Longboarding, like its shorter brother skateboarding, has it roots in surfing. Southern California surfers wanted a way to get the same "cruising feeling" they experienced in the water. Longboards are much more suited than skateboards for traveling medium distances in a city because they have a wider center of gravity and absorb debris or cracks in cement better. Caring for longboards is a task that requires minimal effort but is essential to ensure the longest possible life for the board.
Longboards have four main components: deck, trucks, wheels and bearings. Caring for the deck is extremely important because it tends to wear more quickly than the other components. Most decks are made of treated seven- to nine-ply wood, typically maple, and might include other materials such as fiberglass or resin to increase strength, rigidity and lifespan. Caring for a longboard deck is minimal and usually consists of storing the board in a cool, dry place and avoiding large swings in temperature or humidity. The plys in the wood might crack and split if exposed to water or radical shifts in temperature. If your deck is exposed to water, dry it off as quickly as possible and leave it in a cool, dry place to allow the wood to naturally process the water. Even though decks tend to be tough, avoid repeated trauma to any one spot on the deck such as ramming the nose repeatedly into curbs.
Longboard trucks also require little maintenance because they are manufactured to resist heavy punishment. The trucks are the metal components that anchor the wheels to the deck. The bushings, the rubber cushions that allow the trucks to flex right and left, tend to wear and crack over time. They are inexpensive to replace and can be purchased at most skateboard shops and online retailers.
Longboard wheels take the most punishment because they are the contact point for the board to the asphalt or concrete. Maintaining the wheels consists of rotating them periodically to avoid coning or flat spots. Some wheels are reversible, meaning the inside of the wheel is the same as the outside. Reversing the wheels periodically also helps them avoid uneven wear.
Bearings are the circular metal components inside the wheels. Inside them, they contain tiny ball bearings that roll and allow the wheel to spin. Over time, the heat from spinning fast breaks down the bearings. Dust and debris also collect inside the bearings, causing them to fail. Bearings are easy to replace and can be found most skate shops and online retailers. Most shops will replace the bearings free of charge with your purchase. Bearings also can be removed by placing the wheel in a vice grip and popping them out with a screwdriver or the truck itself.
Though modern longboards are manufactured to be tough and durable, minimal maintenance such as keeping the longboard and its components dry and debris-free and replacing failed components will ensure you get the most life out of your board.