Skateboarding has evolved over the years. Once upon a time, a skateboard was just a wooden board, a set of wheels, and a pair of trucks. Some people will call anything that resembles it a skateboard when it fact there are some differences. On the one hand, longboards are larger, they do not have kick tails, and they are oftentimes confused for cruisers. While skateboards, on the other hand, are totally different from cruisers and longboards.
The three boards have significant differences. Cruisers are used for short commutes and they are portable, skateboards are for landing technical tricks, and longboards are riding long distances. Even though their parts may look similar, they were designed for completely different purposes.
- Skateboards are stiffer than more flexible longboards
- Longboards usually have invited trucks
- Length: longboards 36″ and above, skateboards 30″-32″, and cruisers between 25″ and 30″
- Wheel size: longboards are 60mm and above, cruisers are between 55mm and 65mm, skateboards are between 50mm and 60mm
- Longboards and cruisers have softer wheels
- Cruisers: short distances, longboards: long distances and downhill, skateboards: technical tricks
- Cruisers, skateboards, and longboards all have different shapes
- Longboards and cruisers have more momentum than skateboards
- Longboards and cruisers can ride rough surfaces
This article is not to convince you to pick any one of these three but to present you with their attributes to enable you to make a choice for yourself. Before you decide, make sure you know exactly what you want when choosing a board. Take into account your need, where you live, the nature of your road, do you want speed or tricks, etc. When you have answered these questions, you can then proceed to make your decision.
Regular skateboards (like this double trick skateboard) are mainly built to perform technical tricks. The length varies from 30″ to 32″ and their width from 7″ to 9″. Street skaters usually prefer narrow decks while vert and bowl skaters prefer wider decks. The shape is quite different from cruisers and longboards. A skateboard has a nose and kick tails which are used for flipping and jumping the decks.
Classic skateboards are designed for popping ollies, doing flips, grinding ledges, and sliding boards over rails. This is where the main difference between skateboards and both longboards and cruisers lie.
Unlike longboards and cruisers, skateboards are not meant for transportation. Even though they were not made for that, they could actually be used for it if you have the right wheels. But unlike cruisers and longboards, it requires a lot more effort.
Among the three board options mentioned here, longboards (like this special edition one) are the tallest and they have different sizes. They also have different purposes and come in shapes that compliment that purpose. Longboards are built to ride long distances and also do some extreme stuff like downhilling (racing downhill). Longboards are the fastest among all three and they are perfect for carving.
Longboards can easily handle rocky and rough roads unlike the classic skateboard and they offer the smoothest ride. They are heavier which makes them difficult or inconvenient to carry around.
Compared to cruisers and skateboards, longboards have slower acceleration and because of their size, they are not as responsive but they allow for greater speed.
Longboards have different types of trucks as compared to cruisers and skateboards. Their trucks are wider because the boards are wider. Their trucks also have more height, this is to prevent the board from coming into contact with the wheels.
Similar to cruisers, they have big soft wheels which usually starts at 70mm. Bigger wheels most times means more comfortable rides which make longboards great for riding on rough terrains.
Longboards are made for different purposes and their shapes reflect that. On longboards, drop decks are usually lower in the middle than they are at the ends of the board. This helps the rider stay balanced throughout the ride. Longboarding beginners are always advised to use drop decks.
Longboards are more expensive than skateboards and cruisers but they last longer because they are not used for doing more technical stuff. If you have to choose a longboard, make sure to choose the right type. There are boards designed for carving, long-distance riding, and riding downhill so identify which type you want before getting it.
Cruiserboards (like this Retro one) are made primarily for commuting. They are easy to just ride around and also convenient to carry from place to place. Generally, cruisers have flat surfaces but there are some cruisers that have some concave and elevated tail. This makes it possible to hop on and off curbs and also to correct the board quickly.
You can find cruisers in different shapes and sizes. They are lighter than longboards and taller than regular skateboards. They provide comfort and balance and they support quick acceleration.
Unlike longboards, cruisers aren’t meant for downhilling and are not very suitable for carving. Their wheels are also smaller than that of a longboard’s but bigger than that of regular skateboards. The wheel size is between 55mm to 65mm. They usually also have softer wheels to ride on rough terrains or roads.
Cruisers do not have a universal shape. This makes it a bit difficult to recognise a cruiser when it is seen. They are not designed to land technical tricks like the ollie or curb grinding. You will find that some cruisers have wheel wells to fight wheel bite and some of them have extended riser pads to handle this same problem.
Like I said before, they come in different shapes and the one you choose depends on your preference. Their length is between 25″ and 37″. If you are a beginner and you want to go for a cruiser board, make sure you get something that helps maintain your balance.
Shape – Key Differences
Regular skateboards have the shape of a popsicle and they have an angled tail and nose to pop the deck. They have concaves which enable them to do technical tricks. There are some cruisers that have a little bit of concave but they are mostly more mellow when compared to skateboards. Some cruisers also have a tail which helps the rider jump up and down curbs while some are flat.
Longboards do not feature a tail or nose with an angle. Sometimes you’ll find a few that have a bit of concave where some are flat completely. They are longer than the other boards which makes them much more stable.
Trucks – Key Differences
The trucks all have certain similarities: they all have bushings, hangars, baseplates, and kingpins. The difference lies in their construction. Longboards have reversed trucks. This means that they are inverted, i.e. the trucks are put together the other way around which allows for more maneuverability.
Longboards trucks are usually wider than the rest to match the width of its board which is usually between 150mm and 180mm axles. Their bushings are also much softer than that of regular skateboards which make carving and turning easier. Downhill longboards are quite different. They need stiffer bushings to prevent the board from becoming unstable when going at high speeds.
Longboards also have reversed or inverted kingpins sometimes. This allows for more stability and they are quite slower than cruiser/skateboard trucks. The downside is they do not allow for technical tricks.
Size – Key Differences
Cruisers go from 25″ to 37″ in length. Skateboards are usually a bit bigger and wider than cruisers. They are between 30″ and 32″ in length and the width ranges between 7″ and 9″. Longboards, on the other hand, are way bigger. Some longboards are as long as surfboards and they are between 33″ and 59″ in length and the width varies between 9″ to 10″.
Responsiveness and Flexibility
Longboards do not feel the same as cruisers and skateboards do. They are usually very flexible which makes it easy to carve and make bigger turns without becoming unstable. It’s easy to ride over cracks and small bumps without feeling it but that is not the same for skateboards.
Skateboards are more responsive but are infinitely stiffer and have less momentum than longboards. Riding into cracks and bumps can throw you off your board and cause an injury. If you go cruising on your skateboard, it gets really uncomfortable after a short while. You’ll feel discomfort in your feet and you will sweat a lot.
Which One Should You Go With?
If you want to do technical stuff, you should pick a regular skateboard. It is harder to learn to ride a skateboard but if you can get the hang of it, you can ride everything(cruisers and longboards inclusive).
If your goal is to visit skateparks, jump off and on a few curbs, do an ollie or get a kickflip down, then you don’t have to think so much. The skateboard is what you need. It will not be the easiest journey, but learning how to ride the skateboard will be a reward in itself.
Longboards are good for travelling long distances. They can take for miles without much effort on your part. So if you need to ride long distances, a longboard will work for you. It is not recommended you use them for cities or crowded places because it gets really hard to reduce your speed once it’s on the move.
Cruisers are meant to take you from point A to B when the distance is not long. Cruisers are very portable and they are great for community short distances. If you need to ride the bus, you will find it easy to hold on to it and because it doesn’t take up much space, you can just put it in your backpack. If you’re on campus and you’re looking for an easy, more convenient way to commute, go for the cruiser. Their maneuverability and size make it easy to avoid people, cars and any type of obstacles.
If you stay in an area where there lots of bumps, inclines and hills, you have to go easy with your speed because cruisers become unstable when going too quickly.
Should You Choose One Over the Other?
I cannot categorically say that one board is better than the other because they all have different functions and uses. They are all designed for specific purposes so you can’t really make a comparison.
Longboards are great for travelling long distances and allow for great speed with so much effort from the rider. Some longboards are built for steep hills and extreme speeds while some are great for long relaxing rides.
Cruisers are in between a longboard and a classic skateboard. With some cruisers, you can do a couple of tricks while still giving you a comfortable ride even on rough surfaces. They are easy to carry around and great for commuting short distances.
Longboards, skateboards, and cruisers are all great to ride. They’re fun in their own way and provide a great activity for riders. Though their materials and construction vary, they are all made of similar components. Their riding techniques are also the same except for the longboard where the feet is positioned differently because of the board’s shape.
Final Thoughts on Skateboard vs Longboard vs Cruiser
If you are a beginner and you wish to get one of these boards, I would recommend you don’t purchase them off the internet especially as it is your first time. It helps to see all the different boards as they are in real life than in a picture. You also get to feel the texture of the board and test it before making a choice.
Visit any shop around you that sells them and tell them your budget. Most of the guys who work there know their stuff and in a great place to give you advice.
If you decide to get one online, test it out on your carpet first so that in case you have to return it, the board will remain clean. And also make sure your shoes are clean.
Also, get yourself a helmet and knee pads while you’re at it. Learning to ride most times will involve falling and it is best you are well protected.