So you’re looking to pick up downhill skating and are wondering how to setup your board? Look no further. This article should help you get bearings of what type of equipment you’ll be needing. I’ll also talking about what generally works well for downhill skating and what doesn’t. Check it out below.
How to put together a longboard for downhill skating
What type of deck should you have?
You should typically have a stiff deck. This ensures stability at speed and effective feedback from your trucks. If your deck is flexy, your input and the feedback from the trucks become inaccurate. This could lead to wobbles and bad steering at faster speeds. You could also lose grip in corners – but this isn’t a beginner should really need to stress about. In the picture below, I’m riding a topmount longboard.
When it comes to shapes you have a variety options. They can be split into a few main categories:
- Topmounts – where the trucks are mounted directly beneath the board.
- Dropmount – similar to the topmount, but the standing platform is lower than the trucks.
- Drop-through – This is where the trucks are mounted on top of the board and through it. The standing platform is kind of hamocking between them.
The dropmount is the most beginner friendly shape and would be the easiest to learn on. Read more about which decks are best for downhill here, I talk about which one’s are the best for downhill skating. Check out the Instagram clip below for a good example of what a dropmount board is.
What type of trucks should you have?
Reverse kingpin (rip) trucks. Usually, around 40-45* are best. They should give you the best balance between stability and speed. They also generally give you enough lean that you will be able to slide easily on them. To read more about which trucks you should choose, check out this article here.
Get the right bushings
Bushings are the little rubber things in your trucks. They dictate how your trucks will lean and turn. If you have a thick, HARD bushing, your trucks won’t turn much. If you have a bushing that has less urethane, your trucks will turn more and might even be less stable at speed. To make your skateboard more stable, you have no choice but to optimize your bushings.
For downhill, we primarily use double barrel bushings. These give the best balance between lean and turn. They allow for your truck to have a good center and a smooth turn when you start leaning. Find out more about trucks here and how to setup them up.
Your wheels, which are most appropriate?
If you’re learning to slide …
A wheel between 65mm to 70mm in height should be appropriate. It should also have radiused lips or a beveled edge so you aren’t struggling to make it break traction. A narrow contact patch is desirable too. If you’re learning to slide, check out this article on the best wheels for learning.
If you want to skate open roads …
A sharp lipped wheel that is 70mm+ in size is most appropriate. This gives you enough traction that you’re able to grip corners and roads without worrying that your wheels will suddenly slide out.
Tip – If you’re gonna skate open roads you should already have confidence in your sliding abilities. Find out how to skate safely here.
Griptape, which should you have?
When picking griptape, you’ll come across two main options. You’ll have to choose between:
- Fine griptape and
- Course griptape.
Course griptape is what you should choose for downhill skateboarding. This type of griptape holds you and stops you from slipping off your board. This key for doing highspeed slides and sliding grippy wheels. Course griptape isn’t like what you’d find on a typical skateboard. It’s much rougher and grips your shoes more.
Of course, there are many different types of griptape brands, and of course, you just can’t pick any. I recommend you go with Mob Coarse griptape. Check out the Mob Super coarse grip here on Amazon.com.
Bearings are not as important as you’d think. Yes, they do allow your wheels to roll, but experience and statistics have shown that other factors (like wheel height, urethane density), have a greater effect on speed. If you want to learn why bearings don’t matter as much and what is actually important, check out this article here.
If you can get any set of built-in bearings like the Zealous steel bearings you’ll be good to go. Such a set of bearings will last you a year and a bit without any maintenance. You can pick up the Zealous here on Amazon.com.
If built-in bearings aren’t your thing, check out the Fireball Dragon bearings. These bearings are some of the best I’ve used. When you pair them with both the bearing spacers and speed rings, they make for a great combo. Ensuring a tight fit and ultimately a smooth ride. Check them out here on Amazon.com.
What other gear do you need?
Safety gear should not be overlooked. This stuff keeps you safe and from harm. It will allow you to skate confidently without worry about getting hurt. This will make it easier to learn tricks and you’ll be able to progress faster and pick up skills quicker. I would recommend at a minimum, someone intending to do downhill skating pick up:
- A Helmet
- Slide Gloves
- Knee pads
If you can spare the cash, I would advise you add the following bits to that list:
- Hip pads – perhaps the most useful and underrated piece of downhill safety gear
- Spine protector
Check out this article on essential and non-essential bits of downhill skate gear. It’s the 411 on all the bits and pieces of safety gear that you need as a beginner.
Where to get help if you need it
Below are links to groups where you can get advice on many longboard related things. Whether this is getting information on a certain skateboard, on how to improve your slide, which wheels to buy etc. All the way to finding other people to skate with and share your own videos.
- Longboard family
- Downhill254 archives
- Skateboard racing
If all else fails, don’t hesitate to hit me up on social media and I’ll see how I can help you out.
Ready to start shredding?
Downhill skating is one of the best sports you can get into. The community is awesome and welcoming too. Picking the right longboard for yourself will take some time but is well worth it in the end.