Do you love the thrill of speed or do you prefer the beauty of slides and spins? Or why not both? If you are a newbie when it comes to skating, then you might not be aware of the different disciplines of longboarding, or probably longboarding itself.
For those who are already familiar, you might be asking how you can have both the speed and the tricks at the same time. Well, that is possible with freeride longboarding. So, let’s discuss this discipline further and learn more about longboarding at the same time.
What is Longboarding and How is It Different from Skateboarding
It is almost the same as skateboarding but different. Does that make sense? Well, they are the same in the sense that they are both considered as a recreation and a sport. At the same time, both use a board to ride on. However, they differ in the kind of board they use.
Longboarding uses a longboard which is generally longer than a skateboard. The typical size of a skateboard usually ranges from 28 to 34 inches long with a width between 7 to 10 inches. A longboard on the other hand normally has a length of 35 to 60 inches and is 9 to 10 inches wide.
Aside from their size, longboards tend to be more stable and have a larger wheel size which makes them more durable and provides better traction compared to skateboards.
A Brief History of Longboarding
Now let us take a look back on how longboarding all started.
Did you know that it originated in Hawaii way back in 1950? The idea was formed when several surfers from Hawaii thought of bringing surfing to land. Of course, there aren’t always big waves and they were probably bored that they came up with this idea.
They created a mini version of their surfboard made of thick plywood and added wheels and trucks underneath the board. They used this on small hills while performing their surfing skills and moves.
In the ’70s, longboarding became a thing and there were a few longboarders who had perfected their techniques. However, even with a piece in a SkateBoarder article in 1978, it did not gain much popularity. Nevertheless, people who were interested in this sport continued their love for longboarding and carried on with making longboards. Others used snowboard decks and added roller skating wheels on them.
It wasn’t until the early ’90s that a skateboard manufacturing company called Sector9 started selling and producing huge numbers of longboards. It was in the same year that reverse kingpins in trucks were introduced to longboards.
Over the years, longboarding slowly gained popularity. More and more skateboarders from different places had embraced the sport and developed different longboarding disciplines like freeriding, downhill, slalom, dancing, and a lot more. Today, it is more than just a hobby but there are now lots of events and competitions happening around the world.
Freeride Longboarding and How It Differs from Other Disciplines
There are a lot of longboarding disciplines and freeride is just one of them. Those who are new to this may find that freeriding is the best way to learn longboarding. If you like the speed and at the same time have the love for stylish spins and slides, then you might find this one interesting.
For us to better understand freeride longboarding and avoid confusion, it is best to define the other disciplines and compare them to freeriding.
This focuses more on the speed. It’s riding down hills while trying to reach the maximum speed without losing control of the board. Downhill riders usually reach 50-65 mph.
Freeride on the other hand includes spinning and sliding at a moderate speed. Reaching the maximum speed is not the goal here unlike downhill longboarding.
This is best for those who prefer using longboards as a means of transportation or for traveling. Unlike downhill, this is done at low speed and more on foot pushing. This type of discipline is commonly used on city streets or roads. This is more of a relaxed riding without the need for spinning and sliding which is common in freeriding.
This is considered the most acrobatic of all longboarding disciplines. It entails technical stunts and more of spinning and flipping. It is the closest you get to street skateboarding. Compared to freeriding that is done downhills, this one is performed on flat ground. It sometimes uses stairways or other nearby obstacles where they can perform stunts.
It is like surfing without the water and the waves. Carving involves building and maintaining speed and momentum through quick consecutive turns. Unlike freeriding which is only done in downhills, this one can be performed both downhill and on flat ground. Sharp turns help control the speed when carving downhills.
As the name suggests, it’s like dancing on your longboard while the board continues to roll. There’s a lot of footwork going on around this discipline. It is not as intense as freeriding as this is usually done on flat grounds and not downhills. It is closely related to cruising but with more coordination, balance, and style.
Since freeride longboarding involves a lot of sliding, let’s talk about slides and how to execute them.
Different Types of Slides
Do you want to be an expert in freeride longboarding? Then you should be ready to learn and perform power slides. Slides are the primary technique in freeriding. Sliding is used not only to control speed but also to do it with style which makes freeriding different from downhill race.
Performing slides with grace is the main goal of freeriders. They live for the thrill of speed and at the same time for the power to control it with flair. If you’re serious about learning how to do freeride longboarding, now is the time you learn some of the different types of slides.
In order to perform the other types of slides, you should be able to master the most basic one which is the stand-up slide. This is done while standing on your longboard and thrusting out the board sideways while sticking out your legs and putting your weight towards your back.
This is almost identical to the stand-up slide but a bit more challenging as you need to perform a 180º turn. To do this, once you’ve pushed your longboard to 90º to slide, you need to get back to the slope by pushing it to another 90º. This time your position should have been switched.
If you think the 180º slide is already challenging, then be prepared for the pendulum slide. Place your hand down and move the board over your body while moving past 90º. At this angle, the road should be up at 180º, while momentarily riding in reverse before sliding back in normal position.
Drifting is normally used when turning in corners. This is a combination of stand-up sliding with normal riding. To control speed, simply move your weight to a normal position and slide stance.
This is done by leaning too much forward and touching the road while swerving to 90º to drift. Be sure to wear a slide glove while doing this slide.
Slide by pushing your longboard either forward or backward. This can be done by using your heels or toes. After your drift, move your board to its normal direction.
Those are just some of the most common types of slides. There are still more but you can start from those mentioned above first and you will soon learn the other types of slides as you improve on your longboarding skills.
In longboarding, although not as dangerous as other sports, it is still important to protect yourself whether you are competing, practicing, or just cruising around. It is necessary to wear protective gear in case of accident to avoid serious injury. So, what are the essential longboarding equipment that you need to keep you from sustaining major injuries?
Wearing a helmet is very important especially when performing downhill or freeride longboarding. This will help protect you in case you hit your head. It can prevent traumatic head injuries that might hinder you from becoming a professional longboarder.
- Hip Pad
If you are a newbie and still learning to do the slides, then you should wear a hip pad. Expect a lot of ugly falls while practicing the different types of slide. You are more likely to fall on your hips during this stage and even if you’re already an expert, you can never tell when you will slip. Best to stay safe by wearing these.
- Knee Pads
This is also an essential gear that every beginner needs to have. Knee pads will protect your knees when you land on your knees. Be prepared to experience a lot of falls but don’t worry it’s all part of the experience and learning process.
- Slide Gloves
This is a must for freeriders. Aside from your head, hips, and knees your hands also need protection. Many longboarders use their hands as brakes for smoother and more controlled power slides. Aside from that slide gloves are also extra protection when you fall.
- Elbow Pads
They may not be as necessary as the other protective gears mentioned earlier, but it is always good to be prepared and avoid potential pain and bruises as you ride. However, experts do not normally wear elbow pads as they find them uncomfortable.
- Brakesoles or Gripsoles
Aside from your body, you also need to safeguard your gear such as your shoes. With all the foot brakings and pushings, they will surely ruin your shoes over time. So best to guard them with brake soles or grip soles. However, they are not only intended to extend the life of your shoes but also to provide a better grip on your board.
- Spine Protectors
Some may find this a little overkill especially for beginners who are not yet ready for more complicated moves. This is more appropriate to those who are more experienced and are performing more difficult stunts. Riding down hills and slopes may sometimes cause longboarders to lose control and balance that may cause them to fall on their back.
- Sunglasses or Eyeshields
Whether you are a beginner or an expert, sunglasses are a must. Eyeshields do not only protect your eyes from the glaring sun rays but also from dirt and dust. Aside from that, it shields your eyes from the wind that may cause your eyes to tear up.
You may not need all of the equipment mentioned above. But if you are a newbie to longboarding, it would be wise to get most if not all of them. This is for your protection and at the same time to give you a more enjoyable longboarding experience.
Okay, so you now know the history of longboarding, the different slides, disciplines, and the necessary protective gears. So, the only thing lacking is choosing the right freeride longboard for you.
What makes a great freeride longboard? Before you rush out there and purchase one, here are some guides to help you choose the right longboard for you.
- The shape of the deck
Most decks that are used for freeride are bi-directional. This is to let riders spin and ride in both ways. However, there are now hybrid longboards that are suitable for both freeride and freestyle. These boards have kicktails.
- Deck’s concave
Concave refers to the curve you’ll find on your board. The amount of concave will depend on your skill level. A simple concave is best suited for beginners and as you improve you can move on to a more advanced concave.
- Strong trucks
Trucks come in different sizes and beginners can start with bigger or regular trucks, usually 180mm in width. Freeriders need a strong set of trucks as it needs to sustain all the pressure in different directions. Most freeriders would suggest reverse kingpins for better maneuvers.
- Wheels for better sliding and grip
Wheels help balance grip and the board’s ability to slide. As we’ve learned earlier, freeriding consists of a lot of stylish slides. The size and hardness of the wheels play an important role in selecting the right freeride longboard. For the hardness, you may want to choose anything between 78A to 82A. As for the size, it’s best to choose 68mm to 72mm in diameter.
Are you excited to begin your new hobby? Aside from these factors, other things you need to consider before deciding which freeride longboard to buy are your weight, your skill level, and also where you plan to ride, whether it is at a curb or a smooth surface.
To sum it up, freeride longboarding is a balance of both speed and stylish spins and slides. If you prefer to master the different slides with flair and not so much of reaching the maximum speed, then freeride longboarding may be the one for you.