Home News Longboard Setup Help: Bushings

Longboard Setup Help: Bushings

written by Team Rider August 11, 2010

Yooo Bustin Bloggers, it’s my first post here, so hello and welcome to the first of hopefully many posts where I will attempt to control your mind.

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.

Bushings

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!

-Wiggler

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21 comments

Brian Bishop August 11, 2010 at 8:22 am

this make’s me want to change my setup once again!!!

Leopoldo Finol August 11, 2010 at 9:53 am

Hey man, very informative post. Thanks. Keep illuminating us riders.

Poli August 11, 2010 at 10:23 am

Mix cones and barrels for happy mediums!

Cory Medlar August 11, 2010 at 10:45 am

Info we can all use, THANKS FOR SPREADING THE STOKE!!!

Leopoldo Finol August 11, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Hello,

I have some questions.

What are the bustin options for these setup? Which of the bushings bustin sells are cone or barrel shape?

What bushings offered by Bustin have different size and durometer? I had never seen these numbers before.

Thanks

Leopoldo

Yitzy Fuld August 12, 2010 at 9:34 am

haha my bro was tht new skater
awesome post

Adam August 12, 2010 at 11:22 am

Bustin carries a couple of different brands as well as different hardness which is shown by the durometer. You can play around with the barrel and the cone; most of the time, the barrel still farthest on the kingpin and then the axel then the cone then the nut. Different users play around with it flipping them changing them, each setup can and will be different.

Jeff August 12, 2010 at 2:23 pm

We’ve got Reflex, Venom, Venom’s SHR line, and Bones bushings. The Bones have a built in washer and work well with Indies. We’ve got tall cones and barrels in Reflex and Venoms, and our SHR’s are all cones/tall cones. We try to keep them all fully stocked. Right now, we’ve got virtually every Reflex durometer and shape. Those are my personal favorites right now.

Leopoldo August 13, 2010 at 11:11 pm

Adam, Jeff
Thanks for the information but in the bustin website such information is not shown. Durometer for bushings is not a value that I can see. I do see the ABEC number that seems related to tolerance and the rpm a bushing could spin.
It would be great to see a video with explanation for beginners, like the bushing and wheel installation that Mike Dallas starred.
Take care

Jeff August 14, 2010 at 1:57 am

The Reflex bushings follow the same color code as Abec 11/Retro wheels, like the zig zags. So the soft/mid-soft 80a lime big zigs match a the lime green 80a reflex bushing. It goes:

Green – 74a
Pink – 77a
Lime – 80a
Lemon – 83a
Orange – 86a
Orange+ – 89a
Red – 92a
Black – 95a

That’s a good idea on the video.

Adam August 16, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Also if you live close to the shop, it would be even a major plus if your a beginner because you can come by and ask anything you want.

Leopoldo Finol August 16, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Thanks for the information. Beginner yes. Live close to the shop, negative.

Jenica August 16, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Excellent! This is something every rider should read! Keep rockin em out Wiggler!

Brian Davenport August 17, 2010 at 10:16 am

great work guys!!

Mike D August 17, 2010 at 2:33 pm

good work scientist.

Max Dizon August 18, 2010 at 9:56 am

Great job guys!
Spread the stoak!

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Rhonda October 23, 2010 at 9:54 am

first, I’d like to say that I’m so pleased to find an article about bushings. I’m not a skater, I’m a mom of a young skater, so for now anyway, I get to help with this stuff. The scientific approach appeals to me because I feel it enhances safety. I could drone on with mom think, but I’d rather move along to a plea for further advice.

I have two small boys, 60 lbs and 80 lbs in the 6-8 camp. They skate with a 7 year old who’s got more gear than you’d imagine. The neighbor got a longboard for his birthday and the dad is saying the boys won’t be able to turn the longboards until they have more body weight. It sounds like maybe the stock bushings are medium barrel shapes and we can help them along. Right?

Thinking my way through your article, it sounds like we’re looking for cone shaped bushings, soft in the front and medium in the back… We have the stock trucks that came on the boards and some Code 7″ longboard trucks. Can you recommend some good bushings for us to try first? Thanks for any help you may be able to offer,
Rhonda

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drew haley December 19, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Rhonda,
I would suggest going to the nearest longboard/skate shop. They usually are the best place to go for advice because every situation is different and personal service optimizes the advice you are given. For example what kind of boards do they have, are they short, are they long, how wide is the board, etc. But the standard advice i would give you would be to

A. Loosen the trucks as much as possible it allows the board to turn easily and its free. If you dont have a skate tool at home any socket set will work. (start out with 1 full turn then test then use half and quarter turns to dial it in. Its all about the individual preferences)

B. Next i would recommend getting new bushings. Assuming your kidsweigh around 100 lbs I would suggest venom brand bushings because they are hands down the best brand of bushing on the market. As far as firmness and shape go an 81a barrel on the side closest to the road and an 85a barrel on the side closest to the deck would be the place to start. The soft roadside bushing allows the board to turn more easily and the firmer boardside bushing gives the board stability and prevents speed wobbles when inevitably they discover the joy of flying down hills. If they are lighter than 100 pounds you might want to try another brand such as Abec 11. I would try 74 barrels road and 77 barrels board or 77 road 80 board. Bottom line its all about experimenting with different combinations and what purpose they are using the board for, but ultimately its about what feels right to the rider, because a bad setup can really ruin the sport. Try these sites for more info about bushings.

http://longboardism.com/2011/07/venom-bushing-charts.html

http://thelongboardstore.com/bushings/abec11-0/

http://www.silverfishlongboarding.com/forum/longboard-skateboarding-trucks-bushings/211090-hi-kids-im-bushing.html

C. If that still doesn’t work i would try risers which are used to lift the deck of the board up, giving the rider more leverage over the trucks therefore less force (or weight) is needed to cause the board to turn. However the downside of risers is that because they raise the center of gravity of the rider it destabalizes the ride a bit potentially causing more crashes and making the board less controllable at medium/high speeds of going downhills.

This website is a great source for information on risers

http://www.randal.com/guides_faq.html

D. One simple tip to make turning easier which is a bit counter-intuitive is going faster. Longboards turn more easily at speed because the faster you are going the farther you are able to lean to the inside or outside which allows the rider to impart more force to the trucks/bushings resulting in tighter turns.

(I know that went a little long but i hope it helps you or someone else in need of advice)

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