Longboards – Surfing on wheels

The long boards with the four wheels are currently enjoying greatest popularity. While many hobby sportsmen roll to the school on their longboards, real professionals rush down mountain roads at speeds of up to 100 kph. The longboard is the big and older brother of the skateboard.

The success story of the longboard began at the end of the 1950s in the American state of California. On the Pacific coast, between San Francisco in the North and San Diego in the South, surfing on the surfboard has long been regarded as national sport. Clever surfers wanted to pursue their sport even in case of bad weather. Therefore, they just mounted axles and plastic wheels under their boards and switched from beaches to the curvy roads of the Californian mountains.



In comparison with a skateboard, the longboard has a longer wheelbase and bigger wheels. This results in an improved driving stability even on uneven roads and trails. Longboard is however not simply longboard. In the past decades, many different variants of the longboards have developed. The boards are between 90 and 210 cm long and differently shaped according to the discipline. Also the axles and the wheels vary depending on the driving style and the use. During the manufacture of the so-called decks, mostly bamboo and maple wood in combination with stable plastics are used. The mixture of the single components determines the flexibility of the board, in short: Flex. The Flex has a decisive influence on the handling characteristics and the use of the longboard.


The most common way of riding the longboard is cruising. It is less about tricks or speed, but more about rolling unhurriedly from A to B. Depending on the weight and the height of the rider, longboards with Flex are recommended as their rather soft decks with their smooth cornering capability can be controlled and directed well. However, downhill boarding, on the other hand, is really fast-paced. The riders on their longboards rush down roads with steep gradients and tight curves. The decks being used don‘t have any Flex, therefore they are rather rigid and thus prevent fishtailing at high speeds. A lowered platform provides additional stability as it lowers the centre of gravity approximately to the height of the axles. Another variant is carving which is very close to snowboarding. For narrow curves the longboard needs an intermediate Flex and particularly gripping wheels. The surfaces above the wheels are mostly cut out so that the deck doesn‘t rub against the wheels.



Would you like to try out a longboard yourself? In this case, you should wear protectors for the knees, hands and elbows during your first attempts. It‘s also wise to wear a helmet. Finally, the professionals know, why they don‘t step onto the longboard without protective wear.


Photos: Thomas Hirsch