Surfskate vs Cruiser (Explained)

By: Billy James | April 21, 2024 | Surfskates

How do you know whether to get a surfskate or cruiser?

It can be confusing, so I’ll do my best to share my experiences to help you understand.

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I’ve written articles comparing longboards to cruisers and surfskates to longboards, but I haven’t written one comparing surfskates to cruisers, even though I often see them being compared.

Comparing Trucks

Okay, first let’s discuss the trucks

Cruiser skateboard trucks

While there are many variations and crossbreeds, the majority of cruiser skateboards use traditional kingpin trucks. This is because they sit lower to the ground, making ollies and pushing easier.

polar bear traditional kingpin trucks
Polar Bear TKPs

However, there are exceptions like the Loaded Ballona or Landyachtz Ultra Carve which use reverse kingpin trucks.

How I usually describe cruisers to someone who has no clue what I’m talking about is take a longboard, take a street skateboard, melt em together and you got a cruiser.

It’s essentially putting soft wheels on a street skateboard.

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Surfskate trucks

With surfskates, there are many variations, but the dominant form uses a front pivoting adapter, which dramatically decreases the turning radius, making them easier to pump from a standstill.

If we take a look at the YOW Meraki, you can see the truck hanger is directly attached to the spring adapter.

YOW meraki surfskate adapter
YOW Meraki Adapter

These adapters usually add 1-1.5” of height, so if you’re coming from a street or cruiser setup, you’re gonna feel like you’re riding a skyscraper.

And doing any sort of ollies and pushing will be more challenging.

Then there are these cross-hybridization (is that a word) trucks that start to blur the line.

For example, a Carver C5 is a bushing-based RKP that sits fairly low to the ground.

Carver C5

This allows you to build a setup that’s lighter and easier to push compared to spring-based adapters, yet still retains some of that flowy pumpability.

This is a rabbit hole that I could spend a long time talking about, but let’s move onto the decks.

Comparing Decks

Let’s discuss the difference between the decks, which to be honest there’s a lot of crossover and isn’t as black and white as the trucks. 

Most cruisers will be a little shorter and thinner than surfskate decks since portability is usually a main factor.

surfskate vs cruiser decks

There are so many personal preferences though when it comes to length, width, wheelbase, concave and kicks.

From a functionality perspective, the noses and kicks are usually used on cruisers to pop off the ground, while with surfskates they’re mostly used to catch your feet if you’re doing slides.

Wheelbases are shorter on cruisers (around 14-16”) and surfskates usually start at 16” to 20”. Subjective once again because you have Hamboards, Carver, YOW all offering larger and shorter wheelbases than this range.

Wheel differences

Now for wheels, cruisers mostly have a smaller diameter, rounded lips, and stone ground contact patches. 

Smaller wheels will accelerate faster but have a slower top speed. Rounded lips and stone-grounded contact patches make speed checks easier.

Surfskates usually have a larger diameter, sharp lips, and smooth contact patches.

As you can probably guess, a larger wheel accelerates slower but maintains speed more efficiently. Sharp lips grip the pavement when pumping and deep carving.

All of this stuff is subjective because I have surfskate setups with smaller, harder wheels with rounded lips. It just comes down to your riding style and preference.

Hybrid Setups

Now, what about setups that start to blur the line?

I could spend days talking about this, but instead, I’ll share a recent setup that I wouldn’t technically classify as a cruiser or even a surfskate.

This thing transcends labels.

I wanted something that I could pump and surf but still push without feeling super twitchy.

I landed on this setup, which is basically narrow RKPS on an 18” wheelbase. If you’ve never tried something like this, I’d recommend it.

Tips For Choosing

Now that you have a basic understanding of the differences, here are some common scenarios to help you decide.

If you want to push for longer distances (I’m not talking long distances, like miles and miles), a cruiser would make more sense than a surfskate since it’s lower to the ground, more stable, and overall lighter.

If you want something that’s highly maneuverable, easy to start from a standstill, and great for smaller spaces and mellow hills, surfskates are probably the move.

Some in-between options would be Carver C5, Yow Legasee, Landyachtz surfskates, and narrow RKPS.

Also it’s worth noting that if you just want to cruise and go for longer distances, you should look into LDP setups.

Billy James

I've been skating for over 20 years and it's had an incredibly positive impact on my mental health. My mission is to show the world the power of cruising and carving.

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