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Longboarding is the act of riding on a longboard. A longboard varies in shape and size unlike its set counterpart, the skateboard, and has more stability, traction and durability due to larger wheel size and 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. Longboarding also has competitive races down hill where some riders reach speeds exceeding 60 miles per hour. The angles at which some longboards can turn, as well as their ability to coast long distances make them more suitable for cruising and commuting on streets than regular skateboards.
- 1 History
- 2 Uses
- 3 Riding Techniques
- 4 Braking Techniques
- 5 Safety
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The life of longboarding started in the 1950s. The idea of longboarding originated from surfers in Hawaii. They wanted to bring their surfing hobby to land when the waves were too small to surf. Surfers then figured out a way of achieving their goal of bringing surfing to land by customizing their skateboards. They would grab a piece of thick plywood and shape it into a smaller version of a surfboard, then screw the trucks and wheels to the decks and head out to small hills to imitate the same moves they would do if they were out surfing.
During the 1970s, a small group of longboarders honed their techniques. Some longboarders from this period were profiled in a 1978 SkateBoarder magazine article entitled Cult of the Longboard. These pioneers saw longboarding as a form of self-expression, and were influenced by surfing. However, despite the advent of polyurethane wheels (referred to as "thane" by longboarders), longboarding did not reach a high degree of prevalence during the 1970s.
Longboarding lived on as an underground sport with home hobbyists continuing to make boards in their garages or strap trucks onto snowboard decks using old Kryptonic wheels from the 1970s or roller skating wheels.
The Internet has made it possible for small groups of skateboarders to communicate with each other and also gain an audience they might not have had locally, allowing the sport to grow further. Multiple subbranches of longboarding exist with relatively small but hardcore groups of adherents like slalom, LDP (long distance pushing/pumping), downhill, dance, freeriding, technical hardwheel sliding and more.
Besides diversifying into many "species", longboarding itself has also come back around full circle. It now has begun embracing more street oriented tricks and cross over events using ramps while still embracing its earlier beginnings in slalom, ditch skating, cornering, and just speed itself.
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, generally a shorter board, around 24"-35" is used for commuting, as well as medium-sized wheels (65mm-75mm) which help commuters maneuver bumps, cracks and other minor surface obstacles, perfect for students going to class on or off campus. For longer distances, a heavier (or longer) board and larger wheels will maintain the momentum from a push longer, making them ideal in that sense. 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.
Freeriding can involve 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 tech slides. 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.
Downhill longboarding involves riding down hills as fast as possible and keeping the board under control. Speeds in excess of 80 mph have been obtained. UK rider, Pete Connolly, is the current Guinness world record holder, for the fastest man on a longboard, with a staggering top speed of 91.17 mph. These boards are usually 95–110 cm (35–44 inches) long, featuring wheel bases from 28-35 inches, and very stiff to improve control at speed. "Speed wobbles" pose a problem for beginner downhill riders but intermediate and advanced users overcome this by learning to relax and control their muscles. Downhill decks usually fall into Six categories: topmount, micro drop, drop thru, drop deck, double drop and flush mount. Topmount boards provide the most traction, but tend to be less forgiving. Micro Drops lower the ride height slightly, which results in a great all around board. Drop thru decks consist of mounting the baseplates of the trucks on top of the board with the trucks hanging through a hole. Like micro drops these tend to be all around boards and were very popular 2009-2011. Drop Decks get the rider very close to the ground, providing an easy to push and drifty ride. Double Drop decks are a drop deck with drop thru truck mounts. These decks were fairly popular in the mid 2000s but have largely fallen out of favor due to their unresponsiveness. Flush mounts seek to lower the ride height by mounting the trucks in a recessed area on the board. This minimally lowers ride height but increases the chance for wheel bite (which is where the wheels rub against the board in a turn, usually resulting in a crash). The vast majority of downhill long boards are built from wood. The three most common woods used are Maple, Baltic Birch and Bamboo. Maple is less prone to fracturing during construction than Baltic Birch, and as such is used in almost all high end boards. Other materials used in long board construction are: 1) Carbon fiber with a foam, balsa or hollow core. 2) Aluminum, either pressed or milled. And 3) Carbon Nano Tubes, although this proved prone to failure and no current company is using this material.
Downhill boards and freeride boards are often used interchangeably. The main distinguishing factor is that downhill boards are usually directional, with a defined front and rear, while freeride boards are symmetrical front to back.
Downhill longboarders usually use Reverse Kingpin Trucks (RKP), whereas skateboarders use Traditional Kingpin Trucks. RKP trucks tend to hold traction better and are easier to handle at speed, whereas TKP trucks are more suited for tricks, bowl skating and usually sport a lower ride height. Other forms of trucks have been seen in downhill but remain on the sidelines. These would include torsion trucks (seismic) and CAM trucks (Other Planet). Downhill trucks are separated into two further categories: Cast and Precision. Cast trucks are the economical choice as well as the most common, although Precision Trucks are becoming more common. Cast trucks are usually a gravity cast aluminum with a solid steel axle that is non-removable. Due to the casting process cast trucks have 'slop' which is caused by small gaps in between parts. This causes small shifts and movements at speed and results in slightly diminished control. Cast trucks are also prone to warping slightly, causing uneven contact pressure on the wheels. Precision trucks can counter these limitations at a much higher price tag, although not all brands achieve this equally. Precision trucks are milled out of Aluminum billet and usually house two separate axles.
The angle and width of trucks also come into play with most falling in the 35°-52° range. A 45° truck is the center point, providing an equal ratio of lean to turn while also providing the most overall turn. A higher degree truck initiates a turn faster with less lean, but reduces the overall turn of the system. This is useful for riders seeking to maximize traction. A lower angle truck initiates a turn slower with more lean, and this results in less overall turn. These trucks are useful for making sliding easier, and also for many beginners who are struggling with speed wobble. The most common widths used are 150-200mm, with 175mm and 180mm being the most common. Generally a narrower truck increases traction but is less forgiving. However this is directly related to the width of the board as the truck and the board work together to form a level against the bushing.
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 less skill to maneuver.
In longboard racing there are two styles luge and downhill. Luge is like downhill racing except the rider lays with their back on the board. Most people do downhill racing. In downhill racing the different courses are separated by difficulty. Each race is separated by gender and age. The race sections are Open, Women, Juniors, Masters, and Luge. Each race starts with four riders at the start line. A gun is fired to begin the race. After, the rider goes into a speed tuck. These tucks are used to make the body as aerodynamic as possible. This is done by having the rider lean over and bend their knees with their hands behind their back. The first rider to the bottom wins.
Longboards can be used for traveling long distances. Long distance skating with charitable fundraising has even emerged (see Charitable distance skating). 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. Common ways to lower the decks are in the construction of the boards; drop-through mounting allows for the whole board to be mounted lower on the trucks and can be combined with a drop-down deck. Drop-down decks are shaped to allow the riders feet to ride lower than where the trucks are mounted. A lower deck increases stability and makes for easy pushing and foot braking.
Slaloming is the act of weaving in and out of a line of obstacles. Riders often compete for the fastest time through the course. 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.
The electric longboard is a variant of the original longboard and a new way of transport. It is essentially a longboard with a motor connected, usually to the rear wheels, and can be used to travel longer distances.
In addition to its role as a braking technique, sliding has evolved into its own discipline within skateboarding, with riders performing various tricks and rotations while sliding. Specific slides include the coleman slide, bert slide, and pendulum. 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. Softer wheels, especially (70-75a), tend to wear out faster. 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. Riders will also do a partial slide called a pre-drift before a corner to trim speed and then hook back up and grip the corner. 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 the rider does a complete 180 degree turn with one hand on the ground.
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. Boards 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 (for goofy riders) or left hand (for regular riders) 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 9 two 5, Comet Grease Shark, Earthwing Supermodel) and can be used to navigate the environment more easily (over ledges, off ledges, and off kickers).
One of the most important core tricks for longboard dancing. Cross steps involve moving the rider's back foot around the front, flipping the front around the back, and moving into a switched position from the rider's natural stance. Carve during this trick for extra style by crossing closer to the edge. Cross steps can be used to change positions with style and flow to the riders cruising.
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 stated to be an invention by Steve McBride of Kahuna Creations, but this method of pushing has been around longer and can't be claimed by a single person.
A train involves a group of riders riding in a straight line down a hill. The front rider drafts for the following riders, who in turn use their hands to push the front rider through the wind for increased overall speed for the entire group. This technique requires skill and practice because riders are in such close proximity.
Drafting is used by downhill riders to increase speed and pass other riders. It involves riding directly behind another rider to take advantage of the rider in front breaking the wind. A successful draft can greatly increase speed. The drafting rider waits until the last second to break from out behind the front rider to maximize the speed gained.
In downhill, an American tuck involves the rider tucking his/her back knee right behind his/her front knee and leaning onto his/her front thigh. Many find this tuck to be one of the most comfortable to hold while providing for a very flat, aerodynamic back with a small frontal profile. This tuck results in larger draft pocket behind the rider, which is used in a race to pass.
A Euro tuck involves the rider tucking his/her back knee right behind his/her front ankle and leaning onto his/her front thigh. This tuck gets the rider very low, but many find it to be uncomfortable and it creates a larger frontal profile which creates drag. It does reduce the draft pocket by guiding the air downwards due to the curved back.
A Hybrid tuck involves the rider tucking his/her back knee into the middle of his/her front calf. This tuck provides a balance between the Euro and American, taking some of the advantages and disadvantages of each.
A Brazilian tuck consists of the rider placing his/her back knee directly onto the board next to or behind the front foot. This Tuck has largely fallen out of favor for competitive riding. This is because it creates a very large frontal section that dramatically increases aerodynamic drag. It's mostly used by beginners or as a resting position for some people during very long runs.
A classic Tuck is one that was primarily used in the 1980s and 1990s. However some modern events, such as the MT Tabor Challenge in Portland Oregon, require this tuck to increase the difficulty on mellow hills. The tuck involves placing both feet at the front of the board, touching with one foot slightly behind the other. The rider then crouches down somewhat similar to a modern tuck. This tuck provides a severely reduced amount of control due to the rider having minimal control over the rear trucks. Further the stance has higher aerodynamic drag than other tucks.
Because of the high speed a longboard can achieve (as fast as a car), being able to brake quickly is extremely important.
While not an official braking technique, it is common for riders to jump off the moving board and 'run out' their speed. 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.
Sliding is the most effective braking technique for downhill skateboarders. 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. It allows a skater to reduce his or her speed much quicker than footbraking, but requires a wider area depending on their ability to control the slide. Factors such as the height and length of the board and, crucially, durometer (softness) of the wheels affect how easy this is to do and how fast the rider must be travelling to achieve effective slides. Sliding also requires an efficient and precise use of body weight in order to be fully effective.
Foot braking involves putting one foot on the road while balancing on the board with the other foot. The rider needs to put all of their weight on their front foot. This technique can be used to reduce speed or come to a full stop and it is a very helpful technique for an emergency case. 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.
A much less common form of foot braking is frog braking. This is where the rider grabs rail on both sides of the board and then stomps a foot down while crouched. This method allows the rider to shed speed much faster than a normal foot brake due the rider being able to apply much greater pressure against the road. This method still does not slow the rider down as much as a slide and is considered 'odd' by most riders.
Another variation of foot braking is a sit braking. This involves the rider going from a standing position to sitting on the board and putting both feet down. This method can slow the rider down very quickly. The downside to this method is that it takes some time to sit down on the board. This is usually used at the end of a run.
Air braking involves standing upright on the board as tall as possible with arms outstretched to catch as much wind resistance as possible. In racing this is done by standing up from the rider's tuck. 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.
Longboarding is associated with a different pattern of injuries than skateboarding is. Many longboarding injuries are sustained while going downhill, while very few skateboarding accidents happen while going downhill. In downhill racing the riders are required to wear certain protective gear unlike other uses of the longboard where a helmet and padding may be worn. Full closed helmet, pads on the rider's elbows, knees, and wrist, gloves, slide pucks, and a leather suit are required. This equipment is mandated by the International Downhill Federation. Longboarding injuries tend to involve head and neck areas more than skateboarding injuries, which are more likely to involve a skater's lower extremities. Helmets, padding, and possibly friendly or parental supervision are highly recommended or enforced by law.
Scholars Glenn Keays and Alex Dumas found media reports of five longboard-related deaths in Canada and the United States during 2012, and four in 2013. A number of municipalities—most notably Vancouver—have considered banning or restricting longboarding, expressing concern with the speeds longboarders can reach.
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