So you’re thinking about buying your first landboard and wondering where to start? Let’s clarify some of those initial questions you have and get you off on the right foot, or the left foot. We won’t go into anything to do with safety gear, getting rolling or handling the kite just yet, you will find those guides here on Extreme Kites when you are ready to access them.
The main things to consider when buying your first landboard are your budget, your height and your weight. Obviously you don’t want to blow too much money on something you he never tried before, so let’s talk about why your height and weight are important factors that help determine the best board for you.
Height plays an important factor with your stance on the board. If you are quite tall, then I would opt for a longer board. This will enable you to spread your weight out over the length of the board and should be more comfortable as your legs won’t be as close together. Vice versa if you are short, then a shorter board will be more suitable to you. Your height and weight will be disbursed more evenly on a shorter board and the footing will be more comfortable. Just think you don’t want your legs to be too squashed together or too far apart. For a medium size and build, go for an average sized board which are most common.
"Landboard (land-board) noun
- A board that is equipped with wheels and usually bindings for the feet and is often ridden on land, as in kite landboarding."
When starting out landboarding there are two choices, Skate trucks or Channel trucks.
Skate Trucks are, as they sound, are very similar to those of a skateboard or longboard. They are oversized in comparison to regular skate trucks as they need to accomodate a larger wheel and deal with more force. They work the same way, however, by using a bushing (of various durometer) to give movement to the axle from the hanger. The harder the bushing, durometer wise, the harder to turn the board. The bushing can be tightened down further or loosened off between the axle and the hanger. Again, this means tighter or softer turns. You also have the option of sourcing harder durometer bushings, usually from your local skate shop or online. You would do this if you find that the board is still turning too easily under your weight after tightening down as much as possible. Skate trucks are recommend for lighter riders giving a lighter riding style, more maneuverability and easier turns. Think of skate trucks as the more nimble option.
Channel Trucks, also referred to as Matrix trucks, still consist of an axle and a hanger. They utilise a kingpin, which is the centre point that the axle pivots on. Channel trucks house springs on either side with elastometers or dampeners inside them. This is what provides the hardness or softness of turning. The elastometers can be swapped for different durometers and the position of the springs can be offset, which equates to a very customisable turning resistance. You can really dial in your perfect ride on channel trucks, however the payoff is that they are a lot heavier than skate trucks. Channel trucks are recommended for heavier riders, as they give more stability at speed and provide harder turns. Heavier riders will naturally use their weight to turn the trucks, which is why a more stable platform is required. Skate trucks would just be too wobbly here for a comfortable ride.
Bindings are important on a landboard, as they keep your feet in position and somewhat captive into the board. You need them to be able to slide your board around and to remain in contact with the board when you are off the ground, either for a small hop or a jump. You aren’t locked into the board so much that you cannot free your feet, landboard bindings are designed to step in and out of. You aren’t clipped in like you are on say a snowboard for example. They are adjustable to your stance and foot size. Bindings should be well padded and comfortable, as your shoes will be in them for the whole session.
The most common form of bindings are called ratchet bindings and they adjust via a ratchet system. The next form of bindings utilise velcro as the adjustment mechanism. It’s not important which style of bindings you have to start off with, just as long as they are there and freely adjustable. You don’t want your bindings to be too tight where you are unable to slip in and out of. Vice versa you don’t want them to be too loose and not providing the snug fit you need. We can expand of foot placement and fitment of your bindings in further guides.
Landboards can also be referred to as Mountainboards and both can be used for land kiting. The difference with products marketed as a Landboard or Kite Landboard, is that they are designed to be a lot lighter than a Mountainboard. If you happen to buy a Mountainboard with a brake attached, you will want to remove this for landboarding. For starters the handle and line will get in the way and secondly the brake mechanism will likely rust out if your riding on the beach or a coastal wind location.
For your first landboard, wheels and tyres aren’t much of a concern. You want to get the feel for landboarding before you start shelling out extra money on customising your board and setup. So the standard hubs and 8” tyres will suffice for now. Make sure you have a pump handy, to ensure your tyres are at pressure. If your buying second hand, make sure the tyre tread is sufficient and that the tubes still hold air.
As just mentioned, there is no problem with buying a second hand landboard to get the feel for it or learn on. The best place for this is to keep your eye on the Buy & Sell section here on Extreme Kites, you can also try your luck on Gumtree or Ebay.
For a brand new landboard here are a few examples that will be able to get you rolling in no time:
If you are ready for an upgrade the re-sell market here in Australia is pretty good. Someone is always interested in a beginners landboard and will sell quickly on here on the Extreme Kites Buy & Sell section. People can also use them as mountainboards, they are quite versatile and people will snap them up quickly if you re-sell at a reasonable price.
Remember to stay tuned for the rest of the guides available in this section as you progress. And always feel free to ask for guidance or any questions in the comments section. No question is a silly question and at least one of the kind folk on Extreme Kites will chime in and help you on your way.
Remember you can also keep an eye on the Meets & Events page for upcoming gatherings and head down to ask us any questions you might have and see for yourself the amount of fun we have. The best way to learn is to see and the best way to ask questions, apart from on Extreme Kites is in person.
If you got 10 land kiters together and asked them 'what kite should I buy first' something like 7 out of 10 would usually say 'a 3m 4 line low aspect power kite on handles'.
Why 3m? Power kites are generally made in sizes from 1.5m to 21m. You want something that will be easy to learn on, still provide some decent pull but won't completely wear you out. Something around the 3m mark is usually ideal for the average weight person. For a start, you don't want to be fighting a kite while you're learning to fly it. You want to be concentrating on flying it and having fun, not survival. For most of us in the 65 - 85kg range, the 3m size is ideal. Big enough to provide a fair bit of pull in 10 - 15 knots and powerful enough to buggy with should you go that way. Plus, smaller kites in the 2m - 3m range are fairly quick through the sky and a little more exciting imho than the bigger kites. 4m - 5m kites start getting noticeably slower and it's a bit like hanging on to a truck - a lot of effort and you'd soon wear yourself out - depending on the wind strength. Bigger sizes can produce more power in lighter winds, but if there's not enough wind for the 3m to fly then it's more than likely you'd struggle to fly a 4m or 5m. Even though a 2 - 3m power kite is relatively small, don't underestimate the power that they can generate if flown in winds beyond what you can handle - they can hurt so stick to lightish winds while you're learning.
Why 4 line handles? 4 line handles (a pair of power lines each side of the kite and a pair of brake lines) give you the most versatility. You can easily reverse launch the kite should you land upside down. You can also bring the kite to a complete stop by pulling the brakes and when you are learning, you'll quite likely have some velcro bands around your wrist with a line attached to the brake lines of the kite. These are called 'kite killers'. You just let the handles GO and the brake lines will be pulled killing all the power in the kite. See pic from Peter Lynn below...
4 line handles are also compact, easy to store, provide the most control for your kite and are relatively inexpensive. 2 line kites tend to be a bit difficult to relaunch from an inverted position and harder to land. 4 line kites may take an hour or so extra to initially get the hang of than a 2 line kite, but the extra hour will pay big dividends.
Low aspect? Beginner kites are normally 'short and fat'. These are low aspect kites. High aspect kites are long and thin - lots of extra performance and speed/power but demand much more skill to fly. They are usually designed as high performance 'engines' for buggies. Leave them for later. While low aspect kites are often labelled as 'beginner' kites, they are not something that you will necessarily outgrow - they are often characterized by having excellent stability - particularly in gusty wind - and having very good manners. They are excellent kites for days when the wind is less than ideal. If you're not chasing that extra speed in the buggy or trying to go that extra 15% upwind then there's no particular reason you need to upgrade.
Ok then, which kite? Stick with a known and respected brand like Peter Lynn, Ozone, PKD, Zebra, HQ, Born Kite, Flexifoil. All these manufacturers make excellent quality kites that should last for years if not crashed too much. Good kites to buy first up are the HQ Beamer, the Peter Lynn Hornet, Flexifoil Rage, Flexifoil Sting, PKD Buster, Zebra Checka, Zebra Z1 and Ozone Quattro. There is also the single skin Nasa Star 3 from Born Kite that is an excellent kite to learn on. The best thing you can do is ask lots of questions on a forum such as this. Better still, get together with some local flyers - you can learn far more in an afternoon flying with other people than any other way. In the meantime, there's always youtube videos...
Once you've got the reflexes working and you can fly your kite without needing to look at it, then you might like to get into some 'traction' kiting - ie: snow kiting, skates, landboard, or my favorite mode of transport, the buggy...