When choosing a longboard deck, the first and most obvious question to ask yourself is: What kind of riding do I want to use it for? No matter what your answer, there is a longboard deck in our shop that is perfect for you! Unlike standard skateboard decks, longboard decks come in an almost overwhelmingly wide variety of size, shape, stiffness, camber profile, and concave style. To help you sift through all your options, we've created this guide to help find the deck or decks that you will love to abuse.
DECKS BY RIDING STYLE
When selecting your longboard deck, keep in mind that there is a ton of crossover between each riding style, and many decks are great options for multiple styles of riding. Use the categories below as a guide to help you find the deck features that are most important to you.
CARVING AND CRUISING
When most people think of longboards, these are usually the first that come to mind.
The classic pintail shape was made popular by Sector 9 in the early 90's and is still one of the most common shapes seen on streets, sidewalks, and boardwalks today. Its surf inspired design features long overall board length (40-45'') and taper from tip to tail, combined with varying degrees of camber and a flexible construction. This board style mimics the feeling of slashing big waves by giving you a powerful release of energy from each carve, which makes them great for pumping. The flexible construction also helps do dampen vibrations as you push over cracks and through rough pavement.
Because of their lively and fun feel, these boards are ideal for pushing around campus or carving down a mellow hill in your neighborhood. Although pintails are the most popular shape for this style of riding, there are many other creative tweaks to this classic style available in top mount and drop through options.
Check out selection of Sector 9, Arbor, Loaded, Gold Coast to find great carvers and campus cruisers that will give you an instantly enjoyable ride in just about any size. Need more visuals? We've got you covered in the video below. Enjoy.
Many campus cruisers work well for city transportation, but if you often find yourself getting stuck in tight spaces, dodging cars and pedestrians, or needing to negotiate cracks, curbs, gravel, puddles, dog poo, and any number of other obstacles, then you may need a more versatile city cruiser deck. Decks that work best for city transportation are usually between 28-40'' long and have wheelbases of 15-22''. Shorter boards are preferred for this type of riding because they give you the advantage of having a more responsive setup and tighter turning radius for avoiding obstacles. While most boards designed for this purpose are very rigid to provide stability and more effective kicktails, some prefer more flexible constructions for their lively feel and vibration dampening ability.
The most important feature to have on a city transportation deck is a kicktail. With practice, a kicktail will make any board infinitely more maneuverable. In the context of transportation, it can be used to turn far tighter than the turning radius of your wheelbase, tic-tac from side to side in order to generate speed, or even just to conveniently pop your board up from the ground to your hand with just a flick of the ankle. You can also use your kicktail to shift your weight back in order to roll over cracks and debris, or even lift all four wheels off the ground to jump or ollie up and over potholes, puddles, curbs and stair sets! No matter what your skill level, when pushing through a city, kicktails will make your life easier and commute quicker by allowing you to keep your momentum through whatever obstacles you encounter.
Because of the high demands of city riding, these boards are among the most versatile skateboards around. They are great campus cruisers, can be used in parks and pools, and have become very popular for freeride.
Some longboarders embark on epic journeys to push thousands of miles on their boards. There are also many long distance push (LDP) races that are similar to bicycle and foot races. Boards designed for this purpose are generally quite long (38-42'') and as low to the ground as possible. As the standing platform gets closer to the ground, the rider has to step down a shorter distance for each push. This both increases stability and reduces rider fatigue. Although you may sacrifice some maneuverability, these decks can also be great options for moderate distance city transportation.
The most common ways of achieving a lower ride height is by using drop through mounting and dropped platform decks. The best LDP decks are double drop decks, or decks that offer both drop through mounting and a dropped platform. Drop through decks can be lowered even further by adding riser pads between the deck and the truck baseplate. An added bonus of using a drop deck for LDP is that the drop can be used to drag the board forward with the top of your foot as you push.
To accommodate their lower ride height, nearly all of these decks also feature large cut outs to provide more clearance for large wheels and avoid wheelbite.
FREESTYLE / DANCING
Longboard freestyle and dancing encourages maximum creativity from the rider. It incorporates old school boardwalking or dancing maneuvers with technical flatground tricks and any other stylish elements that the rider wishes to mix in. Shuv its, kick flips, cross steps, and tiger claws can all be considered freestyle tricks. For this reason, freestyle decks need to be very versatile, and incorporate features of many types of decks.
Freestyle decks usually have medium length wheelbase options (20-28'') and a moderately flexible construction for responsiveness at slow speeds. If you would like to focus on dancing, you may want to buy a board with a longer wheelbase (28-35'') and effective standing platform. Twin kicktails and a symmetrical shape are preferred for freestyle because you often find yourself riding the board both ways. Drop through mounting and micro-drops are often incorporated into these types of decks as well.
For these reasons, freestyle decks are a great option for beginners or someone who is purchasing their first longboard and isn't sure which style of riding they wish to pursue. These all around decks can be great for transportation, carving, and mellow freeride. For more info on freestyle decks, give the video below a watch.
FREERIDE / SLIDING
If you want to tackle steep hills, ride switch, and push your board sideways to slash driveways and drift around corners then these are the boards for you. Most freeride decks have wheelbase options between 20-30''. Stiff construction and aggressive 3D concave are the defining characteristics of freeride boards because they give stability for higher speeds and keep your feet locked in where you need them. Different degrees of drop and micro-drop decks are very popular for freeriding. New types of concave are being introduced to the market every year but they all revolve around the idea of creating comfortable pockets for your feet that help you locate the foot positioning you want, provide leverage points for pushing out slides, and prevent foot slippage while sliding. For a crash course on all the technical terms, check out our Language of Longboarding page.
Deep drop decks and drop through mounting are great options for beginner to intermediate level freeriders because they give you lower leverage on your trucks. This means that the setup will have more lateral force on your trucks which will give you less grip from you wheels. That will make it easier to initiate slides and the transition from grip to slip will be less abrupt. Micro-drops and top mounted trucks are generally preferred among advanced freeriders because the added grip gives more control during slides and can help keep you on the road when drifting through tight corners.
Freeride is all about style, tricks, and creativity, so symmetrical boards with kicktails are very popular in this discipline. A symmetrical deck makes sure you never feel backwards even when riding switch, while kicktails unlock an unlimited amount of new tricks and terrain. Double kick cruiser decks as described in the City Transportation section are now becoming very popular for blending downhill freeride slides with street style gaps and grinds.
Need more info? Well then, check out this video!
DOWNHILL / RACING
Downhill or DH decks are designed to hold up to high speeds and help propel you down the hill as quickly as possible. There is a lot of crossover between freeride and downhill, so boards designed for these types of riding are very similar and many riders use the same deck for both disciplines. However, downhill specific boards generally have longer wheelbases (26-30'') for added stability at higher speeds. Aggressive concave profiles are very useful for downhill but it is also common to see racers riding boards with very traditional concave. Speed is preferred to style and tricks, so symmetry and kicktails are often disregarded with downhill specific decks. If you don't plan on riding switch, some directional shapes and concave profiles can better cater to your gripping and pre-drifting needs.
For a more in-depth explanation, check out our How To Choose A Downhill Longboard Deck video below.