Skate Buying Guide Part 3: Trucks
Skateboard Buying Guide
Ah, you’ve decided to build a skateboard.
Firstly, good choice – second, what the heck do you do next? I’m sure you’ve loosely heard bits and pieces about widths, heights, lengths… but it’s crucial to have an understanding of the metrics of each component of your skateboard, not just for this first time, but for replacing individual parts that’ll be sure to wear down or blow out in the future.
Hopefully by the time you’re done reading this you’ll understand:
- What are Skateboard Trucks?
- How do Skateboard Trucks work?
- Why does Truck size matter?
- What are Bushings?
- What’s the difference in performance between High and low Trucks?
- How are Hollow and light trucks different?
So, are you ready to begin your training, young Padawan? Good. As you’ll soon see, there’s plenty more to a skateboard setup than just the graphic...
Trucks serve an equally important role in a setup as any wheel, bearing, or deck – that role primarily revolves around turning on your skateboard without the use of a kick-turn. They mount to the underside of a deck, securing your bearings and wheels to the rest of the setup.
As you might’ve guessed from Part 1 and Part 2 already, just like a wheel or a deck, there’s so much to unpack here – from Hangers, Axels and Kingpins to Baseplates and Bushings, so in this guide we’ll take you through each component of a truck, their application and features, as all of these have a direct impact on your stability.
THE COMPONENTS: what are they and what do they do?
The baseplate of a Truck can be considered the anchor point, as both the link between the trucks and the rest of the board, and the facilitator of truck rotation, in conjunction with the pivot cup (which we’ll get into later).
Generally sold as part of the baseplate, the kingpin is a screw that runs through the centre of the truck, keeping all of the other components fixed and in-line with the baseplate, which allows for a straight, safe ride. The tighter you fix the bolt at the end, the tighter the truck, and vice versa - but don’t worry, we’ll dig deeper into that later.
Bushings & Washers
Bushings are one of the foremost reasons you’re able to turn at all. If you were to draw the turning radius of a set of trucks, it’d look petty similar to the shape your arms make when you make a snow angel – and in order for that to happen, the truck needs a medium that is soft enough to allow for compression, yet firm enough to revert back to its original shape whilst weight bearing. Bushings sit along the core of your trucks, and can be found here. To add further customisation to your ride, you can choose between hard, soft and medium bushings, with the hardest being more rigid, suiting those who prefer a more stable ride – for example vert skaters, whilst the softest option offers nippier, less stable but vastly more agile experience, suited best to those with great balance in tight situations, or bowl skating.
Pivot cups are a very small, but very important component of your truck – working in tandem with the bushings as the two rubber components involved in the turning mechanism, the pivot cup holds the hanger in place , allowing it to move without causing damage to the baseplate – for a smooth turn, metal on metal is never good, and as such you’ll find you need to replace your trucks, (or if you’re confident taking apart your truck, then replacing the pivot cup on its own) when this part of your trucks wear out.
The literal ‘T’ in trucks – this is the T-shaped piece of metal that’s in closest proximity to the ground, and it the part us skaters use to grind ledges and rails. Because of that, you’d be correct if you guessed that this’ll be where the majority of your wear ’n tear will take place.
Now, this part it a little confusing for some – the axle incorporates the same the two ends of the truck on which the wheels sit, and runs right through the hanger from end to end – often the two are confused for one another; it’s easy to thing the wheels are ‘hung’ on the hanger, but no – the wheels sit on the axle – that’s not crucial to remember, but good to know.
Okay cool, but how do trucks actually work?
Without a rider, if you pushed your board (assuming your trucks are tuned equally), you’d find your board travels in a straight line, until your wheels run out of steam. Why is that, do I hear you ask? Well this is because turning on a skateboard is entirely dependent on pressure being applied to either side of your board (and subsequently your trucks) – this causes the board to tilt, compressing one side of the bushing and rotating the hanger around the kingpin, which creates a turn.
It’s crucial that you pick the right sized truck for the deck width you have, to avoid hindering your turning capability and the balance of your skateboard – and determine the size of wheel you’re able to ride. First and foremost, truck width.
There are plenty of truck companies out there, which has led to some electing to measure their width in millimetres, whilst others have gone for inches. For example, Thunder & Independent Trucks use millimetres, so 139, 147, 159 etc. whereas Venture & Tensor Trucks are measured in inches – 5.25, 5.0, 5.5 and so on. Understanding which measurements fit which sized deck will not only make buying trucks easier, but boards as well.
HIGH VS LOW
The next thing to consider is whether or not you’d prefer a higher truck, or low trucks – there is no right or wrong choice here, as there are advantages to both.
Higher trucks effectively raise your board his further from the ground, giving you a larger scope of wheel choice, whilst also potentially generating greater pop due to your nose and tail being further from the floor – the only drawback being that to begin with, it may take you some time to find your balance due to your distance from the ground.
Low trucks offer a significantly lower centre of gravity, improving your ability to balance on your board. Not only this, but your pop will be quicker, snappier and more responsive as the distance between the board and the ground is smaller. However you’re limited to medium and small sized wheels, as you are vulnerable to suffer wheel-bite, as there is less clearance room between the wheel-well for your wheels to fit themselves into – so you’re looking at a maximum of around 54mm to keep you rolling true – however Riser Pads help to open up your options.
REGULAR, HOLLOW & LIGHT
Truck weight is another, more niche section of your setup that is handy to understand, as it can make a real difference to the feel of your board.
Regular trucks are standard, fully fleshed out trucks that have no adjustments to shave off metal whatsoever – the most commonly available – and so are relatively standard amongst all truck companies, like these Venture Trucks.
Light trucks feature a reworked baseplate that reduces the overall weight of the truck – not to be confused with hollow trucks which have a completely hollow axle, baseplate and kingpin, dramatically reducing weight further still.
That’s all for this third section of Two Seasons skate buying guide, If you missed the pervious instalment of the Two Seasons skate buying guide, click here.