Longboarding: Surfing on Asphalt?

Thursday, June 30, 2016
A life far from the coast or a flat ocean can sometimes keep us away from the waves and from the fun of being on a surfboard. That's when longboard skate comes into play.
I'm still a newbie of this kind of board, but every surfer would agree when I say there is a strong link between surfing on a surfboard and surfing on a longboard skate.

Today Ryan, a longboarder for the longboard skates brand Magneto Longboard, is explaining us in detail this strong relationship between the two practices and how we can make the most of our longboard skate session (even if we are beginners!).


It’s not uncommon to see skateboarding referred to as “sidewalk surfing”. When I’m out with my friends and we’re just slashing the streets with some soft wheels and turny trucks, what we’re doing is carving back, strangely reminiscent of the motions of surfing where pointed front of your surfboard swings back and forth, pumping the surface underneath you and propelling you ever-so-forth towards the next crest. It’s pretty synonymous between the two sports. Where the crest of the wave would be is the top of the very hill you are skating and carving down. Where the wave would rise and create a slope for you to glide down with no effort, there’s the wave of asphalt that carries you down an extra 10 feet. 

Sometimes, when my skate buddies want to take a quick trip to the cafĂ© for a coffee and some donuts, many times, one of them will say, “Guys want to surf down to the store?” Of course, we don’t really mean to actually go to the water and surf our way to the store, we mean that we want to get out and have some fun on the sidewalks. 

Longboarding has this side of the whole picture that stems quite strongly from surf culture. Back when skateboarding was in its infantile days and skateboard designs were still up in the air and people were experimenting with sizes and such, some people decided to create oversized skateboards in honor of surfboards, which is really where a lot of the style that you see in cruising and pumping comes from. You can still see these inspirations in the shapes of the classic surfboard shaped longboard, the pintail. Most concaves that are available on a pintail board are made to flex upwards; a camber inspired by the upwards board shapes of most surfboards! You can see this in some of our drop through longboard.

Now, some people might ask, “You can’t possibly make a longboard feel like a surfboard.”
But you can! It’s quite easy to make a longboard feel like a surfboard with the right equipment, and once you do, it’s extremely fun, and it will behave very similar to a surfboard as well. First, you need a stiff topmount board with good grip tape. The reason for this is that a board that is too flexible may bounce you off when you are doing hard carves up on banks. Also, the length should be around 38 inches, as anything too long will feel too sluggish, and a board that is too small won’t have the leverage to pump your front truck with force. 

The next thing you need is a set of good, reverse kingpin trucks. By good, I mean that they should be lively and high angle. This way, you will get a large lean, while at the same time getting you a high turn for strong pumping and the ability to stay on your board while you are riding up and down banks! There are whole trucks dedicated to feeling like a surfboard! For example, trucks with big, open bushing seats help a lot in the carving aspect of riding, since you want to feel free when you are turning. A restrictive bushing seat will only hinder you, as hopping from carve to carve becomes really uncomfortable as you get into the realm of restrictive trucks. There are also trucks with two kingpin axles, which double your lean! These are usually the most popular surf trucks out there, and they’re widely used by skaters everywhere for just getting around. At higher speeds though, they’re not so stable and they might make you fall. Another thing to really up the ante of your pumping and carving game is the act of using wedges. Wedges are little triangular pieces of angled wood that go in between the truck baseplates and the deck itself. Using wedges, you can lower and raise the angle of the back and front truck in order to make them turn more or less in relation to each other. In a surfing/carving setup, you want a low angle in the back and a high angle in the front.

The physics behind this is pretty simple. When the angle of the truck is lower, the truck leans more, but turns less. Now, if you have the front truck turning less than the back, the front truck can actually push and carve forwards while the back truck stays more or less in a smaller turn radius than the front. This way, you only need to push once and keep pumping to keep yourself traveling for a long time. Downhill racers use this technique as well to move faster when they are already traveling at speeds too fast to reach down and push. It’s quite easy to accelerate from 50 kph to 70 kph using these technique. 
For wheels, you want big, meaty, fast-rolling wheels. Not only will they carry you faster, they will also carry you farther. In terms of cruising, you most likely won’t need slide-able wheels, but sometimes at events, there are ditch surfing events where you do surf banks like you can surf waves. It isn’t too hard to learn, but it does take a lot of practice. 

If you live near the waterfront, and you’re an avid surfer, picking up a longboard may not be a bad choice. For everywhere you can’t surf, there’s a longboard waiting to be ridden, available from a local longboard store.
WEAR A HELMET! 

Ryan the Longboarder, for Magneto Longboards.



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