Skateboard vs. Longboard - The Definitive Guide

Skateboard vs. Longboard - The Definitive Guide

Skateboarding and longboarding can seem like the same thing to a novice, but they are actually more different than you may think.

Like a bedtime story, we'll read it to you:

Quick and dirty answer: Skateboards are around 31” (78 cm) long with an upturned nose and tail primarily used for tricks and skateparks. Longboards are primarily used for cruising and transportation. Pick the one that matches the type of riding you want to do.

Skateboarder from Santa Cruz Mammoth Trip
Skateboarder from Santa Cruz on their Mammoth Trip
Getting some via Santa Cruz Mammoth Trip

Skateboard decks are all about the same shape, commonly referred to as shortboards or popsicle decks. They all have very similarly designed trucks and small, hard wheels with a focus on tricks and skatepark riding.

Longboards Skateboards
Usage Cruising / Carving / Downhill Tricks / Skateparks / Vert
Cost 💲💲💲 💲💲
Weight 6 - 12 pounds (2.7 - 5.5 kg) 5 - 7 pounds (2.3 - 3.2 kg)
Tricks More difficult to do tricks Relatively easy to do tricks
Commuting Great for commutes Not ideal for long distance
Ride Quality Smooth Rough / bumpy
Skateparks Too big, wheels too grippy Ideal set up
Longevity Minimal maintenance Expect to replace parts
Injuries Usually less common Usually more common
Difficulty Easy to get started More difficult to learn
Popularity Less (but growing) More (also growing)
Speed Very fast Slower

Longboards have a huge variety of shapes, trucks, wheels and do not always have to be long. The term mostly refers to the type of riding aimed at transportation.

Longboards are primarily for transportation.
Longboards are primarily for transportation.

Skateboarding and longboarding may seem like similar things to new riders, but they actually have very different subcultures.

Which to Buy: Longboard vs Skateboard?

It's not complicated, just answer this: What kind of riding do you want to do? This will guide your choice to which type of skateboard you should purchase.

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    Tony Hawk
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Those who want to do tricks should get a shortboard skateboard. The upturned tail and nose design make doing tricks much easier and enable more creativity.

Shortboard truck and wheel designs follow suit, focusing on engineering the board to be lightweight and durable. Harder wheels are used to avoid the wheels from gripping copings and handrails during grinds. Trucks are cast with a focus on durability, strength, and grind-ability. All of these features are the main differences that make the board better for street skating.

Santa Cruz Bowl Session
Santa Cruz Bowl Session

Those who want to commute/cruise should get a longboard. Longboard riders want boards focused on turns, smooth riding, maneuverability, and max speed. Longboards also often mimic the shape of surfboards. They can also have a lower center of gravity on deck designs like drop through or dropped decks. Learn more about that in our Ultimate Longboard Deck Guide. Decks range from small to massive, but the idea behind the designs are the same: maximize the riding experience and make the most comfortable ride.

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It’s worth noting that both cruising and tricks are achievable on both forms of skateboards. They are just engineered for different purposes. It's easier to do tricks on a skateboard and easier to cruise around on a longboard, but you can still do tricks on a longboard and you can still cruise on a skateboard. The Landyachtz Dinghy is a great example of a board that can do both tricks and cruise. The smaller board design plus kicktail gives riders a blend of both types of boards.

Still with us? Read on to learn more about the pricing and components of both longboards and skateboards.

Prices for a Skateboard or Longboard

On average, a longboard will be more expensive than a regular skateboard as there are more materials being used. These materials include wood for the larger deck, urethane for the bigger wheels, metal for the wider trucks, etc. A longboard can cost anywhere from $50 - $500+ depending on specialty and what quality you go for.

We recommend spending about $150-$220 for a brand new longboard. Anything below the $150 range is going to be too cheap and will not have quality parts.

Skateboards are less expensive as they use less material and generally require more replacements from use. A skateboard can cost anywhere from $25 - $200 depending on the quality of board you chose and if you build it yourself or buy a complete.

We recommend spending about $80-$150 for a brand new skateboard. Anything below the $80 range is going to be too cheap and will not have quality parts.

Of course, these price ranges are general suggestions and there will be exceptions.

Longboard Prices Skateboard Prices
Price Range $50-$500+ $25-$200+
Recommended Spend Minimum $150 Minimum $80

Component Comparison: Decks

Decks are the largest and most obvious difference between skateboards and longboards.

Skateboards tend to have smaller decks that change in width depending on the shoe size of the skater, but they generally remain comparatively small to make tricks easier. While this may vary, in general skateboards are 28-32 inches long and 7-10 inches wide with a wheelbase of about 14-15 inches.

The largest difference is the lip on the back of the deck or what is referred to as the tail. This small lip makes it much easier to pop and flick your foot to do different tricks. Here’s an example of the most common skateboarding deck shape.

Skateboard decks are typically constructed of 7-ply maple wood. However, there are many brands making maple/fiberglass decks now. These are a lot stronger. Read more about fiberglass vs maple here.

Powell Flight Fiberglass Skateboard Deck
Powell Flight Decks are x2 stronger than traditional 7-ply maple.

There are other skateboard deck shapes that can prioritize cruising, such as Powell reissue decks that are wider and easier for pool riding and general cruising, but still allows tricks to be achieved.

Longboards are categorically longer and wider than skateboard decks, on average they can be around 33-60 inches long and 8.5-10 inches wide with many different wheelbases. Longboards come in much different shapes outside of the common skateboard deck. Some of the most common longboard shapes are drop through/dropped deck, pintail, top mount, and drop through.But there are many, many more.

In addition to shapes, longboard decks are often made out of many types of materials. These include bamboo, fiberglass, carbon fiber, maple, cork, and composites.

While the longboard doesn't have the lip that a skateboard does, you can still technically do loads of tricks on them such as a pop shuvit, fingerflip, and even a kickflip if your legs are strong enough!

Check out our Ultimate Deck Guide to learn more about deck shapes, types, etc.

Longboard Decks Skateboard Decks
Length 30" - 48"+ 28" - 32"
Shape Many shapes Traditional popsicle shape
Construction Many types Most commonly 7-ply Maple

Component Comparison: Trucks

Skateboards have narrower, smaller, and lighter trucks ideal for tricks. They also exclusively use a design known as Traditional Kingpin or TKP. This design is generally not as good for turning, but excellent for grinds.

Traditional Kingpin Skateboard Trucks

Longboards have wider, heavier trucks designed for turns and carving. Many modern longboards use the Reverse Kingpin Truck or RKP. This truck design gives a rider more turn per degree of lean, ideal for carves.

Reverse Kingpin Longboard Trucks

There is a lot more to learn about skateboard trucks. Continue your reading about RKP and TKP trucks here.

Longboard Trucks Skateboard Trucks
Designed for Turns/carving Grinds and tricks
Weight Heavier Lighter
Kingpin Layout Reverse Kingpin Traditional Kingpin

Component Comparison: Wheels

Skateboards have harder, smaller wheels ideal for tricks. The hard and small wheels are chosen as they are much more lightweight and the hardness enables them to roll and accelerate quickly in smooth, skatepark conditions.

Hard wheels also slide easier which creates a larger margin of error when landing tricks and performing grinds. Grippy longboard wheels throw you off if you don’t land square and catch the coping.

Longboards have larger, softer wheels ideal for transportation. These help deal with all the pesky cracks and rocks in the roads. Longboard wheels cruise around easily and carry high speed for longer.

Check out our Ultimate Wheel Guide to learn more about wheel shapes, durometers and more.

Longboard Wheels Skateboard Wheels
Size Large, 60mm - 85mm+ Small, 50mm-59mm
Durometer Softer, 75a - 90a Hard, 95a+
Grip Lots of grip Less grip

Component Comparison: Bearings

Skateboard bearings are the same for both skateboards and longboards. Built-in style bearings such as Zealous, Dragon BUILT, Bones RACE are marketed as more of a longboard bearing, but they will work in traditional skateboard wheels too.

Bearings are the same for skateboards and longboards.
Bearings are the same for skateboards and longboards.

Cultural Differences

Skateboarding culture is all about being creative, going big, and straight thrashing. Riders in this scene are always looking for the next rad spot and how they can skate it in innovative ways. They understand falling is part of the game and embrace the struggle.

Longboarding culture is typically more casual and laid back. Longboard riders are usually just looking to cruise or carve around their streets. They are not always looking to do tricks and riders often want to skate with less risk of falling. Longboards will feel more like snowboarding or surfing, so keep that in mind if you are a snowboarder or surfer.

Of course, there are always exceptions. The downhill longboard scene goes hard and constantly pushes the limits.


Despite a longboard boom in the early 2010s, skateboarding is still the most popular. Branding, marketing, and lifestyle have much to do with it.

Many skateboard brands are boosted by their clothing lines that people outside of skateboarding also want to buy. This gives companies more money to spend on both skateboarding (hard goods) and clothing (soft goods). Billions of dollars are spent in marketing every year, driving more and more riders into the sport.

Women Riders

While there are many famous women skateboarders, it seems more common to see women on cruiser boards. The Olympics may change that with skaters such as Sakura Yosozumi inspiring millions of young women to take up the sport.

Arbor lady skateboard riders
Check out @grlswirl to connect with the female skate community.

Performance: Which is Fastest?

Longboards are objectively faster. The larger, softer wheels roll over surfaces more easily and allow each push to go further. If you have a need for speed or just want the most efficient roll, a longboard is definitely the way to go.

Special made downhill longboards are made specifically for speed and stability, while still allowing for turns and slides. Under the feet of a skilled rider (like Kyle Wester), these boards hold the record at 89.41 mph (143.89 kph).

Kyle Wester goes full send.

By contrast, Popsicle style skateboards have small, hard wheels that struggle over road pavement. A lot of energy is lost with every push, making these boards slower and harder to ride fast.

Performance: Riding in the Rain

We do not recommend skateboarding in the rain, but if you must, longboards will be easier. The larger wheels and larger deck will give more stability and grip than a regular skateboard.

The smaller shortboard skateboards with the smaller wheels, etc can be pretty sketchy to ride in water. It is easy to lose control and beef it.

Arbor Skateboards in the Rain by @mattrfoley
Arbor Skateboards in the Rain by @mattrfoley

When wet, grip tape on both longboards and skateboards is going to be severely compromised. Not only does it get very dirty, is also loses a lot of traction.

Decks are usually made from wood, which can absorb the water and become waterlogged. This can compromise the glue and cause delamination.

Bottom line, we do not recommend riding skateboards or longboards in the rain unless you need to get rad video/photos, don't mind beefing it, and/or don't mind wrecking gear.

Which is Easier to Learn?

Longboards are easier to learn the basics, but skateboards are easier to learn tricks. With the larger wheels and board, longboards have more stability. This requires less balance for the rider, making them ideal for beginners.

Skateboards, with less weight and the upturned nose and tail, are much easier to do tricks. Learning how to ollie or kickflip is going to be best on a popsicle style skateboard.

Which is Safer?

Safety comes down to the individual rider. Generally speaking, longboards are going to be safer as they are easier to balance and more stable. However, longboards are easier to go fast.

Speed can be very dangerous (even deadly) and newer longboard riders should take precautions on hills and traffic. Fatalities, while very rare, are most common with speed and collision with another vehicle.

Longboard Fall with Helmet Save
Longboarders tend to wear helmets more than skateboarders. From YouTube.

Skateboards can be very safe if you are just trying to learn ollies, kickflips, etc. Add ramps and bowls to the equation and of course it will increase the risk factor. Generally skateboarding involves broken bones and concussions. It's a good idea to wear a helmet.

For both longboards and shortboards, we recommend making sure you do not get wheel bite. Wheel bite is what it is called when the wheels touch the deck while riding. The grippy urethane stops the skateboard suddenly, sending the unexpected skater flying. Large, soft wheels cause wheel bite to be worse, so be careful when riding a new board.

Which Lasts the Longest?

Longboards last longer due to less stress and wear on the components through normal use. Longboards are pretty casual most of the time and components can last for many, many years of riding. The most common wear components are bushings and bearings, which are both relatively inexpensive. The number one reason we hear of someone replacing a longboard is because someone else stole it!

Or course, there are exceptions. Downhill freeride longboarders can go through wheels incredibly quickly as they use the wheels to slide and shave speed. Getting sideways for a slide also puts tremendous stress on the bearings, making them wear faster than a typical cruiser (learn why bearing spacers really matter).

Skateboards on the other hand take a tremendous amount of abuse from grinds, tricks, crashes, landings, etc. Top level riders are consistently replacing their decks, wheels, trucks, and bearings.

Which is Better?

Longboards and skateboards are awesome. It just comes down to what kind of ride you want. For a more trick oriented ride, go for the skateboard. You can learn to ollie, ride ramps, and grind. For a more cruise oriented experience, go with the longboard. You will have an easier time learning with the smooth ride and forgiving stability with the longer deck.

Which Came First?

The first skateboards were a plank of wood with roller skate wheels strapped to the bottom. It was super primitive and the metal wheels did not ride smoothly at all. The purpose was to give surfers something to do when the waves sucked. In that sense, the original skateboard was more like a longboard as the riders wanting to cruise, slide, and carve.

Photo: Christian Rosillo // Rider: Lotfi Lamaali
Photo: Christian Rosillo // Rider: Lotfi Lamaali

As skateboarding evolved, pools and ramps became more and more popular. This changed the goal of the skateboard and the modern popsicle shape evolved.

We don't divide longboards and skateboards to say which came first. To us, it's all skateboarding.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re on a highway drinking cranberry juice or surfing down to the grocery store, there’s no better feeling than getting some speed downhill and carving some winding roads with your longboard, they are made for this level of cruising.

Equally, landing a trick on a skateboard is one of the most accomplishing feelings riders can have. Hitting a half pipe or skating in an empty pool can provide a rush that you are looking for more than a longboard can.

Longboards are better suited to those who want to cruise around on smooth ground, being able to control their board as and when they need to get somewhere. Skateboards are engineered more towards achieving tricks thanks to the nose/tail and truck design.

Neither are necessarily better than the other. Your choice of transport will totally depend on your own needs and preferences when it comes to getting around on four wheels. Both skateboards and longboards are at Stoked Ride Shop ready to buy and get shredding!

Stoked Ride Shop may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

The opinions and views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Stoked Ride Shop. The author makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this work and specifically disclaims any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. The author shall not be liable for any damages, including, but not limited to, direct, indirect, incidental, punitive, special, consequential, or exemplary damages, even if Stoked Ride Shop has been advised of the possibility of such damages. Ride at your own risk and within your own limits.

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