Ultimate Face-Off: Longboards vs. Bikes

Yankees vs. Red Sox. Apple vs. Mac. Ron Burgandy vs. Jack Lime… Longboards vs. Bikes?  Well, at least at Claremont Mckenna, where it seems as though a majority of the students employ some sort of wheels to travel around campus, this matchup does seem worthy of joining some of the world’s fiercest rivalries.  In order to crack this mystery and decide once and for all which mode of transportation reigns supreme… or to at least shed a little light on the subject, I consulted a team of experts with first hand experience on the matter. The consensus among the bike advocates is that the main advantage of riding a bike is that it is much faster.

“A longboard will be about as fast downhill, but going uphill takes significantly more effort, on a bike you can adjust the gears to make it easier” bike shop manager Andrew Levihn-Coon ‘15 explained, “and you always hear longboarders complaining about one leg being way more tired or ripped than the other leg, but with biking there’s more muscle balance.”

“Biking is definitely quicker, if you’re going from Bauer to Kravis, then there’s that nice little slope and longboarding’s pretty fun, but if you’re going from Pomona to Mudd, then a bike would be the better option,” bike rider Phil Jauregui ’17 concurred.

In addition, Jauregui offered that, “longboards are a lot less maneuverable than bikes.  There are a lot of pedestrians here and you’re less likely to crash on a bike than a longboard.”

The main factor contributing toward this advantage is the fact that bikes are equipped with brakes, “braking on bikes is definitely quicker; I know about one person a year who gets in a longboard accident, and it can happen on a bike too, but I guess it’s not quite as sketchy.”  Levihn-Coon mentioned.

“Bikes are also better for exercise.” Levihn-Coon stated,  “I mean, there’s no such thing as ‘going for a longboard ride’ like you might go for a bike ride.  If you’re going into the village or if you want to explore the greater Claremont area, you’re gonna want to take a bike”

Another key fact favoring bikes as a mode of transportation is the presence of the CMC bike shop located in the Wohlford basement.

As manager, Levihn-Coon has worked to upgrade the space, “at the beginning of the year we had about four functional bikes to rent, and now we have about 23 or 24.  We also painted the room, put some lights up, and are looking for people to come decorate it some more” he mentioned, “the main thing we do is two-day bike rentals, but we also do any repair that we know how to do.  All we charge for are parts, most commonly tubes, which we sell for a really good deal.”

However, perhaps due to the increased parity between the two, the bike shop has started expanding into the realm of longboards as well.

“For longboards, we can clean their bearings because they tend to get dirty and then the wheels don’t spin as well. We can pretty much make the bearings like new or if you bring new bearings, we’ll put them in for you.” Levihn-Coon mentioned.

Speaking of maintenance, this category leans in favor of longboards.

“Longboards do have the perk of requiring less maintenance because bikes have more components so there are more things that can go wrong.” Levihn-Coon admitted.

In fact, convenience and ease of transport seem to be the main selling points of the longboard.  According to Kevin Lynch ’17, “Bikes are harder to keep track of because you might get somewhere and not have anywhere to lock it up, but a longboard you can take into pretty much any building on campus.  Also, it’s much more fun to ride than a bike; it’s a more relaxing and enjoyable experience”

“I think the longboard is the way to go because it is much more portable and you can take it into class with you, so if you’re running late to class you don’t have to worry about locking up a bike,” Makella Brems ’17 stated,  “also, I just think you look cooler.  You can carve down slopes, and CMC is perfect for longboards because there is just the right amount of hills. Most of the hills aren’t too inconvenient to peddle up, and are rewarding to come down.”

If one decides that a bike is the way for them to go, then both Levihn-Coon and Jaurgeui agree that a fixed-gear bike is the way to go, “They’re super simple, you could buy a cheap one for like $200 and there’s very little that could go wrong with them” Levihn-Coon explained.

As for longboards, Brems is rocking a Sector 9, which she likes a lot and is pretty typical, but she also mentioned that, “anything with really big wheels will work because that way you don’t have to worry about wiping out, and you can just bulldoze over rocks”

So the ultimate issue seems to be this: does the convenience of longboards outweigh the speed and maneuverability of bikes? Jauregui provides an apt conclusion: “the longer the distance, the more viable bikes become.”

Perhaps a solution would be to say that bikes are more suitable for longer excursions off campus or for booking it up to a class on another campus, while longboards are much more effective at taking advantage of CMC’s campus and providing smooth, convenient rides from building to building.