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How To Choose The Best Longboard Trucks For Downhill

How To Choose The Best Longboard Trucks For Downhill

Dowhill longboarding is all about speed and requires the right gear that helps you maintain control when going very fast. Besides your choice of deck, the trucks you choose play an essential role in this discipline.

The best longboad trucks for downhill are typically 180mm reverse kingpin trucks with lower degree baseplates – or a split degree combination with different angles in front and rear. A good downhill truck should also have a relatively tight bushing seat. The choice of bushings is also crucial in picking the right downhill truck setup. Double-barrel setups are often the best option with the right bushing durometer relative to your weight.

In the rest of this post, we look at what makes these trucks the best match for downhill longboarding.

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Top 3 longboard trucks for downhill

The following are three of the most popular and widely utilized trucks in the downhill longboard community.

  • Paris V2 180mm 43º trucks: these are strong and durable trucks (lifetime guarantee) with a low baseplate angle for control and stability at high-speed downhill. The Paris 90A bushings that come stock with these trucks provide a good balance of response and rebound. The baseplate is drilled for both old and new school mount styles.
  • Caliber Cal II 44º trucks: these trucks come stock with two 89A Blood Orange barrel bushings to avoid high-speed wobbles (see section on bushings later in this post). You may choose to swap them for Venom barrel bushings, e.g. 90A or 93A (Amazon) for added stability, particularly if you’re a heavier rider.
  • Randal R II 42º 180mm trucks: another top truck for high-speed downhill and freeriding. Here again, the reduced angle results in more stability through a lower height. Like the Paris, the Randal trucks are made in the US and bear a lifetime warranty.

In the folowing sections, I’ll dig deeper into what makes a good downhill truck, which will help you better understand why the above 3 trucks are among the best in the market for this high-speed riding style.

Downhill truck width

When choosing a downhill truck, the first thing to consider is truck width. The width of your trucks should match the width of your deck. Especially at high speed, you don’t want your wheels to stick out from both sides of your deck, leading to a higher risk of your foot touching a wheel – a great potential hazard at high speed.

On the other hand, your trucks can’t be narrower than your deck as this would cause wheelbite.

So your trucks need to match your deck. Generally, for downhill longboarding you’ll want a longer deck with a wheelbase in the 26″-31″ range as it will give you the stability you need at high speed. Boards with this kind of wheelbase, e.g. the Loaded Tesseract, are typically 9-10″ wide, so 180mm trucks are generally the best choice for a downhill setup.

RKP vs TKP trucks for downhill

Reverse kingpin trucks have their kingpin reversed compared to traditional kingpin trucks, a geometry which makes RKP trucks more stable, predictable, and smoother turning at high downhill speeds.

RKP trucks (aka “longboard trucks”) can be used on either top mounted or drop-through downhill decks. Whether you choose a topmount of drop-through deck is a matter of preference and downhill riding skills. A topmount will typically be more responsive and allow tighter and more precise downhill lines, while a drop-through will give you more stability and easier slide initiation but less precise lines because of the lower ride height and greater distance between the feet and the truck mounts.

Some hardcore downhill riders like to run standard kingpin trucks (aka “street trucks”) for downhill speed riding for a more twitchy response e.g. in high-speed corners. However, this requires very advanced skills.

Downhill trucks baseplate angle

Lower angle trucks, e.g. trucks with a 40+ angle, are more stable at speed than higher angle ones – e.g. 50+º baseplate angle. This is because low angle trucks have less turn, that is, the same amount of lean on the board rail will make the trucks turn less than a higher angle truck. As a result, low-angle trucks provide more stability and respond less dramatically to your moves and to road bumps when bombing downhill.

That’s why the best downhill trucks typically have angles in the 40-45º range, as opposed to cruising, carving or low-speed freeride trucks for which a baseplate angle in the 50-55º range is often best-suited.

It’s important to note than lower-angle also means lower truck height, resulting in a slightly lower center of gravity for the setup. A lower setup can also lead to more wheelbite in tight turning, e.g. for carving and crowded city commuting.

Many downhill riders choose a split angle combination with a lower degree (e.g. 42º) on the back truck than on the front (e.g. 50º). The higher degree baseplate in the front keeps the board responsive and turny while the lower degree back truck ensures stability at high speed and reduces speed wobbles typically caused by back truck steering. For downhill you want the back truck to be slower turning.

Since 42º trucks are lower than 50º ones, however, you may want to add a riser under your rear truck so your deck doesn’t lean toward the back causing you to lean more on the rear truck. This can also leads to speed wobbles.

Note that if you want to try a split setup, you don’t necessarily have to buy a different truck altogether, you can simply swap the baseplate – e.g. put a Randal 42º baseplate on a Gunmetal hanger.

Downhill trucks bushing seat and bushings

Bushings are a very important but often neglected aspect of choosing the best trucks and setup fo downhill. The bushings are the urethane pads that are mounted into the trucks bushing seat on each side of the hanger. The bushings provide cushioning and resistance when turning and can be changed for a different riding feel.

The bushing seat of a truck is also important in the way the board will ride. Restrictive bushing seats keep the bushings from moving too much, making the trucks less turny and more stable which is desirable at high speed (the trucks will be less responsive at lower speed).

You can adjust the stability of your setup through a careful choice of bushings as well. The size, shape and hardness (durometer) of the bushings play a key role in making your downhill trucks more responsive vs more stable at high speed.

Barrel bushings are typically an ideal shape for downhill since they fill up the entire bushing seat. Double barrel means you run one barrel-shaped bushing on each side of your truck hanger, boardside and roadside.

You can also play with the bushings’ durometer to adjust the trucks feel, e.g. use a 73A barrel bushing roadside and an 85A one roadside in the front. A UHR (ultra high rebound) bushing roadside can help make your board feel more responsive while a hard bushing boardside can still provide the stability you need when going fast.

Your weight is another essential factor in your choice of bushings. A 150lb rider may run 93A boardside and 90A roadside, for example, while a 180lb rider might run a 73A barrel roadside and a 85A barrel boardside.

Running harder bushings on the back truck can be an alternative to running a lower angle rear truck. In the previous examples, both the 150lb and 180lb riders might run a 90A cone bushing on a 50º truck in the back for stability as an alternative to a low-angle truck.

In general, the faster you ride downhill, the tighter bushing seat you want on your trucks, and/or the harder and more restrictive-shaped bushings you should run. You aim to achieve the right mix of stability and responsiveness by mixing and matching bushing duros and shapes, generally putting the harder one boardside for stablity and the softer one roadside for liveliness.

Best longboard deck for downhill

Though this post is about downhill trucks, I’ll wrap up with a few words about downhill deck – after all, you will need one to mount your downhill trucks on!

A good downhill deck may be either topmount or drop-through. Topmount decks are higher off the ground and have a more surfy and responsive feel, they can better hold lines in corners. On the other hand, drop-through and dropped decks are lower to the ground and more stable at speed, however they are driftier and don’t hold the lines as well.

The Loaded Tesseract is a great topmount longboard for downhill – see my full review here. The Landyachtz Switchblade 40″, on the other hand, is an extremely popular double-drop (drop-through + drop deck) downhill board.

Landyachtz Switchblade

As I mentioned earlier, downhill trucks should match the width of your downhill deck. A good downhill deck should have a medium wheelbase, say 26″-31″, for both decent responsiveness (topmount) and stability (drop-through, drop deck). Too small a board generally won’t have the required stability for very high speed.

See my review of the Loaded Tesseract

The next most important aspect of a good downhill longboard is concave. Deep, wavy, W-concave will give you the foot lock-in, leverage, and secure feel you need for cornering and high-speed pre-drifts. Both the Tesseract and the Switchblade provide advanced concave and foot pockets for fast riding and sliding (each in its own style).

Final words

Adequate size to match your deck, truck geometry and bushing seats, baseplate angle, front and rear bushing shape and durometer… All these factors play a key role in how stable and/or responsive your downhill trucks will be at high speed, and ultimately, how they’ll perform when riding down those long steep mountain roads.

Photo credits:
Featured photo: “The Setup Carve” by Yahzper Maldonado. Rider: Gerardo Moreno. Permission: Loaded Boards


Wednesday 12th of January 2022