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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Skating a big setup, Part 2: Revisiting scale and skateboard sizing, Big Pops, plus a Skateboard Deck Fitting Guide!

The Bertrand here.

Last winter, I undertook an endeavour to see what it means to move up in size but still maintain the ability to ride a skateboard like a popsicle stick board.

Over the past 9 months since I wrote the first article, I've been skating larger and larger setups. I went from baby steps, like 1/4" at a time, to giant leaps. It didn't take me long until I was skating monster sized skateboards. The longest board I skated was a 41" long Yoni Ettinger from Earthwing. The widest board I've skated was a 10" wide Thai Fighter from Riviera. The longest wheelbase was 23" long on a Gravity 39 Carve. What I finally settled in on was about a 19" wheelbase, 10" width, and about 37" length. I redrilled a lot of wheelbases! The ratio of width to length is important, it seems. The general ratio is that width is approximately 1/4 the length. The ratio in the 1980s was width is 1/3 the length. Truck holes are 2.125" spaced lengthwise, so 4.25" of the total length will be truck mounting locations.

Ratios of various board measurements to each other tell a good tale about the balance of the board, but not as much to the fit of the board. By looking at myself and what I find comfortable, and looking at many, many skaters and what they prefer to skate, I have determined some general guidelines for how best to fit a skateboard deck to your body shape. I made the fitting guide sometime in April, and have been testing it with every skater I meet. Many skaters wait for their run with their skateboard against their lead leg, allowing me to see how the deck fits to their length. And I can see how their foot fits on the width of the board when they are skating around. But I give a special thanks to all the skaters who were willing to humor an old man for a few moments while I asked them to put their board against their shoulders to test the fit. Most of the kids chuckled about it until they put their board up to their shoulders. At that point, they saw the truth in the fitting guide, and nodded their heads sagely, muttering about "so that's why that one deck was so awesome" or "so that's why this current deck is so awesome". Powerful stuff, that.

Here's the fitting guide:

Skateboard Deck Fitting Guide for Popsicle Stick Shaped Decks
Body MeasurementBoard MeasurementHow to estimate size
Shoe SizeWidthWith front foot at 45°, heels and balls of feet should be contained in width of skateboard.
Leg lengthLengthStanding deck against leg, the deck length should go from ground to hipbone. Tip of deck can be under, on, or over the hipbone, but generally touching or very near to the hipbone.
Shoulder widthWheelbasePutting deck against your chest, the truck mounting locations should be aligned with your shoulder joints. 

To fine tune it from there, you have to consider what you value in your skateboard. I like to have enough tail to ollie comfortably, but I also don't like too much flat between the rearmost truck holes and the curve of the tail, because too much flat there makes vert riding difficult if the tail doesn't have the right leverage. The nose has to be long enough to provide the right amount of weight and balance to the board, and I do like to do a nollie now and then. So I like a pretty much symmetrical nose and tail, and both rather long.

These large decks I've been skating aren't longboards, but rather more like just a larger, scaled up skateboard. And I ride them just like a skateboard, not at all like a longboard. The larger decks have to be stiff, with relatively (relative to smaller popsicle stick boards) flatter nose and tail kicks, and deeper concave side-to-side. Stiffness doesn't always depend on number of plies. I've found you can still get - and probably should get, if you're using it like a street board - 7-ply decks. Just test them first to make sure they're stiff enough. Put the deck upside down on carpet (so you don't damage your shop's as-yet-unsold deck!) and step gently on the middle to test the flex. Most longboard store's online shop will describe the flex of the board. You want "stiff".

Shaped decks are fine, but I find that when the shapes get too wild, I lose the fore-aft balance, and the board behaves less like a popsicle and more like a pig or long board. I feel it is important to have a longitudinally balanced board, which means, more or less, a big popsicle stick board. There are so few manufacturers that do this, even fewer who do it properly. One search term that helps is "slide decks", that is, longboards that people do a lot of powersliding on. Another search term is "free ride decks", but you'll still have to sift through the pictures to get to true big popsicle stick decks. Another search term is "hybrid decks", but you'll start to see more shapes with these, and one must pick a rather conservative shape to get the right balance to have what amounts to a scaled up popsicle stick deck. Some of the manufacturers I've found that make good big popsicle stick decks or popsicle stick-like decks are:
Earthwing Skates (many of their decks are good big popsicle sticks)
Rayne Longboards (slide decks, like the Homewrecker, Renegade, Phantom, Catalyst)
Riviera Skateboards (shapes get a little wild. I like the Thai Fighter)
Bombsquad Longboards (Feast or Famine)
Comet Skateboards (Shred series)
Jet Skateboards (Hellfire series)
Bustin Boards (Yoface, DK)
Eastbilt Boards (they have a 9.25" x 42" Popsicle)
Sector 9 (Cloud 9, Ditch Witch)
Arbor (Shakedown series)

Gravity makes big double kick decks, and the 9x36 deck is promising, but the biggest ones are usually too flexy, I've found. Motion made a couple of nice big popsicle sticks, but I have never found any in stock anywhere.

Be careful when looking for big popsicle stick decks, the pictures can be tricky. In pictures, downhill boards look like popsicle stick boards until you get closer and see that the trucks on downhill boards mount near the ends, and that downhill boards don't have kicks on them. You're treading on untrodden ground, so don't be surprised if you can't find these decks at your local shops. I always try to get a side view to see the concave of the deck to make sure the kicks are there. And I always zoom in to see where the truck holes are. Sometimes the truck holes are drilled too far up, I redrill them to bring them in to give the board better balance. Your local shop can order these boards for you if you ask. Or, buy them online. Many of the longboard retailers who carry big pops are local skateshops, just not local to you.

I thought scaling up the trucks would be easy: just buy wider trucks. But I was wrong, and in for a huge surprise. I have found that I like skating RKP (reverse kingpin, AKA "longboard" trucks) on these bigger boards. My favorites are the Bear Grizzly 852, (Bear FTW!) which have a flippable hanger to alternate between a high, carvy feel or a low, stable feel. I like the low, stable feel, and that's what I ride in the park and pretty much everywhere else. A lot of "longboard" or RKP truck companies make "downhill" versions of their trucks with kingpin angles under 50° - these are the trucks you should be looking for. The goal with the trucks is to give a feel to ollies and nollies that is much like what you feel with smaller popsicle stick boards. Lower is better. The reasons I like the RKP trucks for scaled up popsicle stick boards are myriad:

  • No wheelbite from larger wheels. With these bigger decks, I like bigger wheels. I skate anything from 60-64mm. With the RKP trucks, I get awesome deep turning without wheelbite and without having to use risers.
  • RKP trucks handle longer wheelbases better. TKP (traditional kingpin, AKA "skateboard" trucks) either don't give enough turn or they get really twitchy from all the extra leverage. Wide Independents (the 9.25" 169 and 9.9" 215) do better than most, but are still a little wobbly on center. It is a leverage issue, plain and simple. Large, stiff decks with long wheelbases can exert a lot more force on the trucks, this can lead to wobbles on landing or harsh transition changes (like landing on a roll in or hitting the flat after the waterfall, which for me were the two most common times I got truck instability with TKP trucks). RKP trucks can still wobble, but I find them much more controllable than TKP trucks. With my Bear Grizzly hangers flipped to the low and steady 47° side, I get no wobbles at all, but I still get lots of turning. 
  • Kingpins on RKP trucks are longer, and you're going to need taller bushings if you're skating a bigger setup. Taller bushings help heavy skaters get the rebound they need. 
  • RKP trucks generally come in wider widths than TKP trucks. Most TKP trucks are available in the 7.75" and 8.0" sizes, and, increasingly, 8.25" and 8.5". Most RKP trucks are available in 8.5", 9.0", 9.5", and 10" sizes. 
To me, lots of RKP trucks look kind of silly with their kingpin sticking out. I use the Surf-Rodz inverted kingpins to streamline the look.

What I've found with the big pops setup is a level of confidence that I've never had before. I finally feel like I'm skating a board that gives me all the advantages of modern design but doesn't feel like a freestyle board under my size 14 feet. The level of safety and comfort I feel now riding my scaled up, giant board must be how all those little skaters and young children feel with their boards. Beyond that, though, what I feel is a love for skating that transcends just reliving my youth by buying all my old toys. Skateboards aren't like Transformers or GI Joes. I'm bigger now than I was then, and just like I wouldn't ride around on a 20" frame bicycle, or wear size 9 shoes, so shouldn't I ride skateboards that were last properly sized for me when I was 12 years old. Nowadays, it's a big ride for a big guy. I'm getting so comfortable on my big skateboards that I don't think I'll be able to go back to riding smaller ones. And that's starting to become not such a scary prospect.

Those are my thoughts for now. Enjoy some pictures. Please try the fitting guide and let me know how it goes for you.

The big Earthwing Yoni Ettinger 9.3x41. Here with Indy trucks stacked to the sky with 1/2" risers. Rainskates 63mm 95a wheels.

Riviera Thai Fighter 10x38. Lovely 7-ply deck. 

Here's me with the Yoni and the Bear Trucks. Board is a little long, as you can see it come above my hipbone. It is also a bit narrow for my size 14s. And, yes, that's what I wear when I skate. I skate in sweatshorts or sweatpants. It's my sport.

Riviera Thai Fighter 10x38.

Yoni 9.3x41

Early setup of the Yoni. Surf Rodz TKP 170. They were wobbly as they could be on this long wheelbase. The Surf-Rodz were dreamy on a flexible deck like the Gravity Carve (see other picture below), but a total nightmare of speed wobbles and wheelbite on a stiff deck at high speed in the skatepark. 

Riviera Thai Fighter 10x38.

Riviera Thai Fighter 10x38.

Gravity Carve 9x39. Waaaay too much flex for big pops skating, and waaaay too much wheelbase. Lovely carving deck, terrible park deck. Ollies are possible, but not a great idea. Here with Surf Rodz 170 TKP and some awesome Landshark wheels.

The Riviera next to the Yoni. Length is the most obvious difference. The 38" Riviera comes right to the center of my hipbone, the 41" Yoni comes up nearly to my waist. I learned to control both of the boards, but I feel more comfortable on the Riviera.

My favorite large ride so far. Riviera Thai Fighter 10x38, with a redrilled 19.25" wheelbase, down from 19.625". Bear Grizzly 852 trucks, hanger flipped to "low and steady" 47° side. Bones SPF 62mm wheels. 


  1. Great idea! A proper guide to deck sizing. I have a few questions though. When placing the board against ones chest should it be vertical or horizontal? I assumed horizontal so the inner truck holes are just at the edge of my shoulders is that too long? I don't really feel like it is though but I'm a petite skater. And one last thing, would you be able to please do a tutorial on how you re drill truck holes?

    1. Horizontal. Great catch! I should have mentioned that. I'll do some sketches to illustrate the fitting guide.
      Consider the truck mounting areas as little rectangles. The hard points of your shoulders near the lateral end of the clavicles should be within those boxes.
      Your wish is my command: video on redrilling truck holes coming soon.

    2. Woo! Thanks Bertrand, you are a swell guy! The deck hits all the points on the feet and length by hipbones I guess I just have narrow shoulders. Thanks heaps!

    3. Thank you!
      I think it is okay for your shoulders to be smaller than your bolts-to-bolts length. The important thing is that your shoulders should not be wider than your bolts-to-bolts length. The goal is to have a stable stance when you're riding your board, this means shoulder width stance, and that means your board should allow such a stance when you land bolts. When skaters roll around, they still stand shoulder width (if their board length and wheelbase length allows it), they just have shifted their stance to have their front foot behind the front bolts and their back foot on the tail behind the back bolts. Reverse that for nollie prep position.

    4. That said, you might get more pop on your ollies if your next deck's wheelbase matches your shoulder width. Give it a try!

    5. As The Bertrand and myself were talkign about this past week, the wheelbase re-drilling is easy if you are willing to do it back or forth 3/8" from where your holes are now.
      The trick is to use an Indy's or other trucks 6 hole baseplate as the drilling template.
      Take the top 2 screw holes and make them now your standard nose/or tails top bolt holes, push the baseplate down towards the opposite end of the board and tighten, but not too tight.
      Now marker off those inside 4 holes and remove the baseplate, see if it all is lined up with the original holes, if it is repeat the process only this time get a drill bit in there and start drilling baby! I only drill half way through w/ the baseplate on so I don't cut into the aluminum of the plates holes. Then take the baseplate off and go all the way through straight down.
      Do the other 2 and you're done! :)

    6. Thanks guys, I really wanted to re-drill new school holes on a deck that only has old school pattern. Would the same method work? Where I put a baseplate (Theeve) into the outer two holes and drill down through them? And Johnny. Elephant skateboards make some shapes which seem to be around your wheel base mark
      Jersey Devil 8.5x32 WB 14.5
      Jason Adams: Fire Still Burns - W&L 8.625"X32.5" WB 14.5
      A few of them are tapered in the back though. Anyways I hope you find your perfect board!

    7. For a deck with only an old school pattern, you would fasten the baseplate to the innermost (towards the center of the deck) mounting holes, then drill through the other holes in the baseplate.

    8. Hi, thanks for the reply. Would you affix the baseplate to the top of the board or to the bottom? Also do you drill from the top or the bottom of the board? Thank you!

    9. Bottom, like normal, drill through it from the truck side, the bottom.

  2. Hey Bertand, I'm having a tough time right now finding the right deck man.
    I was enjoying 8.25-8.5" decks all spring long but wanted to go bigger width wise, but shorter in wheelbase and length, oh man that's a bitch and a half to find lemme tell ya!
    Basically I'm looking for a deck that's like the way they were in 1991.
    Like New deal and World and Blind decks, a little over 9" and no longer than 32", and w/ a wheelbase of between 13.75-14.5" I'd even settle for a 9" popsicle stick deck pressed on a smaller decks mold.
    Drilling a shorter wheelbase on bigger modern decks I found is NOT the answer to it all like I would have thought it'd be. The issue is the rocker points, and here's where it all get's fucked up when you try to shorten a big street boards wheelbase.
    The distance between the bolts and the bend of the nose or tail.
    Take Skate One's K15 decks for instance, it's natural wheelbase molded area bend to bend is around 23", and whenever you re-drill the wheelbase back anywhere shorter than 15" you are making the gap between the bend and the bolts longer and longer, then making it harder and harder to ollie as your foot now takes longer to slide up and grab the nose to pull the board up when you pop. Forget flip tricks! This also makes manuals on that side more difficult too, harder to balance.
    I've found this out the hard way twice now by drilling 2-4 different brands decks. Taking a 14.75" wb to 14.38" on the K15 deck made me have a nose with a 1/3rd to almost half of it flat and then it bends, that fuckin sucks man! My noselides are all fucked up and I can't get good ollies w/ it for beans now!
    I'm bummed because I sold my last new deck because of the shape and it was almost brand new, I sold it to get this deck and now I'm kinda unhappy w/ what I got. It's 9.265"x32, I thought it'd have been perfect, the perfect deck, THE ONE, but because of this nose and wheelbase situation I sorta kinda hate it. :(
    The only thing that can make all this wheelbase dilemma go away is taking a good inch or so from the center of the decks wheelbase, not at the ends. As we both know, this is impossible. Ya can't cut a deck in half, take out an 1.5" and glue it back together. The issue is within the mold alot of these decks get pressed on. Skate One shouldn't even press decks w/ a shorter wheelbase than 15" on the K15 mold, they should use the K12, which has a natural bend to bend of 22".
    Sure, for a big tall dude like you that wants MORE wheelbase the longer the better, but when a smaller dude wants a shorter wb on a wider deck, he's plain out fucked without a Delorean to go back to 1990-92!
    I'd settle for a 9"x32" popsicle with a small shorter (naturally pressed) wheelbase, but I can't find em anywhere. I may be stuck in 8.5" land for a long time. That or I start buying up stock on all the NOS Powell Hill ear's online. That deck is dreamy! It was that or this deck i got, and again I fucked up!
    Please slap me in the nuts NOW!

    1. continued...

      Unlike you I didn't change body size much since I was a teenager, I was a 5'7" fat kid at 11 w/ Powell Peralta 10"x31" decks, then a lean skinny teen on a 9"x32" TV Templeton deck - 7.25" blank decks, then a thicker version of me in my 20's on 7.75"x31.75" Dwindle decks, and now I'm back to being lean and thin, like when I was a teenager, and I want that 9"x32" New Deal/TV/Blind/World deck shape again. I'm the same dude I was then. But, hopefully smarter. (no more 7.25"x31" decks for me please, what were we thinking in 94!) I get why wheelbases on alot of bigger modern boards are more sellable today because alot of old dudes honestly, got bigger, and either put on alot of weight or just plain grew up and or let's say "filled out". My friends go shopping for clothes, and I'm still wearing my t-shirts from 4th grade only now they're baggy. Ha! (right now alot of you guys are going "fuckin dick"...I'm ok with that.)

      So, by doing your shoulder measuring sizing I should be riding about a 13.5" wheelbase deck. :)
      I'm 5'9" 150lbs, size 10-10.5 shoe. My legs inseam is about 29 or 30". In Levi's I wear a 34x30 to keep them loose in the waist as I'm really a 32" in all other pants to account for laundry shrinkage. I take a Small or Medium men's shirt. My hat size is 7 5/8", my cock size is ...OK, OK enough of my stats!! :D

      So knowing all that - talk to me, where do we turn bro?

      I've been online for months searching through every deck on SoCal to SkateWarehouse and everywhere between and nobody makes this kinda 1991 shape I'm talkign about, it blows my fuckin mind!
      If I had the ability too, I'd get em pressed up and sell them, because there is no market there yet.
      But there could be! Will see, until then all my buddies online just say to get a NOS Hill ear.
      You ever have one of those back in the day?
      I gotta save up now.

    2. ...but, in a perfect world I could see a popsicle between 8.5-9" or so no longer than 32"-32.5" and w/ a wheelbase no longer than 14.5" working for me.
      Email me, we'll talk shop.

    3. Santa Cruz did a bunch of those football shaped decks:


    5. Already saw those Guzman Opps decks, they're ok, but a bit to footbally. I might not dig it.
      The other one is too short.

    6. I don't like when the tail is all narrow and stuff like the footbally stuff.
      The further I dig, the more I understand why the modern popsicle is so popular in all sizes.
      It just makes sense. May not have style, but it makes sense.

    7. One of these maybe migth be worth the try. Ever skate a Skatepaige blank?

    8. I really dig the idea of blank decks. I've skate Paige's decks before: Zorlac and JFA. The Zorlac was good, the JFA I got as a waterlogged hand-me-down, so I couldn't really judge that one. If Paige makes the decks today like those decks then, you'll be okay with it.

    9. Yeah, last night when I was reading your comments, I surmised you were contemplating football dimensions on popsicle shape. The popsicle shape is highly efficient and extremely versatile.
      You're in luck with regards to shorter wheelbases on popsicle stick shapes. There are so many shops selling short wheelbase boards. Your challenge will be in the width. Avoid the "pool" shape decks, they're almost always shouldered with narrowing at the rear truck. Look for some of the sliding or popsicle shapes from the longboard manufacturers. I have an extensive list of deck manufacturers, I'll post a custom list to the google docs library.

    10. Here's the list of skateboard companies:

    11. Thanks B, that's a nice list ya got there! Great thing to add to the page! :)

      I dunno man, I feel like I'm going crazy. It really shouldn't be this hard, should it?
      Maybe I just haven't found the right 8.5" popsicle deck yet? Maybe I shouldn't be riding a fat deck and just "want to"? Everything about standing on an 8"x32" deck I like, but I feel big for the width under my feets, but I don't like the other dimensions to change length and wheelbase wise, they feel perfect, does that make sense to you? Why do I feel this way ya think, is it because of my stats? Or because in my mind I know I can change it so I want too. Lil bit a both perhaps.
      On the chart it's pretty accurate. Says about an 8.18"x31.8", 14-14.5" wheelbase, 139-149 trucks, even your scaled dimensions are pretty close to whats comfortable. How did you figure those "scaled" dimensions out?

    12. I think buying up nos hill decks is a pretty great idea... Seems like it solves your dilemma. I had the mini a couple of years back and was pretty into it.

      Bertrand - great article! I thought I was alone in redrilling street decks. Its pretty interesting how much a "weird" feeling deck can improve with minor adjustment. I've also rounded off squaretails with a jigsaw to improve the feel. It's surprisingly easy and relatively quick. Being mindful of the dimensions that work for you is a good thing!

    13. @johnny - Magenta deck no good?

      Got a team board - 8.5 X 32 and 14.25 wheelbase - quite like it...

    14. I'm getting ready to try a few things brutha, and an 8.5"x32" 14.38"WB popsicle is on my list. :)

  3. Johnny - Withcraft make big popsicles in the 8.5-9" range with a 14.5 wheelbase.

    Anti Hero do em big and Creature too with a 14-14.5 wb.

    Welcome use a 14.5 wb and some of their shapes are really nice if you do eant something a little different for a change. I've just set up 8.75 Jackalope and initial impressions are good.

    1. Thanx Tim, I didn't know about Witchcraft I'll look em up.
      Creature decks are on a bigger mold, and have 15" in that range of 8.8-9".
      Anti Hero's are too long. I'm looking for 32" long. I've seen their 8.75" and it was 32.75" long, that's too long for me. The prob with any of these decks is knowing if they were pressed on a smaller mold or a larger one and then drilled shorter, which as I've said I've already done for myself and didn't like it because of the gaps in the bend areas.

    2. The Welcome and Elephant decks w/ "shape" are too small feeling. When you shape a deck under 9" it gets small in the back because of it. This is why popsicles make sense because they are uniform. I have one of the Elephant Rogue decks, which is like alot of the Welcome decks shapes. I like it, but it's 8" around the back bolts, I'd like it 8.5" there. The Rogue is 8.5"x32" and rides like an 8".
      You can even put 8" trucks on it no problem.

    3. The Welcome Slappy Slap is close, but has a longer wheelbase mold to it at 14.878".
      Already talked to them about it. : )

    4. 9"x31.75"-32" is where I'm looking.

      I stood on a Creature Stu Graham last week and it felt great, felt right on, concave and the nose and tail sizes - IF it was an inch shorter in the middle of the wheelbase mold that'd be the one.
      9"x33" 15 WB is too long wheelbase and length wise for me. I'm getting dizzy ova heh!

    5. Remember this deck?

    6. ...or this one -

    7. How about this one?

    8. The molds those 1991 shapes were pressed on and their dimensions is where I'm looking...that or a 9x32 popsicle on the same type short mold.


      I read that the world industries reissues were based on the original molds... But that said, the hill nos decks are cheaper. Maybe you can get a bulk discount from some eBay dude?

    10. Yeah those World decks are cool! The Hill is cheaper, which is weird right!
      If they ever somehow got the rigths to press the bLiNd Video Days era decks that'd be insane - but I'm sure everyone from Dr. Seuss to Powell, to Gonz and Jason Lee might not go along with that.
      Those shapes would be amazing to have re-issued like they do the Bones Brigade decks and stuff like that. Dwindle would be handling it too, so the wood and shapes would be good and Rodney could make sure they were correct. (he did the first ones anyways)

    11. If I had the loot I'd grab that Dune Monster deck, SoCal has it and it's tempting.

  4. Example of some proper deck sizes w/ proper wheelbases and lengths for those dudes like me that haven't changed body size since 1992. Pressed on smaller molds. Somebody needs to make a line of decks exactly like these kinds, spec for spec! All decks back in 91-92 had wheelbases and sizes like these.

    (from Thrasher mag archives)

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. I have a quick question. I just got some new indy 149 stage 11. I usually put medium bones in but I want to try something new. my bones bushings have been messing up lately but I love the feel. Can you recommend some different bushings.

    1. Hmmm, sure we can help. But first define "messing up lately"? And just what are you looking for in bushings, a better return, deeper turn, quicker turn, more stability? If we know what you want out of aftermarket bushings we can better help ya. =)

    2. I want the same feel as Bones, but without them coming apart. The bottom bushing starts to bulge and then the cap falls off. I just want a bushing that doesn't crack too easily.

    3. Hmmm, ok, a few things. Has this happened to you before, or is it just on this one set? How old were the bushings? Have you taken a picture and sent it into Bones/Skate One? They will send you new bushings if you send them a picture of what happened. They are great like that. My next question would be do you want something that has an insert again? Khiro makes 2 very similar bushings to the Bones style. One is called the Bitch, it's basically a Bones knockoff. The other is like the Bones, but the insert is metal. I tried a buddies Khiro red med soft metal insert bushings and quickly went back to the Bones.
      I've been using Bones meds on every truck for a while now and have only had 1 bottom bushing bulge on me, it was on my first set and they replaced them, sent me a whole new set, a catalog and stickers. I've never had a problem since then. I have a set on my Indy 149's that have been there since early fall of 2011. Still no bulge and going strong. I have a few setups and every set of trucks I have has Bones meds, w/ NO top or bottom washers. I am about 160lbs and the mediums on my trucks which i ride pretty loose work amazingly for me. How much do you weigh? If you are a bigger dude and have more say, torque to yer skating I'd suggest trying the Bones hards. If that's to hard, maybe try half hards and half meds. Hard on bottom, med on top. The harder bottom should give more strength to the bottom and not bulge out, or as quick anyways. If you skate really loose trucks, well then I'd say try another set of Meds. and remove the washers, they turn smoother that way, and I find you can tighten them a lil bit more without them being cranked.
      Personally I'm addicted to the insert style of Bones bushings and tend to not really like much else. Some others like the aftermarket Indy red bushings or Krux bushings on Indy's too. Maybe try a few different sets of bushings, play around.
      It's always an experiment ya gotta play around with by physically skating w/ them to really see what you like the best.
      Advice will only get ya half way there. : )

    4. Assuming a proper break-in period, if your bushings are cracking or breaking, you're not skating the right hardness. If your trucks rattle, you need softer, taller bushings. If you are breaking or cracking bushings, you need harder bushings.

      But I also want to directly answer your original question. I think you could try some different variations and see what you like. With the tall bushing variation, your choices are more limited than before. With the Stage 9 and Stage 10 Independents, the bottom bushing was 14mm (9/16") tall and the top was 10mm (3/8") tall. On the Stage 11, the kingpin is shorter, and the bottom bushing is shorter, at 12.7mm (1/2") tall.
      A good way to set up Indys is to use Riptide Chubbies or Venom Eliminators as the bottom (boardside) bushing along with the Indy stock bushing on the top. Alternatively, you can use any tall (15-16mm) barrel bottom bushing. Longboard bottom bushings are typically around 15-16mm (~5/8") in height. The Riptide Chubbies are 15mm, and they fit on Independent Stage 11 trucks, but it is tight, and you'll want to get softer bushings to compensate, and you'll have to leave out the bottom washer.

      Another variation you could try is to get some Mini Logo or Krux stock bushings. This will be hard, because they don't sell them separately. There are plenty of people who replace their stock bushings with Bones bushings, so maybe you can find one of those people on craigslist or skate city or other forums.

      One more variation for Independent Stage 11 is to get a set of Thunder bushings or someone's stock Venture bushings.

      Personally, I recommend properly breaking in the stock Indy bushings. If they don't work after 4-5 days of skating every day, then try some of the variations.

    5. It takes a few days to break in Independent bushings. The best way is to skate the trucks loose until the bushings start to harden up, then tighten them - if they need it - to the desired tightness. An alternate way is to tighten them up to the desired tightness during the first few minutes of your first session with them, but this method might lead to cracked bushings, particularly with the barrel bushings. Another good method is to skate them on and off for an hour, like session style skating where you're waiting your turn, and then tighten them up to the desired tightness. I saw Darren and Al of the Creature team doing this with some Indy Stage 10s when they were given their first set while they were already skating a session.

      That said, my favorite bushings for Independent trucks are Independent bushings. Sounds boring, I know. Sometimes, I've gotten lucky with a set of stock Indy bushings, like with my current Indy Stage 11 169s. Other times, I've gotten some Indys with damaged bushings. Bushings are plastic, and plastic doesn't biodegrade, it photodegrades; that means that ultraviolet light decomposes plastic at the molecular level. Skateshops who let their trucks (and wheels) sit in the sunlight day after day are unknowingly destroying those products' urethane components. In those cases where I get some skateshop's display mistake, I replace the bushings with Independent aftermarket bushings, red on the front truck if I'm doing a lot of street skating, otherwise the yellow/orange on both trucks. Right now, Independent is still selling their aftermarket bushings with the conical bottom bushing. Best I've heard is that the "next round we produce" will be the barrel bushings, and that bit of info was provided in May, 2011. The conical aftermarket bushings fit the Stage 11.

  7. I got some red Indy bushings today. I was worried they would be way too soft, but they felt great. It took only about ten minutes to break them in and I skated pretty good for an old man. Why the hell doesn't Indy stock these with their trucks!? Why are the aftermarket bushings better than stock? People I'm friends with have purchased other trucks just because of Independent's bushings. When I even bought my latest trucks online at SoCal they ask if you want to upgrade to Bones. On another note have you guys heard about Spitfire making a bushing to compete with Bones? Take Care

    1. Rad man, glad they worked out for you. : )
      Indy's aftermarket pivot cups are alot better too. It makes business sense why they wouldn't upgrade.
      Standard stuff works good for most, but not us tinkerers or the gnarly shredders that go through alot of parts.
      I have heard about the proto Spitfire's, Tony Trujillo talked about using them in last years Transworld buyers guide.
      It'd be nice to see, but still honestly in my opinion nothing makes more sense bushing wise as Bones hardcore bushings do, the design, the insert, the urethane the feel, I'm a big fan. They even make them for rollerskates too. They're on

    2. The red Indy bushings are pretty awesome, that's for sure. I'm looking forward to when NHS finally comes out with the 14mm barrel bottom versions of the Independent aftermarket bushings.
      I've had good experiences with Bones bushings in Destructo D2s, Mini Logos, Ventures, and Independents, and not much else. Most other trucks do better with single action bushings. The only trucks I prefer with Bones bushings are the Ventures and Destructos.

  8. Hello Johny i have a quick question for ya :) . Ive been riding street with 139 indys and bones bushings from along time and a problem i have is that the pivot cups wear out really fast. Is it because i ride without a bottom washer and i change the geometry? What is the perfect combo for a 139 stage11 truck? Thank you

    1. Hey man. Indy's pivot cups aren't too durable period. I wore mine out in no time as well.
      Been seeing alot of dudes complain about it online since Stage XI's came out.
      The Indy stock cups are a cheap softer type cup, the aftermarket Indy pivot cups are a little harder and smoother.
      They are pretty much just like the Khiro shorts. I recently ordered 2 sets from SoCal of the Indy bushings. It's worth the couple bucks, and if you just order cups and something small like griptape or stickers the shipping stays real cheap too.

      In my opinion the perfect Stage XI setup is, keep the metal parts of the trucks and replace all the rubbers. : P
      Bushings, pivot cups, and ditch the washers. (no top and bottom washers makes the trucks a snatch hair lighter too. haha!)

    2. These are the Indy replacements, although they do NOT look like the ones in the picture.

    3. They actually look like these -

    4. sorry about that weird looking post, Blogspot is acting crazy for me right now. =P

    5. Thank you for the fast response. I live in eastern europe and its hard to find pivot cups :( I once bought some and they turned out softer then the stock ones. I thought that the pivot cup wears out cus i dont ride with a bottom washer and the truckgeometry changes ;D

    6. My Stage 11 Independent 169s tore up their rear pivot bushing in less than a week. The trucks still feel great, but I have a feeling I'll be getting some RipTide pivot bushings for my Stage 11 Independent trucks.

    7. I don't think the pivot cup think is related much to the no washers thing considering probably half to 75% of most Indy rider rock Bones w/ them and no washer. It's just a shit quality pivot cup.

      Bertrand, yes, the Riptides would be a great way to go, that is IF someone could afford $14 a set to spend on just pivot cups.
      The $1.95 Indy ones I got work fine and are more affordable for a fella like me, and are easier to find in a pinch too.
      The difference in overall skating feel and stuff from a pivot cup seems nominal to me, and I don't sweat it that much.
      I actually skated for months on pivot cups that were blown out and were moving around in the pivot hole and since I got new ones I wouldn't even notice if I didn't know. My 2 cents anyways. Of course this is coming from someone that coats his bushings and pivot cups with a Teflon dry wax lubricant that I used for bass tuning machines. I hate squeaky trucks. I'm anal about certain things, other things I don't worry about. I'm a weird fella. : P

    8. Yeah i get you man. Maybe it messes with my mind or something :D And last question is it a problem if ride bones bushings with both washers on the stage11 indy does.Actually do washers affect the turning of the truck?

    9. Here's the thing about the washers on a Stage XI Indy...
      The kingpin is very short, and having washers on makes it impossible to get them as loose as a bowl guy would want them to be. I had to remove the top washer because of this, I had the nut on just enough to grab the threading and it wasn't enough, and on every grind my trucks got loose and the nut was coming off, so I had to take off the top washers too. (forget the bottoms, I'd never be able to even get them on w/ how loose I skate my trucks in bowls).
      Removing the top washer gave me that many more threads I could use while still keeping the trucks loose.
      This is why you see so many of the pro legend bowl guys riding their Indy Stage XI's w/ Bones and no washers.
      Since then I have removed the washers on every single other set of trucks I have.

      It does in my opinion give the trucks a little bit more of a turnier feel, whether the washer was hitting the inside of the yoke or not.
      I think it has to do w/ the pressure of the nut against the plastic insert as opposed to the metal washer.
      Of course I could be crazy, well i know I'm crazy...but it's fun to be sometimes. : P

      It's weird, I find everyone that bitches about Stage X's not turning to be just whiny bullshit.
      I can turn w/ them just fine, same as the XI's. I've never had a problem w/ them.
      I use Bones, no washers and keep em pretty loose.
      Had the same Bones bushings on them 2 years, they turn great, and the bushings are not dead either.
      Dudes are truck snobs sometimes. All trucks "TURN", it's just the geometry of how and what kind of turn they do.
      People are funny. : D
      Cab still has been rocking Stage X's, and he's the #1 bowl master. I don't think he has problems turning at all. : P

    10. Thanks for the fast replies mate. You the skate guru on the net that's for sure! Now it just has to stop raining :D

    11. You welcome. I do what i can to help a dude out. I know what it's like to have a question and noone is there to answer it.
      I won't always be able to be readily available for answers, but while I am I might as well do the best I can for whoever needs it.
      Get yer skate on, when it gets dry! : ) have fun!

    12. Nice info about the washers on Indys, Johnny. You're right, lots of people said that Stage 9s and 10s didn't turn, which is just crazy, because they all turn beautifully. I think that a lot of people get accustomed to the "board on a broomstick" feel of loose trucks, and if it even pinches a little bit, they think the trucks don't turn. Take the top washers off of some Stage 9s or 10s, and the turn doesn't stop when the washer contacts the hanger. That's the main design feature of the Stage 11 that helps it turn so deeply: the upper yoke cavity was widened and shaped to broaden the turning range prior to the washer abutting the hanger and stopping the turn.
      In the 80s, there were lots of Tracker haters, saying that "Trackers didn't turn". Tracker Six Tracks were the sales leaders in many areas for a few reasons: 1) Tony Hawk, Lester Kasai, and other Tracker riders pitching the trucks relentlessly, 2) Six tracks were much lighter than Independents and Thunders (Ventures were rare to see in non-California skateshops in the 80s, 3) this is going to sound silly, but Six Tracks came in all sorts of colors. Indys came in silver. Thunders came in either raw or powdercoated black, white, and sometimes blue. According to that big book about Independent trucks, the multiple colors of sales leader Tracker was the primary reason Indy came out with the anodized line for Stage V in the late 80s. Ultimately, what caused Tracker's sudden decline was not competition from other trucks but the skateboarding "crash" of the 90s. Trackers are coming back now, but their Six Track is still a hard truck to find. The Darts are okay, but they're no Six Tracks.
      Six tracks provided a high level of on center stability coupled with deep, deep turning. If Indys were "board on a broomstick", then Six Tracks were "board on a 2x4", because the center was so wide and stable. Indys dive in quick and get progressively harder to turn; Six Tracks were harder to initiate the turn, but they turned deeper when the turn finally started. It was the bent pivot.
      So, Johnny's right: all trucks turn, they just turn differently.

    13. Thanks for the info. on Trackers bro. I was a Tracker guy back then, because my fav skater was Mike McGill.
      Last set of Trackers I got were in the summer of 1993. They were the floating axle B-52's...worst design for trucks ever!
      They were so damn loud, the axle all rattling and rolling around freely, especially w/ 38mm wheels on these North East Coast streets! HA!

      Isn't it ironic and funny that the biggest improvement in the turning of the Stage 11's is the washer not hitting the yoke thing, and most guys can't even use the washers to get them as loose they want them. Funny!
      I know they had to be getting hate mail from the added height from the street smaller wheel crowd.
      And there was an easy entry way to add the plain Forged version of their standard trucks, cuz it makes em the same Stage X height...of course the are also expensive too, so it's not as easy as just one model or the other - they get extra coin outa ya too.
      I wish I would have picked up a set of Stage X Forged Hollow 149's when I had the chance, they were lower than any of Indy's high trucks now at 51.5. I'm still hoping that someday they'll make a Indy 149 Low, but I won't hold my breath.
      I think if venture re-issued the 5.8 Low from the 90's then maybe companies will compete.
      Oh well, that's why I rock the Mini Logo trucks anyways. =D

  9. Johnny regarding the search for a board, an Australian company, 24 Skateboards (, do an 8.5" x 32.87" but with a 14.5" WB. Might not be wide enough nor short enough for you but the wheelbase is shorter than many boards in that range. I'm currently trying to decide between that deck or the slightly longer Mini Logo 181 shape. I think Toy Machine also do an 8.5" x 32.125" with a 14.5" WB.

    1. Thanks Matt, but that's actually about an inch too long buddy.
      I was looking for a 31.75" in length and 14" wb. I found a few companies that make one.
      Element has one but I don't support most non-skater owned companies when I can.
      I did find a really good one in Deathwish/Baker decks, it's 8.475"x31.8" 14.25WB.
      They are really good, have a mellow concave and are made by Bareback/Generator in mexico like most of the best decks today.
      The clincher was it had a WWE "Wrestlemania" logo font but says Deathwish, so I had to grab it on the deal I got it on. : )

      I'm actually trying to get into smaller decks though as we speak.
      The reasons being that 1 - all I want to skate lately is flatland and ledges/curbs these days, and 2 - my access to parks and ramps/bowls is limited to once a week for me, so skating a big board when I'm mostly skating street is kinda silly. I feel I'm workin too hard on myself. And 3 - it's just gunna be easier to find boards I like. So many companies make decks between 8", 8.125" and 8.25" decks w/ 14" or 14.25" wb.
      So anyways, thank you very much for that link, but that's just too long for me bro.

      The Powell/Mini Logo 181 shape is actually not 33.5" when you measure the regular way, it's actually more around 33".
      Skate One measures decks graphic side w/ the contours, which makes for a longer length when comparing to other companies that measure straight across the top or across the top bending with contour. Only Skate One measures from the bottom, no one else.
      Check out my article here to fully understand deck lengths by company and measuring etc. : )

  10. I've come to find that 16.5 to 17 inches is the perfect wheelbase for me. I've tried to go smaller to 16", 16.25" and lo and behold, my comfort level starts to come into its own @ 16.5". Currently waiting for Chuck @ Deckcrafters to come out w/ the 9.625" width version of the blood diamond with the 16.75" wb. I already own a fat cue and fat diamond which I ride with 17" and 16.75" wb respectively. I also own an Earthwing Crewzer which is a comfortable cruiser that can do trannie/vert.
    On the popsicle styles... I'd love to pick up a mini-logo as mentioned with a 16.5 in wb. The Jay Adams Pool Z-Flex model would also be sweet @ 16.5"+ One can dream...

  11. Hey Man! love you're blog first of all.. I've just made some deck size to rider's height ratio out of boredom. Basically I used the base line from 7.5 boards starting from 5'3 height which is the common height of a 13 year old, upto a grown man adult like tony hawk which is 6'3. and I've come up with this scale.. note this is just deck size to rider's height ratio. the shoe size factor was not considered on this scale.

    Width---Wheelbase----Length----Rider's Height

  12. Realize this is an old article but wanted to send props your way for putting together all the data (and to all the commenters with data points) on this and part 1 of this article. 6'4 here and most boards just feel...really small, never even considered LB companies actually make daily riders.

  13. Thank you for this post, It's been immensely helpful in shopping for my first complete. I'm 5'11" 240 lbs and learning to skate for the first time. I'm starting from the ground up here, so I'm going to be learning the most basic parts of skating on this board, probably in the road, with my style likely moving into pool/park skating. I also plan on filming with this board as soon as I'm confident in my cruising ability. I've taken a lot of advice from different sources into consideration when putting together this setup, and I feel like I've got it pretty much perfect for my scenario:
    Comet NK34
    Length: 33.75''
    Width: 9.2''
    Wheelbase: 16"
    Concave: .5'' Radial
    Tail: 6.8"
    Nose: 6.8"
    Flex Level: Stiff
    Shorty's Silverados hardware
    Indy 169 hollow forged matte black trucks
    1/8" Indy risers
    Bones 96a HardCore bushings
    Riptide 96a WFB pivot cups
    Bones Super Reds bearings
    Bones 62mm Ty Evans ATFs (80a)

    What do you guys think? Since I'm going to be filming I went with upgrades that will improve performance while reducing sound coming from the board as well. I considered RKP trucks, but decided to go with the standard Indys for now to see how they are. Their geometry has such a diehard fan base that it's hard to pass up trying them. I also considered a lot of different types and sizes of wheels, but settled on ATFs because I want something grippy while just learning to push, and it'll give me more options for riding rough terrain when I'm not at the park. The deck is a symmetrical shovel nose and should fit my 17" shoulder width and 33.5" hip height well. The ends of the board aren't totally flat so I'll still learn to ollie with some precision. I may move the trucks outward slightly to make the wheelbase longer if I feel like it needs it. If I get good with this board I'll probably end up getting a different deck for tech skating, but for now I'm really stoked to just get on a complete and start riding. It gets here tomorrow, and I already bought some good wrist guards and a helmet, so I'm ready to go. Thanks again and wish me luck haha.

  14. Hello my name is Jarpy and I am from Venezuela, I am currently living in bristol uk. I am dedicated to longskate for 14 years and currently ride for Gravity Skateboard ... I recommend Gravity Guto Lamera 44 '' and Brad Edwards 40 ''. Exelentes boards. Here I leave my Facebook to share photos and videos ... They are not at all flexible and and often endure much mistreatment without being so affecteddejo mi Facebook para compartir fotos y videos.