What is longboarding or cruising? Riding on streets with a specially designed skateboard. These sports have a long history. Back in the 60s Californian surfers needed a fix when the waves were small. They figured they could surf the streets too, attaching wheels and trucks to planks of wood. And then longboarding and cruising were born.
If you just want to get around or want to ride down the steepest mountain roads, there is a longboard or cruiser for you. The easiest way to buy a longboard or cruiser is as a complete, this way the whole setup comes ready to ride, straight out of the box.
A cruiser is probably the most commonly seen style of skateboard. In any city, you’ll see these versatile skateboards taking young people around. Here the focus is on ease of use. Cruisers are between 22” and 32” with big, soft wheels. A shorter size like a 22” Penny Skateboards cruiser is great for getting around and will easily strap to your bag. Longer cruisers are a little more stable so you can go a bit faster.
Carving longboards and cruisers are for more turning and surf-inspired moves. They are longer and have softer trucks which let you get deeper into carves.
If you’re looking to do tricks with your longboard, pick a freeride shape. Freeride longboards are often symmetrical – this helps with sliding and when you ride backwards.
As the name suggests downhill longboards are for riding down hills. These longboards have all the features for reaching maximum speed while still being stable. These boards are stiffer and there is a larger distance between the trucks, both of which help with stability at high speed. Same as freeriding, turning when riding downhill is done by sliding and going horizontally. Just a quick warning, of all the disciplines of longboarding, downhill is the most challenging and dangerous. Make sure to wear full protection when you’re learning. This means, a helmet, wrist, elbow and knee guards and slide gloves.
If you spend your time daydreaming about grinding that perfect rail or spending hours in the skatepark – well, you might be in the wrong place. You are thinking about street or park skateboarding! Don’t worry, though; we have a full skateboard buyer’s guide for you to enjoy.
For the closest feeling to surfing, take a look at surfskates. These unique cruisers have a front truck which rotates for even more extreme slides and carves.
Your trucks hold everything together. Just remember when you’re looking for a pair of new trucks to get two of the same as they come separately. There are two types of trucks, standard kingpin and reverse kingpin trucks. The first thing is they are much wider, 150 to 180 mm. As with skateboards, the width of your trucks should match the width of your deck.
On most cruisers have standard kingpin trucks. This means that the bolt, or kingpin, faces inwards for a stable and easy ride. These trucks are similar to the ones on skateboards.
What’s a reverse kingpin? A reverse kingpin truck is a reverse of the traditional skateboard so with the kingpin facing out from the centre of the board. For you, this means that you can get deeper into your carves and turn more tightly. Perfect for riding fast!
If you want even deeper turns, try a surfskate. These boards have an articulated front truck which makes carving a breeze. See what a surfskate can do for your riding.
What’s the difference between a longboard or cruiser wheel to a regular skateboard wheel? Well, they are for their specific sports. The first difference is the size. They are bigger for a smoother, stable ride. Secondly, they are softer for better grip on rougher and less even road surfaces.
Longboard wheels can vary between 60 mm to 100 mm. Smaller wheels accelerate quickly and are easy to slide with. Larger wheels are more stable at speeds and are better over uneven surfaces.
What does hardness mean for my longboard wheels? The hardness refers to how still or hard the urethane of the wheels is. Broadly speaking, a softer wheel has better grip - so it’s more comfortable at slower speeds and on rougher surfaces. Harder wheels have slightly reduced grip so are better for higher speeds and sliding.
Often overlooked but vitally important, your bearings keep the wheels of your longboard and by extension, you moving. Remember the bearings in your longboard or cruiser are exactly the same as in your street skateboard.
Bearings are round casings containing eight or nine lubricated balls depending on whether they are steel or ceramic. They help to spread the weight of the rider and reduce friction between the truck and wheels. Durable and reasonably priced, steel bearings are the most widely distributed bearing style.
Friction causes metal bearings to heat up and expand, which can damage them. That’s why proper, regular maintenance of your bearings is so essential. The effects of friction are far less damaging to ceramic bearings. Naturally, they last a lot longer.
We can let you in on a secret! All skate bearings will run as fast as one another out of the box. The ABEC rating is not, in fact, a measure of speed but rather a measure of precision for bearing manufacture.
What does this mean for you? A higher rated bearing is higher precision. So it will run quieter, generate less heat and last longer. However, higher rated bearings are more expensive. Don't just take our word for it, one of the largest manufacturers; Bones Bearings doesn't use ABEC Ratings. Bones Bearings are instead 'skate rated', so they test products against the unique pressures of skateboarding.
Downhill longboarding, freeriding or cruising might all have a different vibe, but one thing unites all three – they take place on asphalt. If you do fall, it’s going to hurt, a lot. The best way to protect no.1 is with a helmet, knee protectors and elbow guards.
As we mentioned before, these sports can be dangerous. Particularly in freeride and downhill longboarding, you are much more likely to injure your head, compared to say, street skateboarding where most of the injuries are to the knees, shins and ankles. A good skate helmet is essential to your safety.
Like your head, you want to look after your ankles, knees, wrists and elbows. Don’t worry - we have an extensive range of protectors for skating or longboarding. You can get a full set of protectors together or separately.