How to choose the best longboard for commuting. Reviews included
Longboards make great transportation. They are environmentally friendly, great exercise and the ultimate in fun. But, some are better than others in certain situations – especially when it comes to commuting. Figuring out how to choose the best longboard for commuting comes down to just a few basic principles.
If you don’t want to read our thorough review and just want to see the boards that we recommend for commuting, check them out here:
Now let’s get in to bit more detail. Much of your decision should be based on your own preferences. I’ve learned the hard way to only buy a board if it suits my eye. There are a few considerations about the board when choosing it for commuting – maneuverability, stability, pushability and riding comfort. And it largely depends on where your commute takes place and the types obstacles that are likely to get in your way as you ride.
Here are a few longboards that are perfect for your commute, whether it’s on campus, in the city or across town.
Best longboard for commuting in Campus
The thing that frustrated me most when I was commuting on campus was the incessant foot traffic I’d encounter. People choke out paths and walk in groups that you must negotiate. There are also inanimate objects to deal with on campus, but unpredictable pedestrians are the main issue. So your longboard should be very maneuverable to avoid hitting someone and not too heavy so you can also carry it around for short distances.
A short drop-through shape like the Arbor Zeppelin is perfect for moving around or through crowds. These longboards are extremely maneuverable, and they stow away much easier in classrooms and auditoriums than longer shapes.
The Zeppelin is a drop-through deck that is 32 inches long and 8.75 inches wide. It is constructed from 7 plies of hard rock maple, with a premium top layer. Arbor’s top layers are always beautifully applied, and the sprayed-on clear grip shows it off well. You’re never embarrassed to have an Arbor.
One of the keys to the Zeppelin’s maneuverability is its short wheelbase. Longer drop-through shapes can have wheelbases of more than 30 inches, but the Zeppelin sports a 23-inch wheelbase for tighter turns.
Another key feature that helps the Zeppelin take tighter lines is the Gullwing Sidewinder trucks Arbor includes with the complete setups. These one-off, dual-kingpin trucks slash turns incredibly tightly, so much so that you’ll likely have to adjust to them. But, when people are standing in front of you like slalom cones, nothing else will do.
Wheels and bearings
The Zeppelins all come with Arbor’s Sucrose Initiative Mosh wheels. They are 65mm tall with a 36mm contact patch and a 78A durometer. Part of Arbor’s Thane line, Mosh wheels are great for cruising, but they’ll handle some freeride if you like sliding. Arbor completes also come with ABEC 7 bearings.
Check out this video highlighting the Zeppelin. These boards are made for carving in traffic:
Urban commutes tend to be longer than those on college campuses, and the riding is a bit more wide open. Decks in this environment can therefore be somewhat longer. Still, pedestrians are everywhere, so a fair amount of maneuverability is required.
A drop-through design with a fairly short wheelbase allows for rider comfort and tight cornering. Shapes with a kicktail will also let you pick up the front wheels for even sharper turns. The Loaded Fattail fits the city-commuter bill perfectly.
Loaded’s Fattail deck is constructed of alternating bamboo and fiberglass layers. This combination provides ample flex, which helps you pump as you carve. The board is 38 inches long and 8.63 inches wide, with a 26.5-inch wheelbase, which is variable to 27.4 inches.
Loaded designed the Fattail with a kick tail and a smaller kick nose. These features couple with the cambered deck profile to give riders several options for maneuvering in those often-constricted city landscapes. The Fattail’s drop-through design lowers the riding platform, making it easier to push.
The Paris V2 trucks included with the Loaded Fattail complete are ideal for an urban setup. They are 150mm wide with 50-degree baseplates, and they have a reverse-kingpin design. Well-suited for carving, these Paris trucks are favorites of many freeride longboarders.
Wheels and bearings
Fattails come with Orangatang Stimulus wheels, which are also made by Loaded. They are 70mm tall and 49mm wide, with a 42mm contact patch. The orange color of the wheels on the Fattail signifies that they are the softest Stimulus available, with an 80A durometer.
The Loaded Jehu V2 bearings on the Fattail have high-grade chromium balls and interior step rings to retain their lubricant. They also utilize rubber-coated shields, which are removable for cleaning. The Jehu’s inner race is extended to eliminate the need for spacers, allowing the axle nut to be tightened all the way down.
The issue that arises in long-distance riding is always fatigue. If you measure your daily commute in terms of miles, the simple act of pushing will eventually catch up to you. The only equipment decision I have found that has helped on those extra-long rides is a double-drop deck.
Double drops like Landyachtz’ Switchblade put you as close to the ground as possible. Having a shorter reach when stepping down to, reducing fatigue. The low ride is achieved via a downward curve between the trucks, coupled with a drop-though truck mounting system.
Switchblade decks come in lengths as short as 36.5 inches and as long as 40 inches, but the 38-inch model is in the Goldilocks zone. These boards are 9.8 inches wide and have a 29-inch wheelbase. They are made from 9 plies of Canadian maple for a stable, solid feel.
Switchblade decks have a pronounced concave and deep pockets at the spot where the riding platform meets the downward curve. The black griptape isn’t as eye catching as the other boards on this list, but it is very grippy and effective.
Landyachtz makes all of the components for its completes, including the Bear Grizzly trucks on the Switchblades. These reverse-kingpin trucks produce a stable yet responsive ride at almost any speed you’re comfortable going. These are the GR852 models, and they are 180mm wide.
Wheels and bearings
Switchblades utilize Mini Zombie wheels, which are from Landyachtz’ Hawgs brand. Mini Zombies are color-coded by hardness, and the Switchblades use the white, 78A models. These soft wheels handle debris and rough terrain well, but they also slide quite easily if you push them. They feature offset cores, with quiet Bear Spaceballs ABEC 7 bearings inserted.
The important thing to notice about the boards on this list is that they are all shorter than 40 inches. The tighter the quarters you ride in, the shorter your board should be. They also each allow for more technical riding – if you’re into that – and they are somewhat interchangeable. Commuting on a longboard should be fun, so pick the one that speaks to you.
What's up everyone? Almost 6 years ago I have tried out my first board sport – longboarding. Ever since I have been hooked with it and other board sports. Everyday I try to share my knowledge about it with all of you. If you have any questions, comments or just want to chat, hit me up via the contact form.