Roller Skate Cushions/Bushings
Everything You Need to Know
This post was is re-composed, with permission, from a facebook post by a knowledgeable and trusted friend. Text and images are largely her own, but may have been edited for clarity when changing from facebook to blog format. Original post can be found here
I've tried quite a few cushions (or "bushings" in the UK) over the last nine years - they're the cheapest part to swap out that will make a significant change to how your skates behave (unless you have plates that don't fit the standard size, like the ones in my picture ).
Standard size cushions are either conical or barrel-shaped (the two clear yellow cushions sitting on my plate show the two shapes), and you can usually swap a barrel for a cone or vice versa (if your kingpins are long enough, cones are usually a bit shorter) - you just need to buy matching washers as well. Cones are usually just used at the bottom, further away from your plate.
Which Cushions Should I Use?
IMO there are three factors that determine which cushions are right for you, weight is one but also your skating style and personal preferences as well as the length and geometry of your plates & trucks. For weight, Roll-Line (who make plates for artistic skating, hockey and now derby as well) have a chart that can give you a rough idea.
Cushion Suggestion: by Weight
|70-71A||78 pounds /35 kg and less|
|74-75 shore A||79.0 to 101 pounds / up to 45 kg|
|79-80 shore A||101.5 to 123 pounds / up to 55 kg|
|84-85A||123.5 to 156 pounds / up to 70 kg|
|88-90A||157 pounds / 70 kg and up|
(I've combined info from skatelogforum.com's Doc Sk8 and original Roll-Line charts here.)
Cushion Suggestion: by Skating Style
Skating style and what you do with your skates is just as important IMO, however. Just going by that chart, I should be on 80A - or 85A at the most (I'm 55 kg, so one kilo more and I could go up 😉). What I really like for most things I do - slalom, street skating, a bit of dancing around during a roll out - is 85A and up (my favourite street and tour skates have a 87A combo on them, and if I remember this correctly, I've been happy with cushions as hard as 94A for slalom). The only activity that makes me crave softer cushions is going around in a circle at a roller disco or roller party (and derby, if I remember this right). Then I suddenly like 78A to 80A cushions. By the way, this works both ways: There are lots of pretty heavy guys on Skatelogforum who skate the softest cushions available.
Cushion Suggestion: by Wheelbase
A last thing that also plays a role: your plates and wheelbase: I prefer a fairly short wheelbase (140 mm on size 6.5 Moxi Jacks and EU 38 Risports/Edeas), so my skates are generally more agile. That probably explains in part why I prefer harder cushions. Then there are also 45° plates that have a different truck angle, so they're more agile than regular plates even with harder cushions.
Generally I'd say, any cushions you like and are happy with are fine - as long as they're not so soft that you get wheel bite or speed wobbles when you go fast or so hard that your skates don't turn at all anymore. If you are happy with your skates' action, keep your cushions.
What About Trucks?
How I usually adjust my trucks: I tighten the nuts on the kingpins just to the point where I can't move/turn the washers that hold the cushions with my fingers anymore. Then I skate and try out the action. If I find the trucks/action too loose, if my skates turn too much for my taste, that is, I tighten all four kingpin nuts evenly by quarter turns until I'm happy. I don't usually do more than one turn all in all and I would never tighten them so much that the cushions bulge out. If that happened, I'd chose harder cushions.
Measurements of standard cushions - so you'll know if they fit your plates:
- Width: 25 mm
- Height: 14 mm barrels, 12 mm cones
- Hole diameter: 9-10 mm
You can often chose cushions by a different brand, but if you do it’s really important that the top cushion is the same height as the original one. Your truck must be parallel to the top cushion washer, as my second picture shows.
For Moxi Beach Bunnies this means you can buy the Powerdyne Reactor Magic cushions, but you must add something (washers, mini-bearings, …) above the top cushions to make up for the difference in height!