I accepted Ritch's invitation, writer at heelsidechill.com to be a guest blogger!
So Ritch, be my guest...
Surfing the Asphalt: Finding a Decent Street Longboard Ain’t so Tough
As longboarding reaches new levels of popularity, the equipment marketplace is becoming choked with options. Some of these companies exist only to sell a single longboard to newbies, selling them junk with slick graphics. However, a few of the top manufacturers continue to make the top-quality gear that made them their bones while continuing to innovate.
That’s not to say that a longboard or its parts must be expensive to be serviceable. If you’re just starting out, you can purchase a cheaper street longboard to find out if you like it. Many longboards under $100 will work just fine for beginners. A top-tier, longboard is not necessary for learning the basics. After some time, though, most riders learn to appreciate finer equipment, as they develop skills that necessitate precise engineering. Let’s look at a few manufacturers that are still on top of their games.
Few manufacturers can claim that they invented their field, but the owners of Sector 9 can. Back in the early 1990s, a small group of friends in the U.S. began shaping old snowboards into the first longboards skating had seen since the 70s. They mounted trucks and wheels to their creations, which all resembled the modern pintail longboard, and took to the hills. When they began selling them to their friends, they quickly became inundated with orders. They formed Sector 9 in 1993 and have been industry leaders ever since.
Of course, longboarding has evolved since those early days, and the pintail shape is no longer ubiquitous. From around-towners like the drop-through Mini Lookout and the mini-cruiser Bambino to the all-out insanity of its Down Hill Division series, Sector 9 continues to produce quality street longboards. The company’s old school shapes are also garnering attention in the industry, and Sector 9’s use of bamboo top layers continues to help its boards look as good as they ride. Sector 9 wheels and protective gear — especially sliding gloves — also remain as popular as ever.
Collectively known as Arbor, Arbor Collective is a snowboard and longboard company with a conscience. It has built its brand on responsible manufacturing. Arbor uses renewable materials in creative ways, such as utilizing sugars in its sweet-rolling Sucrose Initiative wheels. Arbor also reuses the leftovers from cutting and sanding its decks, and it donates funds to help preserve Hawaii’s Koa forests.
Arbor doesn’t just make street longboards, it crafts them. The Koa forests it helps protect are the source of some of the company’s finest top woods. The care Arbor puts into its decks is evident in the beautiful wood grain on its decks, which it reveals with environmentally friendly clear spray-on grip. From the small and portable Pocket Rocket mini cruiser to classic pintails and downhill-ready drop throughs, Arbor has a street longboard for everyone, and it’s a purchase you can feel good about.
Landyachtz had its inception in the late 1990s, formed by two lifelong friends in British Columbia. It has since grown into a major player in the longboard market while developing a sustainability program of its own. Landyachtz plants one tree for every board it sells, which should make for whole forests in the coming years.
Landyachtz continues to innovate with interesting shapes like the Dinghy Trout swallow-tail mini cruiser, but its drop-through and drop-down decks are perennial favorites in downhill longboarding. Any will make fine street longboards, especially if cruising and carving are on the agenda.
Rayne has continued to diversify its offerings over the years, but its longboards are still its flagship products. The company’s commitment to producing the finest decks is evident. Rayne still manufacturers its longboards in Vancouver, B.C. It also continues to build on the innovation that saw it introduce the first bamboo-and-fiberglass longboards, which brought a new level of stiffness and toughness to downhill longboards.
Rayne’s newest shapes show an understanding of the direction longboarding is heading that only true insiders possess. It devises decks for the different disciplines, rather than expecting those experienced riders to conform to its shapes. Rayne downhill decks are all top-mount with adjustable wheelbases, are offer the utmost in stability. It also produces decks specifically for dance style, as well as a new line of mini cruisers. Rayne has a street longboard for every rider.
This list of competent longboard companies is necessarily brief. There are others, such as Santa Cruz, Gold Coast, Globe, Dusters and more that are putting out some fine wood and urethane. And, new companies continue to break out with quality gear on a regular basis. Of course, quality is never cheap. Be wary of longboards costing fractions of what top brands sell for, as the prices of quality materials and manufacturing preclude selling these boards on the cheap. Finding a good street longboard is not that difficult, but you usually get what you pay for.
By Ritch, writer and also hobbyist longboarder.