When you hear first about a longboard and a skateboard, you might feel that these two names indicate the same thing. However, they are quite different from each other. If you delve deeper into the varieties of boards that exist, you will find several options depending on your expertise in riding it.
The debate about longboard vs. skateboard can be confusing. The term “skateboard” is a generic term that includes all the different types of boards under one single umbrella.
Meanwhile, a longboard is a specific type of skateboard that comes in a more extended size and contains a unique shape of its own that is different from the standard skateboard you have in your mind.
A longboard is best suited for beginners. It gives them the stability to ride safely without facing accidents and also helps them to learn skateboarding better. As you progress and your expertise increases, you may switch to a standard skateboard or other types.
In this article, we have described the differences between a longboard and a skateboard, along with how and when to choose which to help you understand their distinctions better. So keep reading to find out more!
Origins of Skateboards and Longboards
The history of the birth of the skateboard goes back to the 1950s. Since then, surfers who loved to dive and catch waves craved for the same thrill on land. For this, they shaped wooden planks in the shape of a surfboard and put wheels on it to skate on the ground.
With time, these boards’ size became smaller, and it started to look like today’s modern skateboards. However, during the 1990s, some people felt that these boards were too small. So they tweaked its shape and made it longer. That’s how the longboard was born.
Longboard and Its Features
Before exploring the various features of a longboard, let’s look at what this thing is. It is one kind of a skateboard that has a length longer than the standard boards. Usually, its size falls in the range of 51-59 inches. Another tale-tell sign which gives away its identity as a longboard is its nose and tail.
Longboards can come in different shapes and lengths. Sometimes its size won’t be very long, and other times, it can be as long as 59 inches. Its nose and tail have unique shapes and designs, which can be considered as a differentiating factor between the longboard and the skateboard.
Some longboards have a tail that is pointed. These are called pintails, and their noses are blunt in shape.
Pointed Ends on Both sides
Another variation in the nose and tail shape exists for longboards. These types of boards have both ends that are pointed and are known as speed board or top-mount.
Sometimes, instead of having pointed ends, some longboards can come with noses and tails rounded in shape.
These boards feature the drop-down and drop through style.
Rounded or Square Wheels
Most longboards either come with rounded wheels or square-shaped wheels. If you are interested in faster speed, then round the wheels will be suitable for you. However, if you prefer straight cruising, you should go for the square wheels.
Skateboard and Its Features
Skateboards aren’t as giant as a longboard and typically have a length ranging from 28 to 36 inches long. Their edges are flat or pointed like longboards. Instead, the nose and the tail has curved both ends. This enables the rider to experiment with different kinds of pro skateboard tricks as he is riding the board.
A typical skateboard is also known as a shortboard due to its smaller length and size. It is more suitable for advanced-level riders interested in trying out new things with their board and isn’t afraid of taking risks.
Most skateboards are usually made of high-quality items such as Canadian Maple Wood or bamboo. This part needs to be healthy and stout to provide flexibility to the rider.
Some of the boards are also made of aluminum or fiberglass to allow the rider to have more freedom to explore new tricks. You can also find penny boards in stores that are made of plastic.
Another crucial part of a skateboard is its truck. This part connects the main deck to the wheels. So it is usually made of metal to provide strong support.
The wheels are what helps the board to roll. Therefore, most skateboards that are of high quality have wheels made of urethane. These wheels are translucent and last for a long time, unlike the low-quality plastic or rubber wheels.
ABEC Rating of Bearings
The bearings enable the wheels of the skateboard to spin. It typically comes with an ABEC rating, which indicates how perfectly it can help the wheels to rotate. The ideal rating in this measurement scale ranges from five to seven.
Differences between a Longboard and a Skateboard
Now let’s move on to this article’s vital part, which will explain the differences between these two boards to help you decide which one is better.
Design and Size
The first noticeable point of difference between a longboard and a skateboard is their nose and tail. In longboards, the nose and bottoms tend to be flatter, whereas, on skateboards, the nose and tail follow a curved design. This is done to enable the skateboard to do complicated flips and tricks.
Another design change that you will see between the two boards is their differences in size. It is no surprise that longboards, as its name goes, will be longer. Typically, it can be as long as 59 inches. On the other hand, skateboard measures around 36 inches.
However, some longboards come in small sizes too, which can make you confused. If you a short longboard, then just pay attention to its nose and tail and see if it is flat. That will give away what type of board it is.
Flex of Deck
By deck, usually, the base of the skateboard or longboard is indicated. The thickness of the deck determines its ability to be maneuvered. For example, a thinner deck typically means a good flex for those who want to try out new tricks. The word flex indicates how stiff the board is.
If you are into mellow cruising or doing different kinds of tricks, the deck should be thinner. It will give you greater flexibility along with a spring-like movability, which will make jumping with the board easier. Usually, skateboards come with a thinner deck.
On the other hand, longboards are equipped with thick decks that have low flex. This gives you stability during the ride and supports your weight. You can gain linear speed while riding these boards but can’t try out tricks.
An important part of a longboard or skateboard is its trucks. These boards come with a base that helps to attach the wheels with the board, which is known as the truck. The trucks help to support the movement of the wheels and hence plays a great role in its maneuverability.
Since skateboards are meant for doing different tricks, it comes with trucks are rigid and narrow. Moreover, their sizes are similar to the width of the deck of the board.
On the other hand, for longboards, the trucks are wider. It allows you to have a smooth and safer ride without tripping. You can also ride for long distances or race downhill using the longboard due to its wider trucks. Their measurement ranges from 150 millimeters to 180 millimeters.
The wheels also differ in longboards and skateboards. Longboards come with wheels that are larger and softer to help you have a controlled and smooth ride.
On the contrary, skateboards have wheels that are much smaller and harder enabling it to shred rails, gaps and trying different new tricks.
Stability is important while riding anything for your own safety. If you are unable to balance on the board you are riding, you might fall over and hurt yourself. So if you are new to skateboarding, you can try the longboard as it comes with greater stability and provides superior balance.
But once you are an expert and confident that you have earned good control over the board now, you can switch to the skateboard, which is tricky to control but gives you greater flexibility.
Longboard Buying Guide
If you have decided to get a longboard for yourself but are confused about what factors to look for, then this section will help you to choose better.
The different characteristics that you need to look into before buying a longboard are:
Type of Construction
Three kinds of constructions are seen on longboards. Each has its unique perks depending on which you can make your pick:
The most commonly seen material in longboards is maple. This material is of durable and high quality. It is also very reliable in terms of its texture due to its solid hardness and thickness.
If you want a bit higher flex than maple while cruising on your longboard, then you can go for longboards made of bamboo. This offers greater freedom to cruise and carves on the street since it is lighter in terms of weight than maple. It is also thinner than other options, which makes it easier to control and carry.
If you have gained some experience, then you can go for carbon fiber longboards. This material is the most expensive out of all three due to its flexibility and fastest speed. It is equipped with a foam core that enables you to make turns smoothly.
Specialty of the Longboard
Different types of longboards exist on the market meant to serve different purposes. Depending on what style you follow while riding a board, you can choose the longboard from the following choices below:
Longboards for Cruising
Some longboards put more emphasis on distributing the weight of the skater across the deck to help him control it better. This type of longboard is more suitable for cruising from one point to another. It is quite easy to control this one. So if you need a longboard to visit your friend’s house or carve around town, you can try this one.
Longboards for Racing Downhill
Racing downhill involves a bit of risk and therefore, should not be attempted by beginners. Since you can trip and injure yourself, it is better to avoid this type of longboard if you are new to this.
But if you have acquired some control over your skating techniques, then you can choose the longboards that provide better downhill racing facilities. It enables you to move at extremely high speeds. One way to identify this type of longboard is to look at its nose and tail. It usually tends to be flatter, having long wheelbases.
One thing you must remember while riding these boards is wearing your safety gear. You must put on a helmet and pads to secure yourself before attempting downhill racing.
Longboards for Board Walking
If you have advanced further on your skateboarding skills but are not yet confident to try out tricks, then you can go for the longboards that facilitate board walking. This type of board enables you to do freestyle skating without having a risk of tripping down or falling over.
It allows you to try out new tricks and practice. These boards have a deck measuring between 40 to 60 inches. Their center is concave in shape, and the nose and tails come with a kick.
This is an important part of a longboard and should be looked into carefully before purchase. It is a T-shaped metallic piece that is mounted below the deck of the board. Each board comes with two trucks and their width is similar to that of the hanger and axle.
The trucks used on longboards are quite different from the ones used on the standard skateboards. These come with hangers that are wider in size. It helps to bear the weight of the longer deck length. The sizes of the trucks meant for longboards range in between 150mm to 180mm.
There are different factors that you need to look into while picking your wheels. We have divided those factors into the following sub-sections:
Size of Wheel
Wheels for longboards are larger than those of standard skateboards. Due to this, you can ride on rougher surfaces more smoothly. You can also cruise at a faster speed using these wheels. The recommended durometer for wheels of this type ranges between 75a to 90a.
It is best to go for the wheels that are made of polyurethane. This material enhances the durability of the wheels and helps them to endure prolonged riding.
Another thing to take notice of is the diameter of the wheels. The longer is the diameter, the faster the speed will be. If you are a beginner, then you can go for wheels having a diameter between 54 to 59 mm. And if you like to cruise on rough roads or prefer downhill racing, you should opt for a diameter of 60mm or greater.
Durometer of Wheel
Durometer is another important criterion that you need to consider while selecting your longboard wheels. This gives you the measurement of the wheel’s hardness. While wheels that are hard will give you better speed, the softer ones will enable you to balance yourself better due to its superior grip.
On average, soft wheels have a durometer ranging from 78a to 87a. But on the other hand, the harder wheels will have a durometer lying between 96a to 101a or even greater.
You might think that the shape of all wheels is the same. However, even in this sector, some variation exists. For example, if you would prefer free riding and smoother turns, you should opt for wheels that have a rounded edge.
On the contrary, wheels having a straight edge provides you better grip and control. So if you are still new to skateboarding, go for the wheels having straight edges.
Skateboard Buying Guide
Now that we are done looking into the factors to look for while choosing a longboard let’s take a look at the skateboard buying guide. Make sure that the standard skateboard you are going for meets these criteria provided below:
Size of Deck
In terms of the size of the deck, its width is more important than its length. Usually, a thinner deck provides more flex, while a thicker one in width gives you greater stability. Depending on your skating style, you can make your pick by following the general guidelines below:
If you are an adult who is into doing tricky maneuvers with their standard skateboard, then you should go for decks with a width between 7.5 to 8 inches. And if you like cruising on-ramps and parks, the deck can have a width of 8 to 8.25 inches. Lastly, anything that involves old school tricks requires a deck width of 8,25 inches to greater.
As we have mentioned earlier, this is an important part of the skateboard and supports its wheels. It comes in T-shaped metallic pieces and is placed underneath the deck. An important factor to remember while selecting the truck of your skateboard is to match its width with that of the deck.
You will need two trucks to support the wheels in a standard skateboard. But before selecting the trucks, you need to get acquainted with some of its parts like the axle and the hanger. The axle is a pin-like portion running through the trucks. You can attach the wheels with the help of it. The hanger is the biggest part of the skateboard truck and is made of metal.
For skateboard decks measuring between 6.5 to 9 inches, you will need trucks having a similar width.
Height of Truck
You also need to look at the distance between the bottom of the skateboard’s deck and its hanger. This gives out the truck’s height measurement. You will find three types of trucks height variations in this case. These are:
If you want the greatest amount of stability, you can choose the low height trucks that can accommodate wheel sizes between 50 to 53 mm.
If you would like to cruise in a park or a street, it is best to get the medium height trucks that can fit wheels between 53-56 mm in size.
Lastly, if you would like to cruise and carve, then you should go for these trucks. This type of truck can accommodate large wheels that have a measurement of 56 mm and greater.
Wheel size and diameter
These are two important areas to look into to ensure better performance of the skateboard. It is best to choose wheels made of polyurethane since this is a material that ensures durability and integrity. On top of this, the diameter of the wheel also plays a great role.
Basically, by the size of the wheel, its diameter is indicated. The measurements are done on the millimeter scale. And the wheels ranging between 50-53 mm are small and slow. However, the ones that have a diameter between 54-59 mm provide greater stability. Anything above 60 mm is great for speed and can also be used on rough surfaces.
Durometer tells you about the hardness of the wheel. A higher durometer will indicate harder wheels and the lower it gets, the softer will be the wheel. If you are looking for speed, you should go for hardness and if you would prefer a better grip, softer wheels will be a wiser option.
There are two scales to measure the durometer. One is the A scale going from 1 to 100. Another is the B scale, whose measurements are 20 scales below that of the A scale. So if a wheel has a durometer of 90a or 70b, it will mean that the wheel is quite hard. Wheels below 87a are usually softer and more suitable for skateboards.
This part helps to mount the skateboard wheels into the axle. Skateboard bearings come in the same size and are universal. So you should rather focus on its quality instead of its size. Usually, the ones that cost more are of higher quality. And the cheaper ones get deformed easily under pressure.
You should also check the seals on the bearings. If the bearings are not sealed, dirt will get in between and spoil its functionality. The expensive ones have a protective seal that ensures the safety of these bearings.
If you are still confused about the quality of the bearings, you can look at its ABEC ratings. This rating indicates the accuracy level of the bearing. Its grades are allotted as 1,3,5,7 and 9. Usually, a lower ABEC rating indicates better performance.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are a beginner, then you might not be an expert at controlling the board. Therefore, you will require something stable on which you can balance yourself. For this, the longboard will be the best for you. It gives advanced stability to newbies and helps them to learn better without tripping over.
However, the longboard is a bit heavier than the normal skateboard. So kids might find it difficult to control. Therefore, if the rider is young and cannot handle the heavyweight, he can try a standard skateboard for better control.
If you have advanced into the pro level, then all types of boards will be accessible to you. You can try out different tricks like cruising, riding on ramps and rails, and so on. Expert riders might find the longboard to be a little boring. So it is best for them to get a skateboard.