The idea behind a cruiser skateboards is to get from point a to point b while having the most fun possible. We're gonna dive right into a no-nonsense guide to cruisers.
What Is a Cruiser Skateboard?
Cruiser skateboards are any skateboard that is designed mostly for transportation and commuting. It can quite literally be any shape or size. However, frequently cruiser skateboards are around 30”-37” long with larger, soft wheels and carvy trucks.
A cruiser is essentially a skateboard that's shaped and set up to create the most surfy feeling on land. Some have kicktails for more maneuverability and to be a little closer to a traditional skateboard. Others are flat and create a more surfy experience without moving your feet.
When it comes down to a mini-cruiser versus a regular cruiser, the difference is exactly as it sounds. A mini-cruiser is small. It's great for getting around and getting things done. Whereas a regular cruiser, like a pintail, is better for cruising the boardwalk or just going out for a good cruise with your friends! Neither of which is worse than the other, but try them both out for yourself and see what works for you!
Is a cruiser a skateboard?
A cruiser is a skateboard, as it does have the standard components of one. It's just tweaked for different disciplines.
Ideally, a skateboard is meant for smooth pavement and no obstacles, and two kicktails so you can throw the board around. A typical cruiser in 2022 is shorter, but more nimble. The trucks turn very harshly but easily and controllably, and the wheels roll over surfaces and imperfections far smoother than a regular 'popsicle' skateboard.
A short kicktail cruiser akin to the Fireball Cruiser is the best of both worlds. For myself, it's the perfect beach cruiser, errand runner, campus cruiser, and city slasher. When it comes to pintails and drop through cruisers, the line is more blurred.
Decks range anywhere from ~21" - ~50"
Wheelbases start around 14"
Smaller decks will turn much tighter, but that comes with having a shorter stance. The great thing about cruisers is that you can find one to much your stance. Heavily in part to the fact that so many companies make so many cruisers. Longer decks will give you a more flowy feel, more traction, and better ability to roll over rougher terrain, in exchange for a more nimble board.
Longer decks will be harder for tricks, such as ollies and flip tricks, but slides / freeride will be easier.
Trucks range from ~109mm - 200mm in width and should match the width of your deck.
Similar to decks, smaller equates to more nimble turns. However, there are two types of trucks. Traditional kingpin (TKP) and reverse kingpin (RKP). TKP offers more favor when your board comes off the ground, and RKP will favor carves and turns.
Wheels can be as small as 52mm and increase to larger than 80mm. 78a is the most common durometer for wheels, although I feel it's a little too soft as you lose some speed. Something slightly harder, around 80a is preferable. It's extremely versatile and works best on cruisers. Harder wheels will give you a little more roll speed and easier slides, but softer wheels will roll over obstacles much smoother and more consistently.
Shock pads are optional but very important. Shock pads simply fit between your truck and the deck. They absorb road shock and impact. It's a surefire, simple, budget friendly way to improve your riding experience. Bearing in mind, the more space between your deck and the ground, the less control you will have. Lower equates to more control and more flow.
How Are Cruisers, Longboards, and Skateboards Different?
Skateboards are best suited for a park. Smooth pavement, lots of pumping, board movement, body movement, and a pantheon more. Of course there is a classic lineage behind skateboarding.
Longboards are more geared to commuting, going down hills, doing slides, throwing the board around, and everything else under the sun. Longboarding will allow you to work toward your chosen discipline. For example, small wheels and skinny trucks for a cruiser. A longboard will have less versatility than a classic skateboard, but it will favor your decided discipline.
Are 'normal' skateboards good for cruising?
Sure, you can cruise a skateboard. With that said, you are still cruising on hard, small wheels that have a hard time going over rough terrain. "Good" is in the eye of the beholder. But with some simple part swaps, you can make your skateboard an amazing cruiser in a pinch. Who complains about a bigger quiver anyway?
Can you use a skateboard for cruising? Can you do skateboard tricks on a cruiser?
Of course! With the right tweaking and right practice, you can absolutely make a perfect hybrid. It's important, however, to make sure everything is working in tandem.
Want to turn your skateboard into a cruiser? Follow our step by step process below:
What you will need:
- Replacements for any old or weathered parts
- Better washers and bushings
- Bearing spacers
- Soft wheels
- Speed cream
- Shock pads
Step 1: Get better parts - They last longer!
Over time, your skateboard is sure to deteriorate, rust, delaminate, etc. If you want to turn your classic skateboard into a new school cruiser, that's completely manageable. The first step is to replace any parts that aren't up to your personal standard for whatever reason. As well as shock pads for the reasons stated above.
Step 2: Re-grip your board - Make it your own!
There are a million guides on the internet about how to grip your skateboard (do we have a specific one we want to use?). Consider how you want to grip your board, your designs, stickers, patterns, and make it your own!
Peel the paper backing off the sheet of grip tape and carefully place it down so as to not create any air bubbles.
Use a sharp blade to cut relief points on the outer edges of the board. This way the grip tape will break much easier.
Then use a metal object to create an outline on the perimeter of the deck, cut CAREFULLY cut with a blade on an angle, then use the scraps to clean the rails of your skateboard. Clean and simple.
Optionally: As you go, you can save your scraps of griptape to fold them together and make a makeshift sanding block
Step 3: Clean trucks off and reassemble them with your new parts
This step is optional but will keep your setup feeling fresh. What you will need to clean your trucks is: A cloth, any form of acetone (nail polish remover works well), WD40, and a bar of soap.
First, take your trucks apart and the bearings out of your wheels.
Second, spray your cloth in one spot with WD40. This will be your cloth for clearing all the rust and gunk off. So wipe down all your parts and place them aside. If your wheels stick to your axles, or washers stick to nuts, just spray down a little WD40 and it'll break free.
Third, use a sharp blade to make soap shavings and put a few of them in the pivot cup. Rub some soap shavings on your bushings and washers as well. This will prevent squeaking and keep your trucks feeling as fluid as possible.
Fourth, place your bearings in a container of acetone for a few minutes. Then take them out and place them on your cloth. This will clean off the rust.
Lastly, place all your new parts on your trucks and tighten everything down. This is where you should start to feel some satisfaction.
Step 4 (optional): 'Install' some shock pads
Simply, after you put the screws through your board, place the screws through the shock pads, then your truck, and tighten down normally. That's all!
Step 5: New bearings and wheels
FINAL STEP: CRUCIAL
Give your board a shake! Should you hear any sounds, that could be loose parts. Not the end of the world! Just tighten everything up one last time and you're good to push!
Can I put cruiser/longboard wheels on a regular skateboard?
Sure you can! Small soft wheels will help you roll over much more terrain and have a much smoother ride. With that said, at a skatepark, you are sacrificing roll speed.
What are the best skateboard wheels for cruising?
Sure, you can put longboard wheels on a skateboard, but you have to be aware of wheel bite. Though the "best" wheels are arguable, here is what makes a good cruiser wheel:
- Small - Avoids wheelbite
- Soft durometer - rolls over terrain smoother
- Outstanding core - Maintains roll speed and keeps wheel formed better
With this said, 60mm Fireball Tinders fit the bill very well.
Are mini cruisers good for beginners?
Never rode a skateboard before? Or do you enjoy skateboarding but want a smooth ride? If you answered yes to that question, then a cruiser is good for you! Cruiser skateboards are so customizable in so many ways. But the best part is that they are always fun and always so versatile. They have a little bit of an old-school vibe that resonates with a lot of skaters.
Choosing the Right Type of Cruiser Skateboard
The best skateboard for cruising is a little pocket rocket that will do absolutely everything you need it to do. You keep it on your person for killing all boredom and de-stressing after a long day. A Fireball Artist Series cruiser is very budget-friendly at $69.95 for just the deck and $134.95 for a complete with your favorite color of Tinders!
I asked a couple of my friends who spend most of their time on cruisers some questions.
Q: What is a cruiser? And when is it cruisin' time?
A: "A skateboard that does everything. There is never a bad time to cruise."
- Shawn Prier, Comet Skateboards. Vancouver, BC.
Q: What does a cruiser skateboard mean to you?
A: "A cruiser skateboard can be a lot of things – a way around town, a way to the grocery store, or a way to cut down your time on the way to the bus – but more often than not they end up being the gateway drug of our world. Many riders first lick of the 'longboarding' popsicle comes with that cruiser they started feeling comfortable on – it could be cause they went fast on it, maybe they learned a trick or slide or simply they felt the comfort that comes with the comfort and security provided by a set of nice soft wheels"
- Calvin Skinner, Beggars Supply Co. Sunshine Coast, QLD.
What about other complete cruiser skateboard brands?
With the explosive popularity of the cruiser skateboard, many brands have designed their own to cash in on the craze. Here are some of the most popular out there currently:
- Fireball Artist Series
- Landyachtz Dinghy
- Arbor Pilsner
- Globe Big Blazer
- Dusters (various models)
- Santa Cruz (various models)
- Magneto (various models)
With all of these choices, how do you know which one to pick? Well there are a few things you can look for.
#1 - Price to Value
Price is an important aspect to any buyer, but a new rider also has to know how much value they are getting at that price. Price alone is not a good indication because you could buy something super cheap that is also super crappy.
Construction / Components
All of the cruiser skateboards on our list are maple decks made of 7-ply canadian maple construction. This is pretty standard, however, where the board is made can make a difference in the quality of the maple construction.
Every single deck on that list above is made in China, except for the Fireball Artist Series. We make our cruiser decks in North America.
There are varying quality of trucks to be sure, however, in our experience, this is a component that most brands do pretty well. Sure, there are corners cut on the cheaper models, but most of the issues that come from a truck can be upgraded and mitigated with relative ease. If you are spending over $100 for your skateboard, the trucks are probably good.
Wheels & Bearings
These two components can matter a lot. It is easy to cut costs here, so the cheaper brands are going to have lesser quality wheels and bearings.
Common issues with cheap wheels include:
- Ovaling - They do not wear evenly
- Chunking - A sharp rock, etc easily cuts the urethane wheel, causing a piece of the wheel to break off
- Swirling - The urethane pour was not blended well, making hard/soft spots in the wheels
Bearings are also commonly cost cut. Here are some common issues with bearings:
- Poor roll speed
- Lots of play in the components
- Terrible lubricants
- Terrible seals
Companies touting “ABEC ratings” on their bearings are misleading. ABEC is a measure of tolerance and actually a poor indicator of bearing performance. Learn more about why ABEC doesn’t matter.
The best cruiser skateboards have high quality urethane wheels and excellent bearings. Every single complete skateboard on that list above has all components made in China, except for the Fireball Artist Series. We make our cruiser wheels in California and our bearings in China.
Skateboard hardware can seem like a pretty simple and straightforward component, but we believe it’s all in the details. The Fireball Artist Series is the only board on this list that is going to come with stainless steel hardware with a lifetime warranty. This means stronger hardware that’ll never rust, guaranteed.
Upgrades you can make to your cruiser board
There are so many little things you can do to tweak your cruiser. Make your turns flow a little smoother, your wheels roll a little faster, or just generally improve your riding experience.
Working top town, the first thing you can do is replace your grip tape. As covered earlier. More coarse/lower grit will give you more grip and hold your feet in place better. However, this comes at the cost of your shoes and hands because of the sharp grit. Classic skate grip tape is always what will treat you best.
Normally cruisers already come with well-outfitted trucks for the setup. So to upgrade trucks, the first step is shock pads aka shock risers. Shock pads dampen the ride and keep constant pressure on the hardware. Over time, hardware can jiggle loose. With shock pads, this doesn’t happen.
Also think about bushings and washers. Cupped washers will restrict movement, but that can prevent wheel bite. Flat washers will promote flow and movement. As far as bushings go, harder bushings will make your trucks feel tighter and stiffer. Softer will do the opposite. Changing the bushings on any complete skateboard can make it feel brand new. So never hesitate to keep tweaking your setup to find what feels right for you!
Bearings and wheels are another component on your cruiser deck that are very simply replaced. Simply take your new bearings and place them in the cores of your new wheels. If the bearings do not have spacers, you can add them or get bearings with built-in spacers. We definitely recommend that you have spacers on your setup. Tighten all your nuts down and you're good to go on your new Cadillac of a cruiser board.
Changing skateboard trucks are going to be the biggest game changer of all. To really change the feel of the skateboard deck, you can add surfskate trucks. These have an insane amount of turn that simulate a surfboard. Other types of trucks include reverse kingpin and traditional kingpin. You can learn more about those in an article by Stoked Ride Shop called The Ultimate Longboard Truck Guide.
Skater: Angelo Coria
Photos: Jeremy Shoom