Mini Cruisers Mar18


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Mini Cruisers

The rise of  the Mini Cruiser

At a high school in Kaneohe, Hawaii, a stack of rainbow colored skateboards four-foot high stands in the corner of school’s administration office. School policy requires students to leave their skateboards at the central office during school hours, but after the final bell they are free to collect their board and cruise along their merry way. Taking a closer look, you can see that these are not your typical skateboards and their owners are far from your stereotypical skater kid. The boards of choice for teens today are 22” plastic injection-moulded skateboards, known in the skating industry as “mini-cruisers.” At first glance they look exceptionally small and toy-like, but these boards are far from a child’s plaything. In fact, people of all ages and backgrounds are riding mini cruisers and they are having a ball.

The advent of the plastic skateboard

Plastic skateboards are certainly not a new trend, but as always, what’s old is cool again. The rise of the plastic skateboard, also known as a banana board, began in the 1970s when Larry Stevenson, devoted surfer and founder of Makaha skateboards, launched a line of plastic skateboards for the general market. Improvements in the manufacturing of plastics in skateboard components such as polyurethane wheels and polypropylene decks, allowed skateboards to be mass-produced, driving down prices and making skateboards available for all. Their popularity continued right through late 70’s until the advent of the seven-ply maple skateboard. Prized by professional skaters for it’s ability to maneuver ramps and pull off tricks, maple decks became the standard setup for skateboards. This of course changed the course of mainstream skating, no longer about carving and cruising; skateboarding became a performance-based sport where riders had to prove their mettle for the right to be called a skater. Paradoxically as skating grew in popularity, the industry became less diverse, focusing exclusively on teenage boys and young men.

Not just for boys…

However, things began to change in the late 90s. Longboarding, an offshoot of skateboarding, began to grow in popularity. Utilizing a longer more flexible deck and fatter cushier wheels, longboarding returned skating to its surfing roots, and once again focused on the joy of the ride. With the emphasis off performing perilous stunts, older folks who had long given up their skating days began to return to skating. With the age stigma over skating nearly destroyed, longboarding began to attract new skaters, especially women. With a much more open and supportive community, women of all ages were taking up skating and for the first time pouring into skate shops. All of this set the stage for a major diversification in skateboarding and the all the “exclusive” rules that were set in place since the late 70s place began to disappear. By broadening their product lines and courting a new group of diverse skaters, the industry’s consumer base rapidly expanded, and once again created a pastime that could be enjoyed by everyone.

Skating evolves again

Skateboard brands began to expand their skateboard lines and once again began to experiment with board shapes and materials. No longer restrained by the standard dual kick-tail maple boards, skateboard designers introduced a plethora of board designs into the market. Drop through longboards with wheel cutaways, bamboo pintails, surf-inspired fishtails, retro-styled stubby boards and finally the re-introduction of the mega popular plastic mini-cruiser. And while the market for standard skateboard still exists, its exclusive heyday, at least for now has passed. Today skaters are open-mined to design innovations and are buying multiple boards for their varying interests and ride preferences– a board for the skate park, a board for the ride to school, and another for the beach boardwalk. But given the choice of one, the mini-cruiser wins every time.