You’ve picked out a deck, know what size you like to ride, and now you need something to hold those wheels on while you rip. That’s where trucks come in. This article will fill you in on everything you need to know.
What Are Trucks
The trucks are metal axles that attach to the skateboard using hardware, or a set of eight nuts and bolts. They work like car axles, each one holding two wheels in place and letting you turn left and right while you ride. No skateboard is complete without them, and they are arguably its most durable, if not abused component. They retail almost anywhere for about $30 to $50 for a set of two.
Evolution of the Truck
Years ago, picking the right trucks was a lot easier than it is today – all you needed was the right diameter (width) to match your board, maybe you had some brand loyalty – and you were ready to ride. Nowadays, many companies have come to rely on custom paint jobs, embossed logos, alluring designs, and other bells and whistles that won’t make you any better a skater, but usually serve to drive up the price and make you a moving billboard.
What Are They Made Of
Trucks are almost always made of metal. In some cases they are plastic, but these are found on mass-produced boards in retail stores and aren’t too safe to ride on. Some companies have tried in the past to make them out of lighter alloys, such as titanium, to decrease the overall weight of your board, but again they make little difference in how you ride, and tend to grind down a lot more quickly than those made of denser, heavier metals.
Pieces and Parts
The truck itself is actually a combination of separate pieces. For starters, there is the base, which attaches to the bottom of the board with hardware through pre-drilled, standard-spaced holes. All boards are designed to take any trucks, so don’t worry about whether the trucks and deck will match up right – they will!
Next is the hangar, or the axle itself: the long flat piece that runs across the width of the board and holds the wheels. The hangar is attached to the base with a long, sturdy bolt called a kingpin.
On the kingpin, between the base and the hangar, sit a pair of rubber bushings, which absorb impact and allow the axle to flex from side to side. These little washer-shaped rings are what let you maneuver the board while riding.
The degree to which you can turn when you lean on your board is determined by how soft or hard your bushings are, and how tight or loose you adjust the nut on the kingpin. All these are matters of preference, and while all trucks come with factory sets, bushings have differing ‘hardnesses’ – measured on a scale called the durometer – and can be purchased separately. A higher number on the durometer means a harder bushing, while a lower number means the bushing will be softer and more flexible.
These are the key components of the truck. Let’s move on to how to pick what’s right for you!
Choosing the Right Trucks forYou
Brand is mostly a matter of preference. There are more than a few dozen major truck companies, some more easily recognizable than others. A few have been around since skateboarding’s earliest days, though many more have sprung up over the past few decades. If you’re unsure about a particular brand, or haven’t heard anything one way or the other, it’s always easy to ask your friends at your local skate shop, or check online product reviews to get a feel for what might suit you best.
The most important aspect of picking the trucks that are right for you is diameter. Most skateboarders prefer to use an axle width that matches the width of their board. For instance, if you ride a 7.75” board, most companies offer a 7.75” truck to go with it, and the same for other standard sizes. Trucks are measured from one end of the axle to the other, so when they go on, your wheels should just line up with the edges of your board. Some companies, like Independent, measure in millimeters instead of inches, so you’ll have to do a little conversion or a quick online search to find out if you want the 129s or 139s, or what have you.
For longboards, pool-skating decks and ‘old school’ style boards – all boards that are usually wider than the traditional modern deck, and have more diverse shapes and curves – there are companies that produce wider trucks, usually up to 10” or 10.5.” Some go even wider, but you can expect to find anything up to a 10” truck rather easily, either at your shop or through most online retailers.
If you’re going for a unique style, it won’t hurt you to pick trucks that stick out a bit beyond your board, and wider trucks do offer more stability for downhill speed skating and pushing around in general.
Color & Style
As for color, style, and custom images or words printed on the truck, this again is all a matter of your own personal preference. If you want that pro-skater’s signature or the ice-cream colors to make your board stand out, there’s an endless array for you to choose from. But always remember that the trucks take quite a beating, and the colors and logos won’t last long once you start riding. If you start out with a pair of plain metal trucks, they’ll have the same classic look until the day you stop riding. The choice is yours, and part of what makes skating such a great individual activity.
Setting Them up
Tools: For your mounting hardware, you’ll need either a Philips head screwdriver, or Allen wrench key, which is usually provided with your hardware. You will also need either an adjustable wrench, or 1/2″ socket for your kingpin.
When mounting the trucks to your board, make sure you have the kingpins facing each other, pointing inward to the center of the board. Simply put your hardware bolts through the top, and tighten the nuts on the underside. Be careful not to overtighten, or your board will develop stress cracks that run along the grain of the plies.
To avoid stress cracks and adjust your board’s height, you might want a set of riser pads, which are the same size as the truck base and sit between the deck and the trucks. They come in a variety of thicknesses, and some are softer to help absorb more impact when you ride. These are widely available, but an optional component for your board.
Loose, or Tight?
Your kingpin is easily adjusted with a wrench or proper socket. Just twist it to the left or right (remember, right for tight and left for loose) until you’ve found the setting that’s most comfortable for you. It’s best to turn them about a quarter-turn at a time, so you can keep track of what works and what doesn’t without going too far. Once your new bushings begin to break in, the trucks may loosen up on their own. Simply readjust them, and you’ll be good to go.
Now you’ve got your board and trucks – next, we’ll go on to picking out some wheels and bearings, and you’ll be ready to roll!