When selecting your longboard deck, you have to ask yourself a few questions like the kind of riding you want to use it for or what is your actual intent for the longboard? No matter what your answer, there is a perfect longboard deck that is made just for you! Unlike the standard skateboard decks, longboard decks come in an almost overwhelmingly wide variety of size, shape, stiffness, camber profile, and concave style. To help you explore all your options, we’ve created this guide to help find the deck or decks that you will love to ride.
When choosing your longboard deck, keep in mind that there are loads of crossover between each riding style, and many decks are great options for multiple styles of riding. Use the categories below as a guide to help find the deck features that are most important to you.
1. Carving & Cruising
These are usually what most people think of when they picture longboards. The classic pintail shape was popular in the early 90’s and is still one of the most common shapes seen on streets, sidewalks, and boardwalks today. It’s surf inspired design features long overall board length (40-45”) and taper from tip to tail, combined with varying degrees of camber and a flexible construction. This board style mimics the feeling of slashing big waves by giving you a powerful release of energy from each carve, which makes them great for pumping. The flexible construction also helps do dampen vibrations as you push over cracks and through rough pavement.
Because of their lively and fun feel, these boards are ideal for pushing around campus or carving down a mellow hill in your neighbourhood. Although pintails are the most popular shape for this style of riding, there are many other creative tweaks to this classic style available in top mount and drop through options.
2. City Commute
Campus cruisers generally work well for commuting in the city. However, if you often find yourself getting stuck in tight spaces, dodging cars and pedestrians, or needing to negotiate cracks, curbs and other obstacles, then you may need a more versatile city cruiser deck. Decks that work best for city commute are usually between 28-40” long and have wheelbases of 15-22”. Shorter boards are preferred for this type of riding because they offer the advantage of a more responsive setup and tighter turning radius for avoiding obstacles. While most boards designed for this purpose are very rigid to provide stability and more effective kicktails, some prefer more flexible constructions for their lively feel and vibration dampening ability.
3. Long Distance Pushing
If you are looking to embark on epic journeys to push thousands of miles on your boards, you would want to look for boards that are generally quite long (38-42”) and as low to the ground as possible. As the standing platform gets closer to the ground, the rider has to step down a shorter distance for each push. This both increases stability and reduces rider fatigue. Although you may sacrifice some manoeuvrability, these decks can also be great options for moderate distance city transportation.
The most common ways of getting a lower ride height is to use drop through mounting and dropped platform decks. The best LDP decks are double drop decks, or decks that offer both drop through mounting and a dropped platform. An added bonus of using a drop deck for LDP is that the drop can be used to drag the board forward with the top of your foot as you push. To accommodate their lower ride height, nearly all of these decks also feature large cut outs to provide more clearance for large wheels and avoid wheel bite.
4. Freestyle / Dancing
Freestyle and dancing demand maximum creativity from the rider. It incorporates old school board walking or dancing manoeuvres with technical flatground tricks and any other stylish elements that the rider wishes to mix in. Shuv its, kick flips, cross steps, and tiger claws can all be considered freestyle tricks. For this reason, freestyle decks need to be very versatile and incorporate features of many types of decks.
Freestyle decks usually have medium length wheelbase options (20-28”) and a moderately flexible construction for responsiveness at slow speeds. If you would like to focus on dancing, you may want to buy a board with a longer wheelbase (28-35”) and effective standing platform. Twin kicktails and a symmetrical shape are preferred for freestyle because you often find yourself riding the board both ways.
Freestyle decks are great for beginners who aren’t sure which style of riding they wish to pursue. These all around decks can be great for transportation, carving, and mellow freeride.
5. Freeride / Sliding
If you like to tackle steep hills, ride switch, and push your board sideways to slash driveways and drift around corners then these are the boards for you. Most freeride decks have wheelbase options between 20-30”. Stiff construction and aggressive 3D concave are characteristics of freeride boards because they provide stability for higher speeds and keep your feet locked in where you need them.
New types of concave are being introduced to the market every year but they all revolve around the idea of creating comfortable pockets for your feet that help you locate the foot positioning you want, provide leverage points for pushing out slides, and prevent foot slippage while sliding longboards.
6. Downhill / Racing
Downhill decks are designed to hold up to high speeds and help deliver you down the hill as quickly as possible. There is a lot of crossover between freeride and downhill, so boards designed for these types of riding are very similar and many riders use the same deck for both disciplines. Having said that, downhill-specific boards generally have longer wheelbases (26-30”) for added stability at higher speeds. Aggressive concave profiles are very useful for downhill but it is also often that you see racers riding boards with very traditional concave.
Speed get priority over style and tricks, so symmetry and kicktails are often disregarded with downhill-specific decks. If you don’t plan on riding switch, some directional shapes and concave profiles can better cater to your gripping and pre-drifting needs.
We hope the above offers you sufficient information to go out there and get your best longboard deck for cruising or whichever purpose you prefer now!