There’s barely a sport or an activity that’s as exciting and adventurous as longboarding. Of course, longboarding itself is a broad term as well, since there are different styles to consider here. We have anything from just casual cruising, over downhills, and up to free rides and freestyle longboarding. This all comes down to personal preferences and what an individual is looking for.
But like we said, longboarding is a broad term and it includes different types of activities.
With this in mind, it’s only obvious that you’re going to find a few different types of longboards. After all, different types of ride require specialised boards so that the activity would not only be more pleasurable, but also more effective and, in some cases, even safer.
So we have longboards coming in many different sizes and shapes. If you’re just getting into this sport and are planning to buy your first longboard, there are some things you need to consider first.
You’ll need to have an overall idea of what exactly do you want to do. And according to this, you’ll need to choose the right longboard type for you. This is the only way you’ll be able to make your experience more enjoyable.
In case you’re having trouble finding the most suitable longboard for you, don’t worry – we’re here to help you out. If you’re new to longboarding, we’ve come up with a brief but helpful guide that will introduce you to all the different longboard deck types and give a little info on how they’re designed. So let’s get into it.
Longboard deck types by use
The first division we’d like to discuss comes down to longboards by use. This is usually the main concern of everyone who wants to get into longboarding. There are four main types we’ll mention here – cruising, downhill, freeride, and freestyle.
As the name suggests, cruising boards are, obviously, intended for regular cruising. The design of these longboard decks is accommodated for longer, steady rides.
They’re designed in such a way to fit into crowded areas and to ensure comfort and “smooth sailing.” In most cases, they have wider trucks, and the overall design of the deck is conceived in such a way to provide stability and balance.
At the same time, these are not as mobile as some other decks. But this is not their main goal. Cruising boards are recommended either for beginners or just those who enjoy smooth casual rides without any specific thrills or tricks in mind.
Carving is, in many ways, similar to regular cruising. However, it’s a more advanced technique that requires a lot of practice and skill.
The technique is also used in many other longboard riding styles, but can also be used as a style of its own. From the point of an observer, the carving style looks so smooth and effortless, but it requires a lot of balance and coordinated movements in order to do it right.
By carefully leaning back and forth, carving longboard riders move forward, but in a smooth “S”-shaped trajectory. By doing these movements, they keep the speed and momentum and keep “pushing” forward.
Although very similar to standard cruising boards, carving decks have their own traits. They’re designed in such a way to ensure easier ways to alternate between leaning back and forth.
While riding your longboard downhill might not seem like a very complicated idea, there are some important things to consider.
Firstly, you’ll need a specialized board that will, in the end, keep you safer in these settings. But these boards are also designed to have reduced wind resistance, while also keeping the focus on stability.
Again, these boards are similar to cruising ones. However, downhill riders will often be either in crouching or tucked positions. The longboard decks also accommodate to these settings and provide more stability and comfort for downhill rides. They’re usually a bit shorter compared to cruising or carving longboard decks.
Now, freerides require more skill and practice. In fact, the freeride style encompasses pretty much all of the different techniques, and combine cruising, downhills, and other techniques.
These longboards are designed to keep up with the speed and stability, while also being able to do curb hops and slides. You can regard them as “jack of all trades” in the world of longboards.
And finally, we have the freestyle longboards and longboard decks. While these other types mostly focused on regular rides. freestyle is all about… Well, it’s about doing whatever the hell you want on your longboard! Different board tricks, sliding, fooling around, jumping, even dancing – it’s all fair game in the freestyle mode.
Of course, the freestyle boards are specific and are designed in such a way to favour mobility over stability and speed. You can’t expect these to be sufficient enough for cruises, carving, or downhills. And, at the same time, they’re also not the safest option for these settings.
In some ways, freeride is a separate art of its own, since it’s a completely different style of longboarding.
Longboard deck styles
While the main division of longboard deck types comes to their use, there’s a more detailed classification with all the different shapes and sizes. And every longboard shape has its own implementation in practice for these four categories we mentioned above. After all, it’s the shape that has a huge impact on the overall stability, mobility, speed, and performance for whatever technique you may need it. Below, we have the main styles that you can find on the market today.
When speaking of top-mount longboard decks, we’re thinking of the “conventional” board shape. It’s pretty widespread and it’s, in most cases, the most affordable one. The deck on these types of longboards is mounted on top of trucks, and the center of gravity is a bit higher compared to the other deck styles.
Although this configuration is not that stable, it provides more mobility for different techniques and you’ll also get more turn leverage.
But overall, top-mount deck types are the most versatile, which makes them a good choice for any style. But given that they’re multi-purpose, it’s a pretty good option for the freeride longboarding style.
The so-called drop-through decks have a pretty interesting design. The main thing that you can notice is that the trucks go through the board itself. This way, the height is decreased approximately by the thickness of the board. At the same time, the boards narrow down where the wheels come, and they look “exposed” when you look at them from above.
With such a setting, you get an increase in stability and more comfort for those long cruising rides. Therefore, these are the perfect choice for cruising, although they can also be used for downhills and freerides.
Similar to the drop-through type, you also have the design with wheel cutouts and trucks that go through the board. However, the main difference here is that double-drop longboard decks are even lower. This is, arguably, the most stable longboard deck type. On the other hand, these are difficult to come by, as they’re pretty difficult to construct. At the same time, they’re pretty expensive as well. With all this said, they have a more narrow scope of use and are quite popular among the downhill fanatics.
The drop deck also features two main traits that we mentioned above. You have both the wheel cutouts and the deck that goes below the trucks. Of course, such a design is what lowers the center of gravity, making them very stable. You’ll also notice that you’ll use way less effort when swinging back and forth. So you’ll find this particular style used for freerides, although it’s also pretty common among fans of downhill rides.
Variations in shape
To make this guide even more detailed, we’ll need to go into other variations in shapes. We already mentioned some, but here, we’ll see to explain some traits that you might see with longboard decks.
Wheel wells or wheel cutouts
We’ve already mentioned the wheel cutouts, which are also known as “wheel wells.” The board narrows down sharply at the wheels, exposing them and giving them space to “breathe.” These are usually found on longboards with lower deck settings. When turning sharply, your wheels can make contact with the board, ultimately making damages and even throwing you off the board. So, in short, these cutouts allow you to turn sharply without potentially falling off the board.
The so-called kick tails are found on one or both ends of some boards. This design feature lets you lift the board for any kind of jumps or tricks. Since they allow easier and quicker turns, they’re quite useful in crowded places, or anywhere where you need to make a quick turn. This is why you’ll find kick tails on many freeride or cruising longboards.
Concave longboard deck designs come in handy if you need a stronger grip. Your feet will take this shape and will increase the overall contact area of your shoes. This is usually something that you find on downhill and carving longboards. There are also modifications of this shape, with the slightly flattened middle part, or the so-called “W”-concave boards. The profile of these “W” boards has two concave sections, resembling the flattened “W” letter.
Longboard deck types: a brief buying guide
With all this information being thrown in your face, you might feel a little confused. But it’s not that complicated really, and there are a few things to consider when buying your longboard deck.
The first choice comes down to what exactly do you want to do. So we once again come back to the main four riding styles – cruising, carving, freerides, and freestyle. After all, the preferred style is what you’re aiming for, and all the boards are designed with a specific style in mind.
If you’re looking just for a cruising board, then you can go with a simple drop deck board.
If you need more manoeuvrability, then it’s a good idea to have a concave board.
Top-mounted decks can be a good choice as well, and with an addition of a kicktail, you’ll be able to do narrow turns in crowded places.
Similar rules can apply to those who are looking for carving longboards. A concave shape, in this case, can be a good addition.
As far as the basic shapes go, it’s always a better idea to go with a drop deck rather than a top-mounted board. Having wheel cutouts just works better in these settings.
Freeriders can also go with drop through longboard decks or drop-through decks. In many cases, freeride-oriented longboards are noticeably “deeper” than those intended for cruises or carving rides.
Downhills can be a little tricky, as you can reach some head-spinning speeds. Like we already mentioned, the double-drop longboard decks are perfect for these settings. However, these are pretty expensive, so you can go with drop-through or drop-deck since they provide more stability.
As for freestyle riders, you’ll need as much mobility as you can. Top-mounted boards are what you’re looking for here. It’s also mandatory that you have at least one kick tail, as this kind of configuration will significantly increase your mobility.