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How To Choose The Best Longboard Trucks For Freeride And Sliding

How To Choose The Best Longboard Trucks For Freeride And Sliding

Freeriding involves riding downhill and performing slides and/or technical tricks at some speed. When freeriding, your main objective is to made sliding as enjoyable and controlled as possible.

The best longboard trucks for freeriding depend on the kind of freeride you do: fast riding with long and hard slides, or slower riding with more technical slides and freestyle-type maneuvers.

Fast freeriding typically works best on a longer deck with wider, RKP trucks. Lower angle trucks, such as the well-regarded Caliber 44º and Randal 42º (Amazon) freeride trucks, make for a lower ride and more stability but less turn.

Technical freeride at lower speed requires more responsive and turny trucks, typically with higher angles, albeit at the cost of greater ride height. Very popular such trucks include the Paris v2 and the Bear Grizzly 852.

Some technical freeriders choose smaller, freestyle-type decks with kicktails which require smaller trucks. TKP trucks such as Independents are sometimes preferred for this kind of trick-oriented freeriding.

In the rest of this post, we dive deeper into the characteristics of a good freeride longboard truck. Hopefully, this will clear out things for you as which trucks to choose for your own freeriding goals.

Check out my review of the Cantellated Tesseract or see it here on Loaded’s site

To learn more about what freeriding is and the techniques involved, see this other post.

*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Best longboard truck size for freeride

best longboard trucks for freeride
The Loaded Tesseract: a well-regarded freeride board

In general, truck width should be as close as possible to deck width to obtain the best performance by closely aligning leverage points with trucks and wheels. This means the best truck width for freeride depends on the deck size and shape you choose.

If your goal is to go fast and perform large slides, you want to choose a bigger deck with no kicks for a longer wheelbase, which gives you more stability at speed and easier breaking into slides.

Larger decks tend to have width around 10″, so 10″ trucks (axle length) aka 180mm trucks (hanger width) are the standard for freeride.

If, on the other hand, your goal is to do more technical freeriding at lower speed, then a shorter deck with stiff construction, concave, and kicks may be your best choice.

For a smaller deck 9″ (or less) wide, you typically need smaller, 150mm (9″) trucks. Smaller trucks are less stable at speed but they’re more responsive for technical turns and tricks. Again, your trucks should closely match your deck’s width, or if not, slightly wider.

TKP vs RKP for freeride trucks

Another key aspect is, which style trucks work best for freeride. Here again, whether you choose TKP or RKP depends on your goals.

In TKP (traditional – aka standard – kingpin truck), the kingpin (the large screw that cuts across the truck) is positioned behind the hanger when riding, facing toward the center of the deck. This makes it ideal for street tricks as the kingpin doesn’t get in the way.

In a Reverse kinpin (RKP) truck, the kingpins are flipped (relative to TKP) and face outwardly and away from each other. This geometry makes RKP trucks more responsive when going slow and stable when going faster.
Randal, Paris and Bear trucks are good examples of RKP trucks.

For the reasons I just mentioned, RKP trucks are generally preferred for freeriding. However, riders who like to freeride on smaller, freestyle-oriented decks (with kicks) may choose TKP trucks wich tend to be narrower and fit their deck width. TKP also generally sit lower to the ground, which helps make up for the ride height on a topmount deck.

More advanced freeriders sometimes like the feel of TKP trucks such as Independent trucks, including with a larger deck. This is possible if the mount holes on the TKP trucks are wide enough to match the deck’s mount hole pattern.

Best mount style for freeride trucks

For freeriding, you may either choose a drop-through/drop-down deck or a topmount, which will also impact the choice of trucks you use.

Drop-throughs and “double drops” (drop-through mount + dropped deck) are lower to the ground hence give you more stability at speed and easier slide initiation when freeriding, at the expense of responsiveness in turns.

Topmount decks, on the other hand, are higher off the ground and less stable at high speed for freeride – it typically takes more skills to fight speed wobbles. However, many freeriders enjoy the feel of a topmount due to the responsiveness that results from your foot sitting on top of the front truck and the deck being higher off the ground.

That responsiveness makes things like high-speed cornering and hooking back up at the end of a slide better on a topmount.

So, mount style is one of the factors to take into account when choosing the best freeride trucks for your needs.

Best truck angle for freeriding

Truck angle, aka baseplate angle, is the angle between the baseplate – the part that’s bolted to the deck, and the hanger – the part that holds the axle. This angle greatly impacts the way the trucks feel when freeriding. Even slight changes of a few degrees can make a big difference in the way your longboard rides.

In short, most brands have trucks either with 40-something (lower truck angles) or 50-something degrees (higher truck angles – the most common in longboard trucks). Higher angle trucks are more responsive and turny at low speed but twitchier at high speed, while lower angle trucks are less responsive but and more stable when going fast.

This is often discussed in terms of turn vs lean, i.e. the amount of turn you get when leaning on the edge. Low-angle trucks give you less turn and hence more stability at high speed where each movement has a greater impact.

Fast freeriding

Low-angle trucks i.e. 40-45º are often preferred for high-performance fast freeride because you can lean harder on the edges with less turn and get more leverage over the wheels. The result is a more stable feel at high speed, including on imperfect roads. The Caliber II 44º and the Randal 42º (Amazon) are two of the most popular low-angle trucks among freeriders.

Randal 42º

Technical freeriding

For lower-speed technical freeride, however, a 50-degree setup will give you a more responsive and carvy feel, as a small amount of lean will make your longboard turn significantly. A 50º setup will also ride slighly higher, adding to your ability to carve at lower speed.

Among the all-time favorite longboard trucks for freeride in the 50º style are the Paris v2, the Bear Grizzly 852, the Randal II 50º, and the Caliber II 50º.

Bear Grizzlies

It’s important to note that, even for fast freeride, while some riders choose a lower baseplate angle for stability, others want the snappy turns and the slide initiation power they get with 50+º trucks. Many skilled freeriders are capable of taking a 50º setup to high speed and still enjoy the fast turning and easy sliding.

Alternatively, some high-speed freeriders and downhill racers choose a split angle setup, e,g, with a 42º truck in the back for stability (reducing speed wobbles) and a 50º truck in the front for responsiveness and turn.

Best bushing setup for freeride trucks

The bushing seat is another essential aspect to take into account when choosing good longboard trucks for freeride. It’s a placeholder in the middle of the hanger where the bushings sit.

The form of the seat affects the way the rubber bushings move, and consequently, the trucks’ turning ability. The bushing seat of a truck can be tight or open, making it more or less restrictive on the bushings’ movements.

Tight bushing seats typically work best for fast freeriding as they restrict the truck’s turn and hence feel much more stable at higher speed, albeit at the expense of responsiveness at slower speed.

On the other hand, trucks with an open bushing seat are generally a better option for more technical, slower freeride styles since they enable tighter turns and carving with less effort.

Most leading truck brands out there (e.g. Bear, Caliber, Gullwing, Paris, Randal) have moderately restrictive bushing seats to allow versatile riding. Depending on the kind of freeriding you do, however, you can easily customize your trucks’ feel and make them more turny or more stable by changing the bushings for softer/harder bushings or ones with different shapes (cone, barrel, or a combination of both).

Some freeride trucks, like the Seismic G5 30º , use a spring instead of bushings. Spring-loaded trucks give you a slightly different feel and evolve differently over time compared to bushing systems. Freeriders tend to prefer bushings but this is largely a matter of preference and skills.

Which construction for freeride trucks

Most trucks are cast, that is manufactured by pouring metal into molds. Precision trucks, on the other hand, are cut out from metal using a CNC machine.

As a result, precision trucks are much stronger, durable. and more precisely shaped to the desired form compared to normal cast trucks.

Precision trucks are great for fast high-performance freeriding because they provide a more stable ride and more precise turning. However, they are typically much more expensive, $250 and higher.

Final words

There’s a lot involved in choosing the best freeride setup for you, including deck size and shape, concave, stiffness, and wheel size, shape and hardness. Your choice of trucks is a key element of that setup, and there’s a lot going on just for it.

Although with the right skills you can probably ride on any kind of longboard trucks, key factors in choosing the best trucks for your freeride include truck size, geometry, baseplate angle, suspension system, and construction. For each of these aspects, the choices you’ll make will greatly depend on how fast and/or how technical your freeride style is or will be.