thinking of getting a longboard -- thanks cassmt for the inspiration! let me know how that mini shaka rides, it looks like something i'd be into.
been doing a lot of reading, forum browsing (silverfishlongboard forum), trying to get educated...everything points how absolutely critical bushings are...testing different hardness for different disciplines, riding harder bushings on the bottom, softer cones on top, etc
this Bushing Selector page/app is one to bookmark...
Bushing Selector - MotionBoardshop.com
as far as how the minishaka rides, i think its frikkn amazing, but i really have nothing to compare to, i still ride it like a snowboard, and for that its great, carving and downhilling, starting to learn to get ready to really want to slide, lol. i think snowboarding helps in one big way: its not scary, ive gone pretty damn fast on it, but not nearly the normal snowboard speeds, so, its all ok...from what i'm gathering in comments, it's a superb entry-level setup, good all around for the beginner/intermediate.
Stan, maybe you could look at Churchill longboards. They're very cheap (the cheapest on the market, I believe), and they have many different shapes to choose from. Silverfishlongboarding gives Churchill a really good rep, and I trust them (silverfish) quite a bit since I don't skate that much. They say that the decks are very good and sometimes better than more expensive decks out there.
You guys are both right; bushings make a world of difference. I'm pretty light and the stock bushings on my shortboard were hard-ass rocks. I couldn't turn at all. I got some Bones medium bushings and they're so much better. I can tighten up the kingpin so my board's stable but still very turny. I highly recommend upgrading bushings. They were the cheapest part of my deck and I think they made the biggest difference.
Cass, make sure you get slide gloves. You can make them yourself or buy them. Learning to slide opens up a whole new world. You can go down bigger hills with confidence, knowing that you can stop easily (and safely). I don't have a longboard yet, but I've been doing slides on my street deck and it's great 'cause I can go down big hills and if I get speed wobbles, I'll bust into a coleman and keep going. Keep in mind that sliding on a longboard is much harder, unfortunately. The longer wheelbase means you have to go faster to slide and the softer wheels grip the pavement better. But longboards are much stabler.
I friggin hate my shortboard right now... 52mm 100a wheels, 31 inches, it is so sketchy going down hills. I can feel the pavement all the way up my legs... I just need some more money before I get myself a longboard...