Drop-Through vs. Cruiser vs. Pintail
When it comes time to choose a skateboard, you have a lot of decisions to make. This is true whether it’s your first board or you have been skating for years. One of the questions that often comes up is which type of board is right. Should you choose a pintail, drop-through, or cruiser?
There isn’t a single “best” option, as it will depend on a range of factors. How do you plan to ride? What do you prefer? Do you want to do tricks? Are you just looking to ride for long distances?
It’s time to look at each of the options to learn a bit more about them. This can help you determine what each of these terms means, and their differences, so you can find the right board for you and your riding style.
The Basics of Drop-Through Boards
Drop-through boards are longboards that will generally have big wheel cutouts. The deck tends to be long and wide. These boards will have short, narrow wingtips, which is where the trucks are mounted. The overall shape of a drop-through board can vary quite a bit. They might be symmetrical, although they are often asymmetrical, as well.
Drop-through can refer to different types of skateboard shapes and styles. One of the big differences is that these boards will have drop-through mounting for the trucks. This means that they are mounted through the large square holes on the deck’s wingtips. Drop-through mounting can provide improved stability when going at speed because they have a lower center of gravity.
Additionally, these boards will have a lower deck. This will make both pushing and foot braking easier for the rider. Slides are also easier to start and to control when using these lower boards. These types of boards can be great for cruising and carving alike. It could also be used as a commuter, as long as it is big enough and comfortable enough to ride.
Advantages of Drop-Through Boards
- Works well for a cruiser-style setup
- Great for low-speed carving
- Better stability
- Maintain better control
- Low center of gravity is good for sliding
Disadvantages of Drop-Through Boards
- Not as strong as other types of boards
- Not ideal for all types of skateboarders
- Technical performance tends to be more difficult
- More difficult to maintain proper grip
- Not as easy to perform sharp turns
Cruisers could refer to any type of board that can be used for cruising. However, to help narrow the definition for clarity’s sake here, it will refer to short longboards, also known as mini-cruisers.
Rather than being a full-size longboard, they will generally be between 26” and 35” long. They will also feature a shape similar to a surfboard. They will have varying shapes and widths for the nose and the tail. The cruiser boards are asymmetrical.
Most of the time, these boards are top-mount rather than having drop-through trucks. They can respond well to turns, and you can get a decent amount of speed from them. A cruiser will generally have wheel wells on the front and the rear wheels, helping to provide more clearance for the board when making those turns.
The wheelbase for cruisers is shorter than they are for longboards or for pintails, which means that they will have more maneuverability than other boards. Cruisers will generally have a kicktail, and they might have a nose kick, as well—it depends on the design of the board. These can add to the agility of the board. The concavity of the board helps to keep the feet locked into these boards when performing tricks.
It’s important to keep in mind that there are also other types of cruisers. There are full longboard cruisers, which are larger than the mini-cruisers. They can work well for many of the same types of environments and skating styles, though, including city skating, flat roads, and downhill skating. Most downhill riders will choose a full longboard or a pintail.
Advantages of Cruisers
- Smaller than a longboard, so it’s easy to carry with you
- Works well for carving and cruising
- Fast and quite nimble
- Tend to be more affordable than regular longboards
- Works well for cruising
- Better suited for tricks than a full-size longboard, such as a pintail
Disadvantages of Cruisers
- Not always a good solution for later riders
- Can be more difficult to push
What Can Pintail Boards Offer?
Pintail boards will often be longer than a standard cruiser. They are actually a type of longboard and will be somewhere between 36” and 42” long. However, there are mini-pintails available, as well. They are not too common, though.
The wheelbase range for the full-length pintail boards is between 26” and 28”. This is longer than the mini-cruisers discussed above, but about the same size as other full longboards.
This type of board gets its name from its unique shape. It is long and narrows as you get toward the tail. It is wider in the middle than at the tips. Like the cruiser, this type of board is asymmetrical. The directional board is only ridden going one direction. After all, it wouldn’t make much sense riding and trying to have the narrow tail going forward.
Like the cruiser, these boards are typically top-mount. This helps to make them responsive to turns since you will be riding on the top of the front truck. Pintail boards will usually only have wheel wells in the front. This is because the tail tends to be narrow enough that it will not need them.
Although pintails might have a tail, it’s not a true kicktail. This means that the board is not as agile. Additionally, it doesn’t have much of a concave area on the board, which means it’s easier for the rider to move their feet. However, it means you aren’t going to be doing as many tricks on one of these boards as you might with a cruiser. It can work nicely for carving, cruising, and commuting, though.
Advantages of Pintail Boards
- Decent stability
- Works well for cruising and carving
- Makes a good board for a commuter
- Doesn’t typically suffer from wheel bite
- They are generally affordable
Disadvantages of Pintail Boards
- Difficult to transport because of its length
- Tricks tend to be extremely difficult to do on these boards
Choosing a Skateboard
Now that you have a better idea of the differences when comparing boards like a drop-through mount, pintail boards, and cruiser board, you can make a more informed decision when buying your next board.
Typically, it will depend on what you want to do with your skateboard. If you want a board that can work for commuting, going downhill, and for basic cruising, you’ll find that the options above could all be good choices. The devil is in the details, though. Due to the shape of the boards, their size, etc., some perform better in certain circumstances than others will.
Full longboard cruisers and pintails, for example, are better options for commuting when compared with a mini-cruiser. The small cruisers are easy to take with you on a bus or to put in a locker, though. Drop-through boards allow for better stability and control thanks to the low center of gravity, but they aren’t as strong as other types of boards.
Focus on the type of skating you want to do, so you can determine the best deck shape and type of board to consider. Later, you can think about brands and aesthetics to ensure you get a board that has the look you want.
Size of the Rider
One of the other important factors to consider when buying any type of board is the size of the rider.
Smaller riders may often struggle with a pintail or a full-size cruiser longboard. It may be more advantageous to get a smaller board if they haven’t skated before. They can learn to ride on a board that’s better suited for their size, and as their skills improve, they could move on to a pintail, for example.
Of course, this doesn’t always have to be the case. Some people only want to ride a longboard and it’s what they start with regardless of their size. The important thing is that you find an option that will work for you and the skating style you prefer.
Other Accessories for the Board
In addition to the size and type of board, you will also need to think about the various accessories you may need to buy. If you are buying only the deck and then putting the rest of the board together, you will need to have bearings, wheels, and trucks.
You can find wheels and trucks that can match just about any aesthetic style you might want. However, when buying these items, make sure they are appropriate for your particular type of board. The functionality is more important than the style.
Fortunately, there are so many options on the market, you shouldn’t have any trouble setting up a board that can meet your riding and stylistic requirements whether it’s a pintail, a cruiser, or even just a street board.
One of the other items that you might want to buy is a skateboard bag. Having a skateboard bag will help to make it easier to transport your skateboard when you can’t ride it. The bag can also help keep it protected from damage while traveling, being stored, or if you are caught in the rain. Some skateboard bags will have extra room and compartments for storing a bottle of water, snacks, some camera gear, etc.
Having a skateboarding bag might not be necessary for all riders, but it can be a nice accessory if you can afford it.
Remember Safety Gear
Regardless of the type of board you choose—cruiser, pintail, drop-through mount, street board, etc.—you need to think about your safety when riding. It doesn’t matter if you are getting on a board for the first time or if you’ve been riding for years, safety gear is essential. It can help you stay safe in case you fall or have an accident.
Even though you will be able to develop a remarkable amount of control when you are on your board, accidents can and do happen. You might fall, have to bail, or someone else could run into you. Skateboarding is not any more dangerous than other types of sports, but the smart thing to do is to have some safety equipment that can reduce the risk of serious injury.
At a minimum, you should have a helmet, which will keep your head safe from hitting concrete, a bench, rail, another person, etc. Elbow pads and knee pads can help prevent serious damage to those joints, and wrist guards can reduce the risk of breaking your wrist if you fall. Some riders also use mouthguards to keep their teeth safer.
A little precaution and the right gear go a long way in helping to ensure a fun and safe ride each time.
What’s the Right Option for You?
There’s not a single right option that will work for everyone. Instead, it’s a matter of taste, style, and experience, as well as what you want to do. If you want to get lower to the road and have an easy time pushing and stopping, getting a board with drop-through mounts can work nicely.
Conversely, if you want to do some tricks while still having a nice board that can work for commuting, a cruiser will be a good solution. It can even be a good commuter since it will not take up as much space as a standard longboard or a pintail.
If you are looking for a board that can provide a nice and fluid feel, then a pintail could be a nice choice, thanks to the more flexible deck. You might even find that you want to have multiple boards for different moods.
Think about what you want and choose a board that matches those needs. Make sure you remember to buy some safety gear, as well. Remember, even if you are experienced as a skater, wearing a helmet and some pads will be a great way to keep your body safe in case of an accident. Get out there, get the right board, and have a great time.
Valerie Mellema is a writer living on Lake Fork in East Texas with a crew of three border collies, goats, horses, and a whole bunch of chickens. When she’s not writing or riding, she enjoys knitting and needle felting, a hobby she picked up in Ireland.