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Riding a longboard in Los Angeles, CA

Longboarding is the act of riding on a longboard skateboard. A longboard is greater in size (both length and width) than its smaller counterpart, the skateboard, and has more stability, traction and durability due to larger wheel size and lower wheel durometers. Many, but not all longboards, use trucks (axles) that contain different geometric parameters than a skateboard as well. These factors and their variation have given way to a variety of disciplines, functions and purposes for a longboard. The angles at which some longboards can turn, as well as their ability to coast long distances make them more suitable for cruising on streets than regular skateboards.


  • History 1
  • Board 2
  • Uses 3
    • Transportation 3.1
    • Slalom 3.2
    • Freeride 3.3
    • Downhill 3.4
    • Dancing 3.5
    • Cruising 3.6
    • Travel 3.7
  • Techniques 4
    • Tucking 4.1
    • Braking 4.2
    • Land Paddling 4.3
    • Sliding 4.4
    • Foot Braking 4.5
    • Carving 4.6
    • Pumping 4.7
    • Early grabs 4.8
    • Air brake 4.9
    • Train 4.10
    • Drafting 4.11
  • Safety 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


The life of longboarding started in approximately the 1950s.[1] The idea of longboarding originated from surfers in Hawaii that wanted to take their surfing hobby to land when the waves where too small to surf.[1] Surfers then figured out a way of achieving their goal of bringing surfing to land by customizing their skateboards. They would grab a piece of thick plywood and shape it into a smaller version of a surfboard, then screw the trucks and wheels to the decks and head out to small hills to imitate the same moves they would do if they were out surfing.

During the 1970s, a small group of longboarders honed their techniques. Some of the more notable longboarders from this period, such as Tom Sims and Brad Stradlund were profiled in a 1978 SkateBoarder magazine article entitled Cult of the Longboard.[2] These pioneers saw longboarding as a form of self-expression, and were influenced by surfing. However, despite the advent of polyurethane wheels (affectionately referred to as "thane" by longboarders[3]), longboarding did not reach a high degree of prevalence during the 1970s.[4]

Longboards lived on as an underground sport with home hobbyists continuing to make boards in their garages or strap trucks onto snowboard decks using old Kryptonic wheels from the 70's or roller skating wheels.

In the early 1990s, Sector 9 started mass-producing and selling longboards.[5] The 1990s also saw a change in truck technology: reverse kingpins made longboarding more stable.

The Internet has made it possible for small groups of skateboarders to communicate with each other and also gain an audience they might not have had locally, allowing the sport to grow further. Multiple subbranches of longboarding exist with relatively small but hardcore groups of adherents like slalom, LDP (long distance pushing/pumping), downhill, dance, freeriding, technical hardwheel sliding and more.

Besides diversifying into many "species", longboarding itself has also come back around full circle and is embracing more street oriented tricks and cross over events using ramps too as well as embracing its earlier beginnings in slalom, ditch skating and just speed itself and cornering.


A longboard generally can be as short or as long as the rider desires, though the board should not be longer than the rider's height, as that would cause loss of control. The most popular length-range is about 32 to 60 inches. (Average skateboards are 28″- 32″, with most being about 31-31.5 inches long.[6]

As well as usually being longer than a trick deck skateboard, longboards are typically equipped with larger, softer wheels which afford a smoother, faster ride.[7] However, depending on the durometer of the wheels used, it can be slower. There are many different uses for longboards, as shown below. Since longboards use softer bushings than a typical tech skateboard, carving is generally easier. Some trucks use springs instead of bushings, such as Seismic trucks, or Original trucks. Original trucks also feature a wave-cam mechanism to control the lean and turn of the truck. The truck can usually be slightly wider than the board, but this is not always the case.



The most basic use of a longboard is travel. Commuter designs take many different shapes, including long, wide cruisers as well as shorter hybrid type boards. Their trucks are designed to be loose to allow for sharper turns. It is useful to have a kicktail on a commuting longboard in order to corner on sidewalks and to lift the front of the board when riding off curbs.

Also, one may prefer a shorter board, around 24"-35" for commuting, as well as medium-sized wheels (65mm-75mm) which help commuters maneuver bumps, cracks and other minor surface obstacles. For longer distances, a heavier (or longer) board and larger wheels will maintain the momentum from a push longer, making them ideal in that sense. One problem with this way of travel is that in some places it can be illegal. There have been cases when a longboarder has received a ticket for longboarding in certain areas, because some consider longboarding skateboarding.[8]

Example of longboarding


Slaloming is the act of weaving in and out of a line of obstacles. Riders often compete for the best time but pedestrian slalom (usually referred to as civilian slalom because of the alliteration) is a non-competitive form of this discipline in which riders simply swerve around whatever obstacles they find in their path while navigating from point A to B. Slalomers usually have very soft and grippy wheels in the back to grip through the turns, and slightly harder wheels in the front to reduce rolling resistance and reach higher speeds. Slalom riders propel themselves by carving and gyrating their bodies, a technique known as carving.


Freeriding can involve sliding and other tricks such as early grabs (where one grips the side of the board while on the ground and thrusts upward to become airborne) at medium to high speeds. The decks, which are often symmetrical, may have kicktails on both sides that allow for tech slides. These decks are typically from 36-44 inches long and from 8.5-10.5 inches wide. Most freeride decks utilize similar construction to downhill boards. Some companies are now trying to produce freeride decks that also do freestyle. They make these hybrid boards by adding kicktails and striving to make the boards out of lighter materials.


Wet weather freeride downhill on a Landyachtz Evo longboard, Bo Peep hill, UK, 2012

Downhill longboarding involves riding down hills as fast as possible and keeping the board under control. Speeds in excess of 80 mph have been obtained.[9][10] These boards are usually 95–110 cm (35–44 inches) long, featuring wheel bases from 28-35 inches, and very stiff to improve control at speed. "Speed wobbles" pose a problem for beginner downhill riders but intermediate and advanced users overcome this by learning to relax and control their muscles. Downhill decks usually fall into Six categories: topmount, micro drop, drop thru, drop deck, double drop and flush mount. Topmount boards provide the most traction, but tend to be less forgiving. Micro Drops lower the ride height slightly, which results in a great all around board. Drop thru decks consist of mounting the baseplates of the trucks on top of the board with the trucks hanging through a hole. Like micro drops these tend to be all around boards and were very popular 2009-2011. Drop Decks get the rider very close to the ground, providing an easy to push and drifty ride. Double Drop decks are a drop deck with drop thru truck mounts. These decks were fairly popular in the mid 2000s but have largely fell out of favor due to their unresponsiveness. Flush mounts seek to lower the ride height by mounting the trucks in a recessed area on the board. This minimally lowers ride height but increases the chance for wheel bite (which is where the wheels rub against the board in a turn, usually resulting in a crash). The vast majority of downhill long boards are built from wood. The three most common woods used are Maple, Baltic Birch and Bamboo. Maple is less prone to fracturing during construction than Baltic Birch, and as such is used in almost all high end boards. Other materials used in long board construction are: 1) Carbon fiber with a foam, balsa or hollow core. 2) Aluminum, either pressed or milled. And 3) Carbon Nano Tubes, although this proved prone to failure and no current company is using this material.

Downhill boards and freeride boards are often used interchangeably. The main distinguishing factor is that downhill boards are usually directional, with a defined front and rear, while freeride boards are symmetrical front to back.

Downhill longboarders usually use Reverse Kingpin Trucks (RKP), whereas skateboarders use Traditional Kingpin Trucks. RKP trucks tend to hold traction better and are easier to handle at speed, whereas TKP trucks are more suited for tricks, bowl skating and usually sport a lower ride height. Other forms of trucks have been seen in downhill but remain on the sidelines. These would include torsion trucks (seismic) and CAM trucks (Other Planet). Downhill trucks are separated into two further categories: Cast and Precision. Cast trucks are the economical choice as well as the most common, although Precision Trucks are becoming more common. Cast trucks are usually a gravity cast aluminum with a solid steel axle that is non-removable. Due to the casting process cast trucks have 'slop' which is caused by small gaps in between parts. This causes small shifts and movements at speed and results in slightly diminished control. Cast trucks are also prone to warping slightly, causing uneven contact pressure on the wheels. Precision trucks can counter these limitations at a much higher price tag, although not all brands achieve this equally. Precision trucks are milled out of Aluminum billet and usually house two separate axles.

The angle and width of trucks also come into play with most falling in the 35°-52° range. A 45° truck is the center point, providing an equal ratio of lean to turn while also providing the most overall turn. A higher degree truck initiates a turn faster with less lean, but reduces the overall turn of the system. This is useful for riders seeking to maximize traction. A lower angle truck initiates a turn slower with more lean, and this results in less overall turn. These trucks are useful for making sliding easier, and also for many beginners who are struggling with speed wobble. The most common widths used are 150-200mm, with 175mm and 180mm being the most common. Generally a narrower truck increases traction but is less forgiving. However this is directly related to the width of the board as the truck and the board work together to form a level against the bushing.


Dancing is a resurgence of old-school tricks in longboarding that involves a variety of walking and spinning moves. Dancing originates from boardwalking in surfing. A board is usually considered a dancing board when it is around 45+ inches long and can be up to 12 inches wide, and although most of the tricks can be performed on smaller decks, a larger deck provides a more comfortable platform and takes no skill to maneuver.


A longboard is not only defined by its length. The trucks on a longboard are typically made for better turning ability than standard skateboard trucks, and the wheels are usually larger and softer than standard skateboard wheels to make for a smooth ride. Cruisers have these features but are the length of a normal skateboard (around 22-30 inches).

A mini longboard is typically shaped similarly to the retro-style skateboards of the early 80's. Some mini longboards have kicktails for jumping off curbs and lifting the board while commuting. Many skaters choose mini longboards for commuting as they are the ideal size to carry around or put in a locker.


Drop-through longboard deck

Longboards can be used for traveling long distances. Long distance skating with charitable fundraising has even emerged (see Charitable distance skating). Any skateboard can be used for long distance journeys, however, decks designed specifically for long distance trips are typically lower to the ground than regular top mounted longboards. Common ways to lower the decks are in the construction of the boards; drop-through mounting[11] allows for the whole board to be mounted lower on the trucks and can be combined with a drop-down deck. Drop-down decks are shaped to allow your feet to ride lower than where the trucks are mounted. A lower deck increases stability and makes for easy pushing and foot braking.



In downhill a An American tuck involves the rider tucking his/her back knee right behind his/her front knee and leaning onto his/her front thigh. Many find this tuck to be one of the most comfortable to hold while providing for a very flat, aerodynamic back with a small frontal profile. This tuck results in larger draft pocket behind the rider, which is used in a race to pass.

A Euro tuck involves the rider tucking his/her back knee right behind his/her front ankle and leaning onto his/her front thigh. This tuck gets the rider very low, but many find it to be uncomfortable and it creates a larger frontal profile which creates drag. It does reduce the draft pocket by guiding the air downwards due to the curved back.

A Hybrid tuck involves the rider tucking his/her back knee into the middle of his/her front calf. This tuck provides a balance between the Euro and American, taking some of the advantages and disadvantages of each.

A Brazilian tuck consists of the rider placing his/her back knee directly onto the board next to or behind the front foot. This Tuck has largely fallen out of favor for competitive riding. This is because it creates a very large frontal section that dramatically increases aerodynamic drag. It's mostly used by beginners or as a resting position for some people during very long runs.

A classic Tuck is one that was primarily used in the 1980s and 90s. However some modern events, such as the MT Tabor Challenge in Portland Oregon, require this tuck to increase the difficulty on mellow hills. The tuck involves placing both feet at the front of the board, touching with one foot slightly behind the other. The rider then crouches down somewhat similar to a modern tuck. This tuck provides a severely reduced amount of control due to the rider having minimal control over the rear trucks. Further the stance has higher aerodynamic drag than other tucks.


Because of the high speed a longboard can achieve (much faster than running), being able to brake quickly is extremely important. Before learning braking techniques, it is common for riders to jump off the moving board and 'run out' their speed, but this is safe only at low speeds. This technique is considered dangerous and is least accepted in the longboarding community. If the rider is traveling faster than the speed at which they can run, other techniques are required, for example footbraking or sliding. Footbraking is the method of the rider dragging his foot on the ground while moving to slow himself down. However, this wears away the soles of shoes, creating holes that are potentially dangerous to the feet. More advanced riders use 'slide' methods of braking. Sliding is the method of pushing the edge of the board out so it is traveling sideways rather than forwards, and the wheels are sliding against the ground. The resulting friction slows the board down dramatically. Factors such as the height and length of the board and, crucially, durometer (softness) of the wheels affect how easy this is to do and how fast the rider must be travelling to achieve effective slides. Sliding also requires an efficient and precise use of body weight in order to be fully effective.[12]

Land Paddling

Land paddling.

Land Paddling is the use of a long pole or stick while longboarding. The stick is used to propel the longboarder further without pumping. The stick also maintains balance and can be used as a brake. This variation was invented by Steve McBride of Kahuna Creations.[13]


Sliding is the most effective braking technique for downhill skateboarders. It allows a skater to reduce his or her speed much more quickly than footbraking, but requires a wider area depending on his ability to control the slide. It has also evolved into its own discipline of skateboarding, with riders performing various tricks and rotations while sliding. Sliding can be performed on any wheel. Harder wheels (83-86a) will slide less smoothly and break traction easier while softer wheels (70-80a) will be harder to break traction but will lead to a smoother more controllable slide. Softer wheels, especially (70-75a), tend to wear out faster. Slides can be done standing upright or with one or two hands placed on the road to allow the rider to execute technical slides in any number of positions. When performing hands-down slides, protective slide gloves must be worn. These gloves can be purchased or made at home. They are usually leather gloves with sliding pucks made of hard, low-friction plastics such as UHMWPE, Corian, or Delrin attached by velcro or glue. Sliding gloves can also be bought online or at local skate shops. Gloves are commonly made by companies such as Sector 9, Vault, Landyachtz, Arbor and Loaded. Slides can also be performed on banks and transitions in a skate park. When a skater slides to a complete stop, it is called a shutdown slide. A drift that reduces the rider's speed without bringing him to a complete stop is called a speed check. Riders will also do a partial slide called a pre-drift before a corner to trim speed and then hook back up and grip the corner. When the board rotates more than 90 degrees and then returns to its original position over the course of the slide it is called a pendulum. There are myriad more technical and challenging slides that can be done such as laybacks, pressure spins, 5-0 slides, and stand-up rotations. One of the most popular slide and most basic hands-down slide is called the Coleman. Made popular by Cliff Coleman, the Coleman slide is the most popular slide used to come to a complete stop, as you do a complete 180 degree turn with one hand on the ground.

Foot Braking

Foot braking involves putting one foot on the road while balancing on the board with the other foot. This technique can be used to reduce speed or come to a full stop. This is helpful in racing or in tight situations where the rider does not feel comfortable sliding, or when a rider only needs to lose a small amount of speed prior to entering a turn. However this method can be wasteful and tends to destroy shoes as the sole of the shoe is worn away and doesn't shed speed nearly as fast as sliding.

A much less common form of foot braking is frog braking. This is where the rider grabs rail on both sides of the board and than stomps a foot down while crouched. This method allows the rider to shed speed much faster than a normal foot brake due the rider being able to apply much greater pressure against the road. This method still does not slow the rider down as much as a slide and is considered 'odd' by most riders.

Another variation of foot braking is a sit brake. This involves the rider going from a standing position to sitting on the board and putting both feet down. This method can be useful in a tight situation where the rider must stop very quickly but does not have enough room to slide.


Carving is an effective way to control speed when traveling downhill. Instead of coming to a complete stop, the rider makes a continuous "S" path by leaning left and right. By making many turns speed can be controlled and maintained.

Boards with camber are specifically designed for carving. A camber board is usually made of a flexible wood like bamboo, and the center of the deck will be higher than the mounting point of the trucks creating an arc shape. When weight is applied the center will bend down, creating a reverse of the arc shape. This builds spring tension, that is released at the peak of every complete turn in the "S" pattern.


Pumping a skateboard is a technique used and perfected in slalom skateboarding. It is a technique used to maintain speed without the rider taking his or her feet off of the skateboard. The motion itself is somewhat unorthodox and it requires the rider to be very in sync with his or her center of gravity and skateboard. The act of pumping a longboard is the bending of ones knees in the direction of a turn to compensate for the gravitational forces in order to maintain speed. Boards made specifically for pumping usually consist of large longboard wheels which range anywhere from 60mm to 80mm. These wheels are normally soft to promote grip and have rebound urethane to maintain the resilience of the wheel. The trucks on the skateboard are also essential to how it will pump. Bennett Vectors are a very popular pumping truck and when mixed with the right durometer (measure of hardness) bushings experienced boarders can travel long distances without touching a foot to the ground. In a skateboarding world full of kick flips and 900’s, pumping had become virtually extinct. Now it is beginning to make a revival with the popularity of alternative transportation and longboard distance skating.

Early grabs

Early grabbing is a technique of achieving height that originated in old school skateboarding, in which the rider grabs the board and lifts it while initiating a jumping motion. The most common technique of doing this is by placing the right hand on the backside of the board between the legs, for this tends to be the technique that gives the body the least resistance when jumping/lifting. Although this has become semi-obsolete due to freeriding alternatives with kicktails which have the ability to ollie (ex. Loaded Chubby Unicorn, Omen Sugar, DK penguin), it is commonly practiced on decks that lack tails (ex. Landyachtz 9 two 5, Comet Grease Shark, Earthwing Supermodel) and can be used to navigate the environment more easily (over ledges, off ledges, and off kickers).

Air brake

Air braking involves standing upright on your board as tall as possible with arms outstretched to catch as much wind resistance as possible. This is primarily done in speedboarding to reduce speed before a tight turn. It is not meant to stop the rider, but rather slow the rider to maintain control and stability. The effect is most noticeable at higher speeds and can be enhanced by deploying a Sporting-Sail, jacket or other article of clothing, forming a parachute. This can also be achieved by spreading your arms and standing up from your tuck.


A train involves a group of riders riding in a straight line down a hill. The front rider drafts for the following riders, who in turn use their hands to push the front rider through the wind for increased overall speed for the entire group. This technique requires skill and practice because riders are in such close proximity.


Drafting is used by downhill riders to increase speed and pass other riders. It involves riding directly behind another rider to take advantage of the rider in front breaking the wind. A successful draft can greatly increase speed. The drafting rider waits until the last second to break from out behind the front rider to maximize the speed gained.


Longboarding is associated with a different pattern of injuries than is skateboarding. Many longboarding injuries are sustained while going downhill, while very few skateboarding accidents happen while going downhill. Longboarding injuries tend to involve head and neck areas more than skateboarding injuries, which are more likely to involve a skater's lower extremities.[14]

Scholars Glenn Keays and Alex Dumas found media reports of five longboard-related deaths in Canada and the United States during 2012, and four in 2013.[14] A number of municipalities—most notably Vancouver—have considered banning or restricting longboarding, expressing concern with the speeds longboarders can reach.[15][16][17][18][19]

See also


  1. ^ a b "The History of Longboarding | Sports Then and Now". Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  2. ^ Gillogly, Brian (1978). "The Cult of the Longboard". 
  3. ^ "Longboard Lingo - The Complete Guide to Longboard Slang". Stoked Skateboards. Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  4. ^ Brooke, Michael (2003). "Carving, cruising, and bombing: the story of longboarding". The concrete wave : the history of skateboarding (5th printing ed.). Toronto, Ont.: Warwick. pp. 168–169.  
  5. ^ Brooke, Michael (2003). "Carving, cruising, and bombing: the story of longboarding". The concrete wave : the history of skateboarding (5th printing ed.). Toronto, Ont.: Warwick. pp. 169–170.  
  6. ^ Mike. "What size skateboard do I need?". Warehouse Skateboards. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  7. ^ Brooke, Michael (2003). "Carving, cruising, and bombing: the story of longboarding". The concrete wave : the history of skateboarding (5th printing ed.). Toronto, Ont.: Warwick. p. 171.  
  8. ^ Dehaas, Josh. But it's not a skateboard': fans say it's eco-friendly, cops say it's risky. The fight over longboarding"'". Article. Maclean's. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  9. ^ "Fastest skateboard speed, standing". Guinness Book of World Records. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  10. ^ "Mischo Erban breaks Guinness World skateboard speed record – Again". longboardism. June 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  11. ^ "Understanding Longboard Decks". Windward Boardshop. 10/1/2015. 
  12. ^ "Longboarding essentials". Tactics. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  13. ^ Goodman, Liam. "Land Paddling is Coming to a Bicycle Lane Near You". Vogue. Vogue. Retrieved 30 June 2009. 
  14. ^ a b Keays, Glenn; Dumas, Alex. "Longboard and skateboard injuries". Injury 45 (8): 1215–1219.  
  15. ^ "Should longboarding be banned on public streets?". CBC News. 12 June 2013. Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  16. ^ Shepherd, Jeremy (1 February 2012). "Longboarders given a break on North Shore but could face future ban". The Province. Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  17. ^ "Concerns Growing Over Longboarding Safety In Dallas". Polk County Itemizer-Observer. 24 June 2013. Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  18. ^ Payne, Sarah (10 July 2014). "Coquitlam aims to ban longboarding". Tri-City News. Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  19. ^ Warnica, Richard (2 April 2014). "Freedom to ride?". Maclean's 125 (12): 24. 

External links

  • Longboarding at DMOZ
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