Buying a longboard
Longboards have been a part of the street scene for a while now. Children, young people and surfers cruise the streets, through town and on the boulevard on a longboard. They are ideal for boosting your surfing skills on days with low waves or little wind! Longboarding can be seen as a hobby, a sport, a way of transport and a lifestyle.
What do you look for when buying a longboard?
You may be asking yourself the question: which longboard is right for me? When buying a longboard, there are several things you can pay attention to. Think about what you want to use it for. Do you want to longboard long distances or do you prefer slalom, pool and park riding, downhilling or are you just looking for a practical means of transportation? In addition, there are several features of a longboard that you can look for, we have written these down below.
Features of a longboard
Not every longboard is the same. Every longboard has its own characteristics. What you need differs per intended use. Below we explain what you can look for when buying a longboard.
The shape of a longboard
There are a number of shapes that are often used for longboards. When it is clear what you are going to do with your longboard, you can choose a shape. Some shapes are very specific, so we recommend that you go for an all-round shape as your first board. Below are the most common longboard shapes:
A Pintail Longboard is ideal for fun or for longer distances. These boards are often used for cruising, carving and slalom. A Pintail Longboard is therefore often a bit on the long side.
If you want to go downhill with your longboard, a downhill longboard is ideal. They are also very suitable if you want to ride longer distances. The deck of a downhill longboard is lower than the trucks on which the deck rests. This keeps the longboard stable at high speeds.
Citycruisers or Pooldeck longboards are ideal if you like to skate through the streets or want to have fun at the skatepark or pool. This type of longboard is nice and maneuverable due to its shorter size and easy to take with you, so it’s ideal for transportation.
Longboards are made with different decks, such as Concave, Convex, Camber and Flex. In addition, the material from which the deck is made also differs. Below we explain the different versions of longboard decks.
Concave vs. Convex
Concave is a bending of the deck in width. Because the sides are slightly higher than the middle of the board, you stand better and you can feel better how/where you stand on your longboard deck. Concave also makes a board a little bit stiffer. The opposite of concave is convex.
Camber is a longitudinal bending of the deck. This makes the middle of the board higher than the tip and tail. Camber also makes a longboard stronger and the rebound more energetic.
Flex is the bending of your deck when loaded. The main effect is that the geometry of the trucks changes as your longboard flexes, allowing you to steer sharper or with less effort. In addition, the power of the rebound can be used to carve or pump. For most beginners, a longboard with a lot of flex is not nice because it feels somewhat more nervous than a stiff deck.
Almost all longboards are constructed of wood, whether or not reinforced with other materials. Exceptions include decks made of bamboo or plastic. The wood used by the big brands in the longboard industry is maple. This is much stronger than its affordable alternative 'Russian birch'. In addition, they often use fiberglass to gain strength and torsional rigidity.
The setup of a longboard
If you choose not to buy your longboard as a ready-made model but to assemble it yourself, it is useful to know what you need to take into account. Below we explain which parts you need for a longboard setup.
The narrower the trucks, the smaller your turning circle and the more maneuverable you will be. Longboard trucks are usually 180 millimeters. Wider trucks are possible, but then you need to be a bit more advanced. They are considerably harder to steer.
Bushings and Kingpin
The kingpin is the big bolt that runs through your truck. If you tighten it, your truck will move less smoothly. With a completely loose truck you run the risk of crashing very hard. A truck that is too tight makes it impossible to make a turn. The bushings are around the kingpin and are a bit soft. Bushings make your truck move smoothly when you steer. Harder bushings make your truck a little stiffer.
With some bearings you can see the balls, then dirt easily gets between them. On other bearings you can take off the "shields" that protect the balls and that is easier to clean. There is little difference in design or technology between the various affordable bearings. Your longboard bearings deteriorate quickly when you start riding in rainy weather. The wet bearings attract sand, which gets stuck between them.
In each wheel there are two bearings. Between them is a metal tube, which we call spacers. They make sure your bearings don't get out of position.
Speedrings are often included with your trucks. They are small rings. You first put one of these rings on your axle, then your wheel, then another ring and then you screw the nut on. This reduces the friction between the wheel spinning and the nut on the axle of the truck standing still. This reduces the loss of speed, hence the name speed ring.
When it comes to the wheels of your longboard, the following two things are important; diameter and hardness. Below we explain what you can look for when buying longboard wheels.
The diameter indicates how big the wheels are. Classic skateboards have small wheels and downhill boards have extremely large wheels. There is a lot in between. Big wheels roll longer but get going a little slower. In general, for cruising you want nice big wheels. Find out what size wheel fits your longboard (see wheelbite).
Softer longboard wheels provide more comfort but also more resistance on the road surface, this will slow you down a bit. Very soft wheels (75a) cancel out vibrations and have a lot of grip, but will feel like chewing gum. Very hard wheels (90a) give no comfort, you vibrate like crazy, but you go nice and fast. A disadvantage of hard wheels is that you have little grip, so you break out easily. This can also work as an advantage, many people have a set of "slide wheels". They use them when they want to slide, these wheels are very hard. A good middle ground is between 78A and 85A. Then you can longboard on very smooth surfaces, but also on bricks.
Caution: Wheelbite longboarding
Make sure your wheels fit under your longboard! Wheels that are too big will give you "wheelbite". When steering, they will hit the bottom of your board and you will come to a standstill. With a riser, a plate between your truck and your board, you can increase the space for your wheels. Or you can choose wider trucks, so your wheels will stick out further.
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