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What is a Longboard and How Does It Compare to a Skateboard

If you’ve ever seen people longboarding before, whether in a real encounter or on TV, two questions that usually pop-up to mind are:

 What is a Longboard?

Simply put, a longboard is a type of sports equipment that is similar to a skateboard but is much longer. Longboards are certainly a subcategory of skateboards; in other words, all longboards ARE skateboards. The distinction really is between a longboard and a shortboard, which we’ll refer to as a skateboard as that is the most common term it is known for. The world of skateboarding was born sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s when Californian surfers wanted something to do when waves were flat.  Since then, longboarding was born and has since gained lots of popularity. Just look at the chart below from Google Trends:

Longboards, like skateboards, are comprised of various different components including the deck, trucks, wheels and bearings. The image below shows an exploded view of a skateboard which is no different than the parts in a longboard.

Anatomy of a Longboard

As shown in the figure, a longboard can be broken down into the following parts.

Grip Tape – This is the sandpaper-like material that lines the top surface of the longboard deck. It serves to provide traction between the longboarder’s shoes and the longboard.

Deck – The deck is the part of the longboard which you stand on. Longboard decks are usually made of maple and/or bamboo material for strength and durability. The longboard deck can come in a variety of different shapes including pintail, blunt, mini cruise and twin. In addition, the longboard deck can be mounted to the trucks in numerous different configurations.

Trucks – A longboard truck is the metal T-shaped piece that is mounted on the underside of the longboard deck. Longboard trucks come in a variety of styles, with a wider truck translating into a larger turning radius. A longboard has a set of 2 trucks which are responsible not only for attaching the longboard deck to the wheels, but also, play a major role in how well your longboard turns. Trucks can be further broken down into separate distinct parts: axle, hanger, kingpin, bushings and baseplate.

Axle – The axle of your trucks is the long pin that runs through the hanger and attaches to the wheels.

Bearings – Bearings are connected to the wheels of the longboard in order to reduce friction and allow it to spin smoothly.

Kingpin – The kingpin is the large bolt that holds the different subcomponents of the trucks together. Kingpins can be configured in the standard or reverse configuration. In the simplest sense, reverse kingpin configuration are extremely common among longboards as they are more responsive at slow speeds and stable at high speeds.

Truck Bolts – These bolts are used to mount the longboard trucks to the deck of the longboard.

Wheels – Pretty self-explanatory here, but wheels are what allows your longboard to cruise, carve, or slide on the riding surface. There are a variety of different specs for longboard wheels, including wheel diameter, contact patch, lip profile and durometer rating.

All in all, in terms of the parts used in the construction of a longboard, a longboard is no different than a skateboard.

How Does a Longboard Compare to a Skateboard?

While both longboards and skateboards have decks, wheels, trucks and other same components, the specs on these components are different in both these types of boards. The reason? Read below to find out more about the differences between a longboard and a skateboard.

Underlying Theme – Different Types of Riding Style

Freeriding

Longboards are used mainly for cruising, carving and downhill racing whereas skateboards are more suited for street use with tricks performed on ramps and pipes. Riding styles on skateboards tend to be more focused on street style and freestyle. You’ll see kickflips, ollies and grinding tricks performed almost exclusively on skateboards rather than longboards. As for longboards, they are mostly designed for a fun ride – cruising, as means of transportation. There are however riding styles such as freeriding and downhill riding that are extremely exciting and will definitely bring you an adrenaline rush.

Deck Length

In general, longboards have lengths of between 36 inches and 60 inches while a skateboard will generally measure somewhere between 28 inches and 32 inches. There are some boards which are still considered longboards, but are shorter than 36 inches. In such cases, such longboards are known as “mini longboards” rather than a skateboard due to the riding style it is designed for.

Wheel Diameter and Hardness

Besides length, the diameter of the wheels for longboards are typically larger, which is especially important for downhill racing longboards. Larger diameter wheels allow for a greater top speed which is needed for longboard riding styles such as freeriding and downhilling. The durometer rating of longboards also vary depending on the riding style the longboard is designed for. For longboards that are used in downhill racing, softer wheels are generally used as it provides a better grip. On the other hand, longboards that are used in freeriding, where slide tricks are performed, harder wheels are used which allows the longboard to skid. For cruising longboards, wheels that are in the middle of the soft-hard scale are typically used to reduce bumpiness in the ride.

Board Weight

Another thing that people usually don’t consider is weight. In general, longboards – because of their greater deck lengths – are usually heavier when compared to skateboards. However, in recent years, lighter longboards have also start to emerge by incorporating bamboo, which is lightweight, in the construction of longboard decks. In addition to making it easier to carry around, a lightweight longboard is important for those who ride downhill. Who wants to carry a heavy longboard all the way to the top of the hill after each downhill ride?

Skateboards Have Kicktails

Skateboarder at Skate Park

Because of the styles and tricks that are usually performed with skateboards, they often come equipped with kicktails. Kicktails are the slight bend at the end of the deck which allows for easy maneuvering of the board. These deck curves are extremely important in performing tricks such as ollies. Some longboards do have one kicktail, but for the most part, they don’t have any.

Commuter Longboard versus Tricky Skateboards

If you’re looking for a commuter board, you’ll want to get longboards. Longboards provide a smoother riding experience when compared to skateboard thanks to their larger, wider and softer wheels. Such wheels found on longboards are more suited for commuting as they act as shock absorbers, reducing any bumps you’ll feel when the longboard roll over cracks or any debris.

Closing Remarks

In short, the BIGGEST difference between a longboard and a skateboard is the riding styles that each board can handle. Different specifications such as deck length, diameter of the wheel and durometer rating of the wheel are different in both the longboard and the shortboards as a result of the differences in riding styles. If you’re looking to go to skate parks to perform air tricks on ramps, or grind on railings, a skateboard is what you want. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a board that you can use to smoothly get you from point A to point B, or if you like to ride on the roads and hills, a longboard is ideal for you!


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