How to setup your longboard to be super stable
November 1, 2019
Going fast on your skateboard is one of the funnest things you can do. It’s exhilarating, feels amazing and is something everyone should experience at least once.
But more often than not, things do tend to get a bit … wobbly when you get to those higher speeds. This means a fun situation could quickly turn bad and a skater could end up getting seriously injured. Not something anyone wants.
So with that in mind, today’s article will be on how you can set your skateboard (or longboard) up to be more stable so you can hit those higher speeds safely.
How can you make your skateboard more stable?
How do skate trucks work?
In order to set up your skateboard to be as stable as possible, you first need to have a basic understanding of how a skateboard trucks work. This is because they are responsible for how stable you will be at those speeds. If you don’t set them up right, you will unavoidably get wobbles as you start going faster.
Trucks are typically made up of 3 main components:
- The first is the truck hanger. This is where the wheels are connected. It features a hanger, a truck axle and axle nuts.
- The second is the baseplate. The baseplate is where the hanger is connected. It controls the lean and turn of the truck and features a pivot cup, a kingpin, and space to accommodate the bushings.
- Lastly, we have the bushings. These basically act as the suspension of your skateboard. They control how turny, how loose, and how smooth your truck feels when it turns. They are also the easiest components to change if you want your skateboard to be more stable.
The above said, if you are keen you will notice that some trucks look different from one another, especially those you’d find on a skateboard and on your typical longboard.
These trucks were developed to perform and behave differently. And as you can imagine, they work best for different things.
Longboard vs skateboard trucks, whats the difference?
The trucks you find on a skateboard are called Traditional kingpin trucks (TKPs). And the trucks you would find on a longboard are called Reverse kingpin trucks (RKPs). The look kinda similar at first glance, but are actually very different.
What makes the traditional kingpin truck different?
- Thick hanger that can be used for doing grinds on coping and rails.
- A kingpin that is hidden away and is shorter than the hanger so as to not get in the way when you do grinds.
- A thick hanger that is beefy enough to handle the repeated impact of ollies and tricks.
- A progressive turn (turns exponentially) to allow for tight turns in skateparks and bowls.
Check out the Independent skateboard trucks here on Amazon.com, for a good example of a TKP truck.
The TKP really isn’t the best option for going fast on your skateboard, particularly because of the progressive turn. It makes them unstable as you pick up speed and more prone to wobbles. Not what you want in a skateboard truck for going fast.
But that said, you can still tweak them so they feel stable and perform well at those higher speeds.
What makes the reverse kingpin truck different?
The Reverse kingpin truck (RKP) was designed with longboarding in mind. It was designed to be stable, easy to use for cruising, to carve smoothly and to allow a skater to hit those higher speeds comfortably.
In general, the RKP trucks have a more linear lean to turn ratio. This means they only turn as much as you lean on them. This feature makes them a lot easier to control and keep stable when going fast and is the main reason people can hit speeds well over 70mph on them.
In short, they are the ideal option for skating fast.
They are also a lot more customizable and you can set them up to work differently for different purposes. You can do this by changing their bushings, pivots, and their washers. More on this later.
Looking for the best cruiserboards on the market? Check out my guide review some of the best here.
How can you make the TKP (skateboard) truck more stable?
Tighten down the kingpin nut
The easiest option to make your TKP more stable (ie, make your skateboard stable), is to simply tighten down the kingpin nut. Doing this makes the bushings deform and bunch up, and it makes your truck feel more stable.
This is the go-to solution if you don’t have a lot of resources at your disposal, or if you want to imprompt-uly bomb a hill.
But you should know that this isn’t the best solution. Overly tightening your truck will damage your bushings and make your truck perform differently than they were designed to. And whilst you will be less likely to get wobbles, you will find it harder to recover when you do get them.
Finally, tightening your kingpin will also shorten the working life of your bushings. When they are all squished up and bunched like that, you will force them to always be ‘working’. They will eventually lose their elasticity and will end up being permanently deformed.
Tightening down your trucks is a decent solution if you have no other option on hand. But it isn’t the best. If you are looking for something a little bit more sustainable, you should change your skateboard bushings all together.
Get aftermarket bushings
This is the best solution for a TKP truck. Replacing the stock bushings with aftermarket ones that are appropriate for your weight and style of riding will serve you far better than anything else.
But these bushings come in different styles and shapes, so it can be a bit confusing to pick the right one for yourself.
The first step to picking the right bushing for your needs is to understand the type of bushing that will fit and work in your skateboard truck.
You may need a skate tool to unscrew your kingpin nut with ease. If you don’t have one, check out the the Zeato all-in-one skate tool here on Amazon.com.
What type of bushings do you have in your truck already?
The cone bushing
The most common type of bushing in a skate truck is the cone bushing. Most of the trucks have one cone bushing on the top ( the side closest to the kingpin nut also known as the roadside bushing). And another on the bottom closest to the baseplate (boardside bushing).
Cone bushings allow for the best turning at slow speeds. They don’t have a lot of urethane to compress so they let your trucks turn freely.
The barrel bushing
The next common tkp truck bushing is the barrel bushing. This one is usually used on the boardside (the bushing closest to the baseplate). It supports your weight, helps limit the trucks lean.
Barrel bushings have a lot of urethane to compress and because of this, they are the go-to option if you want stability and ultimate control of your truck at high speeds.
So we’ve established the type of bushings you have in your truck. But what type of bushings can you actually go for?
Different properties of bushings and what they will do in your truck:
You can always go for harder bushings. Because the harder they are, the more force you will need to compress them. Simply meaning more stability.
So yeah the harder they are, the less the truck will lean and turn. Meaning, less wobbles and more stability at those faster speeds. But also, harder bushings mean less control from too much rebound. If you go to hard, you won’t be able to control your truck well.
You can also go for more urethane. The more urethane (or the more bushing) there is, then your truck won’t lean and turn as much. Instead it will ‘squish’ into the bushing. This means less wobbles and more stability at higher speeds. But it also means you will lose a lot of flow and turn at those slower speeds.
What bushing combination should you go for, for stability in a tkp?
My recommendation for the best stability at higher speeds would be a double-barrel combination. One on the roadside and one on the boardside of the skateboard trucks.
This combination gives you a lot of urethane to squish and in a way finer control of when and how your board leans and turns. Your truck also won’t flop about as it can with a double cone combination. It needs your input in order to move about.
As stable as this combination is, it won’t have the tighest turning circle at those slower speeds. But this is something worth sacrificing to avoid wobbles.
A good set of aftermarket bushings to go for are from the Riptide company. These guys are specialists in making bushings. I can attest to their quality. You can’t really go wrong with any of their products.
My bushing recommendations for TKP trucks:
If you weigh less than 150lbs, check out the Riptide Street Krank bushings at 90a here on Amazon.com.
These bushings are the appropriate hardness for those around that weight. If you are lighter than 120lbs a bushing in the 85-90a range would work decently for you.
If you are heavier than 170lbs, check out the Krank bushings in 93a here on Amazon.com.
But at the end of it all, tkps do have their limitations. These trucks simply aren’t designed to go fast. Even with my recommendation, it is likely you will still get wobbles as you break the 30mph mark.
If your inner speed demon is still restless even after going 30mph. You simply need to invest in RKP trucks for stability at 40+mph.
How can you make the RKP (longboard) truck more stable?
RKP trucks are the ones to choose if you want to go fast on your skateboard. They are the reason why downhill skaters can hit over 70mph without crashing.
As I said earlier, these trucks are designed to help you skate fast. And like the traditional kingpin trucks above, their stability is dictated by the bushings you use.
Check out the Paris trucks here to take a good look at what a reverse kingpin truck looks like.
Tighten down the kingpin nut
Your bushings will take a beating if you do this, and you will lose a lot of flow in your truck. It’s best and far more sustainable to simply replace the bushings.
Different types of bushings for RKP trucks
RKP trucks have a far more extensive line up of bushings than TKP trucks. Some of these include:
- Cone bushings
- Barrel bushings
- Step barrel bushings
- Double step barrel bushings
All the above bushings work differently. The cone is the smallest with the least urethane. The eliminator is the bushing with the most urethane (and stability).
With rkp trucks, you shouldn’t simply go for the thickest bushing. You won’t have much turn and you won’t enjoy using your skateboard truck much.
Instead, you need to combine one or two bushings to have a good balance between lean, turn and stability. The best of which is the barrel bushing.
Aftermarket bushings you should go for, for RKP trucks
For a good mix between lean, turn and stability. I suggest you go for a barrel bushing on the top and a stepped bushing on the bottom. The barrel on top allows for decent turning and the stepped cone prevent the truck from turning/leaning too much. You do sacrifice some turn, but it is negligible in my opinion.
If you weigh around the 150lbs mark, I suggest you get the 87a Barrel bushing and 87a freeride (step barrel) bushings from Venom. Check out the selection of Venom bushings here on Amazon.com.
If you weigh about 180lbs, go for the same setup but in 90a. And a lower durometer of 85a if you weight around 100lbs.
Venom are another experienced bushing manufacturer. Their CEO went 70mph in Colorado. Pretty dang crazy if you ask me.
Finally, for the best balance of lean, turn and stability, you should go for barrels all around. This may give you wobbles at higher speeds, but your trucks will still feel good at lower speeds. This is the option you should go for if you don’t want to constantly be swapping bushings in your truck.
If you just want stability. Eliminators all round is the go to. You trucks won’t budge much and will be solid at those high speeds. The same durometers apply for your weight.
Split angle trucks – advanced method
Just to touch on an advanced method – the main reason as to why some skaters can go 70mph and be stable. I will talk about split angle trucks.
Split angle trucks are when the angle of your front truck is higher than the back. So most of the turning of your truck comes from then. As an extreme example, think about the way a car drives – all the turning happens at the front.
By reducing the amount of turn the back truck provides, skaters are able to reduce the likelihood of wobbles.
This can also be achieved by using plastic wedges that increase or decrease the angle of your trucks. You can use these to lower the angle of your truck a few degrees to get more stability.
However, this method requires more technical know how. You will need to have harder bushings in the back because lower angle skateboard trucks provide more leverage. You will also need to tweak your trucks until they are perfect.
How does skill play in the mix of things?
Skill is the most important aspect of this process. No matter if you set the board up to be the best, you won’t be able to go fast without skill.
(Here are some tips to help you improve your downhill skating)
And this skill is simply a result of experience and skating. The more you skate, the more you build up those muscles that allow you to be in control, be relaxed and hit those high speeds on your skateboard.
This is something you simply have to work hard to achieve. There really is no shortcut to developing those muscles but skating.
Which method works best for you?
As you set up your perfect board, remember to take a small steps approach to skating fast. Skate at 15mph then 16, then 17. When you feel unstable, slow down and get used to skating at that speed.
If you push your limits too quickly, you could end up injuring yourself. You need to take this process slow and learn what each increment in speed feel like.
Alternatively, you could start half-way up a hill, then a few metres higher etc. etc.