To a newbie, an off road longboard and a skateboard might sound like they’re the same thing. After all, they are both boards with wheels on them, right?
Technically, this is correct. However, an off road longboard and a skateboard are not the same. It all comes down to how you can use them and what they can do. If you ever find yourself in the process of picking one or the other, start by asking yourself what it is you want to do with the board.
So off road longboard vs skateboard – what’s the difference? And how do they compare?
Are you looking to perform impressive tricks on a half-pipe, or are you looking to go high speed on dirt tracks or tackle rough terrain down the side of a hill? If your answer is the latter, then you want to get an off road longboard. Let’s take a quick look at the characteristics of off road longboards and what makes them different from skateboards.
The Differences Between a Skateboard and a Longboard
Here are some of the key differences between a skateboard and a longboard (or ATB):
The Size and Shape
If you put a skateboard and a longboard next to each other, you would immediately notice the difference between their sizes and shapes. For starters, a longboard has a flat nose compared to a skateboard. On your skateboard, the tail and nose will be slightly curved, making it easier for you to do flips and tricks.
As you would expect from the name, a longboard is longer than a skateboard. In many cases, you will find that a typical longboard can be up to 59 inches long. A typical skateboard, on the other hand, is around 36 inches. The problem with this fact, and where it might get a little confusing, is that some longboards are much shorter than a typical skateboard.
It’s not uncommon to find longboards that are around 28 inches long. To make it easier, pay attention to the fact that skateboards tend to curve while longboards are always flat. Therefore, if you come across a short, flat board on wheels, know that it could very well be just a shorter longboard.
Trucks and Wheels
The base that attaches the wheels to the deck of a skateboard or longboard is called the truck. The truck determines how sharp a corner you can take on whichever board you are riding. One of the biggest differences between a longboard and a skateboard is how the trucks operate.
On a typical skateboard, the trucks are narrower and quite rigid. This design makes it easier for riders to land tricks and maneuver tight spaces at maximum speed. Another common characteristic is that the trucks on a skateboard tend to be the same width as the deck.
Longboards have more flexible trucks and deliver a smoother ride. This design works well for longboard enthusiasts who enjoy cruising down the hillside or riding long distances. Unlike the trucks on skateboards, longboard trucks aren’t necessarily the same width as the deck. Instead, they typically measure anywhere between 150 millimeters and 180 millimeters.
When it comes to wheels, a skateboard wheel tends to be smaller and harder, designed to make sharp turns, ride over tarmac, shred rails, gaps, and ledges. On the other hand, the best longboard wheel is much larger and softer with a better grip, perfect for smoother and off-tarmac rides on rough terrain. Off road wheels are also different than street wheels as most of them have pneumatic tires.
Deck flexibility is yet another difference between longboards and skateboards. The “deck” is essentially the base of your board. For those looking to learn and perform new tricks, go for a thinner board with more flex (“flex” is the deck’s stiffness). On your typical skateboard, the flex often falls between soft and medium, meaning that you have some stability yet the ability to spring off the board and nail that jump or flip.
Longboards, on the other hand, have much stiffer decks. They are made for cruising long distances, meaning that you need excellent stability. That’s why most longboard decks are thicker and more firm than skateboard decks.
Tricks and Speed
Note that while you can use both longboards and skateboards to perform tricks, longboards offer a more limited range than skateboards. If you are a newbie and are on the fence about whether to get a longboard or a skateboard, all you have to do is ask yourself what kind of riding style you plan to use.
If landing flips and impressive tricks are your kinds of things, then you are better off with a skateboard. If you are more outdoors-oriented and want to go up and down hills in the rougher terrain of the countryside, then you might want to consider a longboard.
Longboards are perfect for people who want to
- Experience a more stable ride in almost any terrain
- Leisurely cruise with their friends
- Go to the beach and ride their board
- Use their board as a reliable means of transportation around the city
- Try out their daredevil skills on the side of some hill somewhere
Even though you may have a reliable all-terrain longboard, it’s not to be confused with a mountain board, which has all the same characteristics except the added advantage of going on even rougher terrain. That’s mostly because mountain boards tend to have bigger wheels than skateboards and longboards, even an off-road skateboard. In terms of off roading, the hierarchy goes like this:
- A mountain board is the best
- A longboard is a close second
- A skateboard barely makes the cut
Longboards have larger decks and wheels, so they tend to be more stable than skateboards and, therefore, easier to ride. If you are a newbie interested in this sport but have never tried riding any of these devices before, it’s advisable to try your hand at riding a longboard first. It will give you a much easier time and help you find your balance faster than a skateboard would.
Perhaps the most noteworthy difference between an off-road longboard and a skateboard is that most off-road longboards have a powerful motor to help you maneuver over rough terrain. While an all-terrain electric skateboard will also have a motor, an electric longboard is likely to have one that is more powerful, though this depends on the model.
Where and How Can You Ride a Longboard?
Now that you know the difference between a longboard and a skateboard, it’s time to look at how and where you can ride an off road longboard. If you are a beginner, you should consider sticking to the sidewalks and tarmacked roads until you have an intimate knowledge of your specific board as well as your riding skills.
Since longboards tend to have bigger wheels and stiffer decks, they provide you with a much smoother ride, even over concrete, cracked tarmac, dirt tracks, and other rough surfaces. Ideally, you should consider riding your longboard on a long, windy road with little to no human or vehicle traffic. You can also enjoy riding it on:
- Beachfront boardwalks
- Bike paths
- Any low-traffic road
Thanks to the larger wheels on your longboard, it can easily roll over rocks and twigs that would typically trip a skateboarder. However, riding your longboard in areas that have vert ramps, stairs, and curbs might not be the best of ideas. That kind of terrain should be reserved for mountain boards.
Your longboard can be a versatile and environmentally friendly means of transportation, provided you learn how to ride it properly, and that takes practice. No matter how much experience you have of what your riding style is, though, be sure to suit up with the proper protection to stay safe.
See also: Mountain boards vs longboards