Longboard Buyers Guide

longboard buyers guide

Longboards have much more to offer than you think. Longboards come in a variety of shapes, constructions and features, and are designed for different riding styles and abilities. That's why we created this guide to get you on the road as fast as possible!  

  • The Short Longboard Guide - Which Longboard suits me?

  • The more detailed Longboard Guide - What is there to consider when buying a Longboard?

To choose the right Longboard-Setup, you should consider the following things:

  1. Which longboard for which skill level?
  2. Which longboard for which riding style?
  3. Which longboard shape is suitable?
  4. What longboard decks are there?
  5. Which board (shape) characteristics are to be considered?
  6. Which board length / wheel base fit?
  7. Board construction
  8. Longboard Trucks
  9. Longboard Wheels
  10. Longboard Bearings

The short Longboard Buyers Guide

Too complicated for you? Then simply read the first section here for a good overview, all those who want to know more, then read on.

You don't feel like spending hours with different variations? Then it's best to buy a Complete Setup, where the axles, rollers, ball bearings, etc. are already matched to the deck. Then all you have to do is decide which riding style suits you best:

Cruisen/Carven 

Cool means of transport and wide carves on the road, if you want to have a surf feeling Cruising/Carving Longboards are perfect.

Downhill Boards

For the speed junkies among you. Freeride Boards Freeriding becomes the most progressive form of longboarding for maneuvers such as slipping in quick succession on hills.

Freestyle Boards

For street skate tricks and at the same time for the versatility and stability of downhill and freeride boards.

Depending on what kind of riding style you want to do, you can look for this board category. Then it's important that your size fits the board, that you buy quality from a good brand and which deck you like best. You can't do much wrong with these selection criteria. Have fun riding!

The detailed Longboard Buyers Guide

Skill level

How well do you ride? There are longboards that are specially designed for all levels, so it is important to be realistic to find the best board for you. The shape, mounting method and flex of a board depends heavily on your riding style and skills. Each section of this guide explains which features are best for each skill level.

Riding style

There are different ways to ride longboarding. Whaaaaaaaat? Yes, there are! Whether you want to cruise around the city, shoot down the steepest hill or be in the skate park, different boards can make all these things possible. Also consider your place of residence, are there many hills or is everything flat? Keep that in mind.

Cruisen/Carving

Cruising and carving is all about driving down downhill roads, circling people on the way A to B and driving long distances on flat or slightly sloping ground. If you're just getting into longboarding, this is most likely the kind of riding you'll start with and have a lot of fun right away.

Downhill

You know the videos: Downhill longboarding is about heating down hills and keeping control at the same time. You are usually in a crouched position on your board to reduce drag and increase stability. Just like freeriding, you slow down with the wheels to control the speed, so real downhill is not for beginners.

Freeride

Freeride longboarding means that you ride hills at a certain speed while sliding through curves to control your speed on larger descents. Freeriding requires very good board control and comfort at high speeds, so it is usually more for experienced riders.

Freestyle

It's about being creative so you can drive pretty much anything you want. Freestyle riding includes a lot of technical skills like slides, board tricks, dancing, to name a few. This type of riding is a good way for beginners to learn the skills of board control, but it is also extremely enjoyable for advanced and experienced riders.

Board Shapes

There are two general board shapes in which all other designs fall. Both board shapes are beginner and expert friendly.

Directional

These boards are only intended for one direction: forward. The most popular board design is the famous Pin Tail. Carvers, cruisers and downhill boards are usually so, but there are some exceptions.

Twin (symmetrical)

A symmetrical board feels the same regardless of which direction you're going. If you plan to do 180° slides (common in freeriding and freestyle), a symmetrical board is the way to go.

Deck Styles

Deck styles play a key role in how stable the board is, how easy it is to brake and how easy it is to push on flat ground. As a rule of thumb, the higher the board is off the ground, the higher the center of gravity will be, resulting in less stability and more fatigue when pushing and braking with the foot. The lower the board, the less leverage you have to drive fast carves and the more likely you are to reach the ground in tight corners.

Top Mount

Top Mount is the most traditional board shape in longboards, and it is also the most cost effective. The deck is mounted above the axles, so the center of gravity is higher than with the other board types. This makes the upper mount slightly less stable, but more maneuverable than drop through boards, as the pivot lever is raised. Top Mount Boards are the most versatile and can be used for Cruising, Carving, Downhill, Freeride and Freestyle.

Drop Through  

On a Drop Thorugh, the axles are mounted "through" the board, effectively lowering the deck height by the thickness of the board. This increases the stability of the board and reduces fatigue during pushing/braking. These boards are ideal for long distance commuting, freeride and downhill riding.

Drop Deck

These decks look the most interesting. They are shaped during construction so that the area on which your feet stand is below the axis areas of the board. This is a very effective method of lowering the center of gravity for more stability and less fatigue when braking or pushing. The height is usually given in inches (e.g. "0.625 inch drop"). Drop decks are typically found on downhill and some freeride boards.  

Double Drop

Lower than the lowest bar on the Limbo, Double Drop Decks offer both truck lowering and drop deck style to keep feet as close to the ground as possible ("double" drop). This is the most stable type of deck, but also the least common due to its high degree of difficulty, which can make it the most expensive. This form is usually only found on special downhill boards.  

Board (Shape) Features

All boards are supplied with specific shape characteristics that provide specific riding characteristics and help determine the intended use of each board.  These features include kick tails, wheel cut outs and concave.  

Kick Tail

Kick tails are what you see on both ends of normal skateboards. They allow you to lift one end of the board off the ground to perform tricks or hop curbs and make fast turns. Longboards can have kick tails at only one end (for directional boards) or at both ends (for symmetrical boards). They are ideal for last second cruiser boards for pedestrian exits and curb hoppers, and a necessity for many freestyle boards.  

Wheel Cut-Outs / Wheel Wells

Both Wheel Cut-Outs and Wheel Wells are used to prevent a roll cut, which happens when you go too hard into the curve and the rolls come into contact with the deck. This usually results in you being thrown off the board (not good). Cut-outs usually allow you to lie the hardest in the curves, as the rollers don't get in contact with the board.

Concave

The grip holds the feet on the board, but also concave helps a lot. Concave essentially means that the edges or rails of the board are slightly higher than the middle of the board. When you stand on the board, your feet adapt to this shape and increase the contact area of your shoe, which means more grip. The level of concavity usually depends on the board's chosen riding style: downhill and freeride boards generally have deeper, more extreme concave surfaces than cruisers.  

W-Concave

Just like the normal concave W concave, the W concave holds the feet on the board. It's actually like having two concave sections next to each other, which provides a lot of support. This feature is usually only used on more expensive downhill and freeride boards.   

Board Length / Wheel Base

The board length, or to be more precise, the axis distance, plays a key role in rotation and board stability. Longer boards (or boards with a longer wheelbase) generally offer more stability at speed, but cannot be used for the same purpose.  

Board Construction

The most common and inexpensive board construction uses several thin boards, called veneers, made of maple or birch wood, similar to traditional skateboards. The veneers are glued, stacked on top of each other and pressed into shape. The number of veneers varies from board to board, but a general rule of thumb is that the more veneers are used, the stiffer and heavier the boards become.   Bamboo laminates are also gaining popularity in the longboard world. A board made of vertically laminated bamboo is wrapped in glass fibre or other composite materials or sandwiched. This typically results in a medium to lightweight board with soft to medium flex and strong feather-like characteristics.    The third and most expensive construction uses composite materials such as carbon fiber. A light wood like bamboo is usually combined with a piece of foam to create a very light core, which is then wrapped in a composite material to increase strength. These boards are known for their stiffness and light weight, making them attractive to serious downhill riders. Board flex boards come in vast quantities of different flex ratings, determined by many factors including board material, laminates, length and concavity. The following table shows what level of flex is suitable for each riding style.

Longboard Trucks

The trucks are the heart of every longboard (or skateboard in general). Longboard trucks differ from those on normal skateboards in that they have an inverted or inverted kingpin. This allows better side-to-side movement for more stability and control. As with skate trucks, however, these can be adjusted to swivel easily. Tightening the Kingpin nut compresses the bushings and creates a stiffer feel when turning. Looser trucks are better for curves, while narrower axles are better for high speed stability. Changing the hardness or degree of hardness of the bushings will also change the way the trucks swivel.

Longboard Wheels

Wheels play a big role on the board as they ensure grip between you and the road, which affects speed and sliding. There are several different factors that determine how the wheels work. These factors are shape, width and height, hardness and core style.

Each factor is explained below.

Shapes

There are two shapes that wheels, or the lips of wheels, can have: round and square.

Round

Round lip wheels are what you see on normal skateboards. The "edge" of the roller is rounded, which results in less traction when cornering. This means that they are easier to move than the square type and are therefore the clear choice for freeriders and freestylers. If you're new to longboarding or want to ride hills as fast as possible, check out the square wheels.

Square

Square lipped rollers are the typical longboard wheel shape. Instead of the "edge" of the roll that is rounded off, it is, yes, square (at a 90° angle). This results in better contact with the road, which in turn leads to significantly higher traction and gliding ability. Square rollers can still glide after retraction, which makes them excellent for downhill and cruising/carving.

Width and Height

The width of the wheel is the distance from the outer to inner edge of the wheel or can sometimes be measured by the contact area of the wheel. A wider wheel usually offers more grip, but is also slower because it has more contact with the ground. The height (also called diameter) of the wheel is the distance between the point where the roller touches the ground and the top, in a straight line. It is usually listed in the name of the roller and is measured in millimetres (e.g. 75 mm / 78a).

Larger rollers provide a smoother ride as they can roll over cracks and obstacles with less force, but they also provide slower acceleration.

Smaller rollers accelerate faster, but they increase the risk of you being ripped off the board if you hit a sufficiently large crack or piece of debris.

Hardness

The durometer shows you how hard the wheel is. It is listed in the name of the roll and is followed by a letter (usually "a" or "b") (e.g. 75 mm / 78a). "a" rollers are made of a softer, more rubber-like material, while "b" rollers are made of a harder plastic. The lower this number is, the softer and more rubberized the roll is.

Soft rollers provide more traction and are better on rough roads, but are also slower due to more friction with the ground.

Harder rollers or rollers with higher hardness values have lower friction, which allows a rough ride on bumpy roads, but they are also faster and easier to slip out.

In general, beginners and advanced riders should look for softer rolls in the 75a - 80a range to get the best grip.

Core

Der Core ist die Mitte der Rolle, und er beherbergt die Lager. Es gibt drei verschiedene Arten von Cores: Center-Set, Offset und Sideset. 

Centerset

Centerset ist auf den meisten Gleit- und Skateboardrädern zu finden. Sein symmetrisches Design ermöglicht es dem Fahrer, die Rollen umzudrehen, sobald eine Seite abgenutzt ist, was die Lebensdauer der Rollen effektiv verlängert.  

Offest

Offset Kerne befinden sich näher an der Innenseite des Rades. Dies bietet eine gute Balance zwischen Grip und Gleitfähigkeit.  

Sideset

Beim Sideset befinden sich die Kerne sehr nahe an der Innenlippe des Rades. Dies bietet eine hervorragende Gleitfähigkeit, kann aber nach dem Tragen nicht umgedreht werden.  

Bearings

Simply put, it's the bearings that make your rollers spin. They are typically rated according to a standard called ABEC, and the higher the ABEC value, the faster the rollers rotate. In general ABEC 3 bearings are good for cruising, ABEC 5 is good for freeriding and ABEC 5-7+ bearings offer maximum speed for downhill and racing.