Longboard vs. Skateboard? Here’s the Answer for You.

girl with longboard in hands closeup

Extreme sports enthusiasts are often divided by the very controversial topic of longboard vs. skateboard. While both recreational activities appear to be similar at first sight, they do in fact have distinct differences. Each sport complements various types of personal style and preferences. In recent years, many people have been pondering over the choice between getting a longboard and a skateboard.

In order to make the best decision possible, every rider should know the strong suits and weak links that each sport has to offer. The key differences are mostly associated with the structure and uses of each ride. Also, the longboard can be considered the skateboard’s more contemporary relative.

Two people skateboarding By: Thomas Frost Jensen
Photo Credit: {link:https://www.flickr.com/photos/tfjensen/}Thomas Frost Jensen{/link}


Skateboarding came about around the 1940s or 1950s, when surfers were looking for a thrill at those times when waves were flat.

The first longboard appeared later on, when riders tried to transform their skateboard decks making them longer and adding roller-skate wheels. Since then, longboarding has increasingly been gaining popularity.

Perhaps it is due to the fact that longboards come in more sizes and can be used in more situations and terrains than skateboards. Read more about longboards history here. On the other hand, most riders are unanimous that the skateboard has more advantages when it comes to doing tricks.

A man skateboarding Photo Credit Ricardo Abengoza Hernandez's photostream
Photo Credit: {link:https://www.flickr.com/photos/ricardoabfotografia/}Ricardo Abengoza Hernandez{/link}

Everyone looking the make the decision between a skateboard and a longboard should first have an idea of the differences between the shapes and sizes of the two. The skateboard deck is curved upwards on both sides, which makes it easier to perform certain tricks, like “ollies” and “kickflips”.

The longboard deck on the other hand, is normally longer, as the name suggests, and instead of curves has two narrow strips at each end, which makes it more stable.

Shapes and Sizes

Size-wise the longboard vs. skateboard dispute is, to some degree, won by the skateboard. It is all because the skateboard is smaller and lighter, making it easier to carry around.

The skateboard deck is usually around 30 inches long and 7 inches wide. Meanwhile, the longboard’s length varies from 22 to 45+ inches depending on the function of the board. Also, longboards have a width of about 9 inches.

The trucks, which are located at the bottom of both boards, also make a difference as the skateboard’s trucks are better suited for grinds (performing tricks on curbs, benches etc.).

Another difference is that longboards usually have larger and softer wheels, which makes riding easier even on rougher surfaces.

Although the above variations might seem rather factual, they do make a difference when it comes to making the longboard or skateboard choice. They are what determines the appropriate places for practicing each of these extreme sports.

Benefits of skateboard

A person performing skateboarding tricks

When trying to choose the best option, personal preferences are a key variable, especially when it comes to places for riding.

Before picking one of the sports, it is important to decide when and where you will be riding. The two main options for longboards and skateboards are street riding and skateparks. Even though a skateboard can be used for transportation and cruising the streets, a longboard is better for these purposes. Skateboards are not stable on all terrain and are not very comfortable for long trips.

Riders who choose to purchase a skateboard usually do so because they prefer doing tricks – maneuvers with the board that varies in difficulty and technique.

The most suitable places for that are skateparks, which have different designs but usually include a number of obstacles, most popularly half-pipes and bowls. Another option for skateboard riding was mentioned above – grinding. Even though it does not require special settings, only regular urban facilities such as staircases, benches, and curbs, grinding is not permitted everywhere. In fact, some districts even have laws against it.

A person skateboarding in a skate park By: Marc Dalmulder
Photo Credit: {link:https://www.flickr.com/photos/mdalmuld/}Marc Dalmulder{/link}

Those who have resolved the longboard vs. skateboard debate in favor of the skateboard usually strive to perform increasingly difficult tricks. Some of the commonly performed tricks are ollies, flip tricks, and all sorts of freestyle moves.

Benefits of longboard

While skateboarders mostly polish their tricks, longboarders perform other activities as well.

Longboarding is done on the street, rather than skateparks and has a few variations that correspond to different deck shapes.

Riders who have chosen to get their thrill on a longboard, most typically use it for transportation and cruising – these are the longboard’s classical purposes.

Longboards have distinct advantages, such as being inexpensive, eco-friendly, enjoyable, and lightweight. When it comes to traveling long and short distances, the longboards are the better pick because there are longboards created for this purpose. They have softer, medium-sized wheels, which allow for a smoother ride and flexible maneuvers around bumps, corners, etc.

A close up photo of skateboarding Photo Credit: Chris
Photo Credit: {link:https://www.flickr.com/photos/shutterhacks/}Chris{/link}

Depending on personal preferences, as well as the distance that will commonly be traveled, these longboards come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Downhill longboarding

Another widely popular type of longboarding is downhill longboarding. The longboard reigns over the speed-invoking slopes. Downhill boards are usually on the large side and are somewhat stiff to enhance stability. Also, they enable the rider to achieve an amazing speed of up to 80 mph.

This is perhaps the most thrilling form of the sport and can be practiced anywhere, as long as there is a smoothly asphalted and steep street. Best places for downhill longboarding.

There are no specific slopes used exclusively for downhill longboarding and so riders are usually forced to share with motorized traffic, which makes this form of longboarding a bit risky, given that the rider is not careful.

Even though performing tricks is normally associated with skateboarding, longboarders have some moves as well, especially when using the right deck. The freeride (Riviera Street Slayer Longboard review), dancing and slalom boards can be used for maneuvers such as avoiding obstacles, sliding, and spinning.

It all depends on what you prefer

The longboard vs. skateboard predicament has many arguments and supporters on both sides, however, every rider should consider the differences between those two extreme sports, in order to choose the most suitable for themselves.

While the skateboard is easier to carry and provides the thrill of accomplishing increasingly difficult tricks, the longboard is becoming more and more popular because of its practicality and wide range of uses. In the end, choosing between a longboard and a skateboard comes down to personal choice and what rushes provide the rider with the biggest enjoyment.

Frequently asked questions.

1. Which board is best for beginners?

Well, it is highly debatable. Longboards are a better fit when it comes to learning the basics of skateboarding. What makes them better is the stability of the board and physics. First of all, with a longboard, learning balance and how to use your strength is easier. Also, with a longboard you will have a lot of stability, and like this you will learn turning faster. 

Longboards are generally heavier, due to this they require stronger pumps. In the hands of a beginner they are not as fast as skateboards, and they reduce the chances of injuries. However, they are not the safest.

Learning how to turn with a longboard is somehow easier. On a longboard you don’t have to think about feet coordination that much. Due to this it is easier to concentrate just on turning. Also, it is easier to turn on a longboard because it has all the wheels on the ground. 

Pumping is another basic movement that you can learn easier on a longboard. On a skateboard you have to focus on your weight distribution, body positioning and the feet to ground movement. However, on a longboard you will have to focus less on the feet-to-ground movement. Yet, you will have to concentrate on your motions. 

2. Is a longboard safer than a skateboard?

The answer to this question depends on the environment. If you are longboarding on open roads, then the answer is no. However, if you are longboarding in safe places then, the answer is yes because it offers more stability. The stability on a board also depends on factors like weight and height. Due to this, you should consider adjusting the board to your preferences.

3. Is longboarding illegal?

In some states there are laws and rules about longboarding. Here’s a list of things you should consider:
  1. The Location. If you practice on a private property, like a parking lot, check your surroundings and make sure that you can’t damage anything. Also the owner of the property can ban you from longboarding there. 
  2. Safety. Consider you wearing protective gear or at least a helmet. Also, try using reflective gear if you are longboarding on an open road. When it comes to safety, things are debatable. Some people might call law enforcement on you if they consider you dangerous or reckless.
  3. Age. Some states have curfew laws, they mostly apply if you are under 18 years old. To avoid them, don’t longboard when the sun goes down. 

Final Thoughts.

Now that you know more about the topic of longboard vs. skateboard, it is your turn to decide which sport fits your style. From my point of view, a beginner can learn the basics faster while longboarding. However, if you’ve already mastered pumping and all of the basic movements, get a skateboard. They are better when it comes to tricks.

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