What Are Skateboard Bushings? Shapes, Hardness Explained

When you think about skateboard performance, wheels and decks often steal the spotlight. However, skateboard bushings play a crucial role in how your board handles turns and maneuvers. These small, often overlooked components are made of polyurethane and sit between the truck’s metal parts, allowing for smooth, responsive movements.

Skateboard bushings come in three main shapes: cone, barrel, and wedge. Each type offers distinct advantages. Cone-barrel bushings, the most common, provide a balanced mix of deck lean and stability. For those who crave sharp turns and carving, cone bushings deliver maximum deck lean. Meanwhile, wedge bushings, though less common, offer superior rebound, perfect for riders seeking a snappier response.

Understanding the different types of bushings can significantly enhance your skateboarding experience. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned skater, knowing which bushing suits your style can make all the difference.

What Are Skateboard Bushings?

Understanding the Role of Bushings in Skateboarding

Bushings are key components that impact the turning ability and stability of a skateboard. Positioned between the hanger and baseplate of the skateboard trucks, they allow the board to pivot and respond to the rider’s movements. Since they absorb shocks and provide resistance, they can enhance trick performance and smooth out rides. Choosing the right bushing type depends on your riding style, whether it’s street skating, carving, or downhill racing. Heavier riders often need harder bushings for additional support, while lighter riders might prefer softer ones for increased maneuverability.

Materials and Construction

Skateboard bushings are typically made from polyurethane, giving them durability and flexibility. This material is ideal for handling various skateboarding stresses. Bushings come in various shapes, including cone, barrel, and wedge, each designed for specific skateboarding needs. The durometer, or hardness, of the bushings, plays a crucial role in defining their performance. For example, durometers ranging from 65A to 95A cater to different rider weights and preferences—softer bushings offer greater turning ability, while harder bushings provide more stability. By fine-tuning the tightness of the truck’s nut, riders can further adjust the feel and response of their bushings.

Types of Skateboard Bushings

Barrel Bushings

Barrel bushings, also known as straight bushings, offer a solid balance of stability and maneuverability. These bushings feature a cylindrical shape providing a consistent, predictable feel. Used typically in the bottom position of the truck, barrel bushings minimize wobble and enhance control at higher speeds. Skaters who prefer high-speed downhill skating or cruising often favor barrel bushings. Their shape helps maintain a steady ride, reducing the chances of speed wobbles and allowing smoother carves.

Cone Bushings

Cone bushings, or tapered bushings, prioritize maneuverability and sharp turns. These bushings have a conical shape, allowing for increased deck lean, which makes them ideal for technical tricks and carving. Positioned usually on the top, cone bushings enable a responsive and agile feel, facilitating quick turns and adjustments. Riders who enjoy a looser, surf-like experience often choose cone bushings to maximize their board’s turning ability. The less resistance from cone bushings makes them perfect for those seeking quick and dynamic movements.

Combining Different Shapes

Combining different shapes, such as a cone and a barrel, provides the best of both worlds. A common setup involves a cone bushing on top and a barrel bushing on the bottom, offering a mix of stability and responsiveness. This combination allows the board to remain stable at higher speeds while delivering the agility needed for technical maneuvers. Advanced skaters often customize their bushing setups by combining shapes to tailor their ride to specific preferences and skating styles. This hybrid approach offers versatility, accommodating different terrains and skating demands.

Hardness and Durometer

How Durometer Affects Performance

Durometer measures the hardness of skateboard bushings, influencing how a board responds when turning. Using the unit “A,” durometer values range from 60A (softest) to 100A (hardest). Harder bushings (e.g., 90A-100A) provide stability, ideal for downhill riding and tricks requiring less steering responsiveness. Softer bushings (e.g., 60A-80A) offer more maneuverability, suitable for carving and cruising. For example, a durometer of 95A results in less responsive but more stable turns, while an 85A bushing allows for easier turning and fluid motion.

Choosing the Right Hardness for Your Style

Selecting the proper bushing hardness depends on your weight, riding style, and preferences. Heavier riders often benefit from harder bushings to prevent board wobble; for instance, a rider above 90 kg might use a 95A-100A bushing. Lighter riders usually prefer softer bushings for better control; someone under 65 kg might find an 81A-85A bushing ideal. As a rule of thumb, those focused on tricks may choose harder bushings, while those into carving, cruising, or dancing might prefer softer bushings. Combining different bushing shapes and hardness levels can further customize the ride, balancing stability and responsiveness.

Installing and Adjusting Bushings

Step-by-Step Installation Guide

Installing skateboard bushings ensures your ride remains smooth and responsive. Follow these steps for a successful installation:

  1. Disassemble the Trucks: Use a skate tool or wrench to remove the nut from the kingpin. Take off the hanger and old bushings.
  2. Clean the Components: Wipe down the baseplate, hanger, and pivot cup using a cloth. Remove any dirt or debris from the previous setup.
  3. Place the New Bushings: Insert the new bushings onto the kingpin in the appropriate positions—one bushing below the hanger and one above it. Ensure there’s a washer between the bushing and nut.
  4. Reassemble the Trucks: Put the hanger back onto the kingpin, followed by placing the washer and tightening the nut. Leave enough play for the bushings to compress slightly under pressure.
  5. Lubricate Contact Points: Apply a thin layer of lithium grease to the pivot cup and bushing contact surfaces for smoother movement.

Adjusting for Optimal Performance

Adjusting your skateboard bushings is essential for the desired ride quality. Use a 14mm spanner to fine-tune the tightness of the nuts on the kingpin.

  1. Set Initial Tightness: Tighten the kingpin nut until the washers just start compressing the bushings. This acts as a baseline.
  2. Fine-Tune for Turnability: Loosen the nut slightly if you prefer easier turns and a more flexible board. This setting is optimal for street skating and tricks.
  3. Adjust for Stability: Tighten the nut for a stiffer feel, suitable for downhill and park riding where stability is crucial.
  4. Perform Test Rides: After each adjustment, test your skateboard to feel the response. Make incremental changes to find the sweet spot.
  5. Recheck Periodically: Over time, bushings soften due to use. Periodically recheck and adjust the tightness to maintain optimal performance.

Regular installations and adjustments guarantee that skateboard bushings perform efficiently, suiting your unique riding style.

Common Issues and Maintenance

Regular maintenance of skateboard bushings is essential for optimal performance. Addressing common issues promptly ensures a smoother and more enjoyable ride.

Troubleshooting Squeaky Bushings

Squeaky bushings are a frequent issue that many skateboarders encounter. This noise usually occurs when the bushings rub against the truck’s metal components. Here’s how to troubleshoot and resolve squeaky bushings:

  1. Lubrication: Apply a small amount of silicone-based lubricant to the pivot cup and around the bushings. Avoid petroleum-based lubricants as they can degrade the urethane material.
  2. Adjustment: Ensure the kingpin nut is neither too tight nor too loose. Over-tightening can cause excessive friction, while a loose nut may not secure the bushing properly.
  3. Inspection: Check for any cracks or damage on the bushings. Replace them if they appear worn out, as damaged bushings can contribute to the squeaking noise.

Taking these steps can mitigate squeaking and improve the overall performance of your skateboard.

When to Replace Your Bushings

Knowing when to replace your bushings is crucial for maintaining your skateboard’s responsiveness and reliability. Here are some indicators that it might be time for new bushings:

  1. Visible Wear and Tear: Inspect your bushings regularly for signs of cracking, splitting, or severe flattening. These are clear signs the material has degraded.
  2. Inconsistent Performance: If your skateboard feels less responsive, turns more sluggishly, or behaves unpredictably, worn-out bushings might be the culprit.
  3. Age: Even if there are no visible signs of damage, replace your bushings periodically based on the frequency of use. Heavy riders or frequent users may need to replace bushings every few months.

Regularly replacing worn-out bushings ensures your skateboard remains responsive and fun to ride, catering to various riding styles and conditions.

Conclusion

Understanding skateboard bushings and their role is essential for any rider aiming to enhance their performance. By choosing the right bushing shape and hardness for your style, you can significantly improve your skateboard’s turning ability and stability. Regular maintenance and timely replacement of bushings ensure that you enjoy a smooth and responsive ride. Don’t overlook the importance of addressing common issues like squeaky bushings through proper lubrication and adjustment. Staying proactive about bushing care will keep your skateboard performing at its best, allowing you to focus on enjoying every ride.

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