Skateboard Trucks

Your skateboard trucks are the part that connect the wooden deck to the wheels.

Skateboard truck sizes are often quoted from the length of the hanger: 129mm, 139mm, and 149mm are pretty typical for modern street skateboarding.

Here is a truck with the parts labeled:

Turning with the truck
The truck is designed to allow you to turn while riding on the skateboard. When rolling you can turn the skateboard by shifting your weight to one side of the board or the other. When you shift your weight the bushings on the truck will compress on the one side. This allows the hanger to pivot from the pivot bushing and rotate around the kingpin. This happens on both the front truck and the back truck and causes the board to turn and lean to the direction that the weight is applied.

By adjusting the kingpin nut to make the truck either tighter or looser you can make the board turn more or less. The tighter the truck is the less that it will turn. The looser it is the more it will turn.

Tight trucks or Loose trucks? It’s up to you

You can make the skateboard trucks so tight that they don’t move at all or so loose that the board is unstable and hard to stand on. This is based on personal preference and skating style.

Tight trucks are more stable at high speeds. For beginners it is good to have your skateboard set up pretty tight. This lets you get used to being on the skateboard without having it lean side to side all the time. Once your balance improves your can loosen the board up to give you more control.

Loose trucks give you a lot of control. They allow you to turn quickly but can be unstable.There are few draw backs; speed wobble and wheel bite and it is tougher to balance in a grind.

Speed wobble is scary. When you are going fast on your board the vibration of the wheels on the road can cause the skateboard to start wobbling in an uncontrollable fashion. The skateboard trucks will start turning quickly from side to side on their own. This is called speed wobble. It is a strange and dangerous thing. This can easily throw you from your skateboard. That is the last thing you want to have happen when you are going really fast. Try and avoid going really fast until you build up good balance.

wheel bite

Wheel bite is when the hanger turns so much that the wheel rubs against the bottom of the deck. This happens often and leaves a burn mark on the deck as seen in the photo here.

Sometimes the wheel bites hard enough to stop the board dead and throw you to the ground. Again, not good.

Somewhere in between
I like to ride with my front truck looser than my back truck. Both skateboard trucks are moderately loose but not really loose. This lets me turn pretty good when riding normal. It adds just a little more control when riding switch. It is the best of both worlds for me. I find if I make them too loose then my bushings get pinched when I do grinds and it is harder to land them.

Maintaining your Trucks

Changing a broken kingpin

Eventually we all get the most annoying skateboard break of all. The kingpin breaks.
Session over. It can be tough to replace the kingpin. They are hard to get out of the baseplate, and hard to get back into the baseplate.

I have come up with a few tips to make it easier.

You need a few tools to do it:

  • Hammer
  • Pliers
  • 9/16” wrench
  • 10 to 15 washers that will fit on the kingpin
  • A replacement kingpin from a skateshop. You want a grade 8 bolt which has 6 radial lines on the head. This is the strength you need from skateboarding. A grade 5 bolt with 3 radial lines is half as strong and a gamble. Use what you can from the hardware store in a pinch.

With all those tools changing the kingpin will be easy.

  • Remove the baseplate from the deck
  • Use the pliers and the wrench to remove the nut from the broken kingpin
  • Use the broken part of the kingpin and the hammer to smash the base of the kingpin out of the baseplate. Be careful not to damage the baseplate. They can break of you hit them wrong. Once the bottom of the kingpin is out pull the top piece out and save it for the next step
  • Place the replacement kingpin in the baseplate into the same grooves that the old kingpin was in. Use the broken part as a pin to hammer the kingpin started into the grooves. It will be a tight fit.
  • Place the washers on the king pin until most of the threads are covered. Put the nut on and tighten the kingpin until it is set into place. The washers let you pull the kingpin through the base plate without needing to hammer it in. Make sure not to over tighten or the nut will strip and you will need a new one.
  • Now put the curved washers, bushings and hanger back on and tighten them a little.
  • Put the truck back on your board. Adjust the tightness to what you like and go skate!

As things work in you may need to adjust the tightness again. Have fun and hopefully you won’t need to do this too often.

Adjusting a Shifted Axle

Very often the axle will get smashed and bashed around and start to move back and forth in the hanger. When this happens one side or wheel will seem to be way to tight, well the other will be very loose.

Don't worry, all you need to do to get rolling again is to smack the axle like a hammer down on something hard like a curb.

This should re-align the axle in the hanger. Keep an eye out for when the axle shifts again. Use the metal spacers that come with your bearings to help prevent the shifting.

Most trucks will shift once in awhile. Just keep adjusting when needed.

Trucks Last.

Skateboard Trucks last longer than any other part on your skateboard. Learn how to maintain and adjust them and spend your money of a fresh deck whenever you can.

When working in a set of new skateboard trucks when I tend to hold on to my old bushings and put them on the new skateboard trucks. This helps with the working in period.

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