A longboard is a particular type of skateboard. Manufacturers design skateboards in many styles for different purposes. Some are tailored to a specific type of trick. Others are designed for different riding experiences. Skateboards are sometimes further characterized by the degree of experience necessary to successfully ride them. While conventional skateboards vary with respect to many variables, longboards are among the more distinct variations that differ enough to deserve their own name and category.
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A longboard is typically longer in length than a conventional skateboard, hence its name. While longboards do not follow a formal length requirement, the cutoff between a longboard and a skateboard is typically 91 cm, or approximately 3 feet, in length, and longboards are commonly as long as 130 cm, or 51 inches. Skateboarding was originally invented as a way to "surf" on land and enjoy the many pleasures of riding a board over great distances. While longboards are by no means as long as even the shortest surfboards, many of the manufacturing terms and descriptions of longboards are identical to the production of surfboards.
Conventional skateboards are well-suited to parks and ramps where tight turns and light weight make it possible to leap and flip the board with ease. However, for long cruising rides, their short length makes them less stable and more uncomfortable. By contrast, longboards are designed with transportation in mind. Longboard riders may cruise for miles and enjoy smooth uninterrupted journeys through cities or countryside.
Skateboarding uses foot contact on the ground to propel the board by pushing off cement for thrust. This is impractical when cruising at higher speeds on a longboard. The varied design of a longboard makes it possible to instead "pump" the board by shifting your weight back and forth when riding. This creates a thrusting force without the feet leaving the board. Longboard riders can often cruise indefinitely on flat or downhill surfaces with both feet planted solidly on the board. Variants of this technique are “power-turning” and “gyrating” where popping the front of the board off the ground occasionally in a turning fashion is enough to keep it moving without ground contact by the feet.
The length and stability of a longboard make this style of skateboarding easier. Smaller skateboards require better balancing skills. On a longer board, however, you may position your feet in a wider stance, offering much greater balance than a conventional skateboard. The board is usually wider as well, which offers greater comfort to those with large or long feet. Skateboard widths usually vary between 7 and 10 inches. The upper extreme for these widths is more typically found on longboards.
Tall riders who wish to perform agile tricks can still learn longboard techniques that impress as much a conventional tricks. They may not be as fast, but flipping the board, barrel rolls and ramping are all still possible. The length of the longboard is visually striking when performing such tricks, and this makes up for the slower execution compared to conventional tricks.