A longboard is a type of sports equipment similar to, but not the same as, a skateboard. It is often longer than a skateboard and has a wide variety of shapes. It tends to be faster because of wheel size, construction materials and more precise hardware. Longboards are commonly used for cruising and downhill racing, known as longboarding, rather than skateboarding. Longboard ‘dancing’ and ‘freestyle’ are also becoming more popular styles, in which the rider utilises skateboard-like motions and steps up and down the board, generally in a fluid manner.
The first longboards were made by Preston Nichols in the 1940s and 50s as an alternative when the waves were too dull. Early skaters built dangerous, improvised boards out of planks of wood and roller skates in a practice known as Sidewalk Surfing. Manufactured Longboards first became commercially available in 1959 when Makaha, Jack’s, and Hobie became the first professional longboard distributors. These early longboards were still relatively crude, as they still featured metal wheels, but later had clay wheels due to improved safety factors. Longboarding became a popular activity in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but its popularity had largely died by 1965. Longboarding made a comeback in 1972 when Frank Nasworthy and the Cadillac Wheel Company introduced the urethane longboard wheel. Urethane wheels allowed skaters to reach very high downhill speeds which were not possible before. Standard vertical kingpin skate trucks at the time could not maintain stability at these speeds. In the 1990s, Sector 9 developed the reverse kingpin skate truck. The reverse kingpin trucks’ improved stability and suppleness helped downhill longboarding grow into a legitimate sport, with the International Gravity Sports Association (IGSA) as its governing body. The 90’s also saw the introduction of the cutout deck, which has sections cut out around the wheels to prevent the wheels from touching the board during hard turns. Longboard technology has evolved rapidly to accommodate unique modern skating disciplines including downhill, slalom, freeriding, dancing, and freestyle. Modern longboard decks can be made from a variety of materials including fiberglass composites, aluminum, and carbon fiber. Precision trucks, which are machined with cutting edge CNC technology instead of die casting with molds, offer more strength and maneuverability than cast trucks and have achieved popularity among professional skaters.
Coming soon – a directory of longboarding suppliers and resources in South Africa