Hey guys. Browsing trough build posts, and general discussion I found out that most of you are extremely knowledgable on the electronics part. I don’t even fully understand some of it since I am more a rider than a builder.
But reading trough most of the discussion I often read the same misconseption about riding a longboard. Example: Speed wobbles, makaing a board carvier, easier to turn, positioning, balance etc. I thought to myself, those guys may have ridden a longboard or a skateboard but mayby never donwhill/freeride. So they now go faster than they actually know how to drive properly since they never leanred it previous to esk8. There is a proper technique to all the turns, straights, corners on varius speeds. Foot placement, weight distribution, hip and arm motions.
So would you be be intrested if I made a short “guide” on how to get started? Subjects like : Bushings, truck settings, positions, tricks, additional gear, protectiv gear cheap and effective.
I mean you guys slowly but surely dip into the world of donwhill in terms of speed. At 30 mph or above a board, the skills become rapidly more and more important. To prevent insury and maximise fun.
Let me know if a short write up and a Video along side it would be wanted by you guys:)
cheers and happy riding
How to ride a Longboard or my 2 cents on it at least.
1.) Alright, lets do this. Before I start I wanted to say that all of the following is my opinion on my experience ,what I was thought from others. So you can ofcourse disagree or have an other take on it. I don’t want to force anything on to you. I just realised by watching your videos of you riding your esk8-boards or in the comment section that there are plausable arguments how to deal with difficulties (turning, speed wobbles, bushings, truck tightness, positioning etc.) But allways on technical side of things, but the rider as the biggest factor in all those points gets disregarded most of the time. I am also not trying to impose a style by saying this is wrong stop doing it. All I am trying to do is improve your ride, your saftey while doing it and the progress you make as a rider. So I thought since I cannot contribute in an other area, I would like to give you an introduction to speed skating, its challenges, the porper technique to handle those difficulties and some tipps and tricks from a ambitious freeride/downhill rider, to make your ride safer, smoother and more enjoyable. So lets jump right into it:
1.) Introduction 2.) Set up 2.1.) Trucks 2.2.) Bushings 2.3.) The board itself 3.) following soon, tm The Basics (gear and clothes) 3.1.) the stance 3.2.) importance of arms and hipps 3.2.) turns more indepth 3.3.) straights, pushing speed 3.4.) stopping (traditional, remote and emergency stop) 3.5.) How to handle loss of controle 3.6.) general overview of your movement
2.) So lets talk set up. Our main goal by going about a build may vary from member to member. Most of you go for practicallity (clearence for enclosure, stiff so 1 enclosure works fine etc.) Most of you end up with a pretty decent board if I had to judge it simply on the board itself for higher speed. Different boards do bring different charasteristics with them though. I could now try to word it out for you but with this link it will be easier. https://www.muirskate.com/longboard-guide/ Its actually a very good amount of information. Not very indepth but a good way to start, since they touch almost all parts of a board. So on the left you can choose betweend deck, trucks, wheels, bearings and bushings. Give it a quick read, its pretty much on point.
2.1.) Trucks. Well there were are very limited, most hubmotors come with trucks and belt system require you to go a specific model (caliber mostly) which fit the motor mounts. Of course you can make your own mounts which is the better option so you can actually choose the trucks which suits your riding style. And yes trucks make a huge impact, bigger than you may imagine. If I were to compare my donwhill board to my raptor 1 (which I love) it goes something like this. One is a precise sport and utility tool, which alows me to hit speeds above 80km/h / 50mp/h while knowing exactly how it will behave. It is reliable, durable and famailiar. The raptor is an awesome e-board but not such a great “board” really. The missing porper concave, it has no drop/micro drop in front which makes some downhill action on mild 50kmh already and adventure of sorts. So know what kind of truck you want, baseplate angle, turn radius, wheelbase etc. and go from there. If your focus is truly to enhance your experience rather than save money.
2.2) Bushings. Another part which is mostly overlocked or threated like something minor. Well let me tell you, it can finish out your ride so well or ruin it almost at the finish line. Go to a local Longboard shop, talk with them. Tell them how you want your ride to change, they will be friendly and eager to help. Let them change bushings go for a small run, come back change. Rins and repeat until you have that moment when you think, damn this is it!. To bushings there are 2 things I need to say though. First, if you want your board to turn easier, carvier and more responsable, please don’t try to adjust that with bushings. Bushings are basically rubber which gives you on cerntain degrees of movement a certain amount of resitance. BUT, if you go in a turn with 10 km/h or 30km/h makes a huge difference. Since at higher speeds the pressure or weight put on the bushings in turns is so much greather. Leaving you in a position when the board suddenly behaves differently in turns depending on your speed. Second, learn to ride rather hard bushing/barrel bushing. So you actually need weight distribution to turn not just flexing your toes. And if you want to make your board carvier do not changge the bushing like I said, get a 5degree or even 10degree angel baseplate. Mount it instead of a riser and you will be astonished by the difference.
2.3) The board. Well this is a subject which basically comes down to opinion, liking and experience. I would never be as arrogant to say this or that is the best deck this and that is crap. I have ridden a lot of boards, but by no means allows that to judge a board by its loock. So lets start with choices. There is an endless amount of boards from brand, clones or independant board makers. So choose wisely. Again most of you go for loocks, practicality or price when choosing a board. Which is perfectly fine but has a different focus. I really don’t care how my board loocks when I am hitting more than 45km/h and need to get the next turn right since I see a car coming the opposite way. In that moment I want the porper tool for the job. So when you start your build, think about what the boards needs to do for you. Be flexy, carvy and relaxing for you bad knee ? Go for a vanguard build, split enclosures and you got your self set up. You want speed, feel locked into your board and stability? Go for a porper donwhill topmount deck. Just don’t try to make aboard do something i was not intended to is all I am saying. This point goes for your whole set up. If you build a dual set up, 10s or even 12s you will be fast, so don’t disregard your board as the pice of wood where you attach the tech to. See it as the beating heart of your project. Whenevr I search the forum for board suggestion, it is all about price loocks or having an easier time placing an enclosure. Very rarely if even you talk about the board itself. You guys hit speeds that I hit after years and years of practice.
3.) Gear and clothes:
Well a few have awesome gear, some even celebrate protection like esk8 france and sadly some of you don’t really wear any. I may sound like your mother when you were younger but please allways wear sufficent protection. You may think or say:" oh well I didn’t fall a single time last year, I can do without the protectors or even helmet". Sure fair point, but that is not what protection is for. Insurrance and protection are very similar in this. You don’t cover your insurrance for your daily life, you cover it for the day X when shit goes bad. Same goes for protection, you prepare yourself properly to the circumstance that you stand on top of a Longboard deck with a braking system that is everything else than fail proof. So your own board or a biker or even a car can endager you, for that reason protect yourself. I myself communted daily twice between my uni and my home all year long. I allways wear a helmet, gloves and porper footwear. Also a pair of biker jeans with kevlar and a motorsport jacket. The jacket itself is amazing, solid protectors, comfy to wear and pretty stealthy. This is the one I am using at the moment: https://www.dragginjeans.net/clothing/womens/womens-jackets/draggin-roo-hoody-detail.html If you plan a serious ride and want to push limits, there is no such thing as overkill when it comes to your safety. Most of you are older than me, have kids and a lot more responsabilities. You cannot afford to be out of commision so to speak, if you could prevent some of it. On a side note. The most dangerous part is when you let somone try your board for the first time, so if you lend them your board also lend them your helmet. Not much speed is required to turn a harmless fall into a serious accident. It is easy to forget how fast you are actually going, while completely trusting the brakes. Most importantly, falling of your board at 25mph+ while in a standing up positions is ugly, especially when colliding with an other object.
3.1.) The stance
So why is the stance and changing it important? Well for a couple of reason, mostly though to achieve stability. Your feet should be about shoulder wide on the deck, allowing you to freely transfer your weight quickly. Even though your deck may be pretty wide, most of your weight needs to be in the center of the board, again for stability. If you position yourslef on the axis, light movement wont have as much as an effect as If you were to stand at the edges. This is a great first point towards safely approching higher speeds. Now comes the tricky part, your feet. I rode alot with my local esk8 group and all of them had the traditional cruiser stance. Like so:
Perfectly fine to cruise and coast around, making your board very responsive and easy to turn. But I would argue that it is rather unsuited for higher speeds. In that stance as soon as you push the throttel and the acceleration hits, most of your weight will be on the backfoot. At this point your backfoot has way to much to do. Since most of your weight is on the back foot it is responsable for turning, balance, holding your weight and supporting your upper body. This is the perfect recipe for speed wobbles and bad controll of the board. And since your foot is angled almost 90 degrees, you have also to much weight outside the axis meaning all your movements have a larger impact than wanted. I have to say that I very rarely see non ek8 stand like this. Since 95% of poeple skating actually need to push and standing like that would make pushing almost impossible. So the stance you would want to get used to loocks more like this:
This is a speed tuck, you don’t need to tuck that tight fo course but the stance should go in that general direction in order to perfom proper manouvers and turns. I reccomend you read through this blog, its a peerfect write up about the speed tuck :
This might loock uncomfortable and unescesarry complicated at first, but why build a board that goes 30mph if you cannot take it around a corner ? Mayby you enjoy straights and light carving but don’t like turns since you have to slow down or you cannot even take them. I guarantee you, give it a few months in that stance, learn it, get comfortable in doing it, especially in corners and turns and you will have a completely different experience. Like motorcycling, after a certain amount of skill, challenging routes, mountain passes for example will become your favourite thing to ride. Corners, the play between speed and centrifugal (?) force is an awesome feeling. And I don’t see you taking turns while standing up straight, with straight legs and horizontal foot placement. Definetly not safely. The first important step in learning this stance, is actually learning to push. If you push porperly your front foot needs to to be in the center of the deck in a mostly vertical position to the board. 45 degrees or less is optimal. Now if you sucesfully put your front foot down in that position and managed to push wihtout having to stop (catch balance, or put the back foot on the board after every other push) you fixed your balance issues. Meaning you are able to move around on the deck while only having one foot down, which is important. So push a few times, get on the board and give if some throttel, but don’t fall back in to the bad habbit and change your stance. Keep your fornt foot where it is. Now try to align your shoulders and hipps with the trucks. So now if you want to turn, you need to shift your weight to the side. Dont brake your stance for this, don’t move your feet either. Simply go deeper in to your knees and lean with your whole body to the side. This is sufficent for slight turns. If it were to be a tight turn or even corner, go even deeper in to your knees. Then if its a backside turn, turn your shoulders slightly away from the direction you are going and put your behind over the board. Giving you alot of weight pushing into the curve while maintining a low center of gravity. Reducing the forces that you have to hold out. If it is a frontside turn, put your right arm out (regular stance, goofy would be left arm), and now lean “into” your armpit but facing donwards. I realise this sounds weird and not very clear, I hope I can clear this up in my first video part.
Of course in traditional downhill, you often breake your stance in order to slide since you cannot grip trhough the corner, but I won’t go into sliding at all, since most of you have a traditional remote making things alot harder, and I still don’t know how smart it is to slide with an e-board. In my experience a terrible idea with belt drives and haven’t tried it with my unfinished carvon build at this time. So we want to keep our stance and if we need to reduce speed either let the air do the work for us and form a pocket between your chest and you legs or shortly stand up and put your arms out (while letting go of the throttel of course) or simply engage the brake.
3.2.) Importance of arms and hips
I will not go too much into that in this form. I will focus on this subject more in a video part, since such things are so much easier to show than to explain in Words (for me at least).
So let us talk hips first, your best friends in helping you turn, shifting your weight around and prepare for a stance switch. It is important that your core is stable and rather trained for better stability, to prevent back pain and allowing you to let your hips “loose”. Meaning your board will not always go straight as an arrow on higher speeds. It will sometimes drift of to the side, a rough patch on the pavement will turn it into a survey feeling in turns and bumps and hits in the road can make it rather hectic. Now it is important to have your feet locked in, your knees bent and your hips loose. Allowing you to eat up some of the unforeseen hits and movements. Since you are in a neutral position with your hips, you made yourself a lot of room available to react. Now again this will sound like someone making rocket science out of something simple, but it is just the way I have been thought by a very gifted athlete. Try to think of your hips as a buffer, a way to soak up what the road throws at you. A way to correct bigger mishaps. The most important thing I will add is that you need to learn to let things happen to you. May sound very weird at first, but the risk of overreacting, oversteering and therefore making it worse is bigger than you might think. We all know the moment when we get hit with something unprepared that may even scare us for a split second, and exactly this split second of mostly unwanted rapid motion is what can ruin your day. So give your reaction some time, if you need to react with weight shifting or directional change, let it come from your hips.
Arms. Well most people would say that arms are there to find balance, I find that very counterproductive. Find a position where you can rest your arms (I myself have them interchanged on my back). If you continuously move and wave around your arms you will not have an easier time to find balance, it will actually make it harder. Balancing you out on the board should come from your feet, your knees, and your arms are like your hips a buffer to sudden changes. To react to slip, a hit or otherwise unforeseen movement. So try to hold them still, and if you use them do so with intent. Also, learn to use them as a braking tool. If you don’t need to slow down fast but want to or need to for a change of direction, stand up hold your arms out and let the air stop you, less stress on the motors and I think an enjoyable way to reduce speed. I am still not too sure about slowing down with the brake honestly, I also never informed myself about that. However, my board can go 45km/h and if I am above that number, the brake behaves very weird so I slow down with the so-called “Air brake” or with carving/slide.
3.3.) Turns more in-depth.
I quickly realise that I have to show it first in a video and then response by writing. …
3.4.) straights pushing speed.
Disclaimer: If I talk about pushing your own top speed, I am generally talking about 50km/h, not wanting to exclude anyone since you can adapt it to your own speed, but this is the point where things start to become serious. Serious fun but also potentially, seriously dangerous. In addition, how to find a way that works for you is very personal. This is meant as an Input and in no way a fixed set of rules. More importantly though, this is where your gear gets more important with every little bit of speed you go faster. I do not only mean clothes, helmets gloves etc. I also mean your trucks and your hardware. I have seen so sketchy stuff of trimmed down trucks to make a motor mount fit. If you take away serious amounts of material I wouldn’t feel comfortable to go for a speed run. At speed of 50 or above there are scary forces around, which you and your material need to handle. It is great that you want to go faster and faster but never loose respect of the speed and as a reality check, look at any other type of transportation who travel at those speeds. Look at the safety measures, the fail-safes, the regulations etc. that come with it. Then realise that you are traveling on a piece of wood with four wheels at similar speed. So all the precautions you would find on other means of transportation have to be taken care of by YOU.
So for those of you where this is a little too far let us take it down a notch. So If you are not comfortable in maxing out your board, I would assume that it is because of one of the following reasons. Speed wobbles, scared of the vibrations, loss of control or an overall nervous feel to it. This means you are not comfortable on your ride in general and your posture/stance may not be optimal. This is a hobby, so it should be fun, so have fun. What I mean by this is do not just push the throttle and be happy your DIY build works etc. Have fun riding a longboard before you have fun riding an esk-8. Meaning get familiar with the deck, move around it, change your stance, get low get high. Experiment on your platform, start to carve, take turns, take them slow then fast then as low as you dare. Try to simulate or force all the skills you would need to react to certain situations. What would happen if the remote cut out and you need to stop? Learn to foot brake with a heavy board; maybe if you feel adventurous even get into slides. What if you need to get home and a strong wind comes up? Learn to tuck so you could overcome that as well. I could go on and on, make your board feel second nature to you. All the things that scare you or hold back are exactly the things you need to work on. I know is much nicer just to relax have fun and not putting in the work. But Isn’t it a sad imagination never unleashing your board full potential. I always said to myself when I was scared of a course or not really feeling like working one something:” You only know where a rode leads you, when you followed it until the end”. My hope/dream is that esk-8 morphs from a hobby a partnership between tech and fun to a competitive battle between man and machine. Sorry I had to write that, even if that sound awful
So, you have to be comfortable in your tuck as I explained above. Comfortable in holding it for an extended period of time and comfortable in manoeuvring without having to break your tuck. Every slight movement or change in your position reflects in more resistance and lower speed. So try to stay calm and learn to enjoy it. If you get to a speed were you either get uncomfortable, weird feeling in your stomach or plain fear then stand up and slow down. Generally, fear is a great feat when it comes to downhill or higher speeds. I always understood the feeling in that context as a normal reaction to something unknown. It can be either the course you are not familiar with or a speed that you have never achieved before. Find yourself a nice downhill sloap ( or if 40km/h already sounds scary for you then skip the next part), ideally a one way street so no cars can come the opposite direction, cut corners or endanger you in any way. Now learn the course, try to remember corners, how tight they were, potential hits in the road, rough patches etc. In a way try to plan your “race/run” ahead, like every racing sportsman in any discipline would do. It helps so much in overcoming uncertainty or fear. As soon as you know your course very well you no longer have to worry about anything else than yourself and how you tackle said course. Now if you have a belt driven dual set up I do not think you can hit much more than 55 to 60km/h because of the resistance. So If you are somewhat comfortable around that number great, this is going to be easy for you. Slow down on corners and the second you hit the long straight in your course, go into your speed tuck. Now there are two ways to go about this. You can keep your tuck until you have to slow down for the next turn. If you managed to do that there, is nothing more for you to do, other than learning turns and corners with higher speed. Alternatively, find a steeper grade and rinse and repeat. If you are not familiar with that speed, it is only logically that you feel scared and do not really feel like tucking all the way down. So start by going your personal top speed that you are somewhat comfortable with. Now try to familiarise yourself with that speed further, how your board acts, how the wind resistance feels etc. So instead of going straight in a tuck like the option above, take a standing position and try to enjoy the ride, carve, move around the deck, and move your hips to move sideways instead of your feet. Make the speed feel normal to you. If you should still be too fast, try air braking, learn to handle the board with your body, and do not just rely on the remote to do everything for you.
1,) Just for fun, first and lousy attempt at commented riding. Also to slow of a course.