The history of longboarding

Welcome to our guide to Longboarding history. Throughout we will guide you through a brief look into the past, visiting various defining decades of a sport that is still not fully evolved and quite new to the sporting scene itself.


longboarding origins from surfingLongboarding originates back to streets of Hawaii. Between the late 1950s and 60s. Longboards were originally conceived by surfers who wanted to continue surfing whilst the waves were small. Whilst skateboards were already being sold commercially there were skaters who wanted to use boards of greater lengths and larger wheels.

Most skateboards during the early years were primitive homemade decks constructed at home, from wood, and clay wheels. Here decks were most like cruisers and were typically of bigger size, before street skateboarding and vert skateboarding deviated from it. Most wheels would be made from simplistic steel or even clay material.


lakewood skatepark

”Lakewood skatepark 1978″ by Bob Bekian (license)

One of the biggest issues with the early years of skateboarding, were the clay wheels. However that all changed in 1972.When ” Frank Nasworthy”, and his wheel company ‘Cadillac”. Who preceded to invent the worlds first urethane skateboard wheels. After the invention of urethane wheels, skating, in general, started to blossom slowly into the modern form we all know and love.

The invention of urethane wheels provided better roll speeds, more possible variations in design and colors, and generally revolutionised the sport and hobby in every way. Compared to clay wheels that were much harder to control and even considered highly dangerous to ride.

Clay wheels often had the issue of sliding when the skater turned. Urethane wheels helped solve this problem providing substantially greater grip. But also different shapes and combinations to provide different levels of grip, and sliding capability.

In the spring of 1975, there was an another large push that helped shape skating into what it is today. In “Del Mar”, California. A slalom and freestyle competition was held. Here, the team known as ‘Zephyr” had made a historic appearance. According to legend they “rode their boards like no one had in the public eye”. Helping convince people that skateboarding could be more than just a hobby but a more serious sport in its own unique way. The Zephyr team had many members, but the most famous being “Tony Alva”, “Jay Adams” and “Stacy Peralta”.

Here’s a video exploring the Zephyr team and their history with skating.

In 1976 precision bearings were also introduced for the first time. Designed to be used for skateboard wheels specifically.

Heading towards the end of this decade, skateboarding once again dropped in popularity. Once again returning to being an underground activity. Due to various factors such as the high danger of the activity, and rising insurance costs. Being seen as simply another fad that was now dying out.


tony hawk doing ollieThroughout the 80’s, companies founded by skateboarders themselves, started to pop up. Leading to new shapes, and a slew of creative opportunities for both rising vert skating and longboarding.

Skating in general was once again still an underground activity. Those who liked to vert skate, pool skate would often be constructing their own ramps at home. VCR helped introduce skateboarding to many other people who may have not been aware of it, and therefore influence countless others.

Professional skateboarders such as “Stacey Peralta” and “George Powell” made their impact during this decade. Together they founded a company called “Powell Peralta”.

A team of young talented skateboarders were then put together known as the “Bones Brigade” The team included “Tony Hawk”, “Mike McGill”, “Steve Caballero”, “Lance Mountain”, “Stacy Peralta”, “Rodney Mullen”, and “Kevin Staab”, as well as other famous riders. “Stacy” made a series of skate videos that were known as the “Bones Brigade Video Show”.

“Stacy’s” videos included historic edits such as “Future Primitive” and “Search for Animal Chin”. These videos helped skateboarding influence clothing, style and other parts of lifestyle and culture.

An example of Powell Peralta wheels called the “Snakes” currently trending in the longboard free riding scene today.


tony hawk x gamesWhilst street skating had now become the new craze in the skating world, with longboarding still being eclipsed in popularity. Longboarding however did see resurgence in the 1990s. Arguably the first longboard company, “Sector 9” started to mass produce and sell longboards to the market.

With the 1990s also came another technological breakthrough, the invention of reverse kingpin trucks. This helps provide boards with greater stability and overall better performance. No longer just a hobby, but also a serious sport, downhill skating events started to appear and the X games would feature longboard racing.

Since the 90’s Longboarding then grew in popularity and therefore gave rise to different types of riding, providing competitive downhill racing, slalom events, dancing and free riding.

Sector 9’s History

sector 9 logoSector 9 started back in the La Jolla backyards in 1993. Where a bunch of “good friends” simply liked to build longboards, sometimes from snowboards. After they had built many boards in their backyard at an increasing rate, the Sector 9 crew had moved into their first warehouse.

Where it would later become the first longboard factory. Sector 9 provides a varied range of boards to choose from today. Including cruisers, free ride and downhill racing decks. Not only does Sector 9 produce decks but gloves, apparel, and wheels as well.

Longboarding Today

downhill longboarderDue to the rise of the internet, it is now far easier for fellow long boarders to communicate and skate together. Today the technology is superior to the primitive decks over 50-60 years ago as boards can now be made from various materials.

Such as carbon fibre, fibreglass, bamboo and foam. Precision trucks and the advances in other components of longboards give riders today more choice than ever to fine tune their set up for how they intend to ride it. There are now dozens if not more companies, hundreds of wheels to choose from with various purposes and features, new deck features and shapes and dozens of trucks to choose and try.

Thanks to technological breakthroughs recently, the electric skateboard has been born. With companies such as Evolve, Boosted and Atom providing a new way of surfing the streets to your destination wth even more ease.

Here is an example of one of the first “High performance” reverse kingpin trucks.

Compared to a precision truck of today

Today longboarding has its own fair share of famous riders within its own respective sport.Famous skateboarders who compete downhill longboarding scene include “Zak Maytum”, “Patrick Switzer” just to name a few.

Here is a great video of “Zak” bombing some big hills.

and “Patrick Switzer”

Some new forms of longboarding such as dancing and electric skateboarding.

Whilst longboarding is slowly increasing in popularity as the choice for commuting and cruising, downhill skating is still somewhat an underground sport, most likely due to downhill being one of the most dangerous sports you could do. Being categorized as an extreme sport. Although it is gaining more exposure thanks to social media, YouTube, and events being held worldwide. Held by organizations such as “IDF”( International Downhill Federation).

Whilst street skating is still arguably the most popular and well-known form of skating. Longboards serve their own purpose. Both forms of skating are their own respective sports and are for different functions. If you are confused about the difference. Our article “longboard vs skateboard” will surely help you out!

William Thaddeus Baker

My name is William and I’m boardsports enthusiast. I’ve been skateboarding streets since I was about 9. Also I’ve experimented with longboarding & downhill. As to this site my goal is to help beginner riders to find the right equipment. Everything that I write here is my own opinion…