I often get the question from new skaters and skateboarders that want to get back into riding. Even though there are a lot of differences between a skateboard and a cruiser, the choice isn’t always obvious to newcomers.
Get a cruiser if you only want to ride short distances and a comfortable ride. Get a skateboard if you want to learn technical tricks in skate parks, flat ground or street. Riding a cruiser is easier than a skateboard and more beginner friendly.
There are many differences between cruisers like shape, wheelbase, size en setup. The same goes for skateboards, some setups are great for parks where others are more suitable for flatground.
- 1 The Benefits of a Cruiser
- 2 The Cons of a Cruiser
- 3 The Benefits of a Skateboard
- 4 The Cons of a Skateboard
- 5 Recommended Skateboards & Cruisers
- 6 A Custom Cruiser/Skateboard Hybrid
- 7 Final Words
The Benefits of a Cruiser
Cruiser skateboards are great for short distances. Their big and soft wheels provide a smooth ride which is a great choice for someone who wants to learn how to ride a skateboard without much effort.
Cruiser skateboards are easier to ride than a skateboards and are more portable than a longboard. They deal well with gritty asphalt and rough surfaces while keeping their momentum for a long time.
The Cons of a Cruiser
Cruisers aren’t great for tricks. While you can do some basic tricks they aren’t for advanced technical skateboard tricks. They are usually wider compared to a regular skateboard and often only have a kicktail.
The big soft wheels make landing tricks a lot harder and the overall size of a cruiser makes them less responsive when you want to do a trick. They are often heavier and take quite some effort to get off the ground.
The Benefits of a Skateboard
Skateboards are portable and great for doing tricks, depending on the setup. Skateboards perfomr great in skate parks, flat ground and overal transition skateboarding.
The small hard wheels makes it ‘easier’ to perform tricks and the double kicktail and lesser weight allow you to pop a skateboard harder. Skateboards are very portable and the components are easy to replace.
The Cons of a Skateboard
A skateboard is less suitable for cruising. They accelerate fast but lose their momentum faster compared to a cruiser. because of the smaller and harder wheels a skateboard is harder to ride for beginners. This can be resoved by picking softer wheels, which can later be replaced with more trick specific wheels.
Recommended Skateboards & Cruisers
I always recommend to assemble your own skateboard or cruiser because you get better parts for just a bit more. Still there are some great pre-built cruisers and skateboards to choose from. Check my complete list of recommended cruiser skateboards of if you want a decent skateboard, check out my best complete skateboard list.
Skateboard: Arbor Whisky Recruit
A beginner friendly skateboard for a reasonable price. The wheels are softer than regular skateboards which makes learning how to push and ride much easier. Those who want to focus on the more rechnical aspect of skateboarding should pick a skateboard with harder wheels, like the Birdhouse complete.
Skateboard: Birdhouse Complete
Birdhouse offers one of the best complete skateboards you can buy, and at a very reasonable price. We skated this board for over 2 seasons and besides from a few chips, the setup holds up well.
the trucks are responsive and strong, they can deal with grinding ledges and hard impacts. The bushings will require some tweaking. The wheels are quite hard which makes it suitable for riding skate parks, less so for rough asphalt.
Cruiser: Arbor Pilsner
The Arbor Pilsner is comparable to the Landyachtz Dinghy but is a bit wider and comes with better wheels and trucks. It might be a bit harder to learn to ride the Pilsner because it’s quite nimble and responsive.
The bushings may require some tweaking at first and need some time to break in. After a few hours of riding they should start perfroming like their supposed to. Check out my Arbor Pilsner review to learn more
Cruiser: Globe Big Blazer
The Globe Big Blazer is a bit of a boring ride. It lacks concave, is quite heavy, and feels a bit slugggish. The funny thing is that this makes it a perfect beginner board. It’s very predicatble and offers a smooth and stable ride.
No need to concern yourself about unexpected turns or misplacing your feet resulting in a nasy slam. The Globe Big Blazer is great for those who just want to learn how to ride. Check out my Globe Big Blazer review.
A Custom Cruiser/Skateboard Hybrid
If you want a comfortable ride but also learn tricks you should consider picking your own parts. This is easier than you think if you know what to look for. let me guide you through to process of selecting the right parts for your cruiser hybrid, that also works great in bowls.
In general you want a wider than average deck, this will give you optimal balance when cruising but still allows for basic tricks like ollies, shuvits, no complies, etc.
Slightly biggger and softer wheels will provide a smooth riding experience when you encounter rough roads, cracks, or pebbles.
I recommend getting an 8.5″ wide deck. Kickflips will take a bit more effort because you have to kick it harder, ollies shouldn’t be a problem. An 8.5″ deck is also great for riding bowls.
Not all 8.5″ skateboard decks are the same, there are differences in concave. For a cruiser hybrid I would suggest going with a medium concave. The surface of a medium concave deck makes it easier to balance when cruising or riding bowls. Because a medium concave still offers curves on the edges of the deck, you can still pull off tricks.
For a cruiser tricks skateboard I would recommend getting Independent Trucks but you should replace the stock bushings with aftermarket bushings. For an 8.5″ wide deck you should get matching trucks. Independent Stage 11 trucks (149) will fit perfectly.
As for aftermarket bushings, look for Bones Hardcore bushings. They don’t require much tweaking and work straight out of the box. You can easily adjust them to make them carve more, or less if you prefer. Bones offers 3 different Hardcore bushings and the ones to pick depend on your weight.
- Bones Hardcore softs: if you weigh around 132 LBS (60KG).
- Bones Mediums Bushings: if you weigh between 154 LBS (70KG) and 200 LBS (90KG).
- Bones Hardcore Hards: Anyone over 200 LBS should consider the hardest Bones bushings.
They are easy to install on Independent trucks and come with an instructional manual on the inside of the box. You only need a wrench or skate tool.
This is where it start to get interesting because you need to find a good balance between cruising and tricks. This means you need to get softer wheels that are slightly bigger. I recommend getting wheels between 54mm and 56mm with a hardness between 86A and 92A.
The softer the wheels on the Durometer scale, the smoother the ride BUT softer wheels also bounce more compared to harder wheels. This means landing tricks is a bit harder.
- If you want more of a cruiser that is also able to do basic tricks go with softer wheels.
- If you want a cruiser that is slighly better for tricks, go with harder wheels.
Recommended wheels are Ricta Chrome wheels 56mm/92A and Ricta Cloud 55mm/86A.
Depending on the wheel size you pick you should consider riser pads. They prevent wheel bite which means that your wheels and deck could come into contact when turning.
If you decide to pick wheels over 58mm and 1/4″ riser pads, also make sure the pick the right hardware size for your skateboard. Check out the table below to see what you need:
|Wheel size (mm)||Riser size (inch)||7-Ply deck Hardware length (inch)||8-Ply or 9-Ply deck hardware lenght (inch)|
|49mm – 54mm||No risers||7⁄8″||1 1⁄8″|
|55mm – 56mm||No need if you ride trucks tight||7⁄8″||1 1⁄8″|
|55mm – 56mm||1⁄8″ if you ride loose trucks||1 1⁄8 – 1 1⁄4||1 1⁄4 – 1 1⁄2″|
|57mm – 58mm||1⁄8″||1 1⁄8 – 1 1⁄4||1 1⁄4 – 1 1⁄2″|
|59mm – 60mm||1⁄8″ – 1⁄4″||1 1⁄8″ – 1 1⁄4″||1 1⁄4″ – 1 1⁄2″|
Lastly, you need some quality skateboard bearings. Don’t spend too much, Bones Super Reds or Bronson G3 are great choices.
I hope this guide made it easier to choose between a skateboard or cruiser. Cruisers are great for those who just want a comfortable ride and help you to master the basics of pushing and riding a skateboarding faster.
For those who want a little bit of both I recommend to assemble their own setup. A standard skateboard with softer and slightly bigger wheels will work fine.
I’m an aged skateboarder and I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago but also love surfing, snowboarding, or anything that involves a board.