My last post was a pretty basic intro to longboarding. Basically, I told you what it is and how it is different from street and vert. If you stuck around and decided to read yet another one of my posts, you probably have at least a little more than a lingering interest in the activity. There are enough types of longboards for it to be confusing to the novice. Essentially, each longboard style serves a different purpose. Before you start thinking that means you have to get a ton of different boards if you want to do different types of longboarding, take a breath, because that isn’t at all true. You can use boards for multiple purposes; they’ve just been designed differently to be better suited for one type of activity over another. I’m going to break it down by the style of longboarding so you can figure out the features to look for based on the style of longboarding you plan on doing.
If you’re interested in carving, look for shorter boards. Slalom racers, and those who just like taking quick, sharp turns, benefit from the shorter wheelbase these boards provide.
If you want to do tricks, you’re going to want to look for a freestyle or hybrid longboard. These tend to have a decent amount of flex in them, have at least one kick tail at the end of the board, and are concave so you can plant your feet firmly. These features make longboarding tricks, such as a slide, easier. That doesn’t mean you’re going to be doing a kickflip on this board. If you want to do tricks like that, you’re looking for a skateboard.
If you like, or think you would like, flying down a hill at high speeds, you want a downhill longboard. These are also sometimes called “speedboards,” since the whole point of these boards is to be able to go fast. This one isn’t for the new guy: You’ve got to be pretty confident in your riding before trying to fly down hills. If you’re shopping for your first board, try a different style first and come back to this once you’ve figured things out. If you’re already comfortable on a longboard and are considering downhill, make sure you are choosing a board that is stiff (not flexy like the cambered boards I addressed in my last post). A stiff board will provide stability at high speeds and some peace of mind for you emerging adrenaline junkies. Downhill boards usually incorporate a concave shape and measure in between 38 and 43 inches. They usually cost a little more than other styles of longboard due to the extra care given to building and shaping them to stay strong and stable as hit higher speeds. You don’t want to have to bail because of a busted wheel halfway down a hill while you’re flying at 50 miles an hour. I shouldn’t have to tell you why that would suck. In addition to needing a good deck, you need to make sure to pick out wheels and trucks that are able to withstand the abuse you’ll be throwing at them.
These boards will be relatively light weight and often have a bit of flex to them.
Want more? Other people have gathered some pretty good information on this topic, too, so check out the following for further reading: