So you’ve chosen your trucks, and now it’s time to pick your wheels! Whilst wheels may seem like a straight forward concept, skateboard wheels come in a variety of shapes and sizes, all with different properties.
Skateboard wheels are almost always made of Urethane, which is also known as Polyurethane or just PU. Diameter and durometer are the main two factors to take into account when considering what wheel is best for you, as these help to determine the speed, grip and smoothness of your ride.
Diameter: Diameter is the size of your wheel – how big it is from the bottom to the top. Skateboard wheels can range in diameter from 50mm up to 60mm, however most wheels are between the 50-55mm mark.
- Smaller wheels: these will accelerate much quicker, however have a slower overall top speed. For this reason, smaller wheels between the 50mm-55mm mark are better suited to street skating, where speed control is important.
- Larger wheels: will accelerate much slower, but offer a greater overall top speed. They also create much more stability for the rider. Larger wheels are preferred by transition and vert skaters, where speed and balance are essential. They are also preferred on cruiser boards, filmer boards and longboards.
Durometer: Durometer is the scale used to determine the hardness of a wheel. There are two scales used – the A and the B scale, however as a general rule of thumb, adding 20 onto anything under the B scale equals out to its A scale rating. The higher the number is on the scale, the harder the wheel will be. Most skateboard wheels rate at around the 100a mark.
- Hard wheels (98a-105a) – Again, hard wheels will accelerate faster; however have a lower top speed. Harder wheels are much preferred for street skating, as they slide easier and grip less. The harder the wheel is, the less it will grip and the easier it will slide, so it’s good to find a nice medium that suits your riding style.
- Soft wheels (78a – 97a) –Soft wheels will be slower to accelerate, but again have a greater overall top speed and be much more comfortable and quieter to ride. Due to the fact that they offer a lot more grip than a harder wheel, soft wheels are suited to cruiser boards, filmer boards and longboards. Again, the softer the wheel, the grippier it will be. Vert and ramp skaters would opt for a wheel on the harder end of the soft scale, around the low to mid 90 mark.
Different brands offer different qualities throughout skateboard wheels. Notable brands are Bones, Spitfire, Ricta and Pig Wheels, however all companies offer something different. Certain companies such as the ones aforementioned often incorporate different shapes into their wheels, with different shapes being suited to different types of environment. Many brands also offer ‘flatspot resistance’ technology, which means that the wheels are more resistant to flatspotting, which is caused by powersliding.