“Sidewalk surfing” is a great way to analogise skateboarding - the similarities are reflected in smooth turns, continuous flow and rhythmic harmony . And this all rests on the turning mechanism of your setup: your trucks. The decision you make here will be the biggest determinant in desired movement, so it pays to be informed before you commit.
Different brands will offer unique technological features, looks and feel. This, combined with height, width and weight all have an influence on your ride. And although we started this article with a loose example, it is just as common to tighten your trucks for a rigid and precise setup - bushings can be tuned independently of which trucks you pick.
With the multitude of brands available, there may be specific things you are looking for which will cement your choice. Maybe your favourite skateboarder rides for a particular company, or you want maximum weight reduction. Or maybe you just want a colourway that matches your deck graphic. Whatever the reason, as long as you stick within known brand names, you should get a quality product.
The most important aspect is for the trucks to actually fit your overall setup. Width and height are the main considerations here - let’s start with width. The edges of your deck should roughly line up with the axle nuts of your trucks. From here, the terminology gets a bit confusing - you may see numbers like 5.25, 139 or 147. These are actually effectively the same width, just from different manufacturers. Independent uses 129, 139, 149 etc., while Thunder uses 145, 147, 149. Venture uses 5.0, 5.25 and 5.5, with most other companies typically labelling their trucks within one of these conventions.
To make things easy, we can categorise all the numbers by three common deck width ranges - 7.5”-7.75”, 7.875”-8.125” and 8.25”-8.5”. Those in the 7.5”-7.75” range should be skating 129s, 145s or 5.0s. 7.875”-8.125” decks are best suited to 139s, 147s or 5.25s. The larger 8.25”-8.5” decks then align with 149s or 5.5s. (To learn more about decks, check out our guide on how to choose your first skateboard deck.)
This is coupled with truck height with it’s own set of recommended tolerances. Width should roughly match your wheel size - 50-52mm typically works best with low trucks, 53-56mm works with mids and anything larger will pair nicely with highs.
There is a slight bit more wiggle room here though, depending on what type of skateboarding you want to do. Simple physics will deduct that a more stable ride is attained with low trucks, making flip tricks potentially more precise. High trucks will inversely allow for better carving and flow at the expense of weight. Keep this in mind alongside wheel size for the perfect balance. (To learn more about wheels, check out our guide on how to choose your first skateboard wheels.)
The final consideration is then price. The truth is that with most established brand names, the quality of the product is absolutely fine. There may be technological benefits and more aesthetic options with signature models on high-end trucks, but the basic function is ultimately the same - they will still be made from a similarly robust alloy. In a similar vein, if you are fully determined to stick with skateboarding, then a more expensive set can act as a future-proof investment - especially as trucks are often the longest lasting component of a skateboard setup.
Independent Trucks are a solid choice and one deep-set in tradition. Having been around since the inception of skateboarding as a whole, they are equipped with a concise knowledge-base that comes with time.
Durability and heritage have kept this brand at the forefront of the game, being a favourite amongst bowl and vert skaters. Their products are typically no frills, opting for classic looks and simple logo placements - even on their signature models. They don’t stray too far from the tried-and-true formula, opting instead to maximally refine functionality and lifespan. This comes in the form of hollow kingpins, titanium-blended alloys and low-profile kingpin nuts (which allow for smoother smith grinds).
Thunder Trucks are the crowd favourite, offering a full range of looks, features and sizes. Seasonal colourways are plentiful with collaborative designs tied to their professional roster - this brand is your best shot at finding specific aesthetic options.
Thunder take equal pride in their technological pursuits, being an early adopter of weight reduction through hollow kingpins and axles, as well as dialling in the formula for bushings perfectly. Responsiveness feels crisp and technical flip tricks feel controlled.
The brainchild of legendary skateboarder Rodney Mullen, this brand fittingly opts for uniqueness and innovation. Addressing some long-standing problems with the conventional truck, this company has patented a range of technologies that propel their product into the new age.
These quality-of-life upgrades include replaceable baseplate sliders that minimise contact and damage that conventional plates experience. Their weight reduction formulas feature unique magnesium and aluminium blended alloys for some of the lightest trucks in the game. Kingpin technology is deeply considered too, with an array of patents that focus on kingpin balancing and rigidity to keep things in place.
Holding a special place in the technical skateboarding realm, Venture is the staple high performance truck for those who like to flip lots and grind long. Polished is the common finish with the standard weight reduction features you’d expect from a technical product such as this.
The V logo encapsulates the unique overall shape of the trucks - this angular design secures grinds in easily, while also allowing precise movement on the kingpin side. You may find trouble getting these to feel quite as enjoyable when loosening them up however.
Mini-Logo has a strong reputation for simple, no-nonsense skateboard hardware. Although in a lower price bracket, they still perform well and use high quality parts. These come predominantly blank with limited features, but these features may not be essential for everyone, especially when just getting started.
Now armed with this new truck-intel, it would be a good time to revisit the key factors in buying your first set of trucks:
Think about the use case of your skateboarding - it would be unwise to pick low trucks for a bowl, or high trucks for doing strictly flip tricks. Also, don’t let a signature model truck sway you into buying if it doesn’t suit your needs.
For peace of mind, all trucks should offer a manufacturer’s warranty on factory defects. Aside from that, they should last for months or even years - only really showing wear once you start grinding regularly in the same areas. Baseplates and kingpins will also wear out over time, which won’t be as visible but at least these can be replaced more easily than an entire hangar.
As long as you follow our size guide, the rest should be a matter of personal preference. It would be unwise to look for any manufacturer that isn’t a well known brand. Also, don’t let a good deal or lack of stock deter you from buying the size that you really need. Skating on badly-fitting trucks can sour the experience and leave you unmotivated to learn at all.
There are always options to swap out parts as they become worn or break altogether. The most common modification is to replace bushings with the aftermarket options that are the desired softness. This comes down to personal preference and is as easy as unscrewing the kingpin. Snapped kingpins can be replaced too, although sometimes they are a bit stubborn to get out.
Outside of these modifications, trucks are very no-frills. When it comes to unscrewing things, a skate tool always helps - most should have the common 3 wrench sizes in a T shape. A special bonus is any tool with a re-threading tool - these will help you to keep the axles clean and functional after bumping them with regular use.
…and there you have it, we hope you are now equipped to find your perfect set of trucks and have fun with them for years to come.
Trucks are only a single element of a skateboard. If you're interested to learn more, check out our other helpful guides on how to build and assemble a skateboard from scratch and how to choose the right bearings for your skateboard.
Looking to buy a new skateboard? We have included everything you need to know in this complete skateboard buyer's guide written by our skateboard pros. Check it out now!
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