The Ballona is Loaded’s take on the mini-cruiser for inner city and sidewalk commuting. Somewhat rectangular shaped, with a wide aspect, this little shredder really makes you want to jump on it for a city ride.
At 27+” the Ballona is super compact, super lightweight, super agile. It’s extremely responsive yet feels amazingly comfortable and secure even for a less skilled longboarder.
The minute you step on it, you clearly see why Loaded uses the term “mini-longboard”. This board is incredibly stable for it’s tiny size of under 28″.
The Ballona is an awesome ride for city and sidewalk runs and for everyday urban commuting. It fits in a backpack, is very nimble for slaloming around obstacles and pedestrians, and can easily hop over cracks, bumps, curbs.
It’s also a great board for bowl and flowy skatepark riding.
See the Ballona mini-cruiser here on Loaded’s website
The Loaded Ballona in short (no pun intended)
- Super compact & lightweight (backpack)
- Very comfortable for the size (width, wheelbase)
- Amazing for city commuting and mellow slashing
- Stable enough for some speed
- Great carving mini-cruiser
- Kicktail a bit short if you’re into hardcore street riding
- No real nose kick for advanced kick tricks
- Setups focused on carving and pumping vs street & park
Who is the Ballona for?
The Ballona is a solid choice if you’re looking for a really small and lightweight cruiser for getting places fast on a daily basis, something you can easily stash in a bag and take on the bus, at school, or work.
Until now, the king of mini-cruisers was undoubtedly the Landyachtz Dinghy. The Ballona is a serious contender.
That said, these two minis aren’t exactly designed for the same type of riding.
While the Dinghy is about the same size as the Ballona (28.5″), it’s on the narrower side, with very large kicks, and pronounced concave and wheel flares.
The Loaded Ballona, in comparison, is noticeable wider, more comfortable and stable. The deck has less curvature overall – not a true nose kick, a much smaller kicktail, mellow concave, very subtle wheel flares.
As a result, the Ballona is great for anyone – including newer riders – looking for an easy-to-handle, nimble city commuter. Its emphasis is on city riding with a mellow approach to street riding.
In contrast, the Dinghy has a stronger focus on street tricks and skatepark ripping. Although, the Ballona’s Moby setup is more geared toward driveway slashing compared to the Willy config (see below).
The Dingy can be challenging to ride for newer, older, and/or bigger riders. Meanwhile, the Ballona’s width, relative flatness, and stability (see later) makes it more suitable for just anyone able to stand on a bigger longboard.
In fact, the Ballona is a fantastic choice for transitioning from a full-size longboard (e.g. 35″+) to a compact mini-cruiser – adapting does not require much effort.
Loaded Ballona specs
|Shape||Mini cruiser, kicktail no nose, wide aspect|
|Length & width||27.75″ x 9″|
|Wheelbase||14.75″ to 16″|
|Weight||2.6 lb (deck)|
See the Ballona mini-cruiser on Loaded’s website
The Ballona has a 7-ply maple deck construction, customized with thicker-than-average cross veneers. This not only results in a nice and stiff, poppy deck, but also makes it stronger.
I accidentally pushed the Ballona into a pole at speed, but that didn’t even make a dent in the nose, unlike most boards I own which quickly get dinged up after a couple sessions.
Outline & shape
The Ballona deck has a very attractive shape with a wide blunt nose, and a diamond tail only slightly narrower than the deck’s wide point. The slightly tapered waste near the tail adds to the responsiveness in turns.
The standing platform is slightly rockered bringing it a bit closer to the ground for ease of pushing. The slight rocker and the generous width combine to create that super stable feel, unusual for such a tiny cruiser.
Concave & wheel flares
The foot platform offers a nice and noticeable concave, giving your feet something to grab on to. The result in a nice and comfy stance, as well as good control when riding – more about leverage below.
The wheel flares are a lot tamer than say the Coyote and Omakase – Ballona’s big brothers. That along with the discrete rocker and concave makes this board very pleasant for urban commuting as you get no excessive curvaceousness keeping your feet from moving and adjusting.
Nose and tail
The Ballona’s diamond shaped kicktail is wide, short, and relatively low-angled. You can easily ride with your rear foot on the tail without the front of the board rocketing off the ground.
That said, the kick does have good leverage, it’s functional and performs well for hops, ollies, quick maneuvers, and kick tricks.
The nose is only a couple inches long. While not a true nose kick, it features that “spoon concave” similar to that found on Carver surfskates.
This helps secure your front foot in place on top of the front truck without having the aggressive wheel flare + pocket found on tricks-focused decks.
The deliberate choice of having short kicks is what makes for the Ballona’s generous 21.6″ foot platform – astonishing for such a small mini.
It’s also the reason for the impressive 16″ wheelbase on this tiny guy. Such long foot platform and wheelbase really contribute to the Ballona being so easy and pleasant to cruise on in tight spaces.
Loaded Ballona setups
|Ballona MOBY setup||Ballona WILLY setup|
|Trucks||Paris V2 150mm 50º RKP||Paris V2 150mm 50º RKP|
|Bushings||Standard||Orangatang Knucles soft (orange)|
|Wheels||Orangatang 65mm Fat Free (86a, yellow)||Orangatang 65mm Love Handles (80a, orange)|
Both setups revolve around narrow RKP (longboard) trucks for a carvy, comfortable feel when riding around the city – as opposed to slashier, more tricks-focused TKP trucks such as those found on the Dinghy and other minis.
The Paris 150mm have a narrower hanger than the full-sized version, resulting in quicker turns and more leverage. This makes them ideal for deep carving and surf-inspired riding on small boards like the Ballona.
Both setups come with a slight wedge in the front truck to create an directional, slalom-style steering feel with increased agility through a more stable rear truck and a super-nimble front.
Ballona WILLY setup
The Willy config comes with Orangatang 65mm (80a) Love Handle wheels which are fast and lightweight wheels designed specifically for high traction: carving, pumping, surfskate, dancing, and racing.
The Love Handle is quite wide with a 50mm contact patch and a sharp lip, which leads to tons of grip for hard carving and pumping – further increased by the offset core. This wheel also offers amazing responsiveness and acceleration.
Unlike the MOBY , the Ballona WILLY setup includes upgraded bushings with the high-rebound Orangatang Knuckles (barrel/gumdrop shape). These bushings are designed for fast response and smooth rail-to-rail transitions in carving and pumping.
Ballona MOBY setup
Compared to the WILLY, the MOBY config is geared toward more aggressive riding with kick tricks and tech slides. The main difference is the Orangatang Fat Free wheels instead of the Love Handles.
While the Fat Free have the same 65mm diameter, they are a bit harder (86a vs 80a) and have a much narrower contact patch (37mm vs 50) with rounded lip. This results in a skateboard feel ideal for tricks, jumps, and kickflips.
The MOBY is a good choice for technical riding down smaller hills as the Fat Free is incredibly slidey. On the flip side, it’s not the best for hard carving and pumping due to lesser grip compared to the Love Handles.
Ballona with TKP trucks
Both Ballona setups use the outer 16″ wheelbase option which is meant for RKP trucks and stable riding. However, the inner 14.75″ wheelbase option can be used with TKP trucks for a snappier, more street-oriented type of riding.
See the Ballona mini-cruiser on Loaded’s website
Ballona riding styles
City cruising & commuting
My experience cruising and commuting on the Ballona has been amazing. As a bigger guy (6’1, 180lbs, size 12 shoes), I have immediately felt comfortable on this tiny board, again thanks to the nice width and stable wheelbase.
Using the kicktail for quick turns on this board isn’t scary and doesn’t require you to have a street skating past. If you can do a basic ollie, it’s super easy to hop on and off a curb and ollie over the odd crack.
If not, you can outright ride the board over and down bumps and low curbs, letting the RKP and Love Handles do the work.
Keeping your back foot on top of the rear truck, as opposed to on the small kicktail, adds stability when riding faster.
And of course, the board is so small and lightweight you can literally take it with you anywhere.
Carving & pumping
The board is incredibly nimble, it only takes a very subtle heel or toe pressure to make it turn. Yet the RKP trucks and wide wheels (WILLY setup) gives you great control and amazing carving.
I was really surprised by how easy it is to pump on this board with the Paris 150mm. The wide deck with slightly uplifted rails provide solid leverage even for bigger feet. I have zero wheelbite or foot rub issue.
Here again, the WILLY setup is my favorite for carving and pumping due to the Love Handles’ awesome grip and the high-rebound Knuckles bushings.
I get the best carving effectiveness with my front foot right on top of the truck, that is in the “spoon concave” very close to the front tip of the board.
The Ballona is particularly good for pool/bowl riding thanks to its wide aspect, blunt nose, and non invasive rocker and concave. The flowy RKP trucks also makes it super smooth for down-the-line riding.
I particularly love the WILLY setup for bowl as the solid grip, combined with the spoon shaped nose, makes for a secure feel when driving lines.
More radical riders, on the other hand, may prefer the MOBY for some slashy, surf-style snapbacks and off the lips.
The Ballona can certainly be taken on ramps, transitions, ramps, and rails, though you might prefer a more street-focused setup for this type of riding.
Freeride & downhill
The Ballona doesn’t have the wheelbase, concave, or foot pockets of say a Cantellated Tesseract. Nevertheless, given the right skills it can be taken down some decent hills more comfortably than no most other mini-cruisers. This is due to:
- The longer wheelbase and platform (for such as tiny board)
- The stable at speed and carvy RKP trucks
- The low ride (rocker + short trucks)
- The super stiff construction
- The “slidable” wheels (on the MOBY) for speed control
IMO, the Ballona beats the Dinghy any time for downhill and freeride.
Due to its stability and roomy platform (for a mini), as well as the low ride, distance pushing on the Ballona is pleasant and fun. I was even able to “skog” on the Ballona after finding the sweet spot for placing my foot for maximum stability.
I’m not a street skater but I’ve had a friend test the Ballona for kick/flip/grind tricks. He loved the wide shape and was stoked about the board (MOBY setup).
Of course, he said he would swap the Paris trucks for some Indies, Thunder, or Mini-logos using the 14.75″ wheelbase option.
If you feel the Loaded Bolsa surfskate is great but a little too big for your taste, go ahead and slap as set of Carver trucks onto the Ballona. I mounted the C7 front and C2 rear trucks and really loved the feel of it – I will share the experience in a separate post.
Note that the stock setups with the Paris 150s are already amazingly surfy and pumpy – including uphill! The feel is really close to a surfskate setup on this mini. But of course, a CX or C7 surf truck will offer something different.
Loaded Ballona vs other cruisers
Loaded Ballona vs Loaded Coyote
|Loaded Ballona||Loaded Coyote|
|Wheelbase||14.75″ – 16″||17.5″|
|Shape||Concave. Subtle wheel flares||Subtle Concave. Pronounced wheel flares|
|Nose||Wide square. Mild spoon concave||Narrower. Prominent nose kick|
|Tail||Diamond. Small, flattish kicktail||Rounded. High-angled kick (5.5″)|
|Trucks||Paris V3 165mm 50º (RKP)||Paris 129mm TKP / Paris V3 150mm RKP|
|Wheels||65mm 86A / 65mm 80A||65mm 80A durometer|
The Ballona is 3 inch shorter but 5/8 inch wider than the Coyote. It’s significantly more compact and hence convenient for everyday commuting. It may also be more comfortable namely for bigger-footed riders.
In a way the Coyote cruiser deck is a narrower version of the Bolsa (comparable length, wheelbase, kicks, and contour/concave). So the preceding Ballona vs Bolsa comparison somewhat applies to the Coyote, aside from the width.
The Coyote’s Carving & Slashing recommended setup is similar to the Ballona’s with 150mm Paris V3s and 65mm Fat Frees. Being a narrower deck than the Ballona, however, the Coyote also has an alternative with Paris 129mm trucks.
Like the Bolsa, the Coyote is designed for more radical riding and speed with its aggressive kicks and contour. The Ballona, however, is a lot more portable and just as pleasant for carving and city slashing despite its tiny size.
Loaded Ballona vs Carver Bolsa
|Loaded Ballona||Loaded Bolsa|
|Wheelbase||14.75″ – 16″||16″ – 17″|
|Shape||Concave. Subtle wheel flares||Concave. Pronounced wheel flares|
|Nose||Wide square. Mild spoon concave||Rounded pointed. Prominent nose kick|
|Tail||Diamond. Small, flattish kicktail||Rounded square. High-angled kick|
|Trucks||Paris V3 165mm 50º (RKP)||Carver CX or C7 (taller)|
|Wheels||65mm 86A / 65mm 80A||70mm 80A (4prez)|
The difference between the Loaded Carver Bolsa and the Ballona is that between a cruiser and a mini-cruiser. The Bolsa is 3+” longer than the Ballona, although only slightly wider – again, width is an important Ballona strong point.
The Bolsa’s max wheelbase is only 1 inch longer than the Ballona’s, which leads to comparable stability despite the difference in size.
The Bolsa has a lot more nose and tail kick, and noticeably more concave and prominent wheel flares & foot pockets.
Overall, the Bolsa is designed for a more aggressive style of riding, which I’ve dubbed “freestyle surfskate” (or surf freestyle) in my Bolsa review. Whereas the Ballona is designed to be a compact, nimble, fun city commuter.
The Bolsa’s Carver setups are able to accommodate large 70mm 4Prez wheels.
Loaded Ballona vs Landyachtz Dinghy
|Loaded Ballona||Landyachtz Dinghy|
|Length||27.75″||28.5″ (or 26″)|
|Width||9″||8″ (or 6.5″)|
|Wheelbase||14.75″ – 16″||14.6″ (or 14″)|
|Nose||Wide square. Mild spoon concave||Narrower pointed. Prominent nose kick|
|Tail||Diamond. Medium size kicktail||Rounded square. Large high-angled kick|
|Trucks||Paris V3 165mm 50º (RKP)||Polar Bear 105mm or 130mm (TKP)|
|Wheels||65mm 86A / 65mm 80A||63mm 78A / 60mm 76A|
The Ballona is 3/4 inch shorter and a full inch wider than the Dinghy. At these kinds of size, this makes a huge difference in riding feel.
As mentioned, the Ballona is a lot more stable, easier to handle, and IMO more comfortable for daily city commuting.
Other key differences include:
- The Ballona has a larger wheelbase in its outer option, making the mini more suitable than the Dinghy for higher speed and distance pushing.
- The Ballona’s blunt nose with spoon concave makes it more comfortable for longer and faster rides. On the other hand, the Dinghy’s nose kick allows a more radical street and park style. Likewise for the Dinghy’s huge, angled kicktail vs the Ballona’s tamer kick.
- The Dinghy is primarily designed for TKP street trucks, whereas the Ballona is optimized for longboard RKPs
- The Ballona accommodates larger wheels – 65mm vs 60 to 63mm for the Dinghy. Think faster roll and cushier ride.
Ballona vs Omakase
At 33.5″ x 10″, the Omakase is a bigger beast than both the Coyote and the Ballona. In case you’re curious though, here’s a visual comparison: