Why are Longboards Faster than Skateboards?

skater cruising on a longboard passed beach huts
9 March 2020
Why are Longboards Faster than Skateboards?

There can be many reasons that a longboard is faster than a skateboard. Generally, all the individual components that make up a longboard will have been designed to handle speed better than those on a classic skateboard. However, this can vary depending on the style of longboard.

It’s also not necessarily the case that one board will roll faster than another because of its build, but rather that those components provide better stability and therefore inspire confidence in the rider. Naturally, more confidence will allow them to ride faster more comfortably.

Longboard wheels are faster than skateboard wheels

No matter what longboard you’re looking at, it’s always going to be setup with faster wheels than those you’ll find on a skateboard.

The first reason is down to size: classic skateboard wheels typically have a diameter of about 50mm whereas longboard wheels start at around 65mm and can be as big as 100mm.  Without delving too far into the physics of it, bigger wheels will always roll faster than smaller, as larger wheels need fewer turns to cover any given distance.

Another reason wheel size helps with top speed is because larger wheels are more capable of rolling over imperfections on the tarmac. A smaller wheel would lose energy bouncing around on a slightly uneven surface, whereas a larger wheel will pass over the same small imperfections, maintaining velocity. In other words, a smooth ride equals speed. 

Aside from the finer details, a wheel with a bigger diameter will also have a larger contact patch which helps hugely with stability. Longboard wheels are also typically softer, which offers more grip. Both of these are key in allowing a rider to feel comfortable at speed.

Longboards have wider trucks

Wider trucks may not technically make your board go faster, but again this comes down to allowing the rider to skate comfortably at speed. On a classic skateboard you can reach high top speeds, however, you are more likely to experience speed wobble at some point.

This is where you will feel the board wiggle underneath you as any tiny movement can offset your centre of gravity. Once speed wobble starts, it’s very difficult to recover and skaters are often thrown off. Wider trucks on a longboard help to combat this, providing you with a much more stable base meaning you have more control at speed.

skateboards and longboards

Longboard trucks are also constructed differently to a classic skateboard truck. They are made with reverse kingpins which are designed to offer more manoeuvrability at slow speeds but more stability and control at high speeds. These are more often found on larger pintail longboards as opposed to smaller cruiser longboards which have standard trucks. 

Longboards have a longer wheelbase

The wheelbase of a skateboard is the distance between the two trucks. Other than small cruiser boards, a longboard will always have a longer wheelbase than a regular skateboard, making  them incredibly stable.

A longer wheelbase also offers more control at speed as the trucks are less sensitive to your movements. When riding a classic skateboard at speed, the stance you adopt will typically place your weight directly over each truck so when you lean, the pressure applied on the truck is greater, making the board turn harder.

With a longboard however, adopting that same stance will place your feet slightly inside the trucks, rather than over them. This means that any movements you make will be less responsive as you are not applying so much direct pressure to the truck. This makes your longboard much more forgiving at speed and if you want to make sharper turns, you can change your stance.  

Longboard decks are designed for speed

Certain longboard decks are designed to go downhill fast; we call these freeride longboards. Many types of freeride longboards have a unique outline where the nose and tail are much narrower than the rest of the board so that the wheels are completely open. This deck design is often coupled with drop-through trucks; a design where the trucks are mounted through the deck.

The combination of the cut outs and drop-through trucks allow the deck to be much closer to the ground which lowers the rider’s centre of gravity. This makes for a much more stable ride, inspiring confidence at speed. 

freeride longboard with drop-through trucks laying upside down

Longboard and skateboard bearings

Longboards and classic skateboards use exactly the same type of bearings so there may or may not be an improvement in speed here from one to other. The speed of a set of bearings depends on the precision of their build quality, which is usually measured by the ABEC scale. The ABEC scale and how it will affect your ride is fully explored in our skateboard bearings guide.

What you may find however, is that if you are buying either a complete skateboard or complete longboard, the longboard may have better bearings fitted as standard. This is often the case as longboards are built to be able to cruise with ease at high speeds, whereas a classic skateboard is built for tricks, and slightly slower bearings can be a bit more forgiving for beginners. For example, our bamboo longboards all come fitted with ABEC 7 bearings whereas our classic skateboards feature ABEC 5’s.

There are many reasons one skateboard might be faster than another but the most important thing is to get the board that’s right for you and your level of skating experience. Should you need any advice on where to start, please get in touch and one our experts will point you in the right direction.