0° trucks: substance and hype

I honestly think “zero” is advertised because it’s a round number and expresses the concept; it speaks more than 1, 2 or 1,5 and makes it look like there’s some magical golden number deal to it.

Nickie

Introduction

Facebook user enchanted with the 0° idea. That’s how these things became so popular. Hype.

I was already following the online community when these trucks were first marketed. I remember seeing posts frequently before that, where brave pioneers were reverse-mounting RKP trucks with lots of wedging, to achieve a 0° pivot axis angle. It was never clear what the goal was though; as far as I remember, nobody was trying to make it clear either. I believe the appeal initially was simply the thrill of the discovery that nothing extraordinary happens when the truck is reversed (safely at 0°, right on the edge of the… abyss of negative values), just like children discovering something new about the world and showing it to their friends. In any case, the coolness factor was just too strong for doubts to creep in. Soon after, it was Subsonic, I think, who made decks shaped and drilled specifically to accommodate for this eccentricity. The journey from forum hype to commercial product was completed when Dont Trip and GBomb started marketing their bracket-system offers. Exile, the European company that’s determined, it seems, to stay firmly under the shadow of its American colleagues, followed suit.

Geometry

The point where the red line intersects the deck (C) is the point with “absence of turn” (click to enlarge)

The thing that fascinates me about 0° trucks, is that the angle is so specific. Why does it have to be 0? Let me break this down. As long as the rear truck angle is above 0°, as is conventionally the case, there’s always a point on the deck with “absence of turn,” as Felipe put it. Chances are, your back foot stands on it when you skate (see image, right). When you install a 0° truck, this point moves back (exactly on the center of the rear axle, like a car) and the board becomes harder to pump albeit with a higher top speed (i.e. the board’s turning radius becomes less steep) [if you find this bit hard to follow, see this article]. Since you can achieve this with a longer wheelbase, and/or a non-0° truck de-wedged down to 0°, or even reversed to get a truck angle of negative x degrees (a good idea, if you have a shorter deck and you want the top speed), then why would you need exactly 0°? Felipe likes it, Nickie doesn’t. It seems actual experiences vary.1

Physics

In other words, as far as the geometrical characteristics go, I see no particular advantage. Is there something about the physical characteristics though? Because, in principle, if you could adjust the energy-storing mechanism (bushings/springs/aluminum bars (in principle)) for different angles, there should be no difference in the physical behavior. James Peters thinks otherwise:

“All math equations aside [note: he refers to this], one thing I feel is different on ride feel of 0 degree rear versus a dewedged rear, is that some dewedge in the back gives the feeling of digging into and snapping out of turns more like when you’re going edge to edge on a snowboard. Whereas with zero degrees in back, all the turn comes from the front, so the rear is like a sailboat keel that keeps you pointed forward / keeps the front in check.”

I find this account rather too esoteric for my taste.1 It belongs in the category of all the unsubstantiated emotive descriptions that forums are populated with, rather than objectivity.

Conclusion

The real difference is that a 0° rear truck on, e.g., a platform deck (whose wheelbase is largely fixed) radically reduces the maneuverability of the board (albeit by increasing top speed at the same time). I believe it should be made clear, by those who market it, in which circumstances this would be desirable to skaters. And why 0° and not 1° or -1°? 0° trucks, even if there was a reason for them to be created, are very limiting.

The 0° truck concept has no theoretical substance and very limited applications, except for one: as a marketing gimmick. Skate companies simply monetized the pre-existing hype (and thus reinforced it and solidified it). As Nickie put it:

I honestly think zero is advertised because it’s a round number and expresses the concept, it speaks more than 1, 2, or 1,5 and makes it look like there’s some magical golden number deal to it …
….where the reality is that 0 mathematically correspond to nothing more than 1 or etc

Appendix: Torsion Tails

GBomb’s Torsion Tails2 deserve their own article (find it here) for a few reasons, not the least of which is that they are not really 0° trucks, otherwise they’d scrape the ground every time they tilted; more on this, in the aforementioned piece.

Here, I just want to say that they have earned their right to exist, though not their popularity. I’ll break this down. First of all, they are lighter than a conventional bracket-plus-truck set (incl. Dont Trip’s Delirium and Exile’s Insania). Second, unlike all the others, the Torsion Tails employ the springiness of metals as a return-to-center force. I’m no chemist, but polyurethane has got to be orders of magnitude less energy-efficient than steel or aluminum. Third, they are a genuinely new design, a fresh idea infused into the technologically and intellectually stale world of skateboarding. Integrating a regular RKP truck on a bracket (Delirium), even if you go all fancy with the pivots (Insania), doesn’t qualify as inventiveness.

However, the Torsion Tails do have one disadvantage that conventional 0° trucks don’t have: you can’t adjust that springiness for your weight and style. You have to be as heavy as the prototype testers were to prevent wheel-lift, or (if you stiffen up the front truck to remedy wheel-lift) an overly stiff turn. In sum, they are trucks with absolutely fixed angle and stiffness. GBomb is making steps to communicate this on the product pages, but I guess it doesn’t mind their popularity and leaves out the details. As GBomb says (and I concur): do your homework!3


1. It bears mentioning that both James and Felipe are being given free samples by GBomb and in my view they have a moral, if not legal, obligation to disclose that each time they talk about the products online. See here for more on this topic.
2. This article is an edited patchwork of old forum posts written years before GBomb released the TTX, its latest iteration of the Torsion Tails.
3. In the linked screenshot, replace the phrase “elite rider” with “rider that weights around 80kgr” and it will make perfect sense.

6 thoughts on “0° trucks: substance and hype

  1. It’s me again experimenting with different LDP set-ups and still using your site as a source of opinions. You got here very deep truths with some scientific background, really great information in contrary to the pool of “just comments” on the most forums online. Really appreciate it, that’s why giving you my feedback.
    Now on zero-degree trucks. I can’t confirm your statement
    “The 0° truck concept has no theoretical substance and very limited applications, except for one: as a marketing gimmick”. Still confirming this one “…albeit by increasing top speed…”
    Hope you’ll agree on tradeoff “top speed vs maneuverability “, one can’t have both at the same time.
    Lets start with equal degree trucks – very maneuverable setup with limited top speed in pumping. Board turning(rotational in the direction of the travel) point is exactly in the middle of the board.
    Next, different angles, say 60 front 30 back. Board turning point is somewhere next to the back foot. Very practical for surf pumping style, rider can literally push his back foot on the stable ground (turning point). Top speed is better, but still limited.
    Now to the zero degree back angle: turning point aligns with the back wheels – perfect for mermaid style and even higher speeds. Rider now pushes with both feet against greater lever – stability at high speeds.
    Sure, we could go further with negative numbers, where turning point lays behind back wheels.
    That was “theoretical substance”.
    On practicability – really simple, weight savings and clear statement where turning point is located. Sure, different models have that point moving somewhere next to back wheels. Anyway I see it very legitimate to somehow simplify things for fast clarification. I see it not as marketing word, but more as type-name, as for example surfskate or downheel or even pumping, – these are just type-names used to say complex things shortly.

    1. Thank you for you kind words! I do try to generalize and explain how it all works as simply as possible, without over-simplifying or obscuring anything.
      On your comment: ok, but can you explain why it has to be exactly 0°? That’s the question my text is asking. It’s not clear what your counter-argument is.
      Nevertheless, two points:
      I find mixing skateboarding styles with engineering options is what they call a category mistake. It dilutes a mathematical question into social constructs.
      Also, your account sits uneasy with me. Specifically, the turning character has to do with all three: front angle, rear angle and wheelbase. Foot placement is related to that. On this (and your hope I confirm your beliefs), check: https://changeyourangles.wordpress.com/2020/11/17/pivot-axis-angles-and-wheelbase-open/ and https://changeyourangles.wordpress.com/2019/12/04/gears/
      Simplifications shouldn’t obscure things 😉

  2. My counter-argument is: it’s ok to call “0°” trucks in between +15..-15°. They just behave similarly.
    The idea of simplification is exactly to obscure things, i mean details. If you not agree give me any example of simplification and I’ll show how it obscures things 🙂

    1. Thanks for responding!
      Ok, I see now what is happening: you are reading the citation of Nickie at the top of the article out of context. Nickie is responding to my question “what’s so special about 0°?” I wasn’t interested in nomenclature. The topic of the article is not whether these trucks succeed (to do with accuracy something that, as I mainly try to explain here, is physically meaningless anyway), nor how they should be called, but how the concept of 0° came to be and what the actual point is to begin with. Please do read the article more carefully, if it still interests you, of course :P.

  3. >However, the Torsion Tails do have one disadvantage that conventional 0° trucks don’t have: you can’t adjust that springiness for your weight and style. You have to be as heavy as the prototype testers were to prevent wheel-lift

    The Gbomb TTX torsion tail allows for a lot of rebound and stiffness adjustments – at least four different basic configurations involving zero, one, or two bushings, with or without two spherical bearings, as well as the ability to use different durometer bushings. It appears to accommodate a wide range of rider weights, provided people take the time fine-tune it.

    1. Not a fact. Think about it: the bushings do nothing to make the arms softer or harder. The arms are as bendable as they are made to be. Conversely, for the bushings to matter the arms would have to both not twist and be completely neutral like trucks without bushings. But then even without the weight of a rider the deck would drop on the ground. Thanks for your comment though. Check out the post devoted to the torsion tails.

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