Since they entered the scene in the late 1950s, longboards have come a long way in terms of their shapes and sizes. They’re no longer the bulky and flat pieces of woods with wheels that they used to be.
Because of this, any beginner today may already have a hard time choosing the right longboard for them.
So, we have rounded up a few important things you have to know as far as a longboard deck goes.
Except from those made with cheap plastic boards, all longboard decks are laminated with several layers. These plies are stacked up on top of each other to create a strong deck.
Any material will suffice in making longboard decks. However, the strongest and most common are maple decks.
- Canadian Maple
Maple trees grow at a higher elevation, which encourages them to grow denser fibers than other types of wood.
Considered as the strongest and most durable maple wood for longboards, the Canadian maple wood is known for being stronger than those maple grown from Siberia.
Known for their dense built and flexibility, maple trees provide the perfect amount of flexibility and strength for longboard production. Unlike other woods, they can bend and be shaped without compromising their structural integrity, which, in turn, makes them an excellent choice for producing longboards.
- Chinese Maple
Chinese Maple is technically not maple wood. It’s a fancy name for Birchwood, which is another trusted material for making longboard decks.
However, compared to Canadian Maple, this one isn’t as strong and as durable. If a longboard is made of 7-ply birchwood, it could snap easily with extended use.
Another material that’s famous in making longboards is bamboo. Longboards that have bamboo for decks also offer great durability and strength. They come in various thickness and configurations, which usually range from 1/8” to 3/4”.
Bamboo sheets are vertically laminated in fiberglass or other composite materials. This process results in medium-weight to lightweight board with a soft to medium flex. Some riders love this material for its powerful spring-like feature.
Concave refers to the natural curvature between two sides of a longboard. It helps hold your feet in place, thereby giving you more control of the board as you carve in and out of turns.
This concave type is ideal for slow cruising and dancing. It’s very comfortable under the feet but doesn’t offer much control.
Radial is great for carving, downhill, and freestyle. Riders can enjoy lots of leverage for control when turning.
Cruising, freestyle, downhill, and carving are the doable longboard tricks with this type of deck concave. It combines the advantages of radial and flat concaves to make it easier for you to ride your longboard.
W-concave offers a superb experience for freestyle and downhill. It provides an amazing surface for locking in your feet for slides and speed.
Asymmetric concaves work best for downhill and carving. This shape helps change the force needed for a backside and frontside turn. One thing you have to remember with this type of concave, however, is that it requires proper stance all the time.
Camber pertains to how far the upward bend is between the longboard’s trucks. It’s the reason why the riding platform is higher than the truck mounts, as a higher platform gives riders more advantage for turning.
Some more flexible longboards rely on camber to ensure that the rider is at the same level with the trucks. It also gives longboards greater flexibility, but without the risk of the deck touching the ground unexpectedly.
Knowing the material and concave type lets you know how durable and manageable a longboard would be. However, there are other considerations when choosing a longboard, namely:
- Truck Mounting
- Board Length
Longboards come in all shapes and sizes. However, the common shapes are as follows:
- Blunt Nose
- Cut Out
- Mini Cruiser
Your longboard width should be as close to the width of your trucks. While they should match exactly, being slightly off is forgivable. Keeping the difference to less than ¼ is advisable.
Generally, wider trucks contribute to a more stable yet less responsive longboard. Meanwhile, a narrower truck can be less stable but more responsive. Given these considerations, 10” trucks or 180mm trucks are ideal for freeride or downhill. The 9” or 150mm trucks are more suitable for transportation, carving, and freestyle.
- Top Mount
The original and most common truck mounting style, longboards with top mount riding style have trucks attached to the bottom of the deck and screws going through the deck. This design ensures that the trucks are always below the rider’s feet for greater control while turning.
- Drop Through
Longboards with drop through mounting style usually comes in combination with a cutout shape. Here, the trucks are mounted on top of the deck through a deck hole and are held in place with nuts and screws. This style lowers the rider’s center of gravity, which helps increase overall deck stability.
- Drop Mount
Drop mount combines the advantages of a top mount riding style and drop through mounting style. This deck style has a recess where the trucks are mounted. Essentially, the trucks are mounted in the middle of the deck instead of at the bottom or at the top. As a result, the longboard is super responsive and stable when speeding up.
This refers to the distance between the front (nose) and the back (tail) of the longboard. Longboards usually measure 34” or longer. The length highly influences the stability, flexibility, and maneuverability of the board, as longer boards typically offer lower maneuverability and higher stability.
The distance between the back trucks and the front axels is called the wheelbase. When picking longboards, be wary about the measurements. Some manufacturers will measure the wheelbase from the truck to the mounting holes.
Remember that wheelbase has the biggest impact on performance. A longer wheelbase tends to produce more stability and straighter ride. However, a shorter wheelbase offers less stability but great maneuverability.
Ultimately, picking a longboard deck boils down to a rider’s preferred riding style. The shape, style, and features will then follow.
If you’re a beginner in longboarding, a longboard deck with a drop through mounting style and long wheelbase may suit you. This combination goes low to the ground and is super stable.
Also, remember that concave is a major aspect of longboard performance. Manufacturers keep on trying to come up with new ones, but as a beginner, stick to the ones you’re most comfortable with according to your riding style.
Find your first longboard here. Questboards offer amazing longboard selections at reasonable prices and in whatever style, deck material, concave, or other specs you want.