So you have a teenager kid and you’re trying to decide on a longboard for him/her. For the purpose of this article, I’ll make the assumption that your kid is aged somewhere between 13 and 17 – older kids generally prefer to make their own choice.
Choosing a longboard is a very broad topic, and picking the right board for a teenager is only slightly narrower. I will also assume this is your kid’s first serious longboard – choosing a second or third board tends to be straightforward once they know what they want.
There are a few key questions you need to ask when choosing your teen’s first board:
- How big and tall is your teenage kid?
- What will your kid use the longboard for?
- Where will s/he primarily be riding?
- How good are his/her balance skills?
- What is your budget?
If you’re short on time, here’s my list of recommended longboards for teenagers, depending on their build, riding goals, environment, and budget (see details further below):
|LONGBOARD FOR TEENAGER||KEY FEATURES||PRICE|
|Landyachtz Dinghy||28.5″ super nimble & locker-friendly mini-cruiser||$150|
|Sector 9 Ninety Five||30.5″ hybrid street and skatepark cruiser||$160|
|Loaded Coyote||30.75″ compact city slasher, freeride, freestyle||$200|
|Sector 9 Shoots||33.5″ directional drop-through carving board||$200|
|Sector 9 Paradiso||40.5″ big stable drop-through freeride board||$199|
|Loaded Dervish Sama||42.8″ flexy dancing and pushing board, uber-durable||$330|
|Landyachtz Pocket Knife||29.6″ surfskate for easy surf carving||NA|
Landyachtz Dinghy for a teenager ($165 – 200)
The Dinghy is a best-selling 28″ mini-cruiser than can suit well a smaller teenager – say under 165 lb and 5’8. It’s an ideal board for nimble city or campus cruising and riding sidewalks and back alleys.
The Dinghy is well-regarded for its build quality and maneuverability thanks to a big kicktail and relatively large wheels for less than smooth terrain.
It’s a very portable board easy to carry around on buses and at school. It also comes in really beautiful designs teenagers love. It’s also a great board for doing kick and flip tricks while riding the streets.
The Dinghy, however, is not the easiest cruiser to learn on and is best-suited for teenagers with some existing board sports experience. More about the Dinghy here.
UPDATE: the Loaded Ballona is the new Dinghy challenger, just as small and portable but a lot easier, more stable and comfortable for a newer rider. See my complete review
Sector 9 Ninety Five for a teenager ($140 -160)
The Ninety Five – and its slightly larger brother the Chop Hop – is also a surf-shaped cruiser designed for nimble city riding and daily commuting. Its 30″ length makes it a good option for a bigger teenager compared to the Dinghy, say in the 150 – 185 lb range.
Unlike the Dinghy, this board has double kicks, similar to a traditional street skateboard, only with bigger and softer wheels for more comfortable cruising and commuting.
The Ninety and Chop Hop are best for a teenager who’s relatively fit and interested in eventually doing street tricks (kick and flip tricks) and riding ramps and transitions at the skatepark, while still being able to ride around town comfortably.
More info about the Ninety Five and Chop Hop here.
Loaded Coyote for a teenager ($200)
The Loaded Coyote is an amazingly pleasant to ride city cruiser. At nearly 31″ and with a longer wheelbase than most city cruisers, it offers a very smooth and responsive ride due to its large (65mm) high-quality Orangatang wheels.
The Coyote will work well for an average-to-larger size teenager with medium fitness and balance skills. It’s easier to ride than the above city cruisers, yet it has solid capabilities for advanced riding (including tricks and speed) that will allow your kid to progress.
At $200, the Coyote is pricier than other cruisers in its segment. For me, the overall feel and the quality of the deck and components largely justify the difference. See my full review.
Sector 9 Shoots for a teenager ($200)
The Sector 9 Shoots is a 33″ directional drop-through and lively flex. This longboard is designed for easy pushing and responsive carving. Its large cutouts allow it to run large wheels without wheelbite.
The Shoots is a great beginner and cruising longboard for teenagers of various heights and weights. Although, the flexy bamboo hybrid deck and the drop-through mount might not be the most resistant for heavier riders (e.g. 220lb+).
The Sector 9 Shoots is a particular good option if your teenage kid is attracted to pumping and carving over medium distances on bike paths and smooth roads. More about the Shoots here.
Sector 9 Paradiso for a teenager ($200)
The Paradiso is a full-sized 41″ longboard is a great recommendation for a complete beginner teenager – or one who is slightly overweight or below average fitness level. It’s a great board for pushing and transport around school and campus.
The large standing platform, stiff deck construction, and drop-through trucks give this board a very stable and secure feel. Its very long 31″ wheelbase also contribute to the stability including at speed and for learning to slide.
The Paradiso comes with very stable yet responsive reverse kingpin trucks and large, soft, cushioning 70mm wheels that let you roll over pretty much anything like a breeze. Learn more about this board here.
Loaded Dervish Sama for a teenager ($330)
The last – and largest – longboard I’ll recommend for a teenager is the Loaded Dervish Sama.
For sure, $300+ is a hefty price to pay for a teen’s first board. However, most owners agree the Dervish Sama is a great investment as it will last for YEARS without losing any of its highly regarded ride qualities.
The large 42.8″ Sama is ideal for bigger and/or tall teen riders, although smaller riders who are big fans of carve-oriented carving with some freestyle often choose this beautifully-built board in its softer flex version (Flex 3).
In short, the Sama is a bliss to ride and is highly versatile. It’s also a great beginner dancer board, if that’s something your teen is interested in. Read all about the Dervish Sama here.
Landyachtz surfskate for a teenager
Besides the above recommended traditional cruisers and longboards, your teenager may be drawn to the wonderful world of surfskating – skateboards that feel and behave similar to a surfboard on a wave.
Landyachtz’s surfskates, the Butter and Pocket Knife (Amazon), respectively 31.2″ and 29.6″ long and roughly 9″ wide, are suitable for newbie teenage riders looking to get started with surf carving.
These cruisers are nice and stable for newer riders compared to the more “hardcore” surfskates, primarily because of Landyachtz’s mellow yet surfy bushings-based Bear Banger surf truck. See my complete review of the Landyachtz surfskates here.
How to choose the best longboard for a teenager: buying guide
Let’s briefly go over the key criteria for choosing your teen’s longboard.
1. How big and tall is your teenage kid?
The first thing to consider is the size and weight of your kid. Heavier kids will need a bigger and sturdier longboard. Taller teens will have a more comfortable stance on a longer deck.
If your kid is 5’3 or shorter, a deck in the 27″ – 31″ range (e.g. the Landyachtz Dinghy) will generally be a good choice. On the other hand, if your teen has above average weight, e.g. 170lb+, you may want to choose a bigger deck in the 35″ – 40″ range.
Assuming two teenage kids with comparable size and weight, the rider who is fitter or more athletic might go for a smaller board as it will generally be more nimble and responsive at the expense of stability.
Rider height and weight also influence the type of longboard you choose. Taller kids e.g. 6’+ will generally benefit from a board that rides closer to the ground, resulting in a slightly lowered center of gravity.
Drop-through longboards, where the trucks are mounted through the deck instead of below it, ride lower than topmounts. Drop down boards have a slight drop in the deck near the trucks, bringing the standing platform even closer to the ground.
On the downside, drop-through and drop downs generally aren’t as sturdy as a topmount for really heavy riders. So if your teen child weighs 200+ lb for example, a topmount may be a better choice.
2. How will your teenager kid ride the longboard?
Another question is, what kind of riding will your teen kid be doing once s/he gets past the learning stage. Will s/he be merely cruising around the neighborhood or park on weekends?
Will she be riding the longboard to school or friends’ on a daily basis? Or, is your teenage kid interested in learning a more specific riding style, such as surfskating (surf-inspired), freeride (snowboard-inspired), or freestyle (street inspired)?
This question is important because it affects the shape of the longboard to choose as well as the trucks and wheels. For mere cruising, many different shapes and trucks work fine – simply refer to the previous section about weight and height.
For day-to-day city commuting and short trips, a mini-cruiser like the Landyachtz Dinghy (for a smaller teen) or the Loaded Coyote (bigger) can work great. For surfskate, on the other hand, a Carver is generally a great choice – see here about which one to choose.
For freeride and downhill, a stable drop-through such as the Sector 9 Shoots is a great option. For Street-style tricks, pick a longboard with a stiff deck, a kicktail, and smaller/harder wheels e.g. this Sector 9 Ninety Five.
Finally, if your teenage kid is attracted to the beautiful and stylish longboard dancing discipline and/or longboard freestyle, the Loaded Dervish Sama is a fantastic board that will last forever and is truly worth its higher price.
3. Where will your teenage child mostly be riding?
The terrain your kid will be riding on can also influence your choice of a longboard. Will your kid be mostly riding on bike paths? Sidewalks? Smooth roads? Rough and beat-up pavement?
The longboards mentioned above will generally work fine for smooth bike trails and streets. A drop-through or drop down for easy push with large wheels for roll speed is often optimal for distance pushing on long straight line bike paths or open roads.
For rougher terrain, however, you want to look specifically for a flexier deck and soft wheels (e.g. 78A) for cushioning and shock absorption.
Longboards for rough surfaces will also have a bit of concave in the deck for better foot lock-in when riding over cracks and bumps. The Dervish Sama I mentioned previously, or its smaller brother the Tan Tien, offer a very smooth rider on such uneven terrain.
If you child is dreaming about riding down big hills and mountain roads, then a good freeride/downhill board like the Sector 9 Paradiso may be a good choice.
4. How good are your kid’s balance skills?
If your kid has solid balance skills, e.g. s/he has experience with other board sports such as surfing, snowboarding, or wakeboarding, then a carvy, surfy longboard may suit her best.
Here again, the flexier bamboo drop-through Sector 9 Shoots offers a very smooth and pumpable ride. This board will provide great pleasure to a board-savvy teenage kids looking for a surf-like riding experience on concrete.
If, on the other hand, your kid is new to boarding and may struggle at first to find his/her balance on a longboard, you should probably opt for an ultra-stable board with a secure feel such as the Sector 9 Paradiso or the Landyachtz Drop Hammer, which will help her find her find her marks sooner.
5. What budget for a teen’s longboard?
The last (but not least) point I’ll discuss regarding choosing the best longboard for a teenager is price. If you’ve looked around, you’ve already noticed the price range for longboards is quite broad.
As a rule of thumb, I would rarely recommend buying a longboard under $100. You get what you pay for, and quality components have a price. Cheap decks will snap, cheap trucks might fall apart, and cheap wheels and bearing won’t roll well.
While it may be tempting to get something cheap for your teen’s first longboard, this will likely result in a non-rewarding experience for her – jerky ride, bad roll, sketchy turns – that may turn her away from the sport.
Seriously, a quality longboard can give you a buttery smooth riding experience that makes you want to ride more and more. Plus, it will last for years and even ride better as it breaks in.
Depending on the size and brand, you should typically consider spending anywhere between $150 and $330 for your teen’s longboard.
Sector 9 also makes very popular, well built boards, with the bulk of its offering in the $150 – $210 range. Landyachtz is also a top brand with many boards priced around $200. Other trustworthy longboard brands include Arbor, Rayne, and Madrid.
Surfskates are also a very popular category among teenagers. Carver, Yow, and Smoothstar are the priciest with boards often priced at $250+. Others include Swelltech, Waterborne, Slide, Flow, Miller, Surfeeling, and Hamboards.
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