What’s The Difference Between Longboard and Skateboard? – A Clear Explanation

When you’re looking for a board, you’ll have to carefully consider what exactly you’re going to use it for as those are made to serve different activities.

That’s why you should ask yourself “ What’s the difference between longboard and skateboard ?”. Don’t worry; we’ll get to solving that pesky debate pretty soon!

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Before you can even examine how different the two types of board are, you must learn where they came from historically.

In the surfer community, there were days known as “flat days”, when no waves could be seen nor surf. Surfers in the early 1950s adored their sport so much that even on flat days, they wanted to “catch waves” on dry land, too.

Thus, after some people grabbed a few planks of wood and stuck some wheels underneath them, the concept of skateboarding was born.

Of course, the first skateboard design had to be severely remodeled from the surfboard. It was way smaller and curvier to perform tricks more easily.

Such deviations didn’t give the skaters full surfing experience, so once again, with the help of snowboarders, the board became longer and flatter to become the longboard we know today.

Both the skateboard and longboard went through several design changes throughout the years, but the spirit still remains. Skateboarding and longboarding may look strikingly similar to one another, but once you learn the differences, you can never unsee them.

How To Differentiate Longboard and Skateboard - 5 Signs:

1. Basic Form, Shape, and Size

As the name might have given it away, longboards are longer than skateboards. Specifically, longboards are 33-60 inches long and 9-10 inches wide on average, nearly doubling the length of typical skateboards (28-32 inches).

Longboards’ length gives them stability and balance; that’s why it is so popular and beginner-friendly.

what's the difference between a longboard and a skateboard

You can be used to the shapes of the boards.

There’s also a bigger range in length with longboards than with skateboards, whose sizes remain relatively unfluctuating and consistent among the models. 

The key distinction between the two boards, however, is how the tail and nose are shaped. With skateboards, the two parts are curved up to enhance trick performance. In comparison, longboards don’t need this feature as much, so the surface is flat and narrow.

Its flat shape also encourages speed and reduces air resistance, which is fitting for the sport’s nature.

2. Deck Flexibility

To put it simply, the deck is the base of your board. If you want to perform tricks on your board, the deck must have soft flex, as not to make the board too stiff.

There is a balance in deck flexibility to achieve. The deck should not be too weak unless you’re the type to enjoy mellow cruising. And thus, this is the main feature of a skateboard’s deck.

Longboards favor speed over flair, as most longboarders like to race and roll downhill for a thrill. So the decks on longboarders are way thicker and harder to provide you better support on your ride.

3. Trucks & Wheels

Trucks are the bases that attach the wheels to the board itself. Both the trucks and the wheels on longboards and skateboards are shaped and function differently to give each type of board distinguishable features.

what's the difference between longboard and skateboard

Kingpins can greatly affect your ride.

On skateboards, trucks should be way more rigid and narrow so as to land tricks or even grind more efficiently. Skateboard trucks also take up the entire width of the deck they’re attached to. They also use traditional kingpins.

Longboards are much more flexible to add to the board’s already existing flexibility. Longboard trucks are what make rides so smooth and comfortable, as they use reverse kingpins. A deck with 9” width or longer would require 180mm trucks. For smaller boards, 150mm trucks should be more fitting.

After the truck comes the wheels. Wheels also differ greatly between the types of boards as the boards serve different ride styles. Surfers from the early days insisted on installing softer and bigger wheels on their longboards.

As they were accustomed to riding waves, surfers wanted to keep their rides as smooth as they were on the water.

Bigger and softer wheels on longboards accommodate great speed and stability on nearly all surfaces the rider chooses. They also buffer out small obstacles on the road such as pebbles, twigs, and cracks, thus giving riders a smoother ride.

The stark contrast appears in skateboard wheels. They’re harder and smaller to aid skaters in shredding rails, ledges, and gaps, as well as maintain their balance. 

On the flip side, the ride on skateboarders will not be as smooth. You’re also more likely to spot skateboarders falling off their ride due to any small obstacles below their wheel.

4. Balance Maintenance

A longboard is a safe choice for those who are just starting out. Since they’re larger and more sturdy on the road, rides on them give you more confidence. Afterward, the transition to a skateboard is going to be considerably easier.

Both the longboard and the skateboard rely on an initial leg push to start the ride. But it’s the skateboard that requires the continuous push to sustain its speed, as its smaller wheels don’t contain and maintain much momentum and inertia.

We do advise against using your feet to keep pushing while skating at a higher speed, however.

As you ride with a longboard, you’ll find that it’s almost unnecessary to keep pushing the board with your feet. Once they have their ride momentum, most riders tend to use a technique called “pumping” to maintain said momentum.

 “Pumping” means shifting one’s center of gravity back and forth to generate thrust and force.

Some longboard riders are fond of “gyrating”, where their center of gravity is shifted side-to-side instead. This technique generates slightly less thrust but helps the riders keep their balance and turns more effectively.

5. Speed & Tricks

difference between longboard and skateboard

Your boards are capable of different functions.

If you’re still wondering at this point about what board you should get, start considering “What do I use the board for?” Behind all the similarities in the initial design, the longboard and the skateboard have so many modifications that make them functionally different.

Skateboards are not made to go very far. They’re more built towards practicing tricks, such as flips or airs, so on and so forth. Using your skateboards, you’ll make your typical rides so much more interesting, as you can pretty much use all obstacles on your everyday road as trick bases.

Skateboards can be unstable and dangerous to ride on, so they can be forbidden to ride on the street in some parts of the globe.

Longboards are perfect for long street rides. They’re smooth and stable even on rough roads. Some use it for everyday commuting or go on long trips to explore the local landscapes. Some like to ride with friends on beaches and hills to enjoy a comfortable experience.

Contrary to popular belief, you can still perform tricks on your longboard, such as carving or nose-riding. There is definitely a smaller selection of things you can try on your board, but with enough experimentation, you’ll spice up your ride in no time.

Some might even say that tricks on longboards look more impressive and grander!

Quick Comparison

Skateboard

  • Small, curved board
  • Rigid trucks and small, hard wheels
  • Encourages tricks and flair
  • Requires constant foot push to sustain rides
  • Not very smooth
  • Cannot go very far

Longboard

  • Long, flat board
  • Flexible trucks and big, soft wheels
  • Encourages ride comfort and momentum
  • Requires pumping and/or gyrating
  • Not very smooth
  • Cannot go very far

Outro: And that concludes our comparison article! Now equipped with the answer to “What’s the difference between a longboard and a skateboard?”, you’re ready to get yourself a suitable board, gear up, and get to the park.

Once you are used to the board, you’ll be doing tricks, shredding pipes, and winning races soon!

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