Longboarding, like skateboarding, is a great way to spend your free time outdoors. I don’t know what the best longboard really is, but I know how to choose a longboard that works for your chosen longboarding style.
Related: Best Longboard for Beginners
Is Longboarding Really Skateboarding?
This guide isn’t about endorsing any longboard brands. It’s about arming you with a well-equipped knowledge arsenal so that no brand or motivated affiliate will ever take advantage of you.
I’ve spent some time browsing Reddit, and I saw that some skateboarders like bashing longboarders. These boarders like to think that longboarding isn’t really skateboarding, and some even go to the extent of looking down on longboarders.
They say all kinds of disparaging things about those who choose longboarding over skateboarding, including calling them jack-off college douchebags, and I’ve heard worse than that.
But here’s the thing. Longboarding is a form of skateboarding. It’s skateboarding in the sense that you’re rolling around standing on a board with trucks and wheels. Except that one board is longer than the other. Anyone who thinks one outdoor fun activity is better than another is most likely trying to feel better by putting others down, a pretty unbecoming behavior.
Is Longboarding Easier Than Skateboarding?
I have nothing but mad respect for anyone who does insanely fast descents on a longboard. And all I have is admiration for dedicated street skateboarders. But no, longboarding isn’t easier than skateboarding. Actually, riding a longboard isn’t easy at all, unless you think bombing a crazy steep hill at 70mph on a wheeled board is easy.
Both skating disciplines need you to cultivate a decent level of skill to do at any level beyond beginner level. And if you ever watch longboarding daredevils doing those terrifying descents on public roads, you’ll definitely stop thinking that skateboarders are better than longboarders.
So, just grab that sidewalk surfer and get rolling, starting right from the front of your door. Or hop on that skateboard and start grinding rails and skating ledges and benches. Whatever you choose to do, have fun. Because without fun, no outdoor activity is worth doing or buying expensive gear for.
Choosing the Best Longboard: What to Consider
When looking for the best longboard ever, the first factor to pay attention to is the longboarding style you’re interested to get into. Different longboard types work best for certain kinds of boarding styles. And you want to buy a longboard that fits your intended style most suitably. Learn about every type of longboard ever invented here. There, you’ll learn everything you need to know about longboard design and construction.
Once you decide on the specific kind of longboarding you desire to get into, getting the right setup becomes easier.
Buy or Build a Longboard?
For beginners who aren’t sure if they’d like to get all in and stick around longboarding, buying a complete longboard is best. Even then, make sure to purchase a decent-quality board, one you can upgrade to a better board in the future.
For everyone else, buying a longboard from scratch is a great idea. Because you have the freedom to pick and choose the best parts and combine them in a way that reflects how you want to ride. If you’d like to build rather than buy a complete board, you’ll find this resource helpful.
Which Longboarding Style Are You Interested in?
There are 5 main longboarding styles to choose from, and none is better than any other. The most important thing is to have fun. You can cruise, downhill longboard, board freestyle, or do freeride longboarding. You decide.
But how do I decide on the right riding style if I don’t know what each style is and how it works? I’m about to describe all 5 longboarding styles for you to clear up any confusion you might be battling.
- Freestyle Longboarding (including dance longboarding)
- Freeride Longboarding
- Downhill Longboarding
1. Freestyle Longboarding (Not for Weak Knees)
Think of freestyle longboarding as artistic or expressive longboarding. It’s the street skateboarding of longboarding. You’re flipping the board some of the time, jumping off found stairs, doing kickflips, curb hopping, and doing all kinds of spinning tricks on your board.
You could even dance and do any other kind of mesmerizing footwork you’d like to; your creativity level determines what you can and can’t do with your ride.
If you’re someone who doesn’t know anything about longboarding and saw someone making all those stunty moves on a longboard, you’d think the person was skateboarding. Because all you’ve been seeing in your life are skateboarders doing their thing out on the street, and a freestyle longboader wouldn’t look any different.
Some skaters have mastered the art of dancing on a longboard, and seeing someone express themselves this way feels amazing. It takes years to get great at longboard dancing.
It takes serious balancing skills, board control, and being able to assume various kinds of acrobatic postures to get it right. So, this is a style I’d recommend for anyone just starting out.
You’re doing all these longboardy stunts on mostly flat or gently sloping surfaces. It’s pretty much the kind of terrain you tackle when cruising. Other times, freestyle longboarders skate at skate parks, pretty much like park skateboarders.
Freestyle runs the gamut from shredding bowls and skating ramps to transition skating and even grinding rails. Freestyle is basically park/street skateboarding on a longboarding, and then you throw in technical sliding at slow speeds.
You’ll see these hardcore freestyle longboaders doing board tricks such as manuals, shove-Its, Ollies, ghostride kickflips, pivots, and whatnot.
Like technical street skateboarding, hardcore freestyling can be a pretty high-impact activity. Because you’re jumping some of the time, exerting tons of pressure on your knees and ankles. Smaller wonder it’s almost always teens and younger people freestyling rather than older adults. Even younger riders need to warm up pre-skate, otherwise, they’ll end up with injuries freestyling.
Even though some view longboard dancing as a distinct style, it’s truly a part of freestyle. Longboard dancers carve turns while cross-stepping on the deck in a way that leaves onlookers more than impressed. You need a really long freestyle longboard for dance BTW. Some dancers and board walkers use boards with a length of up to 60″.
Freestyle longboards come in different styles namely regular boards and hybrid boards. Both board styles have wheel wells so that you can run bigger wheels to avoid wheel bite. Also, both board styles have a kicktail that makes landing tricks possible.
Hybrid longboards: This board is similar to the usual popsicle-shaped street skateboard. But the wheels are way bigger than those of a skateboard, and they have a medium concave for technical riding. Aside from that, they have really a big symmetrical kicktail to make it easy to scoop the board when doing tricks and jumps.
The wheelbase stays at 14″-35″ with dance boards having a wheelbase of roughly 30″-31″. The wheels are big enough so that you can ride between skating spots as opposed to carrying the board.
To make performing tricks easier, hybrids are normally lightweight boards with equally lightweight components.
Regular Freestyle longboards: These ones have a standard-sized kicktail and a pretty long wheelbase. This means they’re more stable compared to hybrid boards, but they’re the less technical version of the hybrid deck.
Mount style: The best mount style for a freestyle longboard is the top mount. Drop-through decks are OK, too, but they’re less durable than top-mounted freestyle decks especially when it comes to withstanding jump impacts. The reason drop-thru decks don’t hold up very well to hard constant impacts is that the decks are weaker at the mount points. And that’s where they snap when they can’t withstand abuse any longer.
Freestyle deck flex and size: Your deck can have less flex or more flex depending on how you want to ride. More flex translates to sketchier jump tricks but a more flowy ride. And a stiffer deck can make carving turns trickier. You decide.
Freestyle longboard bushings: Barrel bushings are a good choice when it comes to freestyling, especially when combined with tall-cone bushings. With this combo, you get a sweet balance between balance and responsiveness so you can explore your authenticity as freely as possible.
Freestyle trucks: You can use either Traditional Kingpin Trucks or Reverse Kingpin Trucks. For a twitchier, more responsive setup, definitely use TKP trucks. And for a speedier yet more stable and controlled ride, definitely use RKP trucks. For more technical riding, get lower trucks, and for more mellow freestyle, get higher trucks. Learn how to choose good longboard trucks here.
Bearings: Get cheap ones that roll well.
Freestyle longboard wheels: The correct freestyle longboard wheel size depends on how technical you want your riding to be. For hardcore street freestyle longboarding, get 56mm-63mm wheels. But for less technical riding, taller wheels work beautifully (64-70mm).
Wheel durometer: For less technical street riding where the roads and streets are good quality, 85A wheels should work just fine. But if there’s lots of roughness on the surface, softer wheels at 80A-82A wheels suffice.
Perhaps one reason some skateboarders look down on longboarding is that most longboarding involves cruising. As the term suggests, you simply hop on your longboard and cruise around, moving from where you’re at toward a destination of your choice.
This destination could be your work, the gift store to buy a loved one something nice, the local restaurant to grab fries and a burger, or wherever you want to go. During cruising, you’re traveling at low speed; you’re nice and relaxed and just enjoying the ride in all kinds of urban locations and roads.
Most of the folks you see riding some board on wheels when driving to work are most likely cruising to their job. Or just doing a little early morning ritual to get the day started just right.
If you’re wanting a longboard designed for mainly transportation and just cruising around on gentle terrain and flat surfaces, get a cruiser.
The most beautiful thing about cruising is that beginners and people who’ve been longboarding for a while can enjoy cruising. In fact, anyone can learn to cruise in no time. You might evolve into downhill, freeride, or freestyle boarding a little further down the road, but everyone does cruising some of the time.
Cruising deck: To enjoy cruising, you need a cruising longboard. The vast majority of longboards for cruising that you see out on the street measure 32″-44″ long. Some cruiser longboards can be as long as 60″. If you’re a big heavy skater, get a bigger/longer one. The width normally takes care of itself.
I’m not talking about the usual cruisers here; I’m talking about cruising longboards. Cruisers are a smaller version of a cruising longboard, and they live somewhere between 23″ and 30″ in terms of length. Penny boards are a kind of cruiser, but the deck doesn’t flex much at all, and the wheels are smaller than a real cruiser. This means they’re not the quintessential cruiser and wouldn’t be a solid choice for surfing crappy sidewalks.
If you’re an absolute beginner that’s never stepped on a board before, I suggest that you start your longboarding journey with cruising.Mercy, skatingmagic.com
Cruising Trucks: Get high-degree baseplates (50-degree trucks). Such trucks are naturally divey and turn pretty well at slow speeds. But these trucks can feel pretty high, and this might discourage some new riders because pushing on them gets harder. 150mm trucks work well on cruising longboards/transportation longboards.
Cruising bushings: Bushings absorb road shocks, affect how turney or tight your trucks are, and slow down wear on the moving parts in a truck. They’re urethane cushioning pads, and they can be made of moderately high rebound thane or super-high rebound urethane.
Use this hardness rating vs. rider weight chart to determine the correct urethane softness/hardness for you. Feed your weight into the calculator, and it will spit out a suitable roadside bushing rating and a matching boardside rating.
If you intend to mostly cruise on mild hills and flat surfaces, the standard bushing combination (cone/barrel) works fine. For long-distance pumping on a cruiser board, consider using tall-cone bushings. Tall-cone bushings give your trucks a wide range of motion, but they’re not compatible with all trucks. Bennette Trucks are known to be super compatible with tall-cone bushings.
The nature of the deck is also a factor to consider when deciding on bushing hardness. If it’s a stiff deck designed for speed, get harder bushings (81A-97A+) and have a tighter truck setup.
And if the deck has a medium flex, stick to 78A-93A bushings. And if it’s a really flexy deck for really relaxed cruises, stay in the 65-91A hardness range. Again, your weight matters a lot, and here’s a chart from Muir Skate to help you decide on the correct bushing hardness vs. your weight vs. deck flex.
Freestyle longboard wheels: The right wheels for cruising on a longboard live in the 70-80mm height range. The nearer you get to 70mm, the faster the acceleration but the lower the top speed. And the closer the diameter is to 80mm, the slower the acceleration but the higher the top speed.
A contact patch of 45-55mm is the range pros recommend for cruising. As the contact patch narrows, rolling resistance decreases and the speed gets a nice boost. And as the contact patch widens, rolling friction increases and the speed slows down.
Cruising wheel shape: For cruising, a square-lipped wheel profile or a round-edged profile works best. Wheels with a rounded profile tend to have a narrower patch, which makes them somewhat faster. Wheels with straight or sharp edges have a wider contact patch, which makes them a tad slower.
Hub placement for cruising longboard wheels: Sideset and offset cored wheels are ideal for cruising. Centerset cores also work well, and you can also always flip the wheels to squeeze out a little more longevity because the wear is even.
Durometer for cruising: Get relatively soft wheels, harder if you’re a massive rider. Most skaters are happy between 75A and 80A. The rougher the terrain, the softer your cruising longboard wheels need to be. I prefer 78A wheels, and so do most people who mostly groove down sidewalks and asphalt.
Cruising bearings: If they’re cheap and everyone says they roll nicely scoop them up and fit them into your wheels. I’ve bought $6 bearings that lasted and lasted and lasted while rolling like a boss the whole time.
Don’t let anyone convince you that ABEC-rated bearings are the finest option there is; if they roll without seizing every other time, they’re good. The ABEC rating has little to nothing to do with skateboarding, but many brands keep harping on the importance of the ABEC rating to get an extra dollar from your pocket. Ignore them. Learn more about the ABEC rating scale for bearings here.
If ratings are super important to you, get skate-rated bearings such as those made by Bones Bearings. Bones bearings are hugely popular in skateboarding, but do skateboard bearings fit in longboard wheels? Yes, almost 100% of skate bearings fit the same in skateboard and longboard wheels.
3. Freeride Longboarding
It’s easy to think of freeride longboarding as freestyle, but the two longboarding styles aren’t the exact same thing. So, What’s freeride longboarding? Freeride longboarding is a riding style that involves going down hills at a moderate amount of speed while performing really cool powersides and other technical maneuvers to spice up and control the descent.
Think of freeride longboarding as moderate downhill boarding but without performing a whole slew of gnarly tricks.
There’s no freeride longboarding without powerslides. Powerslides and board control at speed aren’t easy to do for beginners. You need to master all kinds of slides including the Heelside Stand-up slide, Pendulum slide, the Coleman slide, the 180 slide, Speed Check slide, Sitdown Check slide, and Drifting.
You didn’t come here to learn how to do powerslides on a longboard, which is why this resource won’t cover that. And it’s best to leave this riding style for skaters who have been practicing for a while.
A Good Freeride Longboard
So, what does the best longboard for freeride look like? You can freeride on pretty much any kind of longboard. However, some boards come in a design that’s optimized for more experienced riding while others work great for those just getting into the discipline.
The typical longboard measures 38″-42″ in terms of length. As for the width, it sits somewhere between 8.5″ and 10″.
In terms of deck design, a freeride longboard is bi-directional. Being directional means that the deck is cut into perfect symmetry. And that you can ride the board and perform tricks without caring which side of the deck is the front or rear.
Freeride deck profile: If you’re a beginner to freeride, a deck with a radial concave should work beautifully. Such a simple concave keeps the learner’s feet securely locked in without being too much that it gets in the way during rides.
But if you’re a more experienced longboarder, you may prefer a somewhat more technical concave such as the W concave. To be clear, concave refers to the width-wise curvature of the deck. Another feature that comes in handy in freeride is the deck’s rocker. A deck that has a rocker has its central point sitting a tad lower than the mount points for trucks. A deck that incorporates a rocker into its design makes setting up slides that much easier.
Freeride longboard trucks: Powersliding and doing spins and dance on a longboard deck can be quite taxing on the tricks. For this reason, you need really high-quality and tough trucks. Stay away from any kind of dirt-cheap crap that keeps trying to pass for trucks, the kind that suddenly gives up on you at the worst possible moment of an otherwise uneventful descent.
Good trucks for freeride longboarding? Stick to brands such as Randal, Paris, Bear, and a couple of others. If you’re an advanced skater, you might prefer narrower trucks for quicker turning, say 180mm-wide trucks. For beginners, a more standard width such as 160mm works nicely.
Truck angle also affects the ease of sliding. A high truck angle makes for decreased stability but better sliding overall while a lower truck angle translates to increased stability but somewhat tougher sliding. Well, not everyone states their boards’ truck angle, and you really shouldn’t worry too much about it. BTW, 40˚-45˚ degree trucks are considered low-angle trucks while 50˚-55˚ trucks are high-angle options.
Bushings: Sticks to relatively hard bushings, like 87-92A bushings. And the bushing seats shouldn’t allow the bushings to move the whole time. Here’s a simple bushings rule to follow: the heavier the longboarder, the harder the bushings, and vice versa.
Good freeride longboard wheels: Get good-quality urethane wheels with a diameter of 66 mm-73 mm. These are fast, but not too fast, not downhill wheels fast.
And how hard are good freeride wheels? Get a good set in the 78A-83A wheels. The lower the durometer number, the grippier but less slidey the wheel, and the higher the wheel hardness rating, the less traction but the easier it is to slide. Also, the heavier you are, the harder your freeride longboard wheels need to be, and vice versa.
Freeride wheel profile: The best freeride longboard wheels have a round-lipped profile, with the edges beveled. Being beveled reduces the surface area in contact with the road (less contact patch). And a smaller contact patch reduces friction between the wheel and the road, making it easy to push sideways when sliding.
Wheel core placement: if you’re not an advanced rider, don’t worry about wheel core placement. But many have found that a centerset core works great for beginners because it makes sliding somewhat less comfortable.
Advanced riders don’t need advice as to what core placement to choose because they’ve determined what placement they like best via trial and error. All three hub placements (sideset, offset, and centerset) work well for freeride.
Freeride longboard bearings: Don’t overthink the bearings. There’s loads of cheap bearings that roll nicely and pricier ones that roll like a dream and last forever. There’s one more thing to know: get spacers if the wheels didn’t come with them. Why do freeride longboard wheels need spacers? It’s because spacers slow down bearing wear, and sliding is a real taskmaster to wheels.
What’s carving in longboarding? Carving is a style of longboarding where the rider does smooth, powerful turns, leaving carves lines and curves on the road or street. It’s like surfing on a street or road. When you carve, you do nice smooth turns in quick succession with the aim of building up speed and momentum.
You’re always making S-shaped moves on the surface you’re skating on. The turns can be sharper or tighter depending on how you wide (or less so) you want them to be.
Carving is not as technical and artistic as freestyle or freeride, but it does require a decent amount of skilled board control at speed. What do you get out of a carving session? Freedom, happiness, and confidence. That’s what.
Carving also helps you control speed when bombing hills on a DH board. And when riding on flat terrain, you don’t need to push as much because all the swinging you do from side to side helps you build up speed without even trying. It’s similar to how surfers do their thing on ocean waves. So, it’s an essential skill to master no matter what riding style you’re looking to get into.
How the Basic Carving Motion Works
If you ride goofy (right-foot dominant), you make left board turns by pressing into the left rail. This is a toeside turn. Conversely, heelside turns make your board swerve to the right. And if you’re regular-footed (you put your left foot forward to regain balance if pushed forward suddenly), toeside turns steer your board to the left while heelside turns steer it to the right.
To make these wavy motions on a carving longboard, you need to get your legs, hips, shoulders, and head to work together. If you use only the toes and heels to move, you’ll struggle. But when these body parts work together in a supremely coordinated manner, you’ll effortlessly transition from toeside turns to heelside turns, repeating the cycle to build a flowy carving motion that liberates the soul.
What a Good Carving Longboard Looks Like
Carving longboard trucks: Get the most turney trucks you can get. Several factors determine how turney a truck gets. These factors include truck width, truck height, bushings and bushing seats, and baseplate angle.
Higher trucks are the best bet for carving because you can loosen them without inviting trouble… wheelbite. With high trucks, you get that addictive, surfy feel when carving. But higher trucks are somewhat less stable. Besides that, pushing on them becomes a tad harder.
As for truck angle, carving works best at a bigger angle. If you prefer a more stable albeit less responsive setup, a 40˚ should be OK. Most people who like carving choose trucks in the 40˚-50+˚ range. But there’s no hard and fast rule to follow here. Skate whatever works great for you, but a 50˚+ baseplate angle works great for lots of boarders.
Bushings should be soft or medium-soft as being relatively soft makes the trucks more responsive, a quality that carving enthusiasts highly value. As already stated above, use your weight to decide on the best bushings durometer for your setup.
I found this website useful as a starting for calculating a bushing hardness rating that supports the rider’s weight beautifully. For example, if you weigh 160 lbs and want medium-soft bushings for carving, pick 87A roadside bushings and 90A boardside. And if you prefer softer carving bushings at 160 lbs, the website recommends 87A roadside and 87A boardside bushings.
Best bushing shape for a carving longboard? Pros recommend tall cone bushings for carving as they give you a smooth divey carving feel. These are the kinds of bushings you want to have if you’ll mostly use the longboard for transportation. With bushings like these, you get tons of responsiveness, but you must be willing to sacrifice a little stability.
A tall-cone bushing works very well with reverse king trucks because it’s more restrictive than a short-cone bushing. And being more restrictive makes it more stable than a short-cone one.
Longboard deck for carving: You can use either a top-mounted deck or a drop-through deck. It’s pretty much a matter of personal preference. Most longboarders who skate this way prefer a top-mounted deck because this deck style makes the ride more reactive. But stability takes a small dip since the deck sits higher off the ground.
Deck size for carving: Carving longboards are typically 35″-40″ long. The longer the deck, the slower the turns, whether toeside or hillside. If you’re tall and like carving wider curves on the asphalt, definitely get a 40″ deck. Length? Carving decks are 8″-10.5″ in width.
Also, get a deck with some flex as having a bit of flex makes carving easier. That’s why bamboo decks are a great choice for carving.
Deck concave for carving longboards: The best deck for a carving longboard is higher in the middle than it is at both ends. This cambered deck design helps a great deal when you’re leaning into turns. At the peak of the turn, the deck releases the energy and power you put in at the start of the turn. It feels like the board is springing you as you exit the turn. It’s a freedom-packed feeling.
As for the concave along the width, you want a reasonably deep concave, deeper than the typical cruising longboard. Deeper curvature keeps the foot nice and secure when you’re drawing those cute S shapes on the asphalt.
Wheel wells: Most carving longboards come with wheel wells so that you can mount really big wheels if you choose to. Wheel wells are cut in the deck, and they make sure that you’ll never have wheelbite even doing the deepest of turns.
Carving longboard wheels: You need grip when carving into turns and when exiting, and square-lipped wheels are the best bet. You need large soft wheels because such wheels roll over debris and cracks beautifully. Plus, softer wheels have more traction.
Choose wheel hardness rating on the basis of your weight, harder wheels if you’re heavier and softer ones if you have a smaller build. Get any bearings as long as many skaters love them. It doesn’t matter whether they’re cheap or expensive.
For most people, 78A carving wheels work well. Softer wheels may not roll crazy fast, but they’re excellent shock absorbers. The right wheel core for carving has a centerset hub and rounded edges. The ideal diameter for carving longboard wheels is 70mm and bigger.
5. Downhill Longboarding: It’s All Speed and Precision
Downhill longboarding is where longboarding gets fast and scary. You’re bombing a steep hill at a really high speed. Pro skaters can reach speeds of 60-80mph, but 40-60mph is more like it for most downhill enthusiasts. They ride in tucked or crouched position to stabilize the ride while minimizing wind resistance.
Going downhill at such high speeds is for skaters who have mastered and conquered inner fear and embraced the possibility of a sudden spill that can lead to disaster. If any skateboarder ever expresses disdain for longboarding, ask them if they’ve ever zipped down any steep hill at anywhere faster than 10mph. They haven’t, and they know it.
Since DH skaters know that a bad wipeout can happen at any time, they usually helmet up and wear pads. You don’t want to hit your head on extremely hard asphalt without a certified skate helmet.
What Does a Good Downhill Longboard Look Like?
I’ve learned those getting just into DH longboarding can learn to bomb hills on a freeride board, but they’re going to need to add DH trucks. DH longboards can be a little on the pricier side, but you can don’t need an expensive dedicated DH longboard when just starting out.
But if you’re wanting to get a low-cost beginner DH longboard, there’s a few options out there. A few Madrid Boards and Comet Boards offer a bunch of affordable DH boards. Earthwing Bellyracer and Supermodel are other boards to consider. I’ve read heard some pretty positive things about Comet Loki and Comet Pagan.
DH Longboard Trucks: Here’s a little piece of advice I’ve heard from quite a few people who do DH longboarding: stay away from Original Trucks and decks because they suck at downhill boarding.
Original Trucks have a somewhat loose feel to them, and loose trucks don’t work well when it comes to bombing big hills. Most DH skaters recommend RKP trucks (Reverse Kingpin Trucks) such as Bears, Calibers, Crails, Randal, Gunmetal, and Paris.
Precision trucks are pretty common in the world of DH skateboarding. Unlike regular longboard trucks that are shaped through molding, precision trucks are made by cutting a single piece of metal.
Why are reverse kingpin trucks the best fit for downhill longboards? It’s because the geometry of reversed kingpin trucks promotes stability and predictability, especially when turning at extremely high speeds. You can pair RKP trucks with either drop-through DH or top-mounted DH decks; it’s purely a matter of personal preference. Leave Standard Kingpin trucks (also known as street trucks) for boarders with advanced riding skills.
As for the best baseplate angle for DH trucks, stay in the 40˚-45˚ range. Why? It’s because lower-angle trucks keep you somewhat closer to the road, which translates to greater stability and less dramatic responsiveness when going over speedbumps/road bumps.
That said, a lot of DH riders opt to use a split baseplate angle combination. This means they have the front truck angled differently than the rear truck. Typically, the front truck sits at a higher angle than the rear one, which makes it more responsive and turney.
The rear truck turns somewhat slower than the front one in such a setup and offers more stability while decreasing speed wobbles. The front truck angle might be 42˚ while the rear truck might have the baseplate angling at 50˚.
To have a split-angle setup, you may have to buy a new truck for the front or rear. Swapping the baseplate also solves the problem, and you won’t have to spend a dime. For example, you might combine a Paris baseplate with a Randal hanger.
What if you don’t want to use a lower-degree rear truck? You can use a harder bushing instead and achieve the same result.
Loose trucks vs tight trucks for downhill longboarding? Tighter trucks work best for downhill longboarding, but I’ve bumped into folks online who prefer a looser setup.
Truck width: The width of the truck should match the deck width on downhill boards. The standard width for DH trucks is 180mm. Narrower trucks tend to cause wheel bite while wider trucks have the wheels sticking out. If you step on the wheels at very speed, I’ll leave it to you to imagine what could happen.
Bushings, bushing shape, and bush seating: Bushings are supporting pads made from urethane, and they come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and hardness ratings. Each truck has two bushings, and they’re mounted into the bushing seat and fitted on both sides of the hanger. These urethane cushions prevent the metal parts of the truck from wear while providing resistance during turning.
You can adjust how your ride feels by using bushings of varying hardness, shape, and size. For example, you can have a softer bushing roadside
There are barrel bushings, eliminator bushings, double-barrel bushings, short cone bushings, tall cone bushings, and stepped cone bushings. Each bushing shape rides somewhat differently than the others, and you should choose a shape that supports your riding in the best way possible.
For downhill longboarding, you need bushing seats that restrict bushing movement to a decent degree. Such a setup results in a more stable, less turney ride. Many DH skaters use barrel bushings. These bushings take up the entire space on the bushing seat because they’re restrictively shaped, which translates to increased stability. And stability is super important when flying down massive hills like a space shuttle.
In most cases, a barrel bushing comes paired with a tall-cone bushing, but you can also use double-barrel bushings. The barrel-tall-cone setup gives you a beautifully balanced ride in terms of stability and responsiveness.
What if you want a setup that provides you with greater support for higher-speed rides? That’s when you go for a double-barrel cone setup. Alternatively, have a barrel bushing roadside and an eliminator bushing boardside for tons of stability when downhilling. Learn more about bushings here.
Bushing hardness: Heavier riders need harder bushings and vice versa. The urethane formula used when manufacturing the bushings also matters. There are standard high-rebound urethane bushings and super-high rebound bushings. Here’s a DH longboard bushings durometer chart to help you determine how hard you want them to be relative to your weight.
Bushings in the 78A-83A range are soft while 84A-90A are considered medium-hard while 91A-98A are considered hard according to Tactic.com.
You can vary bushing durometer to have a split durometer setup and adjust how your trucks feel. Generally, you want to use a harder bushing boardside to enhance ride stability and a softer bushing roadside to promote responsiveness.
DH Deck Concave: The best concave for a DH longboard is a deep one, and the W-concave fits the bill for most skaters. This deep concave gives you a locked-in feel, which is the kind of feel you need when navigating corners and pre-drifting at insanely high downhill velocity.
If you’re new to this riding style, get a stiff/no-flex top-mount, drop-thru, or drop deck. When traveling at 50mph, a flexy board isn’t your friend. Generally, 4-5 ply bamboo decks tend to be pretty flexy while 7-9 ply decks don’t flex much at all. A symmetrical freeride deck works well for new DHers, but be sure to add in good DH trucks.
Deck width and length: DH decks have a length of anywhere between 35″ and 42” and a width of 9″-10″. You’re going to need to decide how long and wide your board needs to be to ride right. Generally, the taller you are, the bigger the board size should be. If you’re 5’10” or taller, get a 42″ long deck.
Deck style: A top-mount deck sits higher off the ground and gives you a pretty responsive, divey feel. Also, a top-mounted deck does a great job of holding the lines during fast cornering. These are the most common decks, and they’re also the most versatile.
In comparison, dropped decks and drop-thru decks stay closer to the ground and you get a little more stability at speed. However, don’t expect this deck design to hold the lines very well when cornering besides being driftier.
Dropped and drop-through decks are more stable but less responsive than top-mounted ones because the deck’s center of gravity is lower. If you want a board that doesn’t fatigue you much when long-distance longboarding or braking, this is the deck for you. But DH longboarders also use it.
The most expensive dedicated DH longboards come with a double-drop deck. Double-drop decks are the most stable decks out there, but they’re hard to construct, which explains why they’re the priciest and not very easy to find.
Good DH Longboard wheels: The best wheels for DH longboarding have a square-lipped shape. This wheel shape makes the wheels grippier, and you need lots of traction when gobbling up gigantic hills. However, the wheels should also allow you to slide if the situation ever gets sticky.
Get wheels with a wider contact patch, too, because wider longboard wheels grip the road better than narrower ones. But realize that wider wheels have a harder time breaking free and sliding.
DH longboard wheel hardness: Get big relatively soft wheels. Most people prefer 78A wheels for DH, but if you’re heavier, 80A wheels could work great for you.
Right wheel size downhill longboarding: 70-80mm. A contact patch of 55mm works well. As for the core, offset wheel cores work best. The right hub placement is offset.
- Always wear a certified helmet and gloves with a puck. Falls happen, and you need your head, wrists, and elbows to skate again.
- Knee pads are also great to have…because kneecaps are hard to replace, you know.
- Learn how to footbrake and airbrake because it can save you if things quickly go south on some unlucky day. Watch Youtube videos and learn how pros stop on a downhill longboard. There’s plenty of useful resources on the web for that.
- Learn how to instantly and safely transition from riding to sliding.
- Start learning on small, easy hills and gradually progress to bigger, scarier ones.
Longboard Sizing Tips
We’ve learned how to size a longboard depending on the skating style. But here’s a general that applies to all boards regardless of style. Taller skaters fit better on longer boards while a shorter person may be more comfortable on a shorter deck. A shorter person will often struggle to control their board if it’s too long. And a tall rider might feel that their board handles awkwardly if it’s too short for their height.
Width: here’s a general rule: choose a deck that’s not too wide or narrow relative to your shoe size. The best deck size is the one that’s closest to your shoe size. You might want to read this post because it explains how to size a longboard in more detail.
Longboard Hardware, Grip Tape, And Graphics
Longboard mounting hardware (nuts and bolts and bushings) are the small components you use to connect the main components (trucks) to the deck to make a rideable board. These small but super important parts can be obtained cheaply or expensively depending on where you buy them.
The right longboard mounting hardware size: The right size depends on how thick the deck is, but you must also consider shock pad or riser thickness if you have them. Longboard USA created a helpful post here describing how to choose the right size longboard mounting hardware.
Hardware costs an awful lot if you buy from many skate stores, but with the right information, you can get it for cheap from most hardware stores.
I saw a pretty detailed Reddit post where one experienced longboarder wrote an easy-to-follow longboard mounting hardware guide. Well, it’s an old post, but the advice stays evergreen. Be sure to purchase a T-tool for the build if you don’t have it.
Longboard grip tape: Get Gator, Vicious, Mob, Jessup, Blood Orange are all good (gritty) grip tapes. Each of these will lock you in securely so you can practice your chosen art form to your heart’s content.
Longboard graphics: Get custom skate graphics from this site. I’m not affiliated with them BTW.
Longboard Price and Brand
How much does a good longboard cost? If you’re new to longboarding and are wanting to buy a good starter complete longboard, you’re looking at a $100. Cheaper boards than that might be a bad idea especially if you intend to do lots of hill bombing. Better-quality complete longboards cost around $150-$250. Not exactly, but assuming you buy from a decent company, you’re almost assured of getting something with a high-quality bamboo or bamboo hybrid deck.
I’m not here to drum up support for any particular longbrand. But I and many other longboarders have consistently found that Landyachtz Longboards (probably the best bang for the buck), Bustin Boards, Madrid Boards, Arbor Boards, Pantheon Boards, and Loaded Boards are good-quality options. You can’t go wrong with any of them as long as you can spend at least $100-$150.