The Tugboat mini-cruiser is designed for daily urban commuting and nimble transportation around the neighborhood or a college campus. It’s also a cool technical board riders can do a lot with (keep reading). At slightly over $150, it’s a reasonably priced quality cruiser.
What is the Tugboat good for?
This board is small and lightweight enough to be easily carried under your arm or attached to a backpack (may even fit inside it). You can stash it under a desk or inside a locker.
It is sized like a regular skateboard but feels like a longboard when ridden, namely due to its trucks and wheels. Yet, it’s larger than other mini-cruisers such as the Dinghy.
The Tugboat is fast, smooth and quick turning, easy to carve on with control similar to a street skateboard. Sidewalk-to-street transitions on the Tugboat are smooth and seamless. It handles wet terrain and dirt/debris very well, rarely stopping in its track.
Its good-sized kicktail and small nose also make it a good board for street tricks (kicks and flips) and some bowl/ramp shredding.
Experienced longboarders commonly take it downhill – some have even ditched their downhill boards to ride their Tugboat instead.
Heavier skaters particularly appreciate the Tugboat since it’s bigger than your average mini-cruiser, with more room for larger feet and better stability.
Tugboat vs Dinghy?
The Dinghy (see my full review here) is the Tugboat’s close little brother, one of the best-known mini-cruisers out there. Although the two longboards have similar DNAs, the Tugboat is longer (30″ vs 28″) and wider (9.25″ vs 8″) compared to the Dinghy.
The extra 2″ on the Tugboat makes a significant difference in the way the board feels, making it more stable and less sketchy than the Dinghy. The bigger platform makes for better riding comfort without losing maneuverability.
The Tugboat’s full-sized trucks are wider than the Dinghy’s, also helping make the Tugboat a lot more stable at higher speeds. This contributes to the board’s being well-suited for some downhill riding.
Overall, the Tugboat thrives to offer the extra room and stability many Dinghy riders are lacking when slashing around town and down hills. The Tugboat costs around $30 more than the Dinghy. Personally, I think it’s worth every extra penny.
UPDATE: Loaded Boards has recently released the Loaded Ballona, a great new challenger to the Tugboat and Dinghy. The Ballona has very impressive capabilities for commuting, tricks, and freeride, all in a compact and portable package.
Landyachtz Tugboat deck and design
The Tugboat deck is 30″ long by 9.25″ wide with a 14.8″ wheelbase. It’s made of solid 7-ply Canadian maple wood, making it very strong – it will withstand the pressure of a 200-pound rider doing jump tricks without issues.
Again, the size of the deck makes it a perfect board for riding around college campus and carrying it everywhere.
The Tugboat’s 7″ kicktail is quite generous allowing for kick turns and kick/flip tricks. The 4″ upturned nose is big enough to let you do some nice manuals and nose rides, and comes in very handy in a bowl.
The deck’s stiffness complements the kicks to make the Tugboat a capable freestyle/street/tricks board, while staying true to its street commuting goals (see trucks and wheels sections).
As you can see in the above picture, the board has a nice medium radial concave (0.5′) with slightly uplifted rails, keeping your feet reasonably locked-in for comfortable speed (e.g. downhill). The concave, however, is not so deep as to keep your feet to move around freely when cruising and freestyling.
Being a “hybrid” type shape close to a traditional popsicle street deck, the Tugboat does not have full wheel cutouts. However, its beveled wheel wells on the bottom, and wheel flares above, serve the dual purpose of providing extra wheel clearance and blending into the lifted contours for more secure foot placement.
The Tugboat has quality grip tape applied by the manufacturer. While rumor has it that the board comes with soft grip for comfortable carrying, this is something of the past. The grip on the newer Tugboat is rough and tough for rugged street and park riding.
The graphic artwork, on the other hand, is very nice and delicate, and it really hurts to scratch it! That’s inevitable though.
Landyachtz Tugboat trucks
The Tugboat comes standard with 155mm traditional kingpin (TKP) Polar Bear trucks – though some configs run the 130mm version instead. These are pretty big trucks found on some traditional full-sized longboards. Again, this is in contrast to the Dinghy which can only accommodate very small trucks (105mm) due to its tiny size.
The result is a smoother and more stable ride. The Bear trucks are awesome, they turn on a dime and are very surfy. Imagine a board as maneuverable and reactive as a street skateboard but with much bigger deck and wheels. This is a street skater’s dream, particularly when it comes to riding across town.
The Polar Bear trucks give the Tugboat a very smooth and carvy feel due to well-aligned, straight-spinning bearings – the truck hangers are machine-faced with extra gussets under them. Riding the streets and sidewalks on these trucks is pure joy.
When it’s time for freestyle, the heat-treated reinforced hanger offers the strength and smoothness needed for flip and grind tricks. The baseplate’s 8 holes also allow customization (old vs new school).
The Tugboat is sometimes configured with Paris 149mm trucks, which give the board a different, more traditional “skatey” feeling compared to the Bear trucks.
One thing to note is that the topmount deck results in the board sitting quite high above the ground. This, combined with the deck’s relatively short wheelbase, makes the Tugboat better suited for riders with some experience. Handling it may be a bit challenging for a beginner longboarder.
The stock bushings are good enough for average riders, but a higher durometer would be best for a heavier rider – a set of Venom bushings may result in smoother cruising.
Astonishingly, the Tugboat comes with wedged risers on the front trucks, something not commonly found on most longboards out-of-the-box. Wedging the front trucks improves the board’s carving ability by making the front wheels turnier than the rear wheels – which are comparatively more stable for control.
This helps to make the Tugboat much “surfier” and more pumpable than a regular longboard. The wedged front truck contributes to the special carving feeling you get on this board. See my post on longboard pumping for more on wedging.
Landyachtz Tugboat wheels
By default, the Tugboat comes with 63mm, 78A Fatty Hawg wheels. These are good-quality, softer wheels that make for a smooth ride on reasonably smooth terrain.
Due to their relatively small size, however, when riding on rougher terrain, poorly paved roads, or sidewalks, the board starts to feel a bit bumpy. Many riders like to get bigger wheels, 70mm to 76mm such as Orangatang Stimulus for a smoother experience on rougher roads.
Typically, you should not experience wheelbite when switching to bigger wheels, but this will depend on your weight and how loose or tight you run your trucks. If you do get wheel rub, you can easily fix the problem by putting on taller risers, e.g. some Dime Bag 1/8 risers or other 1/4 pads.
Of course, the downside of larger wheels (and taller risers) is that it will make the Tugboat sit even higher above the ground. It may consequently require more effort to push on over longer distance commutes, and be harder to break into slides.
Note: some hardcode street skaters choose to run smaller, 52mm Ricta Clouds to get a true street feel with the Tugboat’s larger deck, for just shredding sidewalks or skateparks – vs cruising and commuting.
The stock bearings on the Tugboat are 8mm Bear Spaceball bearings, which are quality bearings that are astonishingly quiet and spin smoother the more you ride. I was impressed by the noticeable improvement to my gliding over time.
Many Tugboat riders are enthusiastic about this longboard – they find it amazing and often say it’s the best board they’ve ever bought (though the Dinghy remains a strong contender) including after months of using it.
Whether or not one agrees, the Tugboat is a really good choice for quick city commuting. Aside from urban cruising, it’s a good board for skatepark riding and technical street tricks. Like most Landyachtz products, the Tugboat is a high-quality board at an affordable price.
If you’re a reasonably experienced rider, you can have a blast on this larger-than-average mini-cruiser, and you can easily customize it make it even better for surfing city sidewalks or campus alleys.