If you’re in the market for a new board, you’re likely seeing a ton of information about how great both skateboards and longboards are.
But what is best for you?
Learn the differences and benefits of each so you can pick the best one.
Differences Between Skateboards and Longboards
Let’s start with a quick origin story of the skateboard.
Surfers wanted a way to simulate their favorite sport when the surf conditions were bad.
This inspired the birth of skateboards—originally built from wooden planks with some rollerskate wheels stuck onto them.
They started out fairly big but were made smaller once riders realized this made it easier to land tricks and maneuver.
As skateboarding took on a life of its own, like surfing, it too evolved into different types of boards and different styles of skating.
Though it’s a bit obvious that skateboards and longboards differ in length, they each have further distinguishing factors. Get familiar with them all.
Shape and Size
As the name implies, longboards are longer than traditional skateboards.
They can be as long as 59 inches, whereas a typical skateboard length is capped at around 32 inches.
This can get convoluted because “longboards” can come in sizes as short as 28 inches – though this is more of a cruiser skateboard.
Besides length, the key difference in shape and size is the curvature.
Longboards typically have a flat nose and tail, whereas skateboards are curved on both ends.
If you see a board that looks short but is flat on both ends, it’s likely categorized as a short longboard.
Read more about the different types of longboards here.
The Flexibility of the Deck
The deck, which is the wooden base of the board, varies in flexibility.
If the deck is on the thinner side, it’ll be more flexible.
A flexible deck is great for cruising, but you’ll want a more stable deck if you’re looking to complete tricks.
For high speed and bombing hills, a thick sturdy deck is often the best choice.
Trucks and Wheel Specs
Both skateboards and longboards have wheels attached to the deck using trucks.
Upon quick glance, you might not notice many differences, but the trucks operate quite differently between boards.
Skateboards have rigid, narrow trucks that allow riders to grind and perform tricks. The trucks on skateboards match the width of the deck. The relatively hard and small wheels attached to skateboards are good for both street obstacles and park skating.
Longboard trucks are more flexible to give you a smoother ride on flat grounds and down hills. Their trucks usually span 150 to 180 millimeters. Longboards are equipped with large, soft wheels to give skaters smooth and coordinated rides.
Longboards are great for beginners who could benefit from maximum stability. Because they have bigger decks, they are great for building confidence if you’re completely new to skateboarding.
Smaller skateboards are great to transition to once you are more balanced and ready to practice some tricks.
Speed and Tricks
The skills you master will be different on skateboards and longboards.
Skateboards give you the ability to learn a wide range of tricks.
They are great if you envision yourself visiting skateparks, shredding mini ramps, grinding rails, and practicing kickflips.
Longboards are better for you if you are looking to remain stable and cruisey, get around turns, and bomb down hills.
Which Board is Right for You?
To figure out whether a skateboard or longboard is better for you, think about what style of skating you want to do.
Skateboarding culture is all about creativity. Finding new surfaces and obstacles to skate in new ways is one of the best parts once you’ve built up your foundation of skills. But, you’ll need to get used to falling and struggling to learn new things.
On the other hand, longboarding can be pretty laid-back and casual. Sometimes all you need to do is cruise and carve around your town. If you’d rather avoid falling and don’t care to do many tricks, it may be the discipline for you. Surfers and snowboarders often like longboards because it feels similar to being on a surfboard or snowboard.
If you don’t want to limit yourself to just one, start out with longboarding to build your foundational skating skills. Once you’ve built confidence, challenge yourself with a shorter skateboard.