So I hear you want to start longboarding? Sweet choice my friend! But before you go any further, I’m pretty sure you have lots of questions on where to start. What board should you get? Where should you start skating? Are my shortboarder friends going to laugh at me? What should I do when someone yells at me to do a kickflip?
Here are a few things you need to know if you’re considering picking up the sport:
1. Buying a board
Now before you even think of shopping for a longboard, I suggest you figure out what kind of skating you plan to do with your longboard. Everything was pretty simple many years ago when longboarding was mainly either for cruising or downhill skateboarding.
But these days you also have freeriding, slalom, dancing, freestyling, bowl skating, etc and the kind of skating you plan to do will affect what kind of board you should get. Here’s a rough guide:
Cruising – you would generally want a flexy board for cruising to really enjoy the ride. The flex of the board allows easier pumping and gives a smoother ride as it absorbs the vibrations from the cracks and other minor annoyances of the road. Pintails or even a board with a kicktail are the popular choices for cruisers. Cruiser boards can be anywhere from 32 inches to 44 inches long but the size of the board is really entirely up to your own preference!
Downhill skating / freeriding – If you plan to venture into downhill skateboarding or freeriding, I would recommend a stiff and sturdy board. These decks come in all shapes and sizes, with lengths ranging from 34 to 42 inches.
Topmount downhill boards provide plenty of grip while drop-thru boards keep you low to the ground and makes it easier for you to slide. And of course, a drop board gives you the best of both worlds.
Freestyle / dancing – For those of you who prefer some boardwalking or want to do more technical tricks with your longboard, you should be watching out for boards with some kicktails. Flex would really depend on the individual but a slightly flexy deck would make the freestylin/dancing experience much more enjoyable.
2. Trucks & wheels
When you’re first starting out, wheels won’t really matter. But without getting too technical, the bigger the wheel, the faster you can go. Bigger square lipped wheels (70mm to 75mm diameter) with a “soft durometer (78A to 83a) are good for downhill because they grip and go fast. Bigger wheels make for a more comfortable ride too. Popular examples of grippy wheels are: Centraxes, Big Zigs, Monster Hawgs, Orangatang In-Heats and Seismic Speed Vents.
Smaller-sized wheels with a rounded edge and a slightly higher durometer (depending on your preference) will make excellent candidates for sliding or a good all rounder wheel. Smaller wheels are easier to slide, and also reduces the probability of getting wheel-bite. Some examples of popular sliding wheels are: Volante Checkers, Classic Freerides, Sector 9 Butterballs, Landy Street Hawgs, Zombie Hawgs… the list goes on.
Now on to trucks! There are a few types of trucks, but the most popular are Reversed Kingpin (RKP) trucks and Traditional Kingpin (TKP) trucks. Remember, there are no right answers to what kinda trucks you should get, but there are wrong answers though
*cough* Originals *cough*.
RKP trucks can be found on most longboard setups as they are more stable at higher speeds when compared to TKP trucks. They can fit most longboard bushings right out of the box, and therefore making it a more convenient choice. However, if you are planning to do grinds and stalls while on your board, you are better off with TKP trucks, as you might damage the kingpin when grinding on an RKP truck. Some examples of RKP trucks are: Calibers 44s/50s, Paris 180s/150s, Randall RIIs, Bear Trucks, and others.
TKP trucks are shaped like regular shortboard trucks, but with a longer hanger in order to accommodate the generally wider width of longboards. They are also lower in height compared to RKP trucks, making it easier to pop an ollie if your board has a tail. On the flip side though, you may have to use riser pads or smaller wheels in order to avoid wheel-bite when using TKP trucks. Examples of TKP trucks are: Independent 169s/219s, Landyachtz Polar Bears, and Paris TKPs.
3. Safety gear
I hate to say it but you really should get some safety gear. Yes, I know you might look abit “uncool” wearing that helmet and bulky pads but trust me, it’s better to look like you’re about to go to war than to be lying in a hospital bed.
Wearing a helmet is really a must and this is coming from someone who has fallen on her head more than my fingers can count. And don’t just buy it, wear it. I highly recommend a helmet that comes with a CPSC foam.
Slide gloves are also recommended because they will save your palms when you fall. Also, you’re gonna need them if you wanna learn some hands down slides. We’ll be doing a write up soon on how to make your own budget DIY gloves so stay tuned!
I’d also suggest investing in some good knee pads to break your falls. If you wanna see what happens when you don’t wear kneepads just drop me a message 🙂
4. Lets start skating!
It’s pretty tough to have a written guide on how you should start longboarding but here are some tips for you beginners:
Picking a spot – Try and pick a mellow hill with very minimal traffic and no blind corners. Flatland skating in carparks or basketball courts are good to get used to your board if its your first time skating otherwise cruising around parks are also a good spot.
Work your way up a hill – If you come across a new hill and you’re not sure if it’s something you can ride, try working your way up from the bottom of the hill, it’s a great way to get a feel of the run and slowly push your limits. Start 1/4 up the hill, skate down. Then start half way and skate down etc.
Respect your skate spot – Always respect your local skate spot. Be polite to the residents, drivers, cops and busybodies even if they’re a complete asshole to you. Losing your temper and acting out will only guarantee hostility the next time you’re back there. Oh yeah and pick up after yourself!
Skate with a buddy – It’s always more fun when you skate with someone! Not only is it safer, but your skate buddies generally push you to get better!
If you’re planning to get into downhill skateboarding, you should definitely hook up with some of the locals because they will bring you to all the best spots and teach you all the right things.
Watch shitloads of skate videos – The best way to learn really is to watch the pros in skate videos. Imitation is the basis of learning. Youtube some trick tips and do what they do. As simple as that.
Prepare to fall – Hate to break it you, but you will fall. It’s a fact. As Ashraf likes to say “You can only learn, once you’ve fallen.”
You’re more or less set to start longboarding. Remember to have fun and skate safe!
We hope you found this basic guide useful. If you have any questions drop a comment below. We will be posting more guides and tips so let us know what else you would like to read and we’ll try and get it posted.
About the contributors:
Both of them have been around the Malaysian longboarding scene before you even seen a damn longboard. One of the few active skaters left of the OG LGM crew, these dinosaurs still have a thing or two to learn about the crazy world of longboarding.