I want to start by saying that I am very impressed by these trucks. They offer a great balance between responsive turning and rock-solid stability.
The secret to Randal Trucks is in design of the kingpin bolt which is set a much more acute angle than conventional trucks. Although I'm a bit fuzzy on the dynamics involved, putting the kingpin at more of an angle does two things. First, it makes the trucks turn better, and second it gives you more stability at speed.
Think about how a conventional truck turns. You apply pressure to side of the board, and this compresses the bushings on the trucks. The axles move downward, but because they are attached to the kingpin bolt, they also pivot forward and backwards. It is the pivot that turns the board. The kingpin on conventional trucks is set at a fairly slight angle. What has become standard equipment on longboards is angled riser pads. Angled risers work by putting the kingpin at more of an angle. Hence the axles pivot more forward and backwards, and the trucks turn better. Randals are designed with the kingpin set at more of an angle, so they turn better--much better than conventional trucks with angled risers.
The stability at speed issue is more complicated, and I don't really understand the physics involved. (In late December '98 and early January '99, there was a fairly lengthy discussion on truck geometry and speed wobbles on the Trucks section of NCDSA.) All I can add is this. First I don't bomb hills, but I have had my Randal IIs up to pretty decent speed (probably 25 or 30 mph), and even with them loose enough to carve well, they were perfectly stable at that speed. Second, I'll echo what Randal said about speed wobbles. Basically, he said that if you're looking for stability at speed, look at what top speedboarders and street lugers are riding. Virtually all of them are riding racing versions of Randals.
For myself, I do basically three types of riding, cruising/flatland tricks, downhill carving/sliding, and skatepark/riding. For cruising and trick riding, Randal IIs do just fine, but this type of riding is not very demanding on your trucks, so it's not much of factor. On the hills or in a skatepark is where they really shine. Because they are so stable, you can run with them a bit looser. Thus you get much better turning performance, but without sacrificing control. Perhaps, the best way to look at Randal IIs is to compare them to other trucks.
Vs Old Randals. Randal IIs offer a number of improvements over the original Randal Speed Trucks. With a hanger width of 180 mm, they are roughly an inch wider than the original Randals. They are also lighter than the originals. (They are also lighter than the narrower Independent 166s.) The base plate has been redesigned to accommodate both old school and new school mounting patterns. The axle position has been changed so that it's closer to that on traditional trucks. With old Randals, it was recommended that you redrill an inch closer to ends of the deck for the sake of wheel cutouts, kicktails, etc. That should not be necessary with Randal IIs. Of course, none of this means much if they don't ride better. Fortunately, they do ride better. It's kind of hard to pinpoint exactly what it is. To me, they just feel better, probably a combination of the wider stance and some minor tweaking of the original design.
Vs Conventional Trucks. No contest. If you're still riding conventional trucks, you really need to go out and get something better. Now. Conventional trucks are really just beefier versions of 80-year-old designs of roller skate trucks. Turning isn't very important on roller skates, since they're so short, and you do most of your turning with your feet anyway. But put those same trucks on a 48" skateboard, and what you'll get is something less than optimal performance. The real advantage is that if you're accustomed to conventional trucks, Randal IIs seem fairly similar to what you're used to. Only they work better--way better.
Vs Torsion Trucks. Now, I must say that I admire how well torsion trucks turn. I'm still amazed that they can make a longboard turn as well as a 27" G&S Fibreflex. The thing is I didn't start riding longboards because I wanted to turn a 6 foot diameter circle. I may be in the minority here, but I like having to plan a line and make long graceful turns. I've ridden eXkates with both the black bushings (the softest) and red bushings (the next to hardest). With black bushings, they are squirrely as hell. It takes effort to get them to go in a straight line. You breathe on them, and they turn to the wheel locks. With the red bushings, they were easier to control, but still had their drawbacks. You could make more precise turns, but once you let up they wanted to snap back to center, so they are still hard to control. Even though the red bushings are more stable, I don't think I would trust them in a skatepark, especially when kickturning is involved. If you're balance is off by even a hair, they turn to wheel locks, and your kickturn is sloppy.
Another drawback to torsion trucks is that the only way to adjust them is by changing the bushings. At $20.00 a set and four different hardnesses, you could easily drop the price of a set of Randal IIs on bushings alone. Randals adjust easily with a simple skatetool. Currently, my eXkates are gathering dust because I broke a bushing and haven't had the time to special order a replacement.
Unfortunately, I can't compare them to either Seismics or Jones Trucks, as I've never ridden them for more than a couple of minutes at a time. Still, I couldn't be happier with Randal IIs. They turn great, are stable at speed, and adjust easily. I 'm sure that I'll eventually upgrade every board I own to them. Well, at least the ones I ride regularly. My only real problem is what am I going to do with my old Independents. Maybe, there's a way I could send them to some Third World nation, where they still nail old roller skate trucks to a two by fours.
For more information, on Randal Trucks, check out their web site at: http://www.randal.com/.
Nose Wheelie, except where noted otherwise, was written and created by Chris Sturhann.
Copyright © 1999 Chris Sturhann