10 Things about Bushings

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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

Muir Skate Closing Down

Muirskate

Very sad to hear that the legendary US retailer Muirskte are closing down 25th of April (next month).

I don’t know anything about why, other than what they posted on Instagram: Instagram PostI can only guess the longboard market has peaked and there are just not enough sustainable sales. For every 10 people on skateboards I still only see 1 person on a longboard and never someone under 30. Plus, if I was a kid, I would not really have the money to spend on premium longboards – skateboards are just significantly cheaper than premium longboards. Equally, virtually all e-boards are now bought online direct from the maker, there are no real independent shops for e-boards (which is not good, we need good local customer support and not just ‘send back to China’). That’s a tough market for Muirskate, and others, especially if they have to hold lots of expensive stock.

Sorry to hear this guys, thank you for all the effort and promotion of the sport. Good luck with your next adventure.

E-board Myths

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(myth – “a widely held but false belief or idea”).

I see a lot of people looking, who are new to e-boards, many who are also new to skateboarding or conventional longboarding – which is great, the more that get to enjoy it, the better the community and the industry will get. Come on in. Consequently, I thought it worth getting some of the re-occurring myths busted to help new folk – so my starter for 5:

  1. E-boards have brakes and can stop – any abrupt stopping capability would be highly dangerous, the good ones have an ability to progressively slow you down, that’s it. You need technique and riding skill, as well as finger control.
  2. It is safe and legal to ride through city traffic (like some no-helmet reckless social-celebrity fuckwit in NY) – in most cities, it is not legal and certainly not safe (god-forbid no helmet).
  3. E-boards are good for long commutes – they are actually a PITA: slower, more stressful, more dangerous and certainly less robust than any cycle. Get one for fun, and the occasional commute, but really just fun.
  4. You can ride happily in the wet – a few e-boards have water-resistant ratings on some parts, but that does now include things like the bearings, which will rust quick. More importantly, you significantly lose grip both on the road and deck in the wet – 20mph with minimal grip..? I can show my accident photos as to why it is not worth it.
  5. They are consumer ready items, just buy and go – this is still early days in the market evolution. Based on the community and personal experience, more e-boards turn up with faults or quickly develop faults, than not; hence, be ready and think how you are going to things fixed. Equally, they all need a basic set-up and importantly set-up for your weight and riding, which may mean changing the bushings. I am still amazed that e-boards don’t ship with a range of different duro bushings and some instructions as to why they are important and how to change.

Disclaimer – sure, these are just my opinions, nothing more. I am happy if you disagree, just not on the no-helmet riding bit – just don’t do it folks. Brain damage is not cool.

 

Interesting Gear: Alkimist Longboards

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I found another small European maker, the French company Alkamist Longboard, with some nice looking downhill boards and some very stylish wheels. I will have a look more at the wheels and am very tempted. Never been one for white wheels, but these are the first that got my attention.

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Got the family stable together before wrapping-up for winter

boards - topside

Finally got the family stable together: six Europans and a Canadian.

From left to right:

  • Hackbrett Balance
  • Hecs Decks Fish (Gullwing+Metro Express)
  • Kaliber Wild Africa Affe (Paris V2 trucks+Orangatang Kegel wheels)
  • Curfboard
  • Zenit AB
  • Jungle Pintail (Paris Adam Colton trucks +Blood Orange Liam Morgan wheels)
  • Hecs Decks King Louis (Paris V2 trucks +Metro Motion wheels)

boards - underside

The beautiful walnut Balance will get wrapped up for winter (summer, no grip board), along with the Afee (gets a break and donates the Kegels), King Louis and Jungle Pintail (another cafe posing only). The Hecs Fish stays out (as always, it is the easiest to transport), the beautiful cherry and carbon-fiber Zenit AB is getting re-gripped, and gets the Kegels for a change, and the Curfboard needs more practice and experimentation.

How much to spend?

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A few friends have asked me lately about returning to skating, after long absences, and buying a longboard (complete), so I thought it worth documenting how we framed it, specifically in answering the question: “how much do I need to spend?”.

Longboards and skateboards, like cycles and other basic mechanical things, are simple items and, when buying, you get what you pay for – more money just buys better-made parts. Equally, unlike with the luxury goods market, there is no real rarity, nor overly powerful brand names, where demand falsely drives up prices – this is a buyers market, not a sellers, so you are simply buying components that have been made to a price-point.

In very general terms, I categories boards sold into the following cost brackets:

  • <£75 – supermarket trash; don’t buy, the experience is just not going to make you want to progress and stick with it.
  • £75-150 – cheap cruising starters, but they are not going to last or progress with you. You will replace at some time – they are not keepers, but are perfectly good to start on and importantly get confidence.
  • £150-250 – decent complete boards that can be more focused on the type of boarding you want to do: freestyle, carving, downhill, dancing etc.
  • £250-400 – quality custom-assemblies (deck, trucks, wheels, bearings etc.)
  • £400+ – exotic, custom-builds: beautiful and exotic material, your own design etc.

There are always going to be a few exceptions and bargains to be found; we bought for my younger son (aged 7 at the time) in a closing-sale an Atom 36″ drop-through for £50, which was a great starter for him and over the year we only needed to change the bearings (£15).

Rather than  buy a complete board, if you want to assemble your own board, which is easy to do, I would look to pay roughly the following for the parts:

  • Deck: £150-300
  • Trucks (pair): £50-150
  • Wheels (set of 4): £30-70
  • Bearings (set of 8): £15-100

To me, a good self-assembly would start at £280-300 – less than that and I think you can get better value from buying a complete board from a single maker.