You’d be surprised how many people decide they want to get into skate culture but don’t have a clue about all of the ins and outs of longboarding. Some people seem to think it’s as simple as buying a board and flying down a hill, or doing tricks on a vert ramp (ha! Clearly they need some clarification about what exactly they are looking for). I’m going to try to break it down really simply here for anyone who thinks they want a longboard but isn’t entirely sure what that really means. For a little more information, check out our buyers guide.
The first thing you need to know is that if you decided to start researching because you aspire to be the next Bob Burnquist, you’re probably not looking for a longboard. Usually, people don’t buy longboards for riding like you see in the X Games. Longboards are a type of skateboard that is used for push racing, downhill racing, cruising, or transport. They’re usually made of wood with big wheels to make for a smoother ride when moving quickly.
Who Does It?
Longboarding is popular with skateboarders and surfers alike. The feeling of riding a longboard is like a mix between a surfing and a skateboarding. The typically taller and angled longboard trucks (essentially the axels between wheels) offer a wider turning radius than on a standard street or vert skateboard. The greater turning radius combined with the smooth glide offered by big soft wheels create a ride comparable to surfing on water. This similarity is no coincidence as skateboarding first became popular amongst surfers who, when the surf wasn’t choice, would “sidewalk surf” instead. Snowboarders can also find similar riding capabilities in a longboard’s ability to carve big turns or charge steep hills. Though board sports in general are typically male-dominated, longboarding is continually catering to and gaining popularity with girls.
I Want One. Now What?
Slow down, dude. Not all longboards are created equal. If you’re just getting started, you can probably get away with choosing a basic setup, but even then, you still have options. What are you going to use it for? Figure that out first. If you want it so you can shred downhill at speed, you’re probably going to want a shorter board (along with a helmet, some pads, and optional slide gloves). If you want to cruise from place to place, you can pretty much have your pick of shapes and sizes. Mid-length boards are going to be more versatile than a short 27″ board or a long 49″ board will be. One of the most important aspects is comfort. Figure out what feels good to you. They come in a huge range of shapes and sizes:
Drop-Through – These have a cutout in the deck so that the trucks’ baseplates can be mounted through the deck. Good for stability when going at high speeds.
Pintail – These feel more surfboard-like than other options and usually have a wider diameter and looser trucks. The shape keeps wheel bite from happening but still gives you lots of foot space.
Cruiser – The cruiser shape is a common deck shape. They’re kinda like a normal skateboard since they have a kick-tail on the back, but they have larger wheels, higher trucks, and more flexible bushings than standard skateboards do, making it easier to maneuver and turn.
Hybrid – If you’re still want to be able to kick-turn and ollie on your longboard, you’re going to want something shorter with a kick tail.
Camber – These are slightly bent in the middle and are bouncier and able to make harder turns.
There you go: A short-and-to-the-point guide to longboards if you weren’t sure what you were getting into. Think it could be your new thing? Need some more information? Read on: