The deck is the most expensive part of a longboard, providing the body and platform where you stand on. They come in a variety of different lengths, shapes, styles, and flexes (flex is short for flexibility). Check out this link - What Kind of Longboard is Right for You? - for a more detailed look into it. The gist of it is that decks are split into many categories, the main three being downhill, cruising, and freeriding. Downhill boards are very stiff, and almost no flex (so the board doesn’t ground out – that would be dangerous). Also, tails aren’t usually included on them, as tricks aren’t a priority. Cruisers are made simply to cruise around, usually on flat ground, and are the cheapest. Cruiser decks are usually extremely rigid as well, and come in a variety of shapes. Freeriding decks are usually the most expensive, and have more “flex”. The flex allows you to dig your foot a bit more into the board, assisting in both carving and dancing. Most of them also have tails, so tricks like pop shuvits are very doable. The main thing about longboard decks is that many of them cross-categorize (e.g. you can use a lot of freeriding decks in down-hilling – you just have to make sure it’s stable enough), so find the one that’s most comfortable for you. Most people overrate how much the deck affects how your board rides; it doesn’t play a huge role in how “turn-y” or fast the board is (though it does affect how it handles turns at high speeds).
The trucks are the metal/plastic section that attaches the wheels of the longboard to the deck. Trucks affect the stability, as well as the turn-y-ness. Contrary to what most people think, certain trucks aren’t really less prone to speed wobbles than others (stability doesn’t translate into less speed wobbles). And tightening the trucks, which makes the boards’ turning radius smaller, doesn’t either (a tip about this from Loaded Longboard's Adam Colton). Instead, it’s how you distribute your weight on the board, along with experience and confidence. Quick tip: if you feel your board start to lose control, and you want to avoid the speed wobbles rather than come to a stop, shift your weight forwards over the front truck. This is the reason why the optimal down-hilling form includes leaning forwards. Different trucks also affect how the longboard pushes; the lower they are (measured by angle), the easier they are to push.
The bushings are by far the most underrated part of a longboard – they are by and large the most bang for the buck in regards to adjusting your longboard. Bushings are located in the trucks, and define how they turn by compressing and rebounding as the board turns. Bushings are measured by “durometers”, ranging from the 70s to the 90s. Bushings in the mid to high 90s barely even turn, and are usually for high speed down-hilling. 70s require a ridiculously small amount of pressure to change direction, and that variability is what makes this part of the longboard so important. A stiff board can turn into a carving machine with this small purchase. Also, bushings rarely cost more than $20, many of them even under $10, so buying multiple sets and testing them out is always worth the output.
Longboard wheels are… well, wheels. And bearings are the parts that connect the wheels to the trucks. The wheels are also measured by durometers, but they don’t change the feel of the longboard nearly as much as the bushings do (even though they cost multiple times more). Higher durometers constitute harder wheels, which makes sliding on a board slightly easier. The key word here is “slightly”, as many people think that hard wheels are an end-all be-all solution to their sliding problems. The simple truth is that all wheels slide, you just have to practice and learn how to for yourself. Bearings affect how long the wheels spin per push. Bones Reds, one of the most popular bearings, are more than good enough for the average longboarder. These also don’t have a drastic effect on how your board rides (unless you want to maximize your speed, in which you'll have to pay quite a bit more for ceramic bearings).
Damian Keith on October 25, 2015:
My Santa Cruz drop-through board has these odd pieces of circular plastic near the ends, does anyone know what they are for?
beckyefp on August 15, 2012:
You're right about the bushings. They affect the ride way more than it would seem. I'm a lightweight, so stock bushings are way too hard. I'd suggest upgrading any longboard setup with better bushings. They're relatively cheap too!
Francis on July 22, 2012:
i have a skateboard.. can i just change the wheel or i have to change the trucks???