Towards the end of 2019 I had to travel to Warsaw for some work stuff, but this allowed me to also get to know the local crew in Warsaw (they’re a fantastic and lovely group of people) and some of the local manufacturers.
Enter HB Boards – a small local longboard brand coming out of Warsaw. I first found HB Boards via Instagram. I found their boards had a nice clean design, so I started clicking around and eventually landed on their homepage.
Despite the homepage being in Polish, I was able to interpret that a complete longboard dancing setup was being sold for under 200€ total.
TL;DR VIDEO – Reviewing the HB Boards Step
I know, I know, you’re busy and maybe you don’t have time or the desire to read this whole article haha. That’s why I’ve gone the extra mile for you and actually made a video for this as well. So in case you prefer you take in your information per video, everything I mention in this article is also mentioned in this video 🙂
At first I was skeptical. There are 1000’s of subpar quality longboards available all over the internet for little to no money, and most of them are just junk. One of those things you buy to “try longboard dancing out” just to find out that you wasted 100€ on something.
I honestly can’t tell you what it was, but my interest in HB Boards was awoken and I wanted to find out more about the brand.
On a quest to discover more about the brand
I got in touch with the owner of the brand, Daniel. A really cool guy operating a sports gear shop in Central Warsaw, and through his shop he sells the HB Board brand.
We had lunch together at one of Warsaw’s brilliant vegan restaurants, and he told me the story of how HB Boards came to life. He comes from a cruising and carving background, and he simply wanted to make boards more accessible for recreational riders.
Then it got me thinking, that is a very valid point. Price is a HUGE barrier for any new longboarder, regardless of what discipline they choose.
Everyone knows a good deck from one of the known brands, combined with quality trucks, plus wheels etc. will cost somewhere in the realm of about 350€. That’s no small amount of money, especially if you’re just starting out.
But therein lies the problem, if you’re a new rider, you seem to be limited to two choices:
- Buy a cheap board online or in a bulk sports store and hope for the best.
- Shell out a ton of money for a quality board, and hope you stick with it.
And as far as I know, there was no middle ground. There was nothing there for someone who wanted to get into the sport, but not go nuts with it, and at the same time, not spend a ton of money on a new longboard dancing setup.
This is exactly who Daniel went after with HB Boards.
The question is, how did he do?
I want to preface this longboard review by saying that yes, Daniel did sponsor this board to me in exchange for this review. However this was under the agreement that I would be 100% honest in the review, and I am receiving zero compensation of any kind for my words and thoughts here. Any clicks on this site to HB Boards do not generate revenue for me, nor do I get anything if someone purchases an HB Board and mentions LD.World
The HB Step: An honest and unbiased longboard dancing setup review
Upon unboxing, the board looked and felt exactly how it how it was being positioned – a mid/entry-level longboard dancer.
What I mean is, some parts looked really nice, some parts looked kind of cheap-ish. At first glance, the deck itself really stood out to me. It looked and felt very high quality, right on par with the appearance and feel of some of the higher end brands in the longboard dancing world.
But on the other hand, at first glance the wheels looked kinda cheap-ish to me. They just didn’t have this nice solid feel that a good pair of Blood Oranges or Squids have.
The HB Step at a glance: Pros & Cons
- Complete Setup for under 200€ it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all this stuff when you’re just starting. This board comes full assembled, ready to ride out of the box, and everything does exactly what it is supposed to (event a skate tool is included).
- Rolls surprisingly well despite the wheels looking and feeling kind of cheap, I was shocked at how well this board rolls. The wheels glide beautifully with the bearings.
- Aggressive angles on nose and tail for good popping. It takes basically zero effort to get this board to pop high, but the angles send the board up at the right height. It’s one thing to pop well, but it’s annoying when the board goes flying above your head.
- Weird shape with the board which I can only really describe as an hourglass figure. Right in the middle of the board the rails curve inwards, which reduces your stepping space. I found this extremely difficult to deal with.
- Unresponsive bushings make it kind of hard to predict how your carve is going to react depending where you step and your weight.
- Weird shape with the nose and tail they also kind of curve in which reduces the overall amount of space when your preparing to pop the board.
- (Neutral) The board is super flexy and is only available in one flex. For my weight at 65KGs, the board felt like a trampoline. I like a flexy board, and this was way too flexy for even me. But this is more of a preference thing, if you dig that, than this can actually be a pro.
So how did the HB Step ride?
To be perfectly honest, I was pleasantly surprised with how solid the setup actually felt under my feet. Longboard dancing is one of those things, where the more you ride, you notice the difference between a high quality setup and a “cheap” setup.
The HB Step didn’t feel cheap to ride. I’d even go as far to say if you found a high quality setup with the same flex, an experienced blind-folded rider wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the good setup and the HB Step when just cruising.
It’s when you start dancing is when you start to notice some of the board’s flaws – AKA I’m not in love with the Shape of You (See what I did there?)
As I mentioned in the quick overview, I am just not a big fan of the shape of the board. I don’t feel it makes too much sense to take away space from the middle, nose, and tail of the board. All three parts of the board are quite narrow.
This is where most of your foot work is happening with longboard dancing – the center for step work and the nose and tail for freestyle stuff.
It took me a while to get used to the shape of the board, I just kept feeling like I was running out of room when I was doing steps, and when I would do some freestyle moves, I just felt like too much of my foot was hanging off the board.
The HB Step has a similar construction to that of the Simple Boards Platypus, which many riders swear by. I’ve never ridden the famed Platy, so maybe HB Boards is completely off here, but it is just not a shape I am crazy about.
It was just weird as whole, but perhaps one could get used to it over time?
Another thing worth nothing is that since the nose and tail are so thin, there are no wheel flares on the board. For those unfamiliar, wheel flares are little bumps on the board over the wheels (when wood is actually over the wheels) where the board makers “raise” the wood here, to prevent the board from rubbing against the wheels – aka wheelbite.
This can be problematic as well, because as we get better at dancing on the board, we tend not to look at our feet as much. Every board I’ve ridden has had some kind of wheel flare on it, some minimal, some big, but you can feel them with your feet.
This is a good sensory signal that you’re about to run out of room on the board. In contrast, the HB Step is flat all around, so while you’re still getting used to the board, you’ll be looking at your feet a lot to gauge distance.
Conclusion: The HB Boards Step – Yay or Nay?
There is a specific type of person who would really love this board. If you’re a beginner longboard dancer looking to get your own board, money is an issue, you don’t have a local skate shop, and you’re not 100% sure what will become of you and longboard dancing, the HB Step is a great choice.
For recreational riding on the weekends while throwing in some cross steps and peter pans every now and then, you’ll have a really good time with this board.
Based on my short experience with the board, it does feel well built and durable. Much better quality that something you’d find in like a department store, that is for sure.
Of course, durability of the board will only truly be seen after some time. After a couple months of use, I’ll update this post to comment on the overall quality of the board.
That being said, if you’ve got a local skate shop around and can maybe spend a bit more money, I’d still recommend going in and having your local experts put something together for you that will exactly fit the style of longboarding you want to do, and that matches your weight.
Deal for LD.World Fans
But if you do fall into the first category and want to try this board, Daniel was nice enough to offer site readers a 10% discount on the HB Step with the code LDWorld-10. Just send an email to [email protected] and they’ll get you all setup.
I like that very much about the brand, that they have a local small-shop presence here in Europe, it’s nice to support efforts like that 🙂