Longboard Buying Guide: Dictionary
General Longboarding Terms
Carving - The act of turning back and forth down a hill as a form of speed control or fun. Typically, carves are large and span the width of the hill and form large, smooth “s” shapes. Carving can be used to help a rider control their speed, but they can also be done for fun to get down a hill. It is important to know how to carve because it is a very effective way to ride a moderate hill in the event that no safety gear is present.
Freeride - This is a form of downhill skateboarding that is more trick oriented and technical, yet less organized than downhill racing. Speed is reduced by many variations of maneuvers. The skills required for freeriding are stand-up slides, hands down slides, and footbraking. Drop-through, drop-platform, and top-mount longboards (usually symmetrical in shape) are very common in freeride longboard skateboarding. They can be flexible or stiff depending on the riders preference and skill level.
Freestyle - Commonly referred to as “Dancing”. Freestyle from the early days of skateboarding has been incorporated into longboard skateboarding. This is the creative side of longboarding, so anything goes. This discipline incorporates many technical skills, yet can be enjoyed by riders from any skill level. Common skills to demonstrate are: sliding, riding regular and goofy, boardwalking, dancing, etc.
Downhill - Also referred to as Speedboarding. High speeds are gained very quickly on downhill oriented longboards, therefore, downhill skateboarding is a sport that requires skill and precision. In particular, you must know how to slide, drift, air brake, and come to a quick and complete a stop when necessary. Conditions can change very quickly while riding downhill. This is an advanced discipline of longboard skateboarding and requires that specialized equipment be used. Drop-through, drop-platform, and top-mount longboards are common to downhill skateboarding. Downhill decks are very stiff and usually have a small to medium wheelbase around 29-32”.
Sliding - The art of performing powerslides and drifts on a longboard skateboard. This art form has many uses in the longboarding world. Typically sliding is used to slow down because it is the most effective way to do so when compared to air braking and foot braking. Sliding is most beneficial because it allows a rider to effectively control his/her speed or come to a complete stop whenever needed. The rider manipulates his/her weight placement upon the board in order to allow the wheels to (predictably) lose traction. Knowing how to slide properly allows for safe and confident riding.
Hard Wheel Sliding - Also referred to as “technical” sliding. The rider uses wheels that are of a higher durometer (typically above 90a). The rider breaks traction, and manipulates their body positioning in order to perform stylish and aggressive slides. Because of the hard wheels, slides are easier to perform. In this form of sliding, speed is not the most important aspect, but the style and tricks involved are!
Soft Wheel Sliding - Also referred to as “freeriding”. In soft wheel sliding, the rider manipulates the board to lose traction in order to perform stylish moves like a 180° or stand-up slide. Wheels are typically in the durometer range of 80a to 86a, depending on the rider’s weight. Soft wheel sliding is beneficial to all forms of longboarding since it can also be used as a method of slowing down and/or stopping. Soft wheel slides promote safe and controlled skating.
Stand-up Slides - Doing a powerslide without placing one’s hands on the ground.
Drifting - A method to get around corners while lowering speed at the same time. Drifting is a very controlled turn where the rider manipulates and balances his/her weight in order to achieve a balance between grip and slide throughout a corner. This is a great method for newer riders who are looking to control their speed throughout the entire run.
Pre-Drifting - Typically used before a very sharp turn, this method of drifting involves executing a light drift beforehand. This allows rider to maintain more control by scrubbing off significant amounts of speed before heading around corners.
Shut Down Slide - A method of coming to a complete stop during your run. A shut down is used normally at the end of a hill. In emergency situations, a shut down can be done while riding a high speeds. It is important to be aware that a shut down is often dangerous to the riders behind you. You should give ample warning before performing this maneuver.
Pumping - The act of propelling yourself with a series of turns based on very precise, balanced, and rhythmical weight shifts. Pumping is a great skill to have on long distance pushes.
Dancing - The act of using the longboard as a dance floor. Dancing boards are typically longer than 48”, but dancing can be performed on shorter boards. Dancing is also referred to as boardwalking. The rider uses a series of steps to move around the board in a stylish manner. An example of a few dance moves are: cross steps, pirouettes, “peter pans”, etc.
Air Braking - One technique for slowing down on a longboard. The rider stands up and puts his/her arms out perpendicular to his/her body in order to create as much wind drag to slow down. This can be combined with carving or foot braking in order to help the rider reduce his/her speed. Air braking helps a rider control speed while cruising around on hills, but is not the preferred method of slowing/stopping in an emergency.
Foot Braking - This form of braking involves a rider lifting his/her foot from the board and slowly placing it on the ground in order to slow themselves down before a corner, to shed some speed, or in order to come to a complete stop. It’s important for a rider to control his/her speed in order to prevent reckless skating.
Longboard Deck Terms
Effective Foot Platform (EFP) - This is the total standing area of your longboard deck. Your longbboard deck should have sufficient area for your feet especially if you are new to longboarding.
Low Center of Gravity - This is where the longboard is closest to the ground. The rider has more stability when closer to the ground and, therefore, a low center of gravity is especially important when riding at higher speeds.
Wheelbase - This is the distance between the trucks on a longboard. It is measured from the inner most mounting holes on a longboard deck.
Flex - This is the bouncy feel that you experience on your longboard. Flexible longboards are best suited for low speed riding. Although not all longboard decks are flexible, longboard decks can come in a variety of flex patterns including (but not limited to): Light, Medium, and Stiff. Flex may be indicated numerically or indicated in the description of your longboard deck. A flexible longboard deck will soften the ride on rough concrete and over bumps and cracks.
Torsional Flex - Is the twisting of the materials in the longboard deck that allows an efficient return to center. Torsional flex is helpful for slides, pumping, and carving.
Concave - The curvature between the two sides (left-to-right) of the board. Concave helps hold your toe and heel in place, giving the rider more control of the longboard. Concave locks your feet into your longboard deck while carving in and out of turns.
Camber - The amount of upward bend along the length of a longboard between the two trucks. Because of camber, the riding platform is set higher than the truck mounts. Camber allows the rider to have more leverage for turns while riding the longboard. On more flexible longboards, camber ensures that the rider will sit at the same level with the trucks (rather than below them). Also, camber allows for boards to have a lot of flex without letting the deck touch the ground unexpectedly.
Rocker - The longboard deck bends downward in a smooth arc (like a banana) so that the center of the board is below the trucks. Because of this arc, the nose and tail are “wedged”, allowing more turning in the front and rear trucks. Rocker is good for long distance pushing since now the deck is lower to the ground. This is also known to make for a comfortable freeride deck since it decreases the stress on your knees and ankles.
“W” Concave - This is the concave that takes the shape of a “W” in your standing platform. The bump created is also referred to as a “dome”. This “dome” fits the arches of your feet giving you more control with your back foot.
Deck Leverage - This is the amount of pressure that the rider is able put over the top of the trucks. If your longboard deck has a lot of flex or is relatively flat, you will have minimal leverage over your trucks. If your longboard is stiff or has a lot of concave, you can put more pressure over your trucks.
Kick-tail - This is the back end of the longboard deck which bends upward. The kicktail is best used for tight maneuvers and preforming tricks such as kickflips and ollies.
Pintail - A teardrop shape that allows deep carving while minimizing the potential for wheelbite. Pintails are most often used for cruising and carving on flat surfaces and small hills. This style of longboard is great for beginners because of the overall length and wide platform for the rider’s front foot.
Drop-through - A form of mounting trucks to a longboard in which the trucks are “dropped through” the deck. Drop-through mounting lowers the rider’s center of gravity and lends to increased stability. This style of mounting decreases the stress on the hips and lower body while riding because it makes it easier to push and/or footbrake.
Top Mount - This form of truck mounting involves attaching the trucks to the bottom of the board. This is the traditional means of mounting trucks to a longboard. Top-mounting creates more leverage against the trucks allowing more sensitivity to the road conditions.
Flush Mount - This style of truck mounting involves having the trucks sit in a recessed portion of the longboard deck. A flush mount system can be utilized on drop-through and top-mount longboards alike. This is the least of the the popular mounting systems mainly due to its complicated implementation and design structure.
Drop Deck - This form of longboard deck involves an effective foot platform that is dropped to sit significantly below the truck level. The main advantage of the drop platform is that it can be lowered to barely clear the surface, although the actual deck height ultimately depends on the size of the wheels. The lower center of gravity creates more stability and causes less stress on the knees and lower back.
Wheel Wells - These are the routered area located in line with the wheels on your longboard deck. Wheel wells are created in your longboard deck so that while in deep carves you do not make any contact between the wheels and the longboard deck. Not all longboards have wheel wells, but it is common to see them on many since that they often utilize larger wheels.
Wheel Bite - Longboard wheels making contact with the longboard deck during a hard turn. Longboards are normally designed with wheel wells to prevent wheel bite. If wheel bite occurs, you can add appropriately sized riser pads to your longboard or simply select smaller wheels.
Griptape - The sandpaper-like material affixed to the top of a longboard deck. It is an efficient way to keep your shoes attached to the deck while riding your longboard.
Spray-On Grip - This is a clear grip that is quite aesthetically appealing. Many companies now apply spray grip to their longboards. Spray grip is often composed of recycled glass particles so it is also an eco-friendly alternative! Spray grip can be replaced with normal grip tape as it becomes more worn in. You can efficiently remove spray grip with sandpaper once the spray grip wears thin.
Longboard Truck Terms
Hanger - The portion of trucks that holds the axle. Hangers come in different widths, commonly referred to as if they were the name of the truck (“Randal 180”, “Paris 150”, etc.)
Baseplate - The portion of the truck that is connected to the longboard deck. Depending on the angle associated with the baseplate, the rider can adjust his/her board to have a more (or less) aggressive turning radius.
Pivot Cup - The cup-like section where the truck hanger makes contact with the baseplate. It should be snug to minimize movement or “play” in hanger. Replace the Pivot cup when needed.
Bushings - The (often brightly colored) pieces of urethane located on a longboard truck. Bushings come in different shapes and hardnesses in order to accommodate different rider weights and riding styles. See “Bushings Terms” for more info.
Kingpin - The main bolt that holds the truck together. It can be loosened or tightened against the bushings in order to give the trucks more or less turn. Typically a kingpin is a Grade 8 1/2” threaded bolt with a 9/16” head.
Lock Nut - Nuts with a nylon ring on the inside in order to prevent it from backing off of the axle, king pin, or hardware.
Axle Nuts - Typically a 5/16” nut with a nylon ring on the inner diameter of the outer side. This nut holds the wheel onto the axle and the nylon ring prevents the nut from backing off.
Speed Rings - Small metal rings placed onto the axle between the axle nut and bearing as well as between the inner bearing and the hanger.
Round lip - Round lips tend to allow smoother slide initiation. This refers to the lip of the wheel that connects to the contact patch and the side of the wheel. These lips are ideally found on wheels meant for free riding.
Side-set - This refers to the core of a wheel being located directly on the edge of the wheel. A side set wheel will have very little grip. Typically, side set wheels are wheels designed for freeriding or drifting.
Off-set - An offset core is one that is in between a center set and side set core. This results in a wheel with a happy medium between grip and slide. Many wheels feature an off-set core because it allows the wheel to perform well in nearly any condition.
Longboard Wheel Terms
Durometer - The “hardness” of a longboard wheel measured on a standard “A” scale. The lower the rating, the softer the longboard wheel and the harder the rating the harder the wheel. Durometer and feel vary for different riders and setups. Soft wheels for lighter riders may feel right, but to heavier riders they may feel sluggish.
Core - The skeleton of the wheel. Depending on the company and design of the wheel, cores come in different shapes and sizes. Larger cores tend to result in faster wheels. Smaller cores result in slower, grippier wheels. Cores also hold the bearings inside the wheel.
Contact Patch - The area of the wheel that comes into contact with the ground. Larger contact patches result in wheels with more grip. Smaller contact patches result in wheels that are easier to slide.
Urethane - The “rubber” that wheels and bushings are made out of. Different companies use different formulas and, therefore, different urethane wheels will have different feels. When ridden, some are fast and grippy, while others (at the same hardness) may be fast and easier to slide.
Sharp Lip - Sharp lips provide more grip. This refers to the lip of the wheel that connects to the contact patch and the side of the wheel. These lips are ideally found on racing wheels and slalom wheels.
Center-set - This refers to the placement of the core within the wheel. A center-set wheel has a core that is placed the same distance from either edge of the wheel (from left-to-right). The benefit of a center-set wheel is that it can be flipped left-to-right to prevent uneven wear. This is helpful because it extends the life of the wheel.
Longboard Bearing Terms
Bearing Spacers - Small metal cylinders that go in between the two bearings in a wheel. Bearing spacers allow the axle nut to be tightened all the way down, without compromising the spin of the wheel. This results in a wheel that works as an entire system.
Shields - The rubber, or metal, piece that sit on the outside of the bearing. Shields prevent dirt from getting inside of the bearing. Rubber shields can be removed in order to clean the bearing, while (although possible) metal shields should not be removed since they are easily bent.
Crown - The piece inside the bearing that holds the bearing balls in line.
Race - The tracks that the bearing balls rest on. Bearings have an outer and an inner race.
Abec Rating - This refers to the tolerance setting that the machine was set to when this bearing was being created. The higher the Abec rating, the more “precise” the bearing was created. Many people wonder if higher the higher Abec ratings matter, but the fact of the matter is that they don’t matter much, especially since they Abec rating system is not regulated. In a sport where the bearing is being put through a lot of vertical and horizontal stress, the precision of the ball bearings is less important than their overall strength. Not all bearings are Abec rated, and you may find that the non-Abec rated bearings tend to be more enjoyable than the rated ones.
Longboard Bushing Terms
Barrel - This shape provides a nice medium between stability, restriction, and lean. Harder barrels are typically used in freeriding and downhill longboard setups because they provide the rider with a nice return to center after coming out of turns and slides, in addition to providing lots of stability in general. Softer barrels are better for carving and cruising because they allow the rider to maneuver easily while still also allowing for stability.
Cone - This shape is designed for riders looking for quick turning and pumping. Cones allow the rider to initiate deep carves quickly, because there is less urethane to resist against the truck.
Eliminator - Originally called “stimulators”, the eliminator shape can be thought of as barrels with a little extra meat in the mid section. At first, eliminators will lean and perform like a barrel, but they become more restrictive as the rider leans further. When the rider leans to a certain point, the truck will stop turning because of the extra meat in the mid section. These bushings are typically seen in Independent trucks and downhill longboard set ups.
Rebound - This refers to the quick “return to center” of the longboard truck after a turn or hard carve. Quality bushings have higher rebound and tend to be more stable and responsive in feel.
Longboard Hardware Terms
Flathead Bolts - These type of bolts sit flush with the surface of a longboard deck once drilled in. Flathead bolts are typically seen on longboard setups that require the rider to move his or her feet over the bolts often.
Panhead Bolts - These type of bolts are used on drop through longboards and longboards made of bamboo, fiberglass or other material that shouldn’t be drilled in to. These bolts sit slightly above of the surface of the longboard when assembled and are usually used on boards where the rider’s feet don’t pass over the mounting holes.
Risers - Typically made of hard plastic, risers sit between the trucks and the longboard deck to help prevent wheelbite and stress cracks.
Angled risers - Risers with an angled mounting surface can help make a longboard turn more aggresively as well as create a little more leverage for turns.
Shock Pads - Shock pads help remove some stress off the mounting holes and bolts. They also protect the deck from weight and stress of the trucks. They are made of a soft rubber that absorbs some shock that the deck encounters when being ridden. Shock pads come different thicknesses and some are designed for drop-thru decks.
Flat Washers - This type of washer does not restrict the bushing very much. It simply protects the bushing from the kingpin nut. Flat washers allow a truck to turn a lot more because the bushing is allowed to “spill” over the edges.
Cup Washers - This type of washer restricts the bushing in order to keep the truck stable. Cup washers restrict the bushing to a limited area to move around, therefore the rebound from the bushing is higher when compared to a flat washer.
Longboard Safety Terms
Half Shell Helmet - A typical “skateboarding” helmet that covers the top and back of your head.
Full-Cut Helmet - Also referred to as “full shell”, a full-cut helmet is designed to cover the top and back of your head, along with your ears. This type of helmet is typically used by wake boarders and kayak aficionados, but are becoming increasingly popular among skateboarders.
Full Face Helmet - A helmet that covers your entire head and jawline. These helmets provide chin protection along with full head protection and occasionally are equipped with clear faceshields. This helmet is typically used by downhill racers and are required for professional races.
Slide Gloves - These are gloves with a plastic puck mounted to the palm. The pucks are typically made of a special material designed to be durable and provide smooth slides along pavement. Slide gloves are important for riders to wear, especially when they plan to learn how to slide or begin to participate in downhill racing.
Knee Pads - These pads protect the knees from damage when a rider falls upon them.
Elbow Pads - These pads protect the elbows from damage when a rider falls upon them.
Knee Gasket - An extra pad worn under knee pads in order to give the knees more cushion when a rider falls on them.
Racing Leathers - Occasionally referred to as “leather racing suits” (or simply “leathers”) these full body leather suits, are worn by downhill racers. Leather is a very durable material that will save a rider’s skin, especially if they fall while moving at a high speed. Leathers are only intended for serious racers since they tend to be rather expensive.