Smooth, long carves are made comfortable thanks to the bushings on your longboard. But what the heck are bushings? Bushings are those brightly colored rubbery rings located in the heart of your longboard trucks. They’re typically made of urethane. Longboard and skateboard trucks usually have two bushings per truck. One bushing is in the heart of the truck, and provides the flex and springiness of the truck, for turning and steering. Set right beneath the head of the kingpin, the other bushing is smaller and allows the trucks to easily be tightened or loosened and set to a more specific degree. Tight trucks are ideal for tricks, while loose trucks are better for cursing. There’s no right or wrong way to set you trucks in terms of how loose or tight. It’s all about what is most comfortable for the rider.
Now, back to bushings. Over time, bushings break down and will become less responsive and loose their springiness. They need to be replaced periodically. Bushings are the least expensive part of your board and make a world of difference when it comes to comfort, preferred riding style and the fun factor. Worn out bushings will make your board more difficult to ride, will feel “off” and will likely leave you frustrated with longboarding in general. So go ahead and replace those babies. It’s almost like buying a whole new set up.
What Are the Best Longboard Bushings?
- Size – A bigger bushing presents more body to squish against and dig into the turn. the bigger the bushing, the more body you have to squish against and dig into your turn. Bigger bushings may affect the geometry of the truck. Putting bigger bushings than the stock bushings that came with your trucks into them tends to result in a more turny truck and a higher turning angle. Smaller bushings will then do the opposite and decrease turning angle and limit the truck from carving as deeply.
- Shape – When talking about longboard bushing shape, you’ll hear the words ‘cone’ and ‘barrel’ frequently. Referring to the shape, the main difference between the two is how easily the truck turns over and how the bushing returns to center. Cones are typically easier to turn and have a snappier return to center. They have the greatest turning ability by having less support in the center. This is ideal for a super carvy ride that rarely follows a straight line. However, cones don’t last as long as barrels. Barrel busings provide a good bit of of resistance in the turn and have a solid center of gravity while having a solid amount of rebound. Lastly, stepped bushings have the strongest center of gravity with the least turning ability. They, too, have great turning ability. Stepped bushings are popular for downhill setups due to their stability.
- Durometer - Durometer is the measurement of the softness and density of an object, or a longboard wheel in this case. A lower number indicates a softer material while the letters A through D are then assigned to indicate density. For example, an object with a rating of 72a will be softer and less dense than an object rating 83b. The majority of longboard wheels have a density of A.
- Setup – A very popular busing setup is to have a harder bushing on the bottom and a softer bushing on top (closest to the ground). This will yield excellent stability and killer turning depth when leaning into a turn. Such a set up will provide a very carvey and lively ride…AKA extremely fun!
If you’re new to long boarding, riding a stock board (complete setup at purchase) is a perfect place to start. It will take some time to learn your riding style, terrain preference and to really get a feel for your board. Once you’re more familiar with your board and your ability, experiment with different bushings! For further reading check out our article Longboards for Beginners and Advanced Riders.