Going downhill is a different ball of wax than other longboarding styles, but it is the ultimate thrill ride, approaching speeds upwards of 70 mph. But you’re not going to reach its apex if you don’t have a quality board or the skills to control it. Learning what makes a good downhill longboard and how to handle it gives you the best chance to feel like a superhero.
The Safety Dance
While it’s highly recommended that you wear safety gear when you ride on a cruising longboard, you might be able to get away with the bare minimum to protect yourself. However, you cannot gamble with fate going downhill at a high rate of speed. Before getting into the nuts and bolts of designing the ideal downhill longboard, let’s ensure you have what you need to return in one piece.
Two pieces of equipment are a must for downhill longboarding: a helmet and slide gloves. Wearing a helmet is self-explanatory, but you must verify that it works for downhill longboarding. A half-shell helmet is an optimal choice because it protects the entire circumference of your head. Regarding slide gloves, you need something to protect your hands that allow you to slide without skinning your hands. Otherwise, you’ll be in for a rude awakening the first time you go downhill.
Learn the Fundamentals
Before you bomb your first hill, it’s imperative that you master stopping and carving on your longboard. You may not have to stop on a dime when strolling through your neighborhood, but you must possess this skill when going downhill. You’ll want to start by descending a small hill while you perform a foot brake. The more you foot brake, the stronger your legs will become, allowing you to brake for more extended periods.
To hone your carving skills, you should start on the same small hill for foot braking and carve an imaginary “S” multiple times. Eventually, you’ll develop a good rhythm, and your carves will become instinctive.
What You Should Alter
Now that you’re ready, it’s time to figure out what makes a good downhill longboard and how to handle it. Having the skills to ride is a critical factor, but a substantial chunk of downhill consists of optimizing your gear to its maximum potential. To do so, you must have an in-depth understanding of the anatomy of your longboard, how its components function, and where to get the necessary parts to modify your board. You should thoroughly understand the deck, wheels, bushings, bearings, etc.
Typically, a cruising board is not well-tuned. At walking or jogging speeds, you can overcome a shoddy setup. Unfortunately, at faster speeds, like the rates at which most people ride downhill, even the most minor variations in gear may influence the enjoyment of your experience; in severe cases, it may even result in injury.
The Perfect Setup
A stiff and concave deck is integral for going downhill, as well are robust bushing and trusty trucks. These four factors are crucial because they enable you to perform downhill techniques and antics, such as sliding, going quickly, and maintaining stability.
A stiff board is fundamental since flex magnifies shocks and wobbles throughout your ride. This is potentially lethal; therefore, try to make it as stiff as possible. Traditionally, a downhill board’s concave is steeper than an ordinary one’s. It suffices if it effectively aids in gripping the board and pushing against it while sliding. There are more than seven or eight forms of concave, so it’s a choice of personal preference, even if others are proclaiming one way is better.
Moreover, trucks are of utmost importance. Trucks are your setup’s steering center; thus, you should upgrade and tailor them according to your weight and preferences. Make sure you understand how bushings work and adjust them to your weight using the recommended weight chart. In short, the heavier the rider, the harder your bushings and durometer should be.
Getting To Know Your Longboard
Downhill is an extremely fast, demanding discipline that requires you to make the necessary changes in a flash. These split-second judgments determine whether you take the right turn and walk away to tell your friends about it or if you bruise your body and ego. To execute these instant judgments with a clean conscience, you must have an intimate understanding of your board.
You should know the following, like the back of your hand: how far it rotates, slides, turns, and wobbles. Additionally, you must know how stable it is to see if it can handle the rigors of downhill longboarding. By learning everything about your longboard like a family member, you should gain the necessary experience to feel at ease during any downhill venture. If things feel off, don’t ride under any circumstances.
Let the Force Be With You
Newton’s laws of motion are in play when you are downhill longboarding, considering that if you lose speed, gravity is solely accountable for regaining it. Yet, riders must assist gravity by gaining velocity.
Sadly, average downhill courses aren’t a straight shot. These roads have bends, kinks, and turns that you must navigate with caution and proficiency to maintain maximum speed. Mastering the technique of leaning, turning, and carving with intent and reason is a crucial aspect of this sport.
An excellent way to boost your skills is to go with an experienced longboarder and watch them work their magic. By seeing what the experts do, it may be easier to understand and learn the tricks of the trade. If that’s not an option, take things slow and keep practicing. Don’t get agitated if you don’t pick up things right away since it is a difficult practice to grasp.
Why You Should Slide
This is undoubtedly the most arduous portion of your tenure as a downhill longboarder. In addition to mastering a few introductory slides, you’ll want to continue to learn various slides as you progress. The good news is that once you fine-tune the slides, you can take your longboard virtually anywhere in the world.
The most straightforward rudimentary stop slide is a Coleman. You can perform a Coleman by grabbing the back of the board while leaning back to reduce your speed. Every downhill longboarder must have the Coleman in their arsenal when approaching speeds of 50 mph.
After the Coleman, you should try grip runs, which are courses that allow you to bomb the slope, and sliding is not a prerequisite. If an oncoming vehicle or accident occurs, you’ll need to stop immediately; hence, you should start with the Coleman.
Learning the fundamentals of downhill longboarding takes time and practice, as does configuring your downhill longboard deck. But through will and determination, you’ll be able to experience the extreme side of longboarding, giving you the thrill of a lifetime. The Longboard Store is happy to supply you with the best downhill longboards available. We have a superb selection of all longboard styles and techniques, so if downhill isn’t your jam, we guarantee you that you’ll find something else you enjoy.