Cruiser skateboard
© Dan Farrell on Unsplash
Skateboarding

What is a cruiser skateboard? Everything you need to know

TK
By Red Bull Editorial Team
5 min readPublished on
Cruisers, longboards, they're all just special kinds of skateboards, right? Not exactly. What we typically call skateboards are broken into three main categories: longboard, cruiser, and skateboard, and each one is pretty different.
Are you totally new to boarding? Do you think "ollie" is your weird friend and "goofy" is a cartoon dog? If so, welcome to everything you need to know about cruisers. Or have you been grinding for years and need to settle an argument? Either way, we've got you covered.

What Is a Cruiser Skateboard?

A cruiser skateboard is a specific type of board designed for cruising down streets, city environments, or basically any level pavement. Many cruiser boards have a kicktail, which is the part that curves up at the end on the back. That isn't always the case, though, and cruisers aren't specialized for doing tricks like skateboards are. They're also not designed for going fast or downhill.
Here are some key design aspects of a cruiser:
  • Medium or shorter deck length.
  • Kicktail in the back, sometimes.
  • Big, tough wheels compared to skateboards.
  • Easy to transport.
  • Shorter than longboards but with a similar purpose.
  • Designed for local travel.
Some people are so specific about what a proper skateboard is, they won't even say the term "cruiser skateboard" and insist on saying "cruiser." Just understand that cruiser means a good board for short cruises on level terrain.

How Are Cruisers, Longboards, and Skateboards Different?

Not everyone wants to learn and master skateboard tricks. Many just use a board as a way to get around. With that said, the following should help:
  • Longboard: Designed for long distances and maximum comfort. Less portable, but relaxing on long rides. Not suited to tricks or fast riding.
  • Cruiser: Designed for short distances. More portable, but requires better balance. Usually has a kicktail for convenient pickup or light manual tricks.
  • Skateboard: Designed specifically for tricks, speed, and showing off your skills. Not as convenient for straight travel.
Most proper skateboards are double-kick, meaning they have raised ends at the front and back, as opposed to a cruiser with just a back tail, if that. Further, cruisers and longboards have improved stability due to higher risers and bigger, softer wheels. These wheels keep the rider secure in case they go over a small obstacle.
If calm, level riding is what you're after, the big choice is longboard versus cruiser. Longboards are like cruisers, except their length makes balancing a bit easier but turning a bit stiffer. For long, straight commutes, longboards are great. If you make a lot of turns in day-to-day travel, consider a cruiser.

What About Mini Cruisers?

Mini cruisers are a sub-group, and exactly what they sound like: cruisers, but smaller for even more convenience. They're usually made of extra-light materials and they appeal to riders who want tighter turning and caving potential. Another reason to get a mini is that it might fit in your backpack, while a regular cruiser would stick out of the top.
Mini cruisers are popular with both youngsters first learning how to ride and intermediate folk who want more control. Certain mini cruisers might be viable for basic tricks and flips, but they're still not great for going fast.

Is a Cruiser Right For You?

To know if a cruiser-type board is right for you, first decide whether you want to progress at skateboarding learning tricks and skating ramps like, say, Tony Hawk once did. If so, and you don't have very good skating skills yet, a cruiser is a good place to start. You can graduate to a double-kick or freestyle skateboard later.
If skating as a sport isn't your thing and you just want a ride to and from your local haunts with more convenience than a bike, try out a longboard or a cruiser. Compare and contrast the experience to decide which suits you better. The longboard may be more comfortable if you are a complete beginner. If you have the balance down, though, it may be a good idea to move on to a cruiser, as it's smaller, cheaper, and faster.

Choosing the Right Type of Cruiser Skateboard

Cruisers, just like longboards or skateboards, can have a lot of sub-categories, often overlapping with each other. Assuming you know that you want some kind of cruiser board, here's a primer for types and terms you'll see in stores:
  • Mini Cruisers: Awesome for younger kids and still great for those who want a small, light board. Mini cruisers cost about $40.
  • Cruiser: Generally comfortable for kids and adults of all sizes. The price usually ranges from $50 to $80.
  • Penny boards: Small, low-cost plastic mini cruiser or cruiser. Good turning and narrow deck, so good for kids. Prices range depending on brand, but they're often $30 and up.
  • Surfskate: Also called a carve, this is a special design that lets the board tilt, like surfing. They're their own thing, popular with surfers, but they still work for cruising. There are surfskate longboards, cruisers, and skateboards, each with varying prices.
If you have experience and want to start doing tricks, you could also opt for a standard freestyle skateboard and treat that like a cruiser until you're ready. If that's not in the cards, however, the options above should prove handy. In the end, a cruiser is a solid middle-point between a traditional skateboard and longboard, and it's great for all kinds of gents and ladies, depending on what aspects of boarding they care about.