Some people were born to ride a longboard. Each new skill comes easily to those lucky few, but longboarding takes patience and practice for everyone else. At first, just coasting on a board without falling is an accomplishment, but most people get accustomed to the motions quickly. There may be blood, but anything worth doing requires a bit of sacrifice. You have to pay to play.
Learning to Ride
The surest way to get injured on a longboard is to push past your limitations too quickly. Bombing a steep hill with no experience is a recipe for disaster. Take it slowly, and move on to new skills and terrains gradually. Progress at your own pace, and enjoy the ride.
Where to Ride
Beginning longboarders only require a smooth patch of concrete, such as an empty parking lot. Stay away from obstacle-heavy terrain until you can negotiate obstructions confidently. Look out for debris like rocks and glass, as it can cause wheels to stop dead. Yocaher longboard wheels shrug off pebbles and the like, but larger rocks and cracks can throw a rider to the pavement.
Before You Ride
Make sure your board is properly set up and adjusted. Check the truck bolts and axle nuts for tightness. Place the board on carpet or grass and stand on it, moving your weight from your heels to your toes and back while feeling for the board to tilt when you lean. The deck should move smoothly from side to side, but there should be some resistance. Adjust the kingpin nut to suit your tastes. Tightening the nut makes the board turn less, but it will be more stable.
Standing and Balancing
Beginning longboarders must first decide where to put their feet on the board. Your dominant foot — the one you kick a ball with — goes toward the back. The weaker foot goes toward the front of the board, and the rider stands sideways. Right-footed riders are called regular footed, while lefties are called goofy footed. It’s okay to be goofy; no one will judge.
To push on a longboard, turn your front foot your toes point in the line of travel and place your back foot on the ground to the side of the board. Push off the pavement while keeping your weight centered above the board, then place your foot back on the deck to coast. To go faster, push several times in a row before coasting. Steer the board by tilting the deck with your front foot while you push with the back foot. Using the front foot to push is called pushing mongo. Don’t push mongo.
Mastering longboarding means learning to turn, and there are several methods riders use. We will focus on the most basic turns, but there are more technical ways to get around a curve. You may see longboarders doing long, drifting slides around hairpin curves, but don’t feel pressure to do the same until you are ready. Power slides are a blast, but they aren’t necessary except at extreme speeds.
The easiest way to turn a longboard is simply to lean, tilting the board on the axis created by the trucks. The complicated geometry and movement of the trucks is what makes leaning turns possible, so be sure to adjust the kingpin nut until the board turns at a comfortable rate for you. Keep it mellow until you have leaning down pat.
This entails pressing down on the tail of the board to pick up the front wheels briefly, which allows the rider to pivot off the back wheels to adjust the line of travel. Turning this way is only possible on a board that has a kicktail (discussed shortly). It is the only reliable way to turn a board with extremely tight trucks.
The last thing to learn before you hit the streets is how to stop. Stopping a longboard is as simple as dragging your back foot, the one you push with, along the pavement. The sole of your shoe is your brake pad, and it will wear quickly if you stop this way all the time. Investing in quality skate shoes is a good idea for this reason. If you have a kicktail, you can also tilt into a tic tac and hang your toes off the tail, dragging your shoe to create friction. Otherwise, an emergency jump-and-run maneuver will be your only recourse if things get hairy.
The Next Level
To put soul in your skating, learn to dig hard into curves, leaning as much as possible to turn the board quickly. Once you get the hang of carving, try doing it in the opposite direction immediately after a turn. Do it hard enough with a tic tac, and you’ll have a slash. Carving is one of the great joys of longboarding.
Sliding serves several purposes. It checks speed, it is an emergency brake and — most importantly — it’s fun. To slide, lean as if you want to turn while simultaneously pushing on the edge of the board with the back foot. You have to push hard to break traction with Yocaher’s soft, 78A durometer wheels, but you can do it. Skateboard wheels can get up to 101A and will break traction much easier, but harder wheels have a harsh ride and bite on debris more easily.
Switch stance and Speed
Once you can slide sideways and hook back up (regain traction), try sliding 180 degrees so that you are riding backwards. When the wrong foot is in back, it is called switch stance. It may sound easy, but riding switch forces you to learn slides and turns all over again. As you work on these moves, practice going faster in gradual increments. You are now a longboarder.
Choosing a Board
The most important factor to consider when choosing a board is what you intend to do with it. Longboarding is split into several distinct disciplines, and each has its own collection of board shapes and components. We will begin with the most common style of longboarding: cruising.
Cruising and Transportation
Most people who get into longboarding do it for one of these two reasons. Sometimes they get into a technical discipline later, but often they just want — or need — to ride. The cruiser board, usually a top-mount board where the trucks are beneath the rider, is perfect for those who want to ride around town and have some fun. It is most often a simple shape with a kicktail, which helps with carving and negotiating urban terrain.
Cruiser shapes include the Yocaher Pintail, which is a longer cruiser shape that produces a surf-inspired ride. Yocaher Kicktail models are similar to pintails, but with a more pronounced kicktail, much like the skinnier Yocaher Slimkick models. Riders who really like to slash and carve often prefer Mini Cruisers, or even Micro Cruisers, for their maneuverability, while Old School Cruisers take people back to skateboarding’s heyday in the 1980s.
Virtually any longboard will work as transportation, but some are better suited for commuting than others. If you intend to commute to work or school, consider the issue of storage. A Yocaher Drop-Through is easy to push on and ride fast, but be sure you can stow it when you get to class or work. Smaller boards like Mini Cruisers and Old School Cruisers are more maneuverable and easier to stash.
This discipline goes back to the early days of skateboarding, but modern longboarders have pushed it to extremes. These riders can reach speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour on steep mountain roads, but going half that speed on more mellow hills is still a thrill. Stability is king in downhill longboarding. Choose a board that puts you closer to the ground, like a Yocaher Drop-Through deck. Downhill riding requires a stiff deck, so consider a Yocaher Aluminum Drop Through for the utmost is lightness, stiffness and durability.
When longboarders get into sliding and riding switch stance, they often never want to do anything else. Freeride longboarders usually prefer drop-down decks because the lowered riding platform keeps them closer to the ground. This also puts their weight on the side of the axles instead of on top of them, making it much easier to break into slides and hook back up again. The Yocaher Lowrider combines drop-down and drop-through technologies, making it ideal for freeride. Yocaher Drop-Down and Lowrider decks already come with the proper reverse-kingpin trucks and large, fast wheels for freeride longboarding.
This discipline is the most relaxed form of longboarding, incorporating dance and cruising for a fun, expressive ride. Freestyle requires a large platform on which to stand while performing moves, so opt for a longer deck with flatter concave. Yocaher Kicktails, Pintails and Fishtails are fine freestyle choices, as they are longer than other options and are wide between the trucks.
Choosing the perfect shape seems critical on your first longboard, but it is not that pressing of a decision. As riders
progress in longboarding, they often decide to try out different shapes and disciplines, expanding their quiver of boards along the way. Choose the style that best fits your personality and the terrain around where you live. Push the edge of the envelope gently, but steadily, and don’t be afraid to try out different disciplines. Longboarding should be an adventure.