Buying skateboards can be confusing, especially online where we are showered with an information overload for everything. Why is this board labelled as a ‘longboard skateboard cruiser drop-through city slasher freestyle complete so-and-so-on’? Some of these terms do make sense, the exaggeration was just to make a point. Mainly the two things that seem to be tossed around almost interchangeably are ‘longboard’ and ‘cruiser’.
Are there differences between a longboard and cruiser?
As we cannot yet communicate telepathically, categorizing things and letting other people understand these categorizations seems to be the best way to communicate what we’re thinking about when we refer to a group of things. Philosophical talks aside; there are differences between a longboard and a cruiser board, though there is a lot of crossover as well.
In this article we will cover what the differences is, what a cruiser is, what a longboard is and afterwards we will answer some common questions.
The difference and crossover
Here’s the quick answer: a cruiser board is a categorization for a board by its purpose, while a longboard categorizes a board by its length. A cruiser can be a longboard (like a pintail), a cruiser can be just a cruiser (like a shot mini cruiser), and they are all under the broadest category of being skateboards.
So, not every cruiser is a longboard and there are longboards that look like cruisers but are not. Perhaps a bit confusing, but that’s only because we’re trying to properly define these categories.
What is a cruiser?
Looking to buy a new board and the words ‘longboard’ and ‘cruiser’ seem to pop up quite often. It’s a simple fact that most boards sold (excluding popsicle decks) are meant for transportation – that is what would be considered a cruiser, a board whose main purpose is being used to ride around town. A cruiser can be more geared towards pushing or pumping, some even feature kicktail, but the common theme is that they should be good for riding around. We will differentiate between two types of cruisers depending on their size: classic and mini.
There are also other types such as carvers and surfskates. These types of boards are much more specific, requiring awfully specific setups – we will focus on broader categories instead.
These include the pintails, drop-throughs, decks with wheel cutouts …
Pintails are pretty easy to see falling into this category, but drop-throughs too? Despite the more aggressive look, drop-throughs with the mild concave and flex are still considered cruisers.
Landyachtz Totem Paradise
Arbor Collective Flagship Series
Landyachtz Ripper Watercolor Complete Long Board
These boards don’t really have much of a purpose other than pushing around town. They usually feature generous flex and are comfy to ride, but they are not able to handle much. If you need a board to get around campus and you’re just beginning, this is the type of board for you. Keep on reading however as there are other recommendations if you’re feeling adventurous.
|Comfy||Can only be used for cruising|
|Stable||Can be heavy|
|Easy to learn on|
|Usually always the cheapest board of the lineup|
Usually these boards come complete, but if you are buying your own trucks, try going for narrower options such as 160mm or 170mm (perhaps narrower). The 50 degree option is highly recommended, you can read more about truck specs in this article.
Paris V3 165mm 50°
Arsenal trucks have the added advantage of taking tall bushings, increasing turn. They are a bit heavier than Paris but are a great option if you want to try something different.
65mm to 70mm wheels and durometer of around 80A is the sweet spot for these, though you can go a bit higher with both. Remember to run risers if you’re using the bigger wheels and your board does not have cutouts
Seismic Hot Spot 83a Wheels
Orangatang Cage 73 mm Freeride Wheels
Everyone knows the 22” Penny. If you don’t know it by name you, surely you recognize this:
This is the kind of look a mini cruiser will have: small, narrow trucks, wheels that are big for its size. Mini cruisers can be great fun and are very versatile, but they are harder to control, and they are not as stable as classic longboard cruisers.
Author’s note: I kind of dislike Penny boards, but I do love mini cruisers
Riding around is great but there are curbs and obstacles to overcome, either jump on or off them or quickly zigzag past them. Neither of these things will be accomplished on a classic cruiser, at least not as well as on a mini cruiser.
|Fits anywhere||If you like big boards, these ones are tiny|
|Lightweight||Not as stable as classic cruisers|
Mini cruisers are slightly shorter than a standard popsicle deck, so less than 31”. The concave is also reminiscent of one but milder usually. With the small size also comes shorter wheelbases, this coupled with the narrow trucks usually seen in mini cruiser setups make them a very squirrely and fun ride.
We recommend using narrow trucks with mini cruisers, that is, less than 150mm. Bennett is a great option for them:
For wheels, 60-65mm diameter is the sweet spot for most, 81a duro and a square profile. If you want to know more about what these terms mean, check out our article on wheels here. Here are some recommendations anyways:
Sector 9 Slide Butterballs Skate Wheels
What is a longboard
A longboard is any board over 32”. Why? Because a skateboard is 31-32” and a longboard is a skateboard but longer. That is the broadest definition of it. Since ‘longboard’ is an umbrella term for many different types of boards, some longboards are cruisers.
Pintails and cruiser type longboards we already talked about, but there are a scaled up version of mini cruisers which can be a lot of fun.
Single kick longboards
Exactly what you would expect: a single kick directional board. Usually around 32” to 38” in length and width varying anywhere between 8.5” to 10”. These types of boards are often oriented towards freeride, but there are some that are more convenient as city slasher. Since the wheelbase is longer and they can comfortably take longer trucks they are also more stable. They can take trucks just like your average pintail, but we recommend you use narrower ones instead to fully enjoy these boards.
|Kicktail for flippy tricks||Large|
It’s not a very common option for beginners, but it is a good one. A single kicktail board can be used for a lot of different purposes, it can grow with you past your learning phase and into whatever else you want to do. The drawbacks are that they can be pricey and they are heavier, which makes them harder to do stuff with.
Some recommendations: avoid ones with excessive wheel flares, these boards have more aggressive concave that is meant for freeride and might be excessive for riding around town. Also wheel flares tend to take damage very easily which isn’t fun.
We recommend getting a board of around 9” in width and pairing it with 170mm or 160mm trucks such as these:
Caliber II Fifty Caliber 9″/50deg Blackout
Paris Savant 165mm 50 Degree
Paris Savants are a big step up from most other trucks in quality and durability, a pricier option but worth it for more advanced riders. You can read our review on Paris Savants here.
There also the option of using TKP trucks instead:
Paris Street Skateboard Trucks – 169mm
Independent 169 Stage 11 Standard
Fun fact: Paris TKP use the same geometry as Indies
These boards are fun to use with small freeride wheels with harder duros of around 83A. These wheels will behave better when doing tricks but still will be forgiving enough when going over rocks and obstacles.
Cloud Ride! Wheels Ozone 70mm
What is better, a longboard or cruiser?
As we have talked about in the article, there is a crossover between longboards and cruisers. So if we compare the entry level longboards, which would be cruisers such as pintails or drop-throughs, with cruisers as most people would think of them (mini cruisers) the answer would be that it depends on the person. For a beginner it boils down to would you rather be safe and stable or risk the lack of stability for a more fun experience. Keep in mind that is not just a little bit of stability you’re sacrificing, it’s a lot of it.
Maybe my bias is showing but I do think mini cruisers are a good choice especially if you already come from a skateboarding background or already have some experience.
Is a cruiser longboard good for beginners?
This is also an ‘it depends’ type question, but mostly the answer is yes. Pintails, drop-through, boards with wheel cutouts are all great for beginners as they are stable and give the confidence needed to get started. Often, if the beginning experience is too harsh and you don’t see improvement it’s easier to give up. On a cruiser longboard the learning curve will not be as steep; you can learn the basics such as pushing and foot braking to stop, after this you can look to get a board more geared towards a discipline you’re more interested in or simply a better board to get you around.
Why don’t you like Penny boards?
Spoiler: it’s an opinion.
I am okay with the company, it’s the product I don’t like. There are several problems with boards themselves – like the boards being too narrow, the torsional flex, the lack of griptape, the gear that comes stock with it being almost unusable – but the biggest problem is that Penny boards can end up being that one board you buy at first and then quickly fall out of love with the sport because the board is just boring and unusable. I love seeing new people join the sport and so I make other recommendations.