Things Learnt

These are some of the things I have learned so far – just my list.

Where to start…

  • Learning basic longboarding cruising and carving is not that hard – it is relatively easy to get started and just cruise around town (and I am over 50 and had not skateboarded that much when younger).
  • Starting with a general cruising board (mine was a green Atom drop-through, for around £85) as my first longboard worked well (and still have it). Don’t just buy from any old sports shop or unknown brand of eBay or Amazon – using a longboard shop will get something better and more suited for the same money.
  • If you have a local skate and longboard shop, get to know them and get what they have – their help going forward will be worth more than any discount you might find on-line.
  • “Longboards” are NOT “skateboards” – be cool and don’t call them skateboards. In seriousness, some of the equipment: trucks, wheels etc. are not best swapped over from skateboard to longboard, so be careful what you buy.

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Longboard types – choosing something to start on

  • Board types generally get classified for:
    • Cruising – general streets, easy carving/cornering; the place to start.
    • Downhill – fast boards: speed and grip is everything.
    • Freeride – downhill with tricks
    • Dancing – big extra-long board to move/dance around on
    • Carving – fast, twitching turning board
  • Cruising is where I and most people start; however, 90% of boards really do a bit of everything, so other than something specialized a lot of boards will work as starting boards. The more stable, less twitchy and less sliding is better as a starter; confidence is everything.
  • I started with a 41″ (104cm) board which worked well for my height (1.85m) and weight (85kg). Personally, I like boards that are not too small, something 32-42” works well as a cruiser for me.
  • Part of the fun is changing the feel and purpose of your board, typically by chaining the wheels and bushings, for less or more carve, grip or slide. It is relatively inexpensive to do and worth experimenting.
  • Matching your truck bushings to your weight (usually replacing the ones it initially came with your board or trucks) is a good thing and can make a big difference.
  • Buy something you really like the look of – the design, the colors etc – it does matter. Your board needs to be something you really really want to take out, it is the only way you are going to get confident. If it is not cool to you and you don’t drool, don’t buy it.
  • You can buy complete longboards, ready to ride out of the shop; which is not a bad way to start. Most complete boards, however, use lower grade parts, which you will quickly end up upgrading if you keep the board. Of the two cheaper boards we have, we have ended up quickly changing the bushing and bearings on both. The difference was very noticeable.
  • The alternative to buying a complete longboard is buying the separate parts and assembling it yourself, which is really easy and satisfying:
    • basic parts: deck, trucks, bearings, and wheels
    • plus, if needed: bolts, bearing spacers, grip-tape and replacement bushing (for your weight and style)

Guides:

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Assembling a longboard

  • Longboards are really easy to put together, as most of the parts are based on standard sizes and designs. If in doubt, as the shop.
  • A longboard has 4 main components: deck, trucks (including the bushings), wheels & bearings.
  • A beautiful, build own, stunning board costs approximately £250-450 (my second longboard), with the parts costing typically;
    • Deck £100-180
    • Trucks £50-120
    • Wheels £30-50
    • Bearings £20-80
    • Bushings £20

Guides:

Bushings

Video on Bushings: https://youtu.be/v_CHscjsyAM

Wheels

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What to maintain

  • Board parts are easy to disassemble for cleaning or replacement; lots of videos to show you how.
  • Check and tighten the bolts regularly – every couple of days for me.
  • Bearings need cleaning regularly – your board slows down and wheels can make rough grinding noise. It is easy to do, or just replace them, if you can’t be bothered; unless you are really pushing the envelope your longboard, replacement bearings are relatively inexpensive.
  • Cleaning bearings should only be with specific citrus cleaners and lubricant – never WD40 and std 3 in 1 oil.

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Electric Boards

I am looking to get another electric board to go with the Yuunec and wanted to share, less my thought process, more the state of the market; especially for those of us living outside the US.

First off, the market right now is almost all made up of start-up companies with little history, experience, and pedigree in manufacturing. The technology is generally not stable, not standardize and constantly evolving – it is the wild west and we all have to gamble to varying degrees with our hard earned, and not insignificant, cash.

Although electric boards are relatively simple in functionality – there is really not much to them, they are all just a deck, some trucks, wheels, motor, a battery, and controller – the reality is that the quality and functionality of the batteries, the motors, the controllers, especially the controllers, all vary massively. Some are OK, a few are actually good, a lot are crap and nearly all of them have reports of quickly developed, or “from bad batch”, faults. Add to this that most of the manufacturers are still talking only “pre-orders and hoping to ship sometime soon” and our choices seem to be choosing the

Some of the e-boards are OK, a few are actually good, a lot are crap and nearly all of them have reports of quickly developed faults. Add to this that most of the manufacturers are still talking only “pre-orders and hoping to ship sometime soon” and our choices seem to be very much choosing the lesser of evil/risk.

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So if you don’t mind the Wild West, and are prepared to risk your money, I would categorize the available options as:

  • Expensive boards, at £1000-3000, from some big marketing spend start-ups; who, on the upside, seem to at least understand skateboards and longboards, but are still spending more on their marketing than actually shipping to customers.
  • Much cheaper, at £500-1000, direct-from-china start-ups; who see the manufacturing and sale opportunity, but rarely seem to understand the skateboard and longboard experience. Lots of variable quality, no real support and often the poor experience leaves you frustrated and wishing you had bought something else.
  • Smaller start-ups with not much money (especially in marketing to take on the big start-ups), with older generation technology, trying to do their best but still charging £1000+. Not sure how many of these actually survive and, at best, you get a board, but it can not be repaired and, at worst, your order will never arrive and you lose the money.

In terms, of functionality, setting aside aesthetics and deck attributes (flex, stiffness, length etc.), for me, what differs significantly with boards is:

  • The quality of battery used.
  • The quality of the motors.
  • The quality of the controller.

Besides marketing and youtube sponsorship, this is where the money is spent, or not, and shows the good boards from the bad or just dull.

One of the big debates right now is in-hub motors or traditional belts and, although I like the engineering concept of in-hub, we need to be also aware that it is still very new in the area of e-boards with little history to show what is actually good and what is bad. In-hub might be great on paper, but right now for me, it is still early days on reliability and quality. Personally, right now, in-hub comes with its own risks and is nice, but not a must-have.

If you are prepared to risk, because that is the big overall point here, your hard-earned money on an electric board, accepting that it will be quickly obsolete and surpassed in 12 months time, I would put two questions at the top of my decision making, ahead of interchangeable batteries, in-hub or belt motors etc.:

  1. When it goes wrong, what am I going to do?
    There is a reasonable probability, regardless of if you have spent 500 or 3000, that something will go wrong in a short space of time and then what do you do? If the answer is just “send back to Amazon” or worse, “send back to another country” then I would think hard about what you are about to buy. I have friends with all sorts of e-boards, including the high profile big spending marketing ones, and not one, not a single one, has not had a fault so far.
  2. What is the experience actually like and does that work for me?
    Some of the boards I have tried have been truly horrible, some OK and a few great. Some of the controllers are truly horrible to use and some of the boards even unable to turn or get up a small incline. If it is too slow, or not maneuverable, you will get bored quickly and leave it in the corner, if it is too fast, or too twitchy, you will not get any confidence and leave it in the corner. Hence, don’t make any choice based on a few YouTube videos, a few Reddit posts, and a web-site. Find someone with one and try it, even better find a shop and test ride.

More than anything, remember the boards now will become obsoletely very quickly and will retain very little second-hand value. How fast they are evolving, and their high rate of faults, makes these effectively very expensive short-term disposable purchases! Great fun, but it is still early days for these devices.

Good luck…

 

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