How to Adjust Trucks and Wheels
A brand new complete skateboard is an awkward thing. Skateboarders become accustomed to their boards quickly, though. Adjusting to your new board takes some time, but you can adjust your trucks and wheels to suit you right away. Whether a new school skateboard or a longboard, when you tune your components properly, you’ll feel more comfortable and your whole skating experience will improve immediately.
Skateboards and longboards only allow for a couple of adjustments, but each is critical in its own right. First, you should ensure the wheels are tightened properly so that they roll freely. This way, the bearings do their job properly and the board can move as fast as possible. Second, the trucks can be tightened or loosened so that the board turns at a comfortable rate for the rider.
How to adjust the wheels
Yocaher complete longboards and skateboards come with professional-quality Ritalin bearings. These precision bearings are capable of remarkable speeds, but they can only do their job well if the wheels are properly mounted. You can make the necessary adjustments by tightening or loosening the nyloc nut on the axle. You’ll need a 1/2-inch wrench or socket to do the job.
To check for correct installation, first grip the wheels one at a time and try to shake them. If they slide sideways on the axle, they are too loose. You can actually hear loose wheels when you skate. The board will make a rattling sound, especially during ollies or flip tricks. It may also track strangely, causing vague, imprecise steering. Tighten the axle nuts down so that the wheels no longer shake.
Next, select one wheel and spin it by hand. It should come to a gradual stop. If the wheel comes to a sudden halt and rolls back slightly the other way, it’s too tight. Use the wrench to loosen the nut, but do so only slightly. Just nudge it counter clockwise and spin the wheel again. If it still comes to a quick stop, bump it backwards again. Continue doing this until each wheel rolls freely. If you go too far and a wheel slides on its axle, tighten it again. There’s a sweet spot; you just have to find it.
Note that, at first, the wheels will seem to spin better when the axle nut is too loose. New skaters often think that, because the wheels spin more freely by hand when loose, the same is true when we ride. This is wrong. The bearings can only work properly when the nut and washer push against the inner race — the part of the bearing that touches the axle. When the nut is too loose, the inner race just slides on the axle. This condition causes friction when there is a load on the bearings. Bearings break in better and roll faster when properly tightened.
How to adjust trucks
The adjustment we will be making on the trucks involves only the kingpin, which is the big bolt that runs vertically through the hanger. The four truck bolts on each baseplate should always be tight. You can check them by grabbing the hanger and twisting it. If the whole truck turns and the baseplate slides, tighten the truck bolts. You will need either a Philips head screw driver or Allen wrench (hex key) for the bolt head. You’ll also need a 3/8-inch wrench or socket for the nut. Because of the precarious positioning of the bolts, a wrench usually works best.
The opposite is usually true for the kingpin nut, which is almost always easiest adjusted with a ratchet and a 9/16-inch socket. This isn’t the kind of adjustment you can make by just standing on the board, though. Once the axle nuts are properly tightened, grab your ratchet or wrench and find some concrete. Get rolling and turn left and right just by leaning on the board. If you feel like you would prefer a sharper turn, loosen the kingpin nut on both trucks. If you feel you’d like more stability, tighten the nut.
A telltale feature of properly adjusted skateboards and longboards is when both trucks are adjusted to approximately the same torque. Pay little mind to the amount of threads that stick out past the nylon on the nut. Instead, roll the board in different directions and see how it turns. Try rolling switch, then turn the board around and try again. You’ll likely feel quite a difference at first, but just adjust the tightness until the board feels comfortable regardless of which way either of you face.
Problems with incorrect adjustments
Some skaters, especially the inexperienced ones, find a board to be more stable with tight trucks. There is nothing wrong with riding this way if that is your preference, just know you are likely costing yourself some landed tricks. Loose trucks allow a skater to land a trick with the board slightly off from the line of travel. A slight lean and the board will straighten up and compensate for the error. With tight trucks, this trick-saving move is next to impossible. And the tighter the trucks, the more precise you must be to pull a trick.
We’ve already mentioned that loose wheels do not function properly with a rider onboard, though they may seem to roll faster when spun by hand. But loose wheels create another problem, and it’s one that frustrates skateboarders to no end. As we skate, the board will invariably crash into the pavement. Sometimes it will land on the axles. If the axle nuts are loose when this happens, the axle may shift through the hanger. You know it when it happens, because one wheel will be too tight and not roll, while the other is extremely loose.
If you find that your axle has shifted, the quick fix is to smack the other side of the axle on the concrete. Make sure you’re hitting from the side with the loose wheel if you have to perform this fix. If you have a ½-inch wrench or a skate tool, it’s better to adjust the axle nuts than to drive the axle back through the hanger. If you force the axle to slip too much, it will be much easier for it to happen again. Many skaters blame the trucks when axles slip, but often the culprit is improperly adjusted axle nuts.
It doesn’t take a mechanic to adjust trucks and wheels, and you don’t need a mechanic’s tool set to do it. A ratchet-and-socket set or a couple wrenches is all you need, but even a pair of pliers can do the job in a pinch. Work on mastering axle nut adjustments, and you’ll soon find that happy place where the bearings are doing their job and they make their sweet music when they spin.
Truck adjustment is a much more personal issue. Just keep making small corrections until you can turn your board naturally, as if by ESP. Many skaters find tight trucks work better on transition, where stability is more important. Tight trucks are better for downhill for the same reason. But most skaters prefer them to be loose enough that they can lean hard into turns. Our preferences for these adjustments are always evolving, as each of us search for that (nonexistent) perfect setting.