There’s a common misconception when it comes to skateboards. People believe that a deck with wheels is a skateboard but nowadays, there are many different kinds of wheels.
Old school skateboards offer the simplicity of a wooden deck with hard wheels whereas there are also cruisers and longboards which have garnered popularity over the years thanks to their unique designs and features.
Both longboards and cruisers are both larger than skateboards and are often confused because of their similar structure.
However, longboards do not have a kicktail whereas cruisers and skateboards do.
The easy way to remember the difference is that longboards are ideal for long distances, cruisers for quick commutes and easily portable and skateboards are for the technical tricks and flips.
They may have a similar aesthetic but there are major differences in their design and features which makes them suitable for different purposes.
In this guide, we’ll be taking you through all of these similarities and differences so you will be able to identify a longboard against a skateboard.
Never again will you find yourself confused and you’ll be able to know which model is the best for you and your needs.
We’ll be taking you through some of the main features that can be found in the various kinds of boards followed by an in depth description of skateboards, cruisers and longboards before rounding off the article with some tips and tricks to bear in mind when deciding which one is the best one for you.
The main differences between the three models is the size. Skateboards are the smallest with an average size being in between 30” to 32”, cruisers can range between 25” and 37” and longboards are usually 36” and above.
It may not seem significant but the size of the board makes all the difference when it comes to the functionality of the product.
For example, longboards aren’t capable of performing the intricate tricks and flips that skateboards can because of their long size.
If you attempt to do ollies or flips on a longboard then you’ll end up damaging your board and injuring yourself and others.
Longboards have inverted trucks which means that they will travel slower on flat surfaces but are more capable and durable for travelling long distances.
Skateboards are rougher and harder which makes them ideal for tricks and technical stunts. Cruisers sit in between the two with mini cruisers capable of performing some stunts depending on the wheels whereas full size cruisers are more like longboards.
All cruisers are suitable for shorter distances such as daily commutes and are easy to carry around when you are not using it.
It may not seem significant but the wheels are a hugely important part of the board.
Skateboards have harder wheels because they are commonly used on smoother surfaces such as skateparks whereas cruisers and longboards have softer wheels which makes them perfect for riding in real life environments because they are capable of riding over rough and uneven surfaces.
The shapes of the boards all differ as well with cruisers looking like a wider and longer version of a skateboard.
Longboards have a unique shape with points at both ends which makes it the easiest board to control. Because of the small size and thin width, skateboards are the most difficult to control because they take longer to adjust to and balance on.
Before you make that important decision as to which board to purchase, always think about what you want to get from the board and what you’ll be using it for.
Try to figure out how much you intend to use it, what environments you’ll be using it for. Once you’ve considered this, you’ll be able to make a decision that is going to be hugely beneficial and give you many years of continued use.
What do these boards have in common?
Although the different kinds of skateboards have their own purposes and features, there are a lot of features that they do share.
The first thing to bear in mind is that the components used to make the skateboards are very similar with the construction and materials differing depending on the model itself.
One thing that is hugely important no matter what skateboard you purchase is to also go to a professional skate shop.
Avoid toy shops at all cost because they are not made from the quality materials that boards should be made from and considering the potential injury and damage that can occur when learning how to skateboard, purchasing from a professional skate shop is going to reduce the risk of long term damage.
The board is more likely to stay in one piece when purchased from a skate shop and will be a lot more durable than those that are found in toy shops.
As you may have noticed, trucks are hugely significant in the design of the different boards.
Made up of base plates, bushings, hangars and kingpins, trucks have the same features but the construction differs depending on the model.
For example, longboards have inverted trucks which assists with the maneuverability because it takes longer for longboards to respond to turns.
Because they are wider in width, the trucks are wider and usually measure between 150mm and 180mm so they can withstand the weight of the longboard.
The bushings are another important feature of the trucks. They are softer on old school skateboards because this makes turning easier and quicker to respond.
Because longboards are designed to go downhill, the bushings are harder to assist in maintaining the control when you’re travelling at fast speeds avoiding any accidents.
The kingpins also differ depending on the model and are either reversed or inverted and they sit through the truck’s hangar.
This means that you’ll have more stability and control. On the other hand, kingpins disallow you from doing any technical tricks on the board so bear this in mind.
The shapes of the different boards are designed uniquely for a reason. Old school skateboards are popsicle shaped with an accented nose and tail that stick out each end.
They also boast a concave, a slight dip in the middle, meaning that you can do technical tricks. Cruisers can also come with a slight concave but not always due to the fact that they are not primarily designed for tricks.
Some cruisers also feature a tail which helps you to mount curbs whereas others are flat. It’s completely dependent on what you want to use the board for.
Shapewise, longboards are the most different of the three aesthetically. This is because they don’t have a nose or tail at an angle.
Like cruisers, they can come with or without a concave but the obvious difference is the long shape as well as the various shapes such as pintail, swallowtail and drop through decks that are available depending on what activities you’ll be doing.
Longboards are better for adults who are learning for the first time because they can withstand heavier weights as well as assist in giving you easier balance and control than the other two models.
Although they may look similar, boards can be made from a variety of materials depending on the style and what they are made for.
One board may feel completely different to another and can make a huge difference depending on what you want to get from the board.
Overall, longboards tend to be more flexible than skateboards and cruisers because they take longer to respond which means you can ride over rougher surfaces and not be affected by them.
However, old school skateboards are more rigid and don’t provide that. Skateboards have less momentum but have a faster response time than the other models
The flexibility of the board also correlates with the comfortability of the ride. B
ecause skateboards are extremely stiff, they are not suitable or comfortable for longer journeys whereas longboards are ideal for longer journeys because of how flexible the materials are.
If you do skate on an old school skateboard for a long time, you’ll begin to feel a lot of pain in your legs and feet and are more likely to sweat profusely as well.
Skateboards are the traditional old school model and they are the kind of board most people have in mind when it comes to learning how to skatebook. These boards are used for technical riding and tricks.
They are the hardest board to learn on because of the 7” to 9” width. The narrow deck is preferred by technical skaters because they have the capability to flip quickly.
These boards feature a nose and kicktail at each end that curve upwards which is ideal for jumping and flipping.
The curved shape across the main body of the deck, known as the concave, can affect how quick the deck can respond and feel for the rider.
As mentioned before, old school skateboards are capable of a variety of tricks such as grinding ledges, popping ollies and flips among many other difficult skating techniques.
For those who want to learn how to do tricks then a skateboard is the model that you need to purchase as longboards and cruisers aren’t capable of them.
The downside to old school skateboards is that they are not meant for transportation like cruisers and longboards.
This is due to the hard wheels which makes them extremely difficult to ride over rough real life surfaces. However, it can be done if you swap the wheels for larger and softer wheels that can withstand the harder and uneven surfaces.
This will take a little time to disassemble and reassemble but for those who don’t want to invest in two separate boards then this is an alternative you can consider.
If you’re wanting to invest in a skateboard then it’s best to look into a model by a reputable brand.
This is because skateboarding requires some potentially dangerous tricks and you want to make sure that the board you purchase is made from the highest quality materials.
Not only will this give you plenty of enjoyable experiences but it will also ensure that you are safe. Bear in mind that old school skateboarders take their craft incredibly seriously and view it as art.
They will always be able to help should you need it but always respect their space also when they are practicing their tricks.
Is a skateboard right for me?
Skateboards are the best choice if you are wanting to learn how to do the technical tricks and more difficult flips.
Because skateboards are the most difficult kind of board to learn, you’ll easily be able to pick up riding cruisers or longboards should you decide to in the future. Once you’ve learned the basics on a regular skateboard, you can ride any model you want.
They are the board to get if you’re wanting to go to skateboards and learn how to ollie and kickflip. You can also jump off and on curbs as well as sliding down rails.
Anything is possible if you’re willing to dedicate the time and effort into learning how to skateboard. Bear in mind that it is the most dangerous model as you’ll likely come into harm’s way due to the danger that comes with learning these complex tricks.
Cruiser skateboards are incredibly popular because they are ideal for commuting or travelling short distances comfortably. They are extremely durable and enjoyable to ride.
The deck of the cruisers tended to be flat for easiness, however, nowadays, more cruisers are designed with an elevated tail and a slight concave. This allows you to mount on and off curbs with ease as well as garnering control of the board itself.
Cruisers are the most versatile board on the market because they are available in a variety of shapes and sizes.
With mini cruisers available for those who want a combination of cruiser features and old school skateboard features to a full size cruiser for full comfortability for daily commutes, cruisers are capable of quick acceleration as well as being easy to balance and control.
With soft wheels that are larger than skateboards but smaller than longboards, cruisers are ideal for journeys along rough surfaces. The wheels on cruisers tend to range from 55mm to 65mm but you can change the wheels if you wish.
The downside to cruisers is that they are not suitable for downhill riding as you will lose control and balance which can damage the board. They’re also not ideal for carving although you can carve a little but be wary that this can also damage the board if you do it a lot.
Because cruisers are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, it can be difficult to distinguish a cruiser just from looks.
Skateboards can look very similar to cruisers so make sure that you are researching beyond the aesthetic because you want to ensure that the board you buy is going to give you the quality and features you need.
You can do basic tricks on a smaller cruiser but attempting harder tricks will result badly for the board and yourself potentially. It cannot be stressed that grinding curbs or ollies on cruisers should absolutely be avoided because they are not designed for this purpose.
If you’re unsure whether the board is a cruiser or not because the length seems familiar then look at the width. If the width is over 8” wide then it can be considered a cruiser and you’ll be able to easily find your balance and control.
Cruisers may also have wheel wells which prevent wheel bite meaning that they are less likely to get caught as well as extended riser pads to prevent the board from being too close to the ground.
When it comes to deciding what shaped cruiser is best for you, it’s all dependent on your own personal preference. It’s advised to try as many different shapes before making your final decision as you may find a particular length and shape to suit you best.
The most important thing to consider is ensuring that you have perfect balance and control over the board rather than eyeing up the most beautiful design. This will mean that you’re going to enjoy your skateboarding experiences much more.
Is a cruiser right for me?
Cruisers are the best option for those who want to use their skateboard daily for their commute or short distances.
The easiest way to simply travel from A to B with a board that is portable due to its small and lightweight design, you’ll have no issues incorporating a cruiser into your lifestyle if you’re wanting a board that is durable and usable every day.
The maneuverability is fantastic as it will assist in avoiding obstacles preventing any collisions with vehicles or other people.
Bear in mind that if your commute consists of hills or slopes then you will have to adjust your speed accordingly to avoid any accidents.
If you begin to lose control then your board may wobble and shake which will cause damage to the board and potentially injure yourself.
Longboards are what the name suggests, the tallest board in length.
They are available in a variety of sizes usually 37” and above and the shapes can also vary. Longboards are designed for long distances and can be used for racing downhill thanks to the control.
Despite their slower speed on flat surfaces, they go extremely fast when travelling downhill so make sure you have practiced the basic techniques and really have control over your board if this is what you are wanting to use your board for.
Longboards can be used for carving as well as powerslides when you’re more advanced.
Longboards are a popular choice among surfers who want to try out skateboarding because they look and are constructed in a similar way to surfboards.
For those who want the smoothest ride, longboards are the best model to get because uneven surfaces filled with rocks and twigs are no problem at all thanks to the large soft wheels.
The downside to longboards is that their size and design mean that they are not as responsive as cruisers or skateboards.
They do go slower than the other models because they require a lot more power to speed up but the large wheels mean that you can generate faster speeds.
When you have gotten to your desired speed, it is easy to control and maintain your balance whilst riding.
Another disadvantage is that longboards can be awkward to carry around because of their size and shape so bear that in mind if you are using it for a daily commute.
Another major difference with longboards is their trucks which are wider because the deck itself is wider. The trucks also have a sharper angle to assist with the control and the response of the board.
The trucks in longboards have to be higher so the wheels are not coming into contact with the board and because the wheels are large, the board seems to sit a lot higher from the ground than cruisers or skateboards.
The wheels on longboards tend to start at 70mm but are usually larger than this.
Bigger wheels can help make a smoother ride but don’t always guarantee it, however, the soft texture of the wheels makes the difference between a rough and smooth ride because the polyurethane can withstand any rocks, twigs or uneven surfaces.
The wheels are hugely important when it comes to choosing your model because it’s all determined by the surfaces you’re planning to skate on.
The shapes can differ and are suited for different kinds of journeys.
Drop decks tend to be lower in the middle and then raised slightly at the ends which helps gain balance and control and are best suited for those who are beginners to skateboarding and need to learn the basics.
Where the skateboard dips in the middle is where you will center your balance and it makes it easier to perfect your stance.
If you’re wanting to travel downhill or long distance travelling then decks that are more even in the middle are best because the weight is distributed evenly across the deck and makes it easier to generate speed and comfortability.
Is a longboard right for me?
Longboards are the right choice for those who are wanting to travel longer distances and want a ride that is smooth and comfortable.
Because of their size, they’re not ideal for those travelling in crowded places or in city centres because you’ll lose control easily and you won’t be able to slow down fast enough to avoid collisions.
However, longboards are the easiest board to learn on because of their size and wide width.
Which is the best model to purchase?
It may seem like a cop out answer but there is no “best” model to purchase because each kind of board has been made for specific purposes whether it is for tricks or long distances or shorter commutes.
The best model that you can purchase is the one that is going to serve your needs perfectly. If you purchase a skateboard when you plan to go for long commutes, then you’re not going to have positive experiences because it’s not going to give you the smooth rides and longevity that you will require from it.
You can make alterations to your board according to what you’re wanting to use it for but this can take extra money and time.
It’s always better to invest in a board that’s going to serve you well from the get go. If you’re wanting to use your board for a variety of activities then think about what you will be using it the most for and choose accordingly.
If you’re unsure which is the best one for you to go for then go to a shop and see which one you feel the most comfortable on.
Cruisers are often seen as the middle road as you can embark on smooth rides like longboards and they are capable of doing some basic tricks like old school skateboards.
Cruisers are among the most popular models because of how versatile they are and they can be a safe choice for those who are unsure. However, if you are wanting to venture long distances then a longboard is going to be the best selection for you.
To conclude this guide, always make sure you are purchasing your board from a professional skate shop where you can receive their advice as well as choosing a board that you know is going to have the quality and longevity that you know.
Also, seeing the boards in real life and trying them is going to give you a better feel but purchasing online is also an option as a lot of brands allow you to return the board for free.
Plan out what you want to get out of the board, where you plan on skating and how much you’ll be using it.
Knowing this before you embark on your research is going to help you enormously when it comes to narrowing down your choices.
Always purchase safety gear as well, especially when learning the basics, because this will reduce the risk of injury and also means you’re not going to suffer from long term damage.
Lastly, have fun and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Skateboarding can be tricky at first but once you’ve gotten used to it, you’ll not want to put it down!