Gone are the days when a skateboard meant a wooden plank, a set of wheels, and a pair of trucks. Some people may still call anything that fits this description a skateboard, but there are some key differences. These differences only become more apparent when comparing two unique and popular types of skateboards – Longboards and Cruisers.
In this comparison guide we’ll be helping parents differentiate between two of the most popular types of skateboards for transportation – Longboards vs Cruisers.
If you’re in the market for a new kids skateboard, these are among the most common terms you’ll come across. Which one you choose will entirely depend on what your child wants their skateboard for – and truth be told, they may not even know this themselves yet!
Let’s cut the jargon and get straight down to business – here’s what it means when we talk about longboards and cruisers.
Defining Longboards And Cruisers
We feel that before we get stuck into a comparison of these two boards, it’s worthwhile defining what exactly we mean when we talk about them. We’re talking about commuter boards, or boards that are best for distance riding, getting your kid A to B, not the types of boards you see kids doing tricks within the skate park.
You could argue that the overall look and feel of a cruiser is closer to a traditional skateboard than a longboard, and we’d be inclined to agree. A cruiser’s wheels and deck shape (that’s the platform they stand on) tend to be the two things that set it apart from a classic street skateboard.
Cruisers are mostly shorter and lightweight, quick and nimble enough to handle tight inner-city areas. The term “Longboard” denotes any four-wheeled board that’s not a traditional street skateboard.
What is a Longboard?
Typically, as the name suggests, longboards are the tallest boards available, but their actual length and width can vary by brand. They’re also available in a variety of shapes, depending on their intended purpose.
They’re typically used for long-distance rides and extreme situations like downhill racing.
Longboards are great for carving and with some practice, your little boarder can even attempt some power slides on them.
Except for surf skates, riding on a longboard is the closest you can get to surfing. Of all the boards you can buy, longboards offer the smoothest rides. Rough terrain isn’t a problem for them.
Some longboards come with a drop deck, where the middle is lower than the ends. This helps you to stay balanced, a helpful feature for beginner skateboarders.
What is a Cruiser?
Cruisers, on the other hand, are designed for urban commuting or just simply rolling around comfortably, but still being able to carry the board around with ease. Much like longboards, cruisers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, many Penny boards are often considered cruisers.
Usually, cruisers have a flat surface, but there are those with an elevated tail and a slight concave deck for hopping on or off curbs or correcting the board.
Unlike longboards, cruisers are not suitable for downhill riding and carving. This is because they don’t offer the same stability as longboards. Their wheels are smaller than that of a longboard but slightly bigger when compared to a regular skateboard.
When looking for a kid’s first skateboard, a “mini cruiser” may be more appropriate, shorter in length and width. You do want them to stand comfortably, though, so a 27″ may be the most appropriate depending on their size and skills.
Longboard Vs Cruiser: The Key Differences
Now that we’ve got a solid definition of what we mean when we’re talking about longboards and cruisers, it’s time to look closer at their key differences.
We’ve broken down these differences into five key areas: Deck Size, Wheel Size, Stability, Shape, and Portability.
This is the most obvious difference between a longboard and a cruiser, and it informs the key differences below.
In terms of size, longboards tend to range between 32 and 59 inches in length, whereas cruisers are between 22 and 32 inches and usually under 8.5″ wide.
Generally speaking, the wheels on a longboard are bigger then on a cruiser, anything from 55mm to 65mm. Both cruisers and longboards have larger wheels than classic skateboards.
Speaking generally, a longboard is more stable than a cruiser. This is because they tend to have a longer deck, which translates to a longer wheelbase, bigger wheels and wider trucks.
When riding a longboard, this translates to an added room for foot placement and a higher degree of shock absorption when going over rough terrain.
Most longboards also have a degree of flex. In layman’s terms, flex is the measure of how “bendy” the deck is. Having a degree of flex makes longer cruises more comfortable on a longboard, as there’s an element of giving when riding.
In complete contrast, cruisers have close to zero flex in them. Owing to the fact that cruisers are smaller than longboards, it would be dangerous to have too much flex in the deck, as you would sacrifice stability.
Owing to the fact that there is a huge difference in deck size between cruisers and longboards, the shape of these boards tends to be very different too.
A regular skateboard tends to be popsicle shaped with a concave, which allows riders to perform tricks.
Most cruisers are slightly concave, but this is typically less than regular skateboards. Many cruisers have a kick tail to aid you to get up and down curbs.
Longboards, on the other hand, don’t have a nose or tail with an angle. There are longboards with a slight concave, but most are completely flat. Their shapes range from flat nose and pintails to drop-through decks and swallowtails.
As longboards have a larger deck, they’re always going to be heavier than a cruiser board. This affects a longboard’s portability, in that when compared to a cruiser board, they’re less portable.
Longboards usually weigh around 4.5 kg (10lbs)2.5 whereas cruiser boards are around the 2.5 kg (5.5lbs) mark.
If you’re looking to use a board for a commute, a cruiser board would be ideal.
So will your child be better with a Longboard or a Cruiser?
A longboard has greater stability and is more comfortable in long-distance rides. If your kid is a newbie in the world of skating, getting a longboard is a great place to start. Due to their greater stability, they should feel more confident when out on a longboard.
Cruisers are ideal for seasoned skaters. They’re perfect for short distances in congested areas where manoeuvring is needed. They’re also much smaller and lighter than longboards, meaning they’re easy to carry around; some will even fit in your kids’ backpack!
If you’re deciding on a board to buy, the biggest factor to take into consideration is what exactly your child plans on doing with it.
- If you’re looking for something that will get you from A to B in a crowded setting, with perhaps the occasional trick thrown in, then a cruiser is your kids best bet.
- However, if they’ll be making longer rides, perhaps keeping up with their friends on bikes through all sorts of terrain and could use the extra stability, then a longboard is the way to go.
Longboard vs Cruiser vs Skateboard
Now while we’ve referred to longboards and cruisers as a type of skateboard, let’s not forget there’s also the classic street skateboard.
If it’s pulling tricks in the skatepark your little boarder is most looking forward to, rather than the distance riding, it may not be a longboard or a cruiser you should be shopping for.
A classic skateboard, in comparison, tends to be a stiffer board with smaller wheels. They don’t have the same momentum as a longboard or cruiser, and they can’t handle rough terrain, but this is what your kid will need for bowl skating, jumps and flips.
Self confessed owners of a fleet of kids skateboards now, we feel your pain of that initial buying decision!
Especially if you want it to be for that special gift, we suggest you question exactly what the skateboard will be used for before investing in their first board or handing over their hard-earned pocket money.
Let’s face it – once you’re skater kid gets to grips with the starting and stopping, then learning a few basic tricks they’re bound to want more than one board for different occasions!
© Kids Bike Scoot Skate