Words by Nick Li | Edited by Daniel Fedkenheuer
Ah, Bushings! For those of you who don't know what these tasty morsels of urethane can do for your setup, bushings are one of the cheapest ways to significantly alter the performance and feel of your ride. I'm talking of course about the pieces of urethane in your skate trucks that control the lean and turn of your board. Many companies out there manufacture a large variety of shapes, durometers, and formulas for their bushings but I think one of the largest and best selections come from none other than RipTide Sports, a company specializing in creating high quality urethane products and other skate accessories to liven up your trucks and experience on board!
Let's talk about the urethane compounds that RipTide uses in their products - there are three formulas: APS (Animated Polymer Systems), WFB (World's Fastest Bushing), and KranK.
One thing to keep in mind when you are looking at getting some RipTides, is that their APS and WFB formula durometers will feel softer than most competing brands, and therefore you should consider trying out bushings slightly harder than you might normally. KranK is the exception as durometers feel about the same when compared to other brands.
RipTide describes their Animated Polymer System (APS) formula: "As the name implies, this compound is very lively and offers high rebound with lots of control and lean. For the same durometer, the APS will turn 10%-15% more than the same durometer of other brands."
Now that may be hard to interpret for some of you, so I'll break it down in terms of my personal experience. This RipTide formula is probably the best all-around bushing formula, and especially for higher speeds. It will probably feel the most like what you are used to, but the APS bushings perform very differently than most bushings out there. When you get your trucks dialed in with the right selection of APS bushings, your board will feel incredibly stable near the centerpoint, but when turn is desired, you can get effortless amounts of turn with simple leaning. These bushings are my favorite for going fast, holding out big slides, or railing through turns - anything where you want to be able to really control the compression of your bushings gradually, and precisely. These are also great bushings for pumping around as the urethane is quite energetic and will provide a nice return to center.
In the words of the RipTide scientists, themselves: "This compound has a unique lubrication added that does not bond with the urethane which is why you will often see a white residue on the surface. Compared to APS, this compound offers lower rebound and less friction for fast transitions and a deeper lean. The World's Fastest Bushing (WFB) will turn 15% to 20% more than the same durometer of other brands. WFB is the bushing of choice for the more experienced rider that wants to control the bushings instead of the bushings controlling him or her"
Personally, I feel that there are hardly any bushings as good or well suited for low speed freeriding and a surfy feel in general, as the RipTide WFB bushing selection. Simply put, I would describe the WFB formula as being the "squishier" of the two. This makes for even more effortless lean/turn, and feels really prime for whipping around quicker and more technical slides. I also like to use the WFB bushings as roadside bushings paired with an APS shape on the bottom so the APS can soak up some of the bushing preload from rider weight, and the WFB roadside allows the truck to initiate the turn a bit faster. Another way I like to use them, is just in the front, with APS bushings in the rear. This mimics a split setup and encourages steering from the front of your board - a nice touch when you're really haulin' ass.
This is the latest bushing from RipTide and probably the most highly anticipated. KranK Bushings are different because the urethane was designed to be changed by adjusting the truck tightness. Two (2) turns in either direction creates a more rebounding bushing. The tighter they are cranked down, the more rebound there is. However, like any bushing, they cannot be overly tightened! KranK is meant to operate within a fine range so keep that in mind when making adjustments.
Another notable change with KranK is the durometer feel. APS and WFB feel softer than most other bushing brands out there (as much as 3a-4a). KranK feels about the same as other brands, while also offering the unique rebounding feel.
Lastly, KranK comes in only two durometers: 87a and 93a. With the adjustments being made in the tightness of the truck, KranK does not need to offer such a massive range of durometers. Pretty rad!
RipTide has lots of conventional shapes, many of which should look very familiar to any of you who know your bushings. They also offer some very nice and unique-to-RipTide shapes which can really help you dial in your setup, and explore some new possibilities! I'll be going over the various shape offerings that RipTide has, in order of least-restrictive, to most-restrictive in terms of shape.
The cone bushing is a familiar crowd favorite with flatland, carving, and cruising riders, as well as those who freeride and like an easy turn-initiation. The shape of the cone allows for this easy turning and it will be progressive in terms of resistance, rather than a more linear feeling. I would recommend this bushing shape to anyone who is looking to do any type of skating where there is a lot of left/right turning, like slalom, carving, slower freeride, flatland, and cruising.
This is probably the most popular and common bushing shape on the market. Barrels are an extremely well rounded choice for just about any discipline. These are always a good place to start if you don't know what you're looking for or going to be doing on your board. Because of their solid and non-tapered shape, they will feel a lot more linear in terms of compression feeling, and they are a lot more suited for higher speeds. For people looking to do faster downhill and freeriding, Higher duro barrels are a good choice, where lower durometer barrels will be like a more plush and linear feel than cones for flatland.
The Tall Barrel is just like the regular barrel bushing shape, just taller (duh). Tall bushings are .75" or 19mm in height to be exact. More urethane to compress will lead to a deeper feeling turn and just an overall more leany ride. There are a few brands of trucks out there that like to use tall bushings stock, such as Ronin and Bennett trucks. You can also use the RipTide Tall barrels roadside with a normal truck if your kingpin length will allow it, or just swap it out for a longer one.
The Fat Cone holds similar properties to the standard cone bushing expept they are, as you could imagine, fatter. These things measure in at .60" or 15.24mm high and .975" or 24.77mm wide. Concurrent with the perks of conical shapes, the Fat Cone bushings allow for progressive resistance when turning and is ideal for skateboarding with lots of quick side to side turns. This means Fat Cones are ideal slalom, carving and cruising.
This bushing shape may look familiar to many of you as it is essentially like a one sided Eliminator. Just like the Fat Cone, the Chubby only has one side that will fit into your truck's hanger. These bushings are probably my favorite shape that RipTide offers, as they allow me to fine tune my setup. The first time I encountered the RipTide Chubby, I had just purchased some PNL Precision Trucks which are pretty notorious for their super unrestrictive bushing seat. I was having trouble setting my trucks up the way I like them to feel (on barrels all around), without getting wheelbite. Throwing in some Chubbies in the same durometer as the barrels effectively took care of the wheelbite issue, without changing the way the trucks felt. The step on the Chubby bushing reduces the amount of lean drastically when you hit that point in the compression, which is ideal for preventing wheelbite and for hitting higher speeds. The Chubby bushings are the most restrictive shape that RipTide offers.
Use these charts to determine which bushing shapes will fit best in the trucks you ride (Note - the Canon and Magnum shapes are Paris truck specific bushings)
Hop over to Stoked Ride Shop's Ultimate Bushing Calculator to determine which durometer/shape is appropriate for you body weight and ride style.
RipTide offers a ton of different bushings to choose from, and because you can and should mix-and-match your bushings, there's a setup out there to please everyone. You will have to refer to the charts above to see what duro and shape are appropriate for your individual body weight. Keep in mind that a more restrictive bushing shape can make up the difference for a harder duro in a less restrictive shape and add a more supported feeling. The same goes for the two formulas, go with APS for more support, and WFB for a less restrictive feeling ride. Mix and match to find your perfect feel!
A note on roadside vs boardside bushings: Generally when you set up your trucks, if you aren't using the same durometer bushing all around in your trucks, you want to make sure the harder of the two bushings is on the board side of the truck. That is the side where the bushing is against the baseplate, and the hanger, rather than the hanger and the kingpin nut. The reason for this is because once you stand on your board, that boardside bushing is getting compressed already by your body weight. Because of this, it is beneficial to run a harder bushing in there to prevent excess pre-load. Another note on using multiple durometer bushings, if you choose to run each of your trucks at different tightness/durometer bushings, you should generally set up your board so the rear truck is tighter/has harder bushings than the front. This encourages the steering from the front of the board.
Cruising and Carving
Basically for low speed setups, I would go with Cones or Barrels in the medium to soft range for your weight. Or even some Fat Cones in a soft durometer for your weight if you like a more supported, but plush turn.
For slow to faster speed freeride, you should check out the Barrels, Fat Cones, and Chubbies in a medium to hard durometer for your weight.
For strictly high speeds, I would recommend finding the appropriate combination of Chubby and Barrel bushings in a hard durometer for your weight.
Long Distance Pumping
First and foremost, determine which trucks you are using. Bennett trucks for example, take a bottom bushing from the Tall category and a top bushing of standard height. Tracker will take standard sizes. Don't Trip will take all standard sized bushings. Check out the charts above to find the right durometer bushing for your weight. I encourage you to think about the physics of the bushings when choosing a LDP set up. For example, if you go with a softer duro, but you get a larger bushing (Chubby or Fat Cone), expect easier turning with increased rebound.
My Personal Setups
I have been riding RipTides for a while now and I have gone from the common double-barrel setups, to trying out some of the less common combinations. On my double kick board with PNL trucks, I found that the stock 90a APS barrel/barrel setup gave me wheelbite, so I threw in a 90a APS Chubby on the board side, now it feels the same, but I don't get wheelbite! I use this setup for just about whatever, but I haven't taken it past 40mph more than a few times, though it performs great still at that speed. This is a good all around setup if you want to control your hanger's pivoting just a little.
On my Aeras, I have been using a 90a Chubby board side, with an 88a WFB Fat Cone on the road side. This setup is similar to the one on my PNL's except the slightly softer and squishier, yet more massive Fat Cones make the turn feel a bit smoother and supported through the lean. I have found that this setup handles speed very well, and is great for fast and big slides. I also ride this setup at lower speeds too, and it turns effortlessly, at 2mph or 40.
Bushings were made to be ridden at a certain tightness; over cranking your kingpin nut to make your truck feel more stable will lead to too much compression on your bushings and they will not last or perform up to the product standards. This goes for all bushings on the market! If you want a more stable feeling truck, you should look into harder durometers, or more restrictive bushing shapes. If you want a looser truck, and like running your kingpin nut janky loose, whatever man, at least your bushings won't be paying the price for it. Too often, I see people with overtightened bushings complaining about how their setup doesn't feel like they think it should. Buying a small selection of bushings will go a long way in helping you to fine-tune your setup! Your bushings should not look like they are bulging outward if you have them at a good tightness. Remember, you can also make your setup feel more restrictive by using cupped washers, or make it less restrictive by using smaller flat washers!
Don't be afraid to mix and match the WFB and APS formulas in your trucks. Just remember, use a WFB if you want a faster, and squishier turn, and use APS if you want it to be more gradual and have more resistance in the lean. One thing I would avoid doing in general, is putting a WFB bushing on the boardside and an APS roadside, if the WFB shape isn't a more massive one than the roadside bushing.
For those of you who like to ride traditional kingpin geometry trucks, check out RipTide's 'Street Series' bushings designed to fit the specs of popular TKP trucks like Independents. RipTide also offers a line of bushings specifically for the Paris RKP trucks, called the RipTide 'Canon' Bushings, and last but not least, RipTide offers their full lineup in the 'Tall Series', not just Tall Barrels!