Arbor Drop Cruiser

15 Sep 2022

Despite my increasingly advanced years, I still have the soul of a skateboarder. I was never very good at doing tricks, but there is just something about cruising around on a skateboard that sits well with my inner self. When I lived in the centre of Glasgow as a student I’d regularly use my skateboard for commuting between my home and the University, but when I moved to Cambridge that mostly stopped - the old streets, whilst not quite cobbled, are not really suitable terrain for skateboarding, and so it fell by the wayside as I switched it for the more locally ubiquitous bicycle.

About seven or eight years ago I decided that perhaps what I needed was a longboard. Given I only ever really go cruising, a longboard’s lack of nimbleness wouldn’t really impact me, and the longer wheel base and larger wheels might make things easier with the rough state of the roads and paving in Cambridge. Also, the was a then new busway that had a wide and smooth path alongside it that opened near where I live.

Knowing nothing much about longboards, I asked the sales assistant in a skateboarding shop in Brighton what I should get, and he set me up with a lovely pintail longboard by UK brand Mindless Longboards.

But the board never really clicked with me. When I was struggling with jogging as a form of exercise last year I took to doing a reasonable distance along the busway on the longboard instead, which kinda worked, but it just didn’t click with me in the way that my skateboards of old did. Not only did it not click, it’s quite a heavy board to carry, and it didn’t really seem that much better at the rougher terrain than my regular skateboard.

Still, it did have it’s moments:

Finally this summer this bugged me enough that I did some more research, and discovered that for my usecase, this board isn’t really well suited: it’s more designed for downhill work rather than long distance cruising or commuting. For that you want a lower and lighter board; having a lower deck means you expend less energy going up and down rather than going along.

After a quick look around, I decided to not think too much about it and just ordered an Arbor Drop Cruiser, which seemed to be much better designed for what I want, and Arbor have a good sustainability story. I got the “Photo” version, because of course I would.

The Arbor Drop Cruiser is what’s referred to as double dropped: the trucks are mounted on the top of the deck rather than underneath, which lowers the deck, and then the deck is also shaped so that the platform in the middle sits lower than the ends where the trucks mount. It’s low enough that it actually fits underneath my old longboard:

The main though I had after skating on this was I should have done this years ago. For me and what I use a longboard for, this longboard is so much better suited, and I feel I’ve wasted years not using my longboard as much as I could because I happened to get the wrong advice at that first purchase. It’s something that’s very easy to have happen - not necessarily because the sales person was poor, but also because when starting out you don’t really know how to articulate what you want either. For many things like this, or say musical instruments, there’s both a practical element and then how much it inspires you to use it, and you often don’t realise when you make that first move that this isn’t how it is, there’s other options out there that might suit you better, but in your limited knowledge you just prematurely assume that this is the world and it’s not for you.

But as the saying goes: the best time for me to have swapped out my old longboard was back when I realised it wasn’t for me; the second best time is now. And so whilst I’m kicking myself for not having done this sooner, I’m very glad I’ve finally done so, as this smile hopefully shows:

From a technical point of view, the lower height really makes a difference, both in terms of being less draining over long distances (we’re talking 5 miles or so at the moment) but it’s also more stable too, and has given me confidence to try get better at things like stopping quickly (as opposed to jumping off :) and riding switch. The wheels are also a softer compound so cope much better with the rough paving that I have to deal with.

Not only have I been using it for exercise, but with a backpack on I’ve been able to go out and get the shopping or dinner from over in Eddington, which makes a nice run from where I live.

As an aside, if I was still using then you could probably just track my longboard usage by how much Weezer I’m listening to.