At its most basic, a longboard is a longer, more stable skateboard. It can, however, also be so much more. If you’re looking to get in on the sport of longboarding, know that it will be similar to traditional skateboarding in some ways, but very different in others.
Here are five ways to use a longboard.
The major difference between longboards and skateboards is that a longboard is a far better vehicle for long-distance movement and high speed. Whereas a skateboard is primarily intended for doing tricks and navigating short distances, a longboard allows the rider far more control and consistency in movement, creating the opportunity for downhill rides like the one above. The rider cruises around bends and pivots with ease, often ending up with his board basically parallel to the direction he’s traveling in. If you tried to do that on a skateboard, you would go flying. Here, it’s all part of the game.
Unlike skateboarding, where the most spectacular and admired tricks are often done in the air or on a rail, longboarding mostly centers on tricks that can be done on the ground, in the process of cruising. The board is bigger and longer, which makes it much harder to use for typical skateboarding tricks. On the other hand, it has a greater ability to move while still staying level on the ground. Longboards are perfect for 180s, 360s, miniature ollies and other situations in which the rider leaves the board and then returns to it in stride. The dangers and risks change too. In skateboarding, most of the risk is inherent in the height that riders attain. With longboarding, its the speed that can do you in.
Taking the board into the city, some riders do manage to get some air with it. For the most part, however, riders are sending the board forward (like in the video above) or up walls, then doing tricks with their bodies before ultimately returning to the board. This creates kind of an interesting balance: no matter how far away from the ground you go, you’re still tied to the earth by something more than gravity. You have to return to that board in a specific spot, and you need to do it in a specific way. Otherwise, you’ll either lose your vehicle or you’ll send both your board and yourself flying if you land awkwardly.
Even though we’ve been talking about how longboards don’t do some of the same things that skateboards do, that isn’t necessarily a rule. Here, this rider uses his longboard in situations that you’d normally expect to see a skateboard: grinding and launching from small ramps and obstacles. If you watch the longboard under him, you can see it bend on the edges at his weight, because the longer length makes it harder to stand on both edges. Getting air with a longboard is a more difficult feat than it would be on a skateboard for this reason.
One of the biggest differences between longboards and skateboards is that you can travel great distances on a longboard comfortably. The guys above are boarding 2,000 km through Morocco, and that’s actually relatively doable (though if you’re boarding thousands of kilometers, you’re inevitably going to get hurt a few times). Obviously, going up hills becomes a little more difficult, but when you crest that hill and head down the other side, that’s all the reward you need.