There are few debates in skateboarding as futile as the drama surrounding how tight trucks should be. At one extreme, the wobbly truck crew swears they cannot ride a skateboard if the kingpin nut is threaded all the way to the nyloc. On the other side, the stiff-truck posse insists they need the stability of crushed bushings. So, who’s right?
The answer to that question is simple. Everyone is right. Truck tightness is a matter of personal choice. It’s your board, and only you have to ride it, so set it up how you like. On the other hand, there are a few things to consider when adjusting your trucks. We’ll get into those, but let’s get the simple stuff out of the way first.
How to Adjust Truck Tightness
Adjusting most of the hardware on a skateboard is a simple matter of torqueing down the nuts on the truck and axle bolts. However, kingpin adjustments are a bit more subjective. There is no way to set the nut to the perfect height in one shot. The only tool you will need is a 9/16-inch (14mm) wrench, so put one in your pocket and find a smooth patch of open pavement.
First, just stand on the board and press down firmly as you shift your weight from the heel side to the toe side of the deck. The board should give as you put your weight on the edges. This tilting causes the trucks to pivot, which allows you to steer. If the board does not tilt much, loosen the kingpin nuts on both trucks, making certain the nylon strip on the nut still contacts the threads. If the deck contacts the tops of the wheels in a full lean, tighten the kingpin nuts.
Next, push off and get rolling. Lean to turn in a direction (frontside or backside), and gradually press more and more to tighten the turn. You should reach a point where your board resists leaning any further without contacting the wheels. Change directions while you pay attention to how tight you’re able to turn. If you like the adjustment, turn the board around and skate with your back foot on the nose.
It is completely your decision how tight or loose to make the trucks. The only thing that is truly important is that they are tightened equally. If there is a noticeable difference between the front and back trucks’ tightness, it will be obvious when you ride off the nose. So, adjust the trucks until you cannot tell the difference between front and back.
When to Tighten Up
The main consideration when adjusting your trucks has to do with speed. The faster you intend on riding, the tighter your trucks should be. Tight trucks provide stability at higher speeds, reducing the likelihood of catching the dreaded speed wobbles. If you’re considering riding downhill, or if a vert ramp session is in your future, consider tightening your trucks for safety’s sake.
Tight trucks also come in handy when there are big drops in play. Tight trucks prevent wheel bite, which can cause some nasty slams. Big gaps typically require fast speeds, and the last thing you want is to hit the brakes on the landing. Tighten the trucks to keep this from happening.
Another thing to consider when adjusting your trucks is how technical your skateboarding is. Tighter trucks enable you to hang your heel off the edge of the board – such as during a kickflip setup – without causing the board to veer off to the side. If you notice yourself struggling to stay online when you set up for flip tricks, try tightening your trucks.
A final point about tight trucks: They are much kinder to the ankles than loose trucks. The stability you get from tight trucks can prevent some foot and ankle injuries from occurring. And, tight trucks can get you back on your board sooner after you’ve injured a foot or ankle.
When to Loosen Up
In most situations, tight trucks are a hinderance. They inhibit your ability to turn and make it difficult to line up on an obstacle. If you often find yourself having to press down on the tail when turning, it’s probably time to loosen the kingpin nut.
If you’re used to skating tight trucks, loosening them can improve the flow of your skateboarding. Without having to tic-tac up to an obstacle or lean drastically as you roll away, your skating will take on an easier, more care-free look. If your style seems rigid, try loosening your trucks.
Loose trucks also forgive less-than-perfect landings. Watch any pro’s video parts, and you’ll see them occasionally land slightly askew after a gap or rail. They can still pull the trick, though, because they instinctively put pressure on the board to force it to roll out in line. This trick-saving move is only possible with loose trucks. The tighter the trucks, the closer to perfect the landing has to be.
The tightness of your trucks is magnified when skating transition. In general, the taller the transition walls, the tighter your trucks should be. However, concrete skateparks often have different transitions spread all over the place. Your imagination is the only limit to the lines in a skatepark, but you have to be able to carve to find them.
Regardless of how tight or loose your trucks may be, you have to be going extremely fast on a skateboard to encounter speed wobbles – much faster than you could possibly push. Loose trucks are not normally a danger, though tight trucks sometimes can be. The tighter the truck, the tighter the turning radius. So, tight trucks can leave you struggling to steer when you need to avoid something.
Most skaters prefer their trucks somewhere between ridiculously tight or loose. And, almost everyone changes their taste in truck adjustment as their skateboarding develops and evolves. Finding your own preferences is part of the journey of skateboarding.
Never listen to anyone who tells you that your trucks are too tight or too loose, and ignore what everyone else is doing. Let your own style dictate your preference.