Skateboard Trucks Buying Guide – Everything You Should Know


Skateboard trucks are the most important part of your board. Trucks have a huge impact on how your board feels and performs, they also last the longest. There are many different skateboard trucks out there, some better than others depending on what you want to do. Transition skateboarders need different trucks as street skaters and what if you like both?

This guide helps you to make a decision on which trucks are the best for you personally. I’ll take a deep dive into what trucks are made of and how different components impact performance. You probably already know that size matters but what exactly do you need, let’s go!

How to Pick the Right Skateboard Trucks

How to choose skateboard trucks infographic
There are a couple of factors you need to consider when choosing the right skateboard trucks, but which trucks are right for you? First, the width of your trucks’ axle should match your deck and vice versa. The right width is the most important of all but there’s more to it.

Second, consider what and where you want to skateboard, the hardness of the trucks’ bushings, type of baseplate, even pivot cups and washers can make a difference. Usually, a standard truck is fine but if you have the budget hollow trucks and titanium could be an option.

Third, what type of skateboarder are you? Technical street skating, transition or just cruising around? Maybe you like to do all of these things and are looking for an all-around truck?

Skateboard Trucks Size

Trucks come in all kinds of sizes and brands don’t really have a standard so keep that in mind and read the specification carefully before you buy. The most important is to pick the right width, trucks should match your board.

All brands list their details in the product description and if you go to your local skate shop they will help you out. Here’s a table to help you on your way if you’re shopping online.

Picking the Right Width

Like mentioned, make sure your skateboard deck matches the width of your trucks’ axle. Don’t obsess with picking exact matching trucks, as long you’re able to stand primo (standing on your skateboard wheels and side of your board) you’re fine. The most important thing is that they shouldn’t be wider than your deck because this will reduce responsiveness and causes wheel bite.

Trucks brands sizes and matching deck width
Deck width (Inches) < 7.5″ 7.5″ – 7.99″ 8.0″ – 8.49″ 8.5″ – 8.99″
Independent Trucks 109 129 139, 144 149, 159
Thunder Trucks 143 145 147, 148 149, 151
Tensor Trucks 5.0 5.35, 5.5 5.75
Venture Trucks 5.0 5.2 5.8

Trucks Too Narrow? Don’t Panic

Why?  Too narrow could mean an uncomfortable ride, you won’t be able to see your wheels and it’s like riding a carpet. It’s not as bad as picking trucks that are too wide, in fact, if you’re trucks are too narrow you’ll reduce the chance of wheel bite. The biggest culprit is that narrow trucks (relative to your deck’s width) offer less stability, so if you skate vert and bowl it might be an issue. It makes your board more agile and you’ll be able to turn faster, but stability is important. Just don’t slap 8″ trucks on an 8.75″ deck.

Trucks Too Wide Can Cause Issues

While wide trucks offer more stability, having too wide trucks can lead to a number of issues.  Slightly wider isn’t really an issue and some skaters even prefer wider trucks but keep the following in mind. If your trucks are too wide for your board you can’t do any primo tricks as your board will position itself in an angle when resting on its side.

Another issue you might experience is your feet hitting the wheels as they stick out, not much of a problem for taller skateboarders though. Lastly, the board will be less responsive making flips a bit harder. Still, no huge problem, in general just try to pick the right width to be safe.

Skateboard Truck Height

The truck’s height is about the distance between your wheel and your deck. The distance is measured between the baseplate and the truck’s hanger. Height is a personal preference, but the general rule here is that the closer you are to the ground the more stability you have.

There are low, medium and high trucks but most brands only sell high and low trucks. Some brands offer high trucks that are the same as low trucks from other brands, which can be confusing. Height isn’t something to worry about when you’re a beginner, you’ll find out what you like along the way. Pick highs if you want to cruise around or skate transition/mini ramp/bowls and pick lows when you only want to skate street/park and do technical stuff.

As for wheels, low trucks require – 50 to 53- millimeter wheels, medium trucks can do with – 53 to 56-millimeter wheels and high up to 60 mm wheels. Riser pads can increase height allowing for bigger wheels.

Higher trucks don’t offer more pop compared to lower trucks. Some argue that higher trucks make your tail further away from the ground which is technically true but theories don’t always make you skate better. Most important is your popping technique and a couple of millimeters won’t really give you more pop. If you do think this helps, that’s fine. Most important thing is to skate what you like and prefer.

skateboard trucks height and matching wheel sizes

Low Trucks

Low trucks offer the most stability but careful about bigger wheels, low trucks are around 46 to 49 mm. Anything between a 48 and 53mm wheel diameter is usually fine for low trucks. Beyond that, you’ll need riser pads but this defeats the purpose of low trucks, might as well get a pair of highs. Low trucks sit closer to your wheels so slapping big wheels on them will cause wheel bit which can be inconvenient sometimes. It’ll throw you off balance and might cause you to fall.

If you’re more of a technical skateboarder and like to hit the street and parks, go for lows. They allow for better grinding, flips, better powerslides and more stability at higher speeds. They are less ‘turny’ and offer less grip compared to high trucks. Don’t ride them too loose, low trucks usually require a tighter setup.

Medium Trucks

Because mid trucks are versatile and great for all-around skateboarding. They’re a good option if you like to skate transition but also like to shred the streets.  You can attach slightly bigger wheels on them compared to low trucks but usually not bigger than 56mm. Riser pads are optional but you might as well go with high trucks instead.

High Trucks

High trucks are great for skating mini ramps, bowls, and verts and go from 53.5 mm to 58 mm. They turn a bit better compared to low trucks because of their higher profile. If you like to ride bigger wheels you should definitely go for high trucks! Because they turn better they give a bit of a surfy feeling when cruising on bigger wheels. You can ride them pretty loose without having to worry about wheel bite. High trucks have a snappier hookup but offer less stability at higher speeds (like bombing the hill kind off speeds).

High trucks are better for turning as the truck can pivot further as the different geometry allows more movement. Larger wheels can be fitted without wheel bite, 53mm to 58mm, as the axle now sits further away from the deck. You can ride looser trucks as the wheels will have more room to move before hitting the deck.

Skateboard Truck Components and Materials

trucks skateboard explosive view

Trucks are made of a mix of metal, steel, brass in a process named die casting, sometimes they’re covered in a powder coating. Some have aluminum parts or hollow axles taking away some of the weight. You’ll be fine with the standard metal trucks as long as you pick trucks from a reputable brand. You don’t have to buy the most expensive trucks, here are the trucks I recommend without burning your budget.

In order to understand your trucks and how they behave you might want to learn about its components. Skateboard truck technology has made quite some progress since skateboarding was invented. All the different parts play an important role to make your truck perform and behave as a solid trustworthy truck should. A skateboard truck consists of the following components:

  • Baseplate
  • Kingpin
  • Hangar
  • Axles & nuts
  • Bushings
  • Washers
  • Pivot cup
  • Speedrings
  • Bushing seat

Kingpin

The king of pins. The kingpin holds everything together and is rather important. It connects the truck’s hangar to the baseplate and can be replaced. If you break a kingpin, your truck will instantly fall apart. I only had this happen once fortunately and it was a scary experience. The nut on the end of the kingpin allows you to tighten or loosen your trucks. Loose will allow for better turns and tight offers a bit more stability but less responsiveness.

Hangar

The truck’s hangar is the metal triangular-shaped part which supports the axle and is used to grind rails and curbs. The indented hole in the middle is where your kingpin is placed which connects it to the baseplate (together with urethane bushings and washers). At the bottom, you’ll find the pivot which connects to the pivot hole sitting in the baseplate.

This part is important when making turns. The hangar is the biggest component of your truck and holds the axle where your wheels are attached. The hangers width is often used to help you choose the right deck width, but it’s better to look at the axle width.

Axles

The truck’s axles are where you attach your wheels and run through the hangar. The side has a thread where you attach the nut to secure your wheels. It’s important that the axle is made of quality steel or titanium because the axles deal with lots of force. A bent axle means buying a new truck. Don’t worry if your thread is worn out, a good skate tool can be used to rethread the axle.

Axle Nuts

The axle nuts are used to secure your wheels to your axle’s truck. They need to be tight (not too tight) in order to prevent your wheels from flying off. You can buy these at any hardware store and they’re rather cheap.

Bushing Seat

The bushings seat is the inset hole where your bushing fit. Depending on the height of the seat walls it allows for sharper or moderate turns.

Bushings

Bushings are made of polyurethane and are attached to your kingpin and are held in place by the bushing seat. They allow you to pivot your board when you lean to make turns. Bushings are quite important and the type you need depends mainly on your weight and your style. Heavy skaters should go with harder bushings in general.

If you like loose trucks and a responsive board go with softer bushings. I wrote a comprehensive guide which goes in all the details so I’ll keep this one short.

Bushings need time to break in, if your trucks feel too loose after you skated for a few days try to tighten them or replace the bushings with harder ones if that doesn’t help.

Speedrings

Speedrings are tiny rings attached to your truck’s axle. Your wheels are placed in between them and they protect your bearings from wear and tear and help your wheels spin faster. Even though seemingly insignificant, you really should make sure to attach them. They’re cheap and will help to keep your bearings in good condition as they reduce the friction on your buts and hangar while moving.

Pivot Cup

The pivot cup is sitting in the pivot hole of your baseplate and supports your hangar when making turns. They usually consist of hard polyurethane. Even though it’s just a tiny cup of plastic they have a huge impact on performance. Upgrading them can make a difference depending on your skate style. The cup needs to fit perfectly as tiny air pockets can cause your trucks to wiggle. You don’t have to worry about this as stock pivot cups are fine.

Washers

Washers, more specifically cup washers keep your bushings in place. They’re round-shaped cup-like metal rings and make sure that you don’t oversteer. They provide extra stiffness to your bushings and help to snap your bushings back into place (rebound).  If you ever hear a clicking sound make sure to check your washers. They could be deformed allowing them to move around causing noise.

Baseplate

The baseplate is the metal or aluminum plate which is attached to your skateboard. It has 4 holes where the crews and bolts go, a pivot hole where the hanger and pivot cup are attached, and one hole for the kingpin. A strong baseplate is essential when you grind a lot of curbs as the baseplate has to deal with a lot of force.

pivot cup and baseplate

(Optional) shock and riser pads

While not being really a part of trucks I still think I should mention shock pads and riser pads. Shock pads provide a slightly more comfortable ride as the rubber dampens shocks from rough surfaces or when jumping stairs. They add a few millimeters to the height of your truck allowing for slightly bigger wheels.

Riser pads are for skateboarders who like cruising on bigger wheels and prevent wheel bite. Make sure to pick taller bolts when you get shock- or riser pads!

Here’s which size bolts to use when you attach riser pads or shock pads:

Bolt length vs riser and shock pads
Shock/riser pads bolt length (inches)
Regular setup (no pads) 7/8“ or 1“ bolts
1/8“ shock pads 1“ or 1 1/8“ bolts
1/4“ riser pads 1 1/4″ bolts
1/2“ riser pads 1 1/2″ bolts

Trucks and Styles

There’s a lot of debate about which truck is the best. The most heated debates are between Thunder trucks and Independent trucks fans. Both are great brands and I would stay away from the arguments but there are a couple of differences you should be aware of.

In general, Thunder trucks are better suited for technical street skating and Independent are great for transition skateboarding. In short, Thunders are a bit lower to the ground and respond quickly when turning where Indy’s offer more stability. There’s more to it so if you want to know more about that I suggest clicking the link. Keep in mind that bushings also have a huge impact on how your trucks perform.

Trucks for Street

Go with Thunders, they’re more responsive compared to Indy’s and Venture and many skateboarders love how they grind curbs. Thunders are a bit closer to the ground compared to Indys. This means your board will spin faster making kickflips slightly easier.  The downside is that they have less metal to grind through compared to the other brands. Budget wise (long-term) you’ll be better off buying Independents as they have more metal on the hangar.

Trucks for Cruising

Probably any brand is fine as long as they offer quality trucks, you’ll need a high profile truck because you also need bigger wheels if you decide to the only cruise. Tensor, Independent, Thunder or Ventures. It’s all good

Truck for Transition Skateboarding

Transition skateboarding is about vert, bowls and mini ramps. If you only skate transition go for Independent trucks or Venture trucks. They’ll offer the stability and grip you need when riding ramps. I also suggest going for a wider truck combined with a wider board. Recently switched from 8.0″ to 8.5″ and my setup seems way more forgiving than before. I gained lots of stability and feel way more confident when skating mini ramps. It takes some time to get used to but I can’t image that I used to ride 7.75″!

Hollow Trucks and Titanium

For a while, there’s a trend to make trucks lighter either by hollowing out the axles and kingpins or using aluminum. Lighter trucks won’t help you ollie higher, but aluminum is usually stronger than the mix of metal trucks are made out of. Hollows aren’t that much more expensive as regular trucks but there isn’t a difference in performance. Perhaps it’s more of a gimmick but if you want to try hollow or titanium trucks, go for it. In the end, spending more will support the brands allowing them to do more research and improve the technology. I have a pair of titanium trucks but I can’t really tell the difference from standard trucks. I do like them but it’s more about just wanting them, not a rational thing.

Truck Troubleshooting, Maintenance & Tips

Trucks hardly require any maintenance besides tightening or loosening the kingpin nut once every while. Sometimes bushings and washers need to be replaced and on rare occasions, your kingpin might break.

Trucks are a lot stronger than they used to be and bent axles are uncommon. The axles thread may wear down from friction or in some cases, the nut is placed at a slight angle destroying the thread. Trucks hardly show signs of oxidation when you leave them in the rain, still wouldn’t recommend it.

Breaking Them in

Trucks need some time to break in, especially the bushings.  Some speed up the process sanding down the trucks (to lock your grinds). If you feel like your kingpin hits ledges or rails when grinding, sand them down a little. Don’t tighten your trucks too much as the bushings will deform and you run the risk of making your board turn uneven. Just skate them for a few days and slowly tighten the nut if you prefer a tighter setup. I know it sucks but you need to be patient. The best way to break them in is:

  1. Loosen the nut on your kingpin
  2. Ride and try to carve a lot
  3. Gradually tighten them over the next days

Loose Trucks or Tight?

Loose trucks mean less stability but better turning. It’s entirely up to you just experiment a little what feels right. In general, transition skateboarders like to ride the trucks tight because skating a mini ramp or vert requires stability. Bowl/pool skaters require a bit looser trucks for better carving the bowl’s curvy surface. Street skaters ride trucks looser because they need a responsive board for technical trucks. Your board is more forgiving when landing sketchy tricks. There are always exceptions of course. You can start by riding loose and slowly tighten them to find out what works best for you.

Loud Trucks and Noise

checklist why your skateboard turns on its ownSometimes your trucks make squeaky or clicking noises. The former usually has to do with worn down bushings which sometimes can be fixed by adding some candle wax to your pivot hole. It could also mean that they are squished and deformed meaning it’s time to replace them. Clicking sounds are usually caused by faulty washers that move around your kingpin.

So which truck size is the best?

That depends on your personal preference. If you’re a tall person or if you mainly skate transition, wider trucks (and wider deck) is often recommended. A wider setup provides more stability, I personally skate an 8.5″ board with Indy’s 149 when I shred the mini ramp. When I skate on the street I skate and 8.0″ deck because it feels a bit more responsive. A narrow truck will make kickflips (for example) a bit easier.

Brands to Consider

There are many skateboard truck brands out there but a couple of them stand out. Some brands have a good reputation and have been around for decades. A couple of brands match each other in quality and durability, Independent, Thunder, Venture are the most reliable brands but don’t dismiss Tensor or Ace Trucks. Go for a brand that you like to support, fits your budget and style.

You can get used to any truck if you ride them long enough, much of your preference has a psychological aspect to it. I’ll restrain myself from mentioning all the brands because this post is already getting a bit beefy. If you have suggestions feel free to leave a comment.

Independent Trucks

Independent released their first skateboard truck (Stage 1) back in 1978. They are located in Santa Cruz and known for responsive and durable trucks. Indy’s are manufactured by Ermico Enterprises Inc and is the only dedicated truck manufacturer in the USA. It’s hard to break an Indy truck and if you do don’t be afraid to contact them. Indy trucks are more expensive but for good reasons, they just outlast any other brand. They offer a lifetime warranty if your truck has a production defect.

Because they have more metal on the trucks they are usually a bit heavier compared to other brands (which doesn’t really matter). With the introduction of Forged Titanium and Indy Hollows, Independent has a selection of lighter trucks available. Indy’s are loved by mini ramp, bowls, and vert skaters but I also see many street skateboarders riding Indy’s because they just last longer.

Independent trucks size chart and suggested deck width.
Size Type Height Hanger width Axle width Deck width
129 Low Low 48 mm 5.0″ (128 mm) 7.625″ (194 mm) 7.375″ – 7.75″
129 Standard High 55 mm 5.0″ (128 mm) 7.625″ (194 mm) 7.375″ – 7.75″
139 Low Low 48 mm 5.39″ (137 mm) 8″ (203 mm) 7.875″ – 8.125″
139 Standard High 55 mm 5.39″ (137 mm) 8″ (203 mm) 7.875″ – 8.125″
144 Standard High 55 mm 5.625″ (143 mm) 8.25″ (209 mm) 8.125″ – 8.375″
149 Standard High 55 mm 5.9″ (150 mm) 8.5″ (216 mm) 8.375″ – 8.625″
159 Standard High 55 mm 6.15″ (156 mm) 8.75″ (222 mm) 8.625″ – 8.875″
169 Standard High 55 mm 6.5″ (160 mm) 9.125″ (232 mm) 9″ – 9.25″
215 Standard High 55 mm 7.36″ (187 mm) 10″ (254 mm) 9.75″ – 10.25″

Independent Standard Hollow

Consists of a hollow kingpin and hollow axle to take some weight of the truck. It doesn’t have the forged baseplate and is a little thicker. This doesn’t compromise their durability, they’re still as strong as ever. Standard Indy trucks are fine if you are on a budget, there isn’t a really noticeable difference.

Independent Forged Hollow

These trucks feature a hollow kingpin and hollow axle and come with a forged Baseplate. The forged baseplate is stronger than the standard baseplate and probably the best truck considering its price and quality. Forged stands for the metals used, comparable to aircraft-grade metal.

Independent Forged Titanium

The most expensive of the three. These trucks consist of a hollow kingpin, a titanium axle, and a forged Baseplate. If you have the budget go for it, but there isn’t really any difference when looking at the Forged Hollows.

Thunder Trucks

Another very popular brand. Thunder Trucks was founded in 1986 and is distributed through Deluxe. They offer very responsive trucks and are many street skateboarders favorite. Like Indy, Thunder offers very durable trucks and are known for their stability. They are a bit lighter because they have less metal compared to Independent. Thunder used to be the underdog in the ’80s but are now top of their class. Thunder has the lowest profile keeping your center of gravity low. They offer a wide range of trucks and distinct designs.

Thunder trucks size chart and suggested deck width.
Size Type Height Hanger width Axle width Deck width
143 Mid 50 mm 4.5″ (115 mm) 7.125″ (181 mm) 6.875″ – 7.375″
145 Low Low 47 mm 5.0″ (128 mm) 7.625″ (194 mm) 7.375″ – 7.75″
145 High Mid 50 mm 5.0″ (128 mm) 7.625″ (194 mm) 7.375″ – 7.75″
147 High Mid 50 mm 5.39″ (137 mm) 8″ (203 mm) 7.875″ – 8.125″
148 High Mid 50 mm 5.67″ (144 mm) 8.25″ (210 mm) 8.125″ – 8.375″
149 High Mid 52 mm 5.9″ (150 mm) 8.5″ (216 mm) 8.375″ – 8.625″
151 High Mid 52 mm 6.15″ (156 mm) 8.75″ (222 mm) 8.625″ – 8.875″

Thunder Lights

Thunder lights come with a hollow kingpin and a forged aluminum baseplate which takes some weight of the truck. Strong and reliable trucks without going over your budget. The lower profile keeps you stable and they’re known for locking grinds comfortably.

Thunder Team Hollows

Team Hollow features a hollow kingpin and Axle, the only difference is the baseplate which is slightly higher. These trucks were made for team riders originally who preferred a slightly higher truck. They’re just as responsive as regular Thunders and weigh about the same. Very responsive and strong truck.

Thunder Hollow Lights

They are a bit lighter (hence the name) and have a hollow kingpin and axle. The light forged baseplate and kingpin are made of aircraft-grade material.

Thunder Titanium Lights

The most expensive Thunder truck. Like the others, they consist of a hollow kingpin and a forged Baseplate. The biggest difference is the Titanium axle. Great designs but the cheaper options are just as good.

Venture Trucks

Venture is known for stability and their trucks are great for bowl, vert and mini ramps. They started out as an underground truck company but are credited for inventing the modern street truck (in 1992 they released the Featherlight). If you don’t have the money for Thunders of Indy’s, go with this brand.

They share  Indy’s truck foundry keeping the price low. Durability wise they are in-between Thunder and Indy’s. Venture is a very popular brand and produces top-notch trucks. Like other brands, they have hollow trucks like the Venture-V-Lights (hollow kingpin) and the Venture V Hollow Lights (hollow axle and kingpin). I personally love riding them in my local mini ramp!

Venture trucks size chart and suggested deck width.
Size Type Height Hanger Width Axle Width Deck width
5.0 Low Low 48 mm 5.0″ (128 mm) 7.625″ (194 mm) 7.5″ – 7.75″
5.0 High High 53,5 mm 5.0″ (128 mm) 7.625″ (194 mm) 7.5″ – 7.75″
5.25 Low Low 48 mm 5.39″ (137 mm) 8″ (203 mm) 7.875″ – 8.125″
5.25 High High 53,5 mm 5.39″ (137 mm) 8″ (203 mm) 7.875″ – 8.125″
5.8 High High 53,5 mm 5.9″ (150 mm) 8.5″ (216 mm) 8.375″ – 8.625″

Tensor Trucks

Founded in 2000 by the god of skateboarding himself, Rodney Mullen. Tensor is a newcomer but its star is rising. They are perhaps the most innovative skateboard truck companies out there and known for their light-weight trucks. Tensor magnesium light is actually the lightest you can find on the market! How do they do this? Well, this truck is made partly of magnesium and the hollow axle and kingpins reduce the weight even more.

  • The Tensor Aluminium trucks are almost entirely made out of, you guessed it, aluminum.
  • Tensor Magnesium Light is made of the very light-weight material magnesium and features a hollow kingpin and a hollow axle.
  • The Tensor Über EX17 Slider Magnesium Light has the same features but is mainly made of magnesium. The baseplate is special because of the slider which makes nose slides and tail slides a bit easier. I haven’t tried this myself though.
Tensor truck size chart and suggested deck width.
Size Type Height Hanger width Axle width Deck width
5.25 Low Low 46 mm 5.25″ (133 mm) 8″ (202 mm) 7.875″ – 8.125″
5.25 Regular Mid 52 mm 5.25″ (133 mm) 8″ (202 mm) 7.875″ – 8.125″
5.5 Low Low 46 mm 5.5″ (140 mm) 8.125″ (207 mm) 8″ – 8.25″
5.5 Regular Mid 52 mm 5.5″ (140 mm) 8.125″ (207 mm) 8″ – 8.25″
5.75 Regular Mid 52 mm 5.75″ (146 mm) 8.375″ (213 mm) 8.25″ – 8.5″
6.0 Regular Mid 52 mm 6″ (152 mm) 8.625″ (219 mm) 8.5″ – 8.75″

 

Ruben Vee

I 'm an aged skateboarder, but I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago and I'm out there whenever I can.

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