Are you aspiring to be one of the Hall of Famers in the world of skateboarding? Would you be the next Kelvin Hoefler of Brazil? How about Japan’s Yuto Horigome? And who will ever forget the American champion, Nyjah Huston?
Just like any other sport, it takes a lot of hard work, discipline, and dedication before anyone could reach the top-level professional skateboarders. Aside from developing your skills, you also need the right set of gear.
So, if you’re new to skateboarding, you’re probably confused about choosing the right board for you. With the wide array of products to choose from, anyone could feel lost and baffled. Perhaps you’d be thinking about what shape and size you need, types of wheels, trucks, etc.
You may relax for now and end your confusion as this article will answer most of your questions. Now before you get too excited thinking about what fancy skateboarding tricks to learn, first you need to determine your style of riding.
What are These So-called Riding styles?
Riding style depends on several factors, which really depends on how you will use the longboard. You might be using the skateboard just to cruise down your campus going to class. This is quite a normal scenario on most campuses.
Do you want something more adventurous like racing down the hill in your area? Or better yet, how about having a session with some friends in a park and show off some exhibition skills?
Considering all these factors, it’s safe to say that your riding style would depend on where you live, where you want to ride, and your skill level as well. Now, let’s talk about these longboard riding styles one by one.
Cruising and Carving Style
Basically, when you ride your skateboard just to cruise down the streets or on some flat surface in a park, then you’re in the cruising and carving style. If you’re totally a newbie, cruising and carving is definitely your style. Why? Because it’s the most basic riding style that any newbie learns.
Do you remember the first time you rode a skateboard? You step on the board and slowly push yourself on a flat surface while you try to maintain balance. You slowly learned to balance yourself on the board until you get to cruise and carve down the streets.
As you improve, you gradually build your confidence and then tried to hit a moderately sloped street. Then the rest will be history and gradually you’d be exploring the more advanced riding styles as your next goal.
The Downhill Style
The downhill longboarding style is somehow similar to cruising and carving. But instead of riding on a gradually sloped street, you torpedo down a hill as fast as you can. Of course, this is a more advanced style of longboarding.
It’s also more dangerous as it’s difficult to maintain balance while riding down a hill at high speeds. Typically, you ride the longboard in a crouching position for increased stability and to reduce wind resistance.
Newbie riders are discouraged from trying the downhill style as it’s not unusual to experience wheels breaking. Experienced riders are well-trained for such situations as they know how to properly move their body if they crash.
This way, they minimize injuries and prevent permanent disability. Definitely, the downhill style is not for new riders.
The Freeride Longboarding Style
Unlike the downhill longboarding style, the freeride is riding down the hill with much lower speed. The rider adds up some styles like curb hops and slides. Sliding is also used to control speed on deeper descents.
The freeride style requires more advanced longboarding skills specifically in on-board control. Typically, this type of longboarding is more appropriate to a more expert rider.
The Freestyle Longboarding
As the name implies, anything goes on a freestyle longboarding. It’s all about the creativity and skills of the rider. The rider can do about anything with his board using a wide array of technical skills.
Freestyle is mostly tried by beginners to enhance their board control skills. On the other hand, freestyle longboarding is ultimately the most enjoyed style by expert and advanced riders.
Now you are familiar with the longboard riding styles. So, are you getting more excited to know what could be the right longboard for you?
Keep in mind that to get the best longboard that matches your need, you have to determine how you’re going to use it. Here are a few tips to help you out.
Choosing the Right Longboard for Cruising and Carving
Cruising involves a leisure ride at a slow speed. It’s a more relaxed type of riding the longboard without worrying too much about your balance. On the other hand, carving demands a bit more aggressive riding style. It involves turns that shifts your weight in a different direction. Imagine a snowboarder carving his way down to imaginary curves. Cruising and carving will work for most longboard shapes.
This deck shape is similar to the classic surfboard with the tail being a bit more pointed. Pintail longboards are quite easy to ride and turn well, too. However, pintails are commonly top mount which makes them a bit harder to push.
The cruiser’s deck is more compact in shape and is also a top mount. Typically, the board has a
kicktail which makes it a better choice when cruising along crowded streets or parks.
Drop-throughs have lower ground clearance making them easier to push. If you drive cars, you could imagine drop-throughs like the lowered ones. With a lower ground clearance, drop-throughs are easier to push and more stable for cruising compared to a pintail. However, this deck shape has a larger turning radius.
Drop Down or Drop Platform
This type of deck has an even lower ground clearance making it more stable and easier to push for cruising. However, it’s not recommended for carving as it is less responsive for turning.
The Right Deck Size for Cruising and Carving
What about the size? Have you noticed the different sizes of longboards? Picking the right size of a deck is important too. Here’s why.
If you’re cruising on spacious areas like parks, a deck length of 36” to 42” would work well for stability and comfort rides. A deck width of 9.5” and above is also recommended. This deck size is also excellent when leisurely riding on boardwalks.
Cruising on crowded streets or areas would require a shorter deck size. Why? Because a shorter deck would easily fit in especially on heavily congested streets.
Think about carving around pedestrians and in some instances, you need to pick up your board to walk. A longer deck length would be a disadvantage, right?
Therefore, a 28” to 34” length deck fits better for congested areas. Additionally, you would want to consider one with a kicktail.
Crowded streets would require you more quick turns and steer clear of obstacles. A kicktail would be very handy in such situations.
Are you more into carving rides? A shorter longboard would be the better choice. It’s more agile and allows you to turn and carve quickly.
The Right Deck Flex for Cruising and Carving
Have you ever imagined riding a stiff board? Imagine all the vibrations and bumps being absorbed by your feet and legs. That would be no fun. That’s why flex is crucial as well when choosing the right longboard. If you mainly ride just to cruise, a small amount of flex would be beneficial to your knees and ankles. The flex helps absorb all the vibrations and shocks during a ride.
However, if you will carve a lot, a medium flex board is the better choice. It will help absorb the stress during turns preventing injuries to your ankles and knees. You might want to ask if too much flex would be a better choice. Well, too much flex would be a disadvantage when cruising and carving. The bouncing effect would be less efficient during a leisure ride and would only make you push harder.
The Right Trucks for Cruising and Carving
For cruising and carving, reverse kingpin trucks are highly recommended. They allow more room for bigger wheels and for more turning.
If you’re using a shorter deck with an 8.5” width or less, a 150mm truck is fine. On the other hand, for a bigger board, go for the 180mm truck. You might also want to consider a standard 50-degree angled baseplate for cruising and carving.
The Right Wheels for Cruising and Carving
Cruising and carving are a more relaxed riding style and require you to roll at an easygoing speed. For such riding style would do well with a 65mm to 75mm wheel diameter.
Although cruising and carving might be more of a leisure ride, you may also want to consider comfort on rough surfaces. Softer squared wheels would be ideal as well. They will help you ride more comfortably while keeping enough traction during carves.
Choosing the Right Longboard for Freeride and Downhill Style
Both these riding styles involve downhill rides. Freeriding requires a modest speed although the rider needs to execute flawless maneuvers and slides. The downhill riding style is like racing and requires you to ride at blazing speeds. It requires the rider to perform more advanced maneuvering and sliding skills. Aren’t you excited to try this riding style?
So, considering these two types of riding styles, how do you choose the right combination of longboard parts?
The Right Shape and Mount Type to Freeride and Downhill
Both asymmetrical and symmetrical shapes would do for freeride and downhill style. Since freeriding involves more of the switching stance, the symmetrical shape is typically the choice of most riders. On the other hand, symmetrical boards are better with downhill riding as it doesn’t require much of the stance switching.
The Right Flex and Concave for Freeride and Downhill
You’re already familiar with the flex, right? Now you’re going to be introduced to deck concave. Since freeriding requires more stability and control, you need to securely lock in your feet on the board. The concave helps you with this, especially when you’re sliding or pulling a 180-degree turn. A medium flex would also be beneficial at moderate speeds with a bit of slide and carves.
However, a much stiffer deck but with a slight concave is recommended for a downhill ride. The stiffer deck prevents bouncing which can affect the speed and the concave for adding stability while tucking your feet.
Choosing the Right Trucks for Freeride and Downhill Ride
Trucks with 180mm width would work fine with most riders. Freeride and downhill styles require tough trucks, especially during sideway turnings. For better traction, RKP trucks are more preferable to TKP. How about the base plate? For a good grip and stability, a 50-degree baseplate angle would be fine. However, a higher degree works well for easier sliding.
Choosing the Right Wheels for Freeride and Downhill Ride
Freeriders and downhill enthusiasts require a balance between sliding and traction. Therefore, choosing the right wheels is crucial. A rounded or beveled lip profile with slightly harder wheels is good for such riding styles. What size do you need? A 68mm to 72mm wheel diameter would suffice for better traction, sliding, and stability.
Choosing the Right Longboard for Freestyle Riding
Now, are you ready for the more advanced ride that requires all the skillset of a top-level longboard rider? Let’s talk about choosing the right longboard for freestyle riding. You already have the idea of how to do the freeride. As you know, it involves a bunch of tricks that only advanced skateboarders can do.
Can you imagine how much stress and abuse the board takes from a freestyle? So, how do you choose the right longboard for such an acrobatic riding style?
The Right Deck Shape for Freestyle Ride
Different tricks require different deck shapes. Why is it so? For example, street tricks just like what you see on classic skateboard exhibitions, you need a deck that provides added versatility and comfort as well. A hybrid-shaped deck that is very similar to a street deck (only slightly bigger) is the better option. Try to look for something near a 32”x 8.5” deck. A stiffer deck with mild concave and two kick tails would be best for this type of ride.
For other tricks such as nose-riding, tiger claws, and shuvits, going for a medium-sized deck (34” to 38”) will do the trick. And don’t forget the kicktail, mild concave, and a little flex for better control.
For dancing tricks, a bigger deck is advisable. Try to get at least a 42” to 48” deck to give you more room for cross-stepping. Ideally, dancing tricks require flat decks with natural flex, and having a tail and nose would also be helpful while performing various dance tricks.
Choosing the Right Trucks for Freestyle Riding
Well, you already know how freestyle abuses the longboard, right? Standard kingpin trucks or TKPs would be sturdy enough for such abusive freestyle tricks. Additionally, TKPs could provide a good amount of control and maneuverability.
Dancing tricks could go for RKP trucks with an angle higher than 50 degrees.
Choosing the Right Wheels for Freestyling
What, freestyling requires different sets of wheels? Yes, they do. If you’re using a hybrid deck, the 57mm diameter and a bit softer wheels would be fine. The softer wheels would also provide more comfort for daily leisure rides.
For a medium-sized deck used for nose rides, larger wheels (65-70mm) are your best options. And last but not the least, the dancing board would require larger wheels (70-75mm). Squared-lip wheels would provide a better grip during carving turns, so you might want to consider them as well.
The different longboard parts could present you with an endless range of combinations. In the end, the right combination will highly depend on your riding style, personal preference, and of course, your skills