How to Tighten Skateboard Trucks

Every skateboarder must know how to tighten skateboard trucks if they want to get the most out of their boards. But should you even tighten your trucks in the first place? Don’t loose trucks actually give a better skate experience than tight ones do? Maybe tight trucks are better?

In this post, I set out to do two things. First, I’ll explain what’s better between tight vs loose trucks. Second, I’ll show you how to tighten or loosen your trucks if you deem it necessary. I remain committed to providing you with clear and accurate information so you can have better, smoother rides.

 

But before we dive right in……

 

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Tight Vs Loose Skateboard Trucks

 

Do I keep my trucks loose or tight? That’s a frequently asked question mostly by beginners in skateboarding. The trouble is there doesn’t seem to be any one clear answer anywhere.

Some people believe tighter trucks give them more control, stability, and an overall better experience than loose ones do. But the “keep your trucks loose” group offers a different opinion. They say that trucks set loose enough allow for better carving and turns, and that they give smoother rides.

Now, here’s the thing. Trucks that have been set a little tight aren’t necessarily better than loose ones and the reverse is also true. But there are some situations where you’ll want to keep your trucks tighter or looser. Let’s see….

When to Keep Your Skateboard Trucks Tight

 

Large-framed folks should keep their boards as tight as possible. If you weigh 200 lbs and you have your trucks loose, you’ll most likely end up with wheelbite and wheel burn, neither of which is desirable. Plus, it’s kind of difficult for a heavier person to stay balanced on a wobbly board.

With loose trucks, your wheels keep touching the deck, and it’s easy to fall. Heavier skaters may also want to install the hardest bushings they can find. When you’re heavier, there really is no debating how your trucks should stay. Always keep them tight.

In addition, tighter trucks deliver more stability, and who doesn’t need stability when popping their board?

Tight or Loose Skateboard Trucks for Tricks?

 

I’d say skating loose makes setting up different skateboarding tricks noticeably easier. Plus, you’re a little more comfortable loose than tight, in general.  And it’s somewhat easier to control your board. Not to mention you’ll turn easier and faster and carve bowls a lot better. And have you done manual loose? Manual becomes a thousand times less demanding with trucks set that way.

Some skaters say they keep their trucks tight because it helps them do tricks easier. Now, that’s ok if they’re skating better that way. But if you prefer stylish landings rather than tic tac-ing all over the place, go loose.

 

When to Keep Your Trucks Loose

 

Are you into longboard cruising? You need your wheels large and soft, and your trucks loose. When you’re travelling 30 mph down a street full of sharp bends and twists, you need trucks that aren’t too tight under your feet. Such trucks allow for better carving and turning.

Another situation where trucks that are a little loose would be preferable is if you’re a beginner. Well, not everyone agrees with my opinion here. But I’m not going to argue with anyone on that. But in my experience (and that of most skaters), starting loose going tight works better than starting tight going loose.

In addition, setting up different skateboarding tricks tends to be easier than with tighter trucks. Plus, you’re a little more comfortable skating loose, in general, and board control is somewhat easier. Not to mention you’ll turn easier and faster.

However, loose board landings tend to be a little wobbly. And that’s not so nice. But here’s good news. Pretty much everyone gets used to it over time.

As you might have guessed by now, I belong in the “skate loose” crowd.  You don’t have to follow my advice or anyone else’s, though. It’s always best to skate loose and then tight or vice-versa and see what you like better.

Don’t Overdo it

 

Turning your trucks’ kingpins a few turns to release some of the pressure from the bushings is helpful in many ways. But having your trucks too loose is almost always counterproductive. First off, it takes a lot more skill to balance on trucks that have been configured super loose. Always remember that trucks were meant to be optimally loose rather than extremely loose.

If the trucks are too loose, ollieing will start feeling more difficult for you. Your board will also likely become slower, and you’ll very soon begin hating all those nasty wheel bites. In addition, doing flip tricks as well as popping your board will start feeling like something you don’t want to do anymore. Overall, you’ll see inconsistency in the way you skate.

Here’s a conversation on Reddit I found helpful.

 

How Much to Tighten Trucks

 

Tightening your trucks is pretty much like seasoning your food. How much salt should you add, really?Your turning style should determine how loose or tight to set your board. Tightening your trucks to achieve either a loose or tight fit should entire be your decision.

I’ll assume you’re a little heavy, or you just prefer skating tight. Or you just want to experiment with skating tight before deciding if that’s what works best for you. So here is….

How to Tighten Skateboard Trucks

 

Here’s the process:

1. Flip the Board Over

 

Turn your board upside down. Next, start tinkering with the trucks to see how they tilt. Try tilting them up and down, noting how loosely or tightly they move.

flip skateboard over
With your board lying grip tape tape side to the ground, you’re now read to fine-tune your setup.

If they wobble too much, turn the kingpin a bit using your T skate tool. And if it’s too tight, loosen it a little. I’ll repeat that how tight or how loose one’s trucks should be is mainly a matter of personal preference. Or other critical considerations such as one’s weight.

2. Get Your Hands Dirty

 

T skate tool
With an adjustable wrench, a skate tool like this one, or even pliers, you should easily handle the task at hand.

 

Take an adjustable wrench or a skate tool and get down to work. Five bolts attach the truck to the board. The main bolt goes right through the middle of each truck. And four smaller bolts connect the trucks’ baseplate to the deck. In most cases, you won’t need to touch the smaller bolts, unless you’ve decided to change the trucks.

So, put your tool to the head of the main bolt and start turning. To tighten your trucks, give the bolt clockwise turns. Do a couple turns and then stop, depending on what degree of tightness you feel is best for you.

What if the trucks are too tight? Make counterclockwise turns until you get that sweet spot where skating your board would feel just right.

3. Test Your Setup

 

It’s critical to test your setup before you can finally say “this is the right amount of tightness for my skating style.”

Now, hop on your board and start pushing. Try a couple tricks, maybe a few ollies, manuals, Fakie 180 frontsides or whatever else you like.

Does the jump or trick feel a bit better than before? Does it feel like you’re skating more smoothly while needing less effort? If you answer yes to these questions, you’ve fine-tuned your skateboard just right.

4. Keep Fine-tuning

 

test your skateboard
Image credit: Telegraph U.K. Keep testing your skateboard and adjusting your trucks until they’re the best setting they can be.

You likely won’t get the best setup the first time around. That’s why you should keep testing and fine-tuning things until you get find the perfect setup. That’ll certainly necessitate carrying your tool a couple times so you can make tweaks as needed.

Note: be careful as you handle the bolt over the kingpin. Avoid rotating the head too roughly, or you’ll create a fresh edge on it. As the wounded part grinds against the ground, that’s the surest way to break your trucks! So, turn the bolt gently to avoid hurting it.

 

Balancing Your Trucks

 

Here’s the easiest and most accurate approach, Firs, take off the bolts from both trucks. Then, give them an equal number of turns when replacing them. That’s pretty straightforward.

 

Loose Front and Tight Back?

 

Many skaters prefer setting the front and back trucks differently. They have the front truck a little loose so they can turn without needing to do much on the tail. A loose front truck also means a bit more board control. Meanwhile, the back truck stays tight so you can have all the stability you need when popping your skateboard.

Tight Trucks Pros and Cons

 

Tight Trucks: Pros

  • More stability
  • Easy to pop your board
  • Ideal for heavier people

Cons

  • Harder to take turns
  • More difficult to do carves

 

Loose Trucks Pros and Cons

 

Tight Trucks: Pros

  • Easier to set up skateboarding tricks
  • Easier to do turns
  • Easier to carve bowls and more
  • Best setup for downhill skateboarding

Cons

  • Can get all wobbly if too loose
  • Carving tricky if trucks are too loose

 

Now that you’ve learned the basics of tightening your skateboard trucks, lets look at other related stuff you should know.

Other Important Adjustments

 

In some situations, the best thing to do is replace your bushings. Or to replace the trucks altogether. Be sure to choose suitable bushings as different kinds of trucks work best with certain types of bushings.

If your bushings are too soft, your trucks won’t be as tight as you’d like. In that case, consider taking out those bushings and putting in harder ones. Indie bushings are pretty hard, but you can also get hard options from any of the companies that provide them.

Depending on your specific situation, you may need to sand down your bushings a bit on the grip tape. Also, consider grinding the corners of the bushings. Doing that allows your deck a just a little bit of flexibility, a desirable thing in most cases.

Maybe the problem is the trucks themselves. I know trucks from certain brands that loosen naturally, especially those crappy $50 “deals” from Walmart or Target. Sometimes they get loose too often there’s no point trying to tighten them.

If that’s the case for you, it’s best to buy new trucks that work best with your skateboard. How to choose the right trucks and skateboard is outside the scope of this post, though.

 

How to Tighten Skateboard Trucks

 

Some folks favor tighter trucks while others are happier with loose ones. It’s always best to try skating tight or loose to learn what works best for you. You may need to test and adjust the trucks a few more times until you create that perfect setup that transforms your experience.

Sometimes though, you may just have to replace soft bushings with new, harder ones. Other times, changing your trucks might be the best solution.