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What Is a Longboard? We’ve Asked the Pros

There has been a lot of hype around longboards in recent years, but very few non-professionals can tell exactly why. To the untrained eye, a longboard looks just like a regular but longer skateboard, right? However, size isn’t the only difference.

The more-often-than-not-odd-looking board and the associated riding style have their own names as well: ‘longboard’ aTo the untrained eye, a longboard looks just like a regular but longer skateboard, right? However, size isn’t the only difference.ongboarding has gradually developed several unique sub-styles, like downhill racing or ‘dancing.’ So, the question is…

What Is a Longboard?

In short, a longboard is similar to a skateboard, but it is faster, more stable, and more appropriate for cruising, racing, and commuting than skateboards due to small differences in design (like a longer deck, softer wheels, and reverse kingpin truck).

A longboard will give you more control, stability, and shock absorption, which makes this boards perfect for various types of surfaces. With a longboard, you’ll be able to cruise to your heart’s content for miles, as it is more comfortable and able of buffering cracks and pebbles on the sidewalk than a skateboard.

With their tiny wheels and short deck, skateboards are best used in skateparks and other places with a flat and obstacle-free surface. This may be why some lawmakers have banned skateboarding through entire cities and even countries. But let’s get back to longboards.

Longboarding History – In Short

The longboard started out as a longer skateboard but evolved technologically into a board with its own personality. Skateboarding had been long seen as a kid’s play until somebody in a surfing community had the idea of turning the mobile wooden planks into miniature surfboards for those times when waves were either flat or too rough to surf.

From that point on, skateboarding was no longer for kids’ only. Dozens of adults in coastal areas became very interested in it and even gave it a name – “sidewalk surfing” or “street surfing”. It is believed that sidewalk surfing emerged in Hawaii in the 40s or early 50s at a time surfing was tremendously popular in the state.

More and more surfers started tweaking their skateboards (see pic) to be able to mimic the slow motion of the waves. They added longer decks, wider wheels and gradually the longboard was born. In the late 1950s, skateboards and longboards were already commercially available.

But by the 1970s, longboarding had lost traction. But when the urethane wheel was introduced, suddenly, longboarders were able to hit incredible downhill speeds. However, the boards were still not flexible and stable enough for downhill racing to emerge as a sport until the invention of the reverse kingpin skate truck in the 1990s.

It was after that point, that longboards became stable and flexible enough to mimic the feeling of riding the waves. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Longboard versus Skateboard – How to Tell Them Apart

At a first glance, a layman might mistake a longboard for a skateboard, especially if the longboard is of a smaller size. Yet, the two boards are different in many other ways beside size. Due to their sturdier construction, longboards can reach higher speeds than skateboards. But since skateboards aren’t built for stability and speed, skateboarders achieve the necessary thrust and speed by pushing off the pavement with one foot.

On a longboard, you can achieve the desired thrust and force by simply pumping the board back and forth without taking the feet off of the board. Another kind of cruising style on a longboard is called gyrating. This is when the longboarder is gently moving the board a bit left and right with their feet while riding.

Beside riding style differences, there are also important design differences between the two boards. You can easily tell a skateboard and a longboard apart by looking at their decks’ design. A skateboard’s deck will usually have both ends curved upwards, a detail that enables skateboarders do some of their favorite stunts. Also, skateboards have smaller and harder wheels than longboards’. Smaller wheels are great for keeping balance and expertly doing skateboard tricks, but they are not so great for riding around outside the skatepark.

Another key design element that tells the two boards apart is the reverse kingpin (RKP) truck ( see pic, right). This truck provides more stability as it sits lower than the traditional skateboard truck (TKP) and is commonly found in longboards. However, some longboard models feature the traditional kingpin truck due to the extra control that it gives.


For an in-depth post on the differences between longboards and skateboards and their pros and cons, check out our other post here!


Who is a longboard for?

If you are more into cruising and street surfing throughout the city, then a longboard is for you. If you are really into ramping and tricks i.e. a really skatepark junkie, then get a skateboard.

Also, longboards are ideal for beginners because they are more stable and you’ll be able to find your balance and learn the basic moves faster. You can later upgrade to a skateboard.

For commuters and cross-country enthusiasts, longboards are the way to go as they are the comfiest for longer rides. Skateboards are less stable and riskier to ride in a street than longboards as their place is in a skatepark, by design.

What to Look for in a Longboard as a Beginner

Picking a good beginner longboard can be a daunting task as there isn’t much information out there. But you should mainly focus on the deck and wheels.

Deck

The deck’s shape and size are critical when just getting started. Drop-through decks are ideal for beginners because they are more flexible and the center of gravity is closer to the ground thus offering more stability when cruising. These decks are also great at shock absorption.

If you are no longer anxious about crowds and road obstacles and want a board for transportation, then get a ‘cruiser’ deck. These decks are usually smaller that drop-through and easier to navigate in crowded places.

When it comes to size, a medium-length deck (32”-42”) is perfect for any cruising scenario. For absolute beginners, we recommend a slightly longer deck (42”-46”) for the extra stability and rail-to-rail balance. However, a longer deck is very difficult to ride on in a busy street and it is heavier. Longer decks are usually the go-to option of surfers for practice in their downtime. Smaller longboards (28”-32”), which can be easily taken for skateboards, are recommended for smaller riders.

Wheels

When looking for the right wheels, take into account the diameter and durometer rating (more on that in a moment). The rule of thumb is that larger wheels should be paired with larger decks, while smaller wheels should go with smaller decks. A large wheel on a small longboard will just rub against the bottom of the board slowing you down and destroying your board.

As a guideline, for 40-46” decks, pick wheels in the 70-75mm range; for 34”-42” decks get 68-72mm wheels and for 28”-34” decks, get 60-67mm wheels.

Another important factor to consider is the wheel’s durometer rating, which measurers the wheel’s hardness. For longboards, a durometer rating in the 78a-87a is the safest option. These are the softest wheels with the most grip, which makes them ideal for rough, uneven surfaces and prolonged cruising.

Your weight also plays an important role. The heaver you are the harder your longboard’s wheels should be. Otherwise, you’ll lose acceleration and feel every pebble and crack on the road. Wheels in the 78a-80a range are ideal for riders weighing up to 135 lbs. Wheels in the 80a-83a and 83a-86a ranges, are perfect for riders/loads between 135 and 175 lbs and 175lbs and up, respectively.

We have handpicked some of the best longboards for newbies that want to learn longboarding the easy way. We recommend investing in a quality longboard, as a $15 board from Walmart just won’t do. Check out the specs and prices yourself!

Rank Product Name Our Score Link
3 Quest Tribes Pin Kick Tail Longboard 9.3/10
2 RIMABLE 41 Inch Drop Deck Complete Longboard 9.5/10
1 Atom Drop Through Longboard (40 Inch) 9.8/ 10

Conclusion

Longboards are skateboard’s longer and more flexible and stable cousins and are every serious street surfer’s dream come true. However, if you are into stunts and ramping, a skateboard is for you even though some longboards can be used for both cruising and stunts. What do you think about longboards? Are they for you? Leave your thoughts below.

Bonus Read: Best longboards for beginners

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