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Longboards: A Buyer’s Guide
Skateboards have never really gone out of fashion. While some people may have seen them as a fad back in the day, they’re used for various purposes! Some people use them for transport, while others compete in international competitions. The fact is, skateboards are here to stay, and longboards have emerged as a variation on the theme that prove extremely popular.
Longboards, in fact, are quite different from skateboards in many respects. As the name suggests, they are longer than your average board! Longboards are also extremely popular with people who want to do more with their skateboarding skills. These boards are popular with styles of boarding such as cruising and freeriding, for example. Even if you’re unsure of what these terms mean right now, everyone has to start somewhere!
This buyer’s guide is a great place to start when it comes to finding your perfect longboard. While we won’t probe too deeply into how to longboard on the whole, we will look closely at what’s out there to buy, and what you’re going to need to consider when shopping around. After all, not all longboards will offer you the same experience.
Stick around towards the end of the guide, too, as we will break down a few frequently asked questions to help you on your way.
Why Buy a Longboard?
As mentioned, longboards offer something of a different experience compared to standard skateboards. That’s because their designs offer specific control and support for various types of riding. Believe it or not, not all boards are built for grinding or half pipes!
Longboards tend to offer a lot more grip and overall support. Therefore, you may feel more comfortable using a longboard on coarse and rugged surfaces, whereas a standard skateboard will generally work best on smooth, specific terrain. That’s why many people choose longboards for cruising and riding outside of parks and designated zones. The decks are longer, and the wheels are softer.
On the whole, longboard riders will look for stability and greater room for manouvre. Thankfully, that’s not always difficult to come by. However, it’s important to remember that one size will never fit all, and that different longboards work best under specific circumstances.
Things You Should Consider
Therefore, it’s time to look at a few factors – the important bits – which will likely sway your purchase. Are you looking for a longboard that offers you more or less drag on the street? Are you likely to go freeriding, or are you more of a downhill boarder? Let’s take a closer look at what’s available to you.
Believe it or not, the size of your board’s wheels is going to impact on your experience a lot. For example, the bigger the wheels, the faster you’re likely to go. However, there is a trade-off. Bigger wheels will take longer to get up to top speed. Smaller wheels, meanwhile, will get up to speed quicker, but won’t be anywhere near as speedy as those with wider diameters. Ideally, for the fastest boards, you should be looking at a diameter of around 100mm. Anything less is going to ramp up the acceleration but decrease in speed.
Wheel hardness, too, will impact on your experience. Choose a wheel that’s 90a in durometer, and you’ll get more drag, and less grip. The opposite is true, of course, if you opt for something as low as 75a. The letter grades, too, are important – ‘a’ normally means you get a softer wheel, while ‘b’ means you get a harder experience.
The shape of your wheels, too, is going to shape your experience. Rounder wheels are likely to offer less traction when you take wide curves and turns. These wheels are perfect if you are likely to get into freeriding, as it means you get a smoother slide on the road. However, wheels with square lips will be easier for beginners to manage, and with more traction are better for rail grinding and bombing.
As mentioned, there are many different ways to use a longboard. Some boarders choose to cruise or carve, which means heading slowly downhill – a great beginner pursuit. Others prefer freeriding, which means they will take to long drops and hills at incredible speed. This is generally best reserved for more experienced longboarders, on the whole.
Let’s not get confused with downhill boarding, which is actually a little simpler. This is where you aim to build up as much speed as you can while heading straight downhill (funnily enough). There’s also freestyling, where you really diversify – you can add tricks, grind rails, bomb down hills and more.
Why are we mentioning this? Some boards are better for different styles and uses than others. Therefore, do make sure to keep this in mind when comparing boards, and reading what verified buyers and users have to say. You’ll normally find board styles split into twin and directional. Twin boards are equal either way up and are great for tricks. Directional boards, meanwhile, are a little simpler. They are usually great for downhill and cruising, as they are built to keep moving forward.
You should also take a look at the different styles of deck available. Yes, there’s more to consider! However, let’s keep things simple.
You’ll normally find a top mount deck to be fairly common. These decks have a high centre of gravity and tend to be good all-rounders for most styles of longboarding. However, you’ll likely want a drop deck – which taper at the wheel ends – for lower gravity and more control. Boarders preferring downhill pursuits will choose these. Similarly, double drop boards are very popular with downhill boarders, but tend to be very pricey. They do, however, offer the most control downhill and freestyle riders will look for.
Lastly, consider drop through decks. These are very slimline and are great if you find yourself tiring out during riding. They tend to be extremely stable, and thanks to their thickness, require little physical intervention.
Frequently Asked Questions
Regardless whether you are a seasoned boarder or a novice, there are likely to be plenty of reasons why you have questions to ask when buying longboards. They are quite a bit different to normal skateboards – meaning that you could well be transitioning over and have a few queries you’d like clearing up. In any case, here are some popular queries people ask when shopping around.
Is It Easier to Ride a Longboard or a Skateboard?
It literally depends on the rider! Some people find skateboards easier to control, while others prefer longboards. The main difference lies in where you can use them, as well as the activities they are built for. Therefore, people who prefer to do tricks or grind rails might prefer skateboarding, but longboards will appeal to anyone looking for longer, smoother rides on rough terrain.
How Much Do Longboards Cost?
This varies on the type of board you buy, as well as the manufacture. It may even vary on the brand, too. Therefore, it makes sense to take a good look through what’s available online. Basic boards will generally cost around £30 – £40, however, this may vary depending on your needs and your style of boarding. Therefore, it’s important to keep an open mind and a flexible budget.
Which Style of Longboard is Best for Me?
The style of longboard best for your own use will depend on your skill level, and your overall aims. Some people buy longboards to travel with, while others will invest in them for sport and for the sheer thrill of the ride!
A good idea will be to look at what experts and other riders have to say. They will likely be able to help with some of the further intricacies introduced in this guide. Ultimately, different board shapes and features will benefit different styles of riding. Want to get somewhere fast? Maybe you just prefer a smooth ride. There are features and factors you can compare between.
Do I Need a Helmet?
Yes! While you may see plenty of people boarding without safety gear, think about your safety at all times. One slip and you could end up seriously injuring yourself. It’s our recommendation that you look for a helmet at the very least. You could invest in a hard helmet perfect for skating and other outdoor sports.
You may also wish to invest in other pads and protective gear. If you are worried about keeping safe on a board, it’s a very good idea to kit yourself out if you are just starting out. At the very least, never stop wearing a helmet. One accident could change your life for the worse.
Longboards are great fun, and what’s more, they also help you get from A to B in super-quick times. However, there are always a few things you need to think about before you buy! Use our guide as a template to start you off, and take a look at what verified buyers and boarders have to say about the best products.