Hey, finally another mini-cruiser review! This time we’re going to have a look at the Santa Cruz Shark Flame Dot mini cruiser. This is my 13th mini-cruiser, and I told myself to stop buying them but somehow people seem to like these reviews. My wife is getting used to it so we’re good to go!
I will not be going into excruciating details this time, mainly because this board is so good-looking, it almost doesn’t matter how it rides (jokes). The good news is, it rides pretty okay for the price but it may not be for everyone.
Since this board is such a looker, I added a few extra pics. I still owe you a video of its performance but for a mini-cruiser, it does what it’s supposed to. Provide a comfy ride, while still having to workout.
Santa Cruz Shark First Impressions
It’s been a long time since I unboxed a mini cruiser that got me excited, it looks awesome! NHS/Santa Cruz really knows how to appeal to their audience, but I remain skeptical about the performance of these boards. Santa Cruz or NHS is HUGE, probably the biggest skateboard company in the world and for good reasons.
From all the boards I tested, few disappointed. That is the complete skateboards, their cruisers are a hit or miss though. Some of their cruisers really suck.
I recently got a cheaper Santa Cruz cruiser, and it’s quite underwhelming (review will be up soon). This made me decide to buy another Santa Cruz cruiser and see if there is any difference. Good news, there is!
This board looks freaking amazing. I love the shiny red color and sprayed on grip, it is a board that will get you noticed. Truly an eye catcher and head turner! It comes with wedged risers which should provide a great carving experience and wide large wheels for a comfortable riding experience.
The deck is shape is a classic by now, it really has to SoCal surfer feeling to it. Its twin tail and slight camber should provide a very comfortable stance. The trucks are super loose, which would make it even more interesting. The board seems small but is actually pretty wide near the areas where it matters.
So far so good, from just looking at it and holding this board I think this is aboard that will appeal to a niche audience.
Riding the board
When you first step on the board you will notice how loose the trucks are, you will be all over the place. Huge con for beginners, but you can fix that by tighten the kingpin nut. I won’t touch it because I want to ride it as they intended it. Most people ride boards straight out of the box and have no idea how to tweak it so that’s where I’ll start.
After riding it for a few hours the bushings started working like they’re supposed to. This is the time when you tweak them to your liking. I tightened the bushings because I gained a few pounds during the lockdown ;).
It’s quite small and to be honest, I don’t like small cruisers in general. They are convenient though, really easy to carry around, take on a bus, or strap onto a backpack. This one is really wide, and that works great for me. I size US 9.5 or size 43 EU and I was pleasantly surprised.
If I had to compare it to another super small cruiser it would be the arbor pocket rocket. Where the Pocket rocket doesn’t turn great, the Santa Cruz turns like crazy. I think it is because the angled riser pads, they really contribute to that carvyness.
Because of its carvy nature, you’re actually able to pump this board. At higher speeds you might experience some speed wobbles so I woulnd’t advise using it for downhill purposes.
If you’re looking for a carvy mini cruiser skateboard, this is really an excellent choice. It’s not even that expensive and you get what you pay for but in a good way.
To sum it up:
- Extremely carvy cruiser because of the angled riser pads
- No wheel bite so far, even when turning it to its max capabilities
- Fast acceleration, maintains speed for a long time
- Lots of room for foot placement
- Very loose trucks that might be a challenge for beginners
The bearings, it’s always the cheap crappy bearings! I immediately replaced them after my review and oh man, what a difference. Don’t worry, most of the standard cruisers from popular brands have this issue. Corners have to be cut.
Also, this is not a beginner board because it’s so small, great for kids though! It’s pretty responsive and there is lots of room for foot placement. This is not a cruiser you take for long-distance riding. I tried, and it was quite the workout.
No wheels wells and no wheel bite! Most mini cruisers will still get wheel bite if you push them to their carving limits, not this one.
And yes, NHS thought about risers and they work. I had a hard time getting wheel bite, it’s nearly impossible. This board will throw you off first before you get to that point!
It allows for quick and deep carves, though less experienced riders should pay attention. This also means it’s high, llots of clearance which can make it feel twitchy.
So far this one isn’t disappointing and I can actually recommend it, if you like small nimble cruisers.
Compared to Other Cruiser Skateboards
As you’ll notice, it certainly stands out and is surprisingly wide for its length. Something I really appreciate because I just don’t enjoy riding narrow boards. This really works for me, a small wide cruiser that is easy to carry around. Almost perfect.
The tail is fragile though, so I refrain from hopping curbs. It’s not meant for that stuff, just ride and enjoy, do nothing gnarly. You will chip the tail sooner than later, and that’s just a waste of the board.
The Details Are Amazing
It is a superb looking board. If I didn’t have a wife and 2 kids already I would ask this one out on a date. It really is pleasing to the eye and you have to experience the design yourself to see what I mean. I hope the video (working on it) and images will help, even so, nothing like the real thing.
As I’m writing, it is 32 degrees Celsius over here, that’s close to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The sun is at its peak and now the details come to light.
I think one of the coolest things about this board is not only how it rides, it’s how it looks in broad daylight. The cracked pattern is only visible from certain angles with enough light and the spray grip tape glimmers.
If you want a board that rides great but also makes heads turn, this is certainly a good choice. The graphics and product designers really did a supreme job.
But then you flip it over, and you get this. I really can’t stand this graphic, but hey that’s just me.
I’m a designer by trade and this is not appealing to me. However, you probably think it’s great. That’s why I hate my job.
Color choices are great though, matching wheels, insane top-graphic, matching black trucks and yellow bushings, and okay bottom graphics. It just makes you want to ride this board.
This board is both handsome and cunning though it’s rather small which isn’t for everyone. Experience riders who like small cruiser boards will really enjoy the big soft wheels and carvyness. Kids will be amazed but taller and heavier riders should stay away
Pick this board if you want a short smooth ride and like to be seen. Cruising the Boulevard, enjoy the scenery, grab a frappuccino and be on your way.
Nimble, small, smooth, and a looker. It’s not for me but I like it better than the Arbor Pocket Rocket. It’s personal preference, overall you get a really great board for a really good price. I tested quite some cruisers already, check out the top cruiser skateboards list. All tested of course!
This review will be updated once I skated it a bit more.