With more than hundreds of available longboard options available in the market, it can be challenging and overwhelming to choose the proper longboard for you — from choosing the deck’s shape and size, kinds of trucks, to the type of bearing and wheels. The combination of choosing a longboard is limitless.
If you are beginning your longboarding journey, it is essential to get the correct longboard set up to accommodate your preferred ride style, skill level, functionality, and of course, style. In our previous article, we have tackled the different components of a longboard that will determine its overall performance.
The first factor to think of when purchasing a longboard is what will your most dominant riding style will be. Do you like the fast-paced exhilaration from cruising and carving? Will you ride a skateboard as an alternative mode of commuting? Do you like to experience the adrenaline of riding downhill? Or do you prefer the elegance of “dancing” on a longboard?
Once you are sure of your preferred ride style, you now have a good starting point for selecting the components you really need, such as the deck shape, trucks, wheel types, and bearing ABEC rating.
Keep in mind that the riding style is not only the factor that will determine what kind of longboard you will get. You also have to consider your physical build, your skill level, and your learning ability. Here is a comprehensive guide to help you decide which longboard to get.
What To Look For On Your Next Longboard?
Here are the key factors and features to look out for when choosing the perfect longboard for you.
Longboarding offers a variety of different styles of riding and each style offers a different purpose and ride feel. The first thing you need to consider when choosing your preferred style is the available terrain in your area.
If your surrounding area is mostly flat, smooth terrain, then cruising and carving may be the perfect option. Whereas if you live nearby a slope, then you can experience downhill racing and freestyling. Here are the most popular riding styles you can choose from.
- Downhill Racing
Downhill racing is an exhilarating way to race as fast as possible down the hills, reaching up to 80 mph. A longboard is an excellent board to use because it offers better balance and control of direction even at fast speeds.
Downhill racing has been around for decades and has been well accepted by the skating community because of its exhilarating factor. It is considered an extreme sport, so if you are going to attempt to speed down a hill, wear full-face helmets and an overall outfit with elbow and knee protection for guaranteed safety.
If downhill racing is too extreme for you, then you might like cruising, a longboard riding style in a relaxed and fluid way with an average speed of 6 mph. It is typically done in a flat road and city streets, cruising around the area for pleasure.
Nowadays, electric longboards have become a popular mode of transport especially among college students and office workers. It works by adding powerful motors and powerful battery packs on the bottom side of the longboards, making it an efficient and eco-friendly way to get from one place to another.
- Longboard Dancing
Longboard dancing is a subset style of freestyling that involves dancing, walking, and cross-stepping on a longboard. These movements form elegant and stylish body movements that are also more challenging because the board is consecutively rolling and carving on a flat surface. Think of it as ice skate dancing but on land.
Freeriding is similar to the discipline of snowboarding. It entails a discipline that involves sliding and doing freestyle tricks while going down a sloped terrain. It focuses on performing power slides to control the descent.
There are two basic deck shapes that all other designs fall into — directional and symmetrical decks. Both of these shapes are beginner and expert-friendly.
- Directional Deck
Directional decks are meant to only go in one forward direction. If you cut the deck in half horizontally from nose to tail, the halves would be different from one another. The most popular directional deck design is the pintail, which we will get deeper into in the next section.
- Symmetrical Deck
The symmetrical deck can be ridden either forwards and backward and it will feel the same regardless of the direction. If you are planning to do any 180° slides (commonly executed in freeriding and freestyle), then the symmetrical deck is the way to go.
The deck style of a longboard plays a significant role when it comes to stability, and ease to execute different tricks and techniques.
As a general rule of thumb, the higher the board is from the ground, the higher the center of gravity would be, which results in less stability and the need for greater pushing and foot-braking. Whereas, the lower the board, the less leverage you need to execute quick carves and the more likely you will struggle on tight turns. Here are the different kinds of deck styles to choose from and what riding style it is best used for.
- Top Mount
Top mount is considered to be the most traditional deck shape both in longboards and skateboards, and it is also the most affordable. The deck is mounted above the trucks so the center of gravity is higher as well. The mounted deck will result in a less stable but more nimble ride since it has better turn leverage.
Best for: These boards are versatile for any kind of riding style such as cruising, carving, downhill, freeride, and freestyle.
- Drop Through
The drop-through deck features trucks that are mounted through the board, which translates into a lower deck height. This results in a more stable ride and a reduced force when pushing and braking because you have to lower your foot less to contact the ground.
Best for: These boards are great for commuting, freeride, and downhill riding styles.
- Drop Deck
Drop decks are molded in a way where the area of your feet is lower than the trucks. This results in a lower center of gravity, better stability, and less force when braking or pushing. The significance of the drop is typically dictated in inches that can be found in the product description (ex. “0.625 inches dropped riding platform”).
Best for: The drop deck style is typically found on downhill racing and some freeride boards.
Pintail decks closely resemble the shape of a surfboard — a wider nose with a narrower tail. They are typically partnered with a top mount, which gives it a stable, yet more challenging to push.
Best for: Cruising and easy riding on smooth, flat terrain.
Longboard decks are made from a variety of combinations of plywood layers sandwiched together like a laminated window — anywhere from two to eleven layers. The most common woods used are birch, bamboo, maple, koa, or oak wood. These numerous combinations produce different quality flexes which translates to different flex ratings that are categorized into three.
Soft flex decks offer excellent shock absorption on rough roads, making them a perfect deck for mellow cruising. This deck can be difficult and unstable to ride at medium to high speeds.
Medium stiffness will provide a spring-like feel that is beneficial on carves and bumpy terrains. They are the perfect deck for carving, moderate speed cruising, and commuting
Stiff decks lack the spring-like feel making them unstable to ride on bumpy and rough terrains. However, they exhibit excellent stability at higher speeds, making them the perfect deck for downhill racing and free-riding.
Longboard bearings make it possible for the wheels to roll smoothly as if there is no friction, which results in flawless stunt and great speeds. Usually, bearings are made from steel but there are also variants made from titanium and ceramics, which are usually higher in price.
Bearings are rated in the ABEC scale, with ratings from 1-9, using only odd numbers. The higher the ABEC rating, the more precise tolerances will be.
- ABEC-3 bearings are typically used for cruising.
- ABEC-5 is used for freeriding.
- ABEC 5–7+ bearings are perfect for downhill and racing.
Generally, longboard wheels can be measured in diameter and durometer. The diameter is the size of the wheels, while the durometer shows how hard the wheels are. Both of these factors will depend on what you prefer, as well as what the skating purpose is.
On average, longboard wheels measure from 65 to 107 millimeters (2.6 to 4.2 in) in diameter. The wider the wheels, the slower the acceleration but a faster-rolling speed, whereas the smaller the wheels, the faster the acceleration but a slower-rolling speed.
The durometer determines the hardness of the wheels. A softer wheel will be ultimately slower than a harder wheel on a smooth surface. When the road surface gets rougher, a softer wheel provides a smoother, faster ride.
To execute a smooth ride and better overall riding performance, it is essential to select the perfect longboard made up of the proper components. With an endless range of combinations of decks, trucks, and wheels, it can be a daunting task to select on a whim. But hopefully, with this comprehensive guide, you will get to have a glimpse of the perfect longboard complete that can help you start with your longboarding journey. Check out top-quality longboard completes at Quest Boards and experience the thrill of a lifetime that you will absolutely prize.