Are you trying to choose between a drop-through or a drop-down (aka drop deck)? You may have ruled out the regular topmount longboard option for various reasons (less stability at speed, more effort for pushing, etc) and are now torn between the two other main types of longboards.
Drop-throughs are versatile boards with lots of wheel clearance. A DT’s focus may be on pushing, carving, freeride, or even freestyle. Drop decks are more specialized, low riding boards designed primarily for pushing. They also offer good stability at speed, but are less turny than drop-throughs.
Drop-through vs drop-down: key differences
On a drop-through longboard, the trucks are mounted through the deck instead of being bolted under it. A drop-through deck has cutout holes in it to allow inserting the trucks through the wood.
Once mounted, each truck’ baseplate sits on top of the deck, while the rest of the truck sits below:
Drop-down longboards (aka “drop” or “dropped” or “drop deck”), on the other hand, have the deck lowered near the truck mounts via a noticeable drop in the wood:
As a result, the middle of the deck sits lower than the holes where the truck mounted, with the trucks baseplates higher than the standing platform.
When riding, your feet actually sit between the trucks instead of above them, resulting in a lower center of gravity and better stability at high speed compared to a non-dropped deck.
Shape & construction
Aside from the obvious drop, drop-throughs and drop decks tend to have similar shape outlines: both generally come in “cutouts shapes” with “wingtips” for high wheel clearance:
As you can see, both the drop-through (left) and drop deck (right) have large cutouts around the wheels, creating “wingtips” where the trucks are mounted. The main difference between the two shapes (the deck drop) isn’t really seen in this top view. A side view makes it clearer:
Drop decks often have a heavier construction compared to drop-throughs to make up for weakness caused by the drops. Drop decks are often made with 9 to 11 plies of Canadian Maple and possibly fiberglass layers.
Some drop-throughs e.g. the Loaded Icarus and Tan Tien also use hybrid maple + fiberglass construction for performance and light weight, though generally with fewer layers than dropped decks.
The size of the drop in dropped longboards varies. Some have big drops making the board extremely low riding, while others have only a subtle micro drop e.g. 1/4″. Micro drops can still make a big difference however, namely by creating comfy foot pockets for better foothold.
Some drop downs and some drop-throughs also have wheel flares for improved clearance, allowing for larger wheels which results in faster and smoother rolling:
Drop-throughs can be found in many sizes most often between 33″ and 42″. Dropped longboards tend to be bigger, often in the 37″+ range, as the foot platform is shorter on those boards since it’s “suspended” low between the trucks, resulting in more limited foot space.
In contrast, on a drop-through your feet can be placed close to (or even on top of) the trucks since there are no drops (flat deck), increasing usable foot space.
That said, there are a few compact drop decks out there, e.g. the Loaded Patheon Trip Collab, though not as common as shorter drop-throughs.
See also: What Size Longboard Skateboard Should I Get?
Drop downs tend to be stiffer than drop-throughs. The main reason is that drop decks already sit quite low and close to the ground, so added flex may result in bottoming out the deck.
As mentioned, drop decks are typically built with more plies, resulting in stiffer decks. Drop decks with some fiberglass plies can have subtle flex, which can work fine when combined with micro drops.
Drop-throughs, on the other hand, may have a stiff flex for stability at speed e.g. the Arbor Axis, or a flexy construction to allow for energetic and springy carving, e.g. the Loaded Icarus or Sector 9 Lookout.
We’ve seen that drop-through longboards have drop-through truck mount (hence the name).
Drop decks, on the other hand, may be either topmount or drop-through. Those that are drop-through mounted are often called double drop.
A drop-down longboard with drop-through mount (double drop) will ride even lower than the same deck with topmount trucks.
Thus, all other things being equal, a topmount drop deck will give you a bit more ground clearance. Topmount drop decks also give you more responsiveness (more control over the trucks) and deeper turns compared to double drops.
If on the other hand you want the lowest possible ride e.g. for distance pushing and skogging on smooth roads, mounting a drop deck in drop-through will make it even lower.
Because of the drops, drop decks often have less wheel clearance than drop-thoughs, as the lowered deck is more prone to touching the wheels in hard turns. Double drops are even more at risk of wheelbite since the deck sits even lower to the ground.
How much clearance you get on a drop deck depends on the shape, drop size, wheel flares, etc. The compact Pantheon Trip is able to run the large and fast rolling 85mm Caguama wheels without any issues and without risers.
Drop-throughs, on the other hand, sit higher off the ground (no drops) and tend to have good wheel clearance thanks to the large wheel cutouts. Flexy drop-throughs, however, are more prone to wheel rub when carving hard, so risers may be required for running big wheels.
Check out my article How much flex should a longboard have? for more on flex and clearance.
Pros & cons
- trying to get good clearance with a double drop is not a great time Evo and the Century are the only boards people seem to consistently bother running
Drop-through vs drop down for different riding styles
Carving and pumping
A drop-through will generally give you better carving than a drop down as you have more leverage over the trucks, since your feet sit at the same height as the truck mounts. The deck sitting a bit higher off the ground also results in tighter turns compared to a dropped deck.
Flexy drop-throughs (e.g. the Lookout or Battle Axe) are designed specifically for carving, with the deck providing springy feedback in turns which boosts carving energy.
Likewise, flexy drop-through like the Icarus are designed specifically for pumping. Pumping a drop deck is a lot harder, especially one with a larger drop.
Drop decks (especially double drops) that are ultra low riders are generally the best choice for serious long distance pushing (LDP).
That said, a drop-through may be your second best option and may be more versatile for all-around types of riding including cruising and carving.
Also, a very low riding drop down may bottom out on bad pavement with lots of bumps.
A drop-through will generally be more suitable and versatile than a drop down for city commuting. A drop-through will let you more easily roll over cracks and bumps and possibly hop on and off sidewalks.
Some drop-throughs also come with small kicks which can come in handy for popping the board and doing tight turns when navigating the city.
Freeride & sliding
Which of a drop-through or a drop deck will serve you best for freeride and sliding depends on your own skills and preferences.
Since a dropped deck sits closer to the ground, it has better stability at speed and may be less wobbly than a higher drop-through. If you’re learning to slide, this can give you the confidence you need to push the board sideways into a slide.
Thanks to the foot pockets, a drop deck will also help you hold your feet in position on stand-up slides and twisty runs.
On the other hand, a drop-through will have more leverage over the trucks and hence make it easier to actually break traction. If you have the skills, you’ll also have more control during the slide itself, and can slide longer.
Freestyle & dancing
Here again, drop-through wins over drop deck. Freestyle focused drop-throughs like the Loaded Tan Tien or its big brother the Dervish Sama are great alternatives to topmounts for freestyle and dancing.
Drop decks are harder to pop and flip due to their heavier weight and less responsive trucks. Most don’t come with kicks, and the limited foot platform and drops are not designed for boardwalking and cross-stepping.
Drop-through vs drop down for beginners
A drop down can be a great choice for a complete beginner who has a hard time finding his/her balance and learning to push on a longboard.
Here again, the low ride on these boards can give you the confidence you need and help you overcome your fear of rolling on a longboard. Your feet are securely tuck in the foot pockets created by the drops, and pushing is effortless as your feet are so close to the ground.
A drop down is also a great option for newer riders who are already able to move around pushing but are not comfortable with slopes. The low center of gravity will help you get comfortable with picking up a bit of speed on mild slopes.
A few drop deck examples
While drop-throughs (like topmounts) are everywhere, it’s drop decks are not as common out in the wild. This article takes a close-up look at 6 of the best drop-down longboards on the market.
Here are additional popular drop-down boards not mentioned in the article:
- Landyachtz evo 36: a pillar of the Landyachtz downhill lineup for over a decade, 3 world championship wins
- Subsonic century 40: high-performance LDP board designed with pushing and pumping in mind, as well as comfort and response.
- Beercan Oat Soda double drop: 35″ stiff aluminum deck designed for pushing and for speed.
- Landyachtz Fixed Blade: top mounted, drop down freeride shape with advanced composite construction
- Moose 40″ double drop: Canadian Maple + Bamboo 39.75″ longboard with very low ride height, great for sliding.
- Bustin Sportster. low ride, turned up edges for a locked in feel. Focused on pushing and commuting
- Skateshred B41: popular, solid maple drop-down blank decks
- DB Freeride 38″: double drop, very stable at speeds, great for pushing. comfortable foot pockets for slides. Super stiff for fast freeride. Also great for carving.
Drop-through and drop-down longboards both have their use. Both are relatively low riding when compared to regular topmount longboards. A drop-down that’s also drop-through is called double drop.
Drop-throughs ride lower than regular topmounts but not as low as drop-downs. Also, some drop-throughs e.g. bamboo models have a flexy construction, making them good for carving and pumping.
Drop decks tend to focus on easy pushing and/or fast freeride and sliding because of their low stable ride. Double drop longboards sometimes may bottom out on bumpy roads. Topmount drop decks are more responsive and turny than double drops.
Drop-through boards are often very versatile and can work well for pushing, carving, freeride, and freestyle/dancing.