In this post we’ll be covering the best longboards for carving, top gear picks, and sharing tips for creating your own carving setup.
What exactly is longboard carving?
Carving, by definition, means cutting into something. When applied to skating, carving refers to something like cutting into the asphalt. It is a way of riding in which, instead of pushing, the rider turns sequentially in a wave-like fashion, gaining momentum, similar to a fish swimming. Because the change of momentum can be either forwards or backwards, this type of movement can also be used to slow down.
After reading that short definition and if you are familiar with pumping, you might think it is the same and you’d be right, mostly. If you don’t know what any of this means, fear not; here’s a quick video:
That is what is known as an LDP board, though LDP can be for pushing or pumping. For the article we will refer to the ones oriented towards pumping as the other ones are too different.
Pumping actually only refers to picking up speed with this side-to-side movement, while carving (for the most part) refers to shedding of speed with it – i.e. you carve down the hill instead of mobbing it; you pump out of the race line to go faster. But this is just being real finicky with definitions; usually pumping and carving are used interchangeably when skating flat ground.
Why so many longboards are labelled as ‘carving’ longboards
‘Carving’ longboards (usually) take the name from the chill aspect of going from side to side down a hill to shed speed. You will notice these are cruiser type longboards for the most part, and if you’ve skated down a hill before you know that you can do this with any board, including a standard skateboard. Should we consider it incorrect labelling? Perhaps, but it’s not something to be bothered by.
You’ve seen them. Carvers have been steadily gaining popularity though they’ve been around for a long time. “What’s with these boards that turn so much?” you might have asked yourself.
In this article we will go over carving boards, similar types of boards and setups you can consider trying out as well as how to dial them in. Strap in […]
Carvers, pumping, surf skates, LDP, slalom …
Turns out it is not just “carvers” boards the ones that turn a lot, as you might have figured out the turning part is mostly your longboarding truck setup and similar truck setups are shared across some modalities.
The two opposites here are slalom and LDP. Slalom calls for very heavy short pumping, it is key that the board be able to turn as fast as possible whereas LDP can sometimes also use trucks you’d see on slalom boards but the focus is on being going on very long treks which means the board should be close to the ground, low weight and not require much effort to maneuver.
Where does carving fit then? Somewhere between slalom, LDP and chill rides. Boards for carving share aspects of both but not as serious or specific as either, though they are a perfect dedicated setup for many.
For the rest of the article, we’ll focus on boards meant for carving and pumping, not so much LDP or slalom, though, as mentioned before, they use quite similar setups.
Recommended carving longboards
Boards for carving tend to be on the smaller side; not quite a mini cruiser but also not the size of a pintail longboard despite what some brands would try to make you believe. There is a simple reason for this: the smaller the wheelbase, the easier it will be to pump the board.
How long should a carving longboard be?
We recommend using a wheelbase of anywhere from 18” to 21” which roughly translates to boards for around 31” to 35”; you can always do a bit shorter or a bit longer. Keep in mind that the shorter the board is, the less it will resist turning. Flex might be something you want as well to make the ride more plush, though it is not necessary.
If you’re looking for complete decks, keep reading!
Note: If you plan of using a longer deck, something more LDP oriented, a drop deck is recommended. Drop throughs or double drop deck are fine but will be more difficult to setup (surf-skate systems will not work with them for example). Again, try to avoid excessively long decks
Picking your carving setup
When it comes to trucks for carving setups, the most popular option seems to be surfskate systems. There are other options however, like carving RKP trucks or slalom setups. The option you choose will come down to how much do you want to think about what gear you will buy: do you want it working ok out-of-the-box but with low possibility for dialing or do you want to be able to pick and chose every little detail that goes into your setup? Personally, the latter is the option for me, but we will take a look at all three options.
The most popular option right now seems to be surf-skate systems. A surf-skate system sits under the front truck, it adds a pivot point below the truck with a spring resistance, allowing a greater turn. Surf skate are good option if you want blow-your-mind amounts of turn.
While surf-skate systems are indisputably fun, they are slightly uncontrollable. If it’s your first time with a carving board it might take a bit to get used to it.
|Insane amounts of turn||Pricey|
|Works well out-of-the-box||Can be uncontrollable|
|Not difficult at all to tune||Cannot be ridden fakie or land air|
The Carver C7 is THE surf-skate truck. The guys over at Carver have been in the game for quite a while and know what they are doing
With this adaptor you can mount which ever truck you want. There is a front and back adaptor, if you do not want to think much about your truck configuration it’s best to get both and throw your favorite set of TKPs on top
Slalom longboarding setup
My personal favorite option: a slalom-type setup. Slalom boards (boards actually meant for serios slalom, not just a fun deck to carve and pump around) use very expensive parts, like precision trucks, but there are cheap options that work very well; in fact, before precision trucks were a thing, slalom setups used these components, though professionals always modified them to some degree. For a slalom setup everything will have to be bought individually: trucks, bushings, wedges and optionally pivot cups. You will probably also need to get long hardware to accommodate the wedges.
Some recommended reads are our articles about bushings and about dialing trucks. A great part about slalom setup is the knowledge gain from having to deal with all the different parts (if you’re into that, that is).
|Can be dialed to perfection||Can be difficult to dial|
|Cheaper||Time consuming to find and buy all components|
|Very fun, work like normal trucks|
|Clout points for having an odd setup|
Front truck options
Rear truck options
Other necessary gear
Going back to Carver, they also have cheaper options if the C7 or other surf-skate systems seems like too much. The CX and C5 truck sets are a perfect option if you don’t want to drop that much money on the board and/or you don’t want to worry too much about dialing a slalom setup. They look like regular trucks but turn and lean a lot – much more than I expected the first time I tried them.
|Works well out-of-the-box||Still pricier than a slalom setup|
|Works like a normal truck|
|A very good in-between option|
Major Arc trucks have been a recent development for carving boards. The trucks are designed for longer drop through cruisers, though they will work well on any board with cut outs.
I’ve not tried these yet but I’m excited to see how they do as the idea and design look interesting.
You can check out their website here.
Are Original trucks good for carving?
No. Just about everything on these trucks is bad quality, from manufacturing to geometry. It doesn’t help that they use springs instead of bushings. The turn is choppy and uncontrolled. There are good torsion trucks like Rojas Hybrids, these are just not good at all but there was a huge (relative to the longboard industry) marketing campaign going for them when they came out.
Are Sidewinder trucks good?
I do not find them good trucks, but the manufacturing quality is okay, and some people enjoy them. The problem with these is that they will turn however they want and are pretty much impossible to dial properly — not that there’s any point in doing that anyway, the point is that they turn a lot. They ride very tall and have way too many parts double. It’s one of those pieces of gear that you’ll either love or hate
Are SwellTech trucks good?
No. These are possibly the worst trucks you can buy, and their boards are even worse.
Can I use a slalom deck for carving?
Yes! The recommendation there would be that you’d use a slalom setup but you can get away with using surf-skate systems or carving trucks.