A lot of people are nervous and worried when they first go to buy a longboard; they wonder what the best board for them. But have no fear there are some easy ways to pick what board will be right for you.
Firstly let’s see what boards are out there. Longboards are divided into three different categories; downhill (or DH), cruisers and freestyle boards. Downhill boards tend to be a lot longer than other boards (between 35 – 45 inches). Downhill boards are separated into racing boards and freeride boards, racing boards are usually the longer and wider of these boards so that the rider has a larger “active platform” locking them in and keeping them steady at high speeds making cornering no issue. Race boards also usually have a drop-through option allowing riders to put their trucks through their deck giving them a lower centre of gravity reducing the chance of speed wobble and increasing their top speeds, an issue with these racing boards is that it is harder to slide them than most boards due to their size. Freeride boards vary in length and width to fit the rider it is designed for. The shorter of the freeride boards will be more responsive and easier to slide for taller riders and will be small and light enough for the smaller shredders to slide and control on the hill, although these boards may experience speed wobble at slightly lower speeds than the longer boards. The longer of the freeride boards will allow riders to have controlled slides at high speeds, although they may be harder to slide at lower speeds and harder to use for people who have a smaller stance. Some freeride boards may also have the drop-through options allowing the rider to hold out slides for longer due to the low centre of gravity. Both racing and freeride boards have the drop down boards; these boards do not usually have the drop-through option as they are already lowered to the ground, drop down boards have a lowered platform meaning that the active platform is lower than the top of the trucks, this allows riders to push their feet against the raises enabling them to tuck at high speeds or to have more control over their slides. A general disadvantage for downhill boards is that they aren’t that good at cruising around in public place due to their size.
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Cruiser boards are usually pit-tails which are long and thin allowing the rider to manoeuvre around town and carve roads with ease, although very useful for commuting they tend to suffer with speed wobble and are harder to slide than other boards. The other type of cruisers are short-boards, these tend to be no bigger than 30 inches and are popular with younger/smaller riders and riders not looking to go downhill. An advantage of short-boards is that they are easy to carry and are very responsive, although a disadvantage is that they are not very stable downhill.
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The Final board type is the freestyle boards, the freestyle boards are split into free-ride freestyle, dancers and bowl boards. Free-ride freestyle boards are usually similarly shaped to skateboards but longer although they can come in a variety of shapes. These boards are used to do flip tricks and technical slides downhill, technical slides are when to board is slid using only two or less wheels e.g. using the tail or nose of the board to perform a slide. Technical slides also allow the rider to use slide gloves enabling them to vary their sliding technique and hold positions closer to the ground. Free-ride freestyle boards also allow you to do a variety of flat land tricks allowing you to move off the hill and expand your horizons to new locations. These boards are perfect to perform slides and other tricks, but they are not great for racing downhill due to their smaller size. Dancers are very long boards as they are used to walk up and down on, they tend to have a fair amount of flex allowing the rider to pop in and out of stances. They usually come as either pintails or with a double kicker shape. This gives the rider the choice of having either a more freestyle/freeride orientated board or a more cruising style board. The pintail shaped board will allow the rider to cruise around and carve hills with no trouble as well as keeping the dancing flex of the board. The double kicker style board will enable the rider to combine their flatland tricks with their dancing style board. Dancers are brilliant for taller riders and riders who want a smooth soft feel to their ride, although they are fairly hard to ride downhill due to the softness of the board and its quick turning increasing the chance of earlier speed wobble.
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