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Roller Skates 101

All About Cushions: Cushions 101

All About Cushions: Cushions 101

What are cushions?

Cushions, sometimes called bushings, are the rubber cylinder pieces that fit over the kingpin on either side of the trucks. Although they are small and often overlooked, they play an important role because they enable you to turn left and right by allowing your axles and wheels to tilt. Without them, your skates would have no suspension.

Many cushions are made from high rebound urethane, like the Sure Grip Super Cushions. Others are made from rubber like the Snyder Cushions. Lower end beginner skates usually come with Polyurethane cushions. 

Cushion shape: 

Cushions generally come in 2 different shapes; barrel (standard) and conical. As the name suggests, conical cushions get narrower toward one end. This shape allows for greater range of motion, because the skater can lean more before the cushion starts pushing back. Conical cushions are usually only used as the bottom cushion (the cushion closest to the ground) on a double-action plate (a plate with 2 cushions as opposed to 1). Before you replace barrel cushions with conical cushions, you will have to make sure you also have the right cushion cups designed for conical cushions.

Cushion hardness:

The hardness of cushions is measured by “durometer” ranging from 71-98A (71A being the softest). Some cushions will simply be marked as "soft,” “medium,” or "firm". In general, harder cushions offer more stability and will feel stiffer under pressure, and softer (squishier) cushions offer more agility for turns and will flex more under pressure.

An important factor when choosing cushions is the weight of the skater. Cushions that are too soft will not hold up under the weight of a heavy skater, and a lighter skater who favors stability (such as a skate park skater) may want to opt for medium durometer cushions to still allow some agility for jumps and tricks. We recommend using the chart below to find the right durometer based on your weight.

*The chart below is a guide, but skaters can go slightly softer than recommended if they want more action!*

Cushions that are too hard and don't flex are one reason that glued boot soles and uppers separate. If there is no flex in the cushions, the flex instead comes from the sole/upper, possibly causing boot separation.

To get the perfect feel, some skaters will mix the hardness of their cushions throughout their setup, such as putting softer cushions on the front axles and harder cushions on the rear axles. This provides for more explosive lateral power when pushing through the heel and more agility when sinking into the edges at the ball of the foot. Other skaters may mix their cushions by placing cushions with 2 different durometers on the top and bottom of their truck to achieve the perfect “in between” feel for them.

If you are considering swapping out your cushions, but still aren’t sure what you need or how to replace them, contact our skate experts!