You’ve decided you’re ready to spring for a good beginner longboard. But you’ve not yet figured out how to choose the right longboard size for your height. And have you managed to select a longboard type that fits your riding style?
Also Read: Best Longboard
Maybe you’re in college. And the idea of floating your way to college on a decent longboard fascinates you. Or you’re a working mom or dad that wants to commute to your work in style while avoiding painfully slow morning traffic and rude truck drivers. Here, you’ll learn how to pick the correct board size for your style.
Choosing the Right Longboard Can be Confusing
Choosing the right longboard isn’t exactly an easy, straightforward process. There are tons of things to keep in mind as you kick off your longboard shopping journey. You have to consider board length, board width, deck shape, board flex, bushings, truck size, and hardware.
You should also know how to pick the right longboard bearings, a suitable wheel diameter, wheel width, wheel shape, and wheel durometer.
Unfortunately, I can’t adequately explain how to handle each aspect of the longboard selection process in a single post. For this reason, I’ll focus this post on only one major aspect: deciding what longboard size would work best for you.
I’ll also guide you on the kind of flex suitable for each board type discussed in this longboard size guide.
So, let’s dive in. But first things first…
Your Riding Style and Skill Level Determine a Lot
Your riding style is a vitally important factor when it comes to correctly sizing a longboard. What would be considered an ideal board size for downhill may not be a suitable board size for freestyle or freeride.
And the right longboard size for cruising may not work well for a dance longboard. So, first know your riding style so you can choose a board size that matches that style.
If you’re a freerider, the type of board you need may be different than what a downhill rider would need.
Likewise, a freestyle rider definitely needs a different board type (and board size) than someone who mostly cruises or carves. Of course, deck dimensions vary from longboard type to longboard type.
Your skating skill level is another important consideration as far as board size. If you’re a longboarding beginner, you may need a different board type and size than a pro skater. And an intermediate-level longboarder may need a different board type and size than a complete starter.
The longboarding world offers lots of riding styles, and some of the styles overlap one another in some ways. If you’re looking to buy your very first longboard, I strongly suggest that you stop reading now and click on the link in the intro paragraph.
Devour that article to familiarize yourself with the various kinds of longboard types and riding styles that exist. I bet you’ll want to start with a cruising longboard or a carving board.
What Deck Length is Right for My Style
The right deck length depends on your riding style. Below, I list out five longboarding styles and the board length that corresponds to that style. By the way, deck length refers to the distance between the nose of a board to its tail.
But before I do that, let’s briefly discuss how rider height influences board size. Height matters in lots of places including the dating scene. But who’d have thought that height could be critical to longboard deck sizing?
Height and Shoes Size When Sizing A Longboard
If you’re a smaller person, the odds are that your feet aren’t very big. If you choose a deck that’s too wide, you’ll struggle with steering the longboard because your toes and heels won’t easily access the rails. And if you’re a tall person with large feet, riding a narrower board might feel somewhat awkward.
It’s best to choose a deck that matches your height and shoe size. This longboard size chart should give you an idea of what deck size you based on your size/height and riding style.
Here’s a trick that’ll get you closer to the correct board size: wear the shoes you’ll ride the board with (or any shoes really). Subtract 1.5″-2″ from the shoe length you get. With that number, calculating the most suitable deck size shouldn’t be hard at all.
If you’re a shoe size 13, you want to choose the widest deck available, which is 10″+. The board size closest to the measurement you took above is the right size for you. Here’s a simple chart to help you estimate the board size you need on the basis of shoe size.
If you seek out a longboard for getting around town or campus, you likely need a cruiser. You need a board that offers enough stability so you can ride in style and comfort.
The longboard market offers three types of cruising boards namely shorter cruisers, mid-sized cruisers, and longer cruisers. Let’s now take a closer look at each board size so you can choose the best option for your body size.
Shorter Cruisers (Good for Shorter and Younger Skaters)
With shorter cruising boards, you’re looking at a deck length of 28″-42″. If you’re a shorter person or a young rider, this is the cruiser to pick up.
What if I’m taller but still want a short cruising board? No problem, but you’ll have a little trouble balancing on such a short deck. Go with that deck length ONLY if you’ve been practicing for a while and have built up great riding skills.
Mid-sized Cruisers (Great for Shorter and Taller Beginners)
A mid-sized cruising board features a deck measuring between 32″ and 42″ lengthwise. The mid-sized cruiser is recommended for complete longboarding beginners regardless of size. The deck sits somewhere between short and long.
Shorter outdoor enthusiasts can ride this board with ease because it’s long enough and provides enough stability. Taller people can also enjoy the board because it isn’t too short that they need pro-level balancing and coordination skills.
This is the deck size I recommend if you’re an absolute beginner with zero board time prior. EVO.com suggests that riders up to 5’10” select a cruiser in the 32″-40″ deck length range.
Longer Cruising Board (Ideal for Taller Riders)
The cruising board to choose if you’re taller than 5’10” is one with a 40″ deck length or longer according to EVO.
Chances are that your feet are also pretty long, longer than most. That’s why the option you pick should also be wide enough. Longboards lie between 7″ and 10″ as far as width. If you’re tall, definitely go with a wider choice, maybe 9″ or 10″.
Well, these aren’t hard-and-fast deck length selection rules. Rather, these are guidelines to help you select a deck size that doesn’t feel too challenging to ride. It’s best to try out different board lengths until you discover that sweet spot that works best for your size and style.
Kicktail or no kicktail on a cruiser? I recommend that you choose a cruiser with a kicktail whether you’re a beginner or not.
Why? Because you don’t know when the urge to start practicing longboard tricks will manifest. Believe me; you’ll want to try something as time passes.
Here’s another thing to keep in mind. If portability matters to you, definitely go with a mid-sized cruiser. Longer cruiser boards tend to be too heavy.
Flex? If you’re a beginner, don’t choose a cruiser that flexes too much as you’ll really struggle to ride it. But if you’re an intermediate or a more advanced rider, a flexy cruiser could be a great bet.
A cruising board that flexes well absorbs impacts well. And skating bumpy roads on such a deck or rolling over tiny rocks won’t lower ride quality.
Carving is a longboard riding style that involves making S-shaped maneuvers on roads and streets. The rider presses their toes and heels onto the rails, and each movement made turns the board either to the right or left. Whether you turn to the right or to the left also depends on whether you ride goofy or regular. There’s no freedom like the freedom that comes from carving nice thane lines into the asphalt.
In this post, I describe the kind of longboard you need for carving, everything from deck size, concave, wheel size, wheel hardness, bushing type, and trucks.
3. Downhill Longboarding (the Real Deal!)
Downhill longboarding isn’t for beginners and intermediate-level riders. Downhill longboarding is for the most an extremely gnarly drop that requires an insane level of precision, coordination, and mental focus.
It’s not unusual for downhill riders to fly down crazy-steep hills at 60mph+. Imagine what such a speedy ride could do to you if you suddenly crashed.
That’s why you rarely see unhelmeted downhill riders, and it’s always a full-face helmet such as the Demon United Podium full-face. The TSG Pass and the Triple Eight Downhill Racer are also great full-face helmets for risky rides such as downhill.
What Deck Dimensions Work Best for Downhill?
When it comes to bombing scary-steep hills at breakneck speed, the ideal deck length hovers between 37″ and 43″.
Any deck shorter than 37 inches would be extremely unstable when you’re riding downhill like a devil outta hell. And a deck that’s too long (longer than 43 inches) would be really hard to maneuver.
But you’re the final decision maker. Keep testing until you find a deck length that translates into thrilling speed, amazing precision, and great board control.
A Drop-through Mount vs. a Topmount for Downhill
Maneuverability and stability are critical when going downhill at insane speeds. That’s why lots of downhill riders prefer drop-through boards instead of a top mount.
If you’re a damn good downhill longboarder, you’ve likely learned that a top mount delivers better performance overall than a drop-through.
With a top mount, sliding at fast speeds to navigate tight corners feels a little better, like you have more control. But riding a top-mounted downhill board requires a serious level of mastery.
For every other longboarder, it’s probably safer and smarter to stick with a lowered platform. This means a drop-through deck design would be preferable in that case.
However, a drop-through mount on a downhill deck makes pumping really hard. So, practice harder so you can start using the right deck setup for downhill — a reasonably stiff top mount.
What About Flex for a Downhill Deck?
Typically, downhill longboards are super stiff. If you prefer a more flexy deck, transition to a different riding style. Or buy another deck.
A little flex on a downhill board may not be a bad thing, though. A bit of flex helps even out cracks and bumps. But when flex exceeds a certain point, any kind of twist in your deck can end up in disaster.
4. Freeride Longboarding
Freeride, like downhill, isn’t for everyone. This riding style combines downhill speeding with technical maneuverability. In other words, a freerider needs to be a good downhill rider and shouldn’t suck at performing tricks at high speeds.
If you thought downhill was the riskiest and gnarliest it ever gets, you’ve not watched freeriders doing their wizardly. It’s terrifying!
Your board needs to have kicktails, of course. Freeride involves pulling off lots of technical tricks and stunts, remember.
What Deck Size is Best for Freeride?
The dimensions of a proper deck for a freeride longboard are almost similar to that of a downhill board.
As for the recommended deck size, it lies between 38″ and 42″ vs. 37″ and 43″ for a downhill board. Not much of a difference evidently.
You can actually customize your downhill board or any longboard for that matter into a freeride board.
As is the case with downhill, a shorter freeride board would prove to be too unstable. And too long a freeride board wouldn’t be portable enough.
The Right Deck Style and Flex for Freeride
A drop-through deck works fine for intermediate-level freeriding. This board type keeps the deck’s center of gravity where it should be — close enough to the ground.
Flex? Freeride thrives when the board has little flex. Too much flex, and you’ll likely fall hard and break your wrists, knees, nose, or even worse.
What if you’re a beginner looking to get into freeride because, well, what skater fears getting injured? In that case, consider a double-drop setup.
The double-drop deck style blends the drop-through mount with the dropped-deck mount. The result is a foot platform that sits comfortably low.
Beginner freeriders need a certain amount of stability to feel confident enough to do boardslides. And no deck comes nearer to the ground as one with a double-drop mount.
As for flex, better keep things stiff for now.
5. Freestyle Riding
There’s no one way to ride freestyle. You can ride however you want and do whatever you can and like. No rules at all. In fact, freestyle organizes multiple riding styles and techniques from skateboarding and longboarding into a perfectly fluid skating form. That’s why freestyle is kind of hard to describe.
Unlike downhill, freestyle accommodates both beginners and advanced skaters. Freestyle is the style you want if you wish to develop some serious board-balancing abilities and board tricks.
Your goal here is to achieve longboarding nirvana — flow. Every move, longboard trick, or board maneuver strives to keep you fluid and agile. It’s all about having fun outdoors.
You may go down gentle small hills, but speeding down the gnarliest hills isn’t the principal thing in freestyle. For the most part, you’re skating flat ground. You’re out there performing all kinds of longboard tricks and doing fancy footwork and even dancing.
Sometimes, you’re doing longboard tricks such as the ghostride kickflip. Other times, you’re performing street longboard tricks such as frontside or backside pivots, manuals, Shove-Its, transition skating at parks, and grinding rails. Or you’re hopping on and off curbs. Or skating vert bowls. or skating ramps. Or whatever.
Freestyle is pretty much like technical skateboarding. It takes a serious skill level to skate like this. And no skateboarder ever looks down on a hardcore freestyle longboarder.
Recommended Deck Size and Flex for Freestyle
The typical freestyle board comes with two kicktails, one at each end. That means the freestyle longboard is usually a symmetrical deck. You can ride it from whichever side — the front and back sides look 100% similar.
But what’s the recommended deck size for freeride? Tactics.com recommends decks in the 35″-40″ length range. And in terms of board flex, they favor a more flexible construction.
The freeride board is doubtless the most versatile board type ever crafted. You can do pretty much everything on this deck.
You can break into slides, bomb hills, carve, perform various technical tricks and maneuvers, cruise — everything.
Longboard width sizing came last. But not because board width isn’t important. Rather, it’s because board-width isn’t something you should worry about.
As long as you get the deck length right, the width will take care of itself. In other words, board length determines board width. At least for the most part. Generally, bigger riders need wider boards and vice versa.
Important: deck size should match truck size regardless of the longboarding discipline you’re in. Decks that are too wide compared to the trucks see wheelbite quite often.
And if the wheels stick out because truck width is too big compared to deck width, your shoe sole might make contact with a fast-rolling wheel. And that might abruptly cut short your little voyage of joy!
Final Thoughts on Sizing Longboards
Height or rider size is a critical factor when it comes to sizing different kinds of longboards. If you’re rather tall, go with a substantially long board, or at least a mid-sized one. In contrast, if you’re younger or rather short, choose a medium-sized board.
Beginners shouldn’t ride any board that flexes too much. Freeriders and downhill racers should go for stiff boards, but a little deck stiffness isn’t necessarily bad.
Now, grab that board, wear some good protective longboarding gear, and let’s go skating!