Longboard vs Skateboard: Decoding the Two
Before learning the differences between a skateboard and longboard and a couple of other board types, it’s imperative to know what the term kateboard’ means. A skateboard is basically a generic or umbrella word that encompasses all types of boards, including longboards and cruisers. When a board is called just skateboard, the term basically denotes the standard version. Longboards, on the other hand, are basically longer versions of the regular skateboard. There are quite a few other differences too between them, which would be discussed in the remainder of this piece.
Kindly note the objective of the article is just to help readers learn more about skateboards and the different variants. The goal is not to praise a particular type of board and heavily criticize another type so as to influence anyone’s buying decisions. Using proper judgment and using this guide as a base for the skateboard purchase decision are highly advised.
Which is Easy: Skateboard or Longboard?
It’s subjective or dependent on the skills of the skater. In other words, not all beginners would find the skateboard easier to roll with when compared to a longboard, and vice versa. Longboards, thanks to their length and the added room they offer for larger feet, are easier to balance. They are bulkier and heavier than skateboards, which help with stability even when moving at higher speeds. Skateboards are smaller and lighter. They are usually used to perform tricks and do not necessarily help with commuting.
Most people who buy a skateboard for the first time usually buy a longboard because it’s a lot easier to ride. However, skateboards are easier to carry around, can be stored inside a school locker, strapped to a bag or backpack, and easily carried while commuting by bus or train. Also, skateboards are a bit more affordable. So, if the budget is limited or a buyer would like to save money while shopping for a skating board, a regular skateboard would be easier on the pocket.
Should I Skateboard or Longboard?
It depends on what one intends to do with the board. If one is more into performing tricks and would like to carry around the board easily, a skateboard would be the best bet. However, if one is new to skateboarding and wants a skateboard to learn or hone their skating skills, a longboard would serve them better.
People who like to show off their skating skills, a skateboard would make sense since the heft of a longboard would hinder any fancy skating they may like to put on display. Only the most experienced skaters would be able to pull off acrobatic moves with a longboard.
Kids should generally choose a skateboard suitable for their age because they would be more at ease on the lighter, smaller board. Others should choose between a skateboard or longboard based on the kind of riding they prefer, or the specific skating skills they may like to work on.
A longboard is a solid commuter. It has the build and wheels made for real roads. If the purpose behind buying a skateboard is using it to go to and from school or while running errands, a longboard’s stability and reliability would help. In fact, one can longboard several miles at a stretch without feeling unsafe or rattled at any point.
Are Longboards Safer Than Skateboards?
There is always some amount of risk attached to skating, irrespective of the board being used. How safe a skateboard is depends on how good the skater is and the skating surface. If an amateur photographer gets handed a high-end mirrorless camera, the pictures taken may still end up average or trash since good images happen only when the camera guy’s skills and the camera’s prowess work in synchronization. Similar is the case with skateboards and their level of safety.
That said, a longboard is usually considered safer than skateboards because it’s a lot more stable and roomier. One can move around the board until they find a comfortable and secure stance on it. For a seasoned skater, safety would not be an issue with either of the two. But since the focus here is more on the beginner skater, longboards do tend to have an edge over regular skateboards in the safety department.
Longboards are safer for fast and downhill skating, since they’re designed for the exact same purpose. Skateboards aren’t ideal for long-term balancing, which means they aren’t truly cut out for getting around town or commuting. But they are safer to ride in tight spaces. And since longboards are meant for the roads and not for hanging around skating parks, they could pose some danger when on the streets. For instance, every time a skater heads out to ride a longboard downhill at a decent speed, they risk hurting themselves.
To stay safe while skateboarding, it’s important to wear protective gear, such as a helmet, to mitigate injuries. To derive the maximum value out of skateboarding sessions, one should feel at ease on the board. Taking safety precautions would help feel comfortable or not vulnerable. Perhaps a skater would be more at ease with themselves if their head is encased safely in a proper skating helmet. In addition, wearing elbow and knee pads is equally important, along with closed-toe, flat-soled shoes so that one is less likely to be injured in case they trip or fall off the board.
Are Longboards Skateboards?
As mentioned earlier, a longboard is basically a variant of the regular skateboard. Technically, a longboard is a skateboard, but it is unique in its own way. The purpose, shape, and overall design of a longboard are different compared to a skateboard. Longboards are also usually well-made since most longboard users use the board as a true commuter.
Regular skateboards, on the other hand, could be made of either wood or plastic. They’re usually plastic-made so that they are light enough to perform flips, ollies, darkslide airs, etc. Though some may use skateboards for transportation and cruising on a smooth plane, the small wheels and plastic build of the board may not be able to handle the small rocks and minor indentations of the not-so-smooth road surfaces.
Comparing Longboard, Skateboard, and Penny Board
The skateboard is a popular board for skating, closely followed by the longboard. Skateboards are distinctive with their rectangular shape, rounded ends, and a width that’s usually in the 7.5 to 8 inches range. Their wheels are harder, smaller, and highly durable compared to a longboard. Skateboards are usually seen used on surfaces with different obstacles, such as U-ramps and in skate parks. They are also great for short park or urban rides.
Longboards, as the name indicates, are a bit longer than skateboards. They are usually a meter longer. The shape of the board varies, based on its purpose (downhill, road, uphill riding). The prolonged tear is a very common longboard shape. Compared to skateboards, longboards come with bigger wheels and wider trucks for quicker riding.
Based on the riding style one prefers, the wheels’ hardness levels would vary. These boards are usually made for fast riding on tarmacs. Usually, a longboard skater’s movements while riding are quite similar to the movements of a surfer. Longboards can also be used on tracks, in parks, or when riding downhill. One may find smaller or mini versions of longboards too. They are usually narrower, shorter, and complement urban riding better.
Penny boards were once popular only among more experienced skaters. However, the board’s popularity has risen since and a lot more people, particularly the younger generation, can be seen riding them. A penny board is shorter and usually plastic-made and doesn’t offer the best of grips. But they are also a lot more convenient and maneuverable. Thanks to their rounded tip, they look more like a longboard. The wheels are usually the size of longboard rolls, which give the board increased stability and surface adherence.
Due to its relatively diminutive size, penny boards are not particularly popular in skate parks. However, experienced skaters can be seen using these boards in parks and also on U-ramps. The low weight and small size make a penny board much more portable compared to the other two. A penny board is more for experienced skaters.
Comparing Longboard, Skateboard, and Cruiser
The major difference between the three is: longboards are meant for long distances, skateboards are designed for tricks, and cruisers are for short commutes. However, the three don’t look much different from each other, at least to the noob. Upon closer inspection, one would come to know the differences in length, wheel size, build quality, shapes, etc. between the three.
A cruiser’s length can be anywhere between 25 and 37 inches. Longboards start at 36 inches. Skateboards are usually 30 to 32 inches in length. Longboards also have the bigger wheels, starting at 60mm and going up from there. Skateboard wheels could be anywhere between 50 and 60mm in diameter. Cruiser wheels are usually 55 to 65mm. Longboards and cruisers have softer wheels comparatively.
The shape and structure between the three vary too. Skateboards are usually on the stiffer side. Longboards, however, may give in a bit. Cruisers are fairly rigid too like skateboards. As far as ride quality goes, skateboards fall short on momentum in comparison to cruisers and longboards. And this shouldn’t be a surprise since skateboards are meant primarily for performing and showing off skating tricks and techniques. And since longboards and cruisers are more commuter-friendly, they can ride rough surfaces with relative ease.
Comparing Longboard and Shortboard Skateboard
Besides the length difference (which their names giveaway), the wheels on a longboard and shortboard skateboard are different. The latter usually has harder and smaller wheels. The toughness of the wheels helps with sliding on hard surfaces. Shortboards typically facilitate tricks and carrying out technical spins and complicated jumps.
Longboards are more travel-oriented or keen on taking a skater from point A to B. The wheels are larger and softer, ensuring high-speed and smooth riding. The wheels’ softness, in fact, helps riding over cracks and bumps. The grip on the surface would be much better. The board, as a result, will not slide. The board’s length also adds to the overall stability.
Longboard vs Skateboard: Which One’s Ideal for Beginners?
According to most skaters, the standard skateboard is ideal to get started with skating. However, if one is a bit worried about balance and wants the board to play an active role in helping them balance, a longboard would be a better option. Longboards are made to ride smooth and easy. They are also a lot more stable on a surface, thanks to their longer and wider frame. Also, the wheels are a lot more robust than regular skateboards. This means the chances of tipping over are significantly reduced.
However, longboards are usually on the heavier side and a young skater may, therefore, find handling the board a tad tricky. For young skaters who have small feet and are generally not worried about space on the board, a standard skateboard would be a good starting board. A shorter longboard can also be an option.
Besides speed and balance, another important aspect of skateboarding is braking. Not knowing how to brake a skateboard properly is akin to learning how to start a car but not knowing how to stop it. To learn skateboard braking, the length and stability of a longboard would help the most.
At the learning stage, choosing a board of the best quality is equally important. A well-built skateboard would last long and help a skater develop their skills better. If one is still not sure and budget is not a concern, a longboard is an ideal starter skateboard. It’s not just easier to learn, but also simpler to balance, thanks to the sizes and shapes longboards come in.
Both longboarding and skateboarding have their strengths and weaknesses. How much one ends up enjoying either of the two depends on what they’re looking for in a skating board. Therefore, before choosing a skating board, knowing personal requirements or the real objective behind buying the board matters. Considering skating location, cruising speed, etc. is important too. If one clearly knows why they are buying a skateboard and what to expect from their purchase, they would have a great time using the skateboard.