Are you having difficulty deciding on a longboard for yourself?
Are you feeling befuddled by the thick jungle of longboard alternatives on the market? Are you dizzy from the vast selection of decks in all shapes and sizes, the many varieties of trucks, and the uncountable types of wheels?
To find the optimal longboard setup, you must first decide how you want to ride your longboard. Because a longboard is the total of its components, choosing one entails selecting the appropriate components, which in turn is highly dependent on the specific activities you want to do on your longboard.
You must understand your individual riding style. Are you mostly interested in cruising and carving? Commuting? Are you traveling great distances? Downhill freeriding or speed skating? Performing stunts and riding bowls? Dancing?
Once you’ve determined why, how, and where you’ll be riding, you’ll have a decent starting point for selecting the characteristics that are really necessary, such as the form, trucks, and wheels.
Naturally, your riding style will not totally dictate the kind of longboard that is best for you. Your surroundings, physical build, experience and aptitude to learn, as well as your tastes, all play a significant effect.
I’ll go through the most critical characteristics to consider when buying a longboard and how they might effect your riding in the next section.
Then, we’ll examine each riding style in further detail. I’ll give you the greatest summary I can of the configurations that work best for each style based on my own experience and understanding.
What you looking for?
Here’s a brief summary of the most important elements to consider while selecting the ideal longboard for you:
Deck size and wheelbase: a larger deck and a longer wheelbase result in a more stable board that can take higher speed without wobbling. However, bigger boards often have a greater turning radius.
Deck height: the height of the deck above the ground. It has an effect on the longboard’s riding sensation. Higher decks are more difficult to push / stop on (the foot travels a greater distance) and less stable. Lower decks (e.g. dropped decks) provide more maneuverability and stability.
Topmounts (deck is placed on top of the trucks) provide increased wheel leverage and responsiveness. Drop-through decks (trucks are installed through the deck) are more stable since they are lower to the ground.
Flexibility and profile of the deck: softer boards (fewer maple plies, bamboo) are better for carving and pumping, but less so for speed. Camber (curvature in the upward direction) and rocker (curvature in the downward direction) both influence flex and bounce.
Concave deck and kicks: foot pockets enable for foot lock-in, which is beneficial for carving, freeriding, and freestyle, but not so beneficial for cruising and dancing. For freestyle and street cruising, kicktails are critical.
Choosing the right longboard to cruise and carve on
Truck style: reverse kingpin (RKP) trucks, which are taller and more maneuverable, are optimal
for the majority of riding styles. Traditional kingpin trucks (TKP) are excellent for freestyle maneuvers and sometimes downhill racing.
Truck width and angle: the majority of trucks are either 150mm wide (for decks less than 8.5′′) or 180mm wide (for decks more than 8.5′′). The baseplate angle, that is, the angle between the deck and the pivot, has an effect on lean vs. turn: how far the deck must lean in order for the wheels to turn. This is especially critical while cutting, pumping, and freeriding.
Bushings: bushings play a critical role in the suspension and turning abilities of the vehicle. Select the appropriate hardness for your weight. While softer bushings are advantageous for carving and pumping, stiffer bushings are preferable for stunts.
Larger wheels roll faster – but need a deck with enough wheel space. Squared lips hold better than rounded lips, but rounder lips slip more easily.
Durometer of the wheel: tougher wheels roll quicker on flat surfaces, whereas softer wheels roll better on uneven ones. The harder the wheel, the simpler it is to slide; the softer the wheel, the more grip
Bearings: with a single push, improved bearings may set your wheels moving for much longer. Ceramic bearings are the least frictional, yet they are also the most costly. Normal bearings can function well provided they are kept clean and lubricated.
Now that we’ve established the types of characteristics to consider when selecting the best longboard for you, let’s analyze the feature combination that is most fit for your riding style.
Cruising is a term that refers to relaxing, slowly moving your longboard about at a moderate pace. When cruising, you want to be able to glance about without having to continually dodge rocks and crevices in the ground.
Carving, akin to snowboarding, requires a more dynamic riding technique that incorporates continuous spins, moving your weight back and forth, and manipulating the terrain to carve imaginary arcs.
Choosing the right trucks
For street style and skatepark riding, you’ll want strong, standard kingpin (TKP) trucks that sit higher and provide more control and mobility during tricks. Consider forged or precise trucks for extreme grinding and jumps, which are more robust than cast trucks.
Standard RKP trucks will suffice for gentle nose stunts and dancing. Choose trucks with a steeper angle (> 50o) and open bushing seats for a quicker turning radius despite the long wheelbase.
Choosing the right wheels
For street-style freestyle, most hybrid decks use 57mm wheels with durometers ranging from 78A to 82A — tougher wheels are easier to slide but less comfortable for regular riding.
You may use medium-sized wheels if you choose a medium-sized deck for smooth longboard tricks and nose rides (65-70mm). The durometer you choose will be determined by the amount of carving (softer) vs sliding (harder) you want to conduct.
Pick wheels in the 70-75mm range with square lips for grippier carving spins when cross-stepping up and down your dancer board. A durometer of roughly 80A is suitable for the majority of dance genres.
This page discusses freestyle longboarding in further detail.
Choosing the correct longboard for you is a complicated process because to the infinite possibilities of decks, trucks, and wheels – not to mention the subcomponents included inside and between them, such as bearings, bushings, hangers, and spacers. Which combination is best for you is determined by your specific use habits, riding style, and physical capabilities.
I attempted to filter through the data and summarize the most frequent decisions longboarders make for each kind of riding in this article. Hopefully, this guide will help you understand what to look for in a longboard and zero in on the board that’s ideal for you.
Nothing beats actually getting on a longboard to get a sense of how it rides, so armed with this knowledge, go to your local boardshop and try’em out before you purchase!