Longboards first became commercially available in the 1950s. They fell out of popularity for quite a few years while skateboarding (and the tricks they afforded) took center stage. But it’s been gaining in popularity again recently.
These days it isn’t uncommon to see longboards at parks and on school campuses. Longboarding is recreation and transportation in one, much like a bicycle. If you’re thinking of getting in on this fun, low-cost activity, and aren’t sure where to start, we’ve got you covered.
What Size Longboard Should I Get?
What size longboard should I get? It all depends on a few key factors. There is no one longboard out there that’s right for everyone. They vary in length, width, and style. Which board is right for you, depends on your riding style, your height, and your ability.
That said, it’s relatively easy to choose your first longboard. We’ll go over all the details you need to know about longboard specs so you can make your choice.
Before we dive into a discussion about longboard types and sizes, let’s go over a few longboarding terms. The list of terms used in this activity can be long, but you only need to know a few to get started. Here some common ones to know.
Deck: The platform of the board. This is the area where you stand.
Nose: The front end of the board.
Tail: The back end of the board.
Dropdown: A type of deck which has a lower center than nose and tail to create a sort of pocket to stand in.
Pintail: A type of deck with a wide center and a sharp pointed nose and tail.
Fishtail: Similar to a pintail, but the tail of the board is split like the tail of a fish.
Blunt: A type of deck with a wider, rounder nose and tail than pintails or fishtails.
Top-mount: A type of deck in which the trucks are mounted to the bottom of the board.
Drop-through: A type of deck which has trucks mounted through a hole in the board. This style puts the board lower to the ground which increases stability.
Trucks: The metal T-shaped pieces that mount onto the board and wheels and bearings securely attached to the deck.
Flex: The bouncy feeling of the board when you stand on it. The more flex a board has, the smoother it will go over bumps and cracks.
Concave: The bend across the width of the deck.
Radial, Elliptical, and W: These are concave shapes which affect toe to heel energy transfer.
Rocker and Camber: This describes the downward or upward bend along the length of the board.
Carving: The act of turning your body to move the board back and forth down a hill. You can carve for fun or to control speed.
Drifting: Lowering speed and making a controlled turn to get around a corner.
Longboards are similar to skateboards but have some key differences. For instance, skateboards are shorter (usually 28”-32”), which makes them better for tricks and short rides. They take more balance and agility to use than a longboard.
Conversely, longboards are great for beginners because they are most stable than skateboards. They come in different shapes and are generally faster than skateboards. Longboards also come in a vast range of lengths (33”-66”) and are better for street riding or cruising than for performing tricks.
The long range of sizes is necessary so you can use longboards in a variety of ways, but here’s the general rule of thumb for board lengths:
The width of an average board is between 8” and 10.” The wider the board is, the more stable it is. This width reduces maneuverability, but if you have big feet, a more narrow board will be awkward and harder to ride. So this specification will depend on what feels comfortable to you.
The style of a longboard is going to change depending on the type of riding you want to do. The riding surface is called a deck and comes in styles with names like pintails, fishtails, cruisers, cutouts, drop-throughs, double kicks, and cutaways.
The size of a longboard is going to be more important than the style, so this is probably the last feature you want to consider before you buy.
The length of longboards changes with its intended purpose and so does its name. They are most commonly classified as cruising, downhill, freeride, and freestyle boards. Each of these categories has individual length boards associated with it.
Longboarding can be an exciting activity, but it can also simply be a pleasurable activity. Longboards for cruising should be between 28 and 46.” They are best for exactly what their name suggests: cruising. You can use these boards for commuting to work, school, the mall, etc., or participating in some leisurely recreation.
The shorter the board is, the better it is for making quick turns and taking sharp angles. A longer board is better for gaining higher speeds but loses the maneuverability of a shorter board. If you’ll be dodging pedestrians on a sidewalk, then go for the shorter board to make it easier to get around them.
If you’re well over six feet, don’t go any shorter than 38” as your height will also affect the maneuverability of the board.
Consider picking up a board for cruising and taking it a local park. These days you’re bound to see far more people longboarding than rollerblading. In areas where the sport hasn’t quite taken off, it’s a great conversation starter, and believe us when we say you’ll have people approach you to ask about it.
The ideal length of a longboard used for downhill riding is 36” to 40” or more (37”+ for taller riders). You might do downhill riding for recreation or commuting (if you live a hilly area), but most downhill riders participate for sport.
As a sport, speed is a must with downhill longboarding. The whole point of downhill longboarding is to be the first person to reach the bottom--it’s a race. Depending on the hill and your skill level, you’ll be topping 60mph.
Moving that fast downhill on a little board and having nothing but asphalt to break your fall, is sure to be an adrenaline rush, but at those speeds, you’re going to want something stable. Look for a drop-through or top-mount board as this style board will give you additional stability.
Also, look for small wheels with a sharp lip that will prevent slipping and a board that is comfortable wide. Downhill riders commonly choose a longboard deck that has a w-concave shape. You’ll have more control with this shape.
Freeride is a form of downhill longboarding but rather than speed; this is about getting down the hill gently and in one piece. This type of riding is more likely to be used for recreation and commuting than downhill boards, but it is a sport in its own right.
In freeriding, you perform different maneuvers to slow the board down while you descend a hill. Some tricks you might use are slides, spins, foot braking, and other technical maneuvers.
A length of 38”-42” is ideal for a combination of stability and maneuverability. Also look for drop-through, drop-platform, and top-mount longboards to help with balance.
Freestyle longboarding is the use of a longboard to perform tricks or “dance moves” on the board. It’s also sometimes referred to as boardwalking. This type of longboarding is all about the performance. Dancing boards are typically at least 48” long to allow you room to move around and perform the dance.
So those are the ideal length of longboards for each particular type of boarding. In reality, anyone could ride any length longboard. As we said, it all depends on your preference.
If you’re still asking yourself, “What size longboard should I get,” start with figuring out what you’ll be using your longboard for and then the type of riding you prefer to do. From there you’ll get a pretty good idea of the length you want.
As for width, flex, and other specifications, you’re probably going to want to try out a few boards. Start with an inexpensive board like this 39 Inch Freestyle Longboard by Playshion. You can always move to more advanced boards. Before long you’ll be cruising and carving with the best of them.