How to Choose the Right Skateboard Wheels
Simply put, the skateboard wheels are the part of your skateboard that allows you to move, and help determine how fast you can go. Typically made of polyurethane, skateboard wheels come in a range of sizes, colors, and durability levels to suit your skateboard style and preference.
Skateboard wheels are measured by both diameter and durometer. Diameter is the size of the wheel, and durometer is the hardness of the wheel. Both of these factors are a matter of personal preference, and what you intend to do on your skateboard. Custom building allows you to choose what the best wheels are to match your deck, trucks, and hardware.
Choosing skateboard wheel diameter
Skateboard wheel diameter is measured in millimeters (mm). The lower the number, the smaller the wheel. Most wheels range from 50-75 mm. Smaller wheels result in a slower ride, and larger wheels result in a faster one. Wheel diameter also affects how quickly you accelerate and how tightly you can turn.
If you are doing technical tricks on a shortboard, smaller wheels are a natural choice. For cruisers and longboards, larger wheels give you the speed and balance you will need. Additionally, your height and weight can affect what size wheels feels right for you.
|50-53mm||Small, slower wheels; stable for trick riding and smaller riders skating street, skate parks, and bowls.|
|54-59mm||Average wheel size for beginners and bigger riders skating street, skate parks, bowls, and vert ramps.|
|60mm +||Specialty riders skating longboards, old-school boards, downhill, and dirt boards; made for speed and rougher surfaces.|
Choosing skateboard wheel durometer
Durometer measures the skateboard wheel’s hardness. Most manufacturers use the Durometer A Scale, which is a 100-point scale that quantifies how hard a wheel is. The higher the number, the harder the wheel. The average wheel durometer is 99a. Certain manufacturers may use the B Scale, which measures 20 points lower and allows the scale an extra 20 points for harder wheels. For example, an 80b durometer is the same hardness as a 100a durometer. Such skateboard wheels have a wider and more accurate hardness range.
Generally speaking, harder wheels are faster, and softer wheels are slower but offer more grip. Softer wheels are better suited to street skating; harder wheels are better for smooth surfaces, such as skate parks. Some companies even specially design their wheels for a specific use.
Here are some general guidelines for wheel durometer.
|78a-87a||Soft wheel good for rough surfaces, longboards, or street boards that need lots of grip to easily roll over cracks and pebbles. Designed for smooth rides, cruising, longboards, hills, and rough surfaces.|
|88a-95a||Slightly harder and faster with a little less grip, but the grip’s still good. Good for street and rough surfaces.|
|96a-99a||Nice speed and grip– an all-around good wheel. Great for beginners skating street, skate parks, ramps,pools, and other smooth surfaces.|
|101a +||Hardest and fastest wheel with the least grip. Ineffective on slick and rough surfaces. These are pro wheels.|
|83b-84b||Wheels using the B scale are extremely hard, measuring 20 points lower than the the A Scale in order to allow the scale to extend another 20 points for harder wheels.|
Choosing contact patch
Contact patch is an important feature of skateboard wheel performance. A wheel’s contact patch refers to the area of the wheel that actually makes contact with the pavement. If you have large longboard wheels, your contact patch will also be large.
So why is contact patch important? If you have a large contact patch, your weight will be distributed over a larger area. This reduces the compression of the urethane in your wheels and decreases rolling resistance, which can slow down your wheel.
Wheel shape affects the size of your contact patch as well. Rounded wheels make less contact with the pavement, while square wheels make maximum contact with the pavement. The placement of contact patches can also affect wheel performance.