If you’re exploring the world of skateboarding, you might have noticed that there is more than one style of board. With the naked eye, you can see that some boards have different shapes and lengths.
So, when is a skateboard a longboard? Curious about the technical aspects of longboards, I dove into some research to find answers to some of my questions.
How long is a longboard? Is there more than one size? Is there more than one style? The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to learn.
Skateboard versus Longboard
Although at first glance, you might not know how to distinguish between a skateboard or a longboard, there are some differences between the two.
On a typical skateboard, you’ve probably seen that the board also known as the deck, is curved up on both ends, known as the nose and the tail.
The wheels on a standard skateboard are usually harder to make them last longer for the punishment that most skateboarders put them through when pulling off heelflips and other tricks.
As a rule, the wheels on a longboard are bigger than on your common skateboard to provide speed and keep you from feeling road bumps or rough patches.
Besides having a shorter length, regular skateboards are also generally narrower than a longboard.
Although longboards share many similar components to skateboards, they are slightly tweaked since the boards are used differently.
For example, on a longboard, the kingpin is usually reversed to allow the board to make tighter turns and give it higher clearance. The decks and trucks tend to be wider so that you can have more stability when cornering and speeding.
While skateboards have a design that lends itself more for tricks and jumps, you can use a longboard for a variety of purposes.
Longboard Sizes and Uses
Believe it or not, longboards can give you a healthy commuting option. If riding a bike is too tame for you, and you’d like a more active way to get around town, then using a longboard could be a great choice.
Many manufacturers design longboards that run between 35 to 40 inches in length that you can carry onto a bus or into a store with you and that lets you navigate urban environments that have traffic, foot or otherwise.
Although many longboards are flat, the commuter ones usually curve up at the “tail” end to let riders hop up the curb or zip through corners. These boards are also generally more flexible to absorb road vibrations and respond to your body weight.
If using a longboard for your commute sounds like something that might interest you, you can check out The BoardUp Portable Longboard which you can fold up when you arrive at your destination so that it can fit in your backpack, desk, or on public transportation. When it’s folded, it has a handle to make it easier to carry.
Although it has a sturdy Canadian maple deck and can carry up to 220 pounds of weight, the BoardUp is lightweight coming in at just under nine pounds.
Want to enjoy a longboard just for the fun of it? Then you might prefer a longboard made for cruising to revel in a mellow ride.
You can use pretty much any longboard to cruise around on so the size can run the gamut, but there are some specifically made for cruisers with decks that have more flexibility, and that can run as long as 50 inches.
If you’re interested in learning the skill called pumping to help you generate bigger carves and get more speed when you turn, then you want a cruising longboard.
Most longboards designed for cruising have a bit of a different look from your standard skateboard because they use drop-through mounting that lets the truck drop through the deck. So, instead of top mounting, or having the deck or board lie flat over the trucks, you can see where the truck connects to the deck from the top.
- Drop-through boards bring you closer to the ground by lowering the deck height since the board is not placed over the trucks but through them and make them easier to push.
- Top mounted boards provide more leverage and grip which results in a more connected feeling for downhill and freeriding boards.
- Double drop boards meld together drop-through mounting and a dropped deck to bring you as close to the ground as possible.
If you like the appearance of a drop-through deck and are ready to carve your way down the street, then you might like Volador’s Freeride Longboard.
The deck is 42-inches long to give you plenty of space to find your zone and uses natural maple for flexibility and shock absorption. Volador also offers a variety of designs if you prefer a colorful or distinctive board.
If you’re ready to learn how to pump a longboard, but think you favor the classic top mounted classic skateboard look, you could always check out the Restrospec Zed Longboard.
The 44-inch long deck is reminiscent of a vintage surfboard on the bottom and is a combination of bamboo and maple.
If you want to skim the asphalt like you would a wave on a surfboard, then you might want to try a double drop board like the Punked Lowrider Longboard. The deck is concave and measures about 40-inches long by almost 10-inches wide.
If you’ve ever seen a movie where someone was zipping down a hill, crouched low on their board, and touching their gloved hands along the surface of the road to navigate a turn, then most likely that person was riding a downhill longboard.
Downhill longboarding is for experts who can handle the speeds that can reach over 60 miles per hour and navigating tight turns, cornering, and drifting since it can be very dangerous. There are even competitions for those who master the art.
Downhill boards run between 35 to 45 inches long and have a very long wheelbase to allow for higher speeds. The board itself is usually stiff to give you greater control in high-speed situations and has bigger wheels to make up for eating up the asphalt.
If you’ve mastered all the other longboards and are ready to try downhill, then you might like the Magneto Bamboo Longboards that have a combination of bamboo, fiberglass and carbon fiber deck that gives it a stiff but light feel and is made to go fast so that you can bomb hills. The Magneto is concave to give your feet extra stability and grip as you carve down the slopes.
Freeride boards are for those who like to go downhill, but without the insane speed. Freeriders still go fast since gravity is pulling them down the incline, but they also add some style to the ride by adding in slide moves and controlling the speed of the descent.
To add controlled slides and throttle the speed as you go downhill requires experience, so a freeride board is best for someone who’s handled a longboard before.
Like downhill boards, freeride longboards are usually 35 to 45 inches in length and have a wheelbase that can measure from 25 to 32 inches.
Usually, a longer wheelbase is best for fast rides, and while having the trucks further away from each other gives the board more stability, ironically, it can make it harder to turn when going slowly.
If you’d like to try your hand at freeriding, you can try the Atom Freeride Longboard. It has a concave stiff maple laminate deck that is about 37 inches long with wheels designed for sliding and high speed.
Like a skateboard, you can use a longboard to pull off a few tricks with a little more surface area to work with. The difference is that with a longboard, you can add style like dancing and changing stances while on the board.
A freestyle board could be an excellent choice if you’re not overly interested in speeding down hills, but do like to show off or get the most out of your board besides getting from point A to point B.
A freestyle board could also be a good option for beginners learning how to maneuver a longboard and anyone unclear about which of the riding styles they like.
The wheelbase on a freestyle deck can run between 20 to 28 inches long, but if you think you’d like to dance, then a longer wheelbase will give you more room to do that so look for a wheelbase between 28 and 35 inches.
If you think you want to multitask and boogie while you’re in motion, then you could try Volador’s Dancing Longboard. With a deck 46-inches long, you’ll have plenty of space to show off your fancy footwork.