Longboarding is the act of riding on a longboard skateboard. A longboard is greater in size (both length and width) than its smaller counterpart, the skateboard, and has more stability, traction and durability due to lower wheel durometers. Many, but not all longboards, use trucks (axles) that contain different geometric parameters than a skateboard as well. These factors and their variation have given way to a variety of disciplines, functions and purposes for a longboard. The angles at which some longboards can turn, as well as their ability to coast long distances make them more suitable for cruising on streets than regular skateboards.
A longboard generally can be as short or as long as the rider desires, though the board should not be longer than the rider's height, as that would cause loss of control. The most popular length-range is about 32 to 60 inches. (Average skateboards are 28″- 32″, with most being about 31-31.5 inches long.
As well as usually being longer than a trick deck skateboard, longboards may also be equipped with larger, softer wheels which afford a smoother, faster ride. However, depending on the durometer of the wheels used, it can be slower. There are many different uses for longboards, as shown below. Since longboards use softer bushings than a typical tech skateboard, carving is generally easier. Some trucks use springs instead of bushings, such as Seismic trucks or Original trucks. Original trucks also feature a wave-cam mechanism to control the lean and turn of the truck. The truck can usually be slightly wider than the board but this is not always the case.
The most basic use of a longboard is travel. Commuter designs take many different shapes, including long, wide cruisers as well as shorter hybrid type boards. Their trucks are designed to be loose to allow for sharper turns. It is useful to have a kicktail on a commuting longboard in order to corner on sidewalks and to lift the front of the board when riding off curbs.
Also, one may prefer a shorter board, around 24"-35" for commuting, as well as medium sized wheels (65mm-75mm) which help commuters maneuver bumps, cracks and other minor surface obstacles. One problem with this way of travel is that in some places it can be illegal. There have been cases when a longboarder has received a ticket for longboarding in certain areas, because some consider longboarding skateboarding.
Slaloming is the act of weaving in and out of a line of obstacles. Riders often compete for the best time but pedestrian slalom (usually referred to as civilian slalom because of the alliteration) is a non-competitive form of this discipline in which riders simply swerve around whatever obstacles they find in their path while navigating from point A to B. Slalomers usually have very soft and grippy wheels in the back to grip through the turns, and slightly harder wheels in the front to reduce rolling resistance and reach higher speeds. Slalom riders propel themselves by carving and gyrating their bodies, a technique known as pumping.
Freeriding involves sliding and other tricks such as early grabs (where one grips the side of the board while on the ground and thrusts upward to become airborne) at medium to high speeds. The decks, which are often symmetrical, may have kicktails on both sides that allow for flip tricks like shove-its and even ollies. These decks are typically from 36-44 inches long and from 8.5-10.5 inches wide. Most freeride decks utilize similar construction to downhill boards. Some companies are now trying to produce freeride decks that also do freestyle. They make these hybrid boards by adding kicktails and striving to make the boards out of lighter materials. This allows freestyle riders to perform a larger variety of tricks, such as flips, shuvits, manuals and early grabs. The kicktails allow for freestyle tricks such as the tiger claw.
Downhill longboarding involves riding down hills as fast as possible and keeping the board under control. These boards are usually 95–110 cm (35 – 44 inches) long, featuring wheel bases from 28-35 inches, and very stiff to improve stability. One usually bends his/her knees in order not to "speed wobble". It is also very common to use these boards for free-riding. The trucks are often at the far ends of the board to maximize the wheelbase, but sometimes closer together to allow for easier maneuvering on more technical roads. A longer distance between the front and rear wheels, known as the wheelbase, will increase stability, while a shorter wheelbase will decrease the board's turning radius with a corresponding decrease in stability. In order to lower the center of gravity, downhill longboards often feature a lowered platform. The deck may be mounted below the baseplate of the trucks (drop-through configuration), by the shape of the deck itself (dropped-deck) or both (double-drop).
Wider trucks with lower pivot angles (to increase stability at the expense of turning capability) may be used as well as axle bearings that rotate independently of wheel bearings to further increase top speed. Downhill longboarders sometimes use leather suits and streamlined helmets to protect themselves as well as reduce aerodynamic drag.
Dancing is a resurgence of old-school tricks in longboarding that involves a variety of walking and spinning moves. Dancing originates from boardwalking in surfing. A board is usually considered a dancing board when it is around 45+ inches long and can be up to 12 inches wide, and although most of the tricks can be performed on smaller decks, a larger deck provides a more comfortable platform and takes more skill to maneuver.
A longboard is not only defined by its length. The trucks on a longboard are typically made for better turning ability than standard skateboard trucks, and the wheels are usually larger and softer than standard skateboard wheels to make for a smooth ride. Cruisers have these features but are the length of a normal skateboard (around 22-30 inches).
A mini longboard is typically shaped similarly to the retro-style skateboards of the early 80's. Some mini longboards have kicktails for jumping off curbs and lifting the board while commuting. Many skaters choose mini longboards for commuting as they are the ideal size to carry around or put in a locker.
Longboards can be used for traveling long distances. Any skateboard can be used for long distance journeys, however, decks designed specifically for long distance trips are typically lower to the ground than regular top mounted longboards. Long distance skating with charitable fundraising has emerged (see Charitable distance skating)
Because of the high rate of acceleration a longboard can achieve, being able to brake quickly is extremely important. Before learning braking techniques, it is common for riders to jump off the moving board and 'run out' their speed, but this is safe only at low speeds. This technique is considered dangerous and is least accepted in the longboarding community. If the rider is traveling faster than the speed at which they can run, other techniques are required, for example footbraking or sliding. Footbraking is the method of the rider dragging his foot on the ground while moving to slow himself down. However, this wears away the soles of shoes, creating holes that are potentially dangerous to the feet. Thus, most riders use the method of sliding. Sliding is the method of pushing the edge of the board out so it is traveling sideways rather than forwards, and the wheels are sliding against the ground. The resulting friction slows the board down dramatically. However, the higher the board is from the ground the more difficult this is and the more speed is needed. Sliding also requires an efficient and precise use of body weight in order to be fully effective.
Land Paddling is the use of a long pole or stick while longboarding. The stick is used to propel the longboarder further without pumping. The stick also maintains balance and can be used as a brake. This variation was invented by Steve McBride of Kahuna Creations.
Sliding is the most effective braking technique for downhill skateboarders. It allows a skater to reduce his or her speed much more quickly than footbraking, but requires a wider area depending on his ability to control the slide. It has also evolved into its own discipline of skateboarding, with riders performing various tricks and rotations while sliding. Sliding can be performed on any wheel. Harder wheels (83-86a) will slide less smoothly and break traction easier while softer wheels (70-80a) will be harder to break traction but will lead to a smoother more controllable slide. Slides can be done standing upright or with one or two hands placed on the road to allow the rider to execute technical slides in any number of positions. When performing hands-down slides, protective slide gloves must be worn. These gloves can be purchased or made at home. They are usually leather gloves with sliding pucks made of hard, low-friction plastics such as UHMWPE, Corian, or Delrin attached by velcro or glue. Sliding gloves can also be bought online or at local skate shops. Gloves are commonly made by companies such as Sector 9, Vault, Landyachtz, Arbor and Loaded. Slides can also be performed on banks and transitions in a skate park. When a skater slides to a complete stop, it is called a shutdown slide. A drift that reduces the rider's speed without bringing him to a complete stop is called a speed check. When the board rotates more than 90 degrees and then returns to its original position over the course of the slide it is called a pendulum. There are myriad more technical and challenging slides that can be done such as laybacks, pressure spins, 5-0 slides, and stand-up rotations. One of the most popular slide and most basic hands-down slide is called the Coleman. Made popular by Cliff Coleman, the Coleman slide is the most popular slide used to come to a complete stop, as you do a complete 180 degree turn with one hand on the ground.
Foot braking involves putting one foot on the road while balancing on the board with the other foot. This technique can be used to reduce speed or come to a full stop. This is helpful in racing or in tight situations where the rider does not feel comfortable sliding, or when a rider only needs to lose a small amount of speed prior to entering a turn. However this method can be wasteful and tends to destroy shoes as the sole of the shoe is worn away and doesn't shed speed nearly as fast as sliding. While it may seem inconvenient it proves useful in tight situations.
Carving is an effective way to control speed when traveling downhill. Instead of coming to a complete stop, the rider makes a continuous "S" path by leaning left and right. By making many turns speed can be controlled and maintained.
Boards with camber are specifically designed for carving. A camber board is usually made of a flexible wood like bamboo, and the center of the deck will be higher than the mounting point of the trucks creating an arc shape. When weight is applied the center will bend down, creating a reverse of the arc shape. This builds spring tension, that is released at the peak of every complete turn in the "S" pattern.
Pumping a skateboard is a technique used and perfected in slalom skateboarding. It is a technique used to maintain speed without the rider taking his or her feet off of the skateboard. The motion itself is somewhat unorthodox and it requires the rider to be very in sync with his or her center of gravity and skateboard. The act of pumping a longboard is the bending of ones knees in the direction of a turn to compensate for the gravitational forces in order to maintain speed. Skateboards made specifically for pumping usually consist of large longboard wheels which range anywhere from 60mm to 80mm. These wheels are normally soft to promote grip and have rebound urethane to maintain the resilience of the wheel. The trucks on the skateboard are also essential to how it will pump. Bennett Vectors are a very popular pumping truck and when mixed with the right durometer (measure of hardness) bushings experienced boarders can travel long distances without touching a foot to the ground. In a skateboarding world full of kick flips and 900’s, pumping had become virtually extinct. Now it is beginning to make a revival with the popularity of alternative transportation and longboard distance skating.
Early grabbing is a technique of achieving height that originated in old school skateboarding, in which the rider grabs the board and lifts it while initiating a jumping motion. The most common technique of doing this is by placing the right hand on the backside of the board between the legs, for this tends to be the technique that gives the body the least resistance when jumping/lifting. Although this has become semi-obsolete due to freeriding alternatives with kicktails which have the ability to ollie (ex. Loaded Chubby Unicorn, Omen Sugar, DK penguin), it is commonly practiced on decks that lack tails (ex. Landyachtz 925, Comet Grease Shark, Earthwing Supermodel) and can be used to navigate the environment more easily (over ledges, off ledges, and off kickers).
Air braking involves standing upright on your board as tall as possible with arms outstretched to catch as much wind resistance as possible. This is primarily done in speedboarding to reduce speed before a tight turn. It is not meant to stop the rider, but rather slow the rider to maintain control and stability. The effect is most noticeable at higher speeds and can be enhanced by deploying a Sporting-Sail, jacket or other article of clothing, forming a parachute. This can also be achieved by spreading your arms and standing up from your tuck.
Skateboarding came before longboarding and surfing came before both. Skateboarding originated in Hawaii in 1959. When the surf was low or too rough, surfers would "sidewalk surf" or skateboard. Skateboarding became popular among others and became a popular sport/hobby. Skateboards eventually led to the creation of longboards. Early longboards were homemade contraptions to make the board longer for teenagers who found skateboards too short for use. Roller-skate wheels were typically used to assemble these boards. Modern longboarding and skateboarding came to be in the 1970s when urethane wheels were invented. They also designed trucks especially for the sport which allowed for sharper turning and carving. The new wheels and trucks created the faster and smoother feel of today's boards. Longboarding and skateboarding still weren't very popular in the 70's. In the beginning skateboarders would drain pools to use to skate in as seen in The Lords of Dogtown. Skateboarding faded in popularity in the 80's. Skateboarders gained the bad reputation of being rebellious anarchists and became unpopular with the older generations. Due to the bad reputation and high insurance costs with injuries and lawsuits skateboarding quickly died. However the sport did not vanish forever and became popular again in the 90's when professionals began popping up in the media such as Tony Hawk and others. Longboarding and skateboarding have become very popular since the 90's. Longboarding hasn't been the most popular of the two sports but they are very linked in history. Longboarding is becoming even more popular in just the past few years.
- Dehaas, Josh. "'But it's not a skateboard': fans say it's eco-friendly, cops say it's risky. The fight over longboarding". Article. Maclean's. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- Goodman, Liam. "Land Paddling is Coming to a Bicycle Lane Near You". Vogue. Vogue. Retrieved 30 June 2009.