How to choose your longboard?
Longboarding is the perfect alternative to skateboarding if you’re more interested in cruising and traveling long distances. But when it comes to longboards, there’s more than meets the eye, they come in different shapes, and construction and they’re also designed with different features.
Choosing the right longboard is important for your enjoyment, so you should know clearly what you want from it. If for example, your main goal is to get from A to B, you won’t need a longboard that is mainly designed for tricks and old-style skating. Here are a few things that everyone should consider before making their final choice when it comes to longboards:
- Riding Style
- Board size
- Deck & Flexibility
- Wheels, Bearings & Trucks
What is my riding Style?
Your riding style refers exactly to what you intend to do with your longboard. Below you can find which board is best based on your riding style:
Cruising boards: made for fun cruising around transportation, designed to take you from one place to another and provide gentle rides. You will want to choose this board if you’re a beginner and doing tricks doesn’t sound appealing to you.
Freestyle boards: The opposite of cruising boards, these boards are made to support your desire of doing tricks with an old-style skating design. You will want to choose this board if you’re more of an active skater and you’re already at the intermediate level.
Free ride boards: Typically reserved for more expert riders, these boards are designed to help you ride hills while keeping a fair amount of speed and styling up your slides and curb hops. It’s made to help you keep control of your speed on bigger descends. You will want to choose this board if you’re confident in your board control skills and you’re used to riding at high speeds.
Downhill boards: If crouched and tucked positions are how you picture yourself riding, then a downhill longboard is for you. This isn’t the best out there for brand-new riders, as for most experts out there it’s not uncommon to break the wheels to regain control. You will want to choose this board only if you intend to speed up hills while maintaining control, it is not recommended for beginners.
Let’s talk about the Shape.
When choosing a longboard, you will have to consider not only what type of rider you are at the moment, but also what you would like to achieve in the future, as you have the most options as a beginner starting with a cruising longboard. Keep in mind that there are many designs that fit multiple styles.
The best shapes for cruising are bamboo-shaped boards, cruiser-shaped boards, drop-down-shaped boards, drop-through-shaped boards, and pintail-shaped boards. Drop-down and drop-through are also great for freeriding and freestyling while cruisers, speed boards, and top mounts are considered to be the best for downhill.
Picking the right board size.
When you think about size, this can be another tough choice as you want your board to be the right fit for you. There are a few things everyone should consider when picking the size of their longboard, in which one of the most important is their shoe size.
Width is the primary concern when choosing your longboard dimensions. Keep in mind how your feet will be positioned during a ride, pointing to either side rather than its front and back. You need to make sure the board has a width no less than your shoe size because of that.
Another important decision includes how long you want the board to be since the longer the board is the more stable you will be while riding. Taller people will always benefit from the longest boards while shorter people as well as young children will want something smaller.
Deck & Flexibility.
The part you’ll be standing on your longboard is called "deck".
The deck also comes in different forms, called profiles, they include Flat, Camber, or Rocker. Cambered decks are designed with a rise in the middle and are best suited for cruising but if you want to do more than that you can also consider going for either a Flat deck which is leveled perfectly back-to-front (this is the best one for freestyling but it doesn’t include those with kicktails), or you can go for a Rocker which had a dip in the middle (these are considered the best for freeriding and downhill).
How flexible your board is will determine your longboard’s ability to absorb shocks and it influences the stability of your ride. Keep in mind that you cannot have a highly flexible longboard if you intend to ride at high speeds. To make the right decision on your deck’s flexibility, check if it is rated as soft, soft/medium, medium/stiff, or stiff. Of course, soft will be the most shock absorbent and it’s the most ideal for cruising. Every other rating can be used for more than just that, a soft/medium will allow you to also experience some freestyling with your longboard, a medium/stiff will be right if you want to also try freeriding but a stiff board should be used for downhill.
Another important question is whether or not you want your longboard to have a kicktail. Some longboards have it included in the back while some don’t. Both of them are good for beginners so you don’t need to worry about making the wrong choice here. It is, however, good to keep in mind that having a kicktail is a great addition if you want to make faster turns and possibly learn some tricks while not having a kicktail makes your ride more stable, so choose this option if you’re a beginner and you’re worried about maintaining your balance.
Learn the hardware: Wheels, Bearings & Trucks
What are longboard trucks?
Trucks are that part of a longboard that allows them to turn and provide the axels for the wheels. The most popular trucks for a longboard are the kingpins, but one can also pick the standard kingpins. They’re a great option, especially for smaller longboard setups. They are normally 150mm wide for decks that are under 8.5" and about 180mm wide for decks that are above 8.5". For longboards, the latter is the most common. The axle has to be about the same width as your board.
Now it's time to choose the wheel size.
When choosing the wheel size, we’re basing the decision on the deck’s dimensions as with the trucks, but this time we need to pay attention to the length. The length will vary by the board but as a general factor, you will need to get your wheels based on the board size, the smaller the board, the smaller the wheels have to be. Take the following guideline into consideration when choosing your longboard:
- For a longboard length of 50", you will generally need wheels that are between the size of 75-100mm
- For a longboard length of 42", you will generally need wheels that are between the size of 65-75mm
- For a longboard length of 34", you will generally need wheels that are between the size of 60-65mm
When it comes to the durability of your wheels, the softer they are, the more shock-absorbent they are, and are made mainly for cruising. Harder wheels are made for freestyle and freeride and the hardest for downhill.
In terms of shape, a round lip provides a more predictable slide and a quick response while a square lip is for cruising, it has more grip and it’s good for straighter riding.
Bearings. The better the bearings are, the longer your wheels will roll with a single push. In this scenario, the best bearings are the ceramic ones as they are the most frictionless but they’re also more expensive. Normal bearings are also good but you have to keep an eye on them as they will have to be maintained, kept clean, and lubed.
It can be challenging to decide on the perfect longboard for your individual needs and aspirations when it comes to longboarding. We hope that now that you’ve been provided with a more comprehensive understanding of the pros and cons of various longboards, the selection process will become less intimidating and overwhelming. You can now confidently choose a board that aligns with both your short-term and long-term longboarding goals. It's important to note that while different longboards may be better suited for specific activities, such as downhill racing or cruising, most longboards are still able to provide a great riding experience for a wide range of uses. Now you are equipped to make an informed decision and embark on your longboarding journey with confidence.