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Skateboard Trucks Buyers Guide - 2021

Everything that you need to know when buying skateboard trucks

Skateboard Trucks Buyers Guide - 2021
Posted by Matt Broadley15 min read
Friday, January 08, 2021

Choosing and buying the right skateboard trucks to suit the size of your deck and your style of skating is key to progression. The wrong size trucks will affect how well your whole skateboard turns and operates. The different brands of trucks all ride slightly differently in the way they turn and how they feel, so it’s important to find the correct set that feels good. To help with your research, we’ve created this quick skateboard trucks buying guide.

TL;DR

  • The width size of your board is crucial to getting the correct size of skateboard trucks. Match the width of your board to the width of trucks.

  • Don’t stress about low or high trucks - go with the regular height if you are unsure. We all know skating messes with your mind at the best of times, so you don’t want to question whether high or low trucks were the reason for not making that trick!

  • If you are overwhelmed with the choice of brands, go with Independent, Thunder or Venture. You cannot fail - unless you get the wrong size (see the first point!).

  • As someone new to skateboarding, you may get attracted to coloured shiny trucks. While we love them, our advice is to keep it simple - forget colour - go with silver and you’ll be legit when you hit the park or spot.

  • For the more affluent skater or someone seeking the lightest trucks, try the hollows or titanium for a lighter setup.

  • Why are trucks measured inconsistently with inches and centimetres? We don’t know but it was a problem for Nasa once.

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1. Components of Skateboard Trucks

Skateboard Truck Buyers Guide 2021 - Components of a Skateboard Truck

Hanger

This is the upper metal section of the truck you actually grind on. The hanger has the axle running through it, which house your wheels. This is the part that takes all the abuse as it makes contact with the grinding surface.

Baseplate

This is the base of the truck and houses the kingpin and pivot-cup, which the hanger then sits upon. They also have the four holes so the whole truck can be bolted to your deck. Forged baseplates are hollowed out, therefore, slightly reduce weight. The kingpin and pivot-cup can also be removed and replaced if needed.

Axle

The metal rod that runs through the hanger and is threaded at each end, where the wheel are placed with wheels nuts to secure. Hollow axles slightly reduce weight.

Kingpin

This bolt runs from the baseplate upwards and keeps your hanger mounted on the truck. The bushings also sit around the kingpin and have a washer at each end to hold them all together. Some bushings have this metal washer built-in, but less common. The top kingpin nut adjusts the tightness or looseness of your trucks. This is the nut, using a skate tool, you’ll adjust the most to suit your turning needs. Tighter nut means tighter trucks and less turn, looser nit equals more turn.

Bushings

Urethane rubber bushings sit around the kingpin and provide the density and control of your turn. Bushings are available in varying hardness to suit your style. This is the biggest change you can make to your trucks so they feel and turn differently. Softer bushings give a softer (looser) turn. Harder bushing the opposite. BONES Bushings are as highly rated, as are their wheels and bearings.

Speed Rings

These are thin washers that go on your axle either side of your wheels. They provide a slight space so your wheel bearings aren’t hitting on your hanger or wheel nut. Many skateboarders don’t use these and see no difference in having them or not. It’s a personal choice.

Bolts

Getting the right size bolts is also super important, believe us, we’ve been in the position of setting up bolts that are far too long cause we bought the wrong size. Basically, if you don’t skate any riser pads, like the majority of skaters these days, and you ride a regular-sized wheel between 49-55mm you will need ⅞” or 1" bolts. Only get bigger bolts than this if you ride above 56mm wheels and you use a small ⅛” riser pad, therefore you’ll need slightly longer bolts to cover the extra width a rider pad gives.

If you don’t know about riser pads, they were used largely in the ’80s when wheels were around the 60mm mark, and you needed more clearance between your board and wheels so that you didn’t get wheel-bite. This is where the tip of your wheel touches the underside of your board, it can act as a rapid brake and it throws you off the board. Not welcome!

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2. How to choose the right size trucks?

Skateboard Truck size grid chart
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Width

The size of skateboard trucks you choose should be determined by the width of your board. For example, if you skate an 8” wide board, then you need 139mm / 5.25” wide trucks. Getting the correct width of trucks will ensure your wheels do not stick out of the side of the deck, or likewise, disappear underneath your board. This will affect the turning and feel of the whole board. Getting this right provides the right balance to the whole set-up; if your wheels did stick out of the side of the deck, not only would alter the feel, it could affect doing tricks - for example, it would make a kickflip harder because of the board's centre of gravity is off.

Skateboard truck sizes are measured by their hanger width, but there is also axle width, which is end-to-end, wheel nut-to-wheel nut. Pay attention to the hanger width as this is the section you actually grind on.

The below chart illustrates what size truck you need for the width of the board you skate. You can see which brands use millimetres or inches to communicate their hanger width. Or in the case of Krux Trucks, they include the axle width, which is actually the most simple way of seeing which size truck suits which deck.

(We know it’s confusing that board widths are measured in inches yet truck measurements are a mix of inches and millimetres!).

Height

Less important than width comes height, this is the size from your baseplate, that bolts to the deck, to the middle of the axle. The difference in heights effects how steep your tail hits the floor when you pop an ollie or flip trick. So a high truck means a steeper tail incline, a low truck decreases this. Trucks can come in low, mid and high versions. The difference between these heights is about 4-5 millimetres and there is no regulated size difference between truck brands, meaning the height of a low/mid/high truck can differ between brands.

If you’re in doubt we recommend the mid version. This is regular. Also, it’s not advisable to fit 58mm + wheels on low trucks, as the measurement between the axle and your deck will be narrow. You will experience what is called 'wheel bite' - a scenario where your wheels hit and rub on the deck as you lean to make a turn. This is both annoying (as you can easily fall) and can prevent you from rolling away from a trick, as upon impact you get the dreaded wheel-bite.

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3. The different brands of skateboard trucks

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Independent Trucks

Skateboard Truck Buyers Guide 2021 - Independent Trucks

The OG. Independent Trucks have been around longer than most and with the slogan - “F**K the rest” - you can tell this is a brand that can substantiate its claim. Many professional and amateur skateboarders consider Indy’s to be the only choice (along with Bones Bearings) and they have established a cult following given their heritage.

Put quite simply - Independent Trucks are as comfortable in the street as they are slashing a pool. Their sponsored team roster is almost endless and the legend count is high. They have a truck for almost all sizes and sectors - from small width cruiser trucks measuring 109mm to wide mega-ramp style trucks at 215mm. The most popular sizes are 139 and 149mm, which suits a deck width of 8-8.5".

They are available in three heights, low, mid and high, and also four different styles attributed to weight, regular Stage XI, Stage XI hollow, Stage XI forged hollow and Stage XI titanium. Independent Trucks can suit any type of skateboarder and are a great all-around choice of truck, coming highly (really highly!) recommended.

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Venture Trucks

Skateboard Truck Buyers Guide 2021 - Venture trucks

Kind of the opposite of Independent Trucks. Venture Trucks built its modern reputation as the lightweight street truck suited to modern technical skateboarding. Their team is a reflection of this belief with such legends as Gino Iannucci, Brandon Biebel, Rodrigo TX and Paul Rodriguez representing them.

As you would expect, they come in several low and high size options and also have V- Light models, which is their lightest truck yet. Venture Trucks come in three simplified sizes - 5”, 5.2” and 5.8” - so it’s easy to pick what you need as these sizes cover decks from 7.5-8.5". Parade recommends Venture Trucks, but not for a really wide 9"+ Polar deck or Santa Cruz re-issue deck.

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Thunder Trucks

Skateboard Truck Buyers Guide 2021 - Thunder Trucks

Thunder Trucks are kind of the younger brother to Independent Trucks - they’ve been in the game not quite as long, but are definitely up there in terms of quality and have stood the test of time.

Thunder Trucks offer a variety of trucks with a lot of detail to each line. They include the Thunder Team Editions which are lightweight and responsive, backed by the Thunder Pro team. Thunder Lights, which are lighter in weight due to their hollow kingpins and custom forged aluminium baseplates. Thunder Team Hollows, offer extra height and clearance (for bigger wheels) and also have hollow kingpins and axles. Thunder Hollow Lights offer less weight and more strength due to hollow kingpins and reinforced hollow axles. Also, custom forged aluminium baseplates, forged meaning hollowed-out to reduce weight.

Finally, there are the Thunder Titanium Lights, these are Thunder’s lightest truck, with extra strong titanium axles, same hollow kingpins and the custom forged aluminium baseplates. All of Thunder’s trucks are guaranteed for life.

Heavy team riders such as Jamie Foy swear by Thunder and their ‘Quickturn’ appeal. Quickturn and 'responsive' is in reference to Thunder Trucks giving the feeling of an immediate turn, so once you lean over to turn it instantly does so, whereas Independent Trucks offer a more smooth casual feel of turn.

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Tensor Trucks

Skateboard Truck Buyers Guide 2021 - Tensor Trucks

Tensor Trucks were originally the brainchild of long-time professional skateboarder Rodney Mullen who wanted a very technical lightweight truck for how modern skateboarding had evolved. Their Mag-Light version claims to be the lightest truck in the world. With riders like Daewon Song and Joey Brezinski on board, the tech levels need to be at a maximum! They also have a lifetime guarantee, which you can read about here.

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Ace Trucks

Skateboard Truck Buyers Guide 2021 - Ace Trucks

Relatively new to the truck market in comparison to the other brands - Ace Trucks arrived with a mantra to change the truck market and provide a no-nonsense product that works straight out of the box. This is against how some trucks can take a few weeks/month to 'wear in', which is the urethane bushings taking a minute to ease in. The bushings in Ace Trucks have a different softness to other brands (91a, 86a), which they inform is the key to having zero ‘break-in’ time.

To read more about their tech specs click here (scroll down). A heavily diverse team from Kevin Rodrigues to Raven Tershay aims to compound the notion that these trucks are suited to any type of skateboarding.

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Krux Trucks

Skateboard Truck Buyers Guide 2021 - Krux Trucks

Krux Trucks are more a light-hearted take on the truck industry, they come in a huge range of colours, and their whole image is based around the fun and good times that skateboarding brings.

The iconic Nora Vasconcellos chooses Krux and her own artwork is featured on her pro model. Louie Barletta and Caswell Berry of Enjoi fame also ride Krux, so you get a picture of the team.

To screw everyone’s head, Krux is the exception in terms of industry sizing and state their width to include axles - a belief that it better compares to the width of the board - for instance, an end-to-end 8” truck width suits an 8” board.

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Film Trucks

Skateboard Truck Buyers Guide 2021 - Film Trucks

Film are the only European brand in the truck market, which is dominated by American companies. It was founded by Jeremie Daclin, long-time Cliche pro and general legend within European skateboarding. The aim of Film Trucks is the provide a quality reliable truck at a slightly cheaper price.

Film Trucks feature a 6 hole baseplate, this means that fans of vintage and reissue skateboard decks are able to adjust the wheelbase of their setups, which is a nice option to have. Film Trucks are guaranteed for life and they are part of the 1% For The Planet movement, meaning 1% of the sales of each set sold is donated to charity, “it’s the least we can do” Jeremie says. This year the money will go to an Amazonian rainforest charity.

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Skateboard Truck Buyers Guide 2021 - Deck Width To Truck Size Needed

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4. Summary/Takeaway

There’s an awful lot of choice out there in terms of truck brands, sizes, colours and models. This only gets more complicated when you throw in all the terminology such as hollow axles, hi, lo, lights etc. Also, the different materials trucks can be offered in, such as titanium or magnesium. Many trucks state different things in terms of how it betters the performance with design features to improve the turning capabilities and/or reduce weight or generally act as an improvement to performance. This is why when you dig deep the information can be a bit overwhelming. We’d like to break it all down to something more digestible, here goes:

  • If you want a strong all-around truck that will perform well on any terrain then opt for Independent or Thunder.

  • If you want a lightweight technical street truck, go for Venture.

  • If you want a good performing truck with plenty of colour and design options to choose from, get Krux.

  • If you want a cheap entry-level truck to learn how to skate try Film or Bullet Trucks.

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