A skateboard used to be just that, a wooden plank, a pair of trucks and a set of wheels. Most people will call anything like that a skateboard but there are quite some differences.
Longboards obviously are larger, lack a kicktail and are easily confused with cruisers. Skateboards, on the other hand, are completely different from longboards and cruisers.
Longboards are for long distances and beginner friendly, skateboards are for technical tricks and harder to ride. Cruisers are easier to ride and used for short distances. Longboards, cruisers, and skateboards are designed for different purposes.
- Longboards often have inverted trucks for extra carvyness.
- Length: skateboards 30″-32″, longboards 36″ and above, cruisers between 25″ and 34″.
- Wheel size difference: longboards 65mm and above, skateboards between 50mm and 60mm, cruisers between 58mm and 61mm.
- Skateboards are stiffer compared to more flexible longboards.
- Cruisers and longboards have softer wheels.
- Cruisers for short distances, longboards for long distances and downhill, skateboards for technical tricks.
- Longboards, cruisers, and skateboard all have different shapes.
- Skateboards have less momentum than longboards and cruisers, but accelerate faster.
- Cruisers and longboards can ride on rough surfaces.
Before you decide on what’s right for you, make sure what you want out of a board. Where you want to skate, cruising, speed, or tricks, where you live, what the roads look like, etc. After that, you can decide for yourself what’s best for you.
This post isn’t about which board to buy, but to help you to make a better choice and understand the differences.
Let’s kick off with a comparison table and then explain what a cruiser, longboard, or skateboard really is.
|Deck Length||35″ – 42″||31″ – 33″||22″ – 38″|
|Deck Width||8.5″ – 10.25″||7.5″ – 8.75″||8.0″ – 9.5″|
|Wheel Size||65mm – 80mm||48mm – 58mm||60mm – 65mm|
|Truck Size||149mm – 215mm||129mm – 159mm||139mm – 169mm|
|Purpose||Down Hill, Long distance, Sliding, dance, free style||Tricks, Skateparks, Street Skating||Short commutes, comfy rides|
- Skateboards Explained
- Cruisers Explained
- Longboards Explained
- Difference in Trucks
- Difference in Shape
- Flexibility and Board Feel
- Size Differences
- When to Pick a Skateboard
- When to Go for a Cruiser
- When to Pick a Longboard
- Is One Better Than the Other?
- What They Have in Common
- Some Last Tips
A regular skateboard (popsicle shape) is mainly to perform tricks and technical skating. The width varies from 7″ to 9″+ and the length from 30″ to 32″.
Narrow decks are preferred by street skaters and wider decks by vert and bowl skaters. The shape is quite different, they feature a nose and kicktail that curve upwards used for jumping and flipping the deck.
The concave (the curved shape across the length of the deck) affects how the deck responds and feels.
Classic skateboards are meant for grinding ledges, sliding your board over rails or popping ollies and flips. This is the main difference when comparing skateboards to longboards and cruisers.
Compared to cruisers and longboards, skateboards aren’t meant for transportation. It’s possible though but uncomfortable because of the small and hard wheels.
Softer and bigger wheels can turn it into a cruiser if you like. I personally use one for that purpose and I love it, but it requires a lot more pushing compared to cruisers and longboards.
If you’re looking for a quality skateboard I recommend checking out some of the complete skateboards I picked.
They come from reputable brands, have quality components and come at a reasonable price.
Cruisers are for commuting or just rolling around comfortably while still being able to carry it around without too much effort.
In general, cruisers have a flat surface but there are many cruisers with an elevated tail and some concave. This allows you to hop on and off curbs or correct the board quickly.
They come in various shapes and sizes, even a penny board is considered a cruiser. Cruisers are lighter than longboards and generally taller than regular skateboards.
They allow for quick acceleration and provide balance and comfort. Cruisers aren’t meant for downhill and are less suitable for carving (though it’s still possible to carve a little).
The wheels are smaller compared to longboards but bigger when you look at regular skateboards. Typical the wheel size is anything between 55mm to 65mm.
Although a popsicle can fit wheels up to 60mm when attaching risers. They feature softer wheels to deal with rough terrains. The shapes vary so it’s hard to recognize a cruiser as such.
Old school skateboards, for example, could also be considered cruisers. These boards also have concave and a tail which allows for cruising and doing some basic tricks.
Don’t expect to grind curbs or ollie with these boards, the trucks and deck aren’t designed for that. It’s hard to say when a skateboard becomes a cruiser but anything over 8″ wide could serve that purpose.
Some cruisers have wheel wells to counter wheel bite and some have extended riser pads to deal with this problem.
The shape that’s suitable for you depends on personal preference, you just need to try before you know. The length is anything between 25″ and 37″ but shorter or a bit taller is possible.
When you want to go for a cruiser and you’re a beginner, make sure to get something that helps you keep your balance.
Landyachtz, Santa Cruz and Arbor offer a couple of excellent mini cruisers that are perfect for cruising and commuting. You can check them out at my recommended cruiser article, great for riding around campus for example.
Longboards are the tallest but the size varies. They also come in different shapes for different purposes. Longboards are used for long distances but also more extreme stuff like racing downhill.
These guys go at extreme speeds, it scares me just looking at them. Longboards are perfect for carving and when you develop skills you could try out some powerslides.
I’d say longboarding comes as close to surfing as it possibly gets, with the exception of surfskates. Of all the types available longboards offer the smoothest ride.
Pebbles and rough roads aren’t a problem for longboards, unlike popsicle skateboards. Because of their size longboards aren’t as responsive as cruisers and skateboards.
Acceleration is slower compared to skateboards and cruisers but the size of the board and wheels allow for greater speeds.
Once up to speed it’s easier to maintain momentum. This also means they are heavier, carrying a longboard around is a bit awkward but sometimes you have to.
Compared to cruisers and skateboards, longboards have different types of trucks. Trucks are wider because overall the boards are wider but they also have a sharper angle.
Another difference is the height, the trucks need more height to prevent the wheels from coming into contact with the board.
The biggest difference are the reverse kingpins. This makes them very carvy compared to skateboard trucks.
Like cruisers, longboards have big soft wheels only they usually start at 70mm. Bigger wheels don’t always mean a more comfortable ride, you’ll need the ride balance between size and hardness.
I have more experience with cruisers and regular skateboards but I can tell you that there are a lot of differences when it comes to wheels.
As for shapes, there are a few variations each designed for its own purpose. Drop decks are lower in the middle compared to the ends of the board.
This helps you stay balanced as your center of gravity is lower. Drop decks are recommended when you’re new to longboarding.
Some longboards are designed for carving, others for downhill and of course long-distance traveling.
Make sure to pick the right type of longboard! Longboards are the most expensive of the three types but they last longer as you won’t be doing much technical stuff.
Longboard Deck Styles
Not all longboards are the same, some are great for freestyle, dancing, downhill, and other for long distance riding.
Trucks are directly mounted beneath the longboard. A top mount is setup like a regular skateboard and have a higher center of gravity. Great choice for those who just want to cruise.
The trucks are mounted through the nose and tail resulting in a lower center of gravity. Great all around longboarding which is perfect for beginners.
Drops decks allow you to stand below your trucks because the front and back are lifted. These boards offer the most stable ride and the very low center of gravity.
Although these boards have a limited turn radius the are easy to push and stop.
A double drop longboard deck is both a drop-through mounted deck and drop deck. They offer the lowest center of gravity because of the drop through trucks mount mixed with a drop deck.
Great for downhill but lesss maneuverable.
Difference in Trucks
There are similarities between the trucks, they all have baseplates, bushings, hangars, and kingpins but there is a difference in construction.
Longboard trucks are often inverted compared to regular skateboards and small cruisers. This is also known as reversed trucks.
It means the trucks are assembled the other way around allowing for more maneuverability.
Longboard trucks are often wider to match the width of the board usually between 150mm and 180mm axles. Another big difference is the bushings.
They are often much softer than on regular skateboards to make turning and carving easier. This isn’t the case when it comes to downhill longboards.
These boards need stiffer bushings to prevent your board from becoming unstable at high speeds. Sometimes they also feature reversed or inverted kingpins.
This means the kingpin is sitting through the trucks hangar. It allows for more stability and they’re lower than skateboard/cruiser trucks.
The tradeoff is that they don’t allow for technical tricks but you usually don’t need that on a longboard.
Difference in Shape
Regular skateboards are popsicle shaped and have an angled nose and tail to pop the deck. They also have a concave which allows for technical tricks.
Some cruisers have a bit of concave but it’s usually more mellow compared to skateboards.
Some cruiser have a tail to help you jump up and down curbs and some are flat. it depends on what you’re planning to do with it.
Longboards don’t feature a nose and tail with an angle, sometimes they have a bit of concave where others are completely flat.
Obviously, they are longer compared to the other boards which provide more stability.
While classic skateboard shapes are somewhat identical (not considering nose, tail, and concave variations), longboards shapes come in pintails, flat-nose, swallowtails, and drop-through decks.
Flexibility and Board Feel
A longboard feels way different compared to a skateboard and cruiser. They’re often very flexible and allow for deep carving and allow for bigger turns without losing stability.
You can easily roll over cracks and hardly notice them. When riding a skateboard, you won’t have that luxury.
Skateboards are stiffer and have less momentum, but very responsive compared to longboards. Cracks and rough surfaces are unforgiving and can throw you off your board when you’re least expecting.
When you go for a cruise on a skateboard it can become uncomfortable after a while. You’ll get a tingling sensation in your feet and probably sweat a lot.
Skateboards are between 30″ and 32″ in length and the width varies between 7″ and 9″. Cruisers are usually a bit smaller and narrower than regular skateboards, but there’s a lot of variation to give an exact number.
They go from 25″ to 37″ where the latter is closer to a longboard. Longboards can be huge, some as long as surfboards but in general, they are 33″ to 59″ in length and come in widths varying from 9″ to 10″.
When to Pick a Skateboard
Pick a regular skateboard when you want to do technical stuff. The learning curve is a bit steeper compared to longboards or cruisers.
When you can ride a skateboard, you can ride everything. Perhaps not those pesky penny boards, I still feel uncomfortable riding those tiny boards.
If you plan on visiting skateparks, jump off an on curbs and really want to get to ollie and kickflip down, look no further.
It will be a painful journey but the rewards are adrenaline, accomplishment, and bruises. To be fair, it’s much more fun to go from place A to B while doing some tricks along the way instead of just cruising.
I’m a bit biased though. You’re less likely to fall on a longboard than a classic so I guess that’s a pro when it comes to embarrassment.
Still, it’s all part of skateboarding, being embarrassed won’t get you very far.
I selected a few skateboards that are perfect for beginners, they’re not too expensive and are made of decent components.
I consider them the best skateboards you can get if you don’t want to assemble one yourself.
When to Go for a Cruiser
A cruiser is meant to transport you from place A to B when the distance is limited. Cruisers are great for commuting and very portable.
If you need to hop on a bus you’ll have no problems holding on to it and it won’t take up much space when you store it.
Want to commute in the city or campus? Go with a cruiser. Their maneuverability will help you avoid obstacles and most important, vehicles and people.
If your area has hills and slopes you need to make sure to limit your speed. A cruiser becomes unstable when you go too fast and may start wobbling.
Check out a selection of portable mini cruisers.
When to Pick a Longboard
If you want to travel long distances without much effort a longboard is what to look for. I wouldn’t recommend using them in a city or crowded places as it’s harder to reduce speed compared to a cruiser of a classic.
If you’re in doubt between a regular skateboard and a longboard consider it’s easier to learn skateboarding on a longboard.
Once you feel comfortable you can always decide to pick a regular skateboard.
Is One Better Than the Other?
It’s like comparing apples and oranges really. Each board is designed for its own purpose so you can’t really compare them.
Longboards allow for greater speed and can you can travel great distances without soaking yourself in sweat.
Some longboarders love extreme speeds and steep hills where others just want to go for long relaxing rides.
Just like technical skating, longboarding and cruising are a lifestyle and there are communities everywhere. This has been going on since the ’50s when surfers invented skateboarding.
Cruisers are in between a classic skateboard and a longboard. Some cruisers allow for a couple of tricks while still providing a comfortable ride.
Easy to pick up and great short distances. Check out my post about longboard and cruisers if you’re still unsure what to go for.
A skateboard is great for tricks and technical stuff but not so much for cruising unless you modify it.
What They Have in Common
All types are great fun to ride and each has its own subculture. In any case, it’s more fun to roll with friends rather than riding on your own.
If you are looking for people to skate with, try local meetups or Facebook groups. They all have similar components although construction and materials vary.
Regular skateboards need trucks that are stronger and stay in one piece because of grinding curbs, jumping stairs, etc.
As for technique, the basics are the same to ride only longboards often position their feet differently due to the shape of the board.
Quality matters, don’t buy them in toy stores. Longboards, cruisers, and skateboards need to consist of quality components to get the most out of it.
Cheap materials will wear down fast and are more expensive in the long run.
Some Last Tips
If you decide to buy one of these skateboards, go to your local skate shop. These guys know their stuff and get you the type of board you need.
Seeing the different boards in real life is better than looking at a picture. You also get to feel and test the board which is harder online, unless you can return it for free.
If you do buy one online, test it out on a piece of carpet first. This way the wheels, trucks, and board will stay clean and you can still return it. Make sure your shoes are clean!
You also might consider wearing a helmet and or knee pads. You will fall and it will take a while to learn to balance properly.