Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Cars, Longboards, and My Son

It's no surprise that I'm big into cars -- what guy isn't? I do have other hobbies, like guns and skateboards -- not in that combination, though.

The skateboard hobby is quite surprising because I'm about as coordinated as an elephant on a tightrope.

However, I bought my son a skateboard and he just loves it and thought it would be cool to be able to ride around and do tricks with him -- some good father-son time.

I did do some research and found that a longboard might be a good solution.

I know I don't write on this blog a lot, so I thought now might be a good time to change that. New Year. New goals. And I have something to share today: How to choose the best longboard for you.

Skateboard or longboard: Oh my, choices???

The difference between the two is one is -- wait for it -- longer than the other. A skateboard is about 28" to 32". A longboard is about 35" to 60".

The extra length improves overall stability and speed. (There's more room for my size 14" feet and I can carve this thing like a surfboard.) They are used mainly for downhill runs and transportation.

Skateboards are just the opposite. They sacrifice stability and speed for maneuverability and being able to do tricks. You won't find a skateboard blasting down a mountain road at 40 MPH.


I could not find a solid history about who invented longboards, so I'm just going to list what I got -- whether right or wrong -- and you can be the judge and do additional research.

Tom Sims was one of the pioneers of longboarding. Some say he was the inventor when he put his skateboard wheels and trucks on a water ski. Then, it sort of mutated from that. Wikipedia lists Sims as a pioneer but notes that longboarding didn't become popular until him and Brad Stradlund were listed in the "Cult of the Longboard" article back in the late '70s.

Another idea is that surfers, who couldn't surf in the winter, put wheels and trucks on a surfboard.

How will you use the board?

Unlike skateboards, longboards come in different styles -- there's downhill, carving, sliding, cruiser, slalom, freestyle boards. There's, also, a lot of different longboard brands.

It's important you know what you want to do with your board before you plunk down any cash on one.

Wheels are important, too. They come in durometer ratings. The lower the durometer, the smoother the ride and more sticky the grip. The higher the durometer, the easier to slide and less sticky the grip. Here's a good resource for choosing longboard wheels.

Trucks and bearings

It seems the wheels and a deck of a longboard get the most focus. They are, after all, the parts everybody sees -- the cool paint job and shape of the deck, along with the cool color of the wheels.

There are less sexy pieces on a longboard, though. Longboard trucks attach your wheels to your board and help determine how stable your ride will be. The wider the trucks the more stability you'll have; the narrower the trucks the quicker turning ability you'll have. See: How does truck width affect the ride?

Bearings are not sexy, either. They are an important part for speed. The faster you can get your longboard bearings to roll the faster your board will go. Speed equals the least amount of friction. (One of my benefits is that I'm 200 pounds, so once I get going down a hill, gravity and weight give me an extra boost in speed.


Longboarding isn't cheap, and make sure you budget safety gear into your total costs. Gear is much cheaper than a hospital visit.

There's all I know about longboarding. I will say that it is a lot of fun to go for a ride with my son, so I think the cost was worth it.

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