Longboards and essentially big skateboards often built for a specific purpose. Maybe you’ve seen a youtube video of some people flying down a hill really fast, or you want to cruise on the sea front on a fun board or maybe you just want to upgrade some parts- We’ve got you covered. We have a beginners guide to every aspect so you can confidently buy the gear that you need.
Let’s start right from the beginning. What is longboarding?….
Longboard Styles and disciplines
Longboards come in lots of different shapes and sizes with different trucks and wheels. You can either buy a complete set up or you can customise your own for that perfect ride. Most beginners buy a complete and upgrade as you improve. Warning! Skating’s really addictive and you will eventually find yourself adding your own little flair and personality to your trusty set up.
So the question is what kind of skating will you be doing? That will help you pick out what you need.
- Downhill skateboarding– Downhill skateboarding is gaining popularity, especially on viral videos. Whats not to like about going really fast on some wood with wheels!
- Slalom Skateboarding– A fine art of weaving through Cones with acceleration and precision. These setups are finely tuned to ensure you get that 10th of a second of your slalom time.
- Freeriding – Slam the board sideways and watch the wheels drift out in a slide. Freeriders often blast down the hills executing various slides wearing the wheels down so a good set of wheels that you enjoy is vital!
- Tech sliding/ pool/ street skateboarding– This setup can do quite a lot and is basically a street skateboard setup , maybe a little wider with a different set of wheels, it’s all personal preference but the possibilities are endless.
- Freestyle longboarding – Quite similar to street skateboarding but on a bigger board. Who said you can’t kickflip and go fast on the same board!
- Cruising and dancing– If you’re looking to get your lifestyle vibe going this one is definitely a relaxing way to get about. Cruising can be done on any board but theres some that are more geared towards fashion and portability and some that are all about style. Dancing on a longboard utilizes fancy footwork and some cool tricks. It’s all about having fun!
Its probably a good idea to get a board that you can do multiple disciplines on to get the most fun and bang for your buck! Or like most hardcore riders…. Buy a setup for each 😉 #Jackofalltrades
Things to look at while buying longboard
Longboards come in different shapes, sizes and truck mounting styles. To decide what longboard, you need you have to know what style you are going to ride.
Wheelbase is important parameter while buying a longboard. Wheelbase is a distance between inner truck mounting holes of board and affect stability and turning capabilities. Our longboards come with wheelbases ranging between 14”-35”
Length is a distance between nose and tail of the board. Shorter longboards will turn better, but can be less stable and will have less space to stand on. Our longboards come with length ranging between 25.5” – 48”.
Nose and Tail
Nose is a front part of the longboard, where tail is at the back. Some freestyle longboards have steeper nose/tail known as kicktails. Kicktails are used to pop board while performing tricks.
Flex defines how flexible deck is. Different manufacturers have different scales; thus you should refer to manufacturer specification to find right flex for you. Decks with high flex are perfect for cruising, carving, dancing and freestyle as they offer nice shocks dampening. Decks with stiff flex are most common in downhill and freeride as they offer much more stability at higher speeds.
Concave is a sideways shape of your deck, there are various concave styles to fit different riding styles and personal preferences. Concave will affect how your feet are placed on a board and also how much control you have while riding. Check our concave guide to see which one will fit you best.
Camber & Rocker
Camber/Rocker is a lengthwise curve of longboard, camber longboards have a curve that goes upwards. Decks with camber concave have unique flex feel. Rocker has a curve that points downwards and minimal flex, which makes them perfect for freeride.
Mounting holes are holes where you mount your trucks to the deck, there are two styles of mounting holes – New School and Old School. Modern trucks are usually coming with both mounting hole layouts, however, make sure that they match before ordering them.
It is not part of the deck, but it’s essential to mount your trucks to the deck. Depending on thickness of your deck, riser pads you use and trucks you need different length of hardware. Check the figure below to see what hardware you need.
Top mount – trucks are mounted in a classical style under the deck, it increases the centre of mass point and provides a bit less stability comparing to drop-through. They provide nice leverage that allows to do tricks.
Drop-through – trucks are mounted through the deck (deck must have special cut outs to allow fitting the baseplate on top part of deck). Hanger is attached underneath the deck. Drop through decks have unique shapes to prevent wheels from touching the deck. Drop-through decks are good for beginners as they provide much more stability than top mount decks. Provides much leverage than top-mount and it’s much harder to pop the board.
Dropped deck – trucks are mounted in top mount style, but the middle of the platform is lowered. This style has a unique wheel of top mount style as well as higher stability like in drop-through decks. Some dropped decks offer drop-through mount that lowers the centre of gravity even more.
Flush mount – trucks are mounted underneath the board, but deck has a special slot to fit baseplate. It slightly lowers the centre of gravity, but still provides a decent leverage.
Longboards have various concave options, concave is a sideways shape of your deck. Different concave styles will provide different feel and controllability of the board.
Grip tape is a grainy tape that is being applied on top part of your deck. It allows you to control your board and ensures that your feet won’t be slipping on the board. You will need grip tape in most of your setups – apart from bare foot dancers which are not that common.
Grip tapes are coming in different colours, some of them might have laser cut-outs and different grit that affects how well it will hold your feet in place. Usually the lower the grit, the grippier tape is.
Grip tapes are coming in various sizes, so make sure that the grip tape you order is big enough to cover your longboard.
Wheels are important part of your longboard and there are different lip styles, diameters, duro ratings, contact patches, core placement and core materials. You should think what you are going to use your longboard for to choose the right wheel for you.
Most of the wheels we offer are between 52mm and 83mm, however most of the longboards use 62mm-83mm wheels. Smaller wheels are suitable for street riding or specia slide setups.
Small wheels accelerate much better than big ones, but they are slower than big ones. If you’re going to cruise a lot bigger wheels will behave much better on rough surfaces.
Durometer is a standard of measuring wheel’s hardness. There are two different durometer scales. Most of the manufacturers use A scale – which is a 100-point scale to express wheel hardness. Second scale is B scale which is less popular and is mostly used for harder wheels, B scale measures 20 points lower than A scale, so 100A wheel hardness will be equal to 80B.
Softer wheels are much better for cruising as they have more grip and behave better on rough surfaces.
Harder wheels are good for street, skate park and other smooth surfaces as they offer less grip and slide more.
Longboard wheels come with different lip shape. Different lip shapes will be suitable for different riding styles and will affect how stable and grippy wheels are.
Contact patch defines how much of your wheel touches the ground and is affected by wheel width and lip shape. The higher the contact patch is, the grippier wheels will be.
Wheel core placement defines the placement of the wheel core, it is divided to three categories.
- Offset – offset wheels have a core placed closer to truck, that allows rider to use trucks with lower axle length. Offset wheels are much more grippier than other types due to force distribution.
- Centerset – centerset wheels have core placed in the middle of the wheel, that allows equal force distribution. Centerset wheels last longer and you can flip them once they start to wear down – which should prolong their life.
- Sideset – sideset wheels have core placed on the side of the wheel, they are one of the slidiest wheels available. Most of the force is being applied on internal edge of the wheel – that’s why they’re that easy to slide. The downside is that they wear down much faster.
Longboard trucks are metal parts that you attach to bottom of your deck. That’s what hold your wheels, bearings and deck together. Trucks are responsible for turning and come in different styles depending on the riding style. Opposingly to skateboard trucks, longboard trucks usually come with reverse kingpin (kingpin face outwards rather than inwards – that provides better stability and sit slightly lower that traditional kingpin trucks.
Trucks are made of multiple parts including:
- Baseplate – a part that is directly attached to your deck.
- Axle – a long metal bar that goes through the hanger, that’s what wheels are attached to.
- Hanger – a triangle shaped part that supports the axle, it is mounted in the baseplate.
- Kingpin – a bolt that holds baseplate and hanger together.
- Bushings – rings made of urethane, they are fitted around kingpin supporting the hanger. There are different durometer options for bushings where soft ones will allow you to do sharper turns.
There are three main factors when choosing trucks for your longboard – axle width, angle and kingpin style. Choosing the right truck size for your deck is really important as it will affect performance of your board. Axle width should be as close as possible to your deck width.
Angle of trucks will specify how much your trucks will lean will turning. Trucks we offer come in various angles ranging between 8 degrees – 50 degrees. Trucks with higher angles lean much more, which allows to do sharper turns, but they are less stable. Depending on riding style you will need different truck style.
Metal, round cylinders that are fit inside wheels and slide on axle. All longboard and skateboard bearings come in a standard size – 22mm outer diameter, 8mm internal hole diameter and 7mm height.
Bearings allow your wheels to spin freely. They come in different ABEC ratings. ABEC rating is an industrial standard that specifies manufacturing tolerances of internal parts of bearings. ABEC rating does not consider important factors like load handling, materials or lubrication; thus, ABEC rating is not accurate way of measuring performance. ABEC rating ranges from ABEC 1 to ABEC 11, where ABEC 1 should be the least precise and ABEC 11 the most. Sometimes ABEC 9 bearings manufactured by one company can be slower than ABEC 3 bearings manufactured by another company due to factors mentioned above.
Longboard building checklist
Buying longboard can seem complicated in the beginning as there are loads of various parts you need to build it. Below you will find list of parts and tools to successfully build a longboard.
- Grip tape
- Utility knife aka Stanley knife
- Skate tool (you could use set of wrenches and screwdriver/Allen key, but it’s much easier to use skate tool as it includes all tools you need and it takes less space)
We highly recommend getting protective gear that includes helmet, elbow, knee pads and slide gloves (if you want to do slides). If you are unsure which one to get – check our protective gear buying guide.