Longboard vs Skateboard for beginners

We’ve compared Longboards with Penny boards earlier – Longboards vs Penny boards, now it’s time for another comparison of Longboard vs Skateboard for beginners. Many people who have suddenly realized they want to get into skateboarding often don’t know that longboarding would suit them better or vice versa. Therefore, I thought it might be useful for beginners to get a brief introduction and comparison on both. Hopefully, after you read this post it’ll be easier for you to decide what you need.

Skateboarding history

Skateboarding is a huge sport, recreational activity, art, you name it. There’s estimated over 11 million active skateboarders in the world and skateboarding discipline will be included in the 2020 Olympic Games.

The very first skateboards were recorded in as early as 1940s, in France however the real boom started in 1970s when Frank Nasworthy developed a skateboard wheel made out of polyurethane. This vastly improved skateboard’s performance and attracted more people to this activity. A bit later in the same decade skateparks started to emerge in the USA. Manufacturers started to experiment with various materials, however maple plywood was the most popular one and it still is nowadays.

Skateboarding disciplines

The most popular skateboard riding style is freestyle – it’s all about performing various tricks. It could be done either in skateparks, flatland or various urban areas. There are a few other styles/uses:

Transportation – this use is quite common but usually for not very long distances. The standard skateboarding wheels are quite hard and do not absorb surface imperfections very well, so using it for commuting is not very comfortable, especially when compared to cruiser style longboards.

Slalom – it had been more popular discipline in the earlier years of skateboarding and nowadays it’s more popular with longboards. Slalom is a form of racing where riders skate downhill course marked by plastic cones. The goal is to get to the finish line with the fastest time while knocking down the fewest cones.

Trampboarding – quite unusual style, where only the skateboard deck is used while jumping on trampoline and performing various tricks.

There are other not so popular uses. Fun fact: US military tested the usefulness of skateboards in urban military excercises back in 1999.

Skateboard parts

There are three main skadeboard parts. The deck is usually made from 7 plys of maple wood and 28 to 33 inches long. Skateboard trucks are made from cast aluminium. Standart wheel size is around 55mm, and durometer around 100A, which is pretty hard and not very comfortable to ride on uneven surfaces.

Longboarding history

Now that you know a bit about Skateboards, let’s get into Longboards. Longboarding history dates way back to 1940s and 50s as an alternative for surfers when waves were too low. However, the popularity had mostly died by 1965. It made a comeback in 1972 when the urethane wheels were invented, which granted much greater speeds and stability. In the 90s came the reverse kingpin truck, deck wheel wells and other improvements which let the different longboarding styles emerge, such as freeriding, dancing, downhill, freestyle and so on.

Longboard parts

Nowadays there’s a huge variety of longboards to choose from, starting with different types, shapes, manufacturing materials, length etc. The deck length could vary from around 33in to 59in, it could be made from wood layers (maple, bamboo, birch, koa, oak), fiberglass or plastic. Different flexibility decks are used for different riding styles, for example downhill decks are usually as stiff as possible to ensure stability at high speed, whereas cruising boards are a lot more flexible to ease pushing and to add a surfing feel. The trucks are usually the reverse kingpin type, could be casted with molds or machined with cutting edge CNC technology – those are called precision and are used mainly in downhill by professional riders. Trucks can be top-mounted (traditional way) or could go through the deck (drop-through) to lower the center of gravity and increase stability. The wheels are nowadays made from urethane and come in various sizes (they range from around 2.5in to 4.2in in diameter) and shapes. The durometer scale is used to indicate the hardness – the average is 80A. Wheel durometer should be chosen according to rider’s weight and riding style.

So now the main question – how do longboard vs skateboard compare? I’ve made the comparison by these 3 factors:

  • Usability
  • Speed
  • Style

Usability

Skateboards are not really versatile. They are a great choice if you want to learn cool tricks and have an access to a skatepark to practice them (or some urban setting where skateboarding is not restricted). They aren’t that many tricks you can do with longboard due to its size and weight, so skateboards really excel in this area. However, if you want to use it for commuting or some other riding style such as downhill, you’re much better off with longboard.

Speed

This is no contest – longboard takes the crown in terms of riding speed. Skateboards are not designed to go at high speeds – due to smaller size they are not as stable as longboards. Also, on a longboard your stance could be a lot wider hence more stable for high speed riding. On a longboard you can use wheels as big as 90mm which is not possible on a standart skateboard. So, if you are a speed fanatic – get a longboard suited for downhill riding.

Style

Among teenagers skateboarding seems to have a more significant ‘cool’ factor than longboarding and it’s more popular worldwide. However, longboards have this association with surfing and are cool in their own way. There’s also countless deck design choices in both so I think this is the most insignificant factor of all three when choosing longboards vs skateboards for beginners.

Conclusion

In the end I think that you should try both and you’ll see which you like better. However, in my opinion it’s easier to learn on a longboard because of the wider and longer wheelbase and bigger foot placement area – you just feel more stable. Oh, and skateboarding is more prone to traumas because of all the tricks and difficulty learning them.

Cheers!

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