Bushing Setup Guide
Ever stood on someone else’s board and wondered why it feels so much better than yours?
Did you even realise that just by paying attention the smallest and least expensive parts of your longboard – the bushings, washers and pivot cups – you can transform how well your longboard turns, carves and pumps?
It is very likely that if you have found this page, you will be able to transform your longboard – and your skating – with a little time and effort.
Trust us… it’s all in the trucks and bushings.
There is an art to setting up trucks. You need to know what feeling you want, and you need to understand how to achieve it.
There’s a lot to read here, so take your time – believe us, it’s worth it!
- How do I pick the correct bushings for my board?
- Roadside/Boardside – what’s the difference?
- Bushing shapes
- – Cone
- – Barrel
- – Kingcone
- Hardness – Durometer
- – Cruising and Carving
- – Freeride – a bit faster
- – Downhill – really fast!
- – Cup Washers
- – Flat Washers
- Preload – how much should I tighten my trucks?
- Should the front truck be looser than the back truck?
- Ride height
- How to stop truck squeak
- How to stop trucks clicking
- How to stop wheelbite
- Truck Slop – what is it and how do I stop it?
- Set up your trucks for:
- – Maximum Turn
- – Carving and Cruising
- – Faster Freeride
- – Race and Maximum Speed
How do I pick the correct bushings for my board?
Shapes, rebound levels, durometers, weight, riding style – arrrrgh!!
Picking the right bushings is a bit of a minefield. The world of bushings can get quite complicated, but persevere and you will reap the rewards!
You need to balance all the above things to get it right. Picking the right bushings will almost certainly take some trial and error.
What we are aiming to do here is reduce the “error” part by helping you understand and make better choices first time, rather than spend loads of money on bushings trying to work out what you want.
Firstly, decide what you want your board to feel like.
- Stable for speed?
- Lots of dive?
- Strong return to centre or “bounce back?”
- Trying to minimise wheelbite?
Secondly, you need to understand how a bushing works. Shape and Durometer are the things to focus on.
Thirdly, you must understand how your bushings interact with your trucks and washers. WASHERS ARE REALLY IMPORTANT.
Roadside/Boardside – what’s the difference?
Your Top or “Roadside” bushing is the one that’s nearest the road when you’re skating, and it’s the one that’s on the top of the board when it’s on its back.
The Bottom or “Boardside” bushing is the one that’s nearest the board, and it’s the one that’s on the bottom when the board is on it’s back.
If you think about it, all your weight is on the bottom/boardside bushing when you’re skating – so that’s the bushing and washer that does most of the work.
This means that getting the boardside setup is usually the thing to pay attention to first.
The roadside/top bushing acts to hold the truck together. It mostly affects how the truck behaves as it gets closer to maximum turn and lean. This is the place to look at if you aresuffering from wheelbite.
We have three shapes of bushing in our lineup: Cone, Barrel and Kingcone.
A Cone bushing is very turny. There’s not a lot of urethane there, so as the truck leans over, the bushing offers about the same resistance as you lean the truck over in the turn.
They are good for lighter riders, or those looking for loads of turn.
They are also very useful for preventing wheelbite – more on that later.
A Barrel bushing has a lot more meat on it than a Cone.
As you lean the truck over, the bushing offers more resistance. So the harder you turn, the harder it becomes to turn further, and the more your truck wants to “bounce back” or return to centre.
Barrel bushings are good for more stability, a progressive lean, and heavier skaters.
A huge lump of urethane, our Kingcone offers a LOT more resistance as you lean the board into the turn.
The truck will have a very strong return to centre.
A kingcone is similar to any “eliminator” style bushing – it takes a lot of the extreme lean (and therefore turn) out of the truck. They are good for downhill stability, and preventing wheelbite. They work best in higher angle trucks, where you don’t need to lean as much to turn your board.
Skating a kingcone (or eliminator) can make your trucks feel a bit “squishy,” as you are rolling on so much urethane that the truck tends to wander around a bit as you lean it over. They can feel very “wallowy,” and plush compared to smaller bushings.
Hardness – Durometer
Urethane can be poured in a range of hardnesses.
Hardness is measured in “durometer,” which is like a percentage scale – 0 is softest, 100 is hardest.
There are different “scales” of hardness – A, B, C and D scales. A is the softest, and D is the hardest.
We are most interested in the range from about 78A up to 99A for longboard bushings.
Choosing the right durometer is critical to getting your trucks right – alongside washer choice and bushing shape selection, it’s the difference between a crappy truck and the best trucks you’ve ever ridden.
The harder your bushing, the harder your truck will be to lean and turn. A hard urethane offers a lot more resistance as you crank the truck over, and this gives more stability for going fast.
The softer your bushing, the more reactive and turny your truck will be, and the less resistance the bushing has as you crank it over.
You need to juggle your weight, prefernce and riding style when picking bushing durometer.
Lower truck angles sometimes need a slightly harder bushing to prevent wheelbite, as you have more leverage over the trucks and the axle path is directed more into the board than a higher angle.
Deck flex also makes quite a difference to how your trucks perform.
A flexy deck will twist as you lean, reducing the input to your trucks. You need to run a softer bushing to compensate.
A stiff deck will transmit all of your movement straight into the trucks, so you need to run a slightly harder bushing to account for the higher response.
Match your weight and riding style using the chart below to find a starting point for your bushings.
– Cruising and Carving
|50 – 100 lbs / 23-46kgs||65A-80A|
|75 – 125 lbs / 35-57kgs||80A-85A|
|100 – 145 lbs / 46-66 kgs||85A-88A|
|125 – 175 lbs / 57-80 kgs||87A-91A|
|145 – 195 lbs / 66-89 kgs||88A-94A|
|175 – 220+ lbs / 80-100+ kgs||91A-97A|
– Freeride – a bit faster
|50 – 100 lbs / 23-46kgs||68A-80A|
|75 – 125 lbs / 35-57kgs||80A-85A|
|100 – 145 lbs / 46-66 kgs||84A-88A|
|125 – 175 lbs / 57-80 kgs||86A-92A|
|145 – 195 lbs / 66-89 kgs||90A-95A|
|175 – 220+ lbs / 80-100+ kgs||93A-98A|
– Downhill – really fast!
|50 – 100 lbs / 23-46kgs||68A-80A|
|75 – 125 lbs / 35-57kgs||80A-85A|
|100 – 145 lbs / 46-66 kgs||85A-88A|
|125 – 175 lbs / 57-80 kgs||88A-93A|
|145 – 195 lbs / 66-89 kgs||90A-96A|
|175 – 220+ lbs / 80-100+ kgs||94A-100A|
Understanding what washers do is the hidden magic in setting your trucks up right!
By selecting a different washer, you can radically change the way your bushing performs, and therefore your truck.
Often overlooked, it’s no exaggeration to say that washers are at least as important as bushings. Pay attention to them!
You must always use a washer between your top (roadside) bushing and axle nut to stop the axle nut eating away at your bushing.
Washers give the bushing a foundation to push against.
A thicker washer will flex less and give more return-to-centre, and a more solid feeling.
– Cup Washers
A “Cup” washer caps the end of your bushings.
This does a lot of things. Firstly, it increases the resistance right at the very end of the turn. This means that you will get all the lean and turn that a bushing gives, right up to the end of the turn when it will suddenly become a lot harder to turn.
For this reason, they are great at preventing wheelbite whilst still keeping your trucks nice and turny. If you’re aiming for a “flop and stop” setup – you need cup washers.
A cup washer also makes the truck return to centre a lot stronger, but keeping the bushing in place and providing a solid foundation for the urethane to push off.
Think of a cup washer as a multiplier for your bushing’s rebound. A cup washer will make your trucks feel more “bouncy” and alive at the start of the turn.
It’s very important to choose a cup washer that properly captures your bushing. To work properly, you need the bushing to fit nice and snug into the washer.
– Flat Washers
A flat washer is a regular old washer.
Flat washers are basically the same as using no washer at all!
Using flat washers rather than cup washers allows the bushing to move around freely as the truck is leant over.
This reduces the “return to centre”, and allows the truck to lean over more.
It also means that the bushing offers a consistent amount of resistance as you lean the board over into a turn compared to a cup washer.
Flat washers will make a truck feel less “lively” and less “bouncy.”
The width of a flat washer also makes quite a difference.
A wider flat washer resctrict the bushing a little more, and provide a little better return to centre – though nothing like as much as a cup washer will.
A narrower flat washer will allow the bushing to be as free as possible, meaning maximum lean and less “bounce” in your trucks.
Cup washers – better bushing capture for more return to centre
Flat washers – maximum lean!
Preload – how much should I tighten my trucks?
Like all RKP trucks, Sabres perform best without too much preload on the bushings. In other words – don’t tighten your trucks up too much!
Over tightened kingpin nuts will result in destroyed bushings and pivot cups, stripped kingpins, altered geometry and a dull-feeling truck.
As a general rule, if you have more than two threads showing on your kingpin and you need to restrict the turn/lean more, you need to change your bushing/washer setup.
It is possible to add a little preload to your bushings by using a washer under the bottom bushing.
Most skaters are aiming to get their board as low as reasonably possible, without getting wheelbite, and without restricting the truck’s turn and lean too much.
You can play with your ride height to alter the feeling of your board very easily. A few mm makes a big difference!
A higher setup gives:
- More “surfy” feeling with deeper turns
- More grip
- Snappier hookup
- Easier to fit larger wheels
- Can generally run trucks loose
- Less stability at speed
- Harder to push and footbrake
A lower ride height gives:
- More stability at speed
- Easier to push and footbrake
- More predictable and controllable slide
- Greater risk of wheelbite
- Generally trucks need to be run tighter
- Less grip and turning “feel”
You can increase your ride height with bigger wheels – although this increases the risk of wheelbite.
You can also increase your ride height by using risers, which reduces the risk of wheelbite.
So getting your ride height where you want it will involve picking the right combination of trucks, wheels, risers and deck.
Should the front truck be looser than the back truck?
Generally we recommend either having both your trucks behaving the same, or setting your front truck up so that it turns more than you back truck.
Setting your front truck up tighter than you back truck will make your board skate like a forklift truck – it’ll steer from the back. This is a weird feeling that you might enjoy, but it can get very wobbly and it doesn’t actually turn that well.
Having both of your trucks the same creates a nice carving feel that you may be familiar with if you surf or snowboard.
It’s where we recommend you start if you’re new to this longboard lark, or if you’ve just got a new pair of trucks and want to get a feel for things before you start adjusting them too much.
You also want equal trucks if you skate switch a lot, or if you have a symmetrical board that gets skated in either direction.
Setting up your front truck looser than your back truck has a number of advantages.
Firstly, it reduces the likelihood of speed wobble.
Secondly, it makes your board steer like a car, which is way better for tracking corners and holding lines.
Thirdly, it makes your board hook up from slides a bit more easily, which is good for controlling speedchecks and predrifts.
You can do this with split angles as well as bushing and washer choice, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish…
How to stop truck squeak
Some trucks squeak every now and then.
This is almost always the pivot. DO NOT use grease, WD40 or any other lubricant to fix this – it may react with the urethane pivot cup!
Instead, try some soap shavings, candle wax or pencil graphite inside your pivot cup.
How to stop trucks clicking
A clicking truck is usually caused by the top washer moving around and striking the wide of the kingpin as the truck turns.
The best way to fix this is to find some washers that fit your kngpin threads perfectly.
However, this is not always possible – even though a kingpin is 3/8th UNC thread, the exact thread size will vary bolt to bolt, and most washers are designed to fit the shank of a bolt, not the threaded section.
You can reduce the problem slightly by roughing up the bottom of your kingpin but and the top of your washer on some griptape or sandpaper. This makes the kingpin nut and the washer grip each other better, and stops the washer sliding around so much.
See that gap between the washer and the kingpin? That’s your problem.
How to stop wheelbite
Wheelbite is the enemy of every longboarder!
To stop wheelbite, you can either raise your ride height, use smaller wheels, or change your truck setup.
We’re going to assume that you don’t want to change your wheels or your ride height, and show you what can be done with your trucks.
You have four friends in your fight against wheelbite – tigher kingpin nuts, harder duro bushings, cup washers and cone bushings.
You can stop wheelbite by just tightening your trucks up. This is great becuase it’s free – but it also tops your trucks turning, which no-one wants.
Switching out to some harder duro bushings will work too – but they will also stop your trucks turning.
However, by using a cup washer, you can dramatically increase the amount of resistance that the truck offers as it gets to the end of its lean. Which is exactly the moment that you’ll usually get wheelbite.
So if you’re lucky, just by using a cup washer, you can stop wheelbite and keep your trucks nice and turny.
The final, and possibly best solution is to use a cone bushing, combined with a cup washer, as the top/roadside bushing.
A cone bushing is very loose and offers no resistance – unless it’s right at the very end of its turn, and you’r using a cup washer. In this situation, because there is so little urethane compared to a barrel or kingcone, the bushing gets to a point where it just cannot turn any further – it just runs out of urethane to compress.
It’s a common misconception that a double barrel setup will be less prone to wheelbite than a barrel/cone combo – actually the opposite is true if cup washers are used, but the cone bushing will detract from the truck’s stability and give more turn than the barrel.
Truck Slop – what is it and how do I stop it?
Truck “slop” is the truck moving across its pivot axis as it’s leant over.
This is not always a bad thing. A sloppy truck is very responsive and can work well on a super-loose setup.
However, the moment you start to go above running speed, you will want to reduce slop as much as possible.
A sloppy truck tracks badly and responds to your input in unexpected ways. For freeride and downhill, this is the opposite of what you want!
Assuming that you already have some decent trucks, reducing slop can be done in two ways – new pivot cups or cup washers.
Pivot cups do wear out. It might be that your trucks just need new pivot cups, or perhaps they came with a loose fitted pivot cup in the first place. Switching them out for new ones might help you.
Cup washers can help reduce slop. By stopping the bushings from moving around too much on the baseplate, you will reduce the slop a little.
Set up your trucks for:
– Maximum Turn and Lean
Choose some softer duro cone bushings, top and bottom, and use flat washers.
You will have little return to centre, but the board will lean and turn as much as possible! Watch out for wheelbite.
– Maximum Turn without wheelbite
Choose soft or medium cone bushings, or perhaps a softer barrel on the bottom. Use Cup Washers top and bottom.
You trucks will have a stronger return to centre, and as the board gets to maximum lean, the cup washers should kick in and stop the truck going to wheelbite.
You might need to muck about with your durometer choice a bit to get maximum lean without wheelbite – if you get it right it’ll be perfect for your weight, and a heavier skater standing on your board will get wheelbite even though you don’t.
– Carving and Cruising
Use a barrel on the bottom, and a cone on the top.
Medium durometer is fine for the top and the bottom.
Cup washers are prefeable, as they prevent wheelbite and help the truck return to centre for a nice bouncy, responsive ride. A strong return to centre with a higher rebound will emulate the same carving feeling that you get when snowboarding or surfing.
– Faster Freeride
You can use barrels top and bottom for going a bit faster for more stability.
Choose a medium or slightly harder durometer depending on your speed.
If you prefer a more “divey” truck, with less return to centre, then we’d recommend a mid duro kingcone or a barrel on the bottom with no washer. A flat washer on the top will also deaden out the truck a bit and help get more lean.
If you’re on a topmount, then you’ll probably want to watch out for wheelbite. We would recommend a mid or slightly harder duro barrel on the bottom, and a medium duro barrel on the top with cup washers top and bottom.
This setup will give you a nice return to centre, and good lean without wheelbite.
For freeride, the amount of “bounce” in your trucks is very much a personal preference.
A dull feeling, leany truck (set up with flat washers and perhaps a kingcone) is a more predictable ride which some prefer. It possibly makes the board more controllable and reduces the chances of getting highsided.
However, a more lively truck with Cup Washers will feel nicer in the carve, and reduce the possibility of wheelbite.
It’s up to you which you prefer, but at least you now hopefully understand how to get the feeling you want!
– Race and Maximum Speed
As for freeride setups, there are two roads to go down here.
You can go for a duller, more predictable truck, which feels a bit dead but gives a more solid feeling truck at very high speeds.
Or you can go for a more lively truck, which has les chance of wheelbite, but might get a bit wild when going really fast.
For downhill we reocommend that you stay away from cones entirely, and stick to barrels and kingcones.
Harder duros than you would choose for slower skating are also where you need to be. Don’t tighten your trucks up too much!
A properly set up downhill board will feel pretty rubbish pushing around a carpark, but once you get up to speed, it’ll come alive.
Go with cup washers and harder barrels to get a better return to centre and more rebound from your trucks.
Go with flat washers and a barrel/kingcone combo for a duller, more solid feel.
A cup washer on the top bushing will help lock things in a bit – flat washers on the top for downhill are only for those who want almost no rebound at all from their trucks.
A kingcone on the bottom with a larger flat washer – preferably the same size as the kingcone – provides a solid base for the truck and can keep things feeling solid and confident.
Double cones and a flat washer on this Lush Samba makes it turn like crazy!
Jooz prefers his trucks stable with a bit of “jank” for freeride. Notice the flipped cup washer, the cheapest flat washer around!
Guinness World Record Holder Pete Connolly sets his Sabres up for maximum speed!
A large “Eliminator” style bushing on the bottom and a barrel with a thick cup washer on the top for extra stability.