Beginners ask this question often and usually because they don’t really understand that skateboards and longboards are completely different from each other. Besides the large physical differences, the different riding styles need to be taken into consideration.
It all really boils down to whether you only want to cruise or do you want to do tricks. If you only want to cruise, then a longboard might be the right choice for you. If you also want the ability to do tricks then a skateboard is the right choice.
Let’s go over the differences between each option in a bit more detail.
Should I Get a Longboard or a Skateboard?
A longboard is heavy, long, and has large soft wheels. This makes it perfect for cruising and rolling over small obstacles on sidewalks and roads. It is usually more expensive than a skateboard.
A skateboard is smaller, has a “popsicle” shape and hard wheels. A skateboard is much more versatile in the tricks and riding styles that you can learn. A skateboard is usually cheaper than a longboard.
If you only want to primarily cruise, then a longboard might be the right choice for you. If you want to primarily do tricks then a skateboard is the right choice. Each board is versatile in riding styles to an extent though a skateboard is more so. There are longboarding riding styles, such as longboard dancing, that incorporate tricks. A skateboard can also be modified with longboard wheels so that it can also be used to cruise streets and sidewalks.
So the question is yours to answer. Do you primarily want to cruise? Then longboard.
Do you primarily want to do tricks? Then skateboard.
Just know that doing tricks on a skateboard takes a long time and has a steep learning curve. Whereas you could cruising confidently in a matter of a couple of weeks.
Are interested in understanding how hard skateboarding really is? Check out our guide on skateboarding’s killer learning curve.
What Are the Differences Between a Longboard and a Skateboard?
A skateboard and a longboard share two key similarities. They are both boards and they both have wheels. Beyond this, the similarities stop. It is worth noting that modern skateboards and modern longboards both originated from the first skateboards that mimicked surfboards.
The longboard shape still mimics a surfboard in shape although not size, while a skateboard has evolved to allow street tricks to be performed.
Let’s go over the differences one by one.
Longboard Board Shape
A longboard can come in a variety of board shapes. These shapes include drop-through, pintail, downhill, slalom, freestyle, and dance. There are more out there
Generally, these shapes resemble surfboards and have an elongated shape with wide trucks. The shapes have different characteristics for different riding styles. Downhill for example is designed to be wider to handle turns betters, has rougher griptape, and a top-mount deck that can gain speed fast.
Skateboard Board Shape
A modern skateboard comes in a single “popsicle” shape. There is no distinctive nose or tail so that the board can be ridden switch. The only variety in modern skateboard shapes is the deck width. Most deck widths are in the 7.75-8.25 inch range.
Usually, a wider deck means more stability and an easier ride. The board can get harder to flip with the larger widths though.
Longboard Wheel Size
Longboard wheels vary in size similar to how they vary in board shape. The most common longboard wheels are between 65-85mm in diameter. Generally, these wheels are larger and softer. This allows a longboard to give a smoother ride and simply roll over small rocks or bumpy pavement that might stop a skateboard wheel.
Skateboard Wheel Size
Skateboard wheels are usually 52 mm- 58mm in diameter. They are smaller and harder than longboard wheels. This allows the skateboard to be easily popped and more easily controlled. The smaller wheels also keep the board closer to the ground which also helps in board control.
These wheels are not suitable for cruising. They can easily get caught on small debris and will lose speed quickly on rough pavement.
Longboard Wheel Hardness
Longboard wheels are typically softer than skateboard wheels. Longboard wheels will typically have a hardness of 78a-81a which is soft enough to deal with rough terrain encountered on streets and sidewalks. A higher number here means a harder wheel.
Skateboard Wheel Hardness
Skateboard wheels are typically harder than longboard wheels. This allows for better control of the board by being more responsive to pop tricks and keeping the board close to the ground. Skateboard wheels typically have a hardness between 85a – 105a. Wheels that have a hardness lower than 97a are usually considered softer skateboard wheels. Just know that “soft” skateboard wheels are still much harder than longboard wheels!
Longboard trucks have a width of 170mm – 185mm, while the most popular truck size is by far 180mm. Skateboard trucks have a narrower width that usually ranges from 115mm – 150mm. The most common skateboard truck width is 129mm. These widths match the typical width of the board’s deck. Longboard decks are wider than skateboard decks.
Longboard Deck Width
Longboard decks are wider than skateboard decks.
Typically, longboard decks range from about 8 inches to 9 inches in width. This makes them easier to ride and maintain balance on. The larger size does make longboards much heavier than skateboards which is one of the reasons longboard tricks are so hard to perform. Most longboarders do not do tricks.
Skateboard Deck Width
Skateboard decks are more narrow than longboard decks.
Skateboard deck widths typically range between 7.75 inches to 8.25 inches. A wider deck provides more stability and is considered easier to ride. However, the larger decks can also be harder to flip and control due to their size and extra weight.
Riding Style Differences
Longboard Riding Styles
There are many different recognized longboard riding styles. These include slalom, downhill, freestyle, dancing, and cruising. Personally, I’ve only cruised on a longboard so I can’t speak from experience regarding slalom, downhill, freestyle, and the other alternative riding styles.
Downhill longboarding can be quite dangerous and you need to get professional help before you start bombing hills. Longboard dancing is beautiful and is really popular here in Korea where I’m currently living as an expat. It’s fun to see all these people at the river park practicing twisting and turning on their longboard. It’s super cool and I might have to spend a few months trying these different styles myself.
Realistically, most people with a longboard just want to cruise. So don’t fret too much about the different longboard riding styles right now. You can always learn them later. If you are incredibly curious then here’s a nice video from Hans Wouters to give you a brief introduction to longboard freestyle and dancing at least.
Skateboarding Riding Styles
The three main skating styles are street, park, and vert. Street refers to skating in the street or in a skate park with street obstacles built into the park’s design. These obstacles refer to ledges, platforms, rails, stair sets, flat ground skating.
Park skating refers to a large hollowed-out concrete bowl that has vertical walls that skaters use to launch themselves into the air. While in the air, the skaters perform grabs and spin tricks with different variations. Skaters also perform lip tricks such as grinds on the lip of the concrete bowl.
Vert skating is virtually the same as park skating and is what you think of when you imagine Tony Hawk. The tricks are the same as park skating with tricks consisting of aerial and lip tricks. This type of skating is done in a halfpipe which is exactly as the name implies, a pipe with the top half missing.
How Much Does a Longboard Cost?
This is a tricky question to pin down.
The price range for longboards varies quite a lot and reflects the diversity in shapes and sizes of different longboards. The price range for longboards ranges from $55-$250+. For a beginner, expect to purchase a beginner longboard for $60-$120. Anything cheaper than $60 starts to really sacrifice the quality of the longboard.
For a beginner, I would recommend a simple pintail or drop-through longboard as these are perfect for simple cruising and have cheaper models available.
How Much Does a Skateboard Cost?
A quality skateboard can be an investment, but it doesn’t need to break the bank. A skateboard is usually cheaper compared to a longboard.
A good skateboard costs between $80-$115 for a complete skateboard. This includes trucks, bearings, wheels, and griptape. You can purchase these parts individually, but the total cost will be slightly more than just buying a pre-built board. Ordering individual parts and assembling your skateboard is called a “custom”.
I would recommend ordering a complete skateboard if you are a beginner. It isn’t as satisfying as building a custom board, but you shouldn’t shell out that money unless you know you want to stick with skateboarding.
You can see where to buy a skateboard with individual price and company parts listed in our guide here.
Which is Easier? Longboard or Skateboard?
The idea of which is easier is a bit flawed. You aren’t trying to ride in the same way with each board. That being said skateboarding has a much steeper learning curve than longboarding.
Learning how to do tricks on a skateboard is much more difficult than learning to cruise on a longboard. The learning curve is much steeper for skateboarding and learning tricks can take months to learn. If you only want to cruise a longboard, you can be confidently cruising in about 2 weeks. However, learning different longboard riding styles comes with differing degrees of difficulty.
Cruising is great and you can learn to cruise very quickly. For many adults wanting to longboard or skateboard, cruising is all they want to do. That’s totally fine and still very fulfilling.
Most people don’t understand how much persistence and time it takes to learn skateboarding tricks. Even a “simple” ollie is actually a complex set of motions that takes most people over a month to learn.
If you want to see how long it takes to learn an ollie, check out our data-driven guide here.
Longboards and skateboards are apples and oranges. The right choice depends on how you want to ride your board. If you only want to cruise, then a longboard would be best. If you also want to do tricks, then a skateboard is your choice.
There are lots of differences physically and in riding styles, but I hope this guide helped you understand what your choices are.
Anyway, thanks for reading, and look out for more articles from Board and Wheels.