A longboard is basically a skateboard meant for cruising, downhill, slalom, carving, sliding, boardwalking, dancing and are considered as the best boards for transportation. It’s not necessary a longer version of a typical skateboard but the decks usually fall between 30″ and 60″. The length of the baord and their unique shape distinguish them from traditional skateboards.
There are several things that go into choosing a longboard deck: the shape, the size (length and width), and the material. All have an impact on the board durability, the maneuverability, and the stability.
Because longboards aren’t usually used for tricks, the life of a longboard decks can be quite long. Keeping your board away from the rain and storing it a dry area will prolong its life even further.
Common shape of longboard decks
There are two general board shapes that all other designs fall into. Both board shapes are beginner and expert-friendly.
These boards are only meant to go in one direction: forward. The most common directional board is the Pin Tail, which doesn’t provide proper board feel or control while ridden switch. Carvers, cruisers and downhill boards are usually directional but there are some exceptions. It’s a fairly good choice for an electric longboard as you should not go backward and an electric longboard is not meant for switching. But I feel like it could be harder to install all components under a Pintail board because the width around the truck is very limited.
A symmetrical board looks and feels the same regardless of which way it is facing. The width is homogeneous, due to the symmetrical aspect of the board, and I find to be an asset to install the components. I personally chose a double kick deck because it was close to the freestyle skateboard I used to ride in my teens and I prefer the look of it over a pintail.
Here is a nice overview of shapes by maneuverability/stability:
The deck size
You need a minimum width and length for stability, as well as to have room to install all components. On the other hand, a board that is too long will be heavier and more constraining to maneuver and to carry. I find that below 33″ we lose much in stability, but that above 40″ we reach the limit in term of practicality. Anything in between should be great.
Material of a longboard deck
Maple is the most common material for skateboard decks. This type of wood is very hard and sturdy but all maple board with a high number of ply (which is a number of layers pressed together to form the board) can be pretty heavy. A maple board is usually anywhere between 5ply and 10ply, and can also be layered in an alternating pattern with bamboo. I personaly chose a maple board for the rigidity.
Bamboo skateboards are booming right now. Bamboo is a bit more flexible than maple and is lightweight. Bamboo boards are perfect transportation. Usually between 5ply to 9ply, the more ply you have and the more stiff board you will have. Bamboo boards are good at absorbing bumps and cracks and are more forgiveness than the maple.
Carbon fiber is by far the most expensive material for a longboard. With a foam core coated with carbon fiber, these boards are ridiculously light and strong. If you can afford it, it’s the best choice.