Longboard bushings stay hidden under the deck. Many skaters don’t know much about them, which is why they pay little attention to them. Their shape, size, and placement (boardside or roadside) determine the overall ride experience. I hope this longboard bushings guide makes things crystal clear so you can get the most out of your board.
Also Read: Longboard Flex
What Are Bushings on a Longboard?
Bushings are urethane rings that are fitted around the kingpin of a longboard truck. They’re added to prevent metal parts on the trucks from grinding against each other, shortening their lifespan. Most importantly, bushings affect how your trucks turn and pivot, which affects the overall ride quality. Most bushings are barrel-shaped while others are cone-shaped, and they’re available in all kinds of sizes and hardness ratings.
Also Read: Good Beginner Longboards
The place where these rubbery rings are put is known as the bushing seating. Some bushings fill up this space and are quite restrictive, which translates to increased control and support. With these ones, you’re able to run softer bushings without compromising support and board control.
Small vs. Large Bushings
The shape and size of your bushings determine how well your trucks turn and how quickly they return to their usual central position to keep your board moving straight. Larger bushings have more urethane and struggle less when it comes to forcing the hanger back to the center. Also, larger ones have a greater rebound and are more supportive compared to smaller ones of the same durometer rating.
Some setups are looser and turny while others are tighter, less turny, and stable.
Roadside vs. Roadside Bushings
Bushings that point down toward the road are referred to as roadside bushings while those that point up toward the underside of the deck are referred to as boardisde bushings.
If you flip your board upside down, the bushing on the top of the truck is the roadside one and the one on the bottom is the boardside one.
When you step on a longboard, the bushing that faces the board/boardside does most of the heavy lifting. That’s where most of your weight goes, and that’s why it’s critical to pay particular attention to this barrel or cone. It determines to a large extent how your board responds as you near the truck’s maximum lean and turn. Plus, it holds everything together so that your trucks and components stay in place.
There are two bushings for each truck, which means each longboard needs a set of four. You can mix and match bushings of different shapes, sizes, and durometer ratings to customize “truck feel” however you like.
You can have bushings of the same shape and size on one truck, or you can have two bushings with different shapes and hardness ratings. For example, you can pair a barrel-shaped bushing with a cone-shaped one, creating a truly unique ride quality.
How to Choose Good Longboard Bushings
There’s no such thing as the best bushings for everyone. The best bushings for you are those that make your board feel how you want it to feel so it’s easier to do the things you need to do. If you want more stability at speed when bombing hills, restrictive bushings such as eliminators or barrel bushings will serve you best. And if you want to be able to do spectacular toes side and heelside turns without struggling, get cone bushings because they make for effortless turning.
You need to understand how shape and durometer as well as washers affect bushing behavior. Your weight and riding style also matters. And the rest of this post commits to helping you learn just that.
3 Types of Longboard Bushings
Below is a list of longboard bushings available for purchase when you’re building out your own custom longboard or replacing old worn-out bushings.
- Barrel longboard bushings
- Cone bushings
- Street/traditional bushings
Some bushings can be short while others can be tall and meaty. And there’s a section I explain why you might need tall cones and tall barrels on some setups.
1. Barrel Bushings: the Most Stable
Barrel bushings have a cylindrical shape and naturally offer more support and stability to the skater. There are standard-size barrels, large barrels (stepped barrels), and tall barrels.
Barrels come in a shape that fills up the busing seat. And because they cover the entire bushing seat, you get more stability when riding freeride and downhill, and stability is highly desirable in these riding styles.
Barrel bushings are some of the most versatile options that can be had. Their usefulness runs the gamut of styles from DH and freeride to cruising, long-distance-pumping, and carving. If you decide to use these barrels for carving and transportation, be sure to pick softer ones.
To make barrel bushing the go-to setup for any kind of riding, they’re often paired up with cone bushings. The cone-barrel setup is a great bet because you get a responsive and stable board at once.
And if you’re looking for a setup that supports really fast skating, get a double-barrel one instead of a barrel-cone one. To make your trucks turnier, use bushings with a lower durometer rating and take your weight into consideration. Bigger heavier rides need harder bushings because they’re more supportive.
But there’s one area where these bushings aren’t a superstar: turning. They’re thick because they contain more urethane than other shapes, and this makes them more resistant to turning. This resistance “pulls’ the trucks right back to the center, attempting to keep the boarding riding straight. Fortunately, replacing harder thane with softer than can help resolve this issue.
Large Barrels/Stepped Barrels/Eliminators: the Most Stable Barrel Bushings
Large barrels are the beefiest options and have tons of urethane. They don’t compress easily, which makes them the most supportive and stable barrels anyone can find. The base is round and even, but they’re stepped on the top, which makes the circumference smaller.
The stepped shape of these oversized barrel bushings leaves a decent amount of excess urethane squished between the hangar and the top washer (usually cupped). Eliminators are extremely restrictive, and this quality helps eliminate wheel bite in standard kingpin trucks.
Pros and Cons of Barrel Bushings
- They’re ideal for high-speed riding because they’re super stable.
- They’re a good bet for heavier longboarders.
- They’re extremely versatile and can be paired with cones to create a setup for any riding style.
- They let you run softer bushings for turnier trucks.
- Some such as stepped barrels/eliminators are super restrictive and stable which makes them a great choice for downhill reverse kingpin trucks while solving wheel bite in standard kingpin trucks.
- They’re formulated with tons of thane, which makes it turns that much harder.
2. Cone Bushings: the Most Turny
Cones are wider on one end and thicker on the other, just like cone-shaped objects are. They don’t put up as much resistance to turning as barrels. Put another way, cone bushings make for really turny longboard trucks and are the setup you need for carving.
Short Cones: Mostly Used on TKPs
There are regular cones, large cones, stepped cones, and tall cones. Regular cones in general are smaller than barrel bushings and eliminators. They’re the smallest bushings available. They don’t pack much urethane, which is why they don’t have as much rebound and tend to wear faster. They turn without much resistance, and they’re often used as roadside bushings on traditional kingpin trucks.
But there’s a kind of cones called large cones, and these ones contain more urethane than barrel bushings. As a result, large cones have more rebound in comparison and don’t wear as fast. The beautiful thing about large cones is that they’re more supportive than barrels yet turn better.
Stepped Cone Bushings: Also Versatile
Aka freeride cone bushings, stepped bushings are a cross between eliminators/stepped-barrel and cone bushings. Like stepped-barrel bushings, freeride cone bushings have a wide sturdy base for strength and stability while the other end is tapered to allow the trucks more room for movement.
This hybrid bushing performs the same way a split-shaped and split-durometer bushing performs. You can use it as a roadside or a boardside option no problem. You can even use stepped-cone bushings on the top and bottom of the hanger.
This type can be pretty versatile depending on how you choose your durometer ratings.
Pros and Cons of Cone Bushings
- They’re the turniest choice, which makes them ideal for riding styles that necessitate frequent turning such as carving.
- Tall cones can be pretty stable, even more stable than barrel bushings, while staying nice and turny.
- They work great for lighter longboarders.
- They’re not known for resistance and stability with the exception of large cones.
- Most cones are smaller and have a softer formula, which means they might not last very long.
3. Traditional Bushings: for Traditional Kingpin Trucks
These are conventional bushings designed to work best with traditional kingpin trucks. These usually don’t fit the same way as the stock bushings that come with shorter kingpins, which is the typical kingpin for street-oriented setups.
For the most part, you can make street longboard bushings fit traditional kingpin trucks by removing the washer and adding a short cone instead. But why make yourself do all these things when you could simply fit in regular street bushings?
This isn’t a distinct type of bushing, but it’s important to know what tall bushings are and instances where they might be useful.
There are tall cones and tall barrel bushings. And they’re exactly as the name suggests: taller than the others. Because they’re taller, these options make for more truck lean, which is why they’re ideal for styles that require trucks with a wide range of movement. Long-distance pumping is an example of a riding style where tall bushings do a marvelous job.
Here’s one small but important fact to know: not all trucks work with tall bushings. Be sure to learn whether the trucks you’re interested in are compatible with tall cushions. Bennett Longboard Trucks have great compatibility with these bushings.
Bushing Hardness, Urethane Formula, And Your Weight
Higher durometer bushings are generally harder/stiffer than lower-durometer ones, but things aren’t that simple. Because urethane formula also plays a part in determining how hard or soft the bushings feel. Some bushings may have a high stiffness rating, but they may not be as hard as another option with a different urethane formula.
Read what the manufacturer says about the formulation of the cushions you’re eyeing. This calculator can quickly help you decide how much durometer you need depending on your weight.
Get the Right Bushing Durometer for Your Style
The amount of hardness you need in DH bushings is different than the rating you need in carving and cruising bushings. And then there’s your weight, an aspect you shouldn’t ignore when choosing bushings.
- For cruising and carving, kids and lighter adults weighing 50-125 lbs, 65A-85A bushings could work great. For 145-195 lbs, Sabre Trucks recommends 88A-94A urethane. And for any skater weight 175+ lbs, 91A-97A bushings are recommended.
- Recommended downhill Longboarding bushing hardness: 50-125 lbs riders could be OK at anywhere between 68A and 85A. For the 125-175 lbs group, 88-93A bushings come highly recommended. Heavier skaters in the 175-195 lbs range could be happy at 90-96A and those 175 lbs and above may try 94-100A
- Freeride recommended bushings hardness ratings: 50-125 lbs, 68-85A while for 125-175 lbs, the numbers to consider are 86-92A. For 145-195 lbs, 90-95A could be a decent range. And for 175 lbs and heavier, stick to 93-98A bushings.
Get more information from this resource on what duro rating you should choose for your weight and longboarding style.
Washers have a certain degree of influence on bushing performance and therefore overall truck performance. Adding a different washer can transform the entire ride experience.
What do longboard washers do? Longboard washers provide a strong base against which the bushings push during skating. Also, having a washer between the roadside bushing and the kingpin nut makes sure that any friction or movement there won’t diminish the bushing over time.
If the washer is pretty thick or doesn’t have much flex, your trucks get a solid feel due to being compelled to return to center. And thinner washers suck at encouraging the trucks to bounce back to center, which means the trucks turn with little hindrance. Especially if the washer isn’t wide enough.
Two Types of Longboard Washers
The are two kinds of washers for longboards namely:
- Flat washers
- Cup washers
Flat Washers: They Deliver Maximum Lean
Flat washers are, well, flat. If you want your longboard trucks to turn a little more freely, this is the kind of washer to use.
Get thicker, wide flat washers though because thinner ones don’t do much in terms of promoting truck return to center. Thicker, wider washers demonstrate a certain amount of resistance, but they’re never going to do as good a job as cup washers.
Thinner, flat washers deliver lots of lean, and the trucks turn freely. But they can cause distortion to the bushings as your trucks turn. But while they don’t offer much resistance, the resistance is consistent.
One advantage of flat-shaped longboard washers is that it’s possible to run harder bushings than would be the case without the washer.
Cup Washers: Turny Trucks and Decent Rebound
Cup washers serve as a cap at the end of the bushings. For the best performance, the bushing must fit snugly into the “cap.” The best cup washers for pretty much everyone are thick, deep ones.
These washers are superior to flat washers in almost all respects. Compared to their flat counterparts, cup washers have a greater ability as far as pulling the trucks back to center. As the trucks bounce back, the bushings stay right where they are, providing the firm base the cushions need to push off.
There’s a bouncy feel to the trucks at the start of the turn, but the lean culminates when the turn reaches the end. At this point, turning begins to feel a tad harder, but this is what prevents any nasty wheel bites from happening.
How Do I Stop Truck Squeaking?
The best way to resolve longboard truck squeaking is to get some candle wax or even soap shavings inside the pivot cup, which is where the squeaky noise comes from. Using WD40 is a bad idea BTW. Because WD40 can have an adverse effect on the pivot cup urethane.
My Trucks Click, How Can I Stop This?
The best trick to get rid of longboard trucks clicking is to remove the existing top washer and put in a washer that will perfectly fit the threaded portion of the kingpin. Another trick that might work; get some sandpaper or griptape and sand the top part of the washer. This leads to a better nut-washer grip, and the washer will stay in place instead of sliding around the kingpin.
How Do I Stop Wheelbite?
Wheelbite is when your wheels and lower side of the deck come into contact throwing you off the board, sometimes violently. To resolve wheelbite, do one of four things: tighten the kingpin nuts, replace the existing bushings with harder ones, use cup washers to reduce resistance at truck lean peak, or use cone bushings (and lose some stability) with cup washers.
Should the Front Truck be Looser Than the Rear One?
This is down to personal preference, but many skaters like a looser front truck for better turns and a tighter rear truck for added stability. If the rear truck is looser than the front, your ride will get more turny at the back, which could make for weirdly wobbly control.
What’s the Better, a Lower or Higher Ride Height?
Ride height refers to how far above the ground the deck seats. Ride height is determined by a number of factors including wheel diameter, use of risers, mount style, and baseplate angle.
Many longboarders prefer a lower ride height because it fosters stability and makes pushing and foot braking easier, but the grip may dip slightly, the ride won’t feel as surfy or turny, and the odds of wheelbite increase.
In comparison, a higher ride height increases grip, gives the ride a nice surfy feel, and makes running bigger longboard wheels possible (less wheel bite). Downside? Foot braking and pushing get somewhat harder, and stability at speed decreases.
What are you waiting for? Get that setup done right and let’s get rolling!