The prospect of choosing the right longboard or cruiser should be exciting, but there are so many shapes and styles to consider it can be a bit overwhelming. There’s so much information out there about trucks and mounting style, concave for carving, length versus width, whether you want wheel flares and kicks or hard rails and a micro drop–sifting through it can be a nightmare. As always, the best thing to consider is the type of skating you want to be doing, then pick a board shape that suits you and your style.
In general, there are four categories of longboard used for different types of skating: cruising, downhill, free ride, and freestyle. Obviously, size plays a big role in how a deck setup operates. Do you want stability or agility, a downhill rocket or something more portable to pop to the shops? Length can be important, however, size isn’t everything and there’s a lot more going on with your deck than you might think. With that in mind, here are a few other factors that will change how a board feels and rides.
What does your longboard deck look like?
When it comes to the length of a board, a good rule of thumb is that the longer a board is the more stable it will be. So, flipping that, generally a shorter board will be less stable However, shorter boards are more nimble and can make the best cruising and carving setups. A longboard deck can be anywhere from 26-inches to 47-inches long. You might find that longboards under 30-inches long are referred to as cruisers instead. The width of a deck tells a similar story. Basically, the wider the board is, the more stable it’ll be and vice-versa. Usually, longboards and cruisers will vary from 7-inches to 9-inches wide. Apart from the stability, the width can change your turning circle and agility. Also, it’s important to consider the coverage of your feet across the span of the deck, as this will change how sharply you can turn.
Flex and Flexibility
Board flex is another significant element to be considered when choosing a longboard. This controls the ability of the longboard to absorbs shocks and provides a sort of bounce through unstable terrain. Also, some flex adds stability to the board. Typically, there are soft, medium, and stiff types of board, The type of material used in the construction can really change the feel and performance of a deck, with maple plies being generally the stiffest and bamboo the bounciest. Possibly one of the biggest things to consider, the overall shape and style of a deck can totally alter the way it is used. There are two basic styles with different shapes and truck mounts in each–directional or symmetrical decks. A directional longboard is one that has an obvious nose and tail, generally pointed at the nose, and work best for cruising and downhill riding. A symmetrical deck can offer more versatility when free riding, dancing, and freestyling, however it often comes at the cost of kicks. On top of that, the mounting style will change both your stability and turning circle, with top-mount, drop-through, drop deck, and twofold drops all in increasing order of stability.
So which longboard size is right for which style?
As you can tell there are lots of different shapes and styles that can really change up online skate shops
. So what type of longboard deck is right for the type of skating you want to do?
For a casual roll down the streets or scrambling to get to work on time, a cruiser needs to be stable and comfortable. Anything ranging from 28-inches to 46-inches is great for cruising and carving. But if you want quick turns and fast speed mixed with portability, you’ll want to keep the length down below 30-inches. If you’re interested in cruising, take a look at the Z-Flex Gold Metal Flake
, Sector 9 Snapback
, or Gold Coast Longboards Diptail
For most people, longboarding means bombing downhill at serious speed. So if you want to get up to 88mph, you need a longboard that mixes speed and stability no matter how fast you go. A longer board is a must, and you should aim for at least 36-inches or longer. Ideally it should have a drop-through truck mount or drop-down deck, as well as a solid w-concave to lock your feet in. For beginners, 40-inches or longer is great as it’ll offer way more stability. Take a look at the Sector 9 Mini Flow
, the Omen Kush
, or Z-Flex Shadow Lurker
. Also, seriously consider getting a helmet
Freeride and Freestyle
The most versatile style, Freeride can include anything from cruising and carving hills at a low speed, some sharp turns and slides, flatland and general urban riding. So, overall it’s best to go for something stable on rough surfaces, but with the flexibility to change up your style. Anything between 32 and 42-inches is perfect. Anything smaller is heading into cruiser territory and you should keep in mind that a top mount or flat symmetrical set-up is great for dancing. The Z-Flex Roundtail
, Sector 9 Cosmos
, and Nana Nutbush all offer a great spread of styles. There's still a lot to consider when choosing the right longboard. Things like wheel size and hardness, as well as truck angle and width can also play a big role in your roll. Though, hopefully, this has made things clearer. Now all you need to do is pick a deck and head on out.
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