Which longboard is right for you?
With so many different longboard types, it’s tough to find the board that will work best for you. Longboarding styles are very diverse and not every board will work well for every skater.
Picking a longboard for your style is like choosing a perfect backpack. Every backpack can carry things, but each one is designed to carry different items and built for a different purpose. Once you figure out how you want to USE the board, you can figure out which one will work best.
Grabbing the right tool for the job will make skating much more fun. The selection of longboards is huge but this article will help you narrow down. Boards are built for Dance, Downhill, Cruising, Carving, Freeride, Freestyle, Push, and other styles not even mentioned in this post.
Not only do longboard types exist for each style, many are built as a hybrid to work for 2-3 different styles.
Keep in mind that a specialty board is only really good at one style, and a hybrid is best if you want to skate a lot of different ways. If you come across an unfamilar term as you read this, be sure to scroll down and check the glossary at the bottom.
The most basic starting point for just about every rider. Cruising is just as it sounds, rolling along on the road or in the park with friends and enjoying the ride. This longboard type will be more simple/basic than any other style.
Cruising boards are typically top-mounted, meaning the board sits on top of the trucks. They typically have a pintail shape (like a surfboard). The cruiser longboard is setup to be fun for carving and usually features very smooth BIG wheels to make it roll easy and not catch on the sidewalk cracks or bumps.
This is our sweet spot with our own line at Concrete Coast. We make boards for cruising, carving, and learning to freeride. We also carry several other top small brands that fit every category here and ride like a dream.
In this realm is another board called the mini cruiser. It’s less forgiving than a cruiser board and is designed to be easy to take with you anywhere. Check this board out for a super fun mini cruiser.
A progression that fits in with the cruising category but a bit more fine tuned. Carving is the same as it is on skis or snowboards. Really leaning into turns and laying them down with flow.
Carving is a blast and even the most seasoned pros still love to really lay a turn out. Boards for carving are typically setup similar to cruisers but with more concave. The concave is the curve on the top of the board that keeps your feet securely in place when you lean in either direction. Most cruiser boards will be very similar to carvers.
The trucks are set loosely and there are often spacers between the trucks and boards to avoid wheel bite and gain height for a deeper carve. Wheel bite occurs when you really lean into a turn and the deck and wheels collide. This can stop your motion and even cause you to fall off the board.
Most boards have a wheel well cut into them (similar to a car but on a very small scale) to combat wheel bite.
Carvers can feel a little more sketchy because they typically sit higher off the ground. Ultra soft wheels help the board maintain traction at all times. The goal is not to slide but to grip and lean as far as possible into the turn. Almost all cruising boards will let you have fun with carving and vice-versa.
Freeride skating exists on it’s own. These boards are still very fun for cruising and carving, but are less responsive and forgiving. It’s a style of skating that includes lots of slides and more speed than the previous two.
These longboards feature somewhat smaller wheels that allow the skater to slide. Sliding is the same as drifting in a car. It’s where you let the wheels lose grip and turn the board sideways. Wheels for sliding are made of a harder urethane compound that can release when pushed into a slide at speed.
The wheels will actually leave urethane lines on the ground known as “thane” lines, and freeriders have competitions to see who can leave the longest line.
Freeride boards are most commonly drop-through decks. Drop-throughs have holes cut into the board that allow the board to hang off the bolts under the trucks. By doing this they sit closer to the ground which makes them more stable for sliding and speed.
Boards made for freeride can vary dramatically and feature different concaves and cambers for more secure foot placement with slides, and to maintain control at higher speeds. Some are built with a double-drop.
Double drops lower the board to the ground even further than the truck mounts on both sides. They also give you another place to push your foot against as you practice different tricks and slides.
Freeriders typically wear gloves so they can drag a hand for balance as they slide and get as low to the ground as possible. If you are looking at freeriding, be sure to get pads and a helmet to stay protected at speed!
A lot of confusion exists around the difference between freeride and freestyle, and with good reason due to the names! You can call it whatever you want but in most skaters minds freestyle is a whole different realm. It even somewhat includes Dance. It’s considered a more expressive version of skating where you are trying to flow as much as possible and not even necessarily with as much speed.
Whereas freeride is more focused on fast hills and sliding, freestyle features sliding but exists on flat land as well. It even usually includes flatland style tricks. It’s the more playful and liberal cousin.
Freestyle boards tend to look a lot like Freeride boards but are generally more playful. The decks usually aren’t as stiff and the wheels can cover a more diverse range of hardness (durometer).
The style is almost always a dropthrough and the decks can be larger for more space to move around and try tricks. They may also have a kick tail like a street skateboard.
The push board is a breed all on it’s own. It really isn’t used for anything but distance and commuting. These boards are often so specific that if you turn them like a carver or cruiser the deck will actually hit the ground. They ride super low to make for more comfortable pushing by having a double drop + a dropthrough truck mount.
The deeper the drop, the easier to push. Wheels are typically mid size and trucks often run narrower to give you space to push without catching the wheel.
If you are looking to mainly commute or travel distance, this is the longboard type to check out. Anything else you want to do is best served by the other categories.
One brand is synonymous with Push: Pantheon longboards. In our opinion, these guys have the best designed push boards on the market.
Longboard dancing is very popular in Europe and there is also a dedicated crowd in the USA. It requires great balance and a willingness to fall as you attempt new longboard tricks.
Dance boards are HUGE. This platform gives you tons of space to spin around, cross your feet, and walk the board. They often have a kick tail and nose for manuals and shuvits. Dance boards usually are mostly flat with a little bit of camber. This keeps them pre-loaded for tricks, while making it natural to move your feet around.
Because these are so big, they are also VERY specific to this style of skating. If you are mainly interested in flatland longboard tricks and only the occassional small hill, than this is the style you’ll want.
This is where longboarding gets serious and is something that when witnessed in person can cause most mere mortal's knees to shake. Speed is the name of the game, whether it’s flying fast through a chicane, pre-drifting hairpins, or setting land speed records.
Downhill longboards are some of the most technically built and stiffest boards on the market. Most downhilling is done on a top-mount for more control and a stronger carve. Wheels are usually a little grippier since you can slide anything with a lot of speed and grip is key.
The downhill board has a number of unique builds including the very popular “W”. This style of concave has an extra ridge in the middle for more control and foot placement options. Downhillers will also often attach a foot stop to keep the front foot held firmly in place. They also often wear speed suits and full face helmets because road rash and crashing at 70+ MPH is brutal.
Next time you go to a skate shop be sure to check these decks out if you haven’t seen one before. They are technologically very advanced and often have layers of carbon fiber for an even stiffer ride.
Downhillers love ultra steep hills and the roads that are less traveled to ride safely without fearing a car will come up on them. There are lots of great brands for downhill, so checkout our board guide here to see which you like the most if this is what you plan to do.
If you are looking for a board that is going to be good for some downhill, but great for everyday life around the city, then a freeride board is the best choice.
WHICH TYPE OF LONGBOARD SHOULD I BUY?
Now that you know all the styles of boards and have a feel for the different ways you can skate, you’re probably feeling a bit overwhelmed. The best approach is to list the styles of skating that you (realistically) see yourself doing.
If you want nothing but speed than you need the fastest board: DOWNHILL. Here's our recommendation.
If you want to have a fun time around the neighborhood and get a bit tricky, then you should look at FREESTYLE. Check out this board.
Are you looking to roll with some friends, CRUISE, CARVE, andCOMMUTE from time to time? Than you should check out our line here.
Feeling that Euro style and wanting to throw some fresh dance moves down on a deck? DANCE boards are a lot of fun and the best option if this is your main / only focus. Ride this dream setup and have a blast.
Want to skate across the country and see all the best sites? Grab a PUSH board and pull out your maps. It’s going to be a fun trip.
Finally, if you want to slide, have fun on hills, and are a bit more serious about taking speed, you’ll want to grab a FREERIDE board. These boards bridge the gap between cruising/carving and Downhill. Our dropthrough artist series boards work great for learning to freeride.
Most importantly, choose the board that seems the most fun for you. Skateboarding is all about having fun and pushing limits. The best part of longboarding and skateboarding is that they allow us to express ourselves in unique ways.
GLOSSARY OF LONGBOARDING TERMS USED IN THIS ARTICLE:
Camber: Board is pressed to arch upwards in the center. This preloads the deck a little bit to create a more responsive springy feel.
Concave: Center of board is pressed with edges raised. There are lots of different concave styles but the center is always lower on a concave board. The opposite would be convex.
Double Drop: Boards are pressed to have area between trucks lower than the mounting points. Makes for the most stable board possible.
Dropthrough: Trucks mounted through deck. This lowers deck to the ground and makes for a more stable but less responsive turn.
Pintail: Board shape most similar to a surfboard. Ends at a point at the tail and often at the nose as well. Sometimes teardrop shaped.
Reverse Camber: The exact opposite of camber, also known as rockered. This style is less common but lets your feet sink more into the deck.
Slide: Releasing the wheels friction / grip on the road with a fast turn and foot pressure to slow down or drift around a corner. There are many different slide techniques.
Top-Mount: Truck mounting position where board deck is mounted on top of trucks for maximum leverage to turn more aggressively.
W Concave: Essentially two concave’s side by side, often with a lower ridge between. This gives the center another area for foot placement and to push off.
Wheelbite: When you turn on a board and the wheel actually catches the wood. Causes a quick slide / stall and sometimes leads to crashing. Most boards are designed with wheel wells to avoid this.