Longboarding Hardware 101
Longboarding is growing in popularity, with everybody from kids to adults picking up the sport for reasons ranging from transportation to downhill racing. Want to give it a try? Here’s what you’ll need to know:
A typical beginner longboard deck is 35-40 inches, says Max Wippermann of Seattle’s Motion Boardshop. Boards as long as 45 inches aren’t uncommon either. Skater and ride organizer Dean Ozuna says size doesn’t matter. “Longboarding is a lifestyle,” he says. Ozuna says aspiring longboarders should pick a board that feels comfortable and is adorned with art you like. Styles vary. Tacoma’s Five Mile Longboards even shapes the wood in its decks to create a wavy surface making it easier for skaters to keep their feet in correct position. $75-$300.
Most trucks are made of cast aluminum and the angle impacts the ability to turn the board. A lower angle is good for experienced racers screaming downhill at 50 mph, Wippermann says. A higher angle is better for those cruising and needing to turn quickly at slower speeds. $45-$50 (Or $300-$400 for precision racing trucks).
Made from polyurethane, longboard wheels are bigger (typically 65-85 millimeters) than standard skateboard wheels. You’ll want soft wheels to absorb the vibration of riding on asphalt. Otherwise, just pick your favorite color. $40-$50
These anti-friction components allow the wheels to roll freely. While prices range dramatically, Wippermann says “a bearing is a bearing.” He races on the least expensive bearings he can find. $12-$100
BUSHINGS: These are urethane rings in the trucks. They come with the trucks, but Wippermann suggests sampling other bushings to feel the difference in turning and control. “There’s definitely nothing wrong with starting off with stock bushings,” he says. $14
GRIP TAPE: Applied to the riding surface, this improves traction for the skater. $5-$15
HELMET: Helmets may not be cool in some skating circles, but no matter how good you are, veteran longboarders won’t ride with you if you don’t wear one. Dan Kasmar of Five Mile Longboard says he ridicules helmetless longboarders using names we can’t print here. “Whose day are they going to ruin if they fall?” he says. “Mine. … If they get hurt being stupid it’s not good for the sport.” $40-$300
SLIDE GLOVES: These thick leather gloves with large pieces of plastic called pucks sewn into the palms are used to control speed and direction by dragging your hand on the asphalt. “Like an outrigger on a boat,” Wipperman says. They also provide hand and wrist protection. Wrist guards also work well for less aggressive skating. Vern Essenberg, COO of Olympic Sports and Spine, says skaters can be susceptible to wrist and elbow injuries. $35-$50
PADS: As far as safety goes, elbow and knee pads are sometimes considered optional. “If you want to grind your knees and elbows down to the bone, that’s fine,” says race promoter John Ozman. “Just make sure you’re wearing a helmet.” $15-$50 each set. By Craig Hill of the News Tribune.