It’s basically a longer, sweet variant of the traditional skateboard. You probably won’t be doing spectacular tricks in the half pipe with one of these, but you can still get around pretty well.
I remember being totally mesmerized when I first saw a guy cruising along on his board across a college campus. He seemed to just keep going and going without a lot of effort. There’s something to be said for the longboard’s sleek design.
Many people use longboards for transportation but downhill racing is also fun if you’re into that. Generally speaking a longboard is wider and more stable than a normal skateboard, which makes them pretty accessible to most people who are just starting out. The bigger decks pretty much make them easier to maneuver around.
What makes the best longboard?
Let’s talk about the construction first.
Most of the time boards are made with maple. This is a very reliable material that puts up with a lot of stress over normal usage.
Bamboo longboards have really taken off as of late. People opt for this material when they want that extra flexibility and movement which is awesome for traveling.
Boards using this will be strong yet easy to push off the line and turn around. This is probably the most expensive material and is typically used by experienced skaters who after the best longboards possible.
This is a standard board which is built for easy riding by an even weight distribution. Most people just want an easy way to get where they’re going, so this choice is hard to beat.
Turning and sliding is especially easy with this type of board because the front and back have the same design. This also allows you to change directions from front to back or vice versa pretty easily.
These are built for stability during speed! The wheel bases are flat which helps you keep control while you are racing along.
This is an awesome longboard for competition
This type is very streamlined and light. You can have bigger pushing power while still keeping good control.
Boardwalking longboards are great for doing tricks as they come with kick tails or noses. They also have a concave center and can maneuver well.
What about trucks?
If you don’t know, trucks are those little T shaped metal attachments on the underside of a longboard. You will see trucks measured either by the width of the axle or the width of the hanger. What makes longboard trucks stand out is that they are wider than skateboard trucks. Also, the bushings are softer and more flexible so that you can control the direction better.
Sizes of the hanger are normally 150 or 180mm. The size really depends on the width of the deck. This would include the boards used more for transportation. If you want to get a slimmer, faster one then it’s possible to grab a 150mm hangar.
Think size and hardness, or diameter and durometer.
Wheel diameters are measured in millimeters. Also, bigger wheels tend to be faster because riding on rough surfaces easier. 54-59mm is good for most purposes. 60mm and above is made for lots more speed and especially rough terrain.
There is a tradeoff here: the harder the wheel the faster you can go, but the softer the wheel the more control you can have. There is something simply called the “A scale” which goes from 1-100. The further up you go, the harder the wheel.
Having rounded lips on your wheels gives your longboard more accuracy, and you can enter slides a lot more easily. On the flip side, having straight wheels is probably better for racing so you can really grip the road.
This stuff is a lot like sandpaper and is adhesively applied to the top of your deck to give you greater traction. It’s there to help your feet stay on the board even when you do a trick that takes your weight off the longboard.
A lot of people also like to get expressive with their grip tape. After all, it comes in a variety of styles and colors.
OK, the thing about riser pads is that they cut down on wheel bite, which is basically when your truck and deck contact rub too hard against each other and wear out the deck. So these little things put some distance between them.
Like the grip tape, these will come in a variety of shapes and colors, so you can personalize your longboard this way. Getting some riser pads is a good investment, especially for the bigger wheels which are more likely to cause wheel bite. It’s also safer this way because you will be less likely to wipe out.