Gear Shed

Q:

What's the Best Longboard For Commuters?

I’m looking for a new, relaxed way to get from point A to point B. One of my friends suggested longboarding, but I haven’t touched a skateboard since junior high. What kind would you recommend?

longboard gear guy commuters

What's the best longboard for commuters?     Photo: Jonathan Wolfman

A:Commuting by longboard is a great start to the day. It feels like part surfing and part snowboarding. Unfortunately, riding a longboard at night leaves you vulnerable to traffic. A few years ago, we had a close call with our trusty Gravity 40-inch skateboard (we were riding against traffic in dark clothing), and decided to hang up our wheels. After all, Gear Guy has a family to think about.

Enter the Light Bohrd Urban Commuter, a futuristic new board with powerful onboard lights that make it easy to see and be seen. Made by a small Texas startup, the Commuter is a 36-inch high-performance carving skateboard with a pair of weather-sealed LEDs embedded into the maple deck. A white beam in front illuminates pavement and tells cars you’re coming. A red one in back warns vehicles to look out for a rider ahead.

We found the Commuter’s deck stiffer and more technical than we needed for transportation, but it was still fun and easy to ride. It carved precise, serpentine lines on downhills, and the wide trucks encouraged graceful turns. (In contrast, our old Gravity longboard had too much flex and made wide swoopy transitions between turns.)

If you like to go fast, the company’s sponsored riders have pushed the stiff board to over 50 miles per hour in tests. There is a 3/4-inch drop for a lower center of gravity at these speeds, and the top is concave for better grip while executing beautiful urethane-shredding slides. The Commuter was clearly ready for more demanding maneuvers than I could dish out. Using it to ride to work felt like driving my kids to soccer practice in a Bugatti.

The electronics are as carefully designed as the board itself. The Commuter seals the LEDs and rechargeable batteries between slices of the 9-ply Canadian maple and fiberglass deck. We banged the unit around quite a bit against curbs and didn’t damage the lights. (The company claims the electronics have survived falls from the top of parking garages, among other trauma.) The motion-sensitive electronics turn on automatically whenever you’re using the deck; They last for about eight hours, and charge by drawing magnetic energy through the sealed surface of the deck using PowerMat technology, borrowed from the cell phone industry. The father-son team that invented the board in their garage and patented it has moved operations to an Austin factory to satisfy demand.

Price: $179 deck only; $297 complete

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