In this article, I’m going to explain in depth how to pump your longboard. I’ll also be talking about what makes a longboard appropriate for pumping, and how you can optimize yours for pumping.
Longboard pumping is a way to propel yourself forward on your longboard without having to push with your feet.
You essentially carve left and right aggressively, and this back-and-forth motion of your trucks turning converts into forward momentum which propels you forward.
On the right longboard setup, pumping can be effective enough to get you to speeds faster than 15mph.
If you’re doing long-distance skating, pumping is a great skill to have. It allows you to take a break from pushing, and instead use high-speed carving to move forward. When you’re long distances, it's an effective way to take a break, but ensure you’re still covering ground.
Some people even build setups specifically for pumping. This allows you to pump for miles on end.
And finally, it’s simply a fun skill to have. It’s a great way to engage with and enjoy your skateboard and ultimately develop a better feel for your board.
When I’m out skating, I'll try to pump whatever longboard I am riding. It’s just a fun thing to do and it feels great. Nothing beats the satisfying feeling of pumping for miles without touching the ground.
It’s also super interesting to see what will or won’t pump well - unfortunately, not every longboard will work great for pumping.
Yes - pumping your longboard can be easy - but it can also be difficult depending on a few factors.
If your longboard is turny and nimble with a relatively loose truck setup, you're well set for easy pumping.
If your longboard is too stiff, however, pumping will likely take too much physical effort to be a viable technique.
However, if you have the skill and experience, you likely can pump just about any board. With your skill, you will be able to keep up the rhythm and the weight distribution and placement requirements you need to get the board to pump.
A skilled longboarder can pump just about any longboard. If you're experienced enough, you'll be able to adapt to more difficult setups and find the right rhythm, weight distribution, and foot placement.
However, if your longboard isn't optimized for pumping and you don't have a lot of experience, it is going to be hard to learn and completely nail the technique. More on that later.
Let's get into the nitty-gritty of how to pump your longboard effectively.
In its essence, longboard pumping is just carving left and right aggressively. By carving aggressively, we get our trucks to change direction quickly. This quick change in direction generates forward momentum, leading to more speed.
To make pumping easy and effective, you either need the skill to carve your setup quickly or simply ride your trucks loose so they are more responsive to direction change. In an optimal scenario, you'd have both.
Let's cover the skill half of longboard pumping first.
This is a checklist of skills we’ll need to learn to pump successfully. They are as follows:
If you can learn all the above, you likely be able to pump well.
How aggressively you can turn your board is key for pumping.
If we want to turn our board in a smooth leisurely way, we simply place a bit our weight on our toes or our heels, and the board will turn in the corresponding direction.
If we want to turn our board aggressively, we place a lot of our weight on our toes or heels, and the board turns a lot quicker.
Now for pumping, we want to turn super aggressively. We need to place a ton of weight and force it into our heels or toes. So, here is how to dig a ton of weight into the board.
Do this consecutively and you will be pumping. However, you need to do so at a certain rhythm to ensure you’re generating momentum efficiently. We talk more about rhythm below.
A setup that is finely tuned for pumping will not need you to turn aggressively to get it to pump.
Some setups only need you to lightly shift your weight left and right, and that's enough to make the trucks change direction quickly.
This is done so that pumping doesn’t take too much effort and energy, and it allows you to do it for a sustained period fairly comfortably.
We need to be able to pump primarily off our front foot, or at least ensure most of the turning is coming from the front truck.
The aggressive turning of the front truck is what generates the majority of the forward momentum.
So as you turn aggressively based on the instructions above, make sure you are driving into your front foot primarily, leaving less weight on the back foot.
Some pumping setups have high-angle trucks in the front, and low-angle trucks in the rear.
This allows the skateboard to mostly turn from the front - almost like the way a car turns, with the front wheels turning and the back wheels only following.
These setups are significantly easier to pump than the average setup - where both trucks are at the same angle and turn the same amount.
A surf skateboard is a good example of this. They have that obnoxiously turny front truck and a comparatively unturny rear truck. They do pump quite easily for this very reason.
Once you learn the basics of driving your weight into the board to turn, rhythm is the next key thing to learn.
Shifting force from left to right in a consistent manner will allow you to build up speed when pumping. If you're only hitting your technique right every two or three pumps, you'll struggle to accelerate.
Every board has its own rhythm so it’s hard to say exactly what is right. It’s up to you to figure it out by developing a feel for your particular hardware and setup.
Initially, figuring out the perfect rhythm may be difficult, but it gets much easier the more experienced you get.
As you gain speed, you will typically need to increase the frequency of your pumps, and reduce how much weight you drive into the longboard.
While your setup plays a big part into rhythm, you generally need more effort at slow speeds to accelerate, and then less effort with a faster rhythm at higher speeds to maintain velocity.
Pumping is a fairly niche discipline and the average longboard isn’t optimized for it.
However, there are several things you can do to make your longboard better for pumping.
Tag on below!
With the right tweaking, most longboards will be capable to pump to some degree. Let's talk about the optimum setup for pumping.
Generally speaking, a longboard with a rather loose front truck will be good for pumping. But, the average longboard isn’t good for pumping for two main reasons:
If we want to pump well at all, there are several things we need to address some several problems by optimizing the hardware.
Before jumping into hardware changes, we want to note, that optimizing a longboard for pumping has its drawbacks.
If we make our boards turn mostly from the front, we lose the ability to ride them backward. We’ll only be able to ride our longboard well in one direction, and if you enjoy riding switch, or fakie, this is an obvious disadvantage.
But that aside, there are many advantages to having a fairly locked rear truck while having more play in the front. Namely, stability, a more confidence-inspiring experience, and a more “playful” ride.
Personally, most of my favorite longboards have more play at the front, and I do not miss riding switch in the slightest.
From easiest to hardest, below are some tuning tricks we can use to make our boards better for pumping.
Top-mounted trucks are superior for pumping. They have a higher pivot point and better aerodynamics for pumping than drop-throughs.
Top mounts are also taller than drop-throughs. The increased height allows you to drive more force into the trucks, resulting in stronger pumps with less effort.
You can still pump drop-throughs, drop mounts, or even double drops, but it won't be anywhere near as efficient. It takes a lot more effort and requires almost perfect technique.
Washers and bushings are relatively cheap, so they're an easy way to optimize your pump setup.
If you flip the roadside washer of your front truck, it will turn more than the back truck because the bushings have a bit more freedom to compress.
You can also tighten your back truck by a full turn off the kingpin nut to reduce how easily it turns by a bit. This can make pumping a bit easier.
You can buy softer aftermarket bushings for your front truck and harder ones for your back truck. Alternately, you can buy more voluminous bushings for your back truck so you still get a nice playful squish that compresses, instead of the rough feel of harder bushings.
For example, on my Landyachtz Drop Hammer. I used a softer Cone/Barrel combination in the front truck and a Barrel/Barrel combination in the back truck.
I also considered more voluminous bushings in the back truck like a Venom Barrical, but I didn’t want to fully commit this board to a pumping-only setup.
I know I haven’t touched on what durometer I used, but that is very user- and brand-specific. Most brands have independent durometer charts much like a size M t-shirt can be different from one brand to another.
With RKP (reverse kingpin) trucks, you can buy them with different turning angles.
The angle of a truck describes how much a truck turns when compared to its lean. The higher the angle, the less lean you need for the same turn. For example, you can get a 50° Caliber III front truck and a 44° Caliber III rear truck. The high-angled front truck will outturn the low-angled rear truck due to its angle.
In most cases, you will need to buy after-market bushings to ensure the best performance out of your trucks, as most of these trucks come with fairly hard 90a bushings. Ideally, you need bushings of different hardnesses if you use two different angle trucks - more on this later.
However, with the majority of TKP (traditional kingpin) trucks, you will need to use wedge risers to change their angles - more on wedge risers below.
If you want to go beyond just the washers and bushings, you can also add wedge risers to your setup.
Wedge risers change the angle of your trucks.
A 7° wedge allows you to convert a truck that has an angle of 50°, to a truck with a 57° angle or a 43° angle depending on how you place the wedge.
You can turn a symmetrical setup with 43°/43° trucks into a 47°/39° setup with two 4° wedges.
Wedge risers have a fat end and a thin end. They're typically installed between the trucks and the deck.
The increase in ride height varies between wedge risers so do note this.
If your trucks are of different angles, for example, 50° in front and 35° in the back. You will need different bushings.
This is because trucks with different angles work bushings differently. An 85a bushing in a 50° truck will feel stiffer than the same 85a bushing in a 35° truck, where it feels quite soft.
This is because the 50° truck doesn’t have as much leverage as the 35* truck, so it doesn’t work the bushing as hard.
So, you will need harder bushings in the 35° truck to keep it from feeling too soft.
For example, I would use soft 85a bushings in the 50° truck, and harder 93a bushings in the 35° truck. This has worked well for me in the past.
The Comet cruiser is a good example of a board that uses wedge risers.
It uses 7° Paris wedge risers on Paris TKP (traditional kingpin) trucks, effectively changing the angle to be +7° in the front and -7° in the back.
It then uses soft 83a cone bushings for the front truck and harder 88a cone bushings for the rear truck.
This setup makes the board super turny and super pumpable.
I use a Landyachtz Ripper and have set it up to be good for pumping and general fun.
I have a 50° front truck and a 40° rear truck, de-wedged to 35°. This gives me 50/35° angles.
I’m using 130 mm wide Bear Gen 6 RKP (reverse kingpin) trucks on it.
I then use 78a/85a soft barrel bushings for the front truck, and harder 93a/93a barrel bushings for the rear truck.
I have a flat washer in the front truck and cupped washers in the rear truck.
This setup is pumpable and super fun to ride.
If you understand the various moving parts that go into making a pump-optimized setup, no it is not hard.
However, there is a bit of trial and error, and - more importantly - you have to get a board under your feet to feel the road and develop your own technique. Just like people have different running techniques, your pumping technique will vary ever so slightly from others.
A setup that works well for one person may be suboptimal for another. It comes down to variables that exceed the hardware of the board itself and thus you really have to get out there and try various setups to find the ideal one for you.
Some companies make longboards that work well for pumping out of the box.
If you're looking to make pumping your main style of riding or you have some money to splurge, it may be worthwhile to get a prebuilt complete designed for the cause.
However, you may find yourself spending anywhere from $250-$1000 for one of these setups - depending on the quality of the hardware.
There are definitely money-saving and knowledge-gaining incentives to building your own, but it doesn't make pre-tuned boards any less viable.
Solid companies that sell pumping completes include:
There's a lot to choose from and it’s worth joining the LDP community for more advice on what to get. It’s beyond the scope of this article to break down which is best and why.
I hope this article has been useful to describe the basics of pumping, how to do it, and what longboard setups work best for it.
Practice, trial, and error, and trying different things, are all key components to successful pumping so don't give up just because you don't get it right on the first try. Perseverance is an important part of it.