Skateboards, longboards, penny boards, mini cruisers…so many names, so many questions.
Which is which? Why are they different? What is better for you?
The answers come very quickly when you get into skating, but it’s better to be knowledgeable beforehand.
Here, we’ll discuss the difference between a longboard and a skateboard.
A small change for a longer deck can make all the difference for your riding experience. As well as getting a skateboard instead will improve your chances of learning those difficult tricks.
Here you’ll have an opportunity to look at skateboards and longboards in an unbiased way. We’ve gathered dry facts about the difference between the two, as well as some pros and cons of every type of board.
So, are you ready for a ride?
Longboard Vs. Skateboard: What’s the Difference?
Generally speaking, a longboard is a long skateboard. Anything of the type is a skateboard used for a certain riding style. But there are differences, and you have to know about them if you’re into skating.
Skateboards are usually used for skatepark riding and trick practicing and performing. When you see someone doing crazy flips with their board, that is most definitely skateboard.
They are easier to control, incredibly responsive, and literally jump into the air should you apply some skills. Everything in a skateboard can be customized for tricks only: the wheels, the shape of the deck, the trucks looseness, etc.
Longboards are most usually used for cruising, urban commute, carving, and downhill riding. They are larger, more spacious, and remind a mode of transportation more than a light board you can fly with doing sick flips.
Longboards are built to keep you stable, provide excellent traction, and make sure you’re safe and balanced during your urban rides.
Those often involve high speeds, and even a small movement can throw a skateboard to the side, while a longer board will absorb the movement and balance the ride.
The main difference, of course, is the length. A skateboard is usually 28”-34” long and 7”-10” wide. Longboards are somewhere between 35”-60” with 9”-10” deck width.
A longer deck means more stability and balance. There’s more space for any shoe size, so you can feel safe and well-balanced even at high speeds.
Longboards aren’t as responsive usually because you don’t need it when, say, downhill riding. An slight accidental movement won’t make the board go crazy, given you’ll be riding at quite a speed.
The shapes are very common, the choice depends on your riding style. You can get a pintail longboard or the one with symmetrical kicktails. The latter comes in skateboard sizes as well.
The shape pretty much determines what a board can do. But as longboards are most commonly used as cruisers, there aren’t many elements trick-wise that such a deck needs, right?
Wheels for longboards are larger in diameter. For a skateboard, you can get wheels as small as 50mm. They will give you good acceleration and make trick-mastering a delight.
For the streets, it’s better to go somewhere around 55-60mm – larger contact patch for extra stability, yet the responsiveness of a street wheel is still amazing. Cruisers can go with the same wheel size.
When it comes to longboard, larger wheels are needed. There are models up to 85mm and even more for special models. A larger wheel provides faster overall speed, and a wider contact patch makes the whole board more stable.
There will be a lot of abuse while you’re trying to master a move, and the grip isn’t your priority when you’re in the air a lot. 99a wheels and harder are the best for that.
If you need more street skating, go down to 85a-95a. And if we’re talking about a cruiser, getting something between 78a and 85a will be a great ides.
As to the longboards, again, they are used as cruisers much more often, so softer wheels are a priority here. You can get them as soft as 75a, but keep in mind that they wear much faster.
However, such wheels provide amazing grip capabilities, being able to keep going no matter the terrain. This is great for cruising and downhill riding. If you need more sliding, a harder set should suit your longboard better.
So, usually, the wheel situation is the following:
- For skateboards, get smaller and harder sets;
- For longboards, get larger and softer sets.
When you learn how to do that, most longboards will feel like a vacation once you get used to the size.
A longboard is built to offer more stability, that’s why it’s so great for beginners to start with one. Such a board can also be responsive and break into slides as easy as 1, 2, 3, but you’ll still feel safer and more in control of the overall ride.
Pros and Cons of a Skateboard
When choosing which one to get, it’s important to know what advantages and disadvantages a skateboard has, in general.
Think of your priorities and what you will need the board for, and these points will give you an almost clear understanding of what you need.
- Carrying convenience.
Comparing to longboards, skateboards are quite light and easy to carry due to their dimensions. You can put it into a locker at school and carry it around for an hour and not get tired. Yet, it’s better to pay attention to the “weight” section of the skateboard’s description before getting it.
While custom-made branded skateboards can still cost you a lot, a regular one will be cheaper than a regular longboard. You can find one for less than $100, but it’s better to pay attention to the ratio of price and quality.
- Great choice variety.
There are so many brands now offering their best designs that it’s easy to get lost. You may want a crazy combination that only appears in dreams, and we bet there is just such a model somewhere online.
- Might not suit complete beginners.
If your goal is to learn how to skate on a skateboard, you’ll have to deal with the fact it will be wobbly and shaky at first. However, if you’re getting a present for an 8-year-old, a full skateboard might not be the best idea. There are penny boards – small, plastic boards that can be used both for training and casual cruising. They are smaller, lighter, and easier for a kid to master.
- You can’t lock it.
Unlike a bike, you’ll need to carry a board with you at all times. We believe in the best of humanity, but it’s actually very easy to get your possessions taken without asking.
- You can damage your shoes.
Due to a lot of kicking and other moves you have to do to master a trick, the griptape of a skateboard might damage your shoes. That’s why there are special ones for skating and longboarding that are protected against the most common types of damage.
Pros and Cons of a Longboard
As anything, longboards also have their pros and cons. Which one to pay attention to depends on what you want to do with the board in the first place.
There’s no perfect thing for everything and anything, so you’ll have to give something to get superior performance and successful goal achievement.
A longboard will make it feel like you’re levitating, riding at high speed without much effort. Everything in a longboard is created to keep you stable, no matter if you cruise, slide, or go downhill. A deck, depending on the shape, is usually constructed to make sure you stay tall and strong and feel comfortable. The trucks create a relatively low wheelbase, providing – you guessed it – more stability. The wheels are large and soft to stabilize you at higher speeds. The bearings are pre-lubed and rolling excellently to make sure you can develop those higher speeds.
Larger, heavier riders, or just those who appreciate more space on a deck, love themselves a big, spacious longboard. There’s a lot of room for shoes of any size, any leg position that makes it more convenient for you to ride.
- Great mode of transportation.
Considering the aforementioned pros, a longboard becomes a standalone mode of transportation where you push a couple of times and can just appreciate the view around. All the other things are the board’s responsibilities (except for turning and stopping when needed, of course – keep an eye on the road).
- Great choice variety.
A top-mount, a drop-through, a pintail shape, art or no art, bright or classic wheels, precision trucks or regular ones, the colors, the sizes – there’s a plethora of options that will suit anyone’s taste. If you want a large neon board with transparent wheels, two dogs and a horse on the griptape, and LED lights somewhere on the side – you can find such a board online.
Not exactly a con, maybe more of an obligation – you have to maintain your board a lot if riding frequently at high speeds. While it’s your responsibility no matter the type of the board, due to the size, a 50” unit might be more difficult to maintain. You’ll have to clean the bearings and lube them to make sure the wheels for perfectly. You’ll have to wax the needed parts to prolong the board’s life and get rid of squeaking if there’s any. You’ll need to interchange the wheels if possible so that the wear is even, check the trucks and bearings for integrity, etc. There’s a lot to do, and not everyone may have the time and effort for it.
A longboard needs more materials to be made, so the price may become an issue. While there are loads of reasonably-priced longboards (and skateboards as well), if you’re after a custom-made model or a popular brand, get ready to invest quite a bit. If you choose a board that is durable and sturdy, has high-quality elements in its construction, those $200-$300 will pay off by years of use without an issue. But the fact remains that you may need to save for a couple of months to get the needed model.
A longboard weighs much more than a skateboard, so carrying it casually might be difficult. You’ll need a special bag or case, but it won’t reduce the overall weight. Although a board is for riding it and not carrying, there are some terrains where you will have no other choice. So make sure you choose a board that you can carry without a lot of difficulties.
To Sum Up
Now you know all the difference between a longboard and a skateboard. It turns out there’s so much more to it than the deck length, right? Wheelbase, wheel size and durometer, shapes, not to mention your riding style and purpose.
Make sure you remember all these points when choosing a new board for yourself. And if you want to try something new, switch from one to another and try a new riding style!
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