Choosing a longboard can be a very tall task, especially if someone is new to it. When deciding which longboard to purchase, there are 4 main categories to contemplate. Those 4 categories are: Decks, Trucks, Bearings, and Wheels. Here is our run through of those 4 categories with some additional details!|
Longboard decks have a lot of shapes, and those shapes all come with their advantages for things like comfort, feel or performance. The first thing we always like our customers to ask themselves is what type of riding do you picture yourself doing? Do you see yourself going out for a nice casual cruise, or do you see yourself as a thrill seeker, trying to bombing hills? This will be very important and help shape which deck will be right for you
Common Deck Shapes
- Drop Through
- Drop Through decks are easily identified by how the longboard truck is mounted to the deck itself. The baseplate of the trucks are mounted on top of the deck and the rest of the truck "drops through" the board. The main reason boards are mounted this way is to achieve a lower center of gravity, or more stability. These decks are also great for long distance riding, especially when the deck is a little softer or flexible.
- Drop Deck
- Drop deck boards have a lowered riding platform in relation to the tip/tail of the board. This is very unique and shaped during the construction process. This is done to achieve a lower center of gravity, and creates a great sense of stability. This type of construction is usually found on downhill and freeride boards as it creates a more locked in feel for your feet. Also can be a great shape for long distance riding as it lessens fatigue. You may even find a drop through / drop deck combination board!
- The Pintail shape is the most iconic shape in all of longboarding. This is one of the first longboard shapes and is great for carving. It has a top mounted directional shape and you can find usually get one for a reasonable price. A very economic option in most cases
- Top Mount
- Top mount is not necessarily a shape but a broad term to describe how trucks are mounted. When you have a deck that is a top mounted deck, like a pintail, you gain more leverage over the truck and allows you to get into deeper carves. Most often found on cruising/carving and advanced freeride boards.
Common Deck Construction
Common Deck Features
- Sandwich Construction
- Thin veneers of wood are stacked on top of each other horizontally and laminated together with resin and pressed together in a mold that applies the pressure from top to bottom. This is the most common way of producing longboards. More plies = more stiffness.
- Vertical Lamination
- Vertical stringers of wood are placed next to each other with resin and pressed together from side to side. This results in a board with a much thinner profile with great flex and durability characteristics.
- When a longboard is made using Maple, it is more commonly a stiffer construction. This is a great option for someone who is new to longboarding as it may make them feel more stable. It also works very well for an advanced rider who is looking to maximize their speed and control.
- Bamboo constructed longboards are made to be flexible and "surfy". The ultimate goal is to try an emulate what you feel on water and it seems that bamboo is great at doing that. A very resilient material that will break in over time.
- Fiberglass/Basalt/Carbon Fiber
- Some boards might feature materials as "additives" used in combination with traditional board materials to achieve different performance characteristics. Carbon Fiber and Basalt laminates or stringers typically increase strength/stiffness and reduce weight. Fiberglass laminates usually allow a board to have a thinner profile and increase flexibility, without sacrificing durability.
- Concave is how the longboard deck is shaped from side to side. This, in addition to the griptape, will dictate how "locked in" your feet will feel. When you have steep concave, or a lot of it, you will feel more locked in and have have a greater sense of control. When you have very little concave, you will feel like you have a little more freedom to move your feet around. This gives you a looser feeling on the board and is more common with cruising and dancing shapes. Another common concave shape would be the W concave. This concave is more common on freeride and downhill boards.
- Wheel Wells / Wheel Cut Outs
- Wheel Wells and Wheel Cut Outs are aspects of the board that allow the board to accommodate a larger array of wheel sizes. Eliminating what is called wheel bite. Wheel bite happens when a board is turned and the moving wheel contacts the deck. This stops the wheel from moving and sends the rider off the board.
- Wheel wells are found on top mounted boards and are sanded into the bottom of the board.
- Wheel Cut Outs are found with Drop Through and Drop Deck shapes.
- Kick Tail
- A Kick Tail is the extra material on the outer ends of the deck, before the trucks. This area gives the board another level of maneuverability, and allows the rider to pop their board off the ground with ease. Some longboards do not have any Kick Tails, some may have one, and some may have two! Usually the types of longboards that have Kick Tails are freeride or freestyle shapes.
Longboard trucks are the hunks of metal that are directly attached the the board and where the wheels are attached to. The Trucks allow the board to turn and can come in a variety of sizes.
- Longboard bushings are the springs of a longboard truck. This make a huge difference in how a truck performs. You can get stiff bushings to create a more stable feeling, or softer bushings to allow the trucks to turn easier. Bushings will come in all sorts of shapes as well as hardness to help fine tune the truck feel.
- Longboard trucks will come in different widths. When looking at purchasing trucks, make sure you get the approriate width of truck. If you get a truck too narrow, it may not line up with the Wheel Wells / Wheel Cut Outs. If you get a truck that is too wide, it will interfere with your feet while you are pushing. Narrower trucks are easier/quicker to turn, and wider trucks are more stable/slower turning. The most common size is 180mm.
- You may encounter different styles of trucks that use non traditional ways to lean and steer. Some styles may have multiple kingpins or some may utilize springs, these allow for unique turning characteristics compared to typical longboard trucks.
- The shape of a longboard wheel is in reference to the side profile of the edge of the wheel. This will help one distinguish what the wheel is intended for.
- Square Lip Wheels
- Square Lip profiled wheels are the best shape for holding onto the road. The squared profile allows the wheel to grab the road and conform to the road surface. Usually used for cruising/carving setups, as well as downhill setups.
- Round Lip Wheels
- Round lip wheels are designed to be able to let loose from the road with more ease. Typically found on freeride or freestyle setups. Great option for those looking to get into sliding.
- With longboard wheels, there are 2 size dimensions. Wheel diameter, or height, and contact patch.
- Wheel Diameter is the height of the wheel and can be easily broken down as such: Bigger wheels maintain their speed more than smaller wheels. So if you want to push less, a bigger wheel is encouraged.
- *Note that not every board is compatible with every size wheel. So be careful about going to big if you are not able to try them in a store first.
- Contact patch is the width of the wheel. The wider the wheel the more grip you have on the road.
- Durometer is the hardness rating of the wheel. This number is easy to identify as it is always followed by the letter "A". (77A, 83A, etc.) The higher the number, the harder the wheel. (Typically wheel hardness for longboards falls between 75A and 86A)
- Harder wheels will roll faster, and slide easier, but they do not offer as smooth of a ride.
- Softer wheels create a very smooth ride, and grip very well.
- The core of the wheel is placed directly in the center of the wheel. This allows the rider to flip their wheels if need be!
- Offset wheels place the core just to the inside of center. This makes the wheel easier to break into a slide, while still giving you a decent amount of grip when you need it.
- The core of the wheel is set all the way to the inside of the wheel. This keeps the inside of the wheel from flexing, or grabbing the road. Making sideset wheels the easiest to put into a slide.
Bearings are one of the easiest categories to understand. Typically the more you spend on a bearing the better performance you will get. Typically, cheaper bearings come sealed and are meant to be replaced ever so often. More expensive bearings have a higher grade steel, and a removable bearing shield. This allows you to clean and re-lubricate your bearings. The most expensive bearings are commonly made with ceramic ball bearings and also have a removable shield.