Skateboard vs. Longboard vs. Cruiser: The Differences Explained

All of them have four wheels, two trucks, and a deck—but what are the actual differences between a skateboard, a longboard, and a cruiser? There are quite a few actually, and whether you’re a beginner or long-time skateboarder—it’s good to clearly understand what sets these boards apart. 

After exploring different skate styles and working in a skateboard distribution, I learned that the primary differences between a skateboard, longboard, and a cruiser skateboard are not just the size and shape—it’s the different skate disciplines that each board is ideal for! Don’t worry, no matter which one you choose, they’re all a lot of fun!  

If you’re a beginner looking for your first-ever skateboard, it’s essential to know the individual components that make up a skateboard. That way, you can know what to look for to use for your desired style of skating. 

Now, let’s look into each board type and learn about how you can shred on each one!

Skateboards Explained

Standard skateboards are probably the most common types you would see in skateparks or when you see people doing cool jumps, flips, gaps, or jumping down stairs. 

Anyone who has ever been on the internet or outside the house has probably seen these “popsicle-shaped” boards. They’re also probably one of the first shapes that come to your mind whenever someone says “skateboard”. 

However, these boards didn’t always look like this. The shape of these boards evolved from old-school skateboard shapes that look quite similar to the cruiser skateboards we’re going to discuss later. 

Because of the evolution of the tricks you can do on a skateboard, the popsicle shape has emerged from these old school shapes and is perfect for doing almost every new and old trick.

Standard Skateboard Components

The components that make up a skateboard are:

  • Skateboard decks – Popsicle skateboard decks are usually around 27 to 32 inches long and 7.5 to 9 inches wide. This is a perfect size for stability when going fast while still being narrow enough to perform flip tricks, grinds, slides, and other sick combos! Skateboard decks are also symmetrical with a kick on both the nose (front) and tail (back)—allowing skaters to do manuals, kick turns, and pop ollie and nollie-based tricks. Although most standard skateboards look the same, some companies—especially old-school companies create slightly different shapes for the nose and tail of their boards. 
  • Trucks – The trucks are usually 139 to 159 centimeters wide, depending on the width of the deck. These trucks are perfect for grinding ledges, rails, and coping.
  • Wheels – Almost every type of skateboard uses urethane wheels. Popsicle skateboards are equipped with wheels with a harder urethane formula that rolls better on smooth surfaces. The difference is in their size, which is around 50 to 60mm in diameter.
  • Bearings and Hardware – Most skateboard types use the same bearings and hardware. The length of the hardware bolts (that holds the trucks on the board) may differ slightly. The nuts which are on the axles and kingpin of the skateboard truck are universal, so they are the same size across all skateboards and brands. 

Who are Standard Skateboards Best For?

Standards skateboards are for people who want to skate street obstacles and skate in skateparks. You can use them to perform tricks, such as jumps, flips, grinds, and more. They are used mainly for doing tricks and aren’t really for cruising or riding fast down hills—but they can do just a little bit of both. 

If you want to get into skateboarding because you saw some people doing sick tricks down the street— you can purchase a complete skateboard made specifically for this skating discipline. 

Longboards Explained

The obvious difference between a longboard, a skateboard, and a cruiser, is the length of a longboard! But, the not-so-obvious difference is that longboards are made for specific skating styles, such as downhill, racing, freeriding, dancing, freestyle, or for just cruising comfortably around town. The components of longboards will differ based on the discipline it’s made for.

You may have seen downhill longboarding videos online that are very gnarly. While this type of skating is very cool, it takes a lot of skill and should be slowly worked up to with experience. However, you can totally do it too! But, you’ll want a longboard setup that’s made for it.

There are also other ways to enjoy longboarding, such as freeriding. You can learn how to do long power slides, 180 slides, 360 slides, hands-down slides, drifts, and many more. Plus, because the board is wider and longer than a standard skateboard—beginners will usually find it easier to balance on a longboard. 

Alternatively, aside from doing tricks or riding downhill—many people enjoy riding their longboard down the street, the beach boardwalk, around campus, and just cruising around the city!

Longboard Components

Unlike skateboards, longboards have many shapes and sizes to choose from. Because of that, longboard components also come in many shapes and sizes. 

  • Longboard decks – A longboard deck is usually 33 to 46 inches long. They are typically made with layers of Canadian Maple, fiberglass, bamboo—or a combination of all these materials. Downhill longboards that go really fast are made with solid Canadian maple, while other options for cruising are made with bamboo and fiberglass to get the right flex. Decks made with flex are excellent for carving and doing wide turns. It allows you to dig deeper into turns without losing your grip. In terms of shape and style, stiff and dropped-down longboards are better for downhill because of their low center of gravity and stability. But if you are in for all-around riding, a standard longboard with minimal flex is the way to go. 
  • Trucks – Longboard trucks are a lot wider and taller than skateboard trucks. Also, longboards are equipped with reverse-kingpin trucks, which are better for carving and turning. It is safe to say that longboard trucks are better for emulating the surfy feel—especially with double kingpin trucks that simulate a more surf-style type of ride.
  • Wheels – Longboard wheels are usually a lot bigger, measuring at around 70mm to 100mm. Plus, the urethane formula is also a lot softer for longboards—making it grippier and smoother when riding on asphalt or concrete. Plus, the urethane formula also allows riders to break into slides when they need to stop when coming from fast speeds. 

Who are Longboards Best For?

Longboards are for people who want a fast, smooth, or comfortable ride! If you don’t see yourself jumping down stairs or grinding rails and want to experience riding smoothly on the pavement in style—longboards are definitely the way to go. 

Longboards are also excellent for commuting, but they are not very portable to carry—which brings us to the next type of skateboard. 

Cruiser Skateboards Explained

Cruiser skateboards are kind of like the hybrid between skateboards and longboards. They are not as long as longboards, but they share many similarities in terms of components and use.  

Cruisers are usually about the same size as standard, popsicle-shaped skateboards—but some options are smaller. And when we say smaller, we mean really small

Cruisers are sometimes shaped more like surfboards with a deck that often resembles skateboard deck shapes from the 1980’s.  On a cruiser skateboard, you can do basic tricks like ollies, power slides, ride transitions, ride downhill, and more.

Plus, cruisers are one of the best types of skateboards for commuting because of their more compact size and cruise-ready components. 

Cruiser Skateboard Components

The components that make up a cruiser skateboard are:

  • Cruiser decks – Cruiser decks are usually made with the same materials as standard skateboards (maple wood). However, some variations are made of bamboo or even vinyl, which are very lightweight and excellent for commuting and cruising around town. Cruisers usually have a directional shape with a flat nose and a kicktail, allowing riders to pop ollies, do manuals, and other tricks. Because they are equipped with a kicktail, you can use it to lift the front wheels when cruising on sidewalks with small cracks and road imperfections. 
  • Trucks – Cruisers are usually equipped with the same size trucks as regular skateboards, but it’s common to loosen them for better turning and carving. 
  • Wheels – Cruiser skateboards are usually equipped with 50mm to 65mm wheels, which are among the same sizes as regular skateboards. However, cruiser skateboard wheels are softer, wider, and grippier than street skateboard wheels—giving them a smoother, quieter, and more comfortable ride overall. 

Who are Cruiser Skateboards Best For?

Buying a complete cruiser is a great idea for those who want a professionally assembled cruiser skateboard straight out of the box. Complete cruisers are designed to offer optimum cruising performance with all the right components brought together into one sweet board. 

Since cruisers are a combination between a skateboard and a longboard, they offer the versatility of riding fast and comfortable while still doing some tricks. They are highly recommended for commuting or simply for having a whole lot of fun!

Bonus: What are Surfskates?

The three skateboard types mentioned earlier are some of the most common types of skateboards. 

The very first skateboards in existence were created to emulate surfing on concrete and were made for surfers to enjoy as a pastime when there weren’t any waves. But, since skateboarding has literally become its own entire sport and culture now—it has deviated from its surfing roots. 

Surfskates may just change that. 

Now, anyone can experience the arguably closest feeling to surfing on concrete ever with a surfskate! The surfskate deck shape is often similar to a real surfboard and some options are even equipped with a foam pad, enabling riders to skate barefoot. 

Surfskates also have a wider deck with special trucks that emulate surfing when carving and when pivoting. If you are a surfer looking to skate banks as if they are waves—surfskates will make an excellent choice. In fact, any skater will probably enjoy the different and awesome feel of a surfskate! Honestly, there is nothing like it—except possibly surfing!

Which Skateboard Should I Choose?

Now that you know the differences between the types of skateboards we’ve discussed, you’ll have to ask yourself what you’re looking to experience when it comes to skateboarding to know which board is best for you. The good thing is, skateboarding is fun no matter what type of board you choose! 

Whether you want to learn some sick tricks at the skatepark, race down a hill on your longboard, or enjoy a beautiful sunset cruise on your cruiser or surfskate, you’re basically guaranteed to have a blast.

Contact us if you have any other questions about skateboards or skateboarding! Until then, happy skating from Cruisin City!

Article written by GB Castillo

GB Castillo
Author: GB Castillo

Before I started writing about skateboarding, I worked in skateboard distribution and logistics. However, working in the skateboard industry was only a part of my experience. I gained most of my knowledge and experience from street skating, longboarding, and park skating because before anything else.... I am, and always will be, a "skateboarder.

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