Longboard Parts: Anatomy of a Longboard
If you've ever looked into longboarding or skateboarding you've probably come across terms like bushings, bearings, and trucks. Most people have no idea what these are or what their importance is when they start boarding. This article will demonstrate the anatomy of a typical longboard and attempt to clear up the purpose and importance of the individual parts so that anyone buying a board will know what's good, and what to stay clear of.
The largest part of the board is the deck. The term deck refers only to the long, usually wooden, plank that the rider stands on. These come in a variety of lengths and shapes. The image to the right demonstrates some typical longboard designs. Notice that these boards are usually more narrow towards the ends or have carved out spaces at either side of both ends of the deck. This is different from traditional skateboards and is required in longboard decks for two reasons. The first is that longboards are usually used to turn more sharply than skateboards. This requires that the board be able to tilt relatively far to one side. The other reason is that longboards typically have wheels that are wider and larger in diameter than skateboards. The danger of these two things is that the board will touch the spinning wheels when the rider attempts to turn. Since raising the board higher to get away from the wheels, would make for a higher center of gravity, and a more unstable ride, the only other option is to shape the deck around the wheels so that they do not touch while turning.
How Longboard Decks are Made
Longboard decks are made with approximately seven sheets of wood glued and pressed together under a couple tons of pressure. The specific type of wood used can vary and will have influence on what type of riding the board is best used for. Hard maple, baltic birch, and bamboo are some of the types of wood used. Bamboo for example, is more flexible than the others. This makes it less desirable for those who want to do any power sliding, but might be better for just cruising around, as the flexibility will absorb shock and make for a smoother ride.
Difference Between Dropthough, Top Mounted and Lowered Decks
When researching longboards the terms dropthrough, top mounted, and lowered are commonly seen. These refer to the type of deck and how the trucks are mounted on them. Longboards that are most like traditional skateboards are top mounted longboards. This means that the trucks are attached to the bottom of the board. Dropthough decks have holes carved out for the trucks to pass though the board and be fixed to the top and bottom of the deck. This essentially lets the board get closer to the ground to provide a lower center of gravity and therefore improve stability. The same concept applies to lowered decks. These are shaped when pressed so that the section of the board that the rider stands on is closer to the ground. These decks are also sometimes referred to as drop boards, or drop decks. The most common are top mounted and dopthrough boards. In terms of which is better is really up to the rider. Some find that dropthrough boards are better for sliding because of the improved stability. Some also say that top mounted boards are easier to flip because of their increased height. However, other riders will say they prefer top mounted boards for power sliding. I personally would suggest a dropthrough board for any high speed downhill riding, and for slides, while I prefer top mounted boards for non-slide related tricks.
Which type of board do you ride?
Examples of Different Longboard Types
Wheels, Trucks, and Everything Else
The rest of the parts of the longboard ar all attached to the truck (the T-shaped metal bars that hold the wheels to the board). These include the wheel, bearings, and bushings. A detailed picture of a typical setup is shown below.
How to Buy Longboard Wheels
The wheels equipped on a longboard have more of an effect on the ride than you might think. Which wheels you should use depends on what type of riding you plan on doing. For example softer wheels will give more grip and ride more softly on the road. This makes these wheels good for carving and makes for a smoother ride. Harder wheels can be used to go faster and are essential if you plan on doing any power sliding. The hardness of the wheels are measured in durometers. These are represented by a number followed by an "a". 78a is the most commonly sold wheel on complete boards. However the hardness should be altered based in the rider's weight and the desired type of ride. Since a higher durometer means a harder wheel, heavier riders and those who wish to perform power slides should look for a higher durometer.
Apart for the hardness of the wheel, the size and shape must also be considered. The size refers to the diameter of the wheel. The appropriate size depends on the size of the board. This is because wheels that are too big will hit the board while turning. General guidelines for wheel size are as follows:
Board length 40'' or longer = 70-75mm wheels
Board length 34 to 42'' = 68-72mm wheels
Board length 34'' or less = 60-67mm wheels
In terms of shape, wheels can either have a round or straight edge. Round wheels are better for sliding while straight edges will provide better control when carving.
Where to Buy Good Longboard Trucks
If you plan on buying your Longboard deck individually rather than as a complete set, you'll need trucks. Here are some that should work out nicely.
Where to Buy Wheel Bearings
Good bearings will allow the wheels to rotate more easily, meaning less effort will be required to push forward and higher speeds will be attainable. They may also provide a smoother ride.
Cleaning Longboard Bearings
It is important to keep longboard bearings clean and lubricated. Dirt in and around the bearings will gradually degrade them, causing them to seize up and require more effort to move forward.