Buying a longboard may not be the easiest thing that you can ever do. This can be attributed to the fact that numerous choices of boards are available on the market. Based on this, it is somewhat confusing to single out a longboard that is good enough to meet your expectations. Fortunately, it may not be as complicated as it seems. There are certain reliable tips that you can use to choose a longboard whose attributes are in line with your desired preferences.
Here is how it works:
Choose your style
In general, you have to pick a deck, trucks, and wheels based on your longboarding style. It is thus important to ascertain your desired style before you can go to a shopping mall or nearby store. Although the longboarding styles are the ones that matter most, the abilities of the user also matter to a very significant extent. Based on this, you also have to take into account your skills before you can proceed to buy a certain longboard.
Since the longboarding styles are the ones that matter most, they will be given more attention compared to the ability levels. There are at least three styles of longboarding that are known. Here is a look at some of the most notable ones that are known today.
Cruising is sometimes referred to as carving is all about longboarding under very high speeds. It is one of the fastest ways of longboarding and thus requires a lot of experience before engaging in it. A good number of longboarding fanatics often spend most of their time cruising to class, down the hill or crossing busy streets. This kind of style may also be very dangerous at times depending on the road that you are dealing with.
However, it is not as dangerous as the other types described below since it often involves riding on hills that are gradually sloping or slightly sloping streets. You need a perfect longboard to enable you to cruise along steadily sloping hills. A number of features of longboards have to be taken into account when searching for a cruising longboard. Most of the features are highlighted in the passage later.
This is one of the most popular ways of longboarding. It attracts longboarding fanatics that are interested in rough rides. It is sometimes referred to as bombing hill because it is the only style which is specifically meant for steep hills and streets. This style requires full-fledged experience as it is often dangerous and life threatening. You need to be in complete control of yourself while bombing a hill or hitting a steep slope.
In most cases, fanatics of this style usually wear protective gear to guarantee their safety during the activity and shortly after. There are specific features of a longboard that you have to take into account in order to be able to choose a longboard that is good enough to meet your style requirements. These are highlighted later in the passage.
This one is somewhat more dangerous than the other two styles described already. It involves taking up very challenging and life threatening courses including very steep slopes and highly curved streets. While riding on such streets, you will be required to be in full control of your speed especially when you reach curves and steep slopes.
This style is often reserved for experienced riders. It is something that you can only be sure to take up once you have ascertained your level of experience. The right features of a longboard that is suitable for free riding are described later in the passage.
Although free ride and free style longboarding often appear to be similar in nature, they are very different. Free ride is meant for individuals that have just started riding longboards. Therefore, it is all about riding in a manner that pleases the rider with less emphasis on perfection. This is perhaps the only style that is specifically meant for anyone who has an interest in longboarding. Specific features of a longboard that is capable of meeting the requirements of free style longboarding are indicated later in the passage.
The major components of longboards
Basically, the components are not different from those of a standard skateboard. But, there are certain features which are modified for purposes of meeting the requirements of longboarding. In particular, features that are specifically required for vibration dampening are changed on a longboard to enable them to successfully meet this requirement.
The major components are deck, truck, wheels or bearings, and bushings. This is what makes up a complete set of parts. Each of the parts will now be described in detail in order to help you choose the right longboard depending on your style.
Decks are made of sturdy wood of various kinds, a common ones are maple birch and bamboo (if you want to know more about complete bamboo longboards you can check our review of top 10 bamboo longboards on the market). It may contain many layers of wood stuck together to form a complete board. However, most decks consist of up to ten layers of wood glued together to form a platform for the rider’s feet or shoe bottom. The overall configuration of the deck may vary depending on the style of riding.
But, it usually comes with cambers, a smooth finish and functional features such as concaves and pop-ups. When choosing a longboard, you have to be extra careful. This is mainly there are common overlaps in the features of each of the styles that are available today. Therefore, several decks may be suitable for a variety of styles.
Here are some notable guides on how to choose a longboard deck based on style.
The pintail shape has long been recognized as one of the best longboards which feature a deck that is specifically suitable for cruising. It is thus a good board to consider before you can lay your hands on a cruising specific board. With a length of 40-45 inches, the pintail shaped board is the best for cruising. In order to guarantee your safety and comfort, you also have to consider the ability of the deck to absorb vibrations, especially when riding on course terrains that are rough. Therefore, your cruising deck is supposed to be large, heavy and stable.
A freestyle deck is definitely supposed to be as stable and as stiff as possible since it is required to be able to absorb more vibrations than a deck for cruising. A deck with a wheelbase whose dimensions range between 20 and 28 inches is perfect for freestyle riding.
Free ride decks are normally supposed to be perfect enough to absorb the agonizingly daunting vibrations that are generated during rides on steep slopes. For this reason, they feature a deck with a much longer wheel base often ranging 25 and 30 inches. They also feature a high measure of stiffness and concavity which is quite aggressive in nature.
The decks for these usually come with a wheel base that ranges between 25 and 32 inches since they are specifically designed to accommodate very high speeds. Aggressive concavity is also exhibited by these decks, and they closely resemble the free ride decks.
Wheels based on style
Just like decks, wheels of longboards also have to be designed according to the style of the rider. It is also advisable to be familiar with the features of other boards before you can choose a specific longboard for your style.
There are certain special features that you have to take into account when choosing wheels as indicated below:
The dimensions of all wheels that are available on the market is mainly in inches and millimeters. The diameter of a wheel is the overall height of the wheel as measured from top to bottom. Wheels that are smaller are slower compared to the bigger ones. Based on this, the slower wheels are suitable for styles that do not require maximum speed. A diameter ranging between 54 and 59 mm is often suitable for beginners. Therefore, it is a good choice of wheels for individuals engaging in freestyle longboarding.
Extra-large wheels such as those ranging between 64 and 80 mm in diameter are perfect for riding styles that involve greater speeds and more intensity coupled with a generation of vibrations continuously. Therefore, you can go for extra-large wheels if you are fanatic of downhill, free ride, and cruising.
These are the edges of the wheel’s contact patch. Thick and sharp lips often mean that the wheel will be able to grip perfectly on many riding surfaces. Rounded lips are perfect for riding courses that frequently alternate between rough and smooth. Round lips are perfect for free ride, while sharp lips are perfect for downhill and cruising. The choice of the lips does not really matter if you are a freestyle rider.
This is the surface of the wheel that gets in contact with the ground. The common range for wheel contact patches is 30 to 70 mm. The narrower contact patches are preferred for free ride boards while the wider choices are preferred for downhill rides. Even wider contact patches are necessary for freestyle and cruising styles.
Today, a good number of wheels feature patches of a stone ground type. This type is able to grip perfectly to the surface of any ground. It is thus perfect for almost all types of riding styles especially the downhill and free ride.
This is mainly the overall hardness of a wheel or its resistance to scratching once in contact with a surface. The common durometer range lies between 75 and 88. This feature affects the grip and overall speed of a wheel. Lower durometer wheels can grip better than those whose durometer is higher.
However, they have lower speeds compared to the wheels whose durometer is lower. Therefore, the lower durometer wheels are preferred by riders that engage in cruising and freestyle longboarding. On the other hand, the higher durometer wheels are often preferred by riders that engage in downhill and free ride.
This is an important characteristic when choosing wheels. The formula affects the sliding and gripping characteristics of a wheel. But, the urethane formula is very easy to choose based on the fact that it has been characterized as either downhill or free ride by the manufacturers. Find out the urethane formula of your wheel before you can buy a wheel.
Trucks based on style
For the trucks, it is usually important to take into account the width of the trucks. You also have to consider the brand of the trucks. There are two major types of trucks that are available today; the standard kingpin and the reverse kingpin type. The choice of the trucks is primarily based on the riding style that you engage in.
Under normal circumstances, the width of your truck is supposed to be equal to that of the deck or at least very close in case you fail to find one that matches your deck. Generally, it is often advisable to have trucks whose width is a little bit more than that of the deck. The converse is often not advisable because it may impact negatively on the stability.
This principle of choosing trucks based on how close they are to the width of the deck applies to all styles. But, you have to make sure you fully understand what the manufacturer is referring to each time you compare the truck width and that of the deck.
Buying a bearing is quite tricky. But, it becomes easy since you will mostly be required to choose the bearings based on the ABEC rating system. According to the rating system, there are bearings whose grades can be 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9.
A grade is said to be perfect if it is quite close to 9. This is because the stability of the bearing and its friction reduces as you draw closer to 9. Bearings of grade 5 are perfect for beginners and those free styling. Free ride and downhill require bearings of grade 7 or better.