All longboards – drop-throughs, pintails, drop-downs, dancers and long cruisers – have a lot of the same things going for them.
They are longer and wider than standard skateboards or shortboards, making them more stable and easier to ride.
This makes them ideal for cruising and commuting and great boards for beginners.
Most longboards also have designs that keep the decks away from the wheels, making them better for carving, while preventing wheel bite.
However, as much as longboards have in common, the different types of longboards also have some stark differences.
Some sit higher, some sit lower, and the shape of a longboard deck matters a lot.
Here, we break down the longboard types, what they do, and how they are best put to use.
When it comes to longboards, there are a few main shapes.
- A drop-through longboard has a boxy shape with end tails.
- A pintail longboard is sleekly curved with pointed ends.
- A drop-down longboard is a variation of drop-through design (same basic shape) with a lowered deck.
- A dancer longboard is shaped like a drop-through (with thicker tails) or like a pintail, but with rounded edges.
- And, sneaking in as a slight imposter, the longboard cruiser is pointed at one end and boxier at the back.
Now, let’s go through each type of longboard one by one.
Drop-Through Longboard Overview
What is a Drop-Through Longboard?
A drop-through longboard is a rectangular-shaped longboard designed so the trucks can be mounted through the board.
Large cut-outs on the deck’s tails allow the baseplates of the trucks to sit on top of the deck and attach to the truck hangers below.
That’s why it’s called a drop-through.
It literally drops the deck down through the trucks, bringing the deck closer to the ground and the wheels closer to the deck.
Drop-Through Longboard Deck
A drop-through longboard deck is long, boxy, and straight-edged with tails at either end where the trucks mount.
Since the baseplates sit on top, a drop-through deck rides closer to the ground.
Like other skateboard decks, drop-through longboard decks are mostly made of maple plies, though bamboo decks are not uncommon.
What are drop-through longboards good for?
The lowered decks of drop-through longboards make them great longboards for learning.
They are both easier to balance on and easier to push and brake.
But these longboards are far from beginner boards.
They are also the best longboards for freestyle and downhill riding.
The wider deck design (and lower mounting) of drop-through longboards make them easier to control at speed and when performing slides.
And their greater stability makes them safer and more comfortable on longer commutes.
Pintail Longboard Overview
What is a Pintail Longboard?
A pintail longboard is a surfboard-shaped longboard designed for safe carving.
The trucks and wheels on a pintail mount under the deck, just like on a standard skateboard.
Pintail Longboard Deck
A pintail longboard deck is a long curved deck that tapers to points (or, sometimes, slight curves) at either end.
Since the baseplates sit beneath the deck, a pintail rides higher off the ground than a drop-through longboard.
Like other skateboard decks, pintail decks are mostly made of maple plies, though bamboo decks are not uncommon.
What are pintail longboards good for?
Due to the top-mounting of the deck, pintail longboards are more responsive than drop-through decks when it comes to steering.
The narrower deck designs and deeper angles on turns make pintails great carvers, which makes them ideal for cruising and land surfing.
Drop-Down (Drop Deck) Longboard Overview
What is a drop-down longboard?
A drop-down longboard is a longboard that has been molded to sit even closer to the ground than a drop-through longboard
Like a drop-through board, a drop-down is rectangular in shape with end tails.
However, though the shape is the same, the mounting isn’t always.
A drop-down longboard deck may be a drop-through deck (with the baseplates mounted on top) or may be a top-mount where the baseplates mount on bottom.
Drop-Down Longboard Deck
A drop-down longboard deck looks exactly like a drop-through deck in its general shape.
It’s long, boxy, and straight-edged with tails at either end where the trucks mount.
However, where a drop-through deck sits flat or has only a slight upward rise (camber) or downward dip (rocker), a drop-down longboard has a much lower profile.
The tails at either end sit higher than the main platform, bringing the deck the closest to the ground of any longboard type.
Like other longboard decks, drop-down longboard decks are mostly made of maple plies, though bamboo decks are not uncommon.
What are drop-down longboards good for?
Similar as they are, drop-down longboards are good for the same things drop-through longboards are good for, except on a drop-down all the benefits are amplified.
Since drop-downs sit lower, they are even more stable and easier to balance on.
They are also better for downhill and slides because they lower a skater’s center of balance, which makes rides less volatile at high speeds and when whipping the board.
This all combines to make drop-downs ideal for downhill racing and freerides.
Dancer Longboard Overview
What is a Dancer (Dancing) Longboard?
A dancer longboard is a longboard specifically designed for longboard dancing or freestyle.
The deck is top-mounted to make carving and turns easier.
Dancer (Dancing) Longboard Deck
A dancer longboard deck can be a couple of main shapes –
A dancer might be long, boxy, and straight-edged with tails at either end, just like a drop-through or drop-down longboard deck, but with wider tails that curve up into kicktails.
A dancer might also be designed more like a pintail, but, instead of points, dancers typically have gently rounded ends that curve up into kicktails.
Since dancers are top-mounts and mostly flat, they also sit higher than drop-throughs or drop-downs, like a pintail.
Like other skateboard decks, dancer decks are mostly made of maple plies, though bamboo decks are not uncommon.
What are dancer (dancing) longboards good for?
Dancer longboards are good for longboard dancing, which is basically fancy freestyle riding, and performing longboard tricks.
The design of dancer longboards (top-mount with kicktails) makes them more similar to standard skateboards than other longboards.
However, most dancer longboards are long longboards, typically starting out in the mid-40 inches to provide plenty of room for dance moves.
Longboard Cruiser Overview
What is a longboard cruiser?
A longboard cruiser is a cruiser of extended size that meets the length requirements of a longboard.
Like all cruisers, the trucks mount under the deck.
Longboard Cruiser Deck
A longboard cruiser deck is a highly-directional deck that is pointed or curved at the nose and boxy at the back.
Longboard cruiser decks often have back kicktails.
Since the baseplates mount under the deck and the decks are largely flat, longboard cruisers sit higher than drop-through or drop-down decks, similar to pintails.
Like other skateboard decks, longboard cruiser decks are mostly made of maple plies, though bamboo decks are not uncommon.
What are longboard cruisers good for?
What longboard cruisers are good for is right there in the name.
They’re great cruisers, making them ideal for commutes.
Since they are top-mounted, longboard cruisers have more responsive steering than drop-throughs, but still have good wide decks for stability and comfort.
Different Types of Longboards for Different Things
Longboard shapes are not without purpose.
Most longboards (all except cruisers) narrow at the wheels (pintails, dancers) or have large cut-outs where the wheels go (drop-throughs, drop-downs, dancers).
With drop-through and drop-down boards, this makes it possible to bring the decks nearer the ground, while preventing contact with the wheels.
With pintails and dancers, this allows the decks to dip deeply without contact with the wheels.
Basically, longboards are designed for safe riding and movement.
But longboard deck designs are also quite different.
If it was all about safety, they would be the same.
Instead, longboards are designed with both safety AND unique utility in mind.
We’ve already been over what different longboard shapes are good for, but here are some direct comparisons pitting longboard against longboard to give you a better idea of how they differ.
Pintail vs Drop Through
The two most popular styles of longboard decks, these are the two longboard types most commonly compared.
They are also two of the most divergent types of longboards in their design and utility.
Pintail longboards mount on top of the trucks, have curved edges, and narrow at their ends.
This makes them great for carving (which is basically just a series of quick turns).
Drop-through longboards mount through the trucks, which bring the decks down.
This makes their steering less responsive, but provides more stability at higher speeds, making them better for long commutes.
Most pintails also have slightly narrower decks than most drop-throughs, which makes them more maneuverable, but, again, less stable.
- The Outcome: Pintails are ideal for cruising at lower speeds, carving, and leisure riding.
- Drop-through longboards are ideal for commuting and downhill.
Drop Through vs Drop Decks (Drop-Downs)
Drop-through longboards and drop-down longboards are the most similar longboards on our list.
They are also the most similar in their utility.
Drop-through longboards mount through the trucks, lowering their decks, and making them stable and good at high speeds.
Drop-down longboards mount through or on the trucks, but have lowered decks that are almost always lower than a standard drop-through deck.
This makes them more stable and even better at high speeds.
Lowering the deck further means even less responsiveness in a drop-down longboard’s steering, though, which is great for slides, but bad for turning.
- The Outcome: Drop-through longboards are ideal for most commuting and downhill.
- Drop-down longboards are ideal only at very high speeds, or on extreme downhills, such as when freeriding or racing.
Longboard Cruiser vs Pintail
The next two most closely related longboards on our list are longboard cruisers and pintails. (Though, they’re only moderately related.)
Longboard cruisers and pintails are similar in that they are both top-mount boards with responsive steering designed for cruising.
They differ in that cruisers do not have tapered ends or cutouts, which makes them fine for leisurely cruising, but bad for sharp turns and carving.
Longboard cruisers may also have back kicktails, which lend to simple trick riding and freestyle.
- The Outcome: Longboard cruisers are ideal for cruising and commuting.
- Pintails are ideal for cruising at lower speeds, carving, and leisure riding.
What Longboard Shape Should I Get?
With so many different types of longboards, if you’re just getting into longboarding, it can be hard to know which style of longboard is right for you.
The right longboard is largely a matter of preference.
Do you want more stability or more responsive steering?
Do you need to get to work or do you want to learn some tricks?
Like with most skate gear, the right longboard has largely to do with how and where you skate and your personal comfort on the board.
That said, we do have a few recommendations for the best longboard shapes based on riding style.
Best Longboard for Commuting: Drop-Through Longboard
A drop-through’s wide base and good stability makes it the safest, most comfortable longboard for transportation, especially on long commutes.
Best Longboard for Speed: Drop-Through Longboard
A drop-through’s lowered platform and reduced responsiveness make it easier to maintain control at higher speeds.
Best Longboard for Downhill: Drop-Through Longboard
A drop-through’s lowered platform and reduced responsiveness make it easier to maintain control when going downhill.
Best Longboard for Freeriding: Drop-Down (Drop Deck) Longboard
A drop-down’s severely dropped deck and limited responsiveness make whipping the board in and out of slides much easier and reduce the risk of speed wobbles.
Best Longboard for Downhill Racing: Drop-Through or Drop-Down
A drop-through longboard sits slightly higher, but has more responsive steering, making it better on downhill tracks with turns.
A drop-down longboard is the most stable, making it better on downhill straight stretches.
Best Longboard for Carving/Land Surfing: Pintail
A pintail’s higher deck makes it more responsive, while its tapered ends help prevent wheel bite.
Best Longboard for Casual Cruising: Pintail or Longboard Cruiser
Pintails and longboard cruisers both have good responsiveness and wide enough decks for comfortable cruising.
A longboard cruiser is more limited in its turns due to the possibility of the deck hitting the wheels, but it’s smaller and more portable.
Best Longboard for Dancing: Dancer Longboard
A dancer’s wide, raised platform provides the most room for dance moves on the deck and greater responsiveness when directing the board.
Best Longboard for Tricks and Skateparks: Dancer Longboard
A dancer’s raised deck provides responsive steering, while its kicktails provide pop and flight, allowing it to perform many of the same functions as a standard skateboard.
Best Longboard for Bowls: Longboard Cruiser
A cruiser’s wide deck provides stability at high speeds, while its slightly shortened length makes it more manageable for bowl skating.
Best Longboard for Beginners: Drop-Through Longboard or Longboard Cruiser
If you’re just learning to longboard, the lowered deck of a drop-through makes balance, pushing, and stopping considerably easier.
If you want to learn to ride a smaller skateboard or learn tricks, a longboard cruiser’s design (especially a shorter) cruiser is more similar to a standard skateboard.