Are you in the market for a new longboard and considering your options?
There are various factors to weigh up when thinking about how to choose the right longboard. Sometimes it seems like there are a million different choices. You need to decide on so many things, from what shape and size of the deck are most suitable for you, which wheels meet your demands and which types of trucks are appropriate for your skill level.
But where do you start? A lot does depend on which longboarding style you are interested in and what standard of rider you are now. Some longboards are more suited to beginners, for instance, while others are intended for experts.
Making the right choice is vital if you plan to get the maximum enjoyment out of your new longboard. Whether you are interested in cruising, carving, downhill or your intention is just idling around town, impressing friends with tricks, or using your board for travel, the perfect choice for you is out there!
Read on for descovering all the different options and help you decide what is the right longboard in 2020.
What Are the Differences Between a Skateboard and a Longboard?
We should begin with the basics and first look at the differences between a skateboard and a longboard. Skateboarding is considerably more mainstream than longboarding, for a start. Before the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world, skateboarding was due to appear at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games for the first time.
Deciding if a skateboard or longboard is what you need depends on what you plan to use it for. Longboards are perfect for riding long distances and cruising around all day. Skateboards are better if you are more interested in performing tricks and impressing people with your prowess in the streets and parks.
There is no specific way to use a skateboard. Some folks do use it as a means of transport as well as for sport. Skateboards come in different sizes and are often around 18 to 27cm wide and 71 to 94 cm long. The board will usually be covered in grip tape to enable better friction between board and rider. Also, the nose and tail are often curved upward. Both of these features make performing tricks easier.
For skateboard wheels, there are again many choices, and the wheel is measured by the size of their diameter. Usually, skateboard wheels are between 52-58mm. Generally speaking, smaller wheels are better for tricks, and bigger wheels are best for a faster, smoother ride. Hardness and softness are an essential factor also.
A longboard is different all together than a skateboard. Arguably, it is easier to use, but it gives you an excellent sense of freedom and the ability to cruise all day. It is more than just a long skateboard, the wheels are bigger and softer, and it is a more comfortable and smoother ride. There are various types of longboard available, including, drop-through, cruiser, downhill, and freeride.
Most longboards are 22.8 to 25.4cm wide and between 84 to 150cm in length. One goal is to give a similar feel to surfing, so a sizeable stable feeling board is considered best.
Longboard wheels are often between 60 to 70 mm and are softer than skateboard wheels.
Once you have decided that a longboard is what you are looking for, you can start to run through the many types of boards, trucks, and wheels to find the perfect combination for your needs.
What Should You Look At When Buying a Longboard?
There is a right type of longboard for everyone, so it is essential to look through the key features before deciding what to buy. Here are some things for you to consider:
- The height of the deck
This refers to the size of the distance between the ground and the deck. The main effect between different heights is how the longboard feels when riding. Lower decks (also known as dropped decks) are more stable and easily pushable, whereas higher decks tend to be less stable, but a more exhilarating ride. You should make your choice based on whether your priority is excitement or practicality.
- The type of profile
There are two types of profiles to choose between. The rocker profile has a downward curve, and the camber profile has an upward curvature, and each has a different kind of bounce and flex. You will get a feel for which type is better for you with riding experience.
- The flex of the deck
More flexible decks are built less for speed but are excellent at pumping and carving. A more solid board is perfect for use at higher speeds.
- The wheelbase and size of the deck
Larger boards are harder to change direction as they have a large turning radius, but a long wheelbase and bigger deck will mean the deck can handle higher speeds without wobbling and feel more stable.
- The type of mount
There are two styles of mounts to decide between. Drop-through type has trucks that you mount through the deck that are more stable due to being lower to the ground. Topmount means the deck is mounted above the trucks and is thought to be more responsive while riding and allow for more wheel leverage. It is a matter of taste which type is better for you.
Kicktails are essential if you are interested in street cruising and freestyle.
- The concave on the deck
Foot pockets which are made by having a concave shape on your deck allow you to lock-in your foot. It hinders dancing and cruising but is great for freestyle, freeriding, and carving.
- The type of trucks you choose
You can choose between traditional kingpin trucks (TKP) that are suitable for downhill riding or freestyle tricks, or reverse kingpin trucks (RKP) that are great for general riding styles and have excellent flexibility for turning.
- The type of bushings you go for
Bushings are crucial when you consider turning flexibility and suspension. Your weight should factor into the hardness you choose. Harder bushings are suitable for tricks and softer for pumping and carving.
- The angle and width of the trucks
You can typically choose between 150 or 180mm width depending on the size of your deck.
The baseplate angle (between pivot and deck) affects the amount the deck has to lean in order to make the wheels turn; this is an essential consideration for freeriding, pumping, and carving.
- The hardness (durometer) of the wheels
The theory is that soft wheels are better and roll easier on rough surfaces, while hard wheels roll quicker on smooth surfaces.
Choosing softer wheels means better suspension, and better grip and hard wheels make it easier to slide. Again, it is a matter of preference for how you intend to use your longboard.
- The diameter of your wheels
The advantage of bigger and wider wheels is that they roll faster, but be careful to check your deck’s wheel clearance is sufficient.
- The wheel’s lip profile
Rounded lips on your wheels mean you will find it easier to slide, whereas square lips are better at gripping the road. Is sliding that important to you?
- The bearings you choose make a big difference
Your bearings are essential. Regular bearings can be excellent as long as you maintain them well and keep them lubed and clean. However, better bearings are effective at keeping your wheels rolling for longer from a single push. Ceramic bearings are an excellent, but expensive, frictionless option. It depends on how meaningful it is to you as to whether it justifies the extra expense.
Now that we’ve been over some of the features that you need to consider, we can move on to looking at types of decks that will suit your needs. Style is an essential factor, but there are other things to consider.
What Types of Longboard Deck Styles and Shapes Can You Choose?
There are many factors that you have to consider when choosing your longboard deck. You need to ensure that the shape, material, length, width, etc. are suitable for the type of longboarding that you decide to do.
Here we will look at some of the most critical factors to make it easier for you to decide what is right for you.
What material should I choose?
You will have many choices when it comes to the material your deck is made from. Here are a few good options:
Bamboo decks are becoming increasingly popular. That’s because bamboo is a highly flexible material, and the fact that it is lightweight makes it a perfect choice for riding and for carrying around. It is a perfect choice for cruising, transportation, or carving.
Maple is the most commonly used material for longboard decks. It is extremely strong and long-lasting. It is a fantastic choice if you are looking for a beautiful deck that will last your years.
- Carbon Fiber
Carbon fiber has a foam center to decrease the weight of the deck. It is an excellent material for fast starts, slides, and turns. It is an expensive option, and it is thought of like the pro’s choice.
The material you should choose depends on what you intend to use the board for and your budget. However, all of the above will serve you well.
What shape of a deck should I choose?
Again, you have various choices when choosing a longboard deck shape. Each shape is suited to a different type of longboarding. The images below should give you an idea of how each shape can look like, but please note that there are many different options for each shape out there. Let’s have a look at the best picks:
- Downhill shape
Downhill boards need to be stable due to the high speeds which can be reached, so they have longer wheelbases and a flat shape to provide further stability. This kind of board is more suitable for an experienced rider, and wipeouts are to be expected – so be sure to ask your dealer for a combination that provides the best possible stability.
- Cruising shape
Cruisers are the most popular shape of the deck for longboards. The reason for their growing popularity is that they are quite fast and perfect for maneuvering. The big deck means it allows proper weight distribution, and it is seen as a standard, reliable board shape.
- Drop down shape
Drop down boards are a stylish choice, and they are perfect for a relaxing ride. It features a lowered deck and a nose and tail design that makes pushing easier. If you want to enjoy a long ride and cruise, you should consider this option as it gives a stable and safe ride.
- Pintail shape
Pintails have a snarky-shaped nose and tail and a wide center. The shape makes them perfect for making sharp turns and directional riding as they are excellent for maintaining balance.
- Fishtail shape
These are similar to pintail boards but feature a split tail. It is reminiscent of a split tail surfboard. It is an ideal choice for smooth sharp turns and taking long rides.
- Blunt shape
The blunt shape is considered ideal for beginners to longboarding. It features a fuller nose and tail, which leads to greater stability. Experienced riders may not enjoy this style as the ability to make sharp turns is limited.
- Cut out shape
Cut out longboards have the best wheel clearance of any shape available. Another feature is that they are bi-directional, which allows the rider to switch around easily. It usually comes with drop-through trucks, which lowers the deck and gives impressive stability when riding at high speeds. They have large wheels and can make deep turns without skidding. These boards are excellent for downhill, freeride riding style and freestyle.
- Speed board shape
As the name speed board alludes to, these are specifically designed for speed. With safety in mind, they are designed to be extremely stable at high speeds.
- Twin longboard shape
Twin skateboards were popular during the 90s and were designed for multi-directional riding. They became so popular that a longboard version was introduced featuring widened sides. These are considered perfect for freestyle riding due to their high level of stability, and they are also useful to learn more advanced techniques. It is a perfect board when combined with soft larger sizes of wheels for performing impressive board tricks.
- Mini cruiser longboard shape
These mini cruiser boards are only around 90 to 110cm long, so some people might not even recognize them as real longboards.
Even if a short “longboard” sounds crazy, the one sure thing is that they are great fun! They have a distinct shape compared to skateboards and feature reverse kingpin trucks, and softer and larger wheels.
They are agile and fast, and most people enjoy their maneuverability. They are also cheaper and more portable than regular longboards, so they are a popular option.
So, we have been through some of the best types of longboards, and you must now decide which board type is perfect for you to get the most enjoyment out of this exciting sport.
As we mentioned earlier, you should know your ability level and choose something suitable to it. You should also consider features like a kicktail, wheel wells, the length of your board, and other features that will enrich your experience.
The longboard trucks, wheels, and bearings that you choose will all influence what your longboard is most suited for, so spend time looking at the options and don’t be afraid to ask for advice as to what is best for your needs.
Final Thoughts on Choosing the Right Longboard
Before you decide on which longboard is right for you, you need to know what exactly you will be using it for. We have outlined the various options above, which we hope you have found useful and will help you make up your mind.
You need to decide on the best deck size and shape, which trunks, wheels, and bearings are most suitable for your needs, and, perhaps, the most important of all, how far your budget can stretch. You need to choose the perfect combination for your own riding style and goals.
There are pros and cons for all the various types of decks, trucks, wheels, and other features when you come to choosing your perfect longboard. You can even go with some fun modern options like an electric longboard.
Whatever option you decide to buy, it will likely give you a lot of enjoyment, whether you are using it to increase your skills, as transport, or just as a fun new hobby.
Enjoy the world of longboarding!