Imagine speeding down the slopes of a steep tarred road, performing skillful slides and turns. If this sounds appealing to you, you may enjoy learning a bit about the history of longboarding. Longboarding is super fun but where did it originate and who are behind this iconic sport?
The history of longboarding is complex, and there are many conflicting origin stories for this sport. The most common narrative is that longboarding was derived from skateboarding. There are different styles of longboarding. The design of the boards has changed through the years to improve safety.
- 1 What Came First: Skateboarding Or Longboarding?
- 2 Who Invented Longboarding?
- 3 When Did Longboarding Become Popular?
- 4 The Rise In Popularity In Longboarding In The 90s
- 5 Styles Of Longboarding
- 6 Early Design Of Longboards
- 7 Longboarding In Modern Times
- 8 Conclusion
What Came First: Skateboarding Or Longboarding?
While skateboarding and longboarding are two seemingly similar sports, especially to those of us who don’t participate in either activity. However, there are many differences between these sports, the most significant difference being the amount of time that these sports have been around.
In the early 1950s, surfers had the bright idea of transferring the sport of surfing from the waves to the sidewalk. They employed shorter surfboards and metal wheels that were devoid of bearings. Skateboarding reached its pinnacle in the late 1950s.
The US economy grew rapidly after WWII, which impacted the toy business. The toy business got aware of the board with wheels about this time. Roller Derby introduced the first official skateboard with several significant mechanical advances in 1959.
If we look back in time, we can see that longboarding became popular around 1959. Hawaiian surfers invented this modified method of surfing on a wheely longboard. The weather in Hawaii was the driving force for this change.
The waves in the water were not always suitable for surfing, which made it difficult for surfers to practice. Longboards were created in response to this predicament, allowing surfers to enjoy surfing on the streets in inclement weather.
To summarize, the desire of surfers to surf continuously without taking a rest led to the development of skateboards, which later led to the design being modified into a longboard. This information indicates that skateboards were already in use before being converted into longboards for surfers. Therefore, skateboarding came first.
Who Invented Longboarding?
Longboards were first introduced into the market in the 1950s by Preston Nichols. Early skaters constructed perilous makeshift boards out of planks of wood and roller skates in a technique known as Sidewalk Surfing.
Makaha, Jack’s, and Hobie became the first professional longboard distributors in 1959, making manufactured longboards commercially available.
These early longboards were still very basic in design and safety. The boards started with metal wheels, but later on, they were replaced with clay wheels due to increased safety features.
When Did Longboarding Become Popular?
Longboarding became popular in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but by 1965, it had lost most of its appeal. This decline in popularity can be blamed on the poor design and production methods of skateboards and longboards at this time.
The unsafe and unstable designs led to an uprise in parents banning the activity altogether due to safety concerns.
Longboarding resurfaced in 1972 with the introduction of the urethane longboard wheel by Frank Nasworthy and the Cadillac Wheel Company.
Skaters were able to achieve previously unimaginable downhill speeds because of urethane wheels. These wheels were built to be tougher and more adaptable, allowing for higher rates and greater versatility on the board.
Skate parks mostly disappeared in the early 1980s as a result of high insurance costs and litigation that forced many parks to close. Once again, this led to a decline in popularity in longboarding.
The Rise In Popularity In Longboarding In The 90s
When Tony Hawk and other celebrity skateboarders popularized skating and skateboard tricks in the early 1990s, longboarding saw a rebirth. Longboarding was revived in the 1990s thanks to the tremendous popularity of snowboarding. When there was no snow in the spring and summer, many snowboarders switched to longboarding.
Although street skating had become the new trend in the skating world, longboarding remained the most popular. “Sector 9,” perhaps the first longboard manufacturer, began mass-producing and selling longboards to the public.
Another technical development in the 1990s was the creation of reverse kingpin trucks. This design imporvement contributes to the boards’ increased stability and overall performance.
Longboarding has grown in popularity throughout the 1990s, resulting in a variety of riding styles. Boarder culture and interest in all types of boarding exploded during this time. This was not a trend like in the 1970s.
In the 1990s, internet forums began to emerge, providing more relevant information on longboards and the many models available. Longboards were enhanced due to the interchange of ideas, resulting in a more extensive range of longboards.
Longboarding has grown into a major sport, including events like downhill racing, the X Games, and the World Cup.
Styles Of Longboarding
The longboard is the sibling of skating and descends from the magnificent art of surfing. When you talk about a “longboard skate,” you’re talking about a subculture inside a subculture, one that feeds off of its own myths and legends, has unwritten laws, and groups that create their own rituals and vocabulary.
Cruising And Carving
These styles are the most laid-back and most straightforward to learn; cruising and carving are two of the most popular types of longboarding. These styles stem from the original style of skating, only slightly adapted for the difference in the boards.
If you’ve ever seen someone longboarding through the campus of your school or a downtown area, they were most certainly cruising and carving at the same time.
Cruising is the term used to describe riding a longboard in a calm and flowing manner, gently along a road or through city streets, roaming around for fun, or traveling from one point to another.
Carving is a surf-style riding technique that includes making a series of fast bends back and forth in an S-shaped trajectory to develop and sustain momentum and speed.
These styles allow more control and shock absorption, medium-length decks with wide, softer wheels and trucks about the same width as the deck are good for cruising and carving.
Longboard dance, also known as freestyle, began in the early 2000s when skateboarders Adam Colton and Adam Stokowski combined fluid footwork and stunts into their riding style and is based on the surfing technique of board walking.
When he made movies for Loaded Boards and Orangatang Wheels, Colton experimented with enhancing the film quality and grade of videos, which helped to revolutionize the longboard film scene. With his crisp steps, fast motions, and unbeatable balance, he was one of the first few skaters to really make longboard dancing a thing.
Colton’s skating partner, Stokowski engaged in freestyle more than Colton, effortlessly pulling off old-school flip flips as well as balance-based stunts. Together, this duo shaped longboard dancing forever.
Dancing is usually done on flat terrain and at slower speeds than other longboarding sports to offer the rider more control over the board and their motions.
The larger the deck, the better for longboard dancing, as it allows the rider more area for their feet. Riders who like to dance should seek boards with more flex and trucks and wheels that are designed for carving.
For many beginning riders, longboard dancing is an approachable sport. It’s a natural progression from cruising, albeit not as dramatic as downhill or freeriding. It’s actually a friendly, easy approach to improve your balance and carving abilities before going on to more extreme forms.
Dancing isn’t as flaunty as regular freestyle: you don’t need to know how to execute extreme ollies and shuvits to dance. As you strive to incorporate your tricks into a smooth, fluid, continuous movement, your maneuvers are usually less violent.
Dancing is often done on level terrain, making it less daunting than riding downhill. A peaceful parking lot or a tremendous broad boardwalk is all you need for longboard dancing.
Downhill longboarding, also known as speedboarding, is the most severe type of longboarding and should only be tried by riders with extensive experience. This style of riding was started shortly after the popularity resurgence of longboarding, and attracted many adrenaline junkies to the sport.
As the name indicates, this style of longboarding involves riding down slopes as quickly as possible, generally on a steep slope and around tight corners, without crashing or wobbling too much. Downhill racing has been more popular among the most adventurous longboarders in recent years.
Downhill longboarders are encouraged to use protective gear such as a full-face helmet, gloves, knee pads, and shin guards due to the risky nature of the activity. Downhill decks are often rigid with a short to the medium wheelbase, and drop-through, drop-platform, and top-mounts are prevalent.
Slalom is a type of longboarding in which the rider employs carving to weave in and out of obstacles while maintaining speed. In competitive slalom, cones are generally used to construct a course; however, recreational longboard riders frequently engage in “civilian slalom” on city sidewalks.
Slalom skating initially gained popularity in the 1960s and 1970s before regaining prominence in the 2000s. Henry Hester, Bobby Piercy, and John Hutson were among the early stars of slalom racing. Many of the 1970s races were won by these skaters.
Although there is no single form of slalom longboard, decks are typically 36″ to 40″ long with soft wheels for improved carving grip and control.
In slalom, of course, grip and traction are crucial. You’ll need wheels that you can rely on not to fall off. Today’s slalom wheels come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. However, many of these wheels have similar characteristics, such as form, size, and durometer.
Early Design Of Longboards
First, longboards were made with simple components such as metallic wheels and fiberglass decks. Others were simply homemade, DIY-style contraptions created by teenagers in their backyards, in which they would attach roller skate wheels to a board or plank.
As you may have predicted, this made kids feel insecure, and their parents were not pleased. Thus began the decline in popularity due to safety concerns.
Changes To The Design Of The Longboard
Manufacturers finally turned the decks to wood after a few adjustments. Metallic wheels gave way to clay and then to polyurethane wheels, which we use today, thanks to Frank Nasworthy in 1972.
These sorts of wheels are significantly more durable and sturdy. They improved grip, allowing you to skate faster, longer, and with more control. They also built trucks with more space for better cutting and turning.
The Reverse Kingpin Truck
The reverse kingpin truck was designed during the sport’s rebirth in the 1990s. The kingpin is positioned on either side of the axle, directing the axle in a different direction.
As a result, the reverse kingpins have a distinctive form and size that makes them superior at cutting and turning. Longboards gained more stability and control as a result of this.
Longboarding In Modern Times
Longboarders can now connect and skate together more efficiently, thanks to the internet. The technology utilized to create the decks is likewise far superior to that employed 60 years ago.
We have more flexible and easy-to-use carbon fiber, bamboo, foam, and fiberglass decks. Other components, like precision trucks, allow riders to fine-tune their sets to their own riding style.
The electric skateboard was created as a result of recent technology developments. Companies like Evolve, Boosted, and Atom are introducing a new method to navigate the streets with even more simplicity.
While street skating is still the most well-known and popular style of skating, longboards are useful in their own right. Both types of skating are distinct sports with distinct purposes. Longboarding was derived from skateboarding.
Now that you’ve read through this brief history of longboarding, you know everything you need to know about how people created this adrenaline-junkie sport. Use this knowledge to impress your friends at the skate park or to improve your own longboarding skills.
I’m an aged skateboarder and I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago but also love surfing, snowboarding, or anything that involves a board.