This is not an uncommon question, uttered from the skeptical to the nervous. The pondering of why you should partake in any sport you may know nothing about is normal, and asking questions about it are the only way to go. Without asking and learning, you might just dismiss or turn your back on something that could enrich your life, boost your confidence and build a social group.
Longboarding has all the potential to do those things and more. Every sport, hobby or interest has a way to open new opportunities that you would never have encountered if you were not into it. However, before we get into the grand world that you can be introduced to, let’s talk about what longboarding is.
What is longboarding?
Longboarding is a style of skating on a longboard, which is traditionally between 40 and 48 inches. These boards come in different sizes and shapes and serve different purposes. Some boards are great commuter boards, meaning they are made for riding long distances comfortably and with less effort, whereas others are racing boards, built for speed and control. Don’t let that scare you, because racing boards are often just as good at cruising as commuter boards.
The major thing that you should know about starting longboarding is that you should not start on an expensive board. Get something cheap, durable and stable. When you learn to longboard you fall, crash and wipeout and that can ruin the look and ability of an expensive board. Resist the urge to get the very best and get the lower end boards. You will be glad you did when you scratch up your $80 board instead of a $500 board. While we are on the top of boards, let take a look at the basics.
What do I need to know about a longboard?
There are a few basic parts to a longboard:
This part of the longboard is the part you stand on. It can be made of a variety of materials, from bamboo to poplar wood to resin and can be solid or multi-ply. What your deck is made out of determines its durability, control, flexibility, speed, turn radius and weight. That is a lot relying on one piece of wood, so it is important to do your research and test out as many boards as possible.
In addition to that, decks come in different styles, such as the drop through style or down drop style which is made for downhill longboarding, and the pintail and top mount boards are made for cruising and carving through the streets on your commute. Paying attention to the type of deck you get is important when starting out.
Trucks are the metal axles that hold the wheels. They are attached to the deck at the bottom with a kingpin, and there is a reverse kingpin style where, you guessed it, the pin is the reverse of how it would be on standard longboards. Trucks determine the balance, speed, control and turn radius of the board. Higher trucks will be better for tricks and commuting as they are easier to maneuver and use. Lower trucks give a better center of gravity and allow for the rider to pick up more speed while remaining in control.
Wheels are almost always made of polyurethane, and that is because of its durability and customization. Wheels determine the smoothness of the ride, how well the board grips the road, speed, and acceleration. Softer wheels make for smoother rides and are best for the commuter and the downhill longboards alike. Harder wheels are more for tricks. Make sure you test different wheel combinations when you test out boards.
Bearings are rated by a system called ABEC. ABEC is a rating system from the Annular Bearing Engineering Committee and the rating goes 1,3,5,7, and the pinnacle is 9. The higher an ABEC rating, the better the precision, and speed of the bearings, though they do not always mean that the wheels will spin faster, it is all depending on the wheels you have in the board.
Most boards come standard with grip tape. Grip tape is sandpaper like layer on the top of your board meant to give your shoe traction to keep you on the board. Some boards do not come pre-gripped, and you need to be aware of that so that you don’t get a slick board that you slide right off. Don’t worry if your board has awesome details, because they have clear grip tape, just for that purpose. There are different levels of grip tape from super grippy to slightly and as a beginner, you want something in the mid-range for you to get used to it.
What can Longboarding do for my life?
In addition to enriching your life by learning a new skill, you can gain lasting friendships from fellow longboarders, build your self-esteem and even get job opportunities. Almost everyone who works in a skate shop, skates in some fashion and having that skill is something that could land you the job of your dreams. Longboarders also tend to navigate to the same places and due to this, you have a chance to expand your social group and share an interest with others.
If you aren’t looking for social improvements, the health ramifications can be something to start longboarding. Now, barring some scraps, bruises, and cuts from falls, longboarding can improve your health. It is a part of an active lifestyle and as such it can improve the following areas:
- Response time
- Stress Relief
- Improves Self-Esteem
- Self Confidence
- Lowers chances for high blood pressure and other diseases from a sedentary lifestyle
After looking at all of these factors, and taking a serious look at the benefits that you could reap from longboarding, isn’t the better question, why haven’t I started longboarding yet?