What is a Longboard? A Complete Guide to Longboarding

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A longboard skateboard is a type of skateboard that is longer in length compared to a traditional skateboard. This longer length allows for a different style of skateboarding known as longboarding, which resembles surfing or snowboarding. While longboards excel in certain aspects, such as cruising and downhill racing, they may not be suitable for performing tricks and stunts.

Similar to regular skateboards, longboards consist of decks, wheels, trucks, riser pads, and bearings. Longboards come in a variety of sizes, typically ranging from 35 to 60 inches in length. There are also different deck designs available, including hybrid, pintail, drop-deck, and cruiser designs. Additionally, longboard skateboards offer diverse aesthetic options.

Longboarding is a broad term that encompasses various activities such as racing, sliding, cruising, and transportation. Safety precautions, such as wearing a helmet, knee and elbow pads, and gloves, should be taken by both amateur and professional skateboarders, regardless of the type of skateboard they use.

What is a Longboard

History of the Longboard

The longboard has a rich history that dates back to the late 1940s and early 1950s. Preston Nichols was one of the pioneers of the longboard, creating custom-built wooden planks with metal wheels to entertain and keep surfers fit while waiting for ideal ocean swells. This practice soon became known as “sidewalk surfing.”

Tom Sim, often regarded as the “father of the longboard,” further developed the sport in the 1970s. Inspired by water skis, Sim began building large boards and experimented with different wood laminates. He was known for his fluid style and started producing commercial longboards in various lengths.

Other pioneers of the 1970s, such as Ed Economy and Brad Stradlund, also played a significant role in shaping the longboarding scene. Influenced by renowned surfers like Gerry Lopez and Larry Bertlemann, these innovators embraced a fast and carving riding style, emulating the feeling of surfing on the pavement.

Hobart “Hobie” Alter, a well-known water sports entrepreneur, also contributed to the growth of longboarding. Around 1964, Alter designed the “Hobie Super Surfer Skateboard by Vita-Pakt,” which featured a wood laminate deck, steel wheels, and a distinct triangular label. The boards gained commercial success, and Alter’s team reached podiums in various competitions.

Different Types of Longboards

Longboards come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and materials, catering to different riding styles and preferences. Compared to traditional skateboards, longboards are longer and wider, offering a more stable and comfortable ride.

One type of longboard is the drop-through deck. These longboards have cutouts on both sides of the board where the trucks are mounted, lowering the deck closer to the ground. This design reduces the center of gravity, providing better stability and making it easier to push and slide.

Pintail longboards have a narrow and pointed shape resembling a surfboard, ideal for cruising and carving. This shape allows for smoother transitions between turns and more control at higher speeds.

Top-mount longboards have trucks mounted directly beneath the deck, providing more responsiveness and maneuverability. These longboards are popular for technical tricks and freestyle longboarding.

Another popular style is the drop deck, which has a lowered platform between the trucks. This design enhances stability and makes it easier to push for long distances.

Longboard decks can be made from various materials such as bamboo, fiberglass, carbon fiber, maple, cork, and composites. Each material offers different characteristics in terms of flex, durability, and weight.

Soft Wheels vs. Hard Wheels: Exploring the Differences

When it comes to longboarding, choosing the right wheels can significantly impact your overall riding experience. Two common options you’ll come across are soft wheels and hard wheels. Understanding their differences and how they can affect your ride is essential.

Soft wheels, as the name suggests, are made of softer durometer materials. These wheels typically measure between 78A and 87A on the durometer scale, which indicates their hardness. Soft wheels excel at shock absorption and provide excellent grip, making them a popular choice for longboard riders on varied terrains. Whether you’re cruising on rough asphalt or navigating through street cracks, soft wheels offer stability and a smooth ride.

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On the other hand, hard wheels are best suited for skateboarding tricks and smooth surfaces. Measuring between 90A and 101A on the durometer scale, these wheels are less forgiving on rough terrains but excel at sliding and accelerating quickly. Their harder nature allows for controlled slides, making them ideal for technical tricks where precision is required.

Both soft and hard wheels have their advantages and disadvantages. Soft wheels provide better shock absorption and grip, ensuring a comfortable ride, especially on uneven surfaces. They also excel in carving and provide stability during downhill rides. However, they may pose challenges like wheel bite, where the wheel touches the deck, limiting maneuverability.

Hard wheels, on the other hand, allow for quick acceleration, and effortless slides, and are the go-to choice for skateboarding tricks. However, their lack of grip and shock absorption can make riding on rough terrains less comfortable and potentially dangerous.

Wheel Bite and How to Avoid It

Wheel bite occurs when the wheels of a longboard come into contact with the deck, limiting the board’s maneuverability and potentially causing the rider to lose control. This can happen when turning sharply or performing tricks that involve leaning heavily on the edges of the board.

To avoid wheel bite, there are a few things you can do. First and foremost, make sure you have the right setup. Choosing the right size and shape of wheels is crucial. Larger wheels generally have more clearance and are less prone to wheel bite. Additionally, wheels with rounded edges or lips can help reduce the chances of biting by providing less surface area for the wheels to come into contact with the deck.

The type of trucks you use also plays a role. Reverse kingpin trucks, which are commonly used on longboards, have a higher ride height and wider hanger, allowing for more deck clearance and reducing the risk of wheel bite. Additionally, adjusting the tightness of the kingpin nut can also help. Tightening it can increase stability but also increase the risk of bite while loosening it can reduce the chances of bite but may affect responsiveness.

Proper technique is also crucial in avoiding wheel bite. When making sharp turns or performing tricks, be mindful of your body positioning. Distribute your weight evenly and try to avoid leaning too heavily on the edges of the board.


The deck is an essential component of a longboard. It is the flat surface that you stand on while riding, and it plays a crucial role in providing stability and control. Longboard decks are typically wider and longer than traditional skateboards, measuring around 9 to 10 inches wide and 32 to 45 inches long.

This larger size gives riders a more comfortable ride and allows for a variety of riding styles. Deck shape also varies, with some decks featuring a symmetrical shape for easy switch riding and others having a directional shape for improved stability during downhill racing.

Longboard decks can also be categorized into different types, such as top-mount, drop-through, and cutout decks, each offering its own advantages and characteristics. Ultimately, choosing the right longboard deck is a personal preference and should be based on your riding style and preferences.

Deck Shape & Size

Longboard decks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, each catering to different riding styles and preferences. Two common deck shapes are directional and twin/symmetrical.

Directional decks have a front and back end that are different in shape. The front end is often pointed or slightly wider, while the back end is narrower and may have a gentle kicktail. This shape allows for better control during carving and stability at high speeds, making them ideal for downhill racing.

Twin/symmetrical decks have the same shape at both ends, making them symmetrical in design. These decks are often preferred by riders who enjoy freestyle longboarding or dancing. The symmetrical shape allows for easy switch riding, as both ends provide the same control and feel.

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The deck shape also influences stability, foot-braking, and carving ability. Directional decks offer better stability due to their front-end design, making them easier to control while foot-braking or carving. Twin/symmetrical decks provide a more balanced feel, allowing for smooth transitions and quick directional changes during carving.

Drop-Through Decks & Their Benefits

Drop-through decks are a popular style of longboard deck known for their unique design and distinct benefits. Unlike traditional top mount decks, drop-through decks have a cutout, allowing the trucks to be mounted through the deck, resulting in a lowered ride height. This lower ride height has several advantages that make drop-through decks a favorite among riders.

One of the primary benefits of drop-through decks is the increased stability they offer. By mounting the trucks through the deck, the rider’s center of gravity is lowered. This lower center of gravity provides greater stability, especially at higher speeds. It allows riders to feel more secure and confident while carving or racing downhill, reducing the risk of speed wobbles and providing a smoother ride.

Additionally, the lower ride height of drop-through decks has another advantage when it comes to braking and pushing. The reduced distance between the rider’s foot and the ground makes it easier to push and brake efficiently. This decreased effort can lead to less fatigue for riders, enabling them to enjoy longer rides without experiencing as much muscle strain.

Shape and Design

Longboard skateboards come in a variety of shapes and designs to suit different riding styles and preferences. The most common shape is the pintail, which resembles a surfboard. It has a soft round nose, widens towards the center, and tapers into a tail. This shape provides stability and allows for smooth carving and cruising.

Many longboard decks have a concave curve across the width, which enhances foot grip and control. Some decks also have a slight upward curve from nose to tail, known as camber. This can add flexibility and responsiveness to the board.

Kicktails, which are raised sections at the ends of the deck, are optional on longboards and are more commonly found on regular skateboards.

Longboard decks often have fenders to prevent the wheels from making contact with the deck when leaning into turns. This is important because longboard trucks and wheels are bigger and taller than those on regular skateboards.

Downhill longboards have a slightly different design to optimize stability, speed, and control. They usually have cutaway fenders to provide clearance for sharp turns. The contour of their decks ranges from nearly flat to slightly concave, with some featuring a drop-through style for added flexibility and special truck mounts.

Overall, the shape and design of a longboard play a crucial role in its performance and suitability for different riding styles, making it important to choose one that matches your preferences and needs.

Deck, Wheels, and Trucks Dimensions

A longboard’s deck, wheels, and truck dimensions play a crucial role in determining its performance and riding experience. The deck of a longboard is typically made of multiple layers of hard maple veneer, solid wood, bamboo, fiberglass, or synthetic materials. It can range from 8 1/4 inches to 10 inches wide and from 36 inches to as much as 50 inches long.

The wheels of a longboard are available in different sizes and hardness levels, typically ranging from 60 mm to 100 mm in diameter. A smaller wheel size provides quicker acceleration, while a larger wheel size offers higher top speed. The hardness of the wheels, measured on the durometer scale, typically ranges from 78a to 90a. Softer wheels provide a smoother and softer ride, especially when rolling over rough surfaces.

The trucks of a longboard are responsible for turning and stability. Most longboards feature reverse kingpin trucks, which are typically around 8 1/2 inches wide and can go up to 10 inches wide. Reverse kingpin trucks offer enhanced maneuverability and stability, making them ideal for cruising and carving.

For downhill longboards, the dimensions may differ slightly. The decks are often made from fiberglass, epoxy, and Kevlar, with dimensions ranging from 8 1/4 inches to 10 inches wide and 36 inches to 44 inches long. The wheels are generally smaller, ranging from 60 mm to 75 mm in diameter, with a hardness of about 78a to 88a. The reverse kingpin trucks used for downhill longboarding typically range from 180 mm to 210 mm in width.

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In conclusion, the dimensions of the deck, wheels, and trucks have a significant impact on the performance and riding characteristics of a longboard. Riders can choose suitable dimensions based on their preferred riding style, terrain, and personal preferences.

Riding Styles

Whether you prefer cruising, downhill racing, freestyle longboarding, or even dancing, there is a longboard designed to meet your specific needs.

For those who enjoy the thrill of speed and adrenaline, downhill longboarding is a popular choice. Downhill boards are typically longer and offer stability and control at high speeds. Riders often use softer wheels to maintain traction and navigate corners with ease.

If you’re more inclined toward technical tricks and street skating, freestyle longboarding is the way to go. With a shorter and more maneuverable deck shape, these boards are perfect for performing ollies, kickflips, and other tricks. The smaller wheels and lower center of gravity make these boards responsive and agile.

Cruising is a popular riding style for those who simply enjoy a smooth ride on a flat surface. Longboards designed for cruising often feature larger wheels and softer wheels, providing a comfortable and enjoyable ride. The longer decks provide stability and make it easier to balance.

Cruising, Carving, Freestyle, & Downhill Racing

Cruising, carving, freestyle, and downhill racing are the four primary riding styles in longboarding, each offering a unique experience suited for different terrains and preferences.

Cruising is all about enjoying a smooth and relaxed ride on flat surfaces. Longboards designed for cruising typically have larger wheels and softer durometer, providing a comfortable and enjoyable ride. The longer decks offer stability and make it easier to balance, making cruising perfect for casual riders or those looking for a leisurely ride.

Carving involves making smooth and flowing turns while maintaining speed and control. This riding style is often done on hills or slopes. Carving longboards have a symmetrical shape and are designed for maneuverability and responsiveness. With their agile nature and the right balance of flex and grip, carving longboards allows riders to navigate corners with ease and achieve a surf-like riding experience on the pavement.

Freestyle longboarding is all about technical tricks and street-style skating. These boards usually have a shorter and more maneuverable deck shape, making them perfect for performing ollies, kickflips, and slides. The smaller wheels and lower center of gravity provide great responsiveness, allowing riders to execute various technical tricks and showcase their skills and style.

How, When, and Where to Ride a Longboard

A longboard skateboard is an ideal choice for riders of all skill levels and ages. These long planks of wood offer a smooth and comfortable ride on various surfaces, such as concrete and tarmac.

With their soft and cushioned wheels, they are forgiving and can handle rough terrains, easily rolling over rocks and twigs without causing the rider to lose balance. Riding a longboard is best enjoyed on long, winding paths or open roads with minimal car traffic, such as bike paths, beachfront boardwalks, and low-traffic roads.

Longboards are not designed for areas with obstacles like curbs, vert ramps, and stairs. However, they are suitable for commuting and cruising around, providing a fun and eco-friendly means of transportation. Many technical skaters incorporate longboards into their equipment to diversify their skating style. Longboarding also serves as excellent cross-training for surfers and snowboarders.


A longboard is not just a piece of wood with wheels. It’s a gateway to freedom, adventure, and a whole new way of experiencing the world around you. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rider, a longboard can bring joy, excitement, and a sense of exhilaration to your life.

So grab a board, hit the pavement, and let the ride take you to places you’ve never been before!

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Joseph E. Bogle

This is Joseph E. Bogle, the founder and lead writer of SkateToScoot.com, an enthusiast of skating for over a decade. I'm an aggressive skater and certified skating coach, dedicated to sharing his knowledge and passion for skating with others through his blog. With my unique combination of personal experience and professional expertise, SkateToScoot.com is a valuable resource for skaters of all levels, from beginners to advanced athletes.