What are bushings?
What are the best brands?
When do I need to replace my bushings?
These are questions that most people never ask themselves, but when they do, luckily, the internet is there to answer. In this article, I’ll try and be as comprehensive as possible so that no stone (bushing) is left unturned.
Anyway, let’s dive into it.
What Are Skateboard Bushings?
People refer to bushings often, but what part of the skateboard are they?
Bushings are the colorful, rubber-like cylinders located in the center of your skateboard’s trucks. Typically bushings are made out of urethane and most set-ups use two bushings per truck that are connected using a kingpin. The bushings allow you to turn and pivot your skateboard.
Bushings typically aren’t something that someone thinks about and are typically sold with the skateboard trucks themselves. Not all bushings are created equally though and cheap skateboards like Walmart boards will have very cheap bushings that make turning and landing tricks without wheel bite difficult to do.
Bushings are a critical part of your skateboard’s trucks.
What Are Skateboard Bushings Made Of?
Bushings vary in hardness and color, but the material that they’re made of is always the same.
Skateboard bushings are made of polyurethane which is the same material that skateboard wheels are made of. Polyurethane can be made to have a number of different hardnesses based on the chemical process used to create the bushing. Polyurethane was invented first in the 1970s and lead to a 2nd skateboarding boom in the Western United States.
Polyurethane was critical in letting skateboarding become the sport or hobby it is today. The material takes repeated stress amazingly well and remains flexible for a long period of time. It is also very inexpensive to make so bushings are cheap. This is great news considering how vital they are to riding your skateboard.
If you want to learn how to put longboard wheels on a skateboard for cruising, check out my complete visual guide here.
What Are The Types and Shapes of Skateboard Bushings?
- Good for responsive turns
- Typically used for skateboard setups (one short and one taller)
- Can lead to less stability or wheel bite if too soft
- Great for cruising and people who like skating with loose trucks
- Good for stability
- Most commonly the lower bushing on a truck
- A common default choice for bushing shapes for longboarding
- Provides a bit more resistance to turning as compared to the cone bushing
- Increases Stability More Than Barrel Shape
- Fits Snugly Into Pivot Cup
- Best For Skating At High Speeds
- Good For Heavier Skaters
Double Stepped Barrel
- Similar To Stepped Cone
- Best For Heavier Skaters
- Best For Hill Bombing Or High Speeds
What Brands Sell Bushings?
Every brand that makes trucks sells bushings. Usually, the bushings are made to fit that specific truck for that specific brand, but some bushings can fit other builds. For example, Bones bushings can sometimes be used with other truck brands.
You can buy bushings from the following companies:
- Dimebag Hardware: $8-$15
- Orangatang: $20-$30
- Independent: $8-$15
- Shorty’s: $8-$15
- Krux: $8-$15
- Venom: $10-$15
- Deluxe: $12-$15
This is just a small list, but there are many other small bushings and truck companies out there. There are also many just bulk product and stock companies that sell trash bushings so be careful. Bones and Independent bushings are the most respected and reliable in the industry.
What Are The Best Skateboard Bushings?
A good bushing is not difficult to break in, stays flexible for a long time, and is reactive to turns. The difference bushings make in how you ride is very understated.
The general consensus is that Bones bushings and Independent bushings are the best in the industry. This doesn’t mean every other brand makes bad bushings, but these two companies have built up a reputation over time for having quality and responsive bushings. There isn’t a big difference in price between bushings from all brands so there is no reason to shy away from Bones and Independent bushings.
The main thing to keep in mind though is to generally get the same brand bushings that your board came with. Often complete boards from major brands like Element and Toy Machine will come already set up with Independent trucks or their own trucks. Element for instance comes with Element trucks.
Using the same brand for the same set-up is important because bushings from another brand simply might not fit your current truck. This would be a bummer.
If you are a heavier skater who wants to know whether or not you can skate, you’re in for some good news. Check out my complete guide for getting started skateboarding as a heavier person.
What Is The Difference Between Hard and Soft Bushings?
The difference in hardness for your bushings comes down to one thing; weight and ease of turning.
Heavier skaters will want harder bushings because they will need more resistance if they want to keep control of their board. Lighter skaters will want softer bushings so they can turn and control their board more easily.
Preference and skating style also comes into play when choosing bushing hardness. For instance, tighter bushings increase stability at faster speeds and are a bit less responsive to turns and pressure. Softer bushings feel looser on the board which some skaters might prefer.
To make it easier to understand, just think tighter trucks should go with harder bushings and looser trucks go with softer bushings. Then you can just choose your preferred skating style and go from there.
When it comes to actually choosing the hardness, you must pick a durometer. This basically refers to your bushing’s hardness.
Bushing durometer ranges from about 74a to 110a for skateboards.
This is something to experiment with, but in general, there is a basic range to kind in mind. I will lay out the range that is given by Tactics Skate Shop. Those guys are amazingly informative and I learn so much whenever I watch their videos or visit their site.
The following suggestions are the general weight and bushing hardness combinations that will feel like a medium hardness for the skater.
|Weight Range (lbs)||Bushing Hardness That Feels Medium (a)|
|100 lbs – 140 lbs||85a – 87a|
|140 lbs – 180 lbs||93a – 95a|
|180 lbs+||96a – 100a|
Do Bushings Go Bad?
Most people won’t need to worry about this as bushings and trucks can last a long time if they are taken care of and the correct tightness and durometer.
Bushings are naturally meant to be warped and flexible so overtightening of the trucks or wear over time can cause bushings to go bad. You can tell if a bushing has gone bad because your board will make contact with the locknut or components that the bushing shouldn’t otherwise touch. Eventually with time bushings may also become too stiff to turn easily.
So there is a chance that if you’re having trouble controlling your board then you’re bushings are done for or just bad. If the bushings are too stiff some people might loosen the trucks way too much to compensate and then have issues with wheel bite and balancing on the board itself.
When Do I Need to Replace My Bushings?
Though it isn’t so common, sometimes people ruin their bushings and occasionally they ruin them quickly.
There is no set time to replace your bushings and instead, you should your bushings when they show signs of deterioration and stop skating how you want. If you can see cracks in the bushings, the bushings are mashed down to almost nothing, or they have lost flexibility then it’s time to replace your bushings. Always use the same brand of bushings as your trucks because bushings from different brands might not fit your current trucks.
Below is a wonderful and clear explanation of how to identify when your trucks need to be replaced as well as some other points made in this article.
How Much Do Bushings Cost?
As always, we need to know the price. Luckily bushings won’t break the bank for even the poorest skater.
Bushings are cheap. You can find bushings from quality brands such as Independent, Bones, and Shorty’s for between $8 and $15. These bushings are most commonly sold on online retailers such as Amazon, local skate shops, and company websites. There is not a large difference in price depending on where you purchase the bushings.
Because skateboard bushings are so cheap, you should feel free to explore a bit. Bushings are probably the cheapest way to experiment with setups that will still actually affect how you ride. Have fun with it and order a few different hardnesses and shapes.
If you are interested in skateboard hardware, check out my complete guide on skateboard trucks with brand information and a breakdown of the components and their function.
So there it is.
Bushings might seem complicated because they kind of are. Getting the perfect bushing hardness and shape combination isn’t so important and is really just for skateboard nerds who have lots of free time.
Generally, you just want to match your weight and riding style preferences to the bushing hardness and you’ll be good to go. Most skaters exclusively skate cone-shaped bushings for the only reason that there is no reason to try something else. Other shapes are really for high-speed skating like hill bombing and maybe for heavier skaters.
Bushings do go bad and some people ruin their bushings very quickly by overtightening them, skating them at first in cold weather, and wearing down one side of the bushing more than the other. Luckily bushings are pretty cheap, so if this happens, you can just grab another pair for $10.
Anyway, thanks for reading, and look out for more content from Board and Wheels.