The difference between skateboards and longboards is a very commonly asked question. To a common person, both might look the same, but there are some differences that make them both unique in their own right. If I try to summarize it then the difference between skateboards and longboards lies in the shape of their deck, wheels, and trucks. Skateboards are usually shorter than longboards with mostly a typical popsicle shape. Both boards are also not built for the same purpose and functionality. Without further ado, let us dive right into the differences and settle some points for the skateboard vs longboard debate.
The very existence of skateboards and longboards is thanks to surfing. In the 50s, the surfers decided to experience the same thrill on land that they got from surfing, especially when there were flat days (no waves, man!). So, they stuck some wheels on wooden planks and the first skateboards were born. With the passage of time, different designs were introduced. When the skateboarders realized that they cannot cruise on these small-sized boards, they changed the size and design leading to the birth of modern-day longboards.
Size and shape
When it comes to the skateboard vs longboard debate, the shape and size of the board is the first major difference that you observe. The longboards, as the name explains, are longer than the skateboards. Longboards usually measure between 34 inches to 46 inches in length and 8.5 inches to 10 inches in width. In contrast, the skateboards measure somewhere between 31 inches to 33 inches in length and 7.25 inches to 8.5 inches in width.
Besides the typical measurements, you might also see longboards as long as 58 inches and as short as 30 inches. Confusing, right? Well, don’t be confused as the other main difference between the two lies in their shape. The longboards are flat, with larger wheelbases which makes them ideal for riding at high speeds. The skateboards on the other hand are curved on both ends (the kicktails, the front end is called nose and the back end, tail), and are designed to perform stunts like the Ollie and the flips, etc.
Another main difference in the skateboard vs longboard match is the flexibility of the deck. The deck is the base of the board. Skateboards usually have soft or medium decks allowing them more flexibility. Thus, it is easier to perform a flip and then land on the skateboard thanks to its thinner and more flexible deck. But it should not be too soft as it will not perform the tricks properly. Longboards on the other hand are designed for cruising and speed, so they are designed with a thicker deck having less flex and providing more support during the ride.
Trucks are the base with which the wheels are attached. There are two main types of trucks found on these boards: Reverse Kingpin Trucks (RKPs) and Traditional Kingpin Trucks (TKPs). Longboards usually sport the reverse kingpin trucks which are more stable at high speeds. The skateboards on the other hand have traditional kingpins. These tips are better for stunts as they are lower to the ground, lighter, and better for grinding than the RKPs mounted on longboards. Traditional kingpins are also more agile thanks to their higher baseplate angle.
Another aspect of the skateboard vs longboard discussion is the wheels. Both longboards and skateboards are fitted with different types of wheels owing to their unique purpose and use. The longboards are fitted with wider and softer wheels that allow for smooth cruising. A soft wheel also absorbs vibrations better than a harder wheel. These properties make the longboards ideal for usage on any surface, as the soft wheels can absorb vibrations from different types of obstacles like pebbles and small stones.
Skateboards have comparatively harder wheels when compared with the wheels on longboards. These wheels are perfect for performing tricks like powerslides. They are not that forgiving if you get a wheel bite during the trick. Wheel bite occurs when during landing a trick, your wheels come in contact with the deck thus stopping the forward motion of your skateboard.
If you are a beginner and want to be a skateboarder, then you should first practice on longboards. It is very difficult for an entry-level person to immediately master balancing on a skateboard. That is why to start using longboards first. When you are confident with balancing on a longboard, then slowly transition towards skateboards.
Skateboard vs longboard uses
When it comes to the purpose or usage, both types of boards are designed for different things. It is you who have to decide what is it that you want to do.
Skateboards are for you if you want to
- Learn new awesome tricks
- Do some kickass flips
- Perform ollies
- Grind the rails
- Skate on the mini ramps
If that is not what you want, then longboards are the answer for you as they are perfect for
- Long cruises
- Riding around the town
- Going out with friends
- Going to the store or the beach, your choice
The skateboard vs longboard debate is actually not that complex when you have all the facts. Both boards are designed for different purposes and depend on what you want to do with ‘em. If you want to just cruise around the town and go places then longboards suit that objective. But if you want to do some awesome tricks and want to be the next Tony Hawk, then you should definitely choose skateboards.