Choose the Right Longboard
Longboarding, as most of us know, is a very popular sport that emerged from surfing. It has become a very popular variant of skateboarding, and people are taking it up more and more. The longboards are longer than the regular skateboards. However, though it is an offshoot of skateboarding, the way an individual rides it resembles surfing. Well, after knowing this, we can probably call it ‘skate surfing’?! The specifications, the manufacturing, features, and many more things have undergone a sea change. Consequently, the criteria for the amateurs have also changed. This article briefs all amateurs about what all they need to consider before buying a longboard.
Maple: This is the most commonly used material for longboards. This wood is highly durable and hard. This makes it highly efficient for downhill longboarding. However, because the material is very rigid, it can be a bit of a problem while maneuvering in the city around tight bends.
Bamboo: This material is slowly becoming a favorite among longboarders. It is very flexible and hence, appropriate for city longboarding. It is significantly more lighter than boards made of maplewood. It is also thinner; hence, the board bends between the wheels, providing more stability to the skater. The only downside to it is that it is weaker as compared to the boards of maple make.
Carbon Fiber: This material is the latest to arrive in the markets. It is a result of cutting-edge technology that makes the boards lighter and stronger at the same time. They, however, are very expensive, but are used by most of the professional longboarders.
Urban Streets: The longboards used for urban skating are known as Cruisers. They are flexible and much more maneuverable. They are designed to make tight turns while maintaining speed and stability. Sometimes, they can be a tad slower, but are much more safer. This kind is used mostly by the freestylers since they need flexibility to pull off most of their tricks.
Downhill: These longboards are rigid and fast; really, really fast. And because they need to be fast, they are designed to be more aerodynamic than the other longboards. They are usually built out of harder materials and are designed to have maximum traction with the road. These boards also require special safety gear since a good longboarder can reach speeds of up to 60 kmph.
Choosing a Longboard
Whenever you go to buy one, just ensure that you do not buy the models that have been advertised as disposable. Then, as said earlier, do not get confused between a longboard and a regular skateboard. A typical longboard is up to 5 feet long. Thus, go for one that is specifically labeled.
The axle (truck) must be at a minimum distance that is equal to the distance between the rider’s feet when they are shoulder-width apart. It is best suited for a beginner when a foot is placed inside each truck, which yields more control while skating. For a beginner, a mid-length board is just about perfect, which measures between 39 and 50 inches. This is because longer boards do not have the capacity to turn tightly.
Wheels of longboards are usually made of polyurethane and come in a variety of thickness, hardness, and sizes.
Size of the Wheel: Large wheels are usually used by experienced longboarders. They turn faster, contributing to higher speeds. Hence, caution should be practiced when amateurs are using this type of wheel. On the other hand, smaller wheels turn slower as compared to larger wheels and are, hence, used by beginners.
Hardness: Softer wheels are slower. However, this does not mean that they are used by amateurs. Soft wheels are used by urban skaters since they help in giving a smooth ride on tight turns and are more stable on pavement cracks. They are also more efficient on rough surfaces. They are, hence, used by freestylers.
Hard wheels are used by downhill racers. These wheels are much faster than their softer counterparts. They are not very efficient in urban areas. However, some skaters say that after these wheels are “broken in”, they can be used in city areas as well.
Wheels are replaceable parts of longboards and can be changed easily if a type of wheel is not suiting you.
Pintail: These longboards are wider and are very stable. They are also higher off the ground, and the rider feels that he is surfing on the air. This design is compatible with both urban and downhill settings. The name is derived from the shape of the boards. The rear end is pointed and hence the name, pintail. These boards can only go forward, which means that the pintail is always the rear end of this longboard.
Drop-through: This design allows the bus plates to be mounted through the plate. This results in reduction of distance between the board and the road. This gives better stability and speed.
Kicktail/Cruiser: This name denotes the bend of the board at the rear end, just like the classic skateboards. It helps the skater to take sudden turns, pop up and down the steps and also make olleys. The wheels are also larger and softer than the traditional skateboards.
Bearings are small balls between the wheel shaft and the inner metal casing of the wheel. They help reduce the friction when the wheel turns. There are various ratings for longboard bearings. The Annular Bearing Engineering Committee (ABEC) sets the ratings from 1 to 9. ABEC 1 is usually denoted for coarse bearings and will make the board relatively slower. ABEC 9 is the smoothest and fastest among them. ABEC 9 is usually what professionals use and are not recommended for beginners.
Decks are made of shaped wood or composite material, which balances different properties like weight, stiffness, etc. A flex of the longboard is very crucial because it is responsible for pushing the wheels into the ground, making the board jut out at turns. The test of the flex is when you stand on the board with feet just within the trucks, and the board should not flex even slightly. But the board should be such that if the rider pushes his or her body weight down onto it, he or she should be able to drive the flex.
First of all, if you want to save money, buying it online is not a very good option. Therefore, go to a shop with experienced staff that will guide you properly. You would not get a good-quality longboard for less than $100.
Finally, appropriate safety gear is extremely essential. Hence, please do not forget your helmet, and invest in a good one. In addition to that, use other safety gear like elbow pads and knee pads.