Longboard Skateboarding, in my opinion, is an activity paralleled by few in the categories of transportation, mental health, sheer terror, and in pure enjoyability.
The key feature and namesake of the longboard is, as the name suggests, the fact that the deck is significantly longer (about 36-72 inches as opposed to the average shortboard length of 31 inches). the name does not, however, tell the reason for this or the use of it.
Other than simply providing a larger area for the rider to stroll about on in his bare feet, the increased length of the board and consequently longer wheelbase cause the turning radius to be greatly increased. "Why on earth would one want to make your turning slower?” you ask.
If you have ever taken a shortboard down a steep hill you would understand the reason for a slow turning radius with a chilling clarity. When you go very fast on a shortboard, a small twitch of your foot sends the board swerving out from under you, causing you to instinctively oversteer in an effort to regain balance, this leads to a succession of frantic weaving swerves called speed wobbles. Speed wobbles often lead to broken bones.
If you were to attempt to ride down, or bomb the same hill on a long board, you would not experience the same inconvenience, nor the panic attacks that accompany it.
The larger turning radius means slower and less sharp response to turning, meaning no death wobbles.
The superior stability of a longboard allows higher speeds to be sustained safely. Another characteristic of the longboard that make it a superior high-speed vehicle is its wheels. Most longboards use wheels far larger and softer than other varieties of skateboards. The larger the wheel, the more distance covered per rotation of the bearing, meaning more efficient use of the bearing and a higher top speed.
The softness of the wheels, usually 85a-78a durometer as opposed to the rock hard (97a-103a) urethanes used in shortboard wheels, is an advantage for two reasons. The gummy urethanes grip better, allowing for harder turns or carves, and if a pebble is hit while riding at high speed, the wheel will squish around it, and ride over, rather than the wheel chocking against it, flinging the unsuspecting rider to his doom. wheel chocking is feared even more than the dreaded speed wobbles discussed earlier.
All of these unique features grant the longboard superior stability and speed, and grant the rider hours of entertainment in relative safety. You can idly mosey on down the bunny trail to work on a slowly swaying carving board, or crouch to be aerodynamic in an effort to finally hit 45mph (not an wholly amazing accomplishment, the record is over 70mph, set by the owner of Dregs Skateboard company). The feeling of flying down a hill sure that you're going to come to a horrific end and enjoying it is one of the most wonderful experiences I have ever had, and I believe that it far outweighs the daunting health hazards. I would highly recommend (at no liability to myself of course) that any persons of sound body but not so sound mind give this wonderful sport a try.