Choosing Trucks


Choosing trucks may be one of the easiest things to decide on when buying a longboard. Longboards usually use a reverse kingpin truck for stability, which means the kingpin is on the opposite side of the axle as opposed to traditional kingpin skateboard trucks. This helps the trucks carve harder and get a better turning radius, the trade off is being slightly higher on the board when using reverse kingpin trucks.


Main Characteristics

When looking for a truck there are only a few things to look for that will distinguish it from another truck: the baseplate’s angle, the bushing seat, and the width of the axle or hanger.

Baseplate Angle: Usually truck companies will have the same truck model and sell them in various baseplate angles. The standard angle is about 50 degrees, there are others that are 44 and 40 degrees. As you may guess this all relates to height of the board. A 50 degree truck is going to stand taller than a 40 degree truck, thus the geometry of the truck with a lower angle baseplate will give stability at higher speeds. A high angle will give you more turn for your lean, but with a lower angle truck you don’t get as much turn from the same power you put into your lean, increasing stability. You obviously don’t want to go too low, using a drop through deck with a 40 degree truck can possibly cause some problems with your feet biting the ground or even the deck biting the ground on a carve.

Bushing Seat: The seat for the bushing is important, you will find as you try different trucks, it depends a lot on personal preference which depth and width of a seat you like. Some deep seats will compress the urethane of the bushing differently than a shallow seat. A happy medium is to be found, but it will only come with time. Start with a shallow or a deep seat or maybe something in between, but don’t be afraid to try new things.

Axle/Hanger Width: Generally hangers are 180mm or so in width. This length seems to be pretty standard, there are very few that come closer or surpass the 200mm width, which are mainly for downhill stability. Having a longer hanger is going to give you less carve, for the freeriders and cruisers 180mm seems to be the golden number when it comes to hanger width. Even with the downhillers having a 180mm hanger is not going to cause you any problems when racing down the mountain.


Cast trucks vs. Precision Trucks

Cast Trucks

Cast trucks are made from a casting that is used to mold the truck. Using a cast is how almost all of the trucks are made, they are generally strong and stable, well made and tailored to meet many needs in skateboarding. The downside to using a cast truck is the impurities that can come with using a cast. Sometimes the axel may be bent or warped, the hanger may not sit in the baseplate correctly etc. Though it may be hard to cast a perfect model these are great and versatile trucks, they are good for basic downhill, freeride, cruising, dancing, and anything in between.

Precision Trucks

Imagine a laser precise CNC machine that cuts a truck out of a block of metal, this is a precision truck. The precision it takes to make such a truck even takes the name of “precision trucks”. This kind of truck is cut perfectly to have a perfect degree in the baseplate, absolute perfect axles with no warping or bending anywhere. These trucks are as good as they’re worth the money. Precisions usually range from about $150-$300+ per set. Precision trucks are used mainly by downhill riders to maintain stable high speeds. Even mild downhill/freeriders are known to buy some precisions as they provide the best carve and stability among trucks. They do cost a lot but they will last you quite a while doing exactly what you want them to do.


Bushings

Bushings are my favorite thing to recommend buying about when it comes to longboarding. Bushings are so small and cheap, but they change the feel of your longboard more drastically than any part of the board. Stock bushings that come on a truck when you buy it are generally a hard durometer and never tailored to your weight and riding style. When buying trucks it is almost necessary to buy bushings as well.

Shape: The bushing’s shape changes the feel of the bushing in the truck. There are a two basic shapes, barrels and cones.

Barrels are shaped such to give a good stable rebound and help keep the bushing and hanger in the center, this can help with stability which make them a good pick for going fast. The softer barrels can also act as good dancing and freeriding bushings, these can be all-around bushings.

Cones are shaped to give you the deepest carve possible. The hanger rolls over and around the bushing allowing the rider to make sharp turns and keep control over the board and the direction of travel. A very good bushing for dancing, freeriding, and sliding; not so awesome for downhill.

Durometer: Bushing’s have a durometer and like wheels the lower the number the softer the bushing. The durometer will have a range within your weight range, to know exactly which you should buy is going to come with experience; since they’re so cheap you can afford to try a few durometers to find the one you like best. Here is a table describing which durometer is good for which weight:

  Weight Durometer
  50-100 lbs 73-80a
  75-125 lbs 78-82a
  100-145 lbs 80-85a
  125-175 lbs 80-87a
  145-195 lbs 82-90a
  175-220 lbs 85-93a
  200-250 lbs 90-93a
  225 lbs and up 90-97a

Hardware

Generally longboard hardware is separated into two different types of screws: Countersink screws (flat head) and Pan Head screws (truss head). Countersink screws are for topmount boards where the screw actually sinks into the wood when tightened. That way it is flush with the top of the board, not leaving any bumps.

countersink screws

Countersink Screws

A pan head screw is for a drop-though board where the screws are tightened straight into the baseplate of the trucks. A countersink screw in this situation would not be able to sink into the metal baseplate and would be left sticking up a little bit.

panhead screw

Panhead Screw

The use of washers on each end of the hardware is a good practice. The washers can relieve some of the pressure on the board and prevent pressure cracks around the hardware holes. For topmounts use a pan head screw with a washer between the head of the screw and the deck, for drop-throughs use a pan head screw with a washer between the bottom of the deck and the bottom nut.

washer topmount

Now that you’ve read about trucks, scope out the wheels section.


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