FROM THE WITHITGIRL ARCHIVE: Story by Jody Franklin
Although longboarding is similar to regular skateboarding, it nonetheless requires a different riding approach.
Wheelbases can range from three to six feet, which means the traditional skateboarder must change her riding style when longboarding.
Longboards vary greatly in shape and size, and the presence or absence of a kicktail and "camber" are factors when considering a longboard for a particular kind of riding. For simple downhill riding, you might want a board without a kicktail, but if slalom is what gets you going then you might want a shorter board with no kicktail that has camber.
"Camber" means the board bows up in the middle, so when you're not standing on it the middle of the board is higher than the part where the trucks are mounted. Boards with camber are typically more flexible because they're made from a fiberglass/wood laminate. The camber absorbs shock and allows you to get some flexing, pumping action in the turns.
Most longboards are slightly wider than shortboards, so you really want the truck to be the right width. On a longboard, you can put a lot of leverage on the trucks when you turn, and if your trucks aren't wide enough the effect is amplified.
Start slowly and understand wheel bite and how to prevent it, because if you don't, you're asking to get badly hurt. Wheel bite is when you turn sharply, the wheel rubs the bottom of the board and the board stops abruptly. Unfortunately, you don't usually stop with the board. You keep going until you impact the ground very hard, and if you're lucky, not too awkwardly.
If you can push your wheel all the way to the board with a hand pressing on it you're going to have trouble. If you can even get it close, you'll have trouble.
Longboards give you a lot more leverage to squeeze those bushings, so add some risers, tighten the trucks, and get harder bushings.
Longboarding generally requires bigger, softer wheels. When selecting wheel size, keep in mind that bigger wheels will ride higher and you'll need more riser pad action to ward off the wheel bite. It depends a lot on the board and trucks you use too. Softer wheels will ride more smoothly compared to normal street wheels.
Jody Franklin writes specially for withitgirl.
Thank you to Flexdex for the skateboard images.
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