A longboard is a skateboard with a longer and sometimes wider shape used for longboarding. They are most commonly used for either downhill racing or transportation. Longboards can be shaped in various different ways, depending on the type of riding intended. Their greater weight and bulk makes them less suitable for many skateboarding tricks, but contributes to a fluid motion by providing more momentum. Longboarding is often compared to surfing on concrete, and the design allows big turns or quick short carves similar to a surfboard.
Longboarding became popular alongside emerging surfing culture through the mid 1950s. Longboarding may have originated in California where the streets gave ground to many longboarders due to the rolling hills but some believe it is a product of Hawaiian origin.
Longboard equipment is very similar to skateboard equipment. It is most common for longboarders to wear gloves and a helmet. Wrist, elbow,and knee protection are always recommended. Also in the sliding discipline, riders wear "slide gloves" which are a specialized sliding glove made out of a strong material such as leather that has plastic pucks adhered to the palm.
Most longboards measure between 90 and 150 cm (35.4-60 inches). Shorter boards may still be referred to as longboards when their main purpose is inline with that of longboarding (i.e. downhill & cruising). There are several different shapes of longboards including but not limited to: pintails, flat nose riders, and boards shaped like a longer shortboard. Pintails permit looser trucks and larger diameter wheels better suited for carving or a "surfy" feel. Mid-length boards, 94-127 cm (37-50 inches) are the most versatile.
Longboard decks are made of shaped wood, bamboo, or composite materials, designed to balance properties of weight, stiffness, flex, and twist, while offering a secure stance, and accommodating the height and weight of the rider. The simplest decks are made from 7 to 10 plys of 1/16" thick birch or maple. These woods are glued together, and pressed into the desired shape with a vacuum, hydraulic, or manual press. More complex decks include the use of fiberglass and carbon fiber for decreased weight and increased stiffness, solid hardwoods for stiffness and aesthetics, foam cores for rigidity and light weight, and even exotic materials, like bamboo, for lesser weight and increased flex.
Concave Concave decks are decks that are curved towards the ground so that the edges of the board are the highest point on the deck. This provides more leverage in the turns in the same fashion as kicktails do. (see Kicktail). (220.127.116.11) 23:21, 7 October 2008 (UTC)]]
Camber Camber Decks are decks that peak in the middle, creating an arc. They are usually made from a flexible wood, so that when weight is applied, the board will reverse the arc, and spring tension will be created. This makes it so speed can be gained by turning and releasing the tension, rather than pushing the board. This effect makes Camber decks the choice for carving at low speeds. When camber reaches a higher speed it is more prone to speed wobbles due to the spring tension.
There are many other styles of deck, such as the lowered speedboard and the shlongboard (see Longboarding). Camber and concave are the main two used in boards desinged for boards with general uses. Speedboards, and boards used in freebording (again see Longboarding), will follow more specific designs.
Many people have explored outside the realm of brand name equipment and find making their own decks as highly beneficial and fun. A great variation that some riders enjoy is in the covering over the top of the deck. Some decks will have grip tape, basically a sheet of sandpaper covering the deck itself. Some decks are covered with sand and a liquid fiberglass that makes the deck extremely rough and easy to grip. Many riders enjoy adding their personal touch to their boards, often painting or carving in their own artwork straight on the deck. Others also make their own decks for the benefit of having the exact flex and shape from their board that would cost much more money if made custom. They have also come up with alternative, cheaper and easier ways to create various types of boards. For instance, many racing-style speedboards feature a deck that drops down to cradle the rider and to give more stability. In order to lower a rider's center of gravity, a home-made speedboard will usually have its trucks mounted to the top of the deck, with the axle and bushing pushed through a hole drilled in the deck. It looks as good or better than a "drop deck" while eliminating the need for radical contours and still offers the same feel. Drop-through trucks are also good for cruisers when the board isn't so long that it will bottom out when it turns. The lowered board makes it more comfortable for a rider to push.
Many Longboarders like to build their own decks as a way to get exactly what they want out of the board, or just to "get closer" to them. There are many very complicated methods to do this, using presses, fiberglass, carbon fiber, and even foam cores. All of these can be bought and found on the internet and at various stores, along with basic board building instructions. The basic method includes making a template to get the shape you want, using two sheets of Baltic Birch or Maple plywood, gluing them together, and adding weights to the board while the glue dries in order to create the right flex and camber. An example video can be found here
There are many different choices of bearings for a longboard. The bearings sit inside of the wheel, and spin on the truck axles. Most bearings are made of steel, although those of the highest quality are made of ceramic. Steel ball bearings are mainstream bearings that are in widespread use, and readily available in skateshops and online distributors. Steel ball bearings are meant for the average skateboarder. Ceramic bearings are meant for the riders who have more stringent demands. They cost much more than steel ball bearings, but have less friction. The advantages for ceramic ball bearings include a smoother roll (if kept clean), longer life, rust resistance and a lighter weight as compared to steel. Their thermal resistance makes them ideal for high speed downhill runs. Two of the main materials used in manufacturing of the ceramic balls is ceramic Cerbec silicon nitride, and ceramic Zirconium Oxide.
The trucks are the mounts for attaching the wheels to the board and provide the steering mechanism for the board by turning in the direction of the rider's lean. A set of trucks is made up of a baseplate which screws to the deck, a hanger which holds the axle—which in turn holds the wheels. They are connected by a kingpin with flexible polyurethane bushings to control flex and turning.
There are several different types of longboard trucks, differing from 'shortboard' trucks in many ways. The primary difference is that the hangers are often wider to accommodate the different sized decks, with 150mm and 180mm being two of the most common widths. There are also different longboard trucks for different disciplines, as well as multi-purpose trucks. Many trucks are equipped with special features, such as inverted kingpins, as well as spring-loaded trucks, and variable tilt designs. Trucks designed for maneuverability will have a softer polyurethane bushing or spring, which allow the truck to turn with ease. A downhill-type truck will usually have a harder bushing or spring to stabilize the board at high speeds. Urethane bushings are also rated on the durometer scale; the harder the bushing, the harder it is to turn the truck. They can come in numerous shapes and sizes, which depending on, affect its performance. Bushings can be replaced and changed, and are generally very cheap ($2 and $10, but some can cost around $25 for a set.)
All trucks have different turning angles. This is known as the truck's geometry. The geometry of the trucks affects how much the board will turn. The geometry can be adjusted through the use of angled risers or "wedges," which are mounted between the deck and the truck's baseplate. The turning angle will increase if the trucks are angled toward the outside of the deck. If the trucks are angled to the inside of the deck, turning angle will decrease, which can improve stability. Randal R-II trucks come stock at 50 degrees on the hangers. This is a typical angle for general purpose trucks as it allows the board to turn well at a variety of speeds. Randal R-I Downhill style trucks are more stable, and have a turning angle of 35 degrees which is better suited to high speed skating. Slalom boards will use a quick turning truck in the front paired with a stable truck in the rear, to allow for better traction.
Another type of truck, unique to longboards, is the torsion truck. Torsion trucks operate differently from standard trucks in that they twist a urethane bushing or metal spring rather than using two compression bushings to return the truck to a straight position. Revenge torsion trucks have a locking mechanism that prevents wheel bite when the truck hangers turn too far. The Original S-Series torsion truck does not have a stop but functions instead on the belief that the deck should be designed around the trucks (to avoid wheel bite). The lack of a stop allows Original trucks to lean over further and turn tighter, although compatible deck selection is limited. Riders who have experience on conventional, non-torsion truck, designs may have stability issues when bombing on torsion based trucks, however with practice torsion truck based setups can easily handle bombing runs of 30-35 mph (fairly slow in comparison to downhill racing speeds).