What Are Longboards Made Of?

by Alex Saez
Longboarding can be dangerous, so invest in a helmet and padding.

Longboarding can be dangerous, so invest in a helmet and padding.

Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images

A longboard is a hybrid between a surfboard and a skateboard. Unlike traditional skateboards, longboards are known for their stability; however, this does not mean that as a beginner you can simply pick one up and use it with ease. Longboard components vary in terms of design and material; if you are interested in longboarding, it is important to know which materials are best suited for your preferences.

Original Materials

Longboards originated in Hawaii, where they were constructed out of wooden planks and spare metal roller skate wheels. Rather than being mass-produced, these pieces of equipment were makeshift alternatives for surfers; when the ocean was too calm to surf, they practiced their techniques on land using longboards. As a result, longboarding was originally referred to as "sidewalk surfing."

Decks and Wheels

Longboards come in different shapes, sizes and compositions. The bodies, or "decks" of wooden models can be made of birch, maple or bamboo. In other cases, longboards are made of synthetic materials, such as fiberglass or carbon fiber, and have foam cores. The materials used on any particular longboard affect its weight, flexibility and appearance. Urethane is the standard material for wheels; like the decks, wheel design affects specific board characteristics such as speed, maneuverability and ease of use.

Bearings

Modern longboards are much more complex than their crudely fashioned ancestors; they contain specially designed metal or ceramic ball bearings inside their wheels. Metal bearings are cheaper and more common and are suited to the average rider. Ceramic bearings cost more, but they are only meant for high-performance users. Longboarders who opt for ceramic bearings usually like to take risks, such as racing downhill. The ceramics used for such bearings are made of either silicon nitride or ceramic zirconium oxide.

Trucks

A truck is the longboard component that affects turning; they are universally made from urethane and come in various different designs. Attached to a metal spring, the position of the truck and rigidity of the spring determine the purpose and performance of each board; this is also referred to as the truck's "geometry." All-purpose longboards have softer springs and trucks to increase maneuverability. Downhill trucks, on the other hand, contain more rigid urethane and springs to increase stability at high speeds.

About the Author

Alex Saez is a writer who draws much of his information from his professional and academic experience. Saez holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Queen's University and an advanced diploma in business administration, with a focus on human resources, from St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ontario.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images