So you’ve been progressing in your riding, hitting bigger hills, gaining more speed, and you’ve found yourself face to face with the bane of the longboarder’s existence: Speed Wobbles.
Speed wobbles are a complicated phenomenon that happen when the board begins to oscillate back and forth, which can happen naturally based on many factors such as wind, draft, and the surface you are riding on. So how does a rider deal with this dreaded phenomenon? There are many different methods, and I will explain a few of them.
Sometimes wobble occurs when the bushings in your trucks are too loose or soft. When your trucks are too loose they are more sensitive to weight distribution and they turn more easily - at a high speed this can cause the board to react to external factors and wobble back and forth.
The solution to this is to either.
1. Tighten down your bushings, or
2. Get harder bushings.
NOTE: This method may work for some, although there may be underlying issues that this method will not fix.
Yes you read it right, ankles.
Your ankles play a major part in riding and can be a major player if you are experiencing speed wobbles. If you aren’t comfortable either on the board, or at the speed at which you are riding, your body will tense up. Once your ankles tighten up it becomes a major problem, especially at higher speeds.
I want you to put the balls of your toes on the floor, when your raise your knee your ankle will begin to “bounce”. This is basically what happens when your ankles tense up while riding. When the board moves to one side your ankles will compensate and shift it to the other side, and then back again, and eventually the board will be moving back and forth so fast it will become unrideable. I know a lot of people who have eaten pavement simply due to tense ankles. Thankfully the solution is simple.
Solution: Loosen up.
Riding is a mind game. Make a conscious effort to relax your body and “become one” with the board. Allow it to become part of your body. Flow with it. When it moves move with it. This will take some time to get used to, but once you find a way to calm yourself and relax your body, you’ll be able to hit bigger hills and higher speeds.
Another solution is to carve it out. If your board begins to wobble simply start a light carve back and forth. What this does is naturally relaxes your muscles but at a cost to your speed.
(3) Board Size:
Another factor of speed wobbles could be an improper sized board. Getting a board that is the right length for both your height and for your style of riding is very important. If your board is too short for you, you will experience some problems and one of them will be speed wobbles. If the board is too long for you and you haven’t properly adjusted your riding stance, you can experience speed wobbles as well.
Solution: Make sure your board is the proper size for your height. If you have a really long board, adjust your riding style and make sure your stance keeps your weight neutral over the center of the board.
There can be many other reasons for speed wobbles but these are the main three I have ran into in my time riding. Once you conquer the dreaded speed wobbles you’ll be ready to hit any hill.