I’ve been making longboards for almost a decade now and been riding longboards for even longer. Through my experience I have found that there are many things that contribute to a board turning sharply, with the two absolute most important things being the type of trucks used, and the second being the softness of the bushings. Before you go out and buy new trucks though, follow this guide to make sure you don’t go spending money you don’t have to.
To ensure your board turns correctly and as much as you want it to, do the following (these are listed in the order of lowest cost to highest):
- Ensure the trucks are oriented the correct way
- Loosen the kingpin nut
- Replace the bushings
- Get trucks made for carving
Why Does My Longboard Turn the Opposite Way?
While this is a not so common issue, it happens, and it can be perplexing. What this looks like is getting on your board, leaning right, but your board turns left. If this happens then your trucks are on backwards, flip them and you should be good to go.
Which Way Should Trucks Face on a Longboard?
When looking at the bottom of the longboard, the trucks should always mirror each other. If you have reverse kingpin trucks (the most common longboard trucks on the market), then the kingpin should be outside of the hangar closer to the tip and tail of the board.
If you have standard kingpin trucks (the types of trucks used on 99% of street decks aka “skateboards”) then the kingpin will be on the other side of the hangar. Once you have made sure the trucks are oriented the right way, your board shouldn’t be turning the wrong way anymore, but If your issue has more to do with your trucks not turning or carving enough, then move on to the next solution.
What To Do if Your Longboard Won’t Turn Enough
There’s actually quite a few things that go into making a longboard turn sharper, but I have found the most pivotal factors (see what I did there?) revolve around the trucks. So once you’ve determined that your trucks are oriented the correct way (read above), I would recommend going through the rest of the list in order, until you’ve received the desired turn feel.
One thing to keep in mind, these will have the best impact in this order assuming your board is actually a longboard and not a street deck or a shorter cruiser of some sort, a really wide deck will also impair some of these suggestions. I’ll touch on exceptions to these rules at the end.
1. Loosen the kingpin nut
The kingpin is the large bolt that connects the hanger to the baseplate. If the kingpin is too tight, turning and carving can be difficult.
This can be loosened with an adjustable wrench or skate tool. Approach this solution with caution, as too loose of a kingpin nut can be dangerous.
When adjusting the kingpin nut, you want the nut to apply a small amount of pressure on the washer below it and not feel too loose, too loose is usually indicated by seeing gaps between the bushing and hanger when pressure is applied, instead the bushing should be compressing slightly, and no gap should form. In most cases this solution will take your board from not turning at all, to turning enough. If not, move on to #2
2. Buy softer bushings.
If your board still isn’t carving like you want, then buying softer bushings can make a massive difference. In fact, no matter what trucks I’m using, buying new bushings for them is one of the first things I do, because I love that surfy feel and deep carve softer bushings give. It’s also cheap (typically around $5-$25). The bushings sandwich the hanger of the truck on the kingpin.
Bushings are measured using the durometer scale, which is the same hardness scale used for skate wheels. Basically there are numbers indicating hardness, the lower the number, the softer the bushing. They typically range from 78a up to around 98a.
Most stock bushings are on the medium/medium-hard side of the scale. For more detail on durometer, check out the “Durometer A and B” section of the “Hard VS Soft Wheels Explained” article.
The softer the bushing, the deeper the carves. I would recommend first figuring out what kind of bushings came on your trucks, not just the softness, but also the shape and configuration. Barrel/cone is the most common and considered the best balance between stability and carvy.
Once you’ve figured out what bushings come stock on your trucks I would try to get similar ones, just in a softer durometer, as sometimes the shape of the truck and hanger determine what kind of bushings will even fit your trucks.
I’ve purchased a lot of aftermarket bushings, and even the cheap ones perform fine for what I do, while it may make sense to spend more money the more intense your riding is, for a weekend cruiser like me, the budget Venom options have worked just fine.
4. Buy different trucks
If option 1 and 2 didn’t do it for you this would be the next (and more expensive) option. While a majority of longboards come with reverse kingpin trucks, some come with standard kingpin trucks. If that’s the case for yours, it might be worth replacing them with reverse kingpin trucks, which will carve deeper than standard.
If you already have reverse kingpin trucks and the options above didn’t help enough, it might be worth considering getting more unique trucks designed to carve differently than normal trucks. I personally ride Original Skateboards S8 spring trucks, which use a spring instead of bushings, and create some of the deepest carves I’ve ever experienced.
Other examples of less common trucks are Seismic (spring), Gullwing Sidewinders (double kingpin), Revenge (torsion) and several others, though these are some of the more reputable ones.
Before doing this option, I would make sure that whatever board you currently have makes sense to throw different trucks on. There are some boards where that doesn’t really make sense, and replacing the whole setup might actually be the way to go, I’ll cover that in the caveats below.
Final Words and Caveats
I truly hope this guide has helped you, I do feel that a majority of cases of “not turning” or “not turning enough” should be solved by the above solutions. However there are going to be some cases where increasing the carve factor of the trucks can be dangerous.
For example, decks that don’t have cutouts for the wheels or hangars might be more prone to wheelbite if carve-ability is increased too much, solutions for this includes adding risers, getting trucks with longer hangers, or getting smaller wheels. Having too long or too short of a board can also affect how well it carves, so make sure the board is the right length for you and for what you want to do.
Increasing the carve factor on your board will decrease the stability, increase wobbles while riding straight (pro-tip, never ride straight down a hill on a carving deck, if it’s meant to carve, it’s safest to carve), and makes it much harder to initiate a slide.
I’m an aged skateboarder and I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago but also love surfing, snowboarding, or anything that involves a board.