The different types of skateboards

It all started about 70 years ago with that flat skateboard below. Today, skateboards come in all shapes and sizes, each meticulously tailored to cater to diverse riding styles and preferences. In this article, we will explore the nuances that set them apart and provide an overview of the most popular types of skateboards.

An old green skateboard from the 50s.

Whether you’re a seasoned skater, a curious beginner, or someone fascinated by the intricacies of deck design, buckle up as we navigate through the differences in shapes, sizes, and functionalities that make each skateboard unique.

An overview of the different types

A graphic representation of the different types of skateboard

The difference between shortboards and longboards

Shape :

One of the main differences between longboards and shortboards is how their noses and tails are shaped. Shortboards usually have a tilted tail, making it easier to do tricks like kick turns and ollies. The nose on shortboards is often angled too, but some, like the Penny board, keep it flat.

Now, longboards don’t go for the tilted tail and nose and instead, focus more on stability. Most longboard decks do not even offer the space beyond the trucks to call that a nose or a tail.

Size :

Diving into the length game of skateboards, it’s no surprise that longboards live up to their name. They are generally longer than shortboards. Shortboards typically clock in at around 32 inches (about 82 cm), seldom stretching beyond 36 inches (92 cm).

Now, longboards throw in some variety, ranging from 35 inches to a whopping 50 inches (90 to 130 cm). It is worth noting that you might stumble upon longboards shorter than 32 inches. Just take a peek at the nose and tail shapes, and they will tell you whether it is a short or longboard.

Trucks :

When it comes to trucks, a common guideline is to match their width to that of your board, ensuring your wheels align with the deck’s width. (The Penny board bends this rule with a wider wheel footprint compared to its deck.)

Now, let’s talk longboards versus shortboards in terms of truck geometry:

The biggest difference in truck geometry is the angle of the pivot axis, which indicates the relationship between how much your trucks will turn and how much the deck is angled.

The greater the angle, the easier it is to turn, making your truck more sensitive. The lower the angle, the more stable your truck becomes. This angle, combined with the offset (distance between wheel axis and pivot axis), defines the style of the kingpin.

Longboards typically roll with a “reversed kingpin” truck, ideal for various styles like longboarding, downhill, carving, freeride, and freestyle. These trucks, with their reversed kingpin, sit lower, delivering enhanced stability—perfect for high speeds and smooth rides.

Conversely, shortboards usually rock the “standard kingpin” trucks. These sit higher, offering more control and agility but trade off a bit of stability at those breakneck speeds.

Do you want to become more knowledgeable about the different parts of a skateboard? Check out our skateboarding parts glossary.

The characteristics of each type of skateboard

A graphic representation of a penny board


The penny board is one of the shortest type of skateboard you can find. It is often made of plastic and equipped with soft wheels and very narrow trucks. Perfect for kids or young adults who just want to discover the pleasure of cruising, they are quite limiting when it comes to performing tricks of any kind. They are however extremely compact and lightweight, so they can fit in a bag pack and be carried around.

Street board

Arguably the most popular shape in skateboarding, the classic shortboard is what typically comes to mind. Sporting a popsicle shape and a double kick design, this board features both the front (nose) and rear (tail) tilted upward, making it ideal for executing tricks and riding skateparks with ease. These skateboards have stiff decks and harder wheels to withstand the impact of tricks like ollies and kickflips. The double kick design adds versatility, allowing skaters to perform tricks and flips in both regular and switch stances.

While perfect for concrete and smooth surfaces, these shortboards may become less comfortable for use outside of skateparks, making them a lesser choice for cruising.

A graphic representation of a popsicle board.

A graphic representation of a penny board


The cruiser combines the advantages of a popsicle shape and a double kick design, featuring a wider deck for a more stable and comfortable stance, along with big and soft wheels for a smooth ride.

The presence of a kick tail allows the rider to perform ollies and kick turns. It makes it widely agile and very easy to manoeuvre, hence the best choice for cruising in an urban environment.

It is the perfect board for transportation and rides across the city, thanks to its comfortable and agile truck geometry, as well as its compactness, lightness, and ease of carrying around.

Old school

The old-school skateboard boasts a distinctive shape that sets it apart from cruisers and popsicles, giving it a unique and retro look reminiscent of the early days of skateboarding. The board’s nose is rounded and not tilted upward, akin to the penny board. The tail is tilted and very wide, enabling ollies and tricks.

Old school skateboards are typically wider and feature a more curved and concave design compared to modern street skateboards. They can be found both in skateparks with hard wheels or for cruising with soft wheels.

A graphic representation of a popsicle board.

A graphic representation of a penny board

Fishtail – surf skate

A surf skate, also known as a fishtail skateboard, is a specialized type of skateboard designed to mimic the feeling of surfing on land. It takes inspiration from the shape and design of surfboards, particularly those with a fishtail shape.

Surf skates often feature a longer wheelbase and wider trucks, allowing for smooth, flowing movements similar to riding a wave. These boards feature trucks with specific geometry, enabling a surfing-like motion called “pumping” that mimics the fluid movements found in surfing, allowing riders to gain speed. The deck of a surf skate is typically shorter and wider than a traditional skateboard, providing a stable platform for riders to practice surf-like maneuvers such as pumping and cutbacks. These skateboards are equipped with softer wheels to enhance grip and maneuverability on various surfaces.

This board is for a very specific use case, making it excellent for carving on wide and open spaces.

Drop through

A drop-through longboard features a unique deck design near the mounting points of the trucks. It has cutouts, allowing the baseplate of the trucks to be mounted through the deck. This design lowers the center of gravity of the rider, providing increased stability and making it easier to push and slide on the board.

Drop-through longboards are known for their better stability and smooth ride, making them popular for downhill riding, free-riding, and commuting. The lowered platform also makes it easier to push the board, reducing fatigue during long rides. They are a great choice for riders of all skill levels.

A graphic representation of a popsicle board.

A graphic representation of a penny board

Drop down

A drop-down longboard pushes the philosophy of the drop-through (lowering the height of the deck) even further. To provide maximum stability, the deck is shaped in a way that the middle is much lower than the ends, creating a drop-down effect. This design lowers the rider’s center of gravity, providing maximum stability and making it the best choice for very high-speed rides (like downhill),

Dropped-down decks are in general much stiffer than drop-through, making them less prone to be used for commuting but much better for sliding and freeriding. Beginners will tend to prefer drop-through, as they are also more forgiving of mistakes than drop-down.


The pin-tail longboard, a distinctive and classic design, embodies the essence of smooth cruising and laid-back carving. With its elongated shape tapering to a pointed tail resembling a pin, this longboard delivers a timeless aesthetic reminiscent of surfboard styling.

The pin tail not only adds a touch of vintage charm but also enhances stability during rides. Its extended deck provides ample space for comfortable foot placement, making it an excellent choice for riders seeking a relaxed and fluid experience. Whether you’re gliding along beachside boardwalks or navigating winding pathways, the pin-tail longboard offers a smooth, surf-like ride. The combination of a pin tail, a long deck, and responsive trucks makes this longboard a classic choice for those who appreciate the art of cruising in style.

A graphic representation of a popsicle board.

A graphic representation of a penny board


As the name suggests, the dancing longboard is specifically designed for riders interested in longboard dancing.

The dancing longboard typically has an elongated and symmetrical deck. This design provides a larger and more even surface area for performing dance moves, footwork, and tricks. The deck may have a slight flex to enhance responsiveness during maneuvers.

Which one is for you?

Our recommendation to anyone new to the world of skateboarding would be to choose a shape that allows you to discover the joy of riding. Choose a board you could use daily and that gives you a sense of stability and control as you navigate the basics. Consider starting with a cruiser or a classic popsicle-shaped shortboard, both versatile options that cater to different preferences. These shapes provide a well-rounded introduction, letting you experiment with cruising, carving, and even basic tricks.

Additionally, prioritize a deck size that suits your comfort level and riding goals. A slightly wider deck can offer a more stable platform for beginners, aiding in balance and confidence. Remember, the key is to find a board that feels like an extension of yourself.

As you progress and discover your preferred riding style, you can always explore the diverse world of skateboards with different shapes and sizes.