New to buying a longboard? Or wanting to upgrade your existing setup? We’re here to help you through the process step by step and explain all the different parts and their functions on the way. This page will be split into two main sections:
Building a custom longboard: What do I need?
Aftermarket Upgrades: How can I improve my existing setup?
Building a custom longboard: What do I need?
Although it’s definitely more exciting that buying a generic complete board, if you’re new to the scene building a custom longboard online can seem like a daunting task, which is why we have put together this guide. If you’re looking to acquire a longboard or even a skateboard we suggest you build a custom board. This is because every component on a board fulfils a certain purpose and by choosing each part you can build the exact board you’re looking for.
This is what your feet will be standing on and this is largely what will determine what kind of setup you will be riding.
For downhill and fast freeriding you will need a rigid, stiff board with minimal flex because flexible boards will generate speed wobbles as you hit higher speeds. The amount of concave (or lack thereof) depends on personal preference. Kicktails are optional and can add a fun dimension to your board when you’re not going fast, but again, personal preference. Browse our inventory, there is plenty on offer.
The board sits directly on top of the trucks (axles). This gives you more leverage over the board and deeper turns and responsiveness (a more lively feel). Topmount boards also provide more grip (i.e. a harsh line between grip and slide)
Drop Through Boards:
The board has cut-outs at either end allowing for the truck to be mounted through the board. This provides a lower centre of gravity (the board sits lower to the ground) making the board easier to push over long distances and more stable at speed. Drop-Through boards also provide more lateral force than topmounts, meaning that it will drift into slides easier (i.e. a more vague line between grip and slide) but will also have less grip.
These are boards that are topmounted but with a lowered platform aiming to combine the benefits of Drop-Down and Topmount boards (however each to a lesser extent)
Drop-Down + Drop Through:
These boards have a super low centre of gravity and thus accentuate the characteristics of the Drop-Through board. These are ideal for long-distance pushing and fast-straight downhill runs. Very little responsiveness.
These are boards that blur the line between longboarding and trick skating. With enough length to allow for slower freeriding and with a nose and/or kicktail to allow for some basic trick skating manoeuvres, these boards are at home both on the streets/bowls and hills. These are ideal for the skater looking for a versatile board that can dabble (but not necessarily excel) in everything.
Here pretty much any of the afore mentioned decks will work. However for comfortability and smoothness of ride we suggest a deck with a bit of flexibility. Also have a look at our completes section, which consists mainly of cruising boards.
Decks and concave
There are many different shapes and forms of concave but essentially they all aim to do one thing – provide traction. By giving the deck added contours, pockets and ridges are created that provide traction to your feet. What concave is best? It all comes down to personal preference.
Below we’ve covered the 4 most predominant types of concave.
The standard concave that you will find on most decks. This shape provides a mellow concave that gently tapers upwards from the centre of the deck, allowing your feet to stay locked in.
Similar to Radial Concave yet with a flat centre; this creates a concave-free zone down the centre of the deck which feels comfortable and allows for easy foot movement.
The most aggressive concave out of those depicted, W-concave has a ridge down the centre of the board which provides an extra source of traction when sliding; suitable for fast freeriding and pre-drifts.
This type of mellow concave is mainly found on cruising decks and is normally accompanied by a significant amount of flex. This makes the board very comfortable when used as a commuting and carving option where little traction is needed.
PS: there are many other forms of concave and permutations of the above from aggressive to very mellow – it all depends on what type of riding you will be doing and what you enjoy.
These are the axles (called trucks) that make up the turning apparatus of your board and play a very important role in the feel of your setup.
Traditional Kingpin trucks:
These are the standard trucks you find on regular skateboards, they are ideal for low speed applications on shortboards, be it for street, bowl or ramp skating. They sit lower than Reverse Kingpin Trucks and provide a much more shallow turn .
Reverse Kingping trucks:
These are the trucks you will find on most longboards. They provide a much deeper turn ideal for carving and are more stable at speeds. -For further information on how to customise the ride of your trucks, see Aftermarket Upgrades.
Choosing the right wheel for what you want to accomplish with your board is vital.
You will want a wheel with plenty of traction. This means sharp lips, wide contact patch and a relatively soft durometer (hardness)
You will want a wheel that slides well. This means narrow rounded lips, narrow contact patch and a harder durometer
Any soft wheel will do.
4 factors to consider when buying a wheel:
the more width, the more grip. The sharper the edges (lips) the more grip. The opposite hold true as well, narrower = more slide, rounded lips = easier slide
A bigger wheel has a higher top speed, smaller wheel has a faster acceleration; smaller wheels are easier to slide (less urethane to lug around)
3) Hardness (durometer):
Rule of thumb, the harder a wheel the easier it slides, the longer it will last (sheds less urethane during a slide), the softer a wheel, the harder it will be to slide, the shorter it will last (shed more urethane during a slide) Urethane: substance the wheel is made of
This characteristic is a bit more mystical and often throws a curveball at the afore mentioned factors. Each company pours their wheels in different urethane formulas. And many companies have different formulas for different types of wheels (e.g. sliding, downhill, street etc.) hence, each formula has a unique feel and application. Therefore you will find wheels that are soft, yet ideal for sliding and freeriding, or hard yet with suprising amounts of grip. What to do in this case? Read our wheel descriptions when browsing our wheels, or better yet CALL US!! Or message, e-mail, whatsapp etc. We will get back to you with expert advice.
These are the things that sit inside your wheel and allow it to fit on your truck and make it spin. There are two main categories of bearings.
1) Bearings with spacers
This means the bearings come with a spacer between them, thus aligning the bearings to each other and allowing them to run in unison. This also provides load sharing among the bearings. Advantages are that the bearings will last longer and cannot be overtightened when fastening the axle nut. There are bearings with loose spacers as well as bearings with spacers affixed to them. Disadvantages: More expensive
2) Bearings without Spacers
This means there bearings comes as is, with now spacers attached/included. Advantages: Cheaper. Disadvantages: Shorter lifespan, easy to overtighten the axle nut.
PS: A common misconception is that the higher the Abec rating the better the Bearing. This is false. Abec ratings are applicable only to machine and industry environment where the bearing does not have multiple forces acting on it. In skating there are many different forces acting on the bearing through the constant back and forth of the rider thus rendering the Abec rating void. Much rather you should focus on quality and stick with tried and trusted skating brand bearings.
These are the nuts and bolts that affix your board to your trucks. The thicker your board (i.e. the chunkier/fatter downhill boards) the longer your bolt will have to be. Generally they are all the same price and we will select the correct length for your board.
Griptape is the adhesive traction tape at the top of your deck which prevents you from slipping off. There are two main types.
This is desirable for longboarding when you’re sliding or doing fast downhill skating. The more traction you have the more planted you are on your deck. When sliding the body is exerting a lot of force over the board pushing it sideways over the asphalt, thus the more grip you have the easier it is to exert this force without your feet slipping off.
This is desirable for trick skating and any type of skating where there is plenty of movement of the feet and high levels of grip are not essential.
Aftermarket Upgrades: How can I improve my existing setup?
If you’re interested in the technical aspect of skating and are looking to improve the performance of your setup through inexpensive means, you’ve come to the right place. The largest parts of aftermarket upgrades can be done on the truck and can greatly improve the way your board rides.
Bushings are a small, inexpensive component that can make a huge difference to how your board performs and feels. Many trucks come with stock bushings that are relatively soft and thus limited to low-speed skating. By changing the shape, hardness and urethane type of your bushing you can customise your board to perform to your needs.
A general rule of thumb is that the more voluminous the bushing (e.g. stepped barrel) the more stable it will be. The more urethane it has the more support it will give to the truck and the more it will resist being compressed. The opposite naturally holds true as well. The less volume the bushing has (e.g. cone bushings) the easier they will be compressed and the less stability they offer.
Middle ground between turn and stability. The go-to option for most downhill and freeride skaters looking for a consistent feel.
Offer a very deep and easy turn, yet minimal stability.
Stepped Barrel Bushings:
Offer maximum stability yet with a very restricted turn. Lots of volume ergo, stability. Great for fast downhill when paired with other options.
A beefier version of the Cone Bushings aiming to keep the deep turn of the cone yet provide more stability with more urethane support. For faster freeriding yet still offering turn.
Combines the stability of the barrel with the turn of the cone. Ideal for slower/mild freeriding.
Greater stability than the traditional barrel/barrel setup. For fast downhill and freeride.
Stepped Barrel/Stepped Barrel:
Greatest amount of stability with very little turn. For very fast and straight downhill (very rarely used due to extreme restrictiveness).
How to Set up your Bushings:
As the more immediate receiver of the rider’s weight, this bushing is generally the harder and/or the more voluminous one which will provide the bulk of the stability
This will be the more less softer and/or less voluminous bushing which will provide the bulk of turn/lean.
The harder the bushing, the less easily it will compress thus providing more stability; the softer the bushing the easier the compression and the higher the amount of turn. Therefore for the faster skating generally harder bushing are favoured whereas for slower skating softer bushings are preferable. However weight also factors into the equation, as a heavier rider will have to compensate by using harder bushings and vice versa. Use the below infographic as a rough guide.
Bushing urethane (durometer):
Each company has a unique urethane formula and many have multiple formulas for different bushings. These can be divided into two categories: 1) High Rebound: This type of bushing gives more resistance when turning and returns to centre quicker. High rebound bushings will have a ‘bouncier’ feel. (examples: RipTide APS, Venom SHR) 2) Low Rebound: This type of bushing gives less resistance when turning and has a more ‘dead’ feel to it. Low rebound bushings offer a more precise turn. (examples: RipTide WFB, Venom HPF, Fat Ant)
Footstops are mounted to the front end of your board with mounting hardware. A footstop serves to provide a point of reference for your front foot as well as a barrier that your front foot pushes up against when sliding; this creates extra traction for your foot and prevents it from slipping off.
An underrated and often forgotten piece of equipment that can make a big difference to how your trucks perform. The Pivot Cup is a socket in which the hanger rests and pivots in; therefore the type of Pivot Cup your trucks has will determine how the hanger will turn in the socket. A softer cup will provide a more cushioned feel, yet will be more ‘sticky’ in the sense that there is more friction between the cup and the pivot ball of the hanger. A harder cup on the other hand will provide a harsher feel with a more precise turn since there is less friction between the hard pivot cup and the pivot ball.
A small item with a big impact. Precision washers have numerous benefits. Standard washers tend to deform and rust over time, thus changing how the bushing will compress. Precisions washers are much stronger and can withstand the pressure exerted over them.
Cupped washers have a lip that curls around the edge of the bushing thus keeping the bushing firmly in place. When turning the lip resists against the bushing which means that cupped washers will provide greater rebound to your bushing.
Sleeved washers have a ‘sleeve’ on the inside that slips inside the bushings before fitting them on your truck. When the bushing compresses the sleeve provides more support and structure and allows for less deformation of the bushing. This allows the rider to run softer bushings than he normally would.