As you probably know the choice between a longboard or skateboard depends on what you want to do. If you don’t I’ll make sure you do by the end of this post. Even if you already leaning towards one or another there are still a lot of differences when you look at the parts and types of boards. There is so much to learn in order to make the right choice and I’ll make sure to cover everything to get you the answer you are looking for.
Let’s start with the conclusion. Should you get a longboard or a skateboard? Go for a longboard if you want to cruise around for an extended period and plan to ride long distances. Longboards are great for easy cruising and provide a smooth riding experience. Go for a skateboard if you want to do technical tricks on the street and in parks and don’t plan on just commuting.
You can have both but sacrifices need to be made. There are boards that allow you to cruise and do tricks but won’t excel at either of the two disciplines. Let’s dive into what exactly you can do with a longboard or skateboard, the main differences, styles and what to pick.
Differences Between a Longboard and a Skateboard
Longboards are wider and longer than skateboards, are more flexible and easier to ride for beginners. Longboards have large soft wheels and skateboard have small hard wheels.
Big soft wheels are great for riding but are more bouncy compared to hard wheels. This means if you do an ollie (jump) for example, the board is more likely to bounce back up. This makes landing a trick unstable and more chances of landing primo (both feet on the side of the deck).
Skateboards have smaller trucks, longboards have wider trucks and have a different design. Wider trucks provide more stability which you need at higher speeds. Smaller trucks make a board more agile which is needed for ollies and flips.
Both a skateboard and longboard are capable of tricks, but tricks for longboards are limited. Skateboards are great for technical tricks that require jumps, flips, grinds, etc. Longboards are great for long distances but also allow you to do rudimentary tricks like power slides, carving, and pumping.
|Wheels||Big soft wheels between 60 and 70mm||Small hard wheels between 52 and 58mm|
|Trucks||Wide and more stable||Shorter and more agile|
|Safety||Fewer injuries||More injuries|
|Tricks||Limited||Not even the sky is the limit|
|Effort to ride||Less||More|
|Styles||Cruising, Dancing, freeriding, downhill||Street, vert, mini ramp, bowl|
|Popularity||Less popular but growing||50% of the market, steady|
|Weight||Bulky and heavy||Lightweight and portable|
The Difference in Deck Shapes
Let’s start with the differences in the deck or board shapes. Popsicles curve up at the end, the always have concave (low, mid, high), are around 32″ long and widths vary from 6.5″ (kids) to 10″. Wider boards provide more stability and are often used for transition skateboarding (skate parks) and narrow boards are better for technical street skating.
There are some minor differences depending on the brand. Baker, for example, distinguishes themselves by a less curvy tail and some boards have bigger, smaller, wider or higher noses and tails.
As for concave, all skateboards have concave which allows for more control of your board when performing tricks.
Longboards vary a lot in shape and styles, and each shape is designed for its own purpose. Let’s break it down:
- Pintail: These longboards are wider in the center and have a sharp nose and tail. Pintails are directional boards, meaning they can ride in one direction only.
- Fishtail: Wider in the center and feature a split tail. Great for the classic surf style and great for carving.
- Blunt: These boards have a wider rather rounded nose and tails and are great for beginners. They are very stable boards but less optimal for carving.
- Cruiser: Cruisers are smaller boards and are darty, quicker and maybe less smooth for the absolute beginner. Can perform tricks because of the steeper concave and elevated tail and nose.
- Twin Cut out: Great for freeride and can ride in both directions (bi-directional). Very stable boards and suitable for beginners.
- Cut out: Bi-direction boards and better stability at high speeds. Great for freestyle, downhill, and freeride.
- Dropdown: These boards have a lower deck compared to the nose and tail. Great for beginners as they offer more stability. Comfortable rides, great for long-distance cruising.
- Speed: Come in different sizes and shapes but provide optimal stability at higher speeds
There are many differences between longboard and skateboard wheels and it’s not just the size, hardness and color. I’ll stick to the basics and keep it short mentioning only the most relevant differences.
Skateboards require smaller and harder wheels. It’s easier to land tricks on harder and softer wheels as they don’t bounce as much. The choices are endless but in general, you need wheels between 52 and 58mm depending on your style. Street skaters need smaller wheels, transition skaters benefit from larger wheels.
The hardness should be between 85A and 84B (104A). Hard wheels aren’t very comfortable riding long distances but that’s not their purpose
Longboard wheels should be big and soft, a good size is between 63mm and 80mm depending on your style. Softness depends on where you skate and your personal preference but anything between 75A and 85A is recommended for beginners.
Softer wheels are more grippy and longboard wheels often have a larger contact patch compared to skateboards. They don’t accelerate as fast as small and hard wheels but provide more stable speeds and balance.
Conventional skateboards are all a bit the same, though they vary in height and responsiveness depending on the brand. Longboards fitting vary a lot depending on what style you prefer. One of the biggest differences is how trucks are attached to the deck. Depending on the mounting type, deck shapes also vary.
- Top-Mount trucks: The trucks are attached to the bottom of a longboard deck, this provides more leverage and control because the trucks sit right below your feet. This is the most common type.
- Drop-thru trucks: This style is great for beginners as it provides a lot of stability but makes a board less responsive. The trucks are attached by cut-outs in the nose and tail which allows you to drop them through and attach them from the side.
- Dropped Deck trucks: Trucks are top-mounted but the longboard itself is lower (or dropped) than the nose and tail. They are great for sliding because your center of gravity is much lower.
- Flush Mount trucks: Provides a lower center of gravity but still allows for strong truck leverage. The downside is that you can only fit one type of truck.
- Drop mount trucks: Here the trucks are attached by fitting them into the deck providing less leverage compared to a top-mount but more leverage compared to a full drop-thru.
Bushings and Shapes
Where regular skateboards always come stock with cone-barrel bushings, longboards have many, many different shapes and purposes.
The good news is that you can fit longboard bearings in a skateboard and vice versa. There isn’t really a difference here though downhillers probably want to look at bearings that can better deal with heat from friction. Ceramics are usually what to look for but they are expensive. Other than that, no real difference here.
The Purpose of a Longboard
I’ll start with longboards. Long Board…., it’s supposed to be lengthy right? Well, not always. There are so many different longboards available but they still vary in width, length, shape, and purpose. Some are good for just cruising long distances, some are great for dancing, some excel at speed and downhill, heck some are even great for technical tricks (cruisers).
Longboards are excellent for cruising around town or riding long distances. They don’t require much effort to get up to speed and once you become proficient, it really is a great and healthy activity. I love the whooshing sound they make when you carve and compared to my regular skateboard, they are really quiet.
Longboarders like different styles, make sure to know what you want to do before you purchase one.
Longboards are great for cruising using minimum effort. It’s easy to balance on a longboard and you won’t be bothered by rocks and other small objects. This makes a longboard a great option for beginners.
Longboards can last for a long time compared to skateboards. They only thing you need to replace are the wheels and even they can last for a very long time depending on where, how and what you ride.
Longboards are expensive, at least when you want a quality board with decent parts. Longboards are bulky and rather annoying to carry around and can be a hassle to travel with. You can do a lot of tricks on a longboard but it’s rather limited compared to a regular skateboard.
The Purpose of a Skateboard
If you look closely at the shape of a popsicle skateboard you see that the nose and tail curve upward and that the deck surface curves inwards (concave). A skateboard is built for tricks and the shape helps to make that happen.
Sure you can just ride and cruise a bit but that would requirer softer and bigger wheels. Skateboards are meant to perform technical tricks like kickflips, ollie, and grinds. They excel at skate parks and street but require more effort to push around.
The deck trucks and wheels are designed to withstand impacts and are way more agile than longboards. It’s a completely different sport (or art as some say) and hard to compare to longboarding. If you know how to ride a skateboard you won’t have any issues riding a longboard.
- Technical street skating
- Mini ramp
Skateboards are easy to carry around and you can strap them on a backpack and some airlines even allow them as a carry-on. Landing tricks can be very satisfying and it’s a great way to make new friends.
They are very agile, build for impacts and it will change how you view the world (stairs, rails, curbs). Skateboards are cheaper than longboards and are more popular (though longboarding is the faster-growing sport).
There are many parks and facilities for skateboarders and after years of decline, skateboarding popularity is rising again.
Skateboarding requires a lot of dedication and commitment. If you skip the basic steps you might injure yourself. Skateboard might seem cheaper, but when you ride often and do lots of technical tricks it can become more expensive. Shoes, decks, and wheels need to be replaced regularly depending on where you skate.
Transition skateboarding (ramps, parks, etc) is usually less demanding when you look at equipment wear and tear, and your body.
Skateboards aren’t great at riding longer distances. the hard wheels can feel uncomfortable on rough roads and it requires a lot of pushing to maintain speed. Carving is almost impossible.
What They Have in Common
Both offer tons of creative fun and share their own subcultures. Skateboarders and longboarders come from all walks of life and share a passion. It’s a great way to make friends, even though it’s a rather individualistic sport, most people love to share tips and help each other become better riders.
As far as the boards go, they both have trucks, wheels, decks, bearings and some parts that are interchangeable. You can even slap longboard wheels on a skateboard and start cruising, make sure to add riser pads though.
You often find that skateboarders and longboarders share a passion for boardsports such as snowboarding, surfing or wakeboarding. Often skaters are creative people that don’t have much interest in popular sports.
Which is Easier to Learn?
Usually, a longboard is easier for beginners, longboards are wider and longer which helps you to maintain balance. Additionally, the larger and softer wheels can handle small obstacles and rough roads much better compared to a skateboard. Longboards have no issues with large cracks and sometimes you hardly notice them.
In some cases, it’s even possible to ride over tram rails when commuting in the city, given that you approach the rails at the right angle. A skateboard is more prone to get stuck in cracks and small rocks can block the wheels if you’re unlucky. It really depends on how you position yourself on your board. Leaning forward will make it more likely to get wheel block than if you lean backward.
Make sure to wear protective gear!
Which is More Expensive?
Longboards are more expensive if you’re going for a quality board. A decent longboard costs between $150 and $250. This will give you a quality deck, great wheels, and reliable trucks.
Decent skateboards go between $90 and $150. At $90 you won’t get top quality parts but still acceptable, at 150 you really get the best components you can get. Low-quality wheels and bearings need to be replaced more often.
In general, it’s a bad idea to go for a cheap longboard or skateboard, you’ll get inferior components and it won’t be fun to ride. If your budget is tight, consider buying a used longboard or skateboard but make sure you inspect it before you buy. Check the deck for chips, delamination and water damage. If the bearings make noise there’s a good chance they need to be replaced.
There’s more to it than just the initial cost. Longboards last way longer than skateboards so let’s see why.
Which Lasts the Longest?
Looking at it from a durability perspective longboards last longer. Often longboard riders just want to cruise which means only your wheels will wear, your board and trucks can last for decades given you treat your board right and maintain it well. I got a 15-year-old sector9 over here and it still has the original deck and trucks.
If you want to downhill, prepare to replace your wheels often. bearings could also suffer more because of the high RPM.
Technical skateboarders often need to replace their deck every few months and sometimes even after a couple of weeks. Decks wear because of impacts, develop razor tail and chipped noses and tails. Sometimes your unlucky and break your board in a day if you don’t land a trick on the bolts.
You also need to replace shoes very often making it a more expensive hobby than longboarding. trucks will last for a long time and wheels as well. It really depends on how frequent you skate and what style you prefer.
Which Is Safer?
In general, you could say that longboarding is safer. It really depends on the style, how often and where you ride. Bombing the hills is riskier than just cruising around. Crowded areas and traffic should be avoided because many accidents involve vehicles.
Skateboarding is a relatively safe activity, basketball, and football, for example, cause more injuries than skateboarding. Also, technical street skaters have a higher risk of getting injured compared to people just cruising on longboards. Most of the injuries aren’t serious but it’s always a good idea to wear a helmet, just to be sure.
Which Is Better?
Some will say skateboarding and others will say longboarding is better. What is better anyway? Many skateboarders also ride longboards and vice versa. What’s best for you depends on what you want to do and your personal preference.
Longboards are better for long distances and provide a more relaxing riding experience. Skateboards are better for technical tricks but require more effort to push. If you are afraid of falling or don’t think you are able to commit, a skateboard isn’t for you.
Which Came First?
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when skateboarding was invented. It’s likely that a few people can up with the same idea around the same time. Skateboarding came first but they looked more like cruisers than the shapes we see today.
In 1959 Roller Derby Skate Company was the first company that mass-produced skateboards. earlier ( 30s, 40s, and 50s) ‘sidewalk surfers’ were bombing the hills using improvised boards.
Kids also used handmade crate scooters, after a while kids removed the crates and bore many resemblances to skateboards. Skateboarding and longboarding really took off when wheel technology replaced clay and steel wheels with polyurethane.
Which Is More Popular?
Skateboarding is still dominant and counts for about 50% of skateboard sales, but longboarding is growing faster. About 40% of popsicle riders also ride a longboard. One of the reasons for this growth is college students buying longboards and cruisers for commuting around campus.
Women tend to make up a large part of the longboarding community, you’ll more often see a girl riding a longboard than a skateboard.
Which Performs Better in the Rain?
Longboards perform better under wet conditions though I would never recommend skating or longboarding in the rain. It also depends on the wheels, Orangatang wheels, for example, perform way better on wet surfaces than Fatty Hawgs cruiser wheels. The small (and often hard) wheels and size of a regular skateboard make it more likely to slip and lose control of your board.
Longboards have more grip because of the large (softer) wheels and distribution of your weight. Skating in the rain is also bad for your wooden board and bearings. There are some bearings that can handle wet conditions but they are crazy expensive.
Furthermore, rain affects your grip tape and can cause a deck to become waterlogged. The wood absorbs the water which affects the flex of your deck. It also can cause delamination, meaning the wooden layers that are glued together come off. Both longboards and skateboards can’t handle wet conditions very well.
Which Is the Fastest
A skateboarder will have a hard time keeping up with a longboarder. It requires much more effort to get up to speed and maintain velocity on a skateboard. Skateboards accelerate faster but require a lot of pushing to keep rolling.
Popsicle skateboards become unstable at high speeds because the wheels and trucks weren’t designed for that. The trucks will start to have a mind of its own resulting in speed wobble. It’s hard to stop when this happens and only really experienced skateboarders know what to do.
Longboards require more effort when it comes to acceleration but the differences are very minor, most beginners won’t even notice probably. Once you get up to speed a longboard just keeps going with minimum effort (at least compared to a skateboard).
Longboard can go really fast, the wide tricks, large soft wheels and deck will keep your ride stable without having to worry about being thrown off. Want speed? Go for a longboard.
Making a Decision
Go for a longboard if you want to ride longer distances or don’t feel like doing lots of tricks. Think about the style you like most. Love how people dance on a longboard, make sure to get a dancer. Want to bomb the hills, get a longboard that can handle it. Just want to cruise and carve, get a basic longboard and go from there. You could also consider getting a cruiser, I wrote a post a while ago about skateboards, longboards, and cruisers which explains the differences.
Go for a skateboard when you want to do tricks. You’ll need to get the basics down first but once you can ride around comfortably you can move on to shove its, ollies, manuals and eventually land your first kickflip.
If you want a bit of both consider building a skateboard that allows you to cruise and still do some basic tricks. It’s possible to convert an existing skateboard into a cruiser, a wider deck (8.5″+) and bigger/softer wheels are required. Wheels between 80A and 92A with a size of at least 56mm is a good start, consider riser pads when you go above 56mm or skate with very loose trucks.
Can’t Decide? Consider a Small Cruiser
Cruisers like the Landyachtz Dinghy allow you to do tricks and cruise comfortable around town. They are great for hopping curbs, old school tricks, carve and easy to carry around. I recently tested this board and it was such a fun ride. I was very impressed by how it performs and learned a few things I didn’t even know about. Check out the review.
Even though this is a lengthy post, I haven’t even covered half of the differences. This should give you a good idea to do some further research about the type of skateboard or longboard is the best for your personal preferences. Check out my recommended gear section for some decent setups at a reasonable price.