Longboard Buyers Guide
Choosing the correct board is possibly the hardest part of the sport. With so many boards out there making a mistake couldn't be easier.Longboarding is all about style, and you'll need to choose a board that suits you and your style. If you've ridden boards before, you may know what sort of boards you prefer. But, if you are new to the sport you may want to choose more of a "neutral" board that can cover several of the disciplines, a good example of this is the Loaded Dervish; with a low center of gravity and huge flex. This means that as you progress and move towards a certain riding style you won't find yourself stuck with a board that doesn't suit you.
Choosing your Longboard:
Firstly, you need to think which discipline of longboarding you are interested in. The four main disciplines within longboarding consist of freeride/slide, downhill, dancing and commute/cruise. The shape and overall design on the board depends on it's purpose. One of the major defining features of a longboard is how the trucks are mounted onto the deck.
Top Mount - The trucks are bolted to the bottom of the deck. This mount allows for tight turning but reduced stability at speed. This style is more suited towards commuting and cruising.
Drop Thru- The trucks are bolted to the top through a hole in the deck. This style gives good stability at speed and still great turning ability. This style is ideal for freeride and sliding.
Dropdown -The trucks are mounted on the bottom except the foot base is lowered. This style gives maximum stability but may reduce the tightness of the turn. This style of perfect for fast downhill riding.
Deck Shapes - Decks come in thousands of different designs, each offering it's own perspective on skating. Possibly the most common shape, the pintail, is mainly designed for cruising or dancing.Some boards are bi directional, meaning that the rider can switch between their normal stance and switch with the same board characteristics in either. Drop down decks are boards that have a lowered footbase to increase stability at speed. These feature most commonly on speed boards.
Trucks - Longboard trucks generally have wider hangers which although slightly reduces turning rate, a wider hanger will increase stability. The angle of the kingpin in the truck affects the turn rate and turning characteristics. With lower kingpin angles the trucks are more stable while higher a kingpin at a higher angle will allow for faster and harder turning
Different wheels are designed for purposes. With wheels there are two major distinguishing factors; these include wheel size and durometer (hardness)
Wheel Size - Generally longboarding wheels will range from 58mm up to around 90mm. Larger wheels will allow you to reach higher speeds but smaller wheels with have higher acceleration. This is noticeable whilst pushing on flat, if a wheel is around 80mm+ then it becomes tiring to push as it requires greater force to get it moving. But, if a wheel is small, say 60mm, then the ride will not be as smooth as it would be with a larger wheel.
Hardness - Wheel hardness is measured in durometer, the higher the number the harder the wheel. Wheels range quite dramatically in hardness and this means different wheels can ride totally differently. Longboard wheels generally range from 70a to 99a. Soft wheels will allow for a smooth ride even on rough ground and more grip to the road. A harder wheel will slide easier but the ride will be compromised if the ground is not smooth.
Wheels around 70-80a are fantastic for speed as they allow for maximum grip to the road meaning that high speed cornering is more predictable and safe whilst keeping speed. Wheels with duros around 80a-85a are the popular choice among freeriders and they allow for grip but can be slid and drifted when needed. Wheels around 85a-99a are designed for technical sliding or pool riding as they allow the rider to slide with little effort and also allow the rider to have more time sliding and achieve tricks that aren't really viable on softer wheels.
- For commuting/technical sliding 58mm to 70mm
- For freeride/carving 70mm to 76mm
- For downhill/racing 75mm+
Longboard Bearings - A good choice of bearings can really make or break your experience with longboarding. Although cheaper bearings may seem a better option, spending a little bit more on a better bearing really does pay off. For longboarding I would recommend sealed bearings as opposed to plastic shield as they are more durable and resistant to the wet.
Abec Rating - Possibly the biggest myth in the skating and longboarding world is the abec rating. Whilst some companies will give they're better bearings a higher abec rating, some of the best bearings on the market are unrated.
Bones reds are some of the most popular bearings out there. And there is a reason why they don't have an abec rating, this is because it means next to nothing. If you want to choose a good set of bearings I would recommend asking the more experienced skaters at your local skate park or asking on an internet forum. Generally a well known brand means a well made bearing.
Longboard Slide and Race Gloves
Though it may be contrary to what you may believe, the most important protection you can wear are slide gloves. The amount of times slide gloves have saved me from a total wipe out is unbelievable. The great thing about slide gloves is that not only do they allow you to slide on your hands instead of your face, or anywhere else for that matter, they prevent crashes. Learning to slide to a stop is a must when you consider any type of downhill riding.
Even if you are just cruising or dancing on your board, slide gloves can be really handy. If you catch a stone or trip you can just slide onto your hands and avoid those annoying grazes.
Protection and Safety:
Helmets - For some reason some skaters treat helmets like they'e some ancient taboo. Because of this skaters seem to avoid wearing one at all cost. This doesn't really make much sense when a helmet could guarantee you getting back up onto your board after that "one" fall. But seriously, helmets really are a must and nobody will give you trouble for wearing one. They save lives and mean we can skate longer, harder and faster.
Knee/ Elbow Pads - Whilst not being vital, elbow and knee pads are certainly great to have. They allow to you bail more controllably and slide out of falls as opposed to rolling, thus giving the rider more confidence with their riding. If you can, I would highly recommend picking up yourself a set.
Bolts - You need to make sure you buy the right bolts for your set-up. If you have risers in you will need longer bolts so that they make it through the deck, riser and truck and still have enough thread to be screwed up. If you are riding a drop-thru set up you will need truss head/ dome bolts. But, if you are riding most other setups you will want flat head/ counter sunk bolts.
Risers - Risers can be inserted between the deck and the truck to increase ride height. Increasing ride height will increase the turn rate. Angled risers change the angle of the truck and can be used to increase ride height but more specifically turn rate.