Avoid the Deadly Speed Wobble!

Ah speed wobbles. They are a bundle of fun. They can attack when you least expect it and hit you so fast that you are flying off your longboard and on the ground before you even know what hit you.

The first thing to know is that speed wobbles are entirely due to the actions of the rider. Your brain tries to keep you going straight when you hit small imperfections in the road and over corrects. You try to correct the over correction just to over correct again.

These errors gradually get bigger and bigger, creating bigger and bigger wobbles. Before you know it, you are wobbling all over and eventually lose control and eat it real good. This article is designed to help you not do that. However, it is ultimately up to you to skate within your limits and ALWAYS wear a certified helmet and other protective gear.

Proper Practice Makes More Perfect

I don't believe that practice makes perfect. Practicing GOOD habits with the right longboard gear can get you CLOSER to perfect. However, there are always places for you to improve your longboarding skills and there is always a chance for you to fall on your face, I don't care how well you practice and how good you get. But hey, that's part of the fun right?

The only way to truly overcome the dreaded wobbles in most situations is to build your skills by becoming more and more comfortable with speed.

When there is a problem, attack it at the source. In this case, the source of the problem is the over correcting action that the rider takes when hitting the imperfections in the road. How do you not over correct? PRACTICE. The only way to truly overcome the dreaded wobbles in most situations is to build your skills by becoming more and more comfortable with speed. Start slow and longboard on hills within your limits.

Downhill on the Landyachtz Dinghy

Downhill on the Landyachtz Dinghy

Most riders start by utilizing set ups that make it hard to get wobbles. Top mounts might be used by the pros, but they are usually not a good starting point for a first speedboard. Top mount longboards generally make it easier to get speed wobbles because they position the rider above the trucks.

This gives the rider the most leverage possible over the trucks. More leverage = easier to lean = easier to over correct. You should consider a dropped deck or a drop thru until you are super comfortable with speed.

Note that this is not to say if you get a board like the Landyachtz Evo you'll instantly be able to bomb like a mad man. Like any sport, you have to slowly build up your skills. No one surfed triple overhead before first mastering the white wash. It's the same with longboarding.

Here are some setups I suggest if you are just getting started:

My Current Longboard Set Up Wobbles, Help!

People are going to tell you to tighten your trucks, get trucks that offer a lower degree baseplate, and/or increase your wheelbase (if your board allows it). Let's dive into each one of those options, why they seem to work, and why they ultimately can lead you into a false sense of security, wobble hard, and make you face plant harder than your mom can garden.

If your current longboard set up wobbles bad, your first and cheapest option is to tighten your trucks. All you need is a wrench and bam: your board is harder to turn and thus harder to wobble. This method works to some degree, but has serious problems to consider. Tightening your trucks is simply postponing the point at which you wobble. Go a little faster and you are going to get wobbles again.

To top it off, it's also way more difficult to tell where that wobble point is at now. When you go faster and get the wobbles again, they are going to hit you quicker (less warning) and harder than before. In addition, I can't tell you how many times I've seen skaters absolutely destroy bushings by over tightening their trucks.

Please people, don't do this. It's such a newb mistake. If you truly need stiffer bushings, buy stiffer bushings. Don't try to make your 78a bushings feel like 95a. It just doesn't work.

Going fast is all about control. Prime example from Caliber Truck Co.

Going fast is all about control. Prime example from Caliber Truck Co.

The second thing people will tell you is to get a lower degree baseplate (read more about trucks in our Longboard Truck Articles). Lower degree baseplates give the rider more lean and less turn. Back to the fundamentals: less turn = less over correcting = less speed wobbles.

However, I want to stress again that this is only going to postpone your speed wobble problem to a higher speed. The wobbles, when they come, will be more aggressive and much faster.

The last option you have in terms of changing set up to help reduce speed wobbles is to increase the wheelbase of your longboard complete. Increasing the wheelbase makes it harder to turn and thus harder to wobble (seeing a pattern with turning here?). A small wheel base is quick to turn.

Think about a go kart (Landyachtz Dinghy) and a full size car (Loaded Bhangra). The go kart is quicker in sharp corners, but more squirrelly when you get going fast in a straight line. Same with longboard skateboards. Once again I am going to reiterate: a longer wheelbase is simply postponing the point at which you wobble.

Stance and Carving Out

The way in which you ride the longboard, regardless of the set up, is going to impact your success or failure at avoiding speed wobbles. Check out our friend in the video above. See where he is standing relative to the front truck? He is positioned too far back on the board.

Having your weight off the front truck is problematic, especially with speed. Because turning and controlling a longboard is largely based on the front truck, it's important to keep your weight there. There's a reason why a speedboarder has a tuck stance which their front foot is fully planted and the rear foot is often just on the toes.

The main turning of the skateboard comes from the front. If you do not position yourself in such a way to take control of your front truck, you are positioning yourself to fall.

Steeze LVL 9000 on these Orangatang Kegels

Steeze LVL 9000 on these Orangatang Kegels

Another common method for overcoming wobbles on your longboard is to carve them out. The premise of this is fundamentally "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em". If the wobbles come at you slowly enough for you have time to react, it is possible to slowly ease yourself from a speed state into a carving state.

By consciously forcing a carve back and forth, the over correcting action of your brain can be overcome. This is, however, rather difficult to do and incredibly terrifying. I do not suggest relying on this technique to save you, because it will often not.

There are several ways to help postpone speed wobbles. These methods will help, but not solve the root of the issue. Your long term goal should be to slowly grow your skills.

Don't go crazy and try to bomb like a pro until you've put the time into the sport like a pro. Slowly and steadily go faster. Don't fall into peer pressure by friends. Skate within your limits and only skate in places that are safe from cars, pedestrians, bikers, etc. Seriously consider buying 2-3 boards over time, with each set up getting more and more into turning and less into complete stability.

Stay safe and stay STOKED!!

Questions, comments, concerns? Hit us up at help@stokedrideshop.com

Cover photo: Dan Wilczek


  • Posted on by Ben

    I greatful that this is here, just knowing that this has been a contact problem helps. I ate it a couple of days ago and after reading this now I’m rethinking using gullwings and instead opting for a drop through.

  • Posted on by Marcus Allison

    That was a very informative article about speed wobbles. I have tightened my trucks in hope that would work; it doesn’t. So, what I do when I encounter a decline and I feel myself begin to freak out is to very slowly put my foot down to slow down. Presently my setup is a Real Custom board with 110mm Rough Stuff wheels, which I am very happy with. I live in Brooklyn, New York and the size and design of the wheel ensures that pebbles and uneven gaps in the sidewalk will not send me flying.

    Reading this article I learned that what I can do once I start going downhill is to change my stance on the board. Since I do a great deal of tick tacking, my feet tend to be parallel to the wheels instead of, as you described in the article, having the front foot planted perpendicular to the wheels, and the rear foot resting on the ball of the foot.

    I often take my skateboard to nearby Prospect Park and make an attempt at coasting down one of the serious hills, but, I get the wobbles and I quickly put a foot down or jump off. I don’t do tricks. Well, I do one trick. I use my board primarily as a form of transportation. On a flat, and going up hills instead of merely pushing off with a foot repeatedly I tick-tack to gain velocity.

  • Posted on by Sarah

    I’ve been longboarding for a while and thought i could tackle a big hill connected to a steep one. Currently bandaged up haha but I attempted to ride the curves, which turned into VERY wide curves (unlike the small back and forth wobble) and i think the board or my brain might have thrown me off. Ate gravel. But definitely understand what I need to improve on, just very disappointed that I could have made it down without falling!

  • Posted on by Mike

    Great read. Gained more perspective even after 30yrs of being on a board. Never stop learning.

  • Posted on by Thomas

    I’m a newbie at skateboarding. Only been skating a couple of weeks but really love the sport. I guess I got a little over confident as I went down some pretty step hills with great success. Overcame my fear of going fast on my board. Also never got hurt on my board. TILL NOW. Got the dreaded speed wobble while night boarding of all things and started to slightly panic Decided to bail my run and jumped off this caused me to go down right away landing on my left knee. Board went one way I went another way and my cell went another How embarrassing ! Kinda learnt my lesson to have more respect for my board My knee will heal and I will live. Just can’t wait to go out again on my board. KEEP ON PUSHING

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