Bushings are an essential piece of a skateboard’s trucks.
Every skateboard truck has two bushings each—one that faces the ground and another that faces the board.
These plastic rings attach to the kingpin and enable the skater to pivot the board and complete turns.
Learn about the different types of bushings to discover which is best for you, when to change your skateboard’s bushings, and steps to follow to do it yourself.
Different Types of Bushings for Skateboard Trucks
Bushings are made of the same materials as skateboard wheels, which consist of a polyurethane (plastic).
Like wheels, they range in color, shape, and hardness.
Every skateboard truck comes equipped with bushings to provide a standard setup. However, you can order new bushings separately to fine-tune the setup of your skateboard or replace them if they are worn out.
Get familiar with the characteristics that categorize different skateboard bushings.
The first characteristic that bushings differ on is hardness.
Softer bushings are great for turning but not great for stability.
Harder bushings allow for tighter trucks and greater stability, yet limit turning ability.
Another factor that plays a role in the behavior of the bushings is the skater’s weight. Generally, heavier skaters should go for harder bushings.
There are two main shape categories for bushings: tapered (aka cone bushings), and straight (aka barrel bushings).
Bushings can be mixed and matched in a variety of ways.
The standard rule of thumb is to use a cone bushing on top and a barrel bushing on the bottom.
Best Bushing for Type of Board
Bushings are constructed in different ways to work for different styles of skateboards. The type you should go for depends on what type of skateboard you have.
If you have a good old-fashioned, traditional skateboard, it likely came with stock bushings.
These work just fine, but if you want to replace them to adjust the performance of your skateboard, you have options.
If you’re looking to optimize turning over all else, softer cone-shaped bushings are great.
If you’d rather focus on maximum stability and don’t mind compromising your turns, barrel-shaped bushings are a good choice.
Some technical skaters like to install barrel and cone bushings onto their boards. Lighter skaters should opt for softer bushings, and heavier for harder.
Soft and responsive bushings optimize carving, whereas you’ll want a stiffer and less responsive option if you’re riding downhill often and need high stability.
For a happy medium, a standard barrel bushing will work great for both cruising and carving.
Similar to regular boards, the type of bushings you should install on your longboard depends on your weight.
Freeriders should opt for harder bushings than longboarders.
The harder the bushing, the more stability when flying at high speeds or sliding, and the higher the responsiveness when turning. A double-barrel bushing setup is great for this type of skating.
Downhill skating works best when your board is constructed to reach maximum stability.
Double barrel or stepped hard bushings are your friend.
When to Change Your Bushings
Over time, bushings can start to deteriorate and affect the performance of your skateboard.
If your bushings are starting to crack or make noise when you are on the go, that’s a sign it’s time to replace them.
They typically last quite long, but this can range based on how often and aggressively you skate as well as the climate you live in and how you store your board. Hot and moist temperatures shorten the lifespan of bushings by drying them out.
Don’t fret if you’re noticing new bushings making noise at first, you do not have to replace them.
It can take up to seven hours of skating to break in new bushings.
How to Change Your Bushings
To replace your skateboard bushings, you will need a skate tool or regular socket wrench that fits the head (or nut end) of the kingpin. If you are unfamiliar with the kingpin, it is the big bolt in the center of the skateboard trucks.
Follow the below steps to replace your skateboard bushings.
- Disassemble the skateboard trucks by unscrewing the nut end of the kingpin and taking the washer off from underneath.
- Remove the entire skateboard truck by taking off the remaining pieces one at a time. Important: Make sure you are careful to not break or lose any of the pieces in this process.
- Clean each part of the trucks.
- Reassemble the skateboard trucks by putting all of the parts back into their original place on the kingpin. The order is as follows: baseplate, large washer, large bushing, hanger, small bushing, small washer.
- Tighten your skateboard trucks once all parts are in place using your tool. Pro tip: a tighter turn will give you stiffer trucks, which is great for tricks. A looser tightening of the nut will give you better carving ability.
Overall tightness or looseness of your trucks really comes down to personal preference. You’ll need to experiment to figure out what works best for you.