With skateboarding and its various counterparts still gathering pace, we take a look into all things cruiser related with the Retail Buyers Guide for Cruisers ’22 with Dave Morgan.
After another booming year for 4 wheeled activities all round, the cruiser market is still going strong. Eben Woodall, Carver’s VP of Sales said “we all felt an incredible surge of business during the pandemic that had all of us scrambling to fill orders.” However, it looks like brands are figuring out this scramble as time goes on. Nate Shute, Product Manager at Arbor said: “Our sales have seen tremendous growth throughout the year due to more people just wanting to get outside and have fun, and a skateboard is the perfect tool to take with you on all of your outdoor adventures.” Be it cruising to work or simply enjoying the freedom of riding in a more effortless fashion than on a normal skateboard, it seems the cruiser is the tool of choice for a lot of people.
As I’ve said with most of the RBGs recently, the difficulties of shipping and delivery issues brought on by the pandemic have affected all sides of the industry. For Flying Wheels, they actually missed the whole summer season as their entire 2021 range was delivered in autumn as opposed to February. Fortunately, however, brands seem to have solid contact with their distributors and retailers, and people are understanding of the situation. Andy King from Mindless said “Our main issue is that it’s delaying our ability to launch products we have ready and waiting.”
Most brands have put focus on providing their team riders with enough gear to keep them going, as Shane Maloney – Production Manager at Madrid Skateboards said: “There have been fewer events to get involved with, but most of our marketing efforts have remained unchanged during the pandemic. We still support our team riders, collaborate with other companies, and use social media to get the word out about new products.” Loaded Boards & Orangatang Wheels Co-Owner Pablo Castro made a very good point saying: “Community and cultural/mental health are more important than ever. Covid has limited our ability to help foster the community but we’ve been creative (along with the broader industry) in doing digital events and now starting to build local community events again.”
In response to the skateboarding boom and the Olympics influencing people’s uptake on cruisers, DB & Rayne’s Production Manager, Timothy Mackey said “Many people are still intimidated by park and street skating but want to get on a board, and cruisers offer that first step into this world.” It’s no doubt that cruiser boards give the user an easier and more stable introduction to skating due to soft wheels and wider decks available, and most definitely give people a taste of what can be done on a board.
When asked whether the current surfskate boom had impacted the cruiser market, Ivan Garcia Arozamena, Product Manager and Global Sales at Miller Division said: “Of course, really a surfskate is a cruiser with a front axle that turns more.” Flying Wheels’ Brand & Marketing manager Brecq Benoit summed it up perfectly saying: “Everything is linked, people discover the discipline by any means: surfskate is a great entry point. People then experiment with skateboarding by discovering the different disciplines and this also benefits the cruiser.
Regarding collection themes, it looks like some brands are styling their cruiser boards on a more surf-style shape as Shane Maloney at Madrid said: “We have a nice variety of cruisers in our 2022 line up. Some are inspired by our roots in surfing, and others are inspired by the revival of 1980s style pool boards.” Ivan from Miller said simply: “We really continue to do what we like the most and that is the magic and fun that skateboarding has in general,” which I think hits the nail on the head there.
Shapes & Styles
It looks like cruisers are currently taking influence from the surfskate styles and vice versa, with fantails and other surf-inspired shapes being prominent in the coming season. Hydroponic for example, will be using surfskate’s influence as the basis of their collection, as Jordi Quinto said: “Old school shapes and surfskate shapes are the basis of our cruiser collections. They offer a retro look that is very appreciated by older skaters.”
When choosing the right board, it’s good to know that brands offer options for the complete beginner, ranging to the skater who wants to skate rougher terrain. Dave Gitlin – Global Hardgoods Manager at Globe said:” In addition to our broad range of every-man cruisers we’ve added a lot more specialty boards with various concave, wheel and grip options. Blazers are a prime example of boards that anyone can easily jump on, whereas the Chopper and Disaster are wicked shaped street decks set up on oversized softer wheels perfect for ditches and rough transition skating.”
The general consensus is that a wider, flatter deck gives more room to manoeuvre and a safer feeling, especially for beginners. That being said, DB & Rayne offer two different styles of board for various riding styles, as Timothy Mackey said: “Our cruisers with a kick offer a great edition to a quiver for a downhill enthusiast and our compact commuters with big wheels are excellent for getting from A to B and everywhere in between.”
Completes or components?
Most cruiser boards these days are bought as completes, unless you opt for converting an old skateboard into a cruiser by swapping out the hard small wheels for some big soft ones. Either way, it looks like most brands seem to be offering both completes and components in the coming season. Hydroponic’s Jordi Quinto explained that “Completes are a big part of our collections, but spare parts are also in demand.” Ivan Garcia Arozamena from Miller had similar thoughts, saying that they do manufacture parts, but 90% of their business comes from completes, “as it is easier for stores and riders prefer it that way. The technical is not sought so much, but the practical element of a complete is.” Loaded Boards & Orangatang Wheels have noticed a recent push on completes, however they prioritise continuing to be a specialised deck & wheel company. Arbor offer primarily completes, as Nate Shute said: “We are known for offering Arbor Certified completes, as people now know to expect a quality product built using select, high-end components that complement the performance and geometry of each of our shapes.” Carver who pioneered the surfskate and sell also mainly completes, have just signed Kai Lenny and Jamie O’Brien to the team, and will be releasing 2 pro model completes each, which feature either of the renowned the CX or C7 truck systems – definitely ones to keep an eye on!
As is the case with all segments of the industry now, sustainability is something brands really have to be making a conscious effort of. It’s true that manufacturing skateboards is never going to be a completely sustainable procedure, however there are a lot of ways in which brands can reduce their impact. Andy King from Mindless said “we are trying to substitute maple for bamboo where possible, and looking for the highest quality, sustainable eastern maple to reduce the sea freight.” YOW are “not working with plastic anymore and focusing on recycled materials” as Xué Gil Guidonet, Brand Manager explained. Nate Shute of Arbor says “we are proud to have been the originators of using sustainable building materials in all of our products, since our founding in 1995. We take that a step further with our Returning Roots Initiative, which has helped plant over 350,000 Endemic Koa Trees in Hawaii.”
With replanting operations and a large cut-down on plastics used in production and packaging, it looks like the industry is really making an attempt to be more conscious. This is fantastic to hear, as everyone needs to do their part in contributing to becoming more eco-conscious. Sometimes something seemingly small can make a huge impact on the larger scale, so any attempt is a good attempt. Globe’s Dave Gitlin says “it’s a building process, not an overnight switch.”