Longboard Buying Guide: Downhill
Since the advent of the skateboard in the 1950s, racing has been a staple part of skateboarding culture. Bragging rights and a hunger for adrenaline have pushed downhill skateboarders to race each other down the fastest, most technical hills in the world. Over the years, innovators have found that longer decks, soft urethane wheels, and wide trucks are better suited for handling the ever-rising speeds that downhill racers manage to achieve. The longboard market has recently exploded with new companies producing components for downhill longboards. Read this guide to help you through choosing your first downhill longboard.
Choosing Your Downhill Trucks
Covered in this Section (in order of importance)
Grab some Reverse Kingpin Trucks with a 50° Baseplate
Trucks for downhill purposes tend to be sized at 180mm (10” from tip to tip)
1. Choosing Truck Design
Skateboard trucks have come a long way since their origins in roller skates in the mid 1900’s. (That sounds like a long time ago, doesn’t it?) Trucks now come in a wide variety of styles, but we all agree that one style of truck is the appropriate choice for downhill longboarding. Whether you've decided on a drop-through or top-mount deck, the ideal style of truck for handling high speeds is going to be what many refer to as a "longboarding truck" — a reverse kingpin truck equipped with a bushing suspension and turning system like those manufactured by Bear, Randal or Caliber.
Get Reverse Kingpin Trucks
For riding at high speeds, reverse kingpin trucks will generally behave predictably and turn smoothly. These trucks can be used on both drop-through and top-mount decks. Some professional riders, and a handful of intermediate, ride “precision” trucks. These are manufactured in a different manner from “cast” trucks and tend to be a good deal more expensive than necessary for a beginner’s setup. We don’t recommend that you get a set of precision trucks for your first board... But, hey, if someone wants to give you a set, don’t say no!
The degree of your baseplate will determine how dramatically your board will turn with a specific amount of lean. As a general trend, high degree trucks (around 50°) will give you a quicker response while lower degree trucks (around 40°) will feel more stable at high speeds. Because of potential complications with wheelbite, we recommend setting up your first downhill setup with 50° reverse kingpin trucks.
“What about ‘normal’ skateboard trucks?” Do you mean traditional kingpin trucks like Independent and the Surf Rodz INDeeSZ? Sure, some people can bomb hills on traditional geometry trucks but their numbers are very thin. All of the top racers you see on the podium use reverse kingpin trucks. We'll consider standard trucks to be a very advanced choice for downhill, so stick to the reverse kingpin trucks that we've mentioned before.
2. Choosing Truck Width
The width of the truck should be as close to the width of the deck as possible to ensure proper performance. Look for a truck listed as 10" or 180mm (plus or minus a few millimeters is going to be just fine).