Longboard Bushings for Beginners: In-Depth Guide

Closeup of barrel and cone bushings for skateboards and longboards

In this comprehensive guide, we take a deep dive into longboard bushings. We talk about shapes, hardnesses, ideal setups and answer some of the most important questions on the topic.

What are longboard bushings?

Skateboard and longboard truck bushing parts illustration

Despite their small size and insignificant appearance, bushings can make or break a longboard setup.

Bushings are urethane rings seated on the kingpin, locked into place by the kingpin nut. Each truck has two bushings - one seated at each side of the truck hanger.

There's an array of different bushing shapes and bushing hardness ratings. Each combination allows you to dial in your longboard to accommodate your desired ride style.

clarification of what is boardside and roadside bushings on a longboard and skateboard

Bushing locations:

Bushings positions are either referred to as boardside or roadside, depending on their location on the trucks.

  • Boardside - The bushing closest to the deck. It is seated between the baseplate and hanger.
  • Roadside - The bushing closest to the road. It is seated between the kingpin nut and hanger.

What is the function of bushings?

Truck bushings act as a cushioning layer to prevent the surrounding metal components from wearing and tearing on one another.

Bushings directly affect:

  • ride stability
  • turn radius
  • how your board leans
  • how much rebound your board has

While small truck changes can be made by loosening/tightening the kingpin nut, larger changes happen on a bushing level.

Why do bushings matter?

Swapping stock bushings for custom bushings optimized for your weight and riding style can turn your mediocre longboard into pure bliss.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with stock bushings, they're designed with the broad spectrum of riders in mind. It's a "one-size fits all" scenario. It might be fine for beginners, but when you develop your ride style, standard bushings will perform subpar to specialized ones.

Bushing shapes

Bushings come in a variety of different shapes that each serve a different purpose. While really niche shapes exist, these are the most common ones:

Barrel bushings

tall and short barrel bushings

The barrel shape bushing is arguably the most common choice for stock setups. Barrels fill the bushing seat completely, yielding lots of stability at the expense of turnability as it limits the hanger's ability to move.

Barrel bushings are excellent for downhill or freeride longboarding, but soft ones will allow for some carving action as well as they have less resistance. Barrel bushings come in short and tall variants. The taller ones are more steerable.

Cone bushings

Short and tall cone bushings

As the name suggests, these bushings are shaped like cones. You'll find them in short and tall variants.

Unlike barrels, the cone shape allows the hanger to move more freely. This translates to a far more responsive truck that is lively even at low speeds. If you like carving and don't care too much for speed, the cone bushing is ideal for you. Keep in mind, it is less stable than barrels at high speeds.

Short cone bushings give the hanger more freedom than the tall ones. This makes tall cones a solid midway between a barrel and short cone bushing. It is also worth mentioning that the tall variant is most commonly used with RKPs (reverse kingpin trucks) while the short ones are typically seen on TKPs (traditional kingpin trucks).

Stepped barrel bushings

Stepped barrel and eliminator bushings

Also commonly referred to as a chubby, the stepped barrel bushing provides even more stability than the regular barrel. Apart from filling out the bushing seat, it has extrusions on the sides to further support the hanger and keep it from moving a lot.

Stepped barrels are the ultimate solution for high-speed downhill racing but they also let you ride at a softer hardness than regular barrel bushings for added responsiveness without sacrificing support.

The double-stepped variation is called an eliminator and it provides the most rebound to center you'll find in a longboard bushing.

Stepped cone bushings

Stepped cone freeride bushing

Also named a "freeride bushing", the stepped cone offers more stability than the typical conical bushings while adding additional support at the base due to its extruded design. Stepped cones are highly versatile and often overlooked, but they're well worth delving into.

Bushing hardness

The majority of longboard bushings are made from polyurethane with varying hardness ratings. This hardness rating is often referred to as the durometer rating (written as e.g. 65a or 85a).

Skateboard and longboard bushing durometer ratings

The higher the durometer, the harder the urethane compound is (which results in stiffer bushings). A soft bushing is more responsive and less resistant while a hard bushing is less responsive and provides more resistance.

Note

Durometer ratings are not universal. Although they're based on the Shore A scale, they do not translate directly between brands. Always go off by the provided recommendation information given by the manufacturer if it is available.

Getting the durometer rating right is crucial for a good ride. If you can match the hardness rating to your weight, you'll usually be golden.

If you're mixing bushing durometer ratings on the same trucks, it is usually recommended you use the harder bushing on the boardside.

Picking the right bushings

The goal is to match both bushing shapes and bushing durometer ratings to your weight and riding style. Here are some of the most common configurations for various ride styles.

Keep in mind, softer bushings will give a more responsive ride, while harder bushings will give a more stable ride with less maneuverability.

Use the information below as a general guide, not a fact sheet. Ultimately, personal preference will play a big part in your decision.

Cruising/Carving

best bushing setup for cruising and carving longboards

If you want to cruise, carve or even pump your longboard, your best bet is to go with a cone/barrel setup. This combination is extremely versatile and is what you'll often find on stock gear for that reason. Typically, the cone does roadside with the barrel sitting boardside.

We recommend going with both a large cone and a large barrel unless you want a really narrow turn radius, in which case you can go with a small cone at a higher durometer.

General durometer chart for cruising/carving longboards:

WeightSoftMediumHard
< 100 lbs
(45.4 kg)
65a75a83a
100 lbs - 125 lbs
(45.4 kg - 56.7 kg)
71a80a86a
125 lbs - 150 lbs
(56.7 kg - 68 kg)
76a84a90a
150 lbs - 175 lbs
(68 kg - 79.5 kg)
82a89a92a
175 lbs - 200 lbs
(79.5 kg - 90.8 kg)
86a92a95a
> 200 lbs
(90.8 kg)
89a94a> 97a

Freeride

best bushing setup for freeride longboards

General freeriding requires a bit more stability than when you carve. However, you still need more rebound and responsiveness than super fast freeride/downhill riding. While some pros ride double conical here, the double barrel setup is recommended for beginner-intermediate riders.

If you mix durometer scores, make sure to prioritize the higher durometer barrel on the boardside.

General durometer chart for freeriding longboards (for reference):

WeightSoftMediumHard
< 100 lbs
(45.4 kg)
66a77a81a
100 lbs - 125 lbs
(45.4 kg - 56.7 kg)
72a82a84a
125 lbs - 150 lbs
(56.7 kg - 68 kg)
79a85a88a
150 lbs - 175 lbs
(68 kg - 79.5 kg)
83a89a91a
175 lbs - 200 lbs
(79.5 kg - 90.8 kg)
86a92a94a
> 200 lbs
(90.8 kg)
90a94a> 97a

Downhill

Downhill bushing setup with two barrel bushings

Downhill riding requires a restrictive setup to ensure stability at high speeds and prevent wheelbite. A double barrel combination with higher resistance is the most common choice here as it helps eliminate speed wobbles.

Downhill riding is also where softer stepped bushings become interesting. They're definitely worth experimenting with if you have time and money to invest.

General durometer chart for downhill/high-speed longboards (for reference):

WeightSoftMediumHard
< 100 lbs
(45.4 kg)
67a79a84a
100 lbs - 125 lbs
(45.4 kg - 56.7 kg)
74a84a87a
125 lbs - 150 lbs
(56.7 kg - 68 kg)
81a86a91a
150 lbs - 175 lbs
(68 kg - 79.5 kg)
85a90a93a
175 lbs - 200 lbs
(79.5 kg - 90.8 kg)
89a93a95a
> 200 lbs
(90.8 kg)
91a95a> 97a

Recommended Brands

There are heaps of bushing brands around. Knowing the difference between each and figuring out which is best can be a headache.

Here are some of the brands we recommend:

Related components

Bushings are only part of what makes a board ride well. Several related components work in combination with the bushings.

Bushing washers

Where do washers sit on a skate truck

Washers help secure bushings in their position. A washer pairing ensures the bushings are seated correctly so they can perform optimally. Washers will also help reduce wear on your bushings, ultimately giving them a longer life span.

There are various types of bushing washers, and they should be matched to the bushing shape and size.

The most common types are flat washers and cupped washers:

Cupped washers are some of the most used ones. They wrap around the edge of the bushing, restricting the ability of the bushing to cushion.

Flat washers allow for more movability but generally feel less stable.

There is no right or wrong setup. Some will swear by an all-flat washer setup, while others prefer the added support of cupped washers.

If you want to try a hybrid setup, we recommend cupped washers at the rear and a flat washer setup at the front for a blend between stability and carvability.

Note
Most bushings come with suitable washers out of the box. Therefore, you usually don't have to think about mixing and matching. However, if you want to get experimental, understanding the workings of washers is crucial.

Pivot cup

illustration of what a pivot cup looks like on a skateboard and longboard truck

Pivot cups (or pivot bushings) sit in the pivot hole on the baseplate, holding the extruded part of the hanger into place. This creates a rotational axis for the truck to turn when you lean from one side to the other.

Like bushings, they are made from urethane and have various durometer ratings and come in a variety of sizes. Like with bushings, you should try to match them to your weight and riding style. Harder pivot cups aid in stability and high-speed riding while the softer ones are better for cruising.

While you can mess around with different setups and combinations, here is a solid rule of thumb:

Match the pivot cup durometer rating to the durometer of your bushings.

Frequently asked questions

Are longboard bushings different from skateboard bushings?

No, generally speaking, longboards do not use different bushings than skateboards. All bushings may not fit onto a specific truck, though.

Trucks can vary in size and types (RKP trucks and TKP trucks), so it is important you do your research before purchasing bushings to ensure they'll fit on the kingpin and into the bushing seat.

Can you put longboard bushings on a skateboard?

Yes, you can put longboard bushings on a skateboard. Whether bushings will fit comes down to the sizes of the trucks and not the length of the deck.

As long as you use the correct bushings for the bushing seat on your particular trucks, you're golden.

How long do bushings last?

Bushings break down over time from drying out and absorbing impacts. If the kingpin nut is too tight, it may also cause unnecessary wear to the bushings.

Typically, bushings will last anywhere from about half a year to several years, depending on how you ride them.

They can go years without wearing down if you don't ride them too hard and store your board properly. On the other hand, if you abuse them heavily, they'll likely have to be changed in half a year tops.

When should you change bushings?

As bushings wear down, you'll inevitably have to change them. Small cracks in a bushing is not necessarily reason to swap it out if it still performs as it should.

You should change bushings when they don't perform like they used to anymore. One crack is okay, but if it is worn down to the point where it hardly fits in the bushing seat, it is loose, or the board stability and rebound is compromised, it is time to swap bushings.

Updated December 13, 2022
Rasmus Barslund
By Rasmus Barslund

Rasmus is the creative lead at ERideHero. As a jack of all trades, Rasmus handles videography, photography and review write-ups as well as website development. He has tested more than 100 personal electric vehicles of all sorts across more than 6,000 miles.

ERideHero.com may earn commissions when you purchase items through links to external sources such as Amazon. Read our affiliate disclosure here.
Content

New in Skating

ERideHero Logo White
Data-driven reviews by micromobility experts for a greener future.
Categories
INFORMATION
© ERideHero 2023. All rights reserved.