10 Things about Bushings

hd_product_Riptide-APS-Double-Barrel-Bushings-(Assorted-Colors)

I had some idle time, and after ordering some new ones (Bones Hard Core) to try and spares, I thought: “what are the 10 things to know about bushings?”

So, to help, my 10 things to know…

  1. They are important – a bushing is a simple polyurethane item, but with a really complex job to do (including keeping you safe) balancing complex multi-directional forces. It is worth understanding how they work and getting the right ones for you.
  2. Guides, not rules – there is no definitive rule here – use what works for you. Mix what you want. There are some good guidelines on what to use for your riding style, board, trucks, and weight, but they are just guidelines. They are relatively inexpensive, but impact so much – buy a few, buy some spares. Try different ones. Buy a bagful.
  3. Different shapes – they come in different shapes (cones, barrels, stepped…) and construction (hard center, soft center…), which all work slightly differently depending on how you want to ride. It is OK to mix shapes on the top and bottom side to tune how the board performs.
  4. Different durometer – they come in different softness/hardness (rated in durometer or “duro”) which you match to your weight and riding style. It is OK to mix the duro on the top and bottom. There are plenty of guidelines for matching your weight and style to the duro.
  5. Different sizes – they come in different sizes (people often miss this): short, tall, fatter etc. Again it is OK to mix them and mixing is common; plus two that are tall can often not fit on the same kingpin.
  6. Match the truck – Some (it is rare) trucks are different to all others and need to work with specifically designed bushings – just make sure you don’t get mixed up.
  7. Cup AND bushing – don’t think just “bushing”, think “cup/washer+bushing”. The cup/washer, that the bushing sits on, also impacts how the board performs. Match the size and shape of the cup/washer to the bushing size and shape.
  8. Never cut to fit – never ever cut a bushing to make it fit. Cutting it will introduce micro cuts and tears which can sheer under pressure and leave you in a whole world of pain. If it does not fit, change it or the cup/washer.
  9. Replace? – if damaged, in any way – swap them out and throw away. Any damage can introduce a fault line which can then sheer under pressure. As said, they are inexpensive – just change.
  10. Good ones? – Yes, good ones are worth paying for – they are not “all just some plastic”. The formulas are different and how they perform can be very different – surprisingly so. Bad ones also run the increased risk of sheering. Even the best, however, are relatively inexpensive, so it is worth paying for the good ones from trusted brands like Venom, Riptide, BloodO, Oust, Orangatang, Shorty etc. if not sure, trust your local skate shop.

Note, virtually all boards/trucks come with stock cheap bushings, set up for whatever they consider is the ‘average customer’ weight and riding style. I would recommend always changing to what works for you – your weight and riding style. The Paris ones that came with their trucks I like, but some of the cheap ones used on e-boards are poor and I would replace straight away.

Regarding e-boards, there is not much difference between a conventional longboard and an e-board in terms of bushings. The trucks are generally the same. Most people just set-up their e-boards as a downhill longboard, for greater stability at speed, using stiff (high duro) barrel+barrel – but you can do what you want and run them differently if you want greater carving etc.

And finally, note that there is a small optimum range for the tightness or looseness of the kingpin nut. Too tight and you will deform the bushing and it will perform worse or, worse, sheer. Don’t over tighten to change the performance (or help reduce speed wobble), change the bushing.

Further information:

A great thread on Electric Skateboard Builders on setting up bushings: link

Truck bushing how tight?

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A common question I see on various forums, and talking to new boarders, is “how tight should I run my trucks?“, which is really how tight should the kingpin nut be in compressing the bushings and holding the hanger in place.

The thing to understand is that the bushings on a conventional truck have to do a very complex job of reacting to multi-dimensional forces and keeping you out of hospital. Importantly, there is an optimum for the nut tightness and bushing compression. Too slack and the hanger will move unpredictably and reduce control, especially with speed wobbles; however, too tight and the bushing will deform and not work properly with poor progression, even damage. Meaning there is an optimum for tightness and over tightening does not help, it can actually make things more dangerous. Better stability and control does not come from overtightening tightening the kingpin nut, it comes from using a different bushing shape and durometer. Similarly, if a board won’t turn well, requiring too much brute force, loosening the nut more also does not work; use a different shape or software durometer.

Below is an excellent video from New Zealand skater Crunchie, which shows how to tighten on the bushings.

E-boards’ trucks & bushings

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Red 93a Paris bushing

With rain outside (yet again), I changed the bushings on the Boosted Dual. The stock bushings are apparently 86a durometer, which in theory are too soft for me at 85kg (187lb). I say “in theory” because they don’t feel like 86a, they feel much firmer; however, they are easy to change, so why not. I had some spare Paris made barrels, so put in 93a board-side and 90a roadside. I may step-up to 94a+93a, but will try the 93a+90a combination first.

UPDATE: After trying it (I am 85kg), I moved up to the 94a+93a combination and have settled on that.

I used Paris bushings for now (the 94a’s I have are DohDoh), as they are what I had spare, but any good make – Venom, Oust, Blood Orange, Riptide etc. – would work. I see a lot of e-boarders talking about Orantang Nipples (I guess it is the Loaded marketing machine again), but they are too soft for me for downhill and speed, even their supposed “hard” ones are only 89a.

I like to run the e-boards like conventional downhill boards, based on the premise that both need to be stable at speed: two barrels and firm, rather than my usual barrel+cone cruising set-up on the conventional push boards. In simple terms, barrels have more surface area over cones and will hold their shape more.

 

 

With e-boards and their high-speeds, my preference would be to not run bushings at all and use spring trucks, like the Trampas or Seismic G5s. A polyurethane bushing has a complex job to do, given all the multi-dimensional forces it has to react against. Their dominance of the truck world comes from skateboarding, where they are cheap and make truck manufacturing easy; but skateboarding is not e-boarding, especially at speed. For now, however, I will live with the Boosted and Yuneec running conventional longboard trucks, but if there is ever an upgrade option, or I replace one of the boards with a Nottingham made Trampa or some exotic derivative, I will do it and go for springs.

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Finally, I see a lot of people jumping into e-boarding having not ridden push boards before, not a problem if people take it easy to learn e-boarding and build up the speed carefully. One thing, however, that does become apparent, with those who have not push boarded before, is that lack of awareness of how important bushings are and the need to use ones with a durometer that matches the rider and type of riding. Given how inexpensive and simple they are to change, there is a need to get greater awareness in the community and new riders using what is right for them; especially, given the job of a bushing is to keep you out of a hospital and enjoying the ride.

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Riptide bushings (note – there is no color standard, all manufacturers use different colors for their various durometer ratings).

Links: