Understanding Skateboard Bushings – A Complete Guide
The colored, rubber-like cylinders in the centers of your trucks are called bushings. Bushings are usually made of urethane and most longboard skateboard configurations include two per truck. The bushings are what allow your trucks to turn and tilt.
Your bushings will have a noticeable impact on how well you can move around curves, what direction your board faces when riding downhill, and what angle your board can be tilted at before it starts to wobble. The durometer of your bushings will also affect how stiff or bouncy they feel when you turn.
What Are Bushings Used For On A Skateboard?
Bushings are an essential component of skateboard trucks. However, all skateboard trucks come with bushings already installed. Manufacturers establish a standard configuration that is completely compatible with the trucks and suitable for the majority of skaters.
The hardness of bushings is measured in A-durometers, with the higher the number, the harder the polyurethane. The effect that your bushings’ hardness has on driving behavior is quite straightforward:
- The bushings that are harder make your trucks less responsive when turning.
- The softer the bushings, the more responsive and easy to turn your trucks will be.
Pro Tip: the heavier you are, the harder your bushings should be.
|Your Weight||Bushing Durometer|
|140 lbs or less||86A to 90A||81A to 85A|
|140 to 175 lbs||91A to 95A||86A to 90A|
|175 to 200 lbs||96A to 100A||91A to 95A|
|200 lbs or more||100A||96A to 100A|
How Do Skateboard Bushings Work?
Bushings are made of polyurethane and come in a variety of designs and hardness. They have a significant influence on the way your skateboard feels and performs. Bushings aid steering by allowing you to lean in one direction depending on the hardness and weight of your board, as well as the amount of force you apply. Depending on how hard you turn or carve, the amount of force applied compresses your bushings, changing the angle of attack for your trucks’ hangar.
Once your bushings have returned to their natural position (uncompressed), we refer to rebound. When turning your skateboard, the pivot cup also has a role to play.
When comparing a high-quality and low-quality bushings, the difference will be more evident. Low-grade bushings are less responsive and take longer to rebound than high-quality bushings. Over time, rebound fades, so look for better bushings when purchasing a new set. They will outlast you and provide more stability and response.
Bushings have a board side (top bushing) and a roadside (bottom bushing), which means one goes on top and the other on the bottom. Because it is closest to your board, most of your weight is placed on the bottom bushing.
The top bushing acts as a damper for most of the forces when you steer and compress it. While supporting the bottom bushing, the one on top suffers less torque and basically helps to keep your truck together. When the bottom bush is fully compressed, the top bushing will take over.
When Should I Change My Skateboard Bushings?
If your bushings show cracks, are starting to fall apart, make noise (not if they are brand new), or can be squished, it’s time to replace them. Bushings have a long lifespan depending on how often and aggressively you skate. Other elements include storage and weather conditions.
Bushings are prone to wear and tear when exposed to extreme temperatures or kept in heated, moist environments. Squeaky noises indicate that the bushings have dried out and can be remedied by filling the pivot cup with soap shavings or candle wax. It’s a low-cost fix that may resolve the noise. If it doesn’t, replace them.
Your washers may be a bit too big and begin to move around your kingpin, making clicking noises. It’s not very often that this happens, so it’s best to just change the washers.
How Do I Choose Skateboard Bushings?
Bushings are two in each package. The top bushing on your skateboard truck allows your board to turn, while the bottom bushing can be adjusted by tightening or loosening the nut for improved maneuverability. Loose stability (especially at high speeds) and tight turning result in loose meaning better turning but reduced stability, while tight means greater stability but decreased reactiveness.
Skateboard bushings for each style is determined by:
- Get cone/barrel-shaped or cone/cone-shaped bushings for street skating and technical tricks.
- Bowl, park, and vert skaters use cone/barrel-shaped bushings.
- Soft bushings are necessary for carving on longboards.
- The bushings for downhills and racers must be stiff to guarantee stability.
Picking the appropriate bushings may make all the difference in the world, and their quality varies considerably. Make sure you understand what it takes to create a great bushing.
Hard Vs. Soft Skateboard Bushings
The bushings on your skateboard will have a significant impact on turning and stability. Bushings with softer material will help you turn better but not provide as much stability. Harder bushings will make your trucks tighter, making it more difficult to turn your skateboard. You can only adjust your trucks’ tightness to a certain extent. If you think you can’t go any tighter with the nut and still believe your trucks are too loose, consider upgrading to harder bushings.
Similarly, when your truck’s nuts feel as if they’re about to come off, it’s time to search for thinner bushing. Remember that fresh bushings take some time to break in; be patient and skate them for a few days before changing them.
Shapes Of Skateboard Bushings
While bushings come in a variety of forms, not all are suited for your riding style. Skateboards with traditional cone and barrel construction are the most common type among skateboarders. Longboarders, on the other hand, may select from a wider range of bushing shapes and sizes.
Cone & Barrel Bushings
The most popular skateboard combination is a cone and barrel bushing. This phrase refers to the standard or normal bushings, which include a cone-shaped and a barrel-shaped bushing.
The bottom barrel bushing adds stability and the cone allows you to spin and turn your skateboard. This configuration is frequently offered as standard equipment by many trucks.
Some skateboarders like a softer or harder barrel and cone. A firmer barrel will give more balance, while a softer conical bushing will still allow your board to turn and pivot. The combination is also popular for cruising and longboards.
They are less responsive than a pair of conical-shaped bushings. These bushings are mostly utilized for street and skatepark skateboarding, unlike the cones/barrels that come standard with most trucks. The usual cone/barrel bushes are available in stock with most trucks.
Bushings with a cone shape are fantastic for turning and carving, yet they’re typically better suited to longboards and cruisers. Because of their conical form, they have less polyurethane (less mass and resistance) than traditional bushings; as a result, the deck lean is greater.
The shape has less structural strength in the center, making them perfect for carving. The broad end should point upward and the narrow end downward. If you’re a hefty rider, keep searching for another form; otherwise, you’ll wind up with too much deck lean and uncontrollable turns.
You can compensate for this by using harder barrel bushings, as well as a softer cone bushing. More deck clearance might also assist you in avoiding wheelbite. If you’re under 140 pounds, choose durometer 87A; if you’re over 140 pounds, go with 93A.
This is the most popular combination, according to many skateboarders, specifically Bones double-cone bushings.
Bones Hardcore bushings are available in soft, medium, and hard hardness levels. Soft bushings have a Durometer 81A (61B), medium bushings have a 91A (71B), and hard bushings have a 96A (76B) hardness level. Street skaters prefer these Bushings because they provide a bit more stability.
Barrel bushings are among the most popular bushing shapes in skateboards and longboards because of their symmetrical form. The polyurethane bushings have the greatest pressure surface, density, and stability.
These bushings are ideal for those who need speed. Downhill skaters and speed junkies tend to prefer these bushings, as they keep the board from wobbling when going fast. Double barrel bushings are more suited to longboards than regular skateboards.
This is the perfect shape for a downhill speed freak or a longboard freerider who wants to go fast. The stiffness will provide you with plenty of stability while riding at high speeds.
Look for the brands like Bones, Independent, Khiro, Mini logo, and Oust for a regular skateboard. Longboard riders should look for bushings made by Venom, Ronin, Riptide sports, and Rad. Don’t forget to use cup washers with them for more rebound and stability. Carving and slalom aren’t suggested.
Due to their stiffness and ability to compress and release to the center, these bushings are perfect for downhill riders and longboarders. Stepped bushings have a high rebound but are stiffer in general, making them less responsive. They’re larger than standard bushing seats and intended to fill them.
Stepped bushings come in a variety of various shapes and forms. Some are more curved, while others are more straight or have a small bend to them. Bushings can be thought of as a mix of barrel and truck bushings owing to their form. Longboards and cruisers are suitable for them, but they aren’t meant for regular skateboards.
If you want your trucks to be really tight, go for double-stepped bushings instead of single-stepped ones. Even if you have softer bushings, their form generates a significant amount of lean resistance. They have the same general form as stepped bushings, but they are topped with an indentation. Stepped bushings are also known as stepped barrels owing to their similar shape.
They are highly elastic and possess a lot of rebound, meaning they snap back to the center quickly. Only for longboarders who enjoy speed and quicker activities! This combination would be impossible on a conventional skateboard.
Adding a barrel on top and a stepped bushing on the bottom provided more stability to the trucks. Downhill longboarding is one of the most difficult types of longboarding, so this is an excellent option. The stepped bushing gives stiffness and lean resistance while allowing for a stable ride.
The combination of bushing shapes on top and bottom will provide a lot of rebound. Once again, make sure to pick up cup washers to enhance stability even further. In general, this combination isn’t suggested for regular skateboards.
It’s a cone-shaped bush with smaller surfaces placed on top of each other. This makes for a highly responsive longboard that allows for excellent carving and turning. Downhill riding is not recommended because the high velocities would cause the trucks to wobble.
The larger surface area on top provides more resistance than barrel bushings, resulting in less shape distortion. When leaning, the bottom is the opposite; they have excellent rebound. If you want greater stability, add some cup washers. This combination isn’t appropriate for normal skateboards and is only appropriate for slalom skating.
Skateboard bushings are what makes your skateboard turn. Their shape, hardness and the tightness of your truck nut play a big role in what kind of responsiveness you will get from them.
Harder bushings provide more stability when riding at higher speeds but less responsiveness while softer ones do the opposite. The right choice depends on what you want to achieve with your skateboard and what type of skating you pursue.
If you’re still unsure what to pick check out our guide on how to choose skateboard trucks that covers all important aspects as well as tips for picking the right size according to your height, shoe size, and other factors like turning radius.