How to Choose Longboard Trucks

Your longboard trucks recently broke, and you need to buy new trucks. Or maybe you’re planning on building a custom longboard from the ground up. So you came here to learn how to choose longboard trucks. This resource is a handy guide for anyone wanting to get trucks that suit their riding style perfectly.

Related: Best Longboards Ever

What You’ll Learn in this Post

First, I’ll list down and describe all the components that come together to form a longboard truck.

Second, I’ll present four different types of longboard trucks you can choose from. Third, you’ll know what you need to know about longboard truck sizes, truck width, bushings, and wheelbase.

Third, I’ll handhold you through longboard truck baseplate angles to help you visualize how each feels and affects turns.

Fourth, I’ll share with you a certain longboard truck setup that downhill riders like a lot: the split-degree longboard truck setup.

Finally, I’ll give you a nice little list of the best longboard truck brands. As I describe each aspect, I’ll explain how it affects longboard truck selection.

Let’s roll.

The 7 Components of a Longboard Truck

Parts of a longboard truck

A longboard truck (or a skateboard truck) features 7 important parts. These longboard truck parts include the following:

  1. Axle
  2. Hanger
  3. Baseplate
  4. Kingpin
  5. Bushings
  6. Hanger Pivot
  7. Pivot cup

Each of these parts performs a specific and important role. Let’s now take a closer look at each feature.

1. Axle

The axle is a rod that passes through a metallic housing called the hanger. The wheels of a longboard or skateboard attach to the trucks through this piece of metal, the axle. Skateboard and longboard axles are normally crafted from steel.

2. Hanger

The hanger is a triangular piece, mostly made of aluminum, through which the axle runs. The hanger is the largest single component of a longboard truck.

3. Kingpin

The kingpin got this name for a reason. This feature is a large bolt that works with a fitting nut to hold the truck together as one compact entity.

This giant bolt runs through the bushings, and it lets you customize the overall feel of your ride. Loosening the nut on the pin’s head fosters maneuverability, and tightening it considerably promotes stability.

Every longboarder should adjust the kingpin and test each setup until they create a configuration that works perfectly for them.

Hollow Kingpins and Axles Are Gaining Popularity

Traditionally, the kingpin and axle have been made of solid metal. That’s because these components do some pretty heavy lifting and need to be super strong and durable.

But modern longboard truck technologies now offer hollow axles and even kingpins. These days Longboard truck manufacturers heat-treat some kingpins and axles, making them lighter without comprising performance. And lightweight performance is something many longboard riders are willing to pay more for.

4. Bushings

Bushings are hard polyurethane rings that enable longboard trucks to turn or to be responsive. Without the humble bushing, that contraption you love riding around would be completely useless.

Longboard trucks come with two bushings. One of the bushings sits beneath the top washer while the other one sits at the kingpin’s end. The bushing nearer the road/surface is referred to as roadside bushing while the one near the deck is referred to as boardside.

There are different types of bushings, and they can be combined in different ways to create different riding experiences. There are barrel bushings, tall and short cone bushings, eliminator bushings, and stepped cone bushings. These cushioning pads reduce truck parts wear while also dampening shocks and helping adjust truck responsiveness.

Longboard bushings are sold in different hardness ratings, shapes, and sizes. Some fill up the bushing seat (the place where you mount the bushings) completely, and this restricts movement so that you can have a stable ride. When doing DH longboarding, you don’t want the trucks to move much, and having a restrictive bushing/bushing seat set helps a lot.

Others don’t tightly fill up the bushing seat, and there’s always a certain amount of movement. Skaters who prefer a loose setup might prefer a less restrictive bushing seat/bushing setup.

The right bushing rating depends on your weight and the riding style you do. Here’s a chart to help you calculate the right bushing durometer, both boardside and roadside, on the basis of your weight. Enter your weight and the tool will calculate the hardness ratings you need for the bushings.

Bushings also help the kingpin to stay intact rather than slopping or having too much play. But bushings would have a really hard time holding the kingpin if trucks came without pivot cups.

5. Pivot Cup

anatomy of a longboard truck

The pivot cup looks like a little cup made of hard polyurethane. When you’re assembling longboard trucks, the hanger pivot sinks into the pivot cup and stays there.

The pivot cup steadies the kingpin even further while allowing it to respond accordingly when you lean into a turn. This feature (the pivot cup) keeps your truck’s kingpin turning within the limits of the baseplate angle.

The stock pivot cups that come with the trucks on a complete longboard sure do the job. But if you bought a cheap longboard, you can be sure those stock pivot cups won’t last.

With time, these polyurethane pivot cups tend to deform. Additionally, stock pivot cups wear out and become undesirably loose.

And what do you get from loose, worn-out pivot cups? You get way more play in the hanger pivot than your setup needs. That’s why you want to upgrade to better or proper pivot cups down the road.

Precision longboard trucks (discussed below) use hard-plastic pivot cups. Why? Because precision longboard trucks are designed to have very little slop, and hard-plastic pivot cups reduce slop better than any other kind of pivot cups.

The downside of these hard-plastic pivot cups is that they suck at compression compared with urethane ones. And because they compress less, hard-plastic cups aren’t great at absorbing road vibrations.

6. Hanger Pivot

This is the pivot point around which your trucks play. You should insert the pivot into the pivot cup carefully so that no air bubbles form between them. Air pockets between the pivot and the cup can make it seem like the two parts aren’t matching at all. This problem mostly occurs during the installation of precision trucks or lubed trucks.

But I digress. Back to the topic at hand, how to choose the right trucks for a longboard.

7. Baseplate

The baseplate is a solid, metal piece that attaches the trucks to your longboard deck through bolts or screws.

This component comes with holes that should match the holes on the deck so you can easily connect the two parts.

Make sure to understand what mount pattern the baseplate of the trucks you’re craving features.

Some baseplates have the old-school mount pattern while others have the new-school mount pattern.

The holes in the old-school pattern are 2.5″ apart vs. 2.125″ along the deck’s length. Along the width, the holes in the old school mount system sit the same distance apart as they do in the new mount pattern, 1.625″.

So, make sure to choose longboard trucks that will be compatible with the hole mount pattern on your deck.

4 Different Types of Longboard Trucks

There are four types of longboard trucks you should know. These longboard truck types include:

  • Precision longboard trucks
  • Standard Kingpin longboard trucks
  • Reverse Kingpin longboard trucks
  • Dual-pivot longboard trucks

I’ll now describe each truck type to help you decide which option you’ll choose.

1. Precision Longboard Trucks

Precision trucks are different than regular longboard trucks in terms of construction and setup. To build regular the regular longboard truck, Skateboard manufacturers pour the material (usually metal) into a mold. And using molds makes it easy to produce uniform truck shapes.

To produce precision trucks, longboard makers use a computer-controlled machine (a CNC machine).

This automated machine executes specific coded instructions to cut a single piece of metal into a premium-performance longboard truck.

This kind of truck isn’t for everyone. Precision longboard trucks are designed to give freeriders and downhill riders trucks that perform exceptionally well.

And because precision trucks significantly outperform and outlast other longboard trucks, they tend to have a high price point. At least, precision trucks cost more than regular options.

The setup for these trucks has the kingpin playing very little compared to other kinds of trucks. To reduce kingpin play, these trucks use hard-plastic pivot cups.

As already explained, hard-plastic pivot cups allow little maneuverability in trucks while seriously boosting stability. And isn’t truck stability at speed more important for freeriders and downhill enthusiasts than truck maneuverability?

2. Standard Kingpin Longboard Trucks (Super Versatile Trucks)

These are the regular or traditional trucks used in street and park skateboards. But these SKP skateboard trucks are also used in smaller longboard cruisers.

These trucks offer more stability than other truck types because they’re designed to ride low. Manufacturers sell SKP’s in smaller sizes, which is why they work for skateboarding and longboarding.

When do I choose a SKP truck? Choose this type if you plan on doing lots of cruising around town and maybe landing a few longboard tricks.

As you can see, SKP’s aren’t the most popular longboard truck type.

3. Reverse Kingpin Longboard Trucks (Most Popular Longboard Trucks)

Reverse Kingpin trucks for longboards are typically taller and less stable than SKP trucks. The beauty of RKP longboard trucks is that they allow you to further customize your setup however you like. You can flip the hanger, for example, to lower truck profile and increase stability.

Since RKP’s sit higher than traditional trucks, they turn and carve easier and better. They’re also more responsive than SKP’s. Small wonder longboarders of all stripes prefer Reverse Kingpin trucks over Traditional kingpin trucks.

Here’s one key difference between RKP and SKP longboard trucks. The distinction is that with SKP trucks, the kingpins face each other. In contrast, the kingpins face away from each other in RKP trucks.

RKP trucks sit higher than their traditional counterparts and reduce the wheelbase. For that reason, they’re not suitable for smaller cruising longboards, especially cruisers with kicktails. To get the most out of these trucks, mount them on a board whose wheelbase is at least 20″.

Overall, RKP trucks are more responsive, turn better, and do carving better than the traditional option. That’s why RKP’s are ideal for freeride, freestyle, carving, push longboarding/transportation, and downhill riding.

4. Dual-pivot Longboard Trucks (Best for Low-speed Cruising)

Like RKP’s, dual-pivot trucks have a high center of gravity, which means stability isn’t their forte. But as far as responsiveness, dual-pivot longboard trucks remain unbeatable.

And because they sit higher than most, dual-pivot trucks give riders lightning-fast turns. While dual-pivot longboard trucks aren’t ideal for downhill or long-distance longboarding, they’re damn good at slow-speed cruising.

Longboard Truck Dimensions (Longboard Truck Size)

How do you size longboard trucks? Sizing longboard trucks is all about determining the right axle width. To choose the right longboard truck width, you need to know your deck’s exact width.

Ideally, the width of your longboard deck should be the same as truck width. You can opt to use slightly narrower trucks, though.

But the difference between deck width and truck width shouldn’t exceed ¼” (0.25″). For example, if your deck measures 8.25″ across, it’s perfectly OK to match that deck with trucks measuring 8.0″ widthwise.

Wider longboard trucks provide more stability than narrower trucks. But narrower trucks tend to be more responsive.

So, you must decide what you want more of between stability and responsiveness. Then, find trucks that do more of what you want and less of what you don’t want. In other words, the right longboard trucks for you are those that support your riding style.

If you see yourself becoming a downhill rider down the road, consider choosing a truck width that would work well with DH. Downhill decks are most compatible with trucks measuring 180mm or 10″ in width. And the same goes for freeride style.

But if you’ll mostly be carving, riding freestyle, or riding a push board, a 150mm or 9″ truck width would be Ok.

Baseplate Angles and How They Affect Ride Quality

Baseplate angle is another critical consideration when choosing the right trucks for your longboard. The angle at which your baseplates sit determines how well your trucks turn.

You can one of two main baseplate angles namely:

  • High-degree longboard trucks
  • Low-degree longboard trucks

Should I choose a high-degree truck or a low-degree truck? Well, it depends. Your riding style determines a lot, including what baseplate angle you should choose.

Baseplates designed with a high angle are taller and remarkably turnier than baseplates with a lower angle. And vice versa.

With a higher-degree baseplate, applying just a little pressure to the deck’s edge causes your board to turn by a huge amount. In contrast, a lower-degree baseplate angle results in a not-so-smooth-and-easy turn.

For longboard riding styles such as freestyle, carving, push longboarding (transportation), and slow-speed freeride, a 50-degree angle would work great.

But when it comes to downhilling and high-speed freeriding, a lower-degree baseplate would be preferable. You want to choose a 42-degree baseplate here.

With a lower degree, you can expect your setup to twitch much less than a higher-degree setup. What’s more, obstacles such as small rocks and other road imperfections don’t have much of an effect on your setup. That’s why a lower-degree baseplate is ideal for fast freeride and downhill rides.

Downhill Riders Love the Split-angle Setup

You create a split-angle setup when the front and rear trucks are at different angles. You may, for example, opt to have a 50˚ baseplate at the front and a 42˚ baseplate at the back.

Lots of downhill riders favor the split-angle setup, and there’s a reason why that’s the case.  A split-angle setup provides DH riders with adequate responsiveness and stability, especially when going over road bumps.

A higher-degree front baseplate makes the setup considerably divey while the lower-degree baseplate on the rear ramps up stability. What you get is an insanely fast ride that feels unbelievably stable and safe.

Best Longboard Truck Brands

  • Gullwing
  • Mini Logo
  • Caliber trucks
  • Independent trucks
  • Paris trucks
  • Sabre trucks

This list is by no means exhaustive. And I’m not saying every pair of trucks you’ll ever buy from these brands will be perfect. I simply listed down truck brands many pro longboarders use and like.

Longboard Trucks FAQs

Are All Longboard Trucks the Same?

No, not all longboard trucks are created equal. Some trucks sit high and responsive but less stable while others sit low and stable but less reactive. Others are wide and more stable while others are narrower and less stable. As for skateboard trucks, they’re not built for longboards due to deck size wheelbase size differences.

Do Trucks Matter on a Longboard?

Yes, they do. Trucks enable you to screw wheels onto your longboard through the axles. Additionally, trucks contribute immensely to the overall feel of the ride. Besides that, turning would be impossible without trucks.

How Far Apart Should Longboard Trucks Be?

The distance between the front wheels and rear wheels is called the wheelbase. The length of your deck determines the length of your wheelbase. Generally, the longer the deck, the longer the wheelbase. A shorter wheelbase translates into more responsiveness, decreased stability, and sharper turns. In contrast, a longer wheelbase provides more stability and decreased responsiveness. And turns aren’t as sharp.

How Tight Should Longboard Trucks Be?

Truck tightness is a matter of personal preference. Still, it’s advisable to start off with a comfortably loose truck setup and improve your balancing skills from there. Keep experimenting with the tightness vs. looseness of your trucks until you find that sweet performance-comfort spot. Don’t tighten your trucks too much; otherwise, you’ll compress your bushings. And compressed bushings won’t do their job well, which means you’ll have challenges turning.

Are Wider Longboard Trucks More Stable?

Wider longboard trucks are generally more stable than narrower trucks.

How to Choose Good Longboard Trucks: Conclusion

Choosing good longboard trucks can be overwhelming if you don’t what to look for. There’s a ton of little and big factors to consider, and I believe this resource cleared everything up for you. You now know how to select trucks that not only do the job but do it well.