6 ways to make your skateboard/longboard faster
September 27, 2019
Once the speed bug gets you, it never really let’s go. Every moment spent on your skateboard thereon is ‘plagued’ with thoughts of how fast you can go on your board and figuring out how to do it. Trust me, there’s no turning back.
With that in mind, this weeks article is a short guide on a few things you can change on your board to help you go faster. After reading it, you’ll have a few ideas to finally help you appease your inner speed demon.
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How to make your skateboard or longboard faster
Change your wheels
Your wheels are the things that your board rolls on, naturally, they are the first things you should change if you are looking to get an upgrade in performance, or are simply looking for a different feel from your skateboard.
Here are a few things you can do that will make your skateboard much faster:
Get bigger (taller) wheels
In a race, a skateboarder will get off the line quicker (faster acceleration), but a longboarder will eventually pass them as their taller (bigger) wheels allow them to have a higher top speed.
The physics behind why bigger wheels have a higher top speed is really interesting, and to be honest, fairly difficult to sum-up without getting too in-depth. There is an interesting Quora article that explains it. I suggest checking out the link if you are interested in finding out more about it.
So yeah, in summary, bigger wheels have a higher top speed. But what are some good wheels you can get for longboarding and skateboarding?
- A good example of a big wheel for longboarding is the Orangatang Durian. At 75mm in height, these wheels will take off slowly but have a really nice top speed. Check them out here on Amazon.com.
- For skateboards, a big wheel would be the Powell-Peralta G-Bones at 64 mm. Take a look at them here on Amazon.com. Just watch out for wheelbite if you do get them!
Bigger wheels also have more momentum and tend to roll for much longer – meaning whilst they are harder to push, they will roll on for much longer. Something that’s really nice for cruising.
If you are looking for a really tall wheel to take you as fast as possible, check out my review of the Orangatang Kegel wheels. These wheels are monstrous at 80mm and are quite hefty, not for the faint of heart …
Get higher-quality wheels
Cheap wheels are often made from low-quality urethane that sags, has poor rebound, rolls slowly, and has a low-quality core.
Higher quality wheels are often made with high-quality urethane that has a high or decent quality rebound, and a strong core. These features add up to a wheel that rolls fast, lasts long and that feels good to skate.
The Seismic Alpha wheels are a good example of high-quality wheels. In fact, the urethane used on them is the same urethane used on the wheel that was used to set the downhill skateboarding record of 91.17MPH (146.73KPH) at L’Ultime Descente.
So in summary, urethane and other wheel components typically affect how fast you are. It’s like the difference between a deflated vs a very hard tire. The hard tire rolls a lot faster, whilst deflated tires slug along and don’t keep enough momentum to take you to those higher speeds.
So what are some examples of high-quality wheels for skateboarding and longboarding?
- For skateboarding, I would suggest the 63mm Seismic Booster Wheels. These wheels are poured in their ‘premium pool/park’ formula and use their unique, weight-saving EC hub (pictured). Because these wheels are from Seismic, you already know their quality is guaranteed. Check them out here on Amazon.com.
- For skateboarding again, I would suggest the Seismic Encore wheels. These wheels were developed with longboard dancing in mind, but they will provide superior cushioning and roll speed over a variety of terrain than the basic skateboard wheel. Find out more about them here on Amazon.com.
I’d say they are a bit of a risk for most skateboarders to choose because they aren’t ‘the traditional skateboard wheel’, but they definitely won’t let you down.
- And finally, what should a longboarder choose? Once again, I’m going to have to plug Seismic and suggest another one of their wheels – these guys make the highest quality wheels imo, and it shows. Majority of long-distance and downhill skaters choose them because of how fast they roll. Check out the Instagram clip of me below, getting close to 50mph on my Seismic Wheels.So for longboarders, I would suggest the Seismic Speed Vents at 73mm in height. Check them out on Amazon.com here. At 73mm, these wheels are one of the best options on the market. They will be light, nimble turning and simply feel good on your longboard.
View this post on Instagram
Can almost skate this entire hill top to bottom at full throttle. Still have trouble with that one toeside corner. Need to get a clip on the Kegels. Those things have so much gaddamn momentum. Not even going as fast as possible in this clip either haha Problem with this hill is how wavey it is. Always feel like you might twitch and wobble out. Really plays on your mental. In fact, it's the main reason I run split trucks
If you’re looking to learn more about wheels and what their properties do, check out my guide to longboard and skateboard wheels.
Use harder wheels
Remember the concept of deflated and inflated tire I introduced above? Now wheels of a harder durometer are a good example of that.
The softer wheels squish more against the road, and this kinda kills a lot of your momentum. The wheels tend to absorb a lot of energy as they pound the road, which really isn’t good if you’re trying to go fast.
Harder wheels have more rebound and reflect a lot of the energy they get. So as they accelerate, they tend to hold more speed and momentum, and as such they can hit higher top speeds.
So what should a skateboarder and longboarder get?
- Simply go in up a durometer when choosing the wheel you would like to buy. For example, with the Orangatang Durians I suggested earlier, you can simply choose the purple 83a versions, instead of the orange 80a ones, if you want a wheel that rolls faster.
- The same goes for skateboarders, instead of picking a 97a wheel, pick a 100a wheel and you’ll be able to go a tiny bit quicker.
However, you should note that harder wheels reflect a lot more road vibration. So roads that felt smoother on the softer wheels may feel rougher on your harder wheels because they don’t absorb much of the vibration from road imperfections. So what can you do about that? One thing is to simply skate smoother roads.
Go to smoother, steeper roads
Lastly, you might have the perfect skateboard but your environment could be what is letting you down. Rougher roads are typically undesirable if you’re trying to go fast on your skateboard.
A rougher road has more ‘bumps’ (albiet very tiny ones), that reduce your momentum and slow you down. Imagine it as tiny hills that your wheels have to go over each and every time they roll, of course these ‘tiny hills’ will slow you down a lot right?
It is quite easy to deal with rougher roads all you need to do is buy bigger wheels – bigger wheels help smooth out the ride and make it a lot more comfortable and easier to ride rough roads. They also make it possible to roll over pebbles and can even strong-arm small rocks out of your way.
- So longboarders can solve this issue buy getting 75mm+ wheels. Skateboarders can get 60mm+ wheels, but should watch out for wheel bite.
The most ideal location for going fast would be somewhere that is both smooth AND steep. A steep and smooth highway is the perfect combination to go 60mph! Check out Thiago Lessa easily hitting that speed in the Instagram clip below.
But is that really all it takes to go really fast, or is there more? Like with all things speed-related, aerodynamics does play a part.
Get more aerodynamic
Aerodynamics will make a big difference when it comes to how fast you can go on your board. As such, we need to figure out a way of making ourselves aerodynamic so the air doesn’t slow us down as much. Fortunately, longboarders already have a good way of dealing with it.
Do you see that goofy thing longboarders do when they bend over? Well, that simply reduces their surface area in a really efficient way and helps them cut through the air easier. Check out what I mean in the picture below.
This position is called the ‘tuck’. They simply get their chest as close down to their knee as possible and try close off any air pockets. When done right, they can typically increase their speed from 30mph to 50mph on a given hill.
Pearse Darcy has a mean tuck. Check him out in the insta picture below.
To be fair, this position will be quite difficult and awkward for most skaters to do on a traditional skateboard. But simply bending at the hip or crouching down will reduce your surface area and will allow you to go much faster. This is something good to keep in mind the next time you’re going down a hill, and want to be the quickest to the bottom.
Switch out your bearings
Bearings, in general, don’t matter – I know, an unpopular opinion, (You can read my bearing guide to find out why I think so). But in general, well-maintained bearings will always be faster than unmaintained ones. And in that same train of thought, fresh bearings will always roll better, smoother, take you up to higher speeds, than old bearings.
Unmaintained/old bearings will have gunk, dirt, will not roll smooth, build up a lot of heat and slow you down as you skate along.
And instead of trying to maintain and clean your already very tired set of bearings, simply get a fresh set and go from there – much less stressful IMO.
Check out my review of the Loaded Jehu-bearings. Pretty reliable bearings if you are looking to skate fast consistently – they are what I use.
Don’t twitch or shift side to side
As we all know, a straight line down the hill or through a corner is the fastest. So ideally, a skater looking to get a top speed on a given track (or hill) should stick in as much of a straight line as possible.
This is because, when you shift side to side, it increases the distance your board travels, and in a way slows you down. You aren’t going ‘straight’ down the hill anymore but going down a longer path and inturn, a longer distance down it.
It is also the logic behind why people carve from side to side as they go down a hill – it helps reduce their speed a tiny bit and keep it chill as they skate down the hill.
So how do you stop your self shifting so much? High-quality trucks that are stable in a straight line can help with this, and if you can’t get your hands on really high-quality trucks, you can work on setting up your skateboard to be really stable.
The downhill skateboarding world record of 90+mph was set at the L’utlime descent event in 2017. A lot of people consider it a freak event and a once in a lifetime kind of thing. This is because the top speed on that road is typically 80mph, the only reason skaters were able to reach speeds of over 90mph was thanks to a 10mph tailwind.
Tailwinds are a godsend and they can help us going a couple of miles per hour faster. Whilst most of us probably won’t go 90mph in our lifetimes, a tailwind can help us go 5-10mph faster.
What are you gonna try out?
OK, so you’ve learnt how to go really fast on your board, good, but what next? You’re now going really fast but aren’t sure of how you’ll be able to slow down? Check out my tips and guide explaining how longboarders and skaters reduce their speed as they are skating really fast. Really helpful as crashing and falling isn’t a reliable or sustainable way of slowing down.
Which method do you think works best for you? If you’re still uncertain, simply buying the right wheels will make the biggest, noticeable difference in speed IMO. So in summary, I highly suggest you get yourself some new wheels. Other than that, getting more aerodynamic will get you going faster – but it requires a bit more skill and practice.