This is a repost from the Bustin blog. I wanted to gather some of this information here as well. I will be following up with a post on wheels in the near future.
So, I was helping a new skater out at the shop today with his bushing setup and spent probably a little too much time fiddling with his setup and not putting boards together, and this reconfirmed my desire to help spread some longboard knowledge on ways to tweak your boards to customize them to your skating style. So one thing I will be working on over my time here is some setup tips to share with our fellow skaters on the blog. And today I’m going to give you my opinion on bushings. because they are the first place to start. They’re the cheapest way to make a major change to the way your board rides.
Now, some of you may be thinking, “My board rides perfect just the way I have it,” but let me tell you, brothers and sisters, you are blinded by the stoke. Sure, your board rides great, but so does every other dude’s board once they get the hang of how theirs rides. Change may be hard, but change is good, and only change will provide you with points of reference to help you decide what it is that you like about your ride and what things can be improved upon and thereby shaping your own style of riding to its max.
I believe you should ride stock bushings until you can afford to try other bushings. Chances are, if you dropped 200-300 bucks on a fresh setup, you can afford another 10 bucks for bushings. It’s not a bank breaker, but it definitely is a ride enhancer. I recommend you get the deck and ride it stock. Feel it out for a week or two. Get to know how the board turns. If you have little to no riding experience on this board, this will provide you a point of reference and give you an idea of what type of riding you will be doing.
Next step is a bushing upgrade. Find some bushings that work for your trucks. Different trucks require different types of bushings. Bushings are all different, but they can be classified by a few different characteristics. These include size, shape, and durometer or softness:
Size – 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 – Most bushings you will find are generally cone or barrel shaped. The main difference between the two is how easily the truck turns over and how the bushing returns to center. Overall, I think cones are easier to turn and have a snappier return to center, but they don’t last as long and I dig less into my turns with them because they’re less meat to bite through.
Durometer – Durometer is the measurement of the softness and density of an object. A lower number indicates a softer material, and the letters A through D are then assigned to indicate how dense it is, so an object with a rating of 72a will be softer and less dense than an object rating 83b. Most, if not all, longboard wheels and bushings you will find will have a density rating of A. Another note about durometer – a 90a Venom bushing will likely NOT act the same as a 90a Reflex bushing. Durometer is a relative measurement, so you can bet that 83a Venoms will be softer than 90a Venoms but it may not always carry over to another manufacturer (though it will be close).
Having too soft a bushing in your truck may allow it to achieve wheel bite. This happens when the truck turns so far that the wheel digs into the board and causes it to slow down or stop turning and can be dangerous. Always check for this when making bushing changes and be aware of how far you can turn the board if it is capable of happening.
My Advice for city riding – When making a change to your bushing setup, I would first advise you to go with a softer up front and harder in back approach IF your board rides primarily in one direction. This will create a layer of stability in the rear of the board to guard against speed wobbles and be comfortable at speed while still allowing good turning ability in the front of the board. Otherwise, understand what the differences between bushings do, and just try them out! If you want quicker response, go for some cone shapes. If you are getting wheelbite, try out something harder and maybe go for a barrel shape.
My setup – I use big soft barrel bushings in my front truck so I can turn it as much as possible without having to replace them very often, and in the back I use medium sized hard barrels so I can take my board at speed and feel comfortable. This allows me to essentially point the board in the direction I want it to go, and the rear trucks then follow the front trucks. It makes carving downhill faster because the rear trucks don’t counter-steer by swinging the rear of the board outside the curve that the front truck is making. This is good for carving fast down hills, but bad if you want to be able to use your carve to slow down significantly, and it also requires more force to get the rear trucks to let go into a slide.
Whatever you do, enjoy the ride and try to keep things interesting. Change is good! I hope this has been helpful, and be on the lookout for more updates!
Upon going over my last post on bushings, I noticed a few important things that I missed, and I also wanted to show our blog readers some size comparisons between some of our stock bushings and some of the bushings we sell here in the shop, because SIZE MATTERS. As I said in my latest post, using a larger boardside bushing will result in a greater turning angle in the truck, thereby making it naturally more turny, all other things being equal. Putting a fatter or smaller bushing in the truck may be the difference between you getting wheelbite and avoiding it completely. For example, when you put a reflex bushing into a Randall 180 on our Maestro deck, the turning angle is increased in the truck and, assuming you are using a bushing of equal or greater durometer than the stock Randall bushing, wheelbite is now avoided. So the first thing I’m going to do is show you the difference in size between our bushings.
So, in order from left to right, the bushings above are:
1. Black/blue soft Bones Hardcore bushing
2. Red Reflex short cone
3. Green Reflex Tall Cone
4. Lime Reflex Barrel
5. Purple Venom Barrel
6. Orange Venom Tall Cone
7. Red Venom Short Cone
8. Orange Khiro Barrel
9. Stock Green Bear Barrel
10. Stock Red Randall Tall Cone
11. Stock Red Randall Short Cone
12. Stock White Gullwing Tall Cone
13. Stock White Gullwing Short Cone
14. Stock Orange Independent Tall Cone
15. Stock Orange Independent Short Cone
There are a few more that I might’ve missed. For instance, the Gullwing M1 boardside barrel bushings are about the same size as a Khiro barrel bushing. We do not currently stock Khiro bushings (CHECK THAT, WE NOW STOCK NEARLY ALL OF THE KHIRO PRODUCTS…THIS INCLUDES TONS OF THEIR BUSHINGS!), but send some emails to email@example.com requesting them, and I’m sure all of our prayers will eventually be answered I, personally, love Khiro bushings because of their large variety of shapes and durometers, but they don’t last as long for me as some other types of bushings, like the Reflex or Venom SHR.
The important thing to remember when looking at the above pictures is that size is relative. Randall stock bushings are designed to allow the Randall truck to turn at the exact angle the baseplate is set at (50, 42, or 35 degrees); Bear’s stock bushings allow the 52 degree truck to turn at 52 degrees, so if you put a slightly larger bushing in the boardside position of the truck, you might be running the truck at 55 degrees instead of the stock 52, which will be more turny.
I realized after I posted the other blog and people started coming in asking about bushings that I missed an important part of the whole setting up process, and that is the use of washers. I consider washers absolutely necessary only for the roadside bushing. The baseplate usually has enough mass for the boardside bushing to be comfortably supported for a super carvy setup; however, there are still plenty of situations in which you would want to use washers for both sides. There are approximately 4 types of washers you be using for longboard setups. These are:
1. Large cupped washers (to fit around barrel bushings)
2. Small cupped washers (to fit around coned bushings)
3. Small flat washers (to fit around barrel or coned bushings)
4. No washers (to free up space to fit everything on the kingpin, to allow minimum resistance against the bushing)
Cupped washers will usually provide a little bit more resistance against the turn and allow the bushing to move less in the bushing seat. Some cupped washers are deeper than others, and generally, the deeper the cup, the better it will hold the bushing and the more resistance it will provide. Flat washers will provide little resistance against the turn and are a good choice when you’re looking to get the maximum carve out of your bushings, but if you’re battling wheelbite with a particular setup, the first remedy to try is moving to a cupped washer. If that doesn’t work, try a harder bushing.
Lastly, sometimes, when battling with bushings and trying to find the right setup, you will fight and fight to get your bushings and washers on the kingpin and still be able to lock the nut down. On some trucks, you can easily replace the kingpin, and moving to a longer kingpin will easily solve this problem. Pull your kingpin out and get the same size at the hardware store or you can order online. Make sure to get a Grade 8 kingpin, as they are the strongest and will resist breaking over the long haul. Breaking a kingpin is one of the most temporarily confusing and dangerous things that can happen while skating, so take the right precautions, and you should be fine.