In Part 1 of Styles Bring Smiles we discuss longboarding, skateboarding, and more specifically the styles of Street and Cruising. What kind of boards are ideal, what it means, how it fits into the larger spectrum.
The origins of skateboarding have been stated over and over to be rooted in surfing. As practitioners developed their skills, innovations filled the gaps of possibility. Bridging the gap between technical limitations of the gear and the each riders collective need to express these primal motions in raw application to their surroundings. Similar to the neolithic caveman drawing with charcoal and mud on the walls of caves, the medium unlocked something. A Pandoras box of desire to express motion, gravitational connection, style, and overcoming challenges using wooden planks, metal, and urethane. This feedback loop of connection to a source energy resonating to those on the same frequency, broadcasted out, begging to be explored and challenged.
Because this frequency transcended gender, economic class, race, background, or even for that matter innate ability to even stand over board, devotees adapted to the terrain available. These early monks flung themselves down, over, through, and in between the obstacles of the time. They discovered, questioned, innovated, and flowed their way to definitions of application. These definitions have been practiced and refined into styles. Although they are unique, the all share the common bond. They all came from the same source, and in practicing one style you will have an understanding of all styles. In embracing as many styles as you feel the pull to embark on, the other styles in your repertoire of practice will be enhanced. Some feel the need to hone in on just one or two, some meander through as many as they have time for. There is no correct path, just the one you choose. The feeling is the same, and all are valid forms of its expression.
Most of these all started from one or two basic shapes of decks, and as each style was explored modifications to these shapes came about. While the decks were being tweaked, modified, and explored so too were the other components adjusted and tested. This testing and tweaking has not stopped. There are innovations and tests that are still exploring what gear can help us in realizing inside of skateboarding.
Skateboarding? Longboarding? Yes.
Longboards are long skateboards. However, not all skateboards are longboards.
One way to define one from the other could be to mathematically compare the length of the boards, or the wheelbase which is how far apart the trucks are. However as you dig in, you will notice that there are several decks considered longboards that are actually shorter than the standard 32” Popsicle decks that dominate the modern Street styles of skating. Wheelbase is maybe a closer indicator. Many Popsicle shapes or Street Decks have a wheelbase anywhere from 14” to 18”. Where as a large portion of longboard styles of decks tend to have wheelbases 17” and up. The outliers to these mathematical definitions are actually perfect examples of why we like to define the decks used more by the style of skating they are designed for, than the easy to market to the masses general terms of longboards and skateboards.
“Two hundred years of American technology has unwittingly created a massive cement playground of unlimited potential, but it was the minds of 11 year olds that could see that potential.”
The style that is defined by its’ origin. Street style of skateboarding, came from the interaction of the rider moving through features found in the streets and neighborhoods. Early pioneers rode single kick tail decks, most modern practitioners ride a shape that many call a popsicle. Regardless of its shape, the features you will find in most skateboards with street in mind will have some similar features.
A kick tail, most likely two. The kick tail is the upturned part of the board that allows a rider to apply leverage to the deck for various maneuvers. This is the part of the board that allows a rider to lift the nose, or tail. It is a huge help in getting the deck to pop for Ollies and other flip tricks.
The wheelbase, or distance between the trucks, is most likely going to be real close to 14.5”, a few styles of street decks may stretch that out, but very few go over 18”.
This compact platform with kick tails offer tight turns, quick adjustments, and ultimate ability to tackle much of the features big and small found in the streets. This is also a type of deck that is found most in modern skateparks.
The wheels found on this style of set up generally run on the hard side. 101a to 90a with the size of the wheel seldom over 63mm. With the average size running 55mm. This can vary depending on the riders preference, terrain, and riding style.
If you goal is to skate at a park, and that is the only place you are going to use it, then Street is the style of deck you want to start with.
“You’re gonna fly away, glad you’re goin’ my way, I love it when we’re cruisin’ together.”
Cruise is a style that is underrated in importance. It is where most people start. The skills you build while just cruising around your local parking lot, expand to your local park, which then can be expanded to your neighborhood, your city, your state, and beyond. There will be parts of cruising you enjoy, and parts you don’t. As you focus on the parts you enjoy you will get better and more comfortable on all styles. They all feed into each other, so start by cruising, the rest takes care of itself.
One can cruise on any deck style. You can cruise a popsicle, you can cruise an old school street deck. You can cruise a longboard, you can cruise a downhill deck, you can cruise a dancer. If you see a deck you want to roll around town on and explore, you can set it up to cruise.
That being said, just because one can cruise it, doesn’t mean that maybe one should cruise it. Depending on how relaxing you are looking to take your cruise, there are some features a rider should look for or at least consider when picking out your form of casual conveyance.
Most set ups in the cruiser style of skateboards will most likely be set up with a wheel towards the softer side of the spectrum, or to use the jargon, the wheel will be of a lower durometer. These softer wheels can range in hardness from 74a to 86a. Most cruisers will most likely want to stick to the 78a to 83a range for the best balance of vibration reduction and durability. Wheel size will be determined largely by the limitations of the deck and trucks in the set up.
As a general rule of thumb though, the lower the deck, the easier it will be to push. So if you go putting ginormous wheels on a top mounted deck, you are going to be great at pistol squats by the end of our cruise.
If you picked a cruiser that can handle those big wheels, then you will have an easier time of getting over cracks, carrying speed, and generally working a little less harder than you would on smaller wheels.
The average cruiser complete will usually be set up with a 70mm wheel. This is a great size wheel to start.
If you pick a thicker, sturdier deck you will probably not have to worry a lot about switching it out unless you get tired of kicking big heavy logs around. Sure they are durable, sure they can probably handle more aggressive riding, but until your leg muscles get built, you are going to have to work a little to get them moving, and keep them moving.
Beyond those points, cruise to your hearts delight. Experience your surroundings in a way that leads to a deeper connection. Have fun. Skate safe.
In Part 2 of Styles Bring Smiles we will discuss Free Ride and Dance.