I recommend it as a longboard for kids or people with smaller feet to maximise comfortability. You can check it out on Amazon.com and find out more about it there.
To go with the board, I recommend the smaller Paris undercarriage because of the board’s small width.
Complete undercarriages are simply what they sound like. You have your nuts, bolts, trucks, wheels and bearings. Everything you need.
So I have selected a few packages that have high-quality trucks but generic bearings, nuts, bolts etc. because for under $100, those parts don’t matter too much.
I know I said that buying in parts is cheaper, but in this case it is the opposite. Buying the undercarriage packages is cheaper than buying everything individually. A lot of these products cost as much as the trucks would on their own.
If you noticed, I’ve been pairing the deck with either undercarriage. This because the trucks on either package are smaller or wider and they work best on a board if their width match. Check out my selection below.
This package features high-quality Paris 180mm 50-degree trucks. These trucks are well known for how great they are for cruising, carving, dancing etc. and have a positive reputation on the market. They perform way better than the cheap Chinese trucks you’ll see on all the other complete boards.
It also features standard bearings, nut, and bolts. The wheels are fairly high-quality. They are 82a and have a large core meaning they will roll quickly and weigh a little bit less.
Click here to check out the undercarriage price on Amazon.com.
Featuring the same great trucks from the TGM undercarriage. This package features the 150mm Paris trucks which are narrower than the ones in the TGM undercarriage.
These narrow trucks are better suited to narrower boards and line up perfectly with decks like the Sector 9 Swamis or the Arbor Mission.
I don’t recommend you pair them with decks that are too wide (the Zeppelin, Nica, Dawn Patrol) because you will get will bite easier when these are on and the deck will feel tippy and shitty to ride.
Finally, the package has generic 70mm wheels. These are reasonable for a cruiser board and you even have the option to pick from a variety to find the color you like. Check out the Paris undercarriage on Amazon.com.
Putting it all together
Finally, you’ll need a skate tool to put together your new skateboard. If you have a set of spanners, pliers and screwdrivers at home you won’t have to buy this.
Check out the Zeato skate tool on Amazon.com.
Why it’s better to sometimes buy longboards in parts
So as I’ve established, the secret to getting a quality longboard under $100 is that you might have to buy it in parts. But why is that?
It’s sometimes cheaper to buy a longboard in parts than to buy a complete longboard (unless of course, you stumble on a sale with huge discounts). Companies selling premium completes put “premium” parts on them which make them cost more. When you buy seperate, you can avoid paying for premium parts that you don’t really name. This is the key to getting high-quality parts with that tight budget.
Sacrificing on the quality of some of the parts is the key to affordability. You don’t need high quality wheels, bolts, bearings if you’re simply going to be cruising around. Generic parts are often more than enough. The deck and trucks for $100 should be of high quality.
Sometimes you get lucky and you get big discounts but usually, it’s either something overpriced or something affordable but shit.
Why are the complete longboards under $100 as good as those costing $50?
The cheap $100 and $50 completes usually have the exact same generic trucks, wheels, and material for the decks. The difference is in the company selling them.
A lot of companies sell the completes really cheap so they can sell as many as possible, whilst others sell them at $100 so they can get as much profit without having to sell many. So in that way, they are the same.
We only start to see high-quality completes once you go higher than $120. Those setups are from premium companies who actually care about making great longboards and the quality reflects in the price.
Which parts of the longboard should be of high quality?
For $100, you should be looking at the deck and the trucks to be of high quality. If you’re just cruising, then the wheels, bearings, nuts, and bolts aren’t of soo much importance. If you can get them for cheap then you are good to go. However, your wheels should be 66-70mm tall for the best riding experience.
A good deck means you’ll have something comfortable and fun to ride, and good trucks mean you’ll have a stable and smooth turning experience whenever you ride.
The above is why I believe my deck and undercarriage combination is so good. You get high-quality trucks and a high-quality deck with wheels and everything you need.
Alternatively, you could also invest the money in a second-hand high-quality longboard. This guarantees that you get something that is actually proper quality and will be great to use. I will write a guide on the best place to find second-hand longboards, but for now reddit is a good starting point.
Another method is simply saving up more. Boards costing $100+ are usually worth the money because the company is charging for the quality of the gear. It’s key to pay attention to which brand you buy from though.
Which combo works best for you?
My favorite longboard on the list is the Arbor Zeppelin. I like how it’s not too long and how it’s wide enough to accommodate my big feet. I think it’s the best board on the list.
Finding the right longboard can be tough, but this way you have more than a few options of finding the right one for yourself. You can buy a complete or put together one on your own.