A bunch of surfers, with the oceans becalmed, having nothing better to do, cobbled up wheels on a flat plank and satirized surfing. That was how sidewalk-surfing came to be. This was sometime in the 1950s and the first generation skateboards came to life. Of course, they were a whole lot different than the sleek skateboards of today. Longboarding came around much later and its popularity is pretty recent in the last few decades. Skateboards never quite created the frenzy of surfing but in the 1990s, the scene exploded. Snowboarders and surfers teamed up and longboarding really took off. Longboards are much smaller than surfboards. They are versatile in shape and design and can be used in various terrains.
Longboard Vs Skateboard: The Key Differences
Size and Shape
Longboards are way larger than skateboards. They average 33-60 inches in length and are 9-10 inches wide. Skateboards are a mere 28-32 inches long and 7-10 inches wide.
Because of their size, longboards provide greater stability and gives that rail-to-rail balance that beginners find thrilling.
Coming to the actual shape, skateboards can be of varying arrangements but the shape is standard. The deck curves up at both ends which makes it possible to do the Ollie and the flip, two basic maneuvers. The difference with longboards is a narrower deck, longboards cover differing shapes and sizes and provide a surfing experience with a difference. There is a type of skateboard called pennyboard that is made totally of plastic.
Between skateboards and longboards, the wheels are distinctively different. How to choose:
- Skateboards use 5-53mm diameters while for longboards, it’s 60mm+.
- Wheel Durometer – It is a scale that measures a wheel’s hardness. A harder wheel is faster whereas a softer wheel grips well. One range measures from 78a to 101a.
- Choosing contact patch – This is the area that makes contact with the pavement. The size of the skateboard and its wheel type are relevant to the contact patch. Longboards have a larger contact patch distributing weight over a larger area, wheel resistance is decreased thereby increasing wheel speed.
In the world of longboarding, cruising is to ride a longboard fluidly and loosened up down a road or streets wandering around or to get someplace. It is very popular down all ages and fitness levels and does not specifically have to be downhill, fast or freestyle. There are four cruising styles listed below in ascending order of skill required and agility.
- Boardwalk riding – The name gives it away. This means an easy, relaxed ride in a safe, pleasing environment such as the beach boardwalk or a park. A pintail type of longboard is the ideal choice as a boardwalk cruiser. Choose a 40”, flat deck with big, soft wheels for a nice suspension feel.
- Long-distance cruising – The skills are for greater distance, across town or college campus, at maximum speed with the least effort. A commuting cruiser needs to be the longest available, say 42”+ with the deck set low this time. A drop platform longboard is what we’re looking for.
- Urban transportation cruising – For moving around the city you will need a different kind of board and skills. This activity calls for agility and nimbleness and a shorter board, say 32-38”. You will want your board to turn tight, be lightweight as you will be hopping on and off a number of times.
- “Carving” cruising – No foot pushing is the hallmark of this style. You generate momentum using powerful body weight shifts. A shorter topmount board that can turn sharply will suffice for carving which is a weaving motion. To gather speed from turns, it requires a wavelike motion which is tough to master.
Balancing stunts and tricks is a great favorite among fans and performing them is the easiest way to woo your crowd. Longboards are suitable because of their greater range of stability plus the deck room offered to position your feet.
Grinding tricks are restricted in some states. Do wear a helmet, shin, knee pads, and gloves before attempting grinding moves. You need a skateboard. The smaller size and lightweight are ideal. Grinding tricks are complicated and risky. Staircase riding, flip tricks, half-pipes, aerial, and ollies are some of them.
This is a technique whereby you don’t get your feet off the board. Skateboarding requires foot contact to generate speed but a longboard does not. Its shape and design supply the ‘pump’ for a swift ride. It works by simply moving your body back and forth.
Tricks And Techniques
- Foot braking
- Drifting – Technique of decreasing speed while executing a turn while going downhill at speed. Wheels lose traction
- Carving – While roving at high speed, this technique works great. It is essentially a series of ‘S’ turns as you dawdle down. Speed is under control.
- Air braking – It is not a braking technique but to take off speed slowly using wind resistance. Stand upright on the board with arms stretched across is all it takes.
- Slide breaking – Stopping by turning the board 90 degrees.
- Boardwalking – The cool dude on a leisurely board cruise.
Pros & Cons of Longboards
PROS: Longboards extend variety allowing you to cruise, commute, carve, race and even to do tricks.
PROS: They are easily balanced and offer more room for big feet.
CONS: They are bulky and heavier.
CONS: Longboards come expensive.
Pros & Cons of Skateboards
PROS: Can be carried around being small and light. They are portable wherever you go.
PROS: Beginners and those keen on doing tricks can afford them.
CONS: They can’t be chained up like a cycle or a motorbike. So they have to be on your person all the time or they may get pinched.
CONS: Your shoes will get damaged. The surfaces of a skateboard and that of a longboard differ, your shoes will be put paid to faster with all that kicking.
Which One Is Easier to Ride?
There are plenty of opinions doing the rounds on longboard vs skateboard debate as to which board benefits beginners best. For a skater that would be the shortboard.
However balancing atop a board is a concern for some and you need something inherently capable of providing balance, then a longboard is for you. As a result of their width and length, stability is very good. Longboards are made for a smooth, easy ride. With sturdy wheels, the chances of tipping over are little as you will not be doing tricks.
A longboard being heavier and tougher to control, may be suitable for young adult beginners. For the young beginner, start with a skateboard, maybe a small longboard.
Which One Is Safer, Longboard or Skateboard?
There is always an element of risk never mind the type of board being used. The obvious conclusion one would jump to is that as you cannot do tricks on a longboard, it must be safer. For tricks, skateboards are safer as they are designed for this. Skateboards are not meant for balancing. So the type of activity determines your safety. For safer, faster riding or commuting go for a longboard. For safer riding doing tricks and for riding in confined locations, switch to a skateboard. You can find electric versions of both of these boards. And most importantly, wear protective gear at all times.
Not an easy task to sum up the longboarding vs skateboarding debate. Both come with their pluses and minuses and both boards are ideal for different types of skating. After reading this writeup, a beginner should have enough knowhow to start off on wheels.