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.
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!