Longboard flex refers to how flexible a deck is. The amount of flex you need in a longboard mainly depends on your riding style. Your weight is another consideration to keep in mind when picking a deck for your dancer, DH racer, freeride, freestyle, pumper, cruiser, or commuter board.
Also Read: Best Longboards for All Riders
There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to longboard flex. Each skater must make a determination as to how much of this quality they need relative to their specific skating style. Manufacturers combine flex and deck profiles in a way that greatly enhances the skating experience.
Brands often provide skaters with a longboard flex chart to help them gauge how their board might handle. Usually, the company makes flex recommendations for a range of rider weights. For example, the Loaded Icarus Longboard comes in two flex options: Flex 1 for the 170-270 lbs range while the flex 2 deck is for 75-200 lbs.
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Other deck models may have more options to choose from such as flex 1 through 5. Read the flex chart to understand whether the flex you’re looking at is soft, medium, or really stiff.
3 Kinds of Longboard Flex
A longboard deck can have a soft flex, a medium flex, or a stiff flex. And each of these flex levels translates to a different riding experience. So, how does a board with a soft, medium, or stiff flex feel?
A low-flex/soft-flex longboard absorbs shocks beautifully. When you’re cruising on sidewalks, this is the kind of board you want to be standing on. You won’t feel the cracks and small pebbles as you would if the deck was stiffer.
So, if you’re not a beginner to longboarding, get a cruiser board with a soft flex and you’ll be fine. The same goes for freestyle. With a flexy deck, you won’t feel much impact when hopping off curbs and staircases. That said, it’s not a good idea to ride a freestyle board that’s extremely flexy. This is because it could make turns and carving that much harder.
Also Read: Beginner Longboards
A flexy board is generally easier to push/pump, but it sucks at speed. But speed isn’t the most important area of focus when it comes to cruising and freestyle longboarding. Actually, you shouldn’t go fast on a longboard that has lots of flex because your ride won’t be very stable.
And if you’re new to cruising or freestyle, I suggest that you go for a stiffer deck. Why? Because it’s more stable, more responsive/more reactive, and easier to turn.
If you’re wanting to get into freestyle, a medium flex board works great. Especially if you’re a little heavy. When you’re freestyling, you’re focusing on a whole range of technical tricks. Speed isn’t super important to many who ride in this style. But if you’d like to get a bit more speed out of your longboard, go medium flex. A medium flex deck brings speed and control to a place of optimal performance.
You can cruise fast enough when getting from spot A to spot B, and the deck is stable enough for landing all kinds of park and street tricks. If you’re a lighter rider, consider getting a deck that flexes less (a soft-flex one). If you’re a beginner in freestyle, it’s best to choose a medium-flex and not a soft-flex board because you need quite a bit of stability to land those beginner tricks. Experienced riders can ride
Are you wanting to buy a freeride longboard so you can bomb hills at moderate speed while enjoying awesome powerslides? Get a deck with medium to stiff flex. Speed and flex don’t work very well together. When sliding at speed and carving, you don’t want the deck to arc so low or to experience wheel bite.
A medium to stiff deck gives you the stability you need to control the board as you slide, drift, and descend small to relatively large hills. This kind of flex doesn’t work very well when you’re rolling downhill at anymore faster than moderate speed.
As for downhill longboarding, you’re riding down massive hills at speeds that leave onlookers captivated if not terrified. Some riders can do 45-60mph, and that’s really fast. At these high speeds, the deck needs to be sturdy enough to support your weight while minimizing speed wobbles.
Go for the stiffest board you can get your hands on, and that’s rarely bamboo or any bamboo hybrid. Canadian maple is one of the best materials when it comes to making DH longboards.
Longboard Deck Profile
Deck shape or profile also affects how a board handles. And when choosing a longboard for your style, pay attention to both flex and profile. If buying a freestyle longboard, get one with a more or less flat deck profile. A flat deck profile represents just the right amount of stability and board control.
For cruising around, a deck with a cambered profile is a great bet. With this profile, the middle of the deck is higher than both ends. The deck sits higher off the ground, and this translates to more lean and there’s a better turn on your trucks. You get a springy flex that makes for a particularly thrilling carving and surfing experience.
Freeride and DH longboard decks often come with a rockered deck. This deck is lower in the middle and higher around the ends. It’s the exact opposite of a cambered deck, and it lowers the center of gravity while massively boosting stability and board control.
And if you really want to bomb the steepest hills at crazy high speeds, consider getting a stiff deck with microdrop profile. The more common drop-through profile prevents you from placing your feet close enough to trucks for better response and board control. But a microprofile allows you to place your feet at the very place where the deck drops, handing you a serious amount of leverage and control when doing heelside turns and slides.
Longboard Flex FAQs
What Does Flex Mean in Longboarding?
Longboard flex means the extent to which a longboard deck bends in response to the weight you pile on it. Some decks are quite stiff and don’t bend much at all. Others are medium-stiff and sag to a moderately high degree while others have a huge amount of flex. Generally, a 5-ply bamboo deck flexes more than a 7-play bamboo deck. Also, the heavier you are, the more the deck flexes, and vice versa.
How Much Flex Does My Longboard Need?
The amount of flex a longboard deck needs depends on your preference and the riding style you do. For example, a skater who mostly downhills or freerides needs less flex (a stiffer deck) compared to someone who mostly rides freestyle or cruises around.
Is Flex on a Longboard Good?
Flex can be good or bad depending on the kind of riding you’re doing. For example, too much flex on a downhill longboard can’t be a good thing. And a complete lack of flex on a freestyle longboard isn’t a good thing. Also, too much flex on a board can’t be a good thing if the rider is a heavy person. The same goes for if the person is a beginner. When there’s too much flex, stability nosedives and makes board control and riding in general that much harder.
Should a Longboard Flex or Be Stiff?
A longboard should flex more if you’re into freestyle or just want to just have lots of fun while cruising at slow speeds. The softer the flex, the saggy the board is, and the less stable. And the harder the flex on a longboard, the stiffer the deck and the more stable the ride. In the end, every skater decides how much flex they’re comfortable with depending on their preferred skating style.
What Longboard Flex is Optimal for Dancing?
A dance longboard needs to have good flex. The deck shouldn’t be too responsive that it becomes completely intolerant to errors. One more thing: a good dancer has a bit of a rocker. The lowest point on this lengthwise curvature is the middle of the deck. Other dancer decks are designed with the standing platform sitting lower than the mount points to foster comfort for the rider.
Now that you’ve learned how longboard flex works, choosing something that suits your skating style just became easier. Generally, a flexy board absorbs shocks better than a stiff one, but a stiff deck is more responsive and stable. And when the right level of flex pairs up with the correct deck profile, you get a board you won’t want to stop riding!