As a longboard enthusiast, I just think, everyone (particularly if you are a beginner) should educate him/her (no gender discrimination peeps!) on the different longboard components.
Because this will help you throughout your journey from choosing a new longboard to upgrading it in the future to give it a personal touch.
If you want to layer down the longboard components then deck, longboard wheels, and the truck will fall into the first layer. All these three components can be discussed elaborately and I am going to discuss exactly those.
1. Longboard Deck
Every component of a longboard plays it’s part when you ride on it. The deck is not an exception. I can’t say only the deck is there as a parameter to measure the longboard’s performance because the wheels and trucks equally contribute to the performance. But the deck is definitely the core part of your longboard.
Let’s see how.
First, I am going to give you a glimpse of the construction of the longboard deck.
Usually, a deck is formed by layering the different materials that are responsible for making the deck flexible/stiff, durable, weight control, rigid, etc. The most used materials for a deck are maple (wood), birch (wood), and bamboo. Some manufacturers use fiberglass and carbon as the raw materials of the deck. Solid hardwood and foam core are also used to construct the deck.
As usual, different materials have their own set of roles on the performance of a deck. Fiberglass and carbon make the deck lighter and robust, these also increase the stiffness of the deck. Solid hardwood provides stiffness whereas the foam core ensures rigidity and makes the deck lightweight.
The bamboo is the top most used material these days as it is the lightest and most flexible solution among other materials. But the combination of maple and bamboo is something you should be looking for as this combination provides a nice blend of flexibility and durability. I found most of the top-selling longboard’s deck are made from this combination of bamboo and maple wood.
When manufacturers combine bamboo and maple they make about 7 to 8 layers alternating the two materials (bamboo and maple).
Some decks are covered with liquid fiberglass and sand resulting in a super rough and easy to grip deck.
The layers are usually glued together with epoxy glue and pressing it manually or using the hydraulic press makes the desired shape of the deck.
If you are not sure what the deck traction is, traction helps your feet to grip the longboard better. You will find different materials to make traction. Grip tape is the most common among them and plastic is the least common material that is used to make the traction. Some other types of traction include painted grip and cork.
Grip tape is like the sandpaper but more durable, grippy, and available in different colors.
The painted grip is the alternative of sticky grip tape, where spray grip material is put on the wooden board.
The cork is for the longboarders who like to use the board barefooted. Grip tape provides more grip than the cork but you must have to wear shoes in case of grip tape. Which is not the case if your board uses cork material as the traction but in this case you have to sacrifice the traction a bit.
The plastic is not a common material and only good for cruising.
Deck Length & Width
Oh boy, longboard varies widely in length. You will find the longboard length varying from 22” to 60”+
Don’t get yourself confused. Even though there is a variety of length available usually you can divide them into the following three categories.
Shorter decks ( 22” to 31” ) – perfect for young and small riders
Midsize decks ( 32” to 42” ) – for all riders
Longer decks (43”+) – perfect for tall people
Which one is the perfect size for you?
Well, I don’t think there is any hard rule for that. You just can go for whatever you find it comfortable to deal with. But if you are a beginner longboarder then I will suggest you go for the mid size decks better if you go for 38” – 42” or at least the shorter decks but not the longer ones.
Because I think it will be a bit difficult for you to control the longboard in that case.
While you can choose any length, you should know the different features that each length provides you.
The longer ones are the most stable ones but not easier to maneuver. On the other hand, the shorter ones are a lot easier to maneuver but not stable like longer ones.
If you want the perfect mixture of stability and maneuverability then mid-size ( 32” – 42” ) is the perfect length for you.
For cruising 28”-46” is said to be the perfect length range. 36” – 42” range is suitable for the downhill longboards. For the freeriding 38” – 42” is the perfect range, and for the freestyle riding, there is no such range.
The average width of a longboard deck can vary from 7” to 9”. The wider the width the more stable the longboard is. To call a deck wider it should be 9”, anything less than 8.5” is considered as the narrower deck.
I have seen people are categorizing the longboard shape in various ways. I got confused after reading all the variation of deck shape people are talking about. I think while I am talking about the “shape” I better NOT categorize the shape based on the riding style. Better I categorize them based on the way they look (i.e. shape) and then I will give you an idea which shape is better for which type of riding.
What do you think?
If you agree, continue reading.
The basic shape of a deck can be categorized in two ways.
As the word suggests these type of longboards are one directional. Meaning you can only ride one direction. This type of shape is perfect for cruising and beginners will find it easy for them to start their longboarding journey as cruising is something any beginners should do before trying any advanced riding syle like freestyle or downhill.
“Directional” longboards can be of the following shapes.
- Mini Cruiser.
Here you can use the longboard in both directions. This type of longboard is perfect for advanced riding like dancing, downhill, freeriding, etc.
“Symmetrical” longboards can be categorized into the following categories.
- Drop down.
The most common shape that is used for cruising and carving. This particular shape has a wider base in the middle but both the edges are sharp.
Fishtail looks pretty similar to the pintail shape except one edge looks similar to the tail of a fish and size of the deck is shorter than the pintail. Like pintail, this very shape is a directional shaped deck and a perfect choice for cruising and carving. The split tail of fishtail assists you to take a sharp turn.
The blunt shape helps mostly the beginners as this shape has got wider and rounder nose and tail. This makes the sharp turning a bit harder. As a result usually, an advanced longboarder doesn’t enjoy riding on blunt shape. If you are a beginner you need a bit of extra stability support from your board. Blunt shape provides that extra stability.
This is not that typical “longboard” I must say. As the name suggests this is mostly a “cruiser” which is “mini” / short in size. Will come into a handy solution for you if you want to carry your board in your bag. Mini cruisers are typically 33” long or less.
As this is a symmetrical shape you can use both the ends of the board to move both the end. This makes this shape a freestyle-friendly one. Intermediate and advanced longboarders who like to perform different tricks will find this shape a perfect one as this shape provides more stability than all the directional shapes for advanced moves.
To make this “cut out” shape the wood from the four corners are cut out / remove to manage enough space for the wheels. So this shape allows your truck to dive in deep without using the riser and touching the wheel. You can use larger wheels as the wheels will have enough space to accommodate them. As a result, you will get enough stability and speed.
Due to the stability and speed the freeriding, freestyling, and downhill riding are easier with this kind of shape. The only disadvantage of this shape that may bother you is you will have lesser space on the board for standing. But this doesn’t make your life hard in reality.
Drop down decks are super stable as the deck from both nose and tail drops down to make space to place your legs comfortably. As a result, you will be able to control the deck and push it with ease. As expected the deck is lower than other shapes.
To achieve the maximum wheel clearance the drop down deck is paired with the “cut out” shape. Meaning the wood from both the nose and tail is removed to make space for the wheels.
During the downhill ride, this type of deck will help you a lot to minimize the wobbling due to the increased stability and grip from the lower deck and pocket to place your legs. This shape will help you for freeriding as well.
The beginners who want to have speed and control from your deck should go for drop down decks.
This shape provides you the maximum stability and speed hence the name is labeled as “speedboard”. As expected a perfect shape for downhill riding, freestyling, and freeriding.
If you are a beginner I would suggest NOT to choose this shape and go for the drop down ones to get a nice combination of control and speed. But for the advanced riders, this shape is good to go.
So those are the common shapes you will find in the longboard nowadays. Let’s move onto the next part that is deck profile.
Like the snowboards, the lengthwise curve of a longboard also can be of two different types that we called deck profile – camber and rocker.
Camber is when you will see a positive curve meaning if you see the deck curved upward from a side view that is called a camber deck.
Rocker is when you will see a negative curve meaning if you see the deck curved downward from a side view then it is called a rocker deck profile.
Which one provides better stability? Of course, the Rocker as it gives you a more locked feeling.
While the cambered deck is helpful for carving it will give you more flexibility than the rocker as well but you have to compromise the stability here.
While the deck profile is the lengthwise curve, the deck concave is the widthwise curve. Different concave plays a significant role in gripping the longboard and transferring the heel-toe energy properly. Deck Concave have a direct impact on turning.
Let’s see what are the different concaves the longboard manufacturers are up to.
The straightforward flat concave won’t give you any extra support to grip the board or something like foot locking, but a flat surface is something where you can perform dancing or board walking pretty comfortably. Not good for sliding or any move where you are thriving for speed as you won’t be able to grip the board or lock your feet well.
The most to-be-found concave and probably the simplest one to help your foot lock to the board. Whether you will be going for this shape or not is your personal choice but remember as this is the basic and simplest shape, this will give you less foot locking than other shapes ( better than flat concave of course 🙂 ). By the way, sometime you will hear people are saying “taco cave” to refer to this radial concave.
This shape gives you more support. As you can see the shape is kind of a combination of the flat and the radial concave. The middle of the board is flat but the edges are curved up. The radial concave is not sharply curved up but the tub concave is.
This type of concave is helpful for downhill, sliding, etc where you need proper foot support from your deck.
You can say progressive concave is something that is a combination of radial and tub concave. The surface is flat like the tub, the edges are curved up but not sharp like the tub, but like the radial concave.
Handy for the freeride and downhill.
As the name suggests the shape looks exactly like the letter “W”. See the picture for a clear view. Yes, this is kind of a join of two radial concaves to help transfer more energy from your toe to heel.
Perfect for racers who require high precision, and responsiveness for turning.
But I personally don’t find this shape comfortable for me. Like other shapes, this is all about personal choice. While this is good to go shape for freeriding and downhill riding, pushing can turn into a nightmare with this shape.
The rule of thumb is the more the carve the more you can generate edge pressure.
Deck Mounting Style
Your deck’s stability and control highly depend on the deck mounting system. The higher the board is, the higher the center of gravity is. Higher center gravity gives you less stability and makes your life harder to push and brake.
On the other hand, the lower your board is the more stability you will get due to the lower center of gravity. As a result pushing and breaking becomes easier if the board is lower.
Let’s find out the most common mounting systems.
- Top mount.
- Drop through.
- Drop deck.
- Double drop.
The most traditional mounting system where the trucks are mounted from underneath the deck. While the price of this type of mounted board is cheaper than the others the trade-off is the stability due to the higher center of gravity. However, you will get enough carving support in high speed from this type of mounting that makes it ok for all type of riding.
My recommendation is, AVOID this mounting if you need stability over anything else.
Here the mounting is done from above the deck. That means the truck is mounted through the deck at both the tail and nose. This makes the longboard more stable than the top mount ones and eventually won’t make you that tired for pushing and braking. Drop through decks are a good choice for freeride, downhill riding.
The shape of the deck is usually the cut out here to accommodate the space for the wheels.
Here the trucks are mounted through the deck like the drop through ones, but the top of the truck remains even with the surface of the deck. The downside of this mount type is that you can’t change the type of the truck later once you set it up.
Here the deck is dropped down as you might have already guessed from the name. The truck is mounted from underneath the deck meaning NOT like the drop through deck but like the top mount deck, but the deck here is below the truck mounting point.
So, this obviously increases the stability and speed resulting in a better choice for downhill riding than the drop through ones. Occasional freeriding is ok with this type of mounting too.
Guess what? Here you have two “drops” as you might have guessed already from the name “double” drop.
Here the trucks are drop through and also the deck is dropped. Consequently, this will take you to the ground closer than any other mounting system. The most stable of all kind of mounting and a perfect choice for downhill riders.
Flexibility also known as bendability depends on the concave, material, length, etc and varies mostly in three types – Flexible, Medium flexible, Stiff. By the way, flexibility is the amount the board bends once you stand on it. It is, of course, related to your weight as well.
Flexible decks have less stability at high speed but good shock absorption capability on the rough and tough roads. Quite ok for cruising, beginner tricks but I don’t recommend them for downhill riding.
Medium flexible ones also provide good shock absorption on the rough roads and better than flexible ones in terms of stability at high speed. Ok for cruising at medium speed and carving.
Stiff decks are the most perfect choice for downhill riding at most stable one at high speed. Having said that stiff decks are not good to go choice on the rough road. You should use these on the flat roads instead.
Enough talking about longboard decks? If not, comment below what else do you want to know more? For the time being let’s move onto the longboard trucks.
2. Longboard Trucks
Trucks are the major controller of your riding. You got to have two trucks on the two sides of the deck (nose and tail) and these two trucks are sitting in between the deck and wheel. Among other features of a longboard, the maneuverability and the stability highly depend on the two trucks.
Let’s move forward with major components of the longboard trucks.
- Axle & Hanger
- Bushing Seat
Truck Axle & Hanger
The axle is the long pin that goes through the hanger to be attached to the wheels and the hanger is the t-shaped metal that holds the axle.
The width of your truck is important and the truck width is measured differently by different manufacturers. Some company measures the axle length in inches and that is considered as the truck width. On the other hand, some company measures the hanger in millimeter and consider it as the truck with.
I prefer the axle length to be considered as the truck width. The truck width should be close to the deck width as much as possible. But if the truck width is few inches more or less than the deck width, it won’t be any big issue. But if you ask me which one is better? Longer truck or shorter truck than the deck width? I will say longer is good.
Let me explain a bit more.
For instance, if you have 8.5” deck width it is better to go for 10” truck width rather than going for a 10” deck width and 8.5” truck width.
Having said that, both the shorter and longer trucks (respective to the deck width) have their own merits and demerits. The trucks that are longer than the deck width are more stable than the shorter / narrower trucks (in terms of width against the deck) but less responsive.
On the other hand, the trucks that are shorter / narrower than the deck width are more responsive than the longer trucks but in this case, you will get lesser stability.
So what is the typical axle width and hanger width?
Typically the axle width ranges from 9”-10” and the hanger width ranges from 150mm – 180mm.
Remember, I recommend you to consider the axle length as the truck width.
So the 10” or 180mm is better for downhill riding or freeriding where you need more stability. 9” or 150mm truck is good for freestyle riding and carving.
Kingpin is the core heart of your truck. It keeps the hanger and baseplate together. After taking the decision on truck width the important parts that you are going to care about is the kingpin. You will find two styles of kingpins.
- Standard kingpin.
- Reverse kingpin.
Here the pin faces inwards towards the hanger and axle; generally used for the traditional trucks. That means mostly you will find this type of kingpin has been used for street/park skateboarding where mostly you will do some trick movement or for the cruising deck.
For longboarding, you will want to use reverse kingpin. So, let’s talk on the reverse kingpin more.
In case of the reverse kingpin, the pin faces outwards from the hanger and axle and stand taller than the standard kingpin.
In order to do freeriding, downhill riding or even cruising you will want to use reverse kingpin for your longboard. Reverse kingpin gives a more lively feeling and responsiveness at a slower speed and stability with control at higher speed.
Besides those, you have better options to customize the truck if you go for reverse kingpin instead of the standard kingpin.
Reverse kingpin provides more predictability while turning at a speed that will make your life easier for sure.
So going for standard kingpin or reverse kingpin is your choice. I just mentioned what are the functions of both of these. Like many longboarders, my choice is reverse kingpin to get a better response, stability, control, turning, and customization facilities.
Truck Bushing Seat
As the name suggests this is the area of the truck where the busing sits ( pocket in the hanger ). That’s not a big deal to understand. What is important is the role of bushing seat on the performance of your longboard.
Bushing plays a major role in the carving ability of the longboard and the bushing seat affects the role of the bushing in this case.
Tight bushing seats are good for stability at speed as this makes the bushing-less turn friendly. So this can be a perfect choice for downhill or freeriding. But at slower speeds, tight bushing seats are less responsive and less lively.
On the other hand, the open bushing seat is helpful to get carve and sharp turns without providing too much force. So for the freestyle riding, carving, cruising or anywhere you need the responsiveness more than anything else open bushing seat is the way to go.
But don’t get yourself confused. Most of the trucks in modern days come up with the combination of both tight and open bushing seats to give you a nice blend of responsiveness and stability to support all kind of ridings. On top of that, with a reverse kingpin truck you will get a number of options in bushing seat to customize based on your requirement.
You can always use a less restrictive bushing on tight bushing seat to get a combination of stability and liveliness together. So as you see there is always a room for customization.
As you already know the tight and open bushing seat play a different role when it is about turning, now let’s know what the heck the bushings do to affect your longboard turning.
Bushings are found in different shapes like
- Stepped cone
- Double stepped (eliminator, chubby).
For the sharp turn and lively feeling, you got to go for the conical bushing whereas the barrel bushing will response a bit less than the conical bushing.
Barrel bushings are quite ok for all type of riding and responsive at high speed.
Stepped cone bushing more stability than barrel bushing a bit less responsiveness than barrel bushing at the same force.
Double stepped (eliminator, chubby) bushing provide the stability at high speed by blocking the movement of your truck at a certain point. So for downhill and freeriding go for the stepped ( eliminator or chubby ) bushings.
Softer bushing provides more liveliness and less stability in high speed and harder bushing gives less liveliness but better stability in high speed.
Due to the larger resistance of the harder bushing, it is a good choice for a heavier rider. On the other hand, softer bushing is better for the lighter riders.
The most important part of the baseplate is the baseplate angle that can put a significant role in the turning capability of the longboard.
Baseplate angle is the angle that your hanger will be placed on the baseplate. The 50-degree baseplate is the most common one and 50 degree gives you the tall ride and a significant amount of turn.
If you go for lower than 50-degree baseplate you will get less turn after putting the same effort or force that you gave in case of 50-degree baseplate angle.
That means 50 degree is perfect for carving, cruising, transportation as it gives you a good amount of turn against minimum leaning.
The lower degree baseplate makes your hanger lower and makes the turn less than the 50-degree baseplate.
So you can understand lower degree angle may seem less responsive at a slower speed but they are more stable at higher speed.
So, to get more responsiveness and lively feel 50-degree baseplate is the one you should go for and in order to get more stability at a higher speed lower degree angle is the one you should eye in.
What about getting both stability and turn support from your longboard? Sounds interesting?
You can use the lower degree baseplate as the back truck and 50 degrees as the front truck to get the stability from the back and turn support from the front together.
How cool is that?
Let’s move onto the next component of a longboard.
3. Longboard Wheels
Another major component that influences your riding experience is the longboard wheels. I don’t think I need to explain to you the importance of the wheels. Better let’s start knowing the different facts you should know to educate yourself on different longboard wheels and how they influence your riding.
The first and foremost parameter of longboard wheels that you should learn is the wheel size.
The size is the diameter that means the height from the road to the top of the wheel. The size of the wheel can vary from 55mm – 100mm but the 70mm is used in most longboards.
Big wheels and small wheels have their own set of functionalities and impact on your riding.
You can consider 55mm to 65mm as the small wheels, 70mm is the standard size that you can give you the all-around solution and any size bigger than 70mm, you can consider it as the big size wheel.
The bigger wheels give you good top speed but less acceleration.
The smaller wheels give you high acceleration but low top speed.
While the bigger wheels give you stability at high speed and roll over anything on the road, make sure that your board is going to avoid wheel bite. Wheelbite is when your wheels come into contact with the deck during your riding. It is dangerous. It can stop the board all of a sudden, make you fly and fall into injuries. [Use safety gears for your protection]
If you are using reverse kingpin and cut out deck then probably you are safe from wheel bite. But still, you should precheck if your wheel size is perfectly set. Use riser if required.
The bigger wheels are good for downhill riding, cruising, pushing but not good for sliding.
For sliding the smaller wheels are the perfect one to go for as these give you good acceleration.
You gotta be well known to the wheel shape as it plays that amount of role to your riding that you need to care about.
Generally, wheel shape sometimes referred to lip profile and three types of lip profiles are found on the market.
- Sharp lip
- Beveled lip
- Rounded lip
If you are not sure what is the lip of a wheel – lip is the outer edge of the wheel.
Sharp lip gives your board more grip on the street as it’s not gonna break the traction and slide out for you. Typically they have got the larger contact patch.
Handy for the downhill riding, carving, and cruising as you will want extra grip from your wheel for this kind of longboarding.
This shape is not sharp neither round. Stays in between the two shapes.
Not as grippy as the sharp lip but provides grip to some extent.
This shape is the one that you should choose for the freeriding, sliding.
Because sliding is easier when you have the small contact patch and rounded lip has got the smallest contact patch among other lips. Your wheels get less friction as well when its a rounded lip profile, which acts as a catalyst for sliding.
Wheel Contact Patch
The contact patch is the width of the wheel from lip to lip and this is the part of the wheel that touches the ground.
Big contact patch is going to give you a good amount of grip.
Narrow contact patch is going to give you a less amount of grip.
So you are guessing it right. Big contact patch is good for downhill riding, and a narrow contact patch is perfect for freeride and sliding.
Not only the width of the wheels impacts the performance but also the skin of the contact patch can manipulate the performance of the wheel.
The shiny outer skin provides more grip and good for downhill riding. On the other hand, the softer and rougher outer skin is more slide friendly, not grippy and hence good for freeride and sliding.
Durometer dictates the hardness or softness of the wheel and you will find some standard measurement for measuring durometer used by the manufacturer of the longboard wheels.
The unit to denote the measurement of the wheel is used as “A” by the different companies and the durometer usually ranges from 1-100, where the smaller number means softer and 100a is the hardest of all. Most of the longboard wheels fall in the range of 75a – 90a.
Harder wheels are faster but give you less grip.
Softer wheels are slower but give you a good grip.
Harder wheels are sliding friendly and softer wheels are not.
To get the perfect blend of grip and pace 78a and 80a are said to be the perfect one to go for.
To simplify the concept of the core, or you can say to define the “core” in a most simplified way I want to tell you, it’s the place of the wheel where the bearing sits. That’s why some people refer to this as bearing seat as well.
The bearing can be positioned in three places, hence you can say wheel core can be classified as three types.
From the name, you can easily understand here the bearing sits exactly at the center of the wheel as a result there is the same amount of urethane at the inner and outer side of the core.
Centerset makes your wheel most grippy among the three cores because of the largest inner lip.
This type of core is perfect for downhill riding as you may expect an extra grip around the corner.
Here the bearing sits at the side of the wheel meaning a lot deeper providing very small to no inner lip.
This type of core provides less amount of grip but good for sliding and drifting.
This is the combination of both center set and side set meaning the bearing is placed neither at the center nor at the side of the wheel, but sits in between.
So, no doubt this gives you a blend of grip and sliding facilities.
Most of the downhill wheels and freeride wheels are made by following this core system.
So, how was your journey from longboard deck to longboard wheels? Hope you have learned so many stuff including their classification and the way the different type of every component puts an impact on your riding.
Don’t forget to cruise around my site to know more cool stuff on longboarding.