Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Introduction to Bushings with Riptide -- Part 1

Hello my friends!

Welcome to another addition to our product review library. This is a very special post in that it is part of a series of information on Riptide Bushings. In recent history Riptide has established itself as a force to be reckoned with in the longboard bushing market. The question on everyone's lips is whether Riptide is riding the hype train or if there is truth to the claims of superior bushings. However, before we start to get into an in-depth analysis of Riptide Bushings let's talk about what a bushing actually is.

I have said it before and I will say it again, bushings are the most effective way to completely change how your setup rides. Through a proper bushing setup you can  make a board super duper carvey or stable as a table according to your liking. However, as much as I hate to admit it, there is a huge number of skaters out there who are completely ignorant to the benefits of tuning your setup and how large of a role bushings play in that process.

Bushings. Bushings are the small pieces of urethane (urethane is a substance similar to rubber) that fit around the kingpin of a truck and rest on either side of its hanger. The bushing that fits in between the baseplate and hanger of a truck is the "boardside" bushing because it rests closer to your skateboard. The other bushing is called your "roadside" bushing and it rests on top of your hanger and nearer to the road.
Bushings come in an array of hardnesses to affect the turning characteristics of your trucks. The hardness of a bushing is measured in what we call the "durometer."  A durometer is indicated by a number followed an "a," for example, one might have bushings with an 85a hardness. A higher number indicates a harder bushing while a lower number indicates a softer bushing. Riptide offers bushings starting at 60a, which is extremely soft, ranging all the way to a 97.5a hardness, which would be relatively hard. It is important to note that when dealing with Riptide bushings that they generally feel a little bit softer than they test, as indicated on their website, and I definitely agree. Which means if you generally ride an 85a bushing you should consider buying a harder riptide bushing, such as an 88a or 90a.

In addition to coming in different hardnesses bushings come in a couple different shapes. I would say that there are two shapes which are widely accepted as the most common; the barrel and the cone.  In fact many trucks come pre-equipped with some sort of a barrel/cone combination.

Riptide APS Cone (roadside)
If you really like to carve then cones are the shape for you. One of the easiest way to make a stiff setup a little more responsive to make sure that you are using a cone bushing. If you really really want to get that surfy feeling then you could even consider running double cones.
Assorted Cones
Assorted Barrels
By virtue of having more urethane that you have to compress when carving barrels give you a little more resistance. Double barrel setups are a very popular choice among downhill and freeride longboarders because they offer lots of stability without completely killing the liveliness of your setup.
Riptide WFB Barrel (roadside)
Paris Series
Riptide WFB and APS Canon
In addition to these two traditional shapes Riptide also produces a series of bushings that are designed specifically for Paris trucks. They come in two slightly different shapes Canon and Magnum which were shaped to fit perfectly into the bushing seat of a Paris truck to eliminate any "slop" in you truck's performance. I personally run one set of Canons roadside and one set of Magnums boardside in my Paris trucks and have been a big of that setup.
Riptide WFB Magnum (boardside)
Fat Cone
Riptide Fat Cone
A fat cone is another specialty shape, in that it is a relatively new bushing shape, at least to my knowledge. Fat Cones serve as a nice transition between a barrel and a chubby. They provide a little more stability than a standard barrel with a wide surface area but are not quite as restrictive as a chubby. I found a fat cone/barrel combination to feel more responsive than barrel/barrel combination, but from what I understand that is not typical. You can technically run a fat cone either way, but it is recommended by Riptide that the smaller end meets the hanger. (see picture) I tried both ways and prefer the recommended setup.
Riptide WFB Fat Cone (boardside)
Riptide WFB and APS Chubby
This is what many consider to be the creme of the crop when it comes to super stability. It's wide shape definitely inhibits the agility of a truck, however, in return you are getting a very solid bushing with enough beef to keep you from getting all wobbly (well, to the extent that a bushing can control, remember wobbles come from a rider's ability).
Riptide APS Chubby (boardside)
On top of offering a diverse set of shapes to choose from Riptide also offers two different bushing formulas. Both formulas are available as an option for all of their bushing shapes and have their own unique characteristics.

Animated Polymer Systems (APS)
The APS compound is formulated to offer a very responsive setup for riders. It achieves this through a high degree of rebound, or "bounce," which really livens up your trucks.

World's Fastest Bushings (WFB)
This compound was produced with competitive longboarders in mind. They do not offer as much rebound as the APS formula. This allows WFB bushings to compress under your feet cleanly and predictably every time. In addition these bushings are internally lubricated to offer less resistance when turning and provide very clean, smooth transitions.

Now that everyone is on the same page and we know what bushings are, what a durometer is, how many shapes they can come in, and what Riptide offers we can get into how they perform on the road and in your trucks.  As I mentioned, this was the first part of an educational series and critical analysis of Riptide bushings; so look forward to part 2 coming up in one week. Each week will cover a different shape of bushing, talk about its benefits and drawbacks, and critique how both of Riptide's formulas perform and compare them to other brands.

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Stay Awesome,