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Skateboard Trucks – A Detailed Guide

Skateboard trucks are the most important part of any skateboard and whilst the deck may get all of the glory, it’s the truck that provides the heart and soul of any skateboard.

Trucks contribute the most to how your skateboard feels due to multiple factors. First, trucks are the longest lasting component, a pair of trucks can last well over five years and most skaters like to think that trucks actually improve with age.

Skateboarding originates from surfing and carving is a very important part of the skateboard experience. Trucks are the only thing that allow you to carve/steer. It’s the main reason for their existence. All trucks have a kingpin nut that can be tightened or loosened but all that does is control how wobbly the truck feels. How well a truck really turns is decided by its geometry and that was determined when the truck was made. You’ll find that some trucks naturally turn much better than others.

For this in-depth guide to skateboard trucks we’ve broken it down into sections that relate to turning capability, weight, ride height, bushings and kingpin clearance.

TURNING CAPABILITY.

As alluded to above. All skateboard trucks have a kingpin that can be tightened or loosened to control how loose or wobbly they are. The maximum angle that a truck can reach and therefor turn is due to the geometry that was chosen when it was being designed.

Essentially the greater the maximum angle, the greater the turning capability. That in turn dictates how big or small the turning circle will be and how tight you can carve.

There’s a great deal of fun to be had just carving about on a skateboard. Ultimately this is the essential essence of skateboarding distilled down to its most base level and a tighter turning truck will do this better.

Most people aspire to ride their trucks loose. It’s arguably more fun and can make some things easier to do. On the other hand it can make balancing more difficult, especially to begin with.

Ace and Independent both offer incredibly tight, responsive turning.

Skateboard Trucks capacity to turn show with a protractor.

It’s important to remember that skateboarding is whatever you want it to be. If you prefer to ride your trucks tighter/stiffer then that is your choice and no-one can tell you otherwise! The benefit of riding your trucks stiffer is you may find it easier to balance and easier to try certain tricks. It’s also fine to adjust and keep adjusting until you find somewhere that suits your skateboarding.

WEIGHT.

Trucks are mostly made from Aluminium and Chromoly. Because trucks are made of metal they therefor contribute a large part of a skateboards weight. Some trucks are significantly lighter than others. Some people believe this can help with certain tricks, requiring less effort to manipulate. There are others who view the inertia caused by a more massive or heavy truck helps.

Skateboard Trucks Hollow Axle For Weight Reduction

To reduce weight many truck manufacturers like Royal opt to use hollow axles and hollow kingpins. These manufacturing decisions have very little impact with strength and have become the most popular and common way to reduce weight.

Other methods that are used to reduce weight involve removing material from either the inside of the hanger (the part that houses the axle) or the baseplate (the part that attaches to the deck). Venture trucks were one of the first brands to remove weight in this way.

Occasionally truck companies use different materials. For example Independent Titanium trucks replace the usual chromoly axle for titanium. A much lighter material with a better strength to weight ratio. It’s important to note that the rest of the truck is made as normal using aluminium and chromoly.

Tensor is the only brand that uses a Magnesium Alloy instead of aluminium as the ultimate in weight reduction but with some sacrifice of durability.

RIDE HEIGHT.

Different brands of truck offer slightly different ride heights. The benefit of having a lower truck is the resulting lower centre of gravity can make technical tricks a little easier. The downside is you are more limited on maximum wheel size. Higher trucks allow a greater choice of wheel size. The differences in ride height are never huge, normally only a matter of millimetres between the highest and lowest but this can have an effect that will be felt at some point. As a truck turns one wheel moves away from the deck and the other moves towards the deck. The combination of wheel diameter and truck height will mean that sometimes the wheel will actually touch the deck. When this happens it’s called wheel bite.

Every skateboarder will experience wheel bite at some point. Often it’s without consequence but occasionally it will cause a braking effect which can contribute to you falling off. It’s much more noticeable with softer wheels due to their inherent stickiness. You can see the aftermath of wheel bite as small pits on the deck directly beneath the wheels.

BUSHINGS.

Bushings are the two polyurethane cylinders that sit between the hanger and the baseplate. They are made from there same material as skateboard wheels and come in lots of different hardnesses. When you buy a set if trucks they often include medium hardness bushings which are fine for many people. If however you are smaller and lighter you may find that the standard bushings feel too stiff. If you are a heavier skater you may find that they feel too soft and can’t be tightened up enough. It’s important to change these if either of these scenarios are the case. Having the right hardness bushing can really make a difference to your confidence skateboarding but it may require quite allot of trial and error getting it right.

KINGPIN CLEARANCE.

Kingpin clearance is the height difference between the kingpin and the hanger. It’s an important measurement as it impacts how well your truck deals with grinding. Less kingpin clearance results in the kingpin getting caught on the obstacle being ground. This is likely to quickly wear the kingpin down, making it difficult to remove in the future. This negative effect is even more profound when performing certain tricks like smith-grinds and feeble grinds. It will also make some tricks harder as kingpins are more sticky than the aluminium hanger. Greater kingpin clearance is a good thing.

Ultimately there is no perfect “best” truck. Each skater has their own way of coming to that conclusion and different people think different trucks are the best. Here at Forty Two we wouldn’t sell something that we didn’t think was good enough. Even the most affordable trucks will do the necessary job but some of the more established trucks will tackle kingpin clearance and turning better.

If you have any further questions about trucks please don’t hesitate to call us on 01159504852.