Longboard vs. Cruiser Board: What’s the Difference?
You’ve decided that you want to buy a longboard and now that it’s time to make a purchase, you don’t know which one you should choose. Perhaps you’ve ridden traditional street skateboards for years and you now want something that has a bit more versatility and comfort. You don’t need the tricks. You need something that allows you to cruise and commute.
There are a couple of options that can work well for you – longboards and cruisers. However, as you start looking at the different board types, you are likely wondering what their differences are and which one might be right for you. To answer this, you will need to learn more about each of these options.
What’s A Longboard?
A longboard is considered to be any type of board that’s got four wheels and is not a standard skateboard that’s used for tricks, such as rail grinds, flips, and ollies. The longboards will have larger decks, trucks, and wheels when compared with a traditional skateboard. This is the main difference. Given that the longboards are bigger, they also provide more stability and comfort to the rider.
A longboard has a relatively wide turning radius when compared with a cruiser board. It does offer a faster speed than other types of boards, which makes it a good option for those who are commuting and traveling a longer distance. It can work well on the open road, and it’s a good choice for riding on hills.
What’s A Cruiser Board?
Here’s where the terminology can be confusing for some. Cruiser boards are essentially longboards. However, they are longboards that are specifically made for cruising, and they are a bit shorter than a traditional longboard. Some of the other names used for them include mini-cruiser and mini-longboard.
Interestingly, a cruiser could even be the same size as or smaller than a regular street skateboard. The things that will differentiate them will typically be the wheels and the shape of the deck. Cruisers are lightweight, and they can work well for going through tighter riding areas, as often found in many cities.
You now have a better understanding of the main differences between these board types. Now, it’s time to get a closer look at how they perform for different riding styles. This should make it easier for you to find the option that’s best for you.
Cruiser Riding: How Do Longboards and Street Boards Compare
Many skaters use their boards as a means to commute and to travel around their city or town. For a long time, skaters would opt for street boards when going through busy streets and along sidewalks filled with pedestrians and obstacles. They liked the street skateboards because they were lighter and easy to carry with them when compared with longboards, which can be more than three feet long in many cases.
However, those street boards are not comfortable for long distances, and it is difficult to truly cruise along on them since they are prone to more vibrations. This is due to their smaller, hard wheels along with a stiff deck.
Fortunately, the cruiser came along. It provides something of a “middle ground” compared with the traditional skateboards and longboards. It’s still small enough to be portable and maneuverable, but it provides the type of comfort that’s expected from a full-size longboard.
The size of the wheels is larger than what’s found with street boards. This helps to provide this added comfort for smooth riding. If you want a good way to get around the city while having a great time, opting for a cruiser board is a great choice.
Riding In The City vs. Traveling Long Distances
A cruiser board is an ideal option for short-distance commuting. Riders can navigate through the city with ease. It can go with you just about anywhere since it’s relatively small. You could take it with you to the office, on a train, on the bus, etc.
The full-size longboards are not as easy to transport and tuck away when you aren’t using them. They are heavier, as well. However, for those who want to have a truly smooth riding experience over longer distances, the longboard is the right option. They can pick up more speed, which can be helpful when traveling along many different types of roadways.
The longboards are efficient and the pushing takes less effort than with other types of boards. They pick up speed and can help you get from one place to another quickly. Even though they are going faster, they do a great job at handling high speeds, even when riding downhill.
You will notice that these boards, because of their size, will have a larger turning radius. This means that they aren’t quite as agile. Traveling through smaller and tighter spaces will be more difficult. The longboards are a good choice for those who have a long distance to ride and who enjoy being out in the open on their board.
Below are some of the other important comparisons you will need to make when determining what type of board to choose.
Deck Size: Longboard vs. Cruiser
Another of the big differences you will find when you are comparing cruiser boards and longboards is the size of the deck. The cruiser decks, as mentioned, tend to be relatively small. They will often be somewhere between 29” and 32” long. They do not get longer than 24”. The cruiser board width will typically be 8.5” or narrower.
Longboards, as the name would imply, will have longer and wider decks. These boards have decks that are between 36” and 42” long. The width is between 8.5” and 10 ” wide, providing a nice and stable base. The added size makes them nice and comfortable to ride.
Why are things like the length of the deck and the width important? It all has to do with the ability of the board to make turns. While both of the boards can turn, you’ll find that cruiser boards will always make those turns faster and easier to get around obstacles. Cruisers are great for those tight turns because of their size.
On the other hand, they don’t provide you with as much stability as you would get from a full-sized longboard. This becomes more noticeable when you start moving at higher speeds. Boards with a shorter wheelbase will often start to have wobbling and loose trucks when heading down steep hills. The longboards will provide more stability, thanks to the longer wheelbase.
Another thing to consider regarding the decks is the amount of flex that they have. Full-size longboards will have more flex, which will make them more comfortable to use even on rough terrain. This makes it easier on the joints for those long rides. The flex will also help with carving. Cruisers have shorter decks, which means they are a bit stiffer.
Shape: Longboard vs. Cruiser
The shape of the boards can vary somewhat. Let’s get a look at what the shape means when it comes to the performance of the boards.
Most of the cruisers you will see have a shape that’s similar to a surfboard, meaning that the front and back are not symmetrical. The tail will either be squared or have a rounded square. The front will have a somewhat pointed nose.
Cruisers will typically have a kicktail, as well. This will help with doing different types of kick tricks and it makes it easier to hop over small cracks and imperfections on the roads and sidewalks. You may also find some cruisers that have a small nose kick, which functions similarly.
The size and shape of the cruisers will let you do a range of kicks and tricks, similar to a street board. They aren’t quite as versatile in this area, of course, but they can handle many simple tricks easily. Just keep in mind that the purpose of the cruiser is to, well, cruise.
Full-Size Longboard Shape
The full-size longboards come in many different shapes. Those that focus mainly on cruising will typically have what’s known as a pintail shape where the front of the board is wider, while the tail comes to a sharper point. Others might have a symmetrical cutout shape on both the front and back.
You will occasionally find longboards that have kick tails for some simple freestyling or dancing tricks. The shape of these boards is ideally suited toward long-distance riding, though, not for taking to the quarter pipes.
Truck Mount: Longboard vs. Cruiser
The way the trucks are mounted to the board will make a difference, as well. Most of the time, mini-cruisers will have top mount trucks. This means that the trucks are bolted beneath the deck. The boards are higher off the ground, and the higher center of gravity means that they do not have as much stability at higher speeds.
Full-size longboards could have top mount trucks, or they might have drop-through trucks. Drop-through trucks are bolted through the board. Drop-through mounts tend to have more stability even when traveling fast.
Trucks: Longboard vs. Cruiser
Cruisers will often have traditional kingpin trucks, which are the same type used with street boards. They are generally top mount trucks. Full-size longboards will have reverse kingpin trucks in most cases.
Traditional kingpin trucks are responsive to each movement the rider makes and they have a good amount of dive when the rider leans into turns. They are also shorter than reverse kingpin trucks. However, they do have more wobble.
The reverse kingpin trucks have a wider wheelbase, which helps with better stability at higher speeds. They respond more slowly than the traditional kingpin trucks, but they are still smooth and are often considered easier to control, even though they won’t take those tight turns.
The size of the trucks can vary from one board to the next. For beginners, it’s best to choose trucks that are commonly used with the specific type of board you choose. Once you are more accustomed to riding, you could switch out the trucks to try some different options and see how they feel.
Wheels: Longboard vs. Cruiser
Let’s get a look at some of the differences with the wheel sizes and types between the boards.
- Street Wheels – Usually about 50mm
- Cruiser Wheels – Between 55mm and 65mm
- Longboard Wheels – 70mm and up
You’ll find that the wheels on cruisers tend to be small when compared with full longboards. This is so that they don’t cause wheel bite. The smaller wheels also help to keep the weight of the cruiser down when compared with the longboards.
The cruiser wheels will often be softer, as well. The durometers will often be between 78A and 82A. The soft wheels can help to absorb shock when on uneven terrains. Of course, some riders might like hard wheels if they are mostly riding on smooth surfaces. This produces less friction.
The full-size longboards have larger wheels. While they start at 70mm, they can be up to 85mm, as long as there is enough wheel clearance with the deck. Larger wheels will roll faster, which helps the board to achieve higher speeds. Again, using softer wheels on these boards is a good idea. They provide good grip and comfort when going over difficult terrain.
What’s Right For You?
As you can see, there are plenty of differences between longboards and cruiser boards, as well as some similarities. Which of these will be right for you? It all depends on how and where you will be riding. What do you hope to get out of your board?
If you are using your board to travel long distances comfortably, and you don’t need to make sharp turns, full-size longboards are a good solution. For those who use the board for shorter commutes and who want to have a bit more agility with their board, a cruiser could be the best choice. Just remember to choose the right trucks, wheels, and other accessories, as well.
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.