An offshoot of skateboarding, this sport came into existence as 'sidewalk surfing' in the 1950s in Hawaii. In the later years, avid skateboard lovers developed longboarding in order to recreate a feel of surfing on the road. The size and shape of longboards vary according to different applications. If these boards are heavy, they provide more momentum for speed skaters, whereas, the lighter ones are easier to maneuver.
To gain momentum while riding the longboard, downhill slopes are preferred. Although most of the boards measure around 100 to 150 cm, and are used for downhill cruising, professionals in this sport get their boards customized in accordance with their height, weight, and comfort of use. Riders can choose a variety of different shapes, but the most commonly used ones are flat-nosed boards shaped like pintails. These boards have very loose trucks, and allow the diameter of wheels to be broader. This provides a surf-like feel on the road.
The decks of longboards are very important when it comes to maneuvering it. The deck determines factors such as comfort, position, and balance of the rider. The 'pintail deck' is a tear-shaped flat surface that is suitable for beginners due to its simplistic design and easy maneuverability. Another deck which is called the 'drop deck' design, consists of a curve in the middle of the deck, and provides great control while going downhill. One more shape that is gaining popularity is the downhill board, which is similar to the drop deck construction, that provides stability and facilitates an easier balance while riding.
Longboards consist of wheels which are broader and larger than the ones used on regular skateboards. Although the steel ball bearings are commercially popular, high quality ceramic bearings are also used by longboarding professionals. The broader wheels in longboards provide a better grip on various surfaces, and roll easily on tiny cracks, stones, light gravel, and sticks. This is not possible with the smaller wheels on skateboards. Essentially, longboards have softer wheels which reduce vibration, and offer better cruise control. The broader wheels in these boards also minimize the skid ratio, which is marginally high in skateboards.
Like in skateboarding, protective equipment used in longboarding is very important. Helmets need to be worn along with knee and elbow pads. Sliding gloves made of hard leather with plastic pucks should be worn, which are of prime importance, especially in downhill racing. The use of protective equipment minimizes injury, and hence should not be ignored.
Although longboarding is a rage among downhill racers, it has become increasingly popular as a recreational sport for the pure thrill that the sport provides.