Skateboarding, as we know it today, was born sometime around the early 1950s, when a group of surfers in California wanted to do something when the waves were flat. So, they just placed two pairs of wheels on a wooden plank and called it “sidewalk surfing”. Of course, those skateboards were significantly different than the ones we have today. Nevertheless, over the years, they’ve evolved into what we have today, and it wasn’t long after that longboards were introduced. And while longboards and skateboards are quite similar to one another, there are distinct differences that make riding them vastly different.
Skateboards never truly managed to recreate the surfing sensation, due to the fact that their design was quite different from that of surfboards. With the arrival of longboards, however, enthusiasts got to experience something that feels much closer to surfing on land. Initially, they put roller-skate wheels on their surfboards and slowly started shaping longboards as we see them today. The entire idea was to keep as much of the original shape of surfboards and add soft, flexible wheels that help capture the feeling of riding waves. So, should you get a longboard or skateboard the next time you visit your favourite skate store? The answer to this question will depend on your preferred riding style and a few other factors.
The Shape and Size of the Board
Naturally, longboards are significantly longer than skateboards, usually somewhere between 33 and 60 inches long and about 10 inches wide. Skateboards, on the other hand, are typically 28-32 inches long and 8-10 inches wide. This difference in size is exactly what makes longboards more stable for riding and it provides great rail-to-rail balance, making them ideal for beginners. In terms of shape, skateboards have a variety of different designs, but the shape is pretty much the same. The deck is typically curved upwards at both ends, which helps skaters perform tricks. On the other hand, longboards have narrow, long decks and they come in a wide range of sizes and shapes that provide a different riding experience.
The Wheels and Trucks
Both longboards and skateboards feature trucks at the bottom, but they’re quite different. Skateboard trucks are far more rigid, making them ideal for grinds and performing tricks. Further, skateboard trucks are narrower and use a TKP (traditional kingpin) and come in a wide range of sizes. Ideally, you want the truck to be about the same size as the maximum width of the deck. Longboard trucks, on the other hand, are more flexible, which makes the entire longboard more flexible. Due to this, the entire longboard-riding experience feels much smoother and more comfortable. Additionally, longboard trucks are wider, and they feature an RKP (reverse kingpin). Similarly to skateboard trucks, you should choose longboard trucks according to the width of the board.
When it comes to wheels, as briefly aforementioned, longboards feature bigger and softer wheels, making them faster and more suitable for riding on all types of surfaces. Moreover, they buffer the obstacles on the road, like cracks and pebbles, making long rides far more comfortable. The smaller wheels on skateboards make them ideal for performing tricks and maintaining balance, but they can be easily thrown off by road obstacles.
Maneuvering the Board
Obviously, both skateboards and longboards require a leg push to get the initial thrust. Skateboards excel at ramp riding and performing tight turns, and their light weight makes them great for flips and leaps. However, all of this also makes them less stable and uncomfortable for extended riding. Longboards, on the other hand, are designed for transport and long-term riding on any type of smooth terrain. They’re also great for downhill and cross-country riding. In order to get speed and thrust, skateboarders need to use their feet, which isn’t practical nor safe when cruising at high speed. However, the design of the longboards allows you to “pump” the board by shifting your weight back and forth. This creates the force and thrust you need to move forward without having to use your feet to push yourself. As a result, you can cruise indefinitely on downhill and flat surfaces.
Which One Is Ideal For You?
As you can see, both skateboards and longboards can be really fun. The most important thing you need to consider before visiting a skate store is what you need from the board. Are you more into performing tricks and stunts? Or are you more of a chill, cruiser type? If you’re a beginner, longboards are probably easier to learn how to ride due to the size and shape of their board, which makes it easier to get used to and find balance. Although less agile then skateboards, with the right amount of practice and technique – ramping, flipping and barrel rolls are still possible.