Picking Your Perfect Distance Pusher Longboard
Pantheon has 5 different options (when we’re in stock!) for riders looking to commute, athletes, and general cruisers and would-be longboarders just looking to cover ground easily. I know this can get a bit overwhelming. How do I know? Because easily, the most popular question I get in my inbox is, “Which longboard do I choose?” or something along those lines. We did one of these blog back a couple years ago, but at the time, we were only offering our double drop Trip and the Ember mini longboard commuter. At the time, this question was easier! At the time, the question really came down to, What type of trucks do you want to ride? I dare say we made things more complicated with the addition of 3 other double drop longboard deck models in our double drop longboard category. But with complexity comes specialization. Such is the nature of the world today, and it also applies to our longboard offerings. We wanted to be able to create the perfect distance pusher for every rider, or for every situation, and that required us to diversify the line.
What These Double Drop “Pusher” Longboards Have in Common
Firstly, every one of these double drop longboards in our lineup are low. That’s their primary nature. They’re low, they’re easy to push. Secondly, every one of these boards is optimized to run large wheels and thin trucks. Gone are the days where 180mm trucks should be your go-to for distance pushing. I will simply never get behind that. Thinner overall ride widths will reduce the likelihood that you will accidentally kick your wheel. This isn’t a common occurrence, by any means, but the further you go, the more tired you’ll be, and the more likely it is that you may make a mistake. We try to reduce risk by creating a board that will stay out of your way–sporting large wheels that will roll over everything in your path and thin trucks that will reduce the overall width of your setup to keep your feet from hitting your wheels. For all of these boards, that means you’re running either 149mm street trucks, or 150-165mm RKP trucks, depending on your deck and wheel choice.
Different Longboards for Different Styles of Riding
It comes down to style. How do you envision yourself riding? What is your vibe?
Let’s first list the boards, and alongside their title, I’ll try to give a quick rundown of what makes it different from the others. I will list them according to size, from smallest to largest.
Ember Deck – This is the most “cruisery” dedicated pusher that we make. “Cruiser” longboards tend to be small and easy to carry around, and generally, they carry with them a chill vibe of just pure riding a longboard, often times with a little bit of surf-style vibe to accompany ease of use. Though the Ember looks different than a lot of cruisers you’ll see on the market, its clean lines, unidirectional shape, and overall simplistic vibe really fit in next to other cruiser-style longboards. Now, granted, the Ember is the most “dedicated pusher” version of a cruiser longboard there is, anywhere. So much so that it really defies the category and almost starts its own category in itself. It’s a “cruiser commuter!” One of the most noticeable differences this board carries, when compared to the other pushers, it its lightweight and low-profile nature. There is a noticeable flex to the Ember, and it sports the smallest wheelbase there is. For this reason, we tend to recommend it to people looking for commuter decks, specifically, and lighter riders who may be looking for their first longboard, in search of something simple, surfy, and easy to ride.
Note that the Ember deck is designed for TKP (classic “street” skateboard) trucks only. We sell it as a complete with 149mm Paris Street Trucks. We really like the Paris trucks for their deep turns, control, and agility. There really isn’t another truck out there that compares. We typically sell the Ember as a complete with 85mm wheels. Though it will fit smaller wheels, we really feel like the smoothness and massive riding momentum that larger wheels carry is a worthy reason to stick to them. The main reasons you might consider something smaller are to reduce weight and to get on a wheel that slides more easily. This board will ride just find down to about 70mm without any issues of bottoming out. Obviously, your weight will be a factor in this. The Ember has been tested on people up to about 220 lbs, though I really feel like it shines if you’re under 180 lbs. or so.
Pranayama – The Pranayama shares the same sentiment as the Ember in being low and compact, and both boards are designed specifically around TKP-style trucks (best at 149mm). The most notable differences between them are that the Pranayama is stiffer (less flex), lower, wider, heavier, shorter, flatter, and lower.
That’s a lot of differences for 2 boards that are generally looked at as very similar! So let’s pick it apart.
The Pranayama is 9 inches wide at its max, and that maximum width is found right at the heel when standing in “snowboard stance” somewhat across the board right next to the drops. The Ember, however, has a max width at around 8.4 inches, which is found in the belly of the board, forcing a more forward-stance that adds to its surfy vibe. Combine that more snowboard-style vibe of the Pranayama with deeper drops and a lower ride height and an added ply for increased stiffness and this board feels significantly more aggressive than the Ember. One way of looking at it would be to say it’s more capable in every way. And while that may be true and a big selling point for the dedicated pusher or the rider looking to move with effortless ease aggressively, the board is noticeably heavier and less flexible, and for some, they may find the chill vibe of the Ember more appealing.
Not me though! The Pranayama is actually my board of choice for all things relatively flat. I will generally pull out one of the RKP-boards for higher speed riding, but I can personally handle any straight hill up to about 35mph on this deck without any fear. And I prefer this deck on the flats, because the TKP truck style is especially easy to control on one foot, making small turning corrections with ease. This makes the board feel a little bit more “wild” at first. Generally, when I hop on this board, I feel a little more out of control (when compared to the other pushers) and then about 15 seconds in that “lack of control” actually becomes “ease of manipulation.” The deck is just easy to control and easy to ride, and it would be my board of choice for taking on substantial distance in most applications. That’s me, though! Everyone likes different things, and for me, the wild but tamable stallion is what I am most into!
Trip – The Trip is our longest standing pusher longboard deck in the lineup. It has always been the most integral piece of our pusher offerings, being that it employs more standard “longboard” equipment with the RKP trucks. It was our first highly competitive distance pusher, when it comes to competitive skating. Guys like Joe Mazzone, Kyle Yan, Eric Palmer, and Harrison Tucker have all ridden and competed on the Trip at one point or another, or still are to this day! I, Jeff Vyain, the designer, have competed on it plenty as well! It has not been outdated–only updated.
The most notable difference between the Trip and Pranayama or Ember is the standard “longboard,” or RKP (reverse kingpin), trucks. These have been the gold standard design for longboard trucks since their inception. They are inherently more stable than street trucks, and their turn is noticeably more “linear.” This means that the second you start to lean on them, they’re turning. And the more you lean, the more they turn, and that turn is consistent from top to bottom (fully leaning and compressing the bushings). Alongside a street truck, you’ll find the street trucks to feel a bit more squirrely, and the turn is described as “progressive,” meaning that the more you lean, the turn increases on a parabolic curve. So they’re squirrely in the center, and then they dive over easily and increase their turn as they go. With the Trip and its RKP trucks, you get enhanced stability, which makes it especially great for more high-pressure rides like skating in traffic or racing. And a lot of skaters will prefer the Trip for excessively long distance skating because the increased stability allows them to focus less on their balance.
Furthermore, that stability is especially important once you start taking the Trip on hills. For me, I have no problem with riding the Pranayama and its TKP trucks through traffic, or even on extra long distance rides. I thrive on that loose center, which, for me, aids in keeping the board under me any time I lose balance. If I fall to the left or right, I can twitch the board over underneath my center of gravity with zero effort. But once it comes to riding on hills, and especially when I need to grip some corners, the Trip takes over as my board of choice. RKP trucks are inherently more grippy than TKP trucks are, and that grip is confidence inspiring when you need it. And they definitely stay under control more easily, reducing the likelihood of wobble. Some would say that RKP trucks feel more reactive, and I would agree with that, as the initial turn is more abrupt, with no floating around in free space. You’re straight, or you’re turning. But RKP, as a result of having a more defined center point and more definition while turning, also stay under control more easily. The Trip has been my board of choice for hilly courses. That is, until….
(update: Paris Trucks recently released a 150mm 43 degree truck, and we are offering an asymmetrical setup options with a 150mm or 165mm 50 degree in front and a 43 degree in back. This is a great way to improve the board’s natural stability and offset a little bit of that speed discomfort, if you’re having any!)
Quest – The Quest was recently brought back after a long hiatus for no good reason other than that we had struggled with some production changes and molds aren’t cheap to make, and we focused our attention toward the smaller, more agile longboards–the Trip and Pranayama–first. The Quest was actually the original Pantheon distance pusher back when we started Pantheon in 2014. At the time, we weren’t even sure we could get these curves to work. The crescent drop in the Quest, in 2014, was the most radical mold curve in skateboarding. We still haven’t seen anyone match it, now 6 years later.
So why pick the Quest? Well, this is fairly simple for me. First, the Quest has a LOT more foot space than our smaller boards. And while most riders will get used to the small platforms on the Trip, Pranayama, or Ember (some riders even prefer having the lower area of foot space, given that the boards are extremely utilitarian with no waste space), some riders will just simply want more room. Having more room in the platform certainly gives confidence to those who feel they need it. Additionally, the Quest is equipped with a bit more concave than the Trip. The concave profile is much more closely related to the Ember. While still flat in the center, the deck definitely feels very comfortable in foot-forward pushing stance, but when you dig into the board in more of a downhill stance, you’ll feel locked in, with a slightly stiffer platform, mild concave, slight rocker, and active crescent drops which allow your foot to wrap around the drop and use it as a leverage point. Though the boards are similar in practice, the longer wheelbase of the Quest is notably more stable, which is especially useful when skating down hills.
Now that the Quest is active again, if I were push racing up and down hills, this would be the board of choice for me. In general, I just feel that the longer wheelbase provides a more “floaty” release of traction, if I were to require sliding for speed management or to make a turn. Additionally, the increased concave and stiffness just makes me feel more comfortable at speed. And the longer wheelbase definitely feels more stable. I’ll take some fairly long straights and some chill turns on the Trip with ease, but if the hill riding gets amped up past that, I want the Quest, without a doubt. And some will just want the increased space from the start. It’s a fine pusher! Couple it with 150mm trucks and 85mm Speed Vents for that maximumly optimized thin-profile pusher, or 165mm trucks and wider wheels like an Orangatang Caguama or a little bit of added grip and cushion.
Nexus – The Nexus is the beefiest pusher longboard in our quiver. It sports the deepest concave, the most “active” drops (meaning we cut the profile to make the entire curve of the drop a big part of the shape), and the stiffest platform of any of the push decks. It also has the longest wheelbase options. For this reason, we consider the Nexus to be primarily a freeride / downhill board that ALSO is super low and pushes very easily. It is the widest board in our pusher lineup and couples very nicely with 165mm trucks and offset wheels. There are two truck mounting options on the Nexus. This is because the Nexus truly shines as a double drop freeride board, and if you set it up right, you can ride 165mm/43 degree Paris trucks on the inner holes with a 69-70mm slide wheel like Powell Peralta Snakes. This is a killer combo, as it gets your feet closer to the wheels for added control. This is a fantastic setup for learning on, putting you closer to the ground for increased stability and releasing traction super easily, while still providing a large enough wheelbase to feel comfortable at just about any speed.
The one thing that the Nexus stands out in is speed management. The longer wheelbase and stiffer platform will assist in comfort at just about any speed you can take this thing. Truly. I would take this board down the fastest hill I’ve ever ridden, given the right truck and wheel setup. I wouldn’t think twice about it until I started really needing increased grip around corners. At the same time, you can ride that same setup for miles and miles comfortably, given the low platform and comfortable concave. For this reason, the Nexus is my board of choice for my favorite type of rides: the up-down. Being in Colorado, we have access to a wide variety of terrains, and one of my favorite things to do to challenge myself is to push up a mountain and then ride back down. A lot of people might call me crazy for this, but every person I’ve ever taken on one of these rides has enjoyed it substantially, combining the challenge of a distance ride with the excitement of downhill. To me, this is the future, and as long as I can stay healthy, this will be the type of riding that keeps me young in body and mind. In fact, the main reason I chose to redesign the Nexus and bring it back was simply so that I had a board that could manage this terrain and type of riding, for me personally.
As a side note, and probably equally important, the Nexus is easily the strongest of our double drop longboard quiver. If you’re a heavy rider, the Nexus is the board for you. This board has been tested up to 300 pounds, while the Quest has been tested up to about 250 lbs. The increased concave on both of these decks add to their stiffness and make them ideal contenders for heavier riders looking for a low ride that is super easy to push. If you’re looking for a double drop longboard designed for heavy riders, the Quest and then the Nexus (depending on weight) are the boards you want to be looking at.
Obviously, lowness is a major factor with all these boards. So, quickly, I’m just going to list the differences in center profile shape and ride height between all of these decks.
The Ember sports a 3/4 inch drop with 1/4 inch rocker, for maximum lowness at 1 inch. Combine that with a bit of flex and TKP trucks, which tend to be lower than RKP trucks, and you have quite a low board! It is probably about the same low-ness as the Trip, more low than the Nexus and Quest, but not as low as the Pranayama. This is true for our stock setups, and if desired, this board can be made lower by switching from Paris trucks to Indy 149s by around 1/4-inch. I prefer the Paris trucks, though. I’ll take a small addition of ride height for a better feeling turn, but that’s just me.
The Pranayama is the lowest board in the quiver. It sports the deepest drop and a slight mustache profile, much like a snowboard. There is a tiny bit of rocker in the foot pockets and just a tiny bit of camber in the center. This gives the Pranayama a nice lively flex to it. It’s not going to bounce a lot, but it definitely holds a little bit of energy in the center, and that slightly camber in the center was really put there to give the center of the board a little extra clearance and keep it from rubbing on the ground. In total, the deck is 1.3 inches dropped at the lowest point, right in the foot pocket, and it combines with TKP trucks, which are typically lower than their equivalent RKP trucks.
The Trip sports the exact same platform shape and size as the Pranayama. It just has a longer neck design to fit RKP trucks and 85mm wheels perfectly into the shoulders of the deck. This particular curve on the Prana and Trip is THE most radical wood bend in skateboarding. Prove me wrong. When set up, the deck is higher than the Pranayama because of the trucks. Stick it right next to an Ember, and the lowest points on the platforms line up almost identically.
The Quest and Nexus are the same platform in terms of lowness. They both have 1-inch drops with a very slight rocker in the center, for a combined lowness of 1.15 inches. You will typically set these up with RKP trucks, so they will be the highest of all the double drops, but only by slightly over 1/8-inch. We are not talking about a ton of height difference, and while you can feel it, I would let things like stiffness, setup design, and intended use be the reason for choosing on board over the other. That said, if lowness is a big factor for you, the Pranayama is the lowest board in the quiver, and it’s definitely noticeable. It’s like riding a hovercraft, just barely above the ground!
Quivers are the Future
The idea that one longboard can or should do anything is the past. We created five different pushers because they are all different, they ride differently, and they will manage different riders, riding styles, and terrain differently. If you’ll notice, we listed these boards in a general order of gnarliness. The Ember is going to be the board for the lightest weight riders and for riders looking for the lowest profile board for easy pushing, while the Nexus is going to be the deck for the gnarliest riding (for all things push-related) and for the heaviest riders. Every detail has been heavily considered, from the smallest shape changes over the years to multiple mold changes to truly bring out the best possible riding characteristics for each deck and deck purpose. Be sure you check out our complete options on the website, as these are the completes which we feel offer the best value and exceptional ride characteristics. You can certainly go out and purchase a set of $400 CNC trucks for these, and many people do, but for most riders, this is not necessary. I, myself, took a stock Pranayama to Beijing, China in 2019 and was able to win an international distance skateboard marathon there against some of the best in the world. I didn’t even change the bushings! Consider your purpose, your vision of yourself and how you intend to ride, and then feel free to reach out and ask questions if you need extra clarity in making your decision. Our lineup is varied enough that if you’re looking for this type of deck, you should be looking at a Pantheon. If they’re not available, they’re worth waiting for, and if they ARE available, don’t hesitate to pull the trigger on a board that will be a mainstay in your longboard quiver on day one and continue until the day you can’t skate anymore. You ask just about anybody with a Pantheon pusher which deck they ride the most, and one of these will likely be the answer.