Today we’re gonna talk about the longboard trucks and their adjustment. Trucks play quite an important part in the overall setup of your longboard. While you may be able to find various advice and recommendations on choosing the right trucks, the reality is that you will ultimately have to make that decision for yourself. The reason behind that is that the choice of trucks is subjective to your own personal preferences. That being said, there are some rather obvious differences between different trucks, which affect the way your longboard will perform.
You will be able to change the setup and performance of your trucks by carefully selecting every single piece that trucks are comprised of. Doing that is not easy, but it can rightfully be considered as a rite of passage for any aspiring longboard enthusiast. Those are just some of the reasons why we decided to compile a list of ways how you can do just that, in hopes that we will be able to help you understand how trucks work and how they can be altered to enhance and improve your ride experience and fully customize your longboard.
You should also make sure that you are knowledgeable enough to make custom changes by yourself, or get a professional to help you choose and build a board that will be a perfect fit for your riding style. You should also remember that different riding styles require different setups and keep that in mind when you are choosing the setup of your trucks.
Let’s start with reviewing every aspect of the truck which determines performance.
Bushings are one of those things that merit more than just a couple of looks, because of the effect it has on the trucks ability to turn. Changing the bushings can provide you with a completely different feel for the same truck, which is why it is important to find the one that best suits your style. There are several characteristics that determine a bushing, including hardness, urethane type, shape, kingpin tightness, washer setup and placement, which can be either the top or the bottom bushing. We’ll explore in more detail how each of those characteristics affects the trucks of your longboard.
Bushings are made out of several types of urethane and are positioned on the durometer hardness scale, usually in the 78a-96a range. Trucks with softer bushings will turn with more ease, although there are some external factors that you should consider, including the weight of the rider. While you can find various information and hardness scales, but the truth is – you will set up your bushings and trucks in a way that works for you. That being said, proper research is always a good way to learn more about something you are about to do and those scales and info you find may bring you all the knowledge you needed to test out the new setup of your trucks.
Different companies use a different urethane formula, which results in various effects it has on the bushing. What this means exactly is that you could get trucks of the same hardiness, but with a completely different feel, because of the different urethane formulas. Each and every one of the formulas various companies use will have a distinct feel to it. One of the most popular bushings manufacturer is Venom, you cannot go wrong if you go with their bushings.
One of the determining factors for the feel of urethane is rebound from the bushing. If there’s a lot of rebound going around, it will make the truck go around and pump, which will provide you with a lively feel to it. On the other hand, low rebound will dampen the turn feel. Rebound is not necessarily good or bad – it depends solely on the preferences of the rider.
There are three widely used shapes of the bushing, but more and more variations are coming out as the time passes. The three main shapes that we will explore here are Eliminators, Cones, and Barrels. Barrels are the most commonly used bushing shape and there is a good reason for that. With barrel bushing, your trucks turn to lean ration will remain quite consistent during the entire turn. In addition to that, barrels will also yield a fair amount of rebound.
Cone bushings have a lot of dive, which means they do not produce much rebound. This is the exact reason why they are not that great if you are riding fast. They do allow quite a lot of agile movements, which is great if you are freestyling or simply carving.
Eliminators are the widest shape of the bushings, which means that they restrict the turning ability the most. However, you should note that this limitation is applied only for the bushing shapes of the same hardiness. As an example, 90a eliminators will be more restrictive than 90a cones or barrels, but 95a barrels will probably be more restrictive than 90a eliminators. The initial design of eliminators had in mind to make your turning more progressive and not restrict it. If you never used eliminators before, it might be a good idea to try them out at less hardiness level. However they were created for downhill riding and high speeds so you should leave them for the future if you’re just starting.
Boardside and roadside bushings
Roadside and boardside bushings have equally important but rather different, roles to play in the overall performance of your trucks. The boardside bushing is the direct pivot point and as such it has a larger impact on the turning if the longboard. Roadside bushing balances the force, pushing back the boardside bushing. By doing that, it controls the ability of the truck to rebound back or give in. The usual bushing setup has the same durometer for both roadside and boardside bushings. That being said, there are a lot of variations you can get, combining bushings with different characteristics. Here’s a good website that calculates bushing durometer according to your weight – http://www.bushingpicker.com/. I’ve used it before and it really gives pretty accurate suggestions. If you’re cruiser or freestyle rider you should go with the softer suggestion and if you’re into downhill – a harder one.
Bushing washers also have a role to play in the setup of your trucks and they come in two models – flat and cupped. Washers are one of those rare pieces that are simple to understand. Flat washers will provide you with less-restrictive turning and coincidentally less rebound. Cupped washers are more restrictive, but also provide more rebound and are an excellent way to control wheelbite. However, with cupped washers, you will be sacrificing turn ability. Washers also come in various sizes, which you can use to further customize the setup of your trucks and longboard. If you want your turn to be less restrictive, you should use small size washers.
Risers are thin hard rubber or plastic plates which you can insert between your truck baseplate and the deck. They are not always needed but could be very useful to fine tune your setup. They could be flat – in case you just want to increase the gap between your deck and wheels (to avoid wheelbite) or angled – when you also want to change your baseplate angle (see the next paragraph about the angles). Risers are usually needed for the decks which do not have cut outs for the wheels, especially if your baseplate angle is low (very common in downhill setups). Risers lift your deck higher from the ground and let you turn more without wheelbite. It’s a small sacrifice of stability for turn safety.
Baseplate angle is measured between the baseplate and the center of the pivot. It’s a hugely important factor determining truck performance. In short, a lower angle such as 40 degrees is more stable (because your deck sits closer to the ground) but has larger turning radius than higher angles. Whereas angle like 50 degrees would have a lot smaller turning radius, hence you could turn more quickly and sharply but sacrificing some stability. So, if you practice high speed riding discipline such as downhill, you will need a low baseplate angle trucks.
How loose or tight should trucks be?
There is a big debate going on in longboarding circles for quite some time now and that is whether people should change the tightness of their trucks or not? In a sentence – if you cannot consider yourself to be a longboard expert, and have an objective view on that particular subject at the same time, you shouldn’t mess with the tightness of your trucks. That being said, we have to acknowledge the fact that changing the tightness of your tricks works and it is doable, but it is not recommended. There are other proven ways to customize the trucks of your ride and we are going to explore and explain how to do just that in the text below.
Although people are bound to make custom changes to the truck tightness, they should take extra precaution when doing that. Having too loose trucks can cause slop and it greatly increases the chances of speed wobbling. On the other hand, if you tighten the trucks too much, they will slowly start to deform the bushings, eventually breaking them down. You definitely want to prevent that from happening, which is why you need to be careful when making custom changes to the tightness of your trucks. There’s a widely popular saying – ‘loose trucks save lives’. Many starting riders tend to overtighten their bushings in order to avoid speed wobbles. This is not a good practice as with overtightened bushings you can significantly decrease your maneuverability which is crucial in dangerous situations (e.g. avoiding obstacles). Also, by riding properly tightened trucks you greatly improve your ankle strength and ability, and with enough experience a proper stance will let you prevent speed wobbles way more efficient without sacrificing maneuverability.
Generally speaking, you should aim to get the tightness of your trucks just at the point where the loose slop has been removed. To check if you have managed to successfully do that, you should stand next to your longboard and apply some weight on one of the rails. This will turn your trucks in a specific direction. After you’ve removed the weight off the rail, the board should get back to the center position. Another rule of thumb is that you tighten the kingpin screw just so tight that you can’t turn the bushing washer by hand.
How tight should longboard trucks be for downhill?
In downhill you ride at high speeds and that means you’re more prone to speed wobbles. Also, you don’t need much truck maneuverability as you’re mostly riding in a straight line or sliding at the sharp turns. Hence, the bushings you use should be on the tight side. Barrels or eliminators are preferred as they will be stable although quite restrictive. When it comes to tightening your kingpin screw – we don’t suggest that, it should be just so tight that you can’t turn the bottom washer by hand.
How tight should longboard trucks be for cruising?
Well cruising is a completely oposite style. You don’t ride that fast, maybe you’re commuting or just want to carve wildly. Hence, you want very good maneuverability and quick response from your trucks. The way to go here is to use softer bushings and consider the cone shape. Double cones will give you a best results, however it might be too unstable for some preferences. You can also go with the barrels for the board side and cones for the road side – that’s a great combination for that “turns great and mostly stable” set up.
The Bottom Line
While the idea of customizing the trucks of your longboard surely sounds great, you might want to get a bit more knowledge about how they work, before you actually do that. You should take extra precaution when making custom changes to the overall setup of the trucks of your longboard. If your trucks are too loose, you can risk extreme wobbling and an eventual fall. It might be even worse if you wind up your trucks too tight, as that can result in a malfunction of your bushings, eventually leading to a nasty break, which could easily happen during your ride.
Luckily, there are more than just one way to customize your trucks and create your own, personalized longboard setup. Bushings are going to play a big part in this, as their shape, size and build material all have a considerable effect on the performance of your trucks and ultimately your longboard. You shouldn’t rush to see the results of your new longboard setup, but take your time and get to learn and feel how your trucks and longboard are responding during a ride.