What type of skateboard should you choose for your next purchase? If you’re in the market for a new board, you might not want to choose one of the traditional boards that are pointed at one end and have a kick tail at the other. If you’ve been riding a lot of regular skateboards, you might be ready for something a bit different, such as a longboard or cruiser.
Perhaps you are hoping to enjoy a different type of riding style, and you want something that would work as a nice board for commuting. Longboards and cruisers can work well for these purposes. Of course, there is often some confusion over the difference when it comes to longboards vs. cruisers. It’s time to learn more about each of these boards and see how they stack up to one another.
You’ll find that the two are very similar, and the main difference is the size. The longboards are larger than both street boards and cruisers. The cruisers are larger than the street boards and come in several inches shorter than a longboard.
Table of Contents
Before we dive deeper into the differences between longboards and cruisers, we’ll be looking at the basic features that are found on all skateboards. Knowing the names and functions of the various parts will make it easier to understand how to outfit your board later.
- Grip Tape
- Truck Bolts
The deck of the board is the part where you stand while you are riding. The deck can be made from a range of products including bamboo or maple material. Maple tends to provide a lot of durability to the board.
You’ll find there are many different shapes and designs for longboard and cruiser decks. These can include twin, mini cruiser, blunt, and pintail, for example. The deck affixes to the trucks. It could be a top mount or drop through mount, both of which have their pros and cons and are discussed later.
Grip tape is the material that’s used to cover the surface of the deck. It has a gritty, textured surface that helps to provide the traction needed between the skater’s shoes and the board. It ensures you have good control over the board and that your feet stay where you want them to.
The trucks are made from metal and have a T-shape to them. They are attached to the deck. Longboard trucks tend to have a sharper angle and may be higher than the trucks on a cruiser or street skateboard.
You can find a range of different styles and options when it comes to trucks. When choosing the trucks, you’ll want to be sure that they are suited to your board and the riding style you prefer.
The parts below are all connected to the trucks.
The truck axle is a pin that helps to attach the wheels to the trucks, so they stay on the board.
Wheels are what lets your board roll. There are many different types of wheels of different hardness levels. This is known as their durometer rating. Soft wheels work well for rough terrain.
The diameter, profile, and contact patch of the wheels can differ, as well. Quality wheels allow skaters to cruise, carve, and slide while keeping control of their board.
Bearings are added to the wheels. They help to reduce friction so that the wheels can spin freely.
The kingpin is the large bolt that helps to hold all of the parts of the truck together. They can be either traditional kingpin trucks or reverse kingpin trucks depending on the skater’s wants and needs. The reverse kingpin configuration is common because it can provide responsive handling at low speeds and good stability when moving at high speeds.
The truck bolts are used to attach the deck and the longboard trucks. These are simple but important parts. They could come loose after a lot of riding, so skaters will want to check them regularly.
What Is a Longboard?
As the name implies, longboards are longer than traditional skateboards and cruisers, although they tend to have a similar appearance. If a board is 36” or longer, it can be considered a longboard. The boards will typically be between 8.5” and 10” wide.
They have a deck, wheels, trucks, and all of the parts that are found on street boards, but they will be geared specifically toward the longboard and the riding style that you are trying to achieve.
The decks may be symmetrical or asymmetrical, and there are plenty of styles available. Riders can find longboards specifically suited toward downhill racing, freeriding, freestyling, and some simple boards that people use to commute long distances.
Longboard wheels will typically be soft and at least 70mm. However, some skaters will choose to install hard wheels which will provide them with a different style of riding the board.
They will also feature longboard style trucks. These types of boards are not typically used for tricks, although they can be used in certain types of competitions. Downhill longboards and longboards for slalom are popular, for example.
The longboards are mainly used as a means to get around in style and comfort. They are built for travel and commuting, but they can work for a range of riding styles depending on how they are outfitted. Different wheels and trucks can make the board more suited for different types of riding, such as downhill or freeriding, for example.
The size of the board can make them comfortable to ride, which is why people often use them for traveling longer distances. You wouldn’t want to travel 10 miles on a street skateboard, but you could do that or more on a longboard with no trouble.
While these are fun and comfortable to ride, they are also harder to carry around with you. The longboard deck is a minimum of 36”, which means that it will be more difficult to take on public transportation or to keep at work.
Related: Longboard Shapes
What Is a Cruiser?
A cruiser board is very similar to a longboard. It’s longer than a street board, but not quite as large as a longboard. A couple of the other names that you might hear being used for cruisers include mini longboards and mini cruisers.
A mini cruiser is generally a bit larger than a street board, but some could be slightly smaller. They will often be somewhere between 29” and 32” long, and they will be about 8.5” wide or less. Cruisers will provide tighter turns than what you would get with a longboard because of the size. This is nice for those who would like to ride in areas where they need to make those faster, sharper turns, such as along city streets.
You will notice that the mini cruisers are not quite as stable as the full-size longboards, though, especially when you are traveling at higher speeds. A mini cruiser will have a shorter wheelbase, so they will wobble a bit more.
Cruisers do a good job of picking up speed, and they can be a nice solution to get around town. These boards have soft wheels that can help make the ride more comfortable when going over difficult terrain.
These boards are longer than a regular street skateboard, which means that they’re easier to stand on and ride. Even though they are a bit larger than a street board, they can still make tighter turns, which may be important for riders who are comparing other options vs. cruiser boards.
Cruisers are lightweight when compared with full-size longboards. This is because the decks are shorter and thinner. Because they are smaller and lighter, it also means that it’s easier to carry them around. They can be taken onto a bus or train, put away in a locker, or under the desk at work.
Differences Between Top Mount and Drop Through
The way the trucks are attached to your board is about more than just the aesthetics. Whether you have a top mount or drop through trucks can make a big difference in how the board handles.
Top mount boards will have the trucks bolted beneath the longboard deck. These boards will be more responsive and will have tighter turning. However, they will not be as stable as drop through boards, which ride closer to the ground.
You will also find that the wheel clearance is limited with these boards, even if you have wheel wells. Those who have big wheels might find that they need to add risers.
With a top mount design, you can put your foot and weight onto the front truck, which provides you with more leverage. This is why the boards are more responsive and why they turn faster.
The wheelbases of these boards are often adjustable, as well. This can make the board versatile enough to use for different types of riding styles. Some of the boards will also have kick tails, which can be used for some simple tricks, such as kick turns and ollies.
Drop through means that the trucks are mounted through the deck through holes that are in the board. These boards ride closer to the ground, which means that they don’t have the same tight turning capability that is found with top mount boards. However, they are stable, which means they are more comfortable riding for long distances.
These ride lower to the ground, but they tend to have more wheel clearance. Drop through boards also tend to be easier to push, which means you will not fatigue as easily when riding the board for long distances. These can make good beginner boards.
Riders will appreciate that these types of longboards and cruisers will have more stability even when they are moving at higher speeds. For even more stability, you could get a drop deck design that lowers the deck even further.
Of course, there are some cons, as well. Your feet will not be directly over the trucks, which means you will get less leverage than you would when compared with a top mount. You will need to lean more when turning since it’s not as responsive.
Although these boards can be durable, they aren’t as solid as what you would find with top mount decks since there are holes in them. Drop through cutout shapes will also mean that there is less real estate for your feet on the board, which can limit some of the things you do with it.
What to Consider When Choosing a Board
When looking at the longboard vs. cruiser board comparison, you can see that there are pros and cons to each of these options. The one that you choose will ultimately be up to the type of riding style you prefer and what you want to get out of the board.
There are a few other things that you will want to consider when you are comparing your options. Check them out below.
How much does the board flex? A board that flexes can be helpful for those who are taking long rides, as it will help to keep the ride smoother and more comfortable. Along with softer wheels, it helps to absorb some of the roughness of the terrain.
However, not all riders like this soft feel. Instead, they prefer to have a stiff deck because it provides them with greater responsiveness when they lean and turn. This is a popular choice for those who are looking for a downhill board.
The amount of flex you choose will be up to your preferences, how you like to ride, and what you want to get from the board.
Where will you be riding? If you’re going to be in a busy city, then you likely want to have an agile board that will help you get around obstacles and people. Cruisers are smaller than longboards, which can make them more agile and maneuverable. The shorter deck will provide a tighter turning radius to help with this.
If you are going to be riding on open roads and sidewalks, or if you are opting for downhill riding, then a full-size longboard could be a better option.
It’s true that they aren’t able to turn as quickly. However, if your riding style doesn’t put you in situations where you have to make a lot of sharp turns, a full-size longboard might be right for you.
You will find that longboards tend to be more stable than cruiser boards because of their size. This means that a full-size longboard would be a good option for a beginner that is just getting acquainted with skating. To ensure even greater stability, consider opting for drop through mounts for the trucks.
Where do you need to take the board? If you are going to be using the board to commute and you have limited storage space on the train or at work, for example, a cruiser would be a better option because it’s smaller.
If size isn’t a factor, a full-size longboard could work for you. However, you will want to remember that the larger longboards will also be heavier. If you have to carry them for long distances, this could be a problem.
When you are choosing a longboard or cruiser, you want to think about your current skill as a skater. Those who are just starting will not want to get a downhill longboard, as this tends to be better for experienced skaters who know how to balance and ride at high speeds.
Beginners should start with something simple. Learn how to cruise and carve on the board and build up skills before eventually trying one of the more difficult and dangerous riding styles and boards. Either a cruiser or longboard can work for this, but stay away from boards specifically geared to more extreme types of riding when you are beginning.
Quality of the Board and Parts
One of the most important things to consider when purchasing a board, whether you opt for a cruiser, a longboard, or another type of board will be quality. You need to start with a great deck from a known manufacturer.
You can then start to build out your board the way that you want, choosing your trucks and wheels to create a longboard or cruiser that works well for your riding style.
In some cases, you will find prebuilt boards that are ready to ride as soon as you get them. As long as all of the parts used to construct the board, including the trucks, wheels, and bearings are from good manufacturers, it’s okay to buy prebuilt.
Check some reviews to make sure that the parts or packages you are choosing are from reputable manufacturers. You don’t want to buy a cheap skateboard that will break or need to have parts replaced in a few months.
Remember Safety Gear
As fun as it is to ride cruisers and longboards, it can also be dangerous if you aren’t properly equipped. Simply knowing how to ride and stay on your board is not enough. There are any number of accidents that could happen due to cracks in the asphalt, pedestrians, other skaters, etc.
Therefore, you should always have some safety gear on when you are riding, no matter what type of board it might be. At a minimum, you should wear a helmet. Having some knee and elbow pads will provide even more protection. It’s better to be safe rather than sorry.
It’s a good idea to invest in a good pair of skater’s shoes, as well. These are shoes designed specifically for skating. They tend to have good grip and wide, flat soles that can make it easier to control the board. Many of the shoes will also have added padding on the sides to ensure comfort and stability.
Find the Right Board for You
Now that you have a better understanding of some of the differences when it comes to the longboard vs. cruiser, you should be able to determine which of these boards is right for you. Either could make a great board, but you have to think about how and where you want to ride.
The biggest difference between a full-size longboard and a cruiser will be the size. They have a lot of similarities. You will want to figure out what you want to get from the board so you can make the right choice.