Confused about the differences between a longboard vs skateboard vs cruiser?
I’ve been skateboarding and longboarding for over 15 years, so I’ll do my best to explain it.
You’re gonna hear me say words like typically, mostly, usually because at the end of the day there are so many different variations for each.
Don’t take this as the end all be all, but this article will give you…
- An explaination of each board (longboard, skateboard & cruiser)
- How to choose the right one for you
For those of you that want a quick answer, you’ll find it right below.
What’s the difference between a longboard vs skateboard vs cruiser?
The difference between a longboard, skateboard, and cruiser comes down to deck shape, trucks, and wheels. Longboards typically have more deck space, softer wheels, and can handle higher speeds. Skateboards have a traditional popsicle shape (best for tricks). And cruisers are a crossbreed of both with a smaller deck shape and softer wheels.
If you’d rather watch a video explanation, check it out below.
Alright, it’s time to break it down to help you understand the differences.
The first thing you’ll want to do is…
1. Define Your Riding Style
Answer the below question…
What’s your riding environment like?
Still confused? Are you going to be cruising in a rough environment? Are there a lot of pebbles and cracks? Do you live in a hilly area?
Answering the above questions will help you narrow down what board type is best.
Let me clarify even more with specific examples.
1. From ages five to about fourteen, all I wanted to do was learn flip tricks. Sure, there are some people out there that do flip tricks on their longboards, but it’s rare. Especially if you’re a beginner, it’s best to start with either a skateboard or cruiser. Skateboards have a more aggressive tail and nose, making it easier to flip the board.
I would frequently visit my local skatepark, which had a smooth concrete floor. Because the majority of my riding was on smooth surfaces, I didn’t need a softer wheel to absorb impacts. Defining what type of riding and my environment, led me to a traditional skateboard.
2. Fast forward to high school, I wanted to get a lot of speed and learn how to do slides. I was often riding on rougher asphalt. This led me to get a Loaded Tan Tien longboard because I wanted to learn how to cruise downhill and do slides. I needed more deck space and softer wheels compared to a traditional skateboard.
3. Currently, I’d rather just cruise around town, which is mainly on rougher pavement. Occasionally doing a flip trick here or there. I need softer wheels because of the rougher environment and since I want to do some flip tricks, having a smaller deck with an aggressive kicktail is a must. I ended up picking the Landyachtz Dinghy Blunt, which has soft wheels (compared to a skateboard) but still offers a kicktail for some tricks.
There are quite a few differences when it comes to the decks of a longboard vs skateboard vs cruiser. Below are some common characteristics for each.
Typical Longboard Length: 34″ – 46″
Typical Longboard Width: 8.5″ – 10″
The first thing you’ll notice is how the longboard is obviously bigger in size.
Because longboards are obviously longer, they have bigger wheelbases, which is the length from one truck to the other. A longer wheelbase makes riding more stable at higher speeds and carving not as snappy. Depending on the type, flex is another characteristic of longboards that you don’t find on skateboards and (usually) not on cruisers.
Typical Skateboard Length: 31″ – 33″
Typical Skateboard Width: 7.25″ – 8.5″
Skateboards will range anywhere from 31-33 inches and about 7.25 to 8.5 inches wide. I think I started out on a 7.25 deck when I was younger but once I realized I loved transition skating like bowls and halfpipes, I only got something above 8 inches. Obviously they have the most aggressive kicktail and nose, because they’re made to do flip tricks. They have some slight concave but the defining characteristic is that they have the most aggressive kicktail and nose.
Typical Cruiser Length: 28″ – 34″
Typical Cruiser Width: 8″ – 10″
Cruisers range from 28 to 34 inches and are typically 8 to 10 inches wide. They’re a mix between a skateboard and longboard.
Lowkey kicktails and some type of nose is common among cruisers, so you can do flip tricks if you want.
There are two common types of truck used on longboards, skateboards and cruiser, which are…
- Reverse Kingpin Trucks (RKPs)
- Traditional Kingpin Trucks (TKPs)
Trucks on a longboard are typically reverse kingpins, which is the one on the left side of the image above. They’re inverted compared to traditional kingpins, which you’ll find on skateboards and most cruisers.
There are a lot of different characteristics between RKPs and TKPs, but to put it simply usually RKPs are more stable at higher speeds, and overall better for carving.
Whereas TKPs are lower to the ground, lighter, and better for grinding since the kingpin is behind the hanger. TKPs are often found on skateboards and cruisers, but some cruisers have RKP trucks.
Wheels on longboards and cruisers are usually softer and wider (78a-85a range) compared to skateboard wheels (95a-101a). The softer the wheel, the better for cruising on the street because they absorb pebbles and cracks easier.
Easy to understand, right?
If you roll over a rock with a softer wheel, it’ll absorb it better than a harder wheel.
Smaller and harder wheels are used on skateboards since you can easily do powerslides and they’re less forgiving if you get wheel bite after landing a trick.
Cruiser wheels are usually a crossbreed of a longboard and skateboard wheel. Smaller than a longboard wheel and softer than a skateboard wheel.
How To Choose?
Now that you have a rough idea of the differences in the deck, trucks and wheels, you’re probably wondering which style is right for you.
I’m going to try to break it down as simple as possible.
1. Do you want to do flip tricks, grind rails, shred skateparks, become the next Nyjah Huston?
If you answered yes to any of those, then you’re probably best off with a traditional skateboard.
2. Do you want to bomb hills, throw slides or just want something with the most deck space?
Then you’re most likely best off with a longboard. However, there are a few different categories of longboards. If you’re confused about which category is right for you, check out my beginner’s longboard guide.
3. Do you want to do occasional tricks, but mostly want something to cruise around town on?
If that’s the case, then a cruiser is probably your best option. Maybe something like the Landyachtz Dinghy (one of my favorite cruisers at the moment)
Everyday I get emails from people that overanalyze their situation. I wanted to put this together as a simple way for beginners to understand the differences of a longboard vs skateboard vs cruiser.
Don’t get too hung up on the technicals. Just make a decision, because it’s all about getting outside, shredding, and having fun.
Get out there dude, what’re you doing?!