For the beginning skater, learning to ride a longboard may seem like an intimidating project. But fear not, these road yachts are easier to master than they first appear. Follow this easy guide, and in no time you’ll be tearing up the street in your own neighborhood.
The longboard, at between 40 and 55 inches long, is the longest variety of skateboard. Invented in California, and designed to mimic the movements of a surfboard or snowboard, the longboard is best suited for long cruises and smooth turns. Because of its size, however, and the lack of maneuverability that comes along with that, the longboard is not a trick board, and it is not recommended for jumps.
A longboard can be the perfect place to learn the basics of skating, because it provides a sturdy and stable base when first learning to ride. The length of the upper part of the board, called a truck, is large enough to provide plenty of space for your feet, and the wide wheelbase makes the entire board more stable and less likely to surprise you.
When you first try to ride a longboard, make sure you are on a flat, level surface. You don’t want the board escaping you down a hill, and you do not want to worry about going down the hill yourself, so find a large area where you won’t run into anything that is flat enough to eliminate any rolling.
Next, put one foot on the truck of the board and move the board back and forth a few times. This gives you a sense of the bearings, inside the wheels, which can make the board move faster or slower. The speed of the board shouldn’t be too high at first, as it may make the board more slippery and liable to roll out from under you.
Next, stand up on the board, and feel it respond under your feet. A longboard is more than just a plank of wood with wheels, it is a flexible and responsive vehicle, and once you become comfortable using it, there are many things you can do with the longboard. Bounce up and down slightly on the truck and feel how much give there is, important because you want the board to be fairly flexible as you go into and out of turns, but rigid enough to give you stability on the ride.
Next, push off slightly with one foot, usually your right foot. If you are left-handed you may want to try the other foot, most boards are symmetrical and can be propelled by either side. Simply use your foot to push off from the ground. Then stand back on the truck. You may notice that you go a lot farther on a longboard than you do on a regular skateboard. Longboards are meant for speed and distance, with larger wheels that roll farther along the ground and the extra power available when pushing off. For these reasons, longboards can reach a much higher top speed than shortboards when used on a flat surface.
Once you’ve gotten comfortable standing on the board and pushing off, you should try continuous motion, pushing off with one foot, standing on the truck, and then pushing off again when you start to lose momentum. You’ll see that while starting from zero takes a lot of energy, you only need to push off occasionally to maintain velocity.
Now that you’ve gotten your cruising speed established and are comfortable staying on the board, it is time to practice turning. The basic turn of a longboard is distinct from that of a shortboard, and it is one of the main things that make these boards so unique. Because the wheels are so much farther apart, they respond differently than shortboard wheels when you go into a curve.
A skateboarder on a longboard can lean heavily into a turn, much like they would on a snowboard or surfboard, crouching down closer to the ground. The board will respond by carving out the turn, giving a fast twist to your movement, and sending you in a different direction, depending on your angle. It may sound complicated, but with practice, you’ll get the hang of it in no time. Just remember that the more you lean into the turn, the more the board will turn in that direction.
Although longboards aren’t meant for kicks and tricks, they provide a new range of options and a lot of excitement with their speed and massive turns. Known by their riders as land yachts, they are a way to surf the streets in style and have fun in the process.