Key components to every skateboard, the trucks are the metal axles that hold the wheels. There are two trucks per set-up, holding two wheels apiece (not included). They should be durable and long lasting, capable of withstanding the wear and tear of the daily “grind.” In general, the trucks will be the only things left standing when your deck and wheels finally bite the dust, so invest well and choose reputable companies when buying.
Here is a guide to the parts and features that make up a typical set of skateboard trucks, as well as some information about how you can make your equipment work best for you.
BASEPLATE A baseplate is the flat part of the truck, which mounts directly to the skate deck, ensuring even pressure and a secure hold. The baseplate comes drilled with four – sometimes six – mounting holes, which should match up with the insert holes on your deck.To attach the baseplate to the rest of the truck, a kingpin (a large bolt that holds the entire truck together) fastens into a central pivot cup on the underside of the baseplate, into the surface that will face the ground when fully assembled. This allows the trucks to have a wider range of motion without too much grinding on the metal itself.
KINGPIN Just as it is in the automotive world, the kingpin is the most integral part of any skate truck. Essentially, this one thick bolt is the only thing that holds the entire apparatus together, fastening the axle (hanger) to the support cushions (bushings) to the baseplate connector. Luckily, kingpins are replaceable if they break, so you won’t have to buy new trucks.
BUSHINGS Rubber bushings are a major factor in the way that a board will respond to your movements, as they provide the cushioning support between the many pieces of the truck as it twists and turns during a skate session.There are two bushings per truck – four in total – and they come in several degrees of hardness. Harder bushings offer more resistance to rider input, a plus for heavier riders and technical riders who perform a lot of street tricks and don’t want a wobbly board. Softer rubber bushings mean more responsive trucks during turns, so if you’re big into cruising and carving, softer bushings may be more your style.
Unfortunately, bushings are susceptible to cracking, squashing and breaking, but they can be replaced if needed.
HANGER The hanger is the T-shaped aluminum alloy grind area of the trucks, with wheels attached on either side and the kingpin running up the interior, interlocking with the bushings. This is the part of the truck that will have direct contact with rails and curbs, so it’s essential that it be durable.Typically, hangers are about 10-13oz, with some companies marketing lighter weight models for a more premium price. In addition to the hanger’s weight, the width of the axle should definitely be considered when buying a pair of trucks, as the wheels need to be situated in a comfortable position with relation to your deck’s outline. This is usually within 1/4” of the deck’s edge.
Some people prefer a wider wheel stance, while others like the wheels set closer together. Heavier riders will likely have a wider deck and should therefore buy wider-set trucks. Otherwise, it’s a personal choice developed through trial and error. Note: some trucks are measured by hanger width and some are measured by axle width. Make sure you read the specs carefully to be sure you’re getting the right size.
RISERS Risers can be added to raise the skate higher off the ground, to absorb impact, and/or to decrease vibrations while riding. They are small, rectangular pieces of hard plastic or rubber (for shock pads) that come in a few different thicknesses. Each riser is punched with six screw holes so that they fit both small skates and longboards. These holes make it easy to secure the risers between the baseplate and deck. (Note: longer screws are needed to accommodate the risers. It’s best to look for screws that are an inch longer than the risers you add. In other words, 1/4” risers = 1-1/4” screws.) Typically, wheels over 56mm need risers to give the clearance necessary to make sharp turns.If you longboard or ride bigger wheels, chances are that you’ve experienced “wheel bite” once or twice. This is when a sharp turn on soft trucks leads your deck edge to lean on a wheel, abruptly stopping it from spinning and sending you hurdling off of your board. No fun. Risers will combat this issue, giving added room between your deck and wheels.
In some cases, risers can help ease the vibrations and impacts associated with street skating. Keep in mind that less feel during impacts translates to less feel during riding as a whole, so there is a little give-and-take to be acknowledged when considering risers. (A quick side note: Risers were the result of early trucks being too short for some decks. Now truck manufacturers make their models in different sizes and heights, so it’s possible to avoid the need for risers altogether by choosing the appropriate trucks to start with.)
TIGHTENING THE KINGPIN The kingpin, as discussed earlier, is the most integral piece of a truck’s construction. The hefty screw runs down the center of the truck, connecting the hanger to the baseplate, with the bushings sandwiched in between to cushion the metal during impact and any movement in general. Because bushings come in an varying degrees of hardness the exact amount of kingpin tightening necessary will vary. For more resistance during turns, the kingpin can be screwed in more tightly, making turning stiffer. However, if you want a more forgiving and soft feel, you can loosen the kingpin to allow more range of motion and easier turns.
“HIGH” VS. “LOW” KINGPIN When assembled, the head of the kingpin is fastened to the hanger, facing the ground. Because the hanger is used to grind, stall and perform other tricks, some skaters like having the kingpin situated flush with the rest of the hanger. This is a “high” kingpin truck. “Low” kingpins are set deeper into the hanger, leaving a gap in the surface area. The whole truck is seated lower to allow for more leverage in popping ollies or busting kickflips. Lowered trucks are primarily used by technical skaters.
NON-SLIP AXLES If your board comes down hard on its side, there is a possibility that the axle will slide, leaving one wheel stuck close to the trucks while the other juts out too far. Some companies are marketing non-slip axles, guaranteed to withstand impacts without getting knocked out of place.