Originally consisting of little more than planks of wood with a set of rollerskates attached, cruiser skateboards were popularized in Southern California as part of the West Coast’s so-called “Golden Era” of surf culture. And though these “surfboards for the sidewalk” were briefly trumped in popularity by boards built on modern decks equipped with concave noses and tails, cruiser-style boards have experienced a resurgence in popularity in recent years, prompting big-name contemporary board companies and small boutique startups to reintroduce modern interpretations of these setups.
Though the decks of these boards take their silhouette from retro offerings of yesteryear, today’s cruiser boards benefit from more than half a century of development, and as such boast modern wheels, bearings, trucks, and hardware, all crafted from modern materials. Collectively, these components determine the overall performance and quality of a given board, and while ultimately nothing compares to piecing together your own setup, buying a pre-assembled board (commonly referred to as a “complete”) can be a convenient way to bypass any hassle and get straight to skating — especially for the uninitiated. So, with this in mind, we’ve compiled this list of the best cruiser skateboards currently on the market.
Sidewalk Surfing 101
What Makes Cruiser Boards Unique
Whether utilized as a means of getting to the beach or used as a backup alternative to surfing on days with lackluster waves, skateboarding originally rose out of Southern California and was heavily influenced by the era’s surf scene. Introduced decades before the ollie was ever conjured up, these boards were loosely modeled around shorter surfboards and took inspiration from how the boards performed in the water, with riders opting for looser trucks for turning in favor of kick-turning. This would later dictate the characteristics and traits of what we now know as cruiser boards.
Rather than being designed to optimize pop or having ends shaped for leaving the ground and flip tricks, cruiser boards are engineered to afford a smooth and comfortable riding experience. As a result, these boards tend to be both wider and longer than modern skate decks, and usually feature a flat nose and a concave tail for kick-turning. In addition to the roomier board, cruiser decks also typically come paired with trucks that are designed for carving and cruising, and larger softer wheels that are far less prone to getting caught up on cracks or suffering from wheel-bite when hitting a pebble. This latter area greatly lowers the learning curve and makes skating both safer and more accessible to beginner riders.
Sum Of Its Parts
Cruiser Board Anatomy 101
Before buying a skateboard, you should have at least a tenuous grasp on the different parts and pieces that constitute a complete. Below, we’ll briefly delve into the anatomy of a cruiser board, touching on each individual component that makes up a skateboard.
Deck: As the backbone of a skateboard, the deck is incredibly important and will hugely determine much of the complete setup’s performance. On top of coming in different silhouettes and sizes, decks can also be made from a wide range of materials, from aluminum to carbon fiber, though most commonly a multi-ply wood construction is utilized. It’s also worth noting that the larger number of plies (i.e. layers), the more durable a deck will typically be.
Trucks: Known in layman’s terms as “axles,” a skateboard’s trucks are the components that connect the deck to the wheels and bearings. Not only can this part hugely vary in quality, but it also plays a pivotal role in how a board turns — though loosening the trucks will also bolster turning, albeit doing so will also exacerbate speed wobbles and mitigate stability.
Wheels: Another key difference between modern skateboards and vintage-style cruisers are the wheels. Cruiser board wheels tend to be both larger and softer, allowing for a smoother ride and a much better ability to breeze over twigs, pieces of gravel, and other small hazards that will stop a contemporary complete dead in its tracks. You can buy harder wheels for riders interested in power-sliding or hill bombing.
Bearings: The bearings inside a skateboard’s wheels play a pivotal role in the speed at which they spin. Cruiser boards are usually outfitted with fairly high-end bearings, though this is a ridiculously easy area to upgrade should you opt for a board with more budget-focused hardware. Ceramic bearings are also available for these boards and represent the fastest and most efficient items that money can currently buy.
Other Parts: While the deck, trucks, wheels, and bearings comprise the four main — and most important — parts of a skateboard, there are some additional areas that are also worth exploring when buying a pre-built complete. This includes the grip-tape that adorns the top of the deck, the risers that are placed in between the deck and trucks to bolster a board’s ride height and allow for deeper carving, and the nuts and bolts (which are referred to as “hardware”) that hold everything together. Some complete setups are also sold with extra wheels or skate multi-tools.
The Factors To Consider When Buying A New Board
If you didn’t grow up skating, buying a board as an adult can be a somewhat intimidating experience, though the reality is there are only a few key areas that one really needs to grasp when shopping. Now that you’ve got your head wrapped around the anatomy of a skateboard, let’s move on to the most important areas to consider when buying a cruiser board.
Size: Unlike modern skate decks which generally boast family uniform sizing, cruiser boards come in all manner of shapes and sizes. In addition to the width of a deck, you’ll also want to its length, as longer boards will offer a more planted experience but will do so at the cost of a much wider turning radius (and being markedly more difficult to kick-turn). And, while we realize this isn’t always an option, your best bet to figure which board size is right for you is to go down to your local skate shop and try out a few different-sized boards to see which you prefer.
Portability & Stow-Ability: Alongside how a board performs, the size of a skateboard will also play a massive role in how easy it is to transport while on the train or in your apartment or how easy it is to stash away at the coffee shop or the office. You’ll want to consider when and where you plan on using your board to get the best sense of how conducive it will need to be to travel and storage.
Manufacturer: We won’t begin to deny that there are some smaller, newer companies out there that make some great skateboards, though with that said, it never hurts to go with a board from a tried and true brand that has been in operation for decades as these companies’ longevity alone would at the very least point to years of producing quality products — as the companies that don’t seldom last very long in this immensely competitive industry.
Individual Components: Whether it’s a cruiser board or a modern setup, a skateboard is more than just a deck, and is very much a sum of its parts. For this reason, you’ll want to check out each individual aspect that comprises the complete skateboard, including the deck, trucks, wheels, and bearings, at a minimum. It’s also worth noting that any of these individual parts can easily be replaced, swapped out, or upgraded.
Wheel Hardness: In order to give a more objective sense of how hard a given set of wheels is, the skateboard industry uses what is called the “Durometer A Scale,” which is a 100-point scaled system. The higher a wheel is ranked on the scale, the harder it will be (and vice versa). This system is usually represented via a number (typically from around 75 to 100) with an “A” next to it, such as ‘78A” or “87A.” It’s worth noting that hard wheels do allow for faster speeds, though are seldom found on cruiser boards as softer wheels afford a markedly smoother (and safer) ride.
Eggboards Mini Longboard
A pint-sized cruiser board that’s perfect for travel and last-mile commuting, Eggboard’s Mini Longboard boasts a 19” oval-shaped deck with a dead-straight nose and tail. Capable of supporting riders weighing up to 300lbs, this mini offering is also constructed from bamboo, which is not only more sustainable than traditional maple wood but is also markedly less prone to chipping. Finishing out this complete are aluminum reverse kingpin trucks paired with 69mm soft (76A) wheels fitted with ABEC-9 bearings.
Deck Construction: Bamboo
Penny Blackout Longboard
Boasting a blacked-out deck and array of components, this Australian-made Penny board is made from a hardwearing plastic that’s immensely durable while still affording an ideal amount of flex. The 36” deck is stacked atop 7” aluminum reverse kingpin trucks and rides on Penny’s own in-house soft wheels kept spinning via ABEC-7 bearings. This versatile and affordable model also makes for a fantastic entry-level cruiser board option.
Deck Construction: Plastic
Santa Cruz Rad Dot
Founded in 1973, Santa Cruz Skateboards is one of the oldest and most iconic brands still operating in the skate space, and while the California company’s offerings have hugely evolved over the course of its nearly half-century-long history, the brand nonetheless continues to produce retro-style boards like the Rad Dot. Equipped with 5.5” Bullet trucks, angled risers, and soft (78A) 65mm wheels, this 27.7” x 8.8” board is also adorned with a throwback 1980s era Santa Cruz logo and board graphic.
Deck Construction: 7-Ply Maple
Sector9 Fat Wave Mosaic
Anytime you’re shopping for a longboard or cruiser-style skateboard, Sector9’s catalog is well worth exploring. Taking inspiration from 1980s board silhouettes, the brand’s Fat Wave Mosaic features a 7-ply Canadian Maple construction that boasts die-cut colored maple inlays in a checkered pattern and is topped with die-cut and printed grip tape. Other highlights on this high-performance cruiser include 8.8” Gullwing Pro III Trucks, 61mm (78A) Nineballs wheels paired with ABEC 5 Greaseball bearings, hardened steel hardware, and 0.25” risers made from recycled plastic.
Deck Construction: 7-Ply Maple
Landyachtz Dinghy Skeleton
Landyachtz is another immensely popular brand in the longboard and cruiser space, thanks to carefully crafted and highly calculated offerings like the Dinghy. Decorated in a graphic penned by Brazilian designer and street artist Muretz, the Dinghy Skeleton sports a mellow concave profile to bolster control, a modern kick-tail, and sanded or CNC-machined wheel wells that hugely mitigate the likelihood of wheel bite. Rounding out this complete are 4.1” Polar Bear trucks and 63mm Fatty Hawgs wheels.
Deck Construction: 7-Ply Maple
Magneto Carbon Fiber Downhill
Wanting to deliver a stiffer, faster, and all-around more high-performance downhill board, Magneto chose to jettison its existing bamboo and fiberglass construction in favor of a multi-ply maple setup that’s reinforced with a 3K carbon fiber weave along the bottom of the deck, increasing rigidity and adding an undeniable cool-factor. Additional speed and performance are afforded through this downhill-style setup’s 7” gravity cast aluminum trucks and 70mm (78A) high rebound urethane wheels, ultimately allowing for speeds of over 45mph.
Deck Construction: Maple & 3K Carbon Fiber
Arbor Pilsner Flagship
Since its inception, Arbor has focused on churning out premium boards to exacting standards while utilizing sustainable and environmentally-friendly materials and production techniques. Built around a 7-ply Canadian hardrock maple core sandwiched between Palisander wood top and bottom, Arbor’s 28.75” Pilsner Flagship complete sports a recycled glass re-grit and is crafted using only ethically-sourced timber. part of Arbor’s Easyrider Series, this board also boasts ABEC 5 bearings, 1/8″ hard risers, and 129mm Paris Street wheels.
Deck Construction: 7-Ply Maple & Palisander Wood
BUREO Ahi Cruiser
Born out of a collaboration between Bureo and Carver Skateboards, the Ahi performance cruiser may resemble your average sub-30” retro-style plastic board but is in fact made from a proprietary material called NetPlus that’s derived from recycled fishing nets — with some 50 square feet of the stuff going into each deck. Made in California, this eco-friendly complete also sports Carver C5 trucks and the brand’s (81A) 65mm Roundhouse ECOthane wheels which are crafted from a material including soybean oil.
Deck Construction: NetPlus
Borrowing the best elements from modern boards and old-school longboards, the Comet Cruiser is a premium skateboard through and through. Starting with its deck, the board features a composite construction consisting of a sustainably harvested basswood core set in between dual sheets of triaxial fiberglass made using a bio-based resin system. Comet has also customized the board’s already high-end components, bestowing its 4.25” Paris trucks — which are backed by a lifetime warranty – with CNC-machined hangers, Venom Bushings, and soft wedged risers, and fitting its set of 69mm Powell Snakes wheels with Zealous bearings.
Deck Construction: Composite
An artistic and upscale take on a cruiser board, the Marble Rollholz is made in Germany by hand, with beautiful decks crafted from a hand-selected amalgamation of walnut, Nussbaum, and Cherrytree that’s then paired with genuine marble. Riding on 56mm Relicts Archetype wheels, this board is offered in 23.6” or 30.3” sizes, and is sold as either a complete setup or an a la carte deck — the latter of which makes for just as stellar of a piece of wall art as it does a skateboard.
Deck Construction: Walnut, Cherrytree, & Marble
Length: 23.6” or 30.3”
BANZAI Skateboard Series #01
Roughly four-and-a-half decades after BANZAI first debuted its anodized aluminum skateboard in 1976, the company has opted to relaunch and reissue its iconic metal board in a variety of hard-anodized colors. Sold in 23.5” and 28.5” lengths, the Series #01 also features Banzai Speed Seal wheels, top-of-the-line low-friction custom ceramic bearings, and a revived version of Banzai’s x-caliber trucks, complete with a carbon steel axle. Shipped unassembled, these thoroughly top-shelf skateboards also come in special commemorative gift boxes and are sold with custom BANZAI skate tools.
Deck Construction: Aluminum
Length: 23.5” or 28.5”
Hamboards Classic Red White
Founded by Pete Hamborg, Hamboards unequivocally bridges the gap between surfing and skating better than any other manufacturer on the planet. Whether pushed along with a foot or propelled via a land paddle, the brand’s Classic 74” Red White consists of a hand-painted laminated birch deck finished with a barefoot-friendly solvent-free UV resistant grip coating. The board’s over-sized custom-designed and patented 7.87” Hamboards Surfskate Trucks — which boast new black autotune kingpins and gold zinc plated 25lb springs — generously-sized risers, and massive 97mm (78A-80A) cast polyurethane wheels collectively allow for ridiculously deep carving and an overall riding experience that genuinely replicates the feeling of being out on the waves.
Deck Construction: Birch & Bamboo
The 15 Best Surfing Essentials For Summer
Interested in riding some actual waves this summer? Then be sure to check out our guide to the best surfing essentials for more than a dozen must-have items for surfers of all skill and experience levels.
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