Nyjah Huston, Yuto Horigome, Kelvin Hoefler… do these names ring a bell? Do you aspire to be like them and be the next most famous skateboarder? As with any elite sport, Climbing your way up to the level of a professional skateboarder can’t be done overnight. You have to start with learning all about your newly found hobby. Take Rodney Mullen as an example. He spent four decades of his life perfecting his skateboarding skills.
So, what would be the best board to use as a beginner? Should you opt for a short longboard? What makes a short longboard better than any other boards? Without further adieu, let’s dive in and check out.
A Sneak Peek of the History of Longboarding
Longboarding began in Hawaii as early as the 1950s. It all started with customizing the skateboards to make them capable of mimicking those rolling motion of the sea waves. Longboards during this time had larger wheels and a longer deck for a more balanced surfing. It was also during this time that longboarding was called “sidewalk surfing”.
Today, skateboarding and longboarding has evolved into a serious sport. In fact, in the United States alone there are about 14 skateboarding events for pro and amateur riders.
Examples of this includes the Boardr Am Series which is a skateboarding competition for amateurs. Whoever wins in this competition will have the chance to compete in the Empire Open Series Finals. The prize includes lodging expenses covered, along with $500.
There is also the Red Bull Solus which is a skateboarding competition for professionals. The winner in this event will receive $2,500 which will be donated to the winner’s chosen local skate shop.
For people who consider longboarding as their newfound hobby, there is so much to learn about this sport. From learning how to do the pivot, truck stand, kickflip, to doing more advanced tricks, longboarding is indeed such a fun-filled activity. But don’t go too crazy about it yet without first knowing which type of longboard to use.
There are various types of longboards out there. However, this article mainly focuses on short longboards.
What is a short longboard?
A short longboard is also referred to as the mini longboard with a length of 33 inches or shorter. The kingpin trucks of these short longboards are usually reversed and are larger in size compared to what you can find in regular skateboards. It comes in three types, namely mini cruisers, short drop-throughs and hybrid short longboards.
The Three Types of Short Longboards
- Mini Cruisers
Mini cruisers provide the advantages of boards that have larger yet softer wheels. A mini cruiser may be small but not too small to be able to provide the rider the chance to do some carving.
Newbies may ask, “Wait, what do you mean by carving on a longboard?” Well, it refers to a riding style that is almost similar to surfing. It entails making big quick turns in an S-shaped trajectory. This is done with the aim of maintaining one’s momentum and speed. Although carving is easier done on a longboard, with practice doing it on a short longboard like the mini cruiser will also become easy.
What makes mini-cruisers great? Having a mini-cruiser is like having the best of both the skateboard and a longboard.
But are mini cruisers ideal for beginners? Experienced skaters agree that mini cruisers are great for newbies. Its size and weight are just enough to provide a newbie an easy way to learn how to skate through the steeper curve.
- Hybrid Short Longboards
Hybrid short longboards are equipped with traditional kingpin trucks that look a lot like those street trucks. They provide a perfect riding experience even when installed with a larger set of wheels. These also look similar to oversized street decks. They are short based on longboard standards.
Many hybrids are popsicle-shaped but others are shaped much like a cruiser. These are ideal for cruising and street skating. They provide more comfort when used for cruising.
What makes hybrid short longboards a great option? What makes them great is the fact that you can also use them for skatepark tricks.
Are hybrids good for beginners? Newbies who have outgrown their mini cruisers can use hybrid short longboards.
- Short Drop-Through Longboards
A short drop-through longboard has its trucks dropped through its deck. Hence, the name “drop-through.” Its length falls between the 36-43” range. Short drop-through longboards have cutout shapes which could either be symmetrical or asymmetrical in form.
Short Drop-Through Longboards also have wingtips for its tail and nose. This lowers the deck to the ground which also means the center of gravity is lower.
What makes drop-through longboards a great option? Its lowered deck results in improved stability even when riding at a faster speed.
Is a drop-through longboard good for beginners? The answer is yes. It enables multiple flex options which makes it suitable for newbies and experienced riders alike. Beginners must opt for the one made from either fiberglass or bamboo.
Buying Tips on How to Choose the Best Longboard
Be familiar with the different parts.
The basic parts of the longboard include the wheels, trucks, deck, grip tape and hardware.
When choosing the type of wheels to buy for your longboard, note that the harder the wheels, the faster your longboard will become. On the other hand, softer wheels will lead to slower longboards. But if you need your board to possess better grips, opt for softer wheels. Longboards will usually have wheels that have durometers between 75a-90a.
Are bigger wheels better? Bigger wheels will do better when matched with longer decks. Smaller decks will also work well with smaller wheels. However, a larger wheel provides better overall riding experience.
Longboard trucks must possess a width that is close to the width of the deck as much as possible. Though it is highly recommended for the truck and the deck to be of equal width. But they will also work fine if their width is a little off. Keep in mind that the width difference should not be more than ¼ inch.
What type of riding do you plan to do? Do you plan to go for freeriding, carving or cruising? Deck designs vary according to the type of riding you want to do. As for the size, longboard decks come in 33” to 60” in length.
What type of deck material do you want? What deck shape do you prefer? These are the things that should be considered when choosing the type of deck for your longboard. The materials for longboard decks could be carbon fiber, bamboo and maple wood. There are also different types of deck shapes such as downhill and cruiser.
- Grip tape
You need to buy the best quality grip tape for your deck. Otherwise, you could find yourself flying off your longboard. A grip tape that offers medium grip may serve as the best option because it will be ideal both for cruising and for practicing tricks. Also, medium grip tapes will not tear off your shoes.
Consider your riding style.
Will you be doing a lot of cruising, freestyle, free ride, or downhill riding? Each longboard will have its own set of features that cater to each style of riding. Make sure to choose the one that suits your riding style. This way, you will be able to maximize the features of your chosen longboard.
Know your preferred shape.
You may ask, does the shape of a longboard really matter? The answer is a big yes. Its concave alone can already have a huge impact on a person’s performance. The shape of the concave enables riders to gain a better foothold than a flat longboard. The concave also makes turning, sliding and drifting a lot better.
Think about board flexibility.
Does my longboard have to be soft or stiff? Remember that board flexibility (flex) largely indicates the stiffness of the longboard. It also determines the shock absorbency of the board. Most of all, the level of flexibility of longboards can also have a direct influence on the stability of the ride.
Choose the right wheels.
Choosing the right wheels also entails knowing the right diameter. The wheel diameter must be based on the height and weight of the rider. Longboards with wheels that have a diameter of 50-53mm will tend to be slower but are good enough for street skating and trick riding.
Wheels with a diameter of 54-59mm are suitable for beginners. This is also the ideal wheel diameter for bigger riders who wanted to go for street skating and vertical ramps. Wheels that are 60mm or bigger are common among old school boards. These types of wheels are also perfect for fast riding on rough surfaces.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are all longboards waterproof?
No. You have to make sure that your longboard is waterproof before going out in the rain. If it’s not, you should avoid your longboard from getting soaked in the rain or puddles. Some of the consequences of wet longboards are rusted bearings, bolts and trucks. Water can also cause harm to your longboard deck and the grip tape on it.
How do I waterproof my longboard?
Use waterproofing spray to have your board protected against rain and water. Spray this on the top, sides and bottom part of your board. Your longboard should have a full paint or lacquer coating to be able to waterproof it. Use polyurethane to ensure water does not penetrate into the board. This is very important especially if it is made from wood material.
May I choose a 41-inch longboard?
The longer the size of your longboard, the more stable it becomes. However, if you are just a beginner and are planning to ride on a downhill, a 41-inch longboard would be too long and too dangerous for you.
How do I speed check my longboard?
The easy way to do a speed check is to ride it at a speed of 20mph.You may also do it no matter what speed your board is running on. Before you start pulling your longboard back using your rear foot, you have to remove weight from the back trucks first. See to it that your front arm is extended as you go to a downhill direction. Make sure you avoid that 180-degree slide. But rather, lean back for you to be able to hold the speed check slide a bit longer.
What’s the speed of an average longboard?
The cruising speed of an average longboard is 6mph.It can go as fast as 50-65 mph if it’s running in a downhill direction.
How do I keep my longboard in good condition?
First, avoid getting it soaked. Replacing the bushings every six months is highly recommended. Bushings could flatten after a period of time and will become stiffer. Thus, the need to replace them regularly.
Another way to keep your board in good condition is to sand down the splinters and chips. Watch your grip tape and clip it right away as soon as it peels off. Put your board back properly in its place every after use. Don’t just throw it in the corner.
How do I prevent my trucks from squeaking?
The squeaking sound of the trucks is caused by friction that occurs between the hanger and the pivot bushing. Remove the hanger off from its baseplate. Then use of a graphite, wax or a soap shaving to lubricate the inner parts of the pivot cup. Reassemble the parts once done spreading the wax or soap.
After all that’s been said about short longboards, there is one more reason why they’re a great option. A short longboard is fast and agile. One can quickly hop in and off of it though curbs and obstacles without the need to exert too much effort. This may sound trivial but if you’re a beginner in longboarding, you will realize just how crucial it is for a longboard to be both agile and fast.