Longboarding, also referred to as “sidewalk surfing”, is an
offshoot of street skating that combines surfing and skateboarding. It
originated in the state of Hawaii around the late 1950’s and was further developed as a
sport on the Westcoast of the United States, primarily in California in the
1970’s. Surfers were seeking a similar ride in the streets when the waves were
flat. By the 1990’s, a resurgence in board sports such as skateboarding and
snowboarding was seen, and the “board culture” grew significantly.
The Boarding House is proud to be the core company in Medicine Hat that
supplies all the best action sports equiptment.
If you’ve ever looked into
longboarding or skateboarding you’ve probably come across terms like bushings,
bearings, and trucks. Most people have no idea what these are or what their
importance is when they start boarding. This will demonstrate the anatomy of a
typical longboard and attempt to clear up the purpose and importance of the
individual parts so that anyone buying a board will know what’s good, and what
to stay clear of.
The largest part of the board is the deck. The term deck refers only to the long,
usually wooden, plank that the rider stands on. These come in a variety of
lengths and shapes. The image to the right demonstrates some typical longboard
designs. Notice that these boards are usually more narrow towards the ends or
have carved out spaces at either side of both ends of the deck. This is
different from traditional skateboards and is required in longboard decks for
two reasons. The first is that longboards are usually used to turn more sharply
than skateboards. This requires that the board be able to tilt relatively far
to one side. The other reason is that longboards typically have wheels that are
wider and larger in diameter than skateboards. The danger of these two things
is that the board will touch the spinning wheels when the rider attempts to
turn. Since raising the board higher to get away from the wheels, would make
for a higher center of gravity, and a more unstable ride, the only other option
is to shape the deck around the wheels so that they do not touch while turning.
The trucks are the
metal section that attaches the wheels of the longboard to the deck. Trucks
affect the stability, as well as the turn-y-ness. Contrary to what most people
think, certain trucks aren’t really less prone to speed wobbles than others
(stability doesn’t translate into less speed wobbles). And tightening the
trucks, which makes the boards’ turning radius smaller, doesn’t either.
Instead, it’s how you distribute your weight on the board, along with
experience and confidence. Quick tip: if you feel your board start to lose
control, and you want to avoid the speed wobbles rather than come to a stop, shift
your weight forwards over the front truck. This is the reason why the optimal
down-hilling form includes leaning forwards. Different trucks also affect how
the longboard pushes; the lower they are (measured by angle), the easier they
are to push.
Longboard wheels are…
well, wheels. And bearings are the parts that connect the wheels to the trucks.
The wheels are also measured by durometers. Higher durometers constitute harder
wheels(example; 82a is harder than 78a), which makes sliding on a board
slightly easier. The key word here is “slightly”, as many people think that
hard wheels are an end-all be-all solution to their sliding problems. The
simple truth is that all wheels slide, you just have to practice and learn how
to for yourself. Bearings affect how long the wheels spin per push. Bones Reds,
one of the most popular bearings, are more than good enough for the average
longboarder. These also don’t have a drastic effect on how your board rides
(unless you want to maximize your speed, in which you’ll have to pay quite a
bit more for ceramic bearings).
The bushings are by
far the most underrated part of a longboard – they are by and large the most
bang for the buck in regards to adjusting your longboard. Bushings are located
in the trucks, and define how they turn by compressing and rebounding as the
board turns. Bushings are measured by “durometers”, ranging from the 70s to the
90s. Bushings in the mid to high 90s barely even turn, and are usually for
high-speed down hilling. 70s require a ridiculously small amount of pressure to
change direction, and that variability is what makes this part of the longboard
so important. A stiff board can turn into a carving machine with this small
purchase. Also, bushings rarely cost more than $20, many of them even under
$10, so buying multiple sets and testing them out is always worth the output.
How Longboard Decks
Longboard decks are made with
approximately seven sheets of wood glued and pressed together under a couple tons
of pressure. The specific type of wood used can vary and will have influence on
what type of riding the board is best used for. Hard maple, baltic birch, and
bamboo are some of the types of wood used. Bamboo for example, is more flexible
than the others. This makes it less desirable for those who want to do any
power sliding, but might be better for just cruising around, as the flexibility
will absorb shock and make for a smoother ride.
Difference Between Dropthough, Top Mounted and Lowered Decks
When researching longboards the terms dropthrough, top mounted, and
lowered are commonly seen. These refer to the type of deck and how the trucks
are mounted on them. Longboards that are most like traditional skateboards are
top mounted longboards. This means that the trucks are attached to the bottom
of the board. Dropthough decks have holes carved out for the trucks to pass
though the board and be fixed to the top and bottom of the deck. This
essentially lets the board get closer to the ground to provide a lower center
of gravity and therefore improve stability. The same concept applies to lowered
decks. These are shaped when pressed so that the section of the board that the
rider stands on is closer to the ground. These decks are also sometimes refered
to as drop boards, or drop decks. The most common are top mounted and
dopthrough boards. In terms of which is better is really up to the rider. Some
find that dropthrough boards are better for sliding because of the improved
stability. Some also say that top mounted boards are easier to flip because of
their increased height. However, other riders will say they prefer top mounted
boards for power sliding. I personally would suggest a dropthrough board for
any high speed downhill riding, and for slides, while I prefer top mounted
boards for non-slide related tricks.
The Boarding House carries key longboard brands with the highest
manufacured quaility out there from brands such as
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