Multiple factors are considered to answer “How to choose a longboard.” An essential thing before selecting a longboard is to know the purpose of why you want it or the riding style you prefer. Once you have chosen a style, it is all about the shape of the deck, quality of the bearings, sturdiness of the trucks, and durometer hardness of wheels. Our definitive guide will assist you in finding the best longboard having quality defining hardware parts.
Here are the key points you have to focus on before buying a longboard.
Importance of Riding Style
All the longboard manufacturing brands launch their products for a specific purpose. As longboarding is a vast field, people prefer multiple styles. Some want to cruise around the park, many are interested in downhill riding, and others commute considerable distances. Therefore, there are numerous types of longboards satisfying the needs of users. Your neighborhood also matters in this case. For example, you probably need a longboard with downhill riding features if you live nearby mountains.
Similarly, if you are a resident on city premises, you won’t be hitting hills often, and for flat road purposes, a longboard for cruising would fit you perfectly. Moreover, you should also consider which type of longboarding will amuse you the most. Here is how we define traditional forms of riding a longboard.
Riding down the hill is all about speed gain and maximum control. Throughout the journey, you are in a bent stance over the deck, minimizing air friction and maximizing the control on your ride. You need to be an experienced skater if you want to race down the hill, as there is every chance of getting imbalanced due to significant acceleration. We never suggest novices try this style; instead, go for a beginner longboard to gain some essential experience and then try adventurous rides.
Longboards for Freestyling
Another dauntless style of longboarding is freestyle, which includes several tricks like flips, pop-ups, dance, and goofy rides. You need to be a creative person to invent and showcase any skills and perform the usual ones. Newbies can also try to learn stuff by watching popular trick videos.
Cruising is one of the most popular types of longboarding, as every other skater does it week in week out. The reason behind its popularity is the simplicity of covering descending streets, crowded markets, or getting maximum distance per push on asphalt roads. If you are a beginner, we recommend choosing a cruising longboard because there is no complication of having skills and experience.
Longboards for Freerides
Freeride is all about sliding with an average speed on the hills or curbsides. However, Freeride longboards have an exceptional capability of controlling the acceleration on more declining streets or hills. As control and stability are vital, freeride longboards are suitable for professionals, while amateurs can switch to freeriding after earning confidence through cruising or carving. You can choose the best freeride longboard among multiple choices with an extensive guide.
How Long Should My Longboard Be?
Length of the Deck
Stability of the deck and taking perfect turns around the corners mostly depend on the length of your longboard. More extended boards will have more stability while turning capability is inversely proportional. On the other hand, taking responsive turns becomes practically impossible at high speed as the deck’s length increases. So, the answer to “what size longboard should I get?” depends on the riding style you have chosen and your height as well.
If your preferred riding style is cruising and you are 5’10” or less, a 34-40 inches longboard will help you cruise comfortably. If you are taller than that, go for a longboard with a deck length of more than 40 inches. That is to say, you can differentiate longboarding and cruising by telling the size of the deck.
Freestyle and Free Riding
These types of longboards don’t specify a person’s height. Therefore, longboards of 39 inches to 42 inches would fit perfectly for any freestyler or free rider. But, it is important to test the flexibility and sturdiness of the deck first if you are a heavier person.
Length for Downhill Riding
Unlike freestyle, downhill riding is critical and needs everything in place for a safe ride. Therefore, an average height person should go for a longboard with a board length between 36 to 41 inches. While taller people having a height more than 5’10’’ should get a 42’’ plus longboard to have a relatively safer ride. You can disappear the chances of injuries by wearing a solid longboard helmet and gloves.
Flex in the Deck
From our experience on several longboards, we noticed that they come with loads of different flex rankings. There are multiple features influencing the flex of a board i.e. material used in the construction of it, concaveness, lamination, and obviously the length. Longboards usually have three types of flex ranks while each of them has its own applications. Also go through, How long do longboards last.
This one suits motorized longboards or downhill longboards as the stiffness helps bring stability to the ride. Also, this flex makes longboards the least lenient while crossing rough terrains. Some professionals recommend Stiff flex boards for free rides as well. Moreover, the more complex the deck, the longer it will stand the chance of lasting. The picture below defines the hardness of a good-quality deck made with seven layers of any material. In terms of flexibility, these kinds of decks will be less flexible than others.
If you want to have rides where your feet aren’t stuck with the deck, medium flex boards will provide you with little bouncy rides yet stable ones at impressive speed. In addition, the springy ride will serve in easy pushes, and the flex will bear annoying shocks on bumpy roads. Therefore, you can pick a longboard with medium flex for carving and commuting.
We discovered the only admirable feature in soft flex longboards is their shock absorption ability. Other than that, it wobbles constantly, even at average speed. Hence, we only recommend this type of longboard for simple cruising and dancing stuff. In short, softness in the deck guarantees flexibility but you can never rely on their weight bearing ability.
The Difference in Longboard Shapes
As the name suggests, these boards can go in a single direction; forward. One of the most popular designs falls into the directional boards category in Pintail. Except for some anomaly, almost all longboards for cruising, carving, and downhill riding are directional. Here’s the diagram of a directional board.
The directional ones are curved with an even design like the highlighted part of the image defines.
Unlike directional boards, Twin symmetrical have decks designed symmetrically from both ends, which means they can be used either forward or backward. We recommend these boards for freestyle and freeride because they can do slides in straight angles, i.e., any angles between 0-180 degrees. For better understanding, see the image below;
Deck designs are responsible for several crucial factors everyone looks for in the longboard. From stability to ease of using feet to brake, from the comfort of pushing the board to how long a push can generate distance, all these factors depend on the style of deck. For example, it would be best to look for a longboard with a deck closer to the ground. A close-to-ground deck will bring more stability, and your minimal pushes will let the board travel more distance than longboards with higher-to-ground decks.
Here are the best deck designs available in the market.
1. Drop Deck
Their unique design has the deck of the board sitting lower than the longboard trucks. As per professional skaters, drop deck designs lower the central gravity to a great extent. After testing White Wave Drop Deck Longboard, we concluded that the claim about gravity is true because of the stability it brought and the minimal effort we had to put in to have a comfortable ride. You will find these designs in downhill boards and freestyle ones.
Best Drop-Deck Longboards
White Wave Bamboo
2. Top Mount
The most economical and popular longboards are Top Mount ones. The trucks sit lower than the deck, expanding the distance between the floor and the board, hardly creating any center of gravity. Due to the mounted board, the stability doesn’t match the standard of Drop Deck longboards. The advantage of this design is its responsiveness as you can ride in a zigzag manner comfortably, and sharper turns become evident. Their versatility is another reason for their wide acceptance among newbies and professionals. You will find the Top Mount deck in cruising longboards, carving, bombing hills, and free rides.
Best Top-Mount Longboards
Drop-through designs are different from Drop Deck and Top-mounted ones. What makes them different is that their deck and trucks are at the same level. So, compared to top-mounted, Drop-through generates enough center of gravity to bring more stability and ease of pushing.
On the other hand, compared to Drop-deck design, drop-through boards are higher to the ground, providing less stability than Drop-deck longboards. Therefore, if you are looking for a longboard that gives continuous riding time, ease, and comfortability, Drop-through designs are the most suitable.
Best Drop-Through Longboards
Longboard Wheel Guide
The wheels of a longboard have multiple responsibilities to handle, and one of the most important is speed. The durometer hardness of a wheel tells whether the wheels will roll fast or slow. The higher the hardness, the lower the rate and vice versa. Besides acceleration, wheels are also responsible for how they behave on taking corners. If the wheels are at enough distance from the deck, you will take curves swiftly. Moreover, style and diameter also matter for the performance of rollers.
Diameter of Longboard Wheels
Wheels with more diameter will undoubtedly have more grip on the road than the thinner rollers. But, as the width increases, the speed decreases ultimately. The height of the wheels also matters as taller wheels have an impressive capability of rolling over rough terrain smoothly. Compared to large wheels, smaller wheels will generate more speed, but their resistance on certain surfaces becomes poor. Concludingly, you either have to compromise with speed or the longevity of the rollers.
Styles of Longboards’ Wheels
There are two popular shapes of wheels in a longboard, and both of them are impressive in their respective criteria. Square Wheels has a square edge that generates a firm grip with the surface of skating. Due to the essential grip, needed friction comes into the game to provide resistance while sliding. On the other hand, Round Lip Wheels have rounded edges, as the name suggests. These wheels generate minimal friction, hence, are better for faster rides like downhill journeys. Read more about the wheels reviewed by us.
The task assigned to bearings is to help wheels spin. Their quality-check meter is called ABEC. If the ABEC rating is less, the wheels will generate less speed and vice versa. But, again, it depends on what style of longboarding you like. If you like faster rides, go for ABEC9 or ABEC11 bearings along with softer wheels on the durometer. Opposite to that, if you intend to cruise on flat surfaces, ABEC3 bearings will suit your wheels perfectly.
The performance of bearings depends on their consistent maintenance. Regular updates on bearings will let them last longer and perform better. You need to get the bearings out, clean them up, lubricate them, and place them where they belong. The maintenance procedure is of hardly 5 minutes and never a tedious task.
What are the Best Longboarding Trucks
If you are a beginner, trucks are the medium that attaches wheels to the board. Their fundamental duty is to let the rider take turns comfortably. Unlike skateboard trucks, longboards have reverse kingpin technology to provide better zigzag mobility and stability. The kingpin in the truck can be adjusted according to your riding style. Loosen the trucks and enjoy the fast ride and tighten them if you have many corners to cross.
To buy a longboard, firstly, you need to define the purpose or your preferred riding style. Then, choose a longboard that performs better according to what we elaborated about deck shapes, deck design, wheels, trucks, and bearings. Here is a review of multiple Best Longboards falling in every riding style category to get a better idea of which longboard to buy.