Looking to get into downhill skating? Well, today I’ll be talking about the best downhill trucks for beginners. Trucks are one of the most important parts of your setup and must not be overlooked – a good set means less chance of wobbles at speed. Check it out below.
Best downhill longboard trucks for beginner skaters
Paris trucks are the best all-around trucks in longboarding. You can use them for dance, freestyle, cruising, and everything else. And yeah, they’re great for downhill too.
They turn a lot and do so very smoothly. You can set them up for them to be stable or for them to be very turny. The Paris V3 43* trucks, in particular, are impressively smooth, stable, and strong – they’re quite the upgrade from the old V2. They are also some of the strongest cast trucks ever made. They’re made with a proprietary process which makes them lighter and stronger than other cast trucks.
For downhill, you’re going to want to go for the versions with 43* baseplate, paired with the 180mm, or 165mm hangers. These will give you the most stability and control when you start picking up speed.
However, the Paris trucks might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Some people find them to be a bit harder to control as they can get twitchy at speed. I didn’t enjoy them for speed too much when I was a beginner, I preferred the Caliber trucks below as they felt a bit more stable. The Paris will be best for all-around riding though – great when you aren’t going downhill.
You can pick up a set of the 165mm, 43* versions here at Amazon.com.
Arsenal trucks are considered by many as the best beginner truck for pure downhill skating. A lot of people say they’re both stable and turny – which is desirable in most trucks. They also use tall bushings (as opposed to standard bushings like the Paris and Calibers), so they have very deep lean. You’re never gonna feel like your setup is too stiff and like you can’t engage your bushings. Finally, some people have said that they feel like they turn more than Paris and Calibers – which is saying something.
They come in two mains sizes. You have the 50* and 44* baseplates, with 165mm and 180mm hangers. For downhill, you can go with either the 165mm or 180mm hangers, as both will work fine but your choice will be determined by the width of your board. Anything under 9.5inches will work best for the 165mm, and for anything over that width, the 180mm trucks will be better suited.
One major drawback of these trucks is that they cost a little more than the others, this isn’t good if you’re on a tight budget, but worth it if you want an all-out downhill truck.
Check out the Arsenal trucks here on Amazon.com.
Caliber trucks are one of the most popular longboard trucks on the market. Most people starting downhill and freeride will opt to get a set of them. Because of their geometry and how low they are to the ground, they are stable and feel super safe when you take them up to speed (around 35mph). When I started learning downhill I picked up a set of Caliber trucks. These trucks gave me a lot of confidence and I become a better skater because of them. I think they’re the most beginner-friendly option for downhill skating.
But because they’re super low to the ground, it’s easy to get wheelbite on them. And because of their geometry and the tight bushing seat, they can feel dead and unlively at low speeds – they’re not a very good all-around truck. The Paris trucks above will feel better outside the downhill skating environment.
For downhill, they only have the 180mm, 44* trucks available. Though they have 160mm trucks available, you can’t get a pairing with the 44* baseplates. In short, you have to pick the 180mm trucks which only work well with boards 9.5inches or wider.
Find out more about the Caliber trucks here on Amazon.com.
New for 2020, Bear trucks have improved upon their generation 5 trucks to produce what they claim to be the best cast truck they’ve ever made. After skating them for a few weeks, I have to agree with them. They are great.
The Bear gen 6 trucks skate like a hybrid between the Paris and the Caliber trucks. They are quite stable and solid in a straight line like the Calibers, but dive and turn hard (like the Paris) when you start leaning on them. I’d even say they turn deeper and have a carvier feel than the Paris.
I think these are the best cast trucks on the market at the moment. However, it’s not easy to get your hands on them – especially for people based in the USA. Covid-19 has put a big damper on people getting these trucks as the supply lines are messed up. Hopefully, that is fixed soon.
For downhill, you should pick the 40* version with either the 155mm or 180mm hanger. They also come with a 30* plate (not available to all yet), which will add a ton of stability when placed in the rear. They’re a cast truck that you can use to work your way up to fast 50mph+ speeds.
Check out the Bears here on Amazon.com.
These are the least popular trucks on my list – but I think they are extremely underrated. They have a smooth turn but remain stable at speed and some riders even prefer them over the Paris and Calibers. Not sure why many people don’t use them (mainly cause of lack of marketing), but they get the job done well.
Louis Pilloni – a downhill skateboarding legend had a hand in designing them. He regularly skates them up to really fast speeds (50mph) and rips on them.
They’re also the only truck that is good for all types of riding. And I mean ALL. They have a thicker hanger that sits higher than the kingpin and a 47* baseplate angle. This allows them to be turny enough for riding and cruising at slow speeds, and the thick hanger allows you to do grind tricks. Yes, that’s right! You can grind these, do tricks on coping, and slide down rails on them.
On most RKP (reverse kingpin) trucks, the kingpin sits higher than the hanger and you can’t use them for grinding. These were designed with grinds in mind.
However, whilst they’re great for all-around skating (with downhill as the main focus), they only come in the 180mm hanger width and 47* baseplate. They’re only gonna be good for decks 9.5-10inches wide. Check out the Gullwing reverse here on Amazon.com.
Rogue cast trucks
Rogue cast trucks are the creation of Zak Maytum. Zak is one of the best all-around skaters in the world – He’s great at slalom, great at downhill skateboarding, and rips at pool and transition skating. He made the Rogue cast trucks.
These trucks work with a urethane insert that goes between the hanger and the kingpin. These serve to reduce slop and give the trucks a precise turn and stability at speed. They reduce slop which is an unwanted movement of the hanger which can cause speed-wobbles when you fast.
The insert makes these great trucks for going fast. They’re very stable at speed and have a solid center feel. Because they have tall bushings and an open (basically flat) bushing seat, they lean VERY deeply whilst having good turning – and it can sometimes feel like there is an “extra turn” where short bushing trucks don’t have any.
Like the Arsenals above, these are an all-out downhill truck. And like the Gullwings, these only come in one size, 186mm with a 47* baseplate. You don’t have a lot of choices with them. Another big drawback is its limited availability – Covid has been hard on most companies and you can’t get these too easily at the moment.
How to pick downhill longboard trucks
Reverse kingpin trucks are usually best
With skateboard trucks, you can choose either the traditional kingpin trucks or reverse kingpin trucks.
Traditional kingpin (TKP) trucks have a thick hanger and an inward-facing kingpin. The kingpin sits lower than the hanger and it is designed to be beefy enough to take repeated slams without bending – this is one of the things that makes them good for doing tricks, they can take impacts. You can also grind on them safely without damaging the kingpin because of the hanger height. Finally, TKPs have a progressive turn and turn quite nicely at slower speeds. However, this progressive nature makes them unstable at higher speeds.
So whilst you’ll see TKPs on skateboards, you won’t see them on most longboards built for speed and downhill.
On the other hand, reverse kingpin trucks (RKP) have an outward-facing kingpin. The kingpin is usually taller than the baseplate because RKPs use taller bushings than TKPs.
RKPs have a linear sort of turn – they don’t turn suddenly or dive too hard at the end of the lean. This makes them suited for speed as you have direct control and input over your board.
You’ll see most longboards built for downhill with reverse kingpin trucks.
Get the correct angle baseplates
Not all baseplate angles are going to be good for downhill. The higher the baseplate angle, the more the truck will turn. The lower a baseplate angle, the less a truck will turn. So a truck with a 50* baseplate will turn more than a truck with a 44* baseplate.
More turn is bad at speed. If you have too much turning available, it will be easier for you to get wobbles at speed. This is because your inputs/motions on board are amplified at speed. Every small shift you make has an impact on how the board steers. So it’s very easy for a beginner to get wobbles at speed.
Thusly, trucks around the 44* angle that turn less are best. You can still downhill with 50-degree trucks, but the 44 are best.
Pick the right size trucks
Make sure you pick the right size trucks for your board. As I mentioned briefly above, you want 150mm trucks for a 9inch board, 165mm for anything between 9-9.5inch, and 180mm for anything 9.5-10inches.
Getting the wrong size won’t change how the board performs way too much, but you get the best results with the right size trucks.
Most beginner trucks are going to be in the $50-$70 range. This is best and they should perform appropriately for your level of skill.
If you’ve looked around a bit, you’ll know that some trucks go for $150 and even $400. Most of the trucks that are $150 are forged trucks, finished in a CNC. The trucks that go for $400 are precision trucks, cut out of a block of aluminum by a CNC machine.
These trucks have improvements that make them better suited for downhill and speed. Whilst they are better, most beginners aren’t going to be able to make the most out of them. And will be paying a lot for trucks they can’t make the most of. Best to stick to the $50 trucks and work your way up with time.
Get name brand trucks
If you pick any of the trucks on my list you will be ok. Knock off trucks aren’t gonna perform as well, and they’re gonna have slop which is gonna make them perform inconsistently and will likely lead to wobbles at speed. Off-brand trucks (and generally low-quality equipment) should be avoided if you want to do downhill skating. In summary, any truck on my list will do.
What do you think? Which truck sounds right for you?
Whilst I think the Bears are the best truck on the market right now, the Paris are the safest option you can buy – the majority of people like them. Calibers if you want the easiest time for riding and Arsenal if a truck that turns very deeply sounds good to you. I hesitate to fully recommend the Bears because the majority of people haven’t tried them yet – thanks to covid. But if you can get your hands on them, you won’t regret it.
Finally, this guide mostly focuses on affordable, cast trucks for beginners. There are certainly more expensive options that would certainly be more stable and turny, but those start at $150. That price isn’t reasonable for most people just getting into the sport, but they will be covered soon enough. Until then, happy skating.