How to Choose Longboard Wheels

The type of wheels on your longboard, their durometer, diameter, and shape affect your overall ride experience and ride quality. That’s why you should learn how to choose longboard wheels that match your riding style and skill level.

Also Read: Best Street Skateboard Wheels

In this post, I’ll explain the different wheel types the market offers and how to size longboard wheels. I’ll also talk about choosing the right durometer and wheel size or wheel diameter.

What’s more, you’ll learn how to determine the right contact patch size, wheel core placement as well as wheel shape.

Related: Best Complete Longboards 

Longboard Wheels vs. Skateboard Wheels

A longboard is a type of skateboard. More specifically, a longboard is a longer, bigger skateboard. But this board type tends to use different kinds of wheels than a skateboard.

Longboard Wheels Thane While Skateboard Wheels Don’t

Generally, skateboards use smaller, harder wheels that don’t spew thane lines. Typically, the diameter or size of skateboard wheels stays in the 50mm 60mm+ range. In comparison, longboard wheels tend to be bigger and softer, and most leave nice lines of thane.

Longboard rides are noticeably smoother than skateboard rolls. That’s because of the ability of these wheels to absorb impacts and bumps during rolls.

Skateboard Wheels Are Slower Than Longboard Wheels

But because skateboard wheels are smaller, they’re slower than longboard wheels. However, skateboard wheels perform street tricks and technical maneuvers better because they’re harder and smaller.

A Longboard Feels More Stable Than a Skateboard

But while these bigger, softer longboard wheels roll faster and smoother, they keep your center of gravity higher. That means a traditional skateboard should feel somewhat more stable than a longboard.

Most beginners, though, find that it’s easier to learn to ride a longboard than a skateboard. That’s probably because a longboard is longer than a skateboard. And more board length generally means more stability.

Longboard Wheels Offer More Traction Than Skateboard Wheels

Because longboard wheels are softer than skateboard wheels, they tend to be grippier. In other words, softer wheels provide more traction and stability than harder wheels.

And you do need tons of traction when tearing down hills at 50mph on a downhill longboard or a freeride longboard board.

You’ve learned the key differences between longboard wheels and skateboard wheels. Now, it’s time to focus on the main subject of this post: how to choose the right wheels for a longboard.

Skateboard Wheels Perform Better at Acceleration

Even though longboard wheels outroll skateboard wheels because they’re bigger, the smaller skateboard wheels win in the acceleration department.

Most Common Skateboard Wheel Size vs. Longboard Wheel Size

For skateboard wheels, 54 mm-56 mm happens to be the most common wheel diameter. Wheels that are smaller than 54mm are considered small.  Skateboard wheels that small are usually damn hard and slidey, and they’re most suitable for technical skateboarding.

In comparison, longboard wheels measure between 54mm and 60mm+ in size. But 65mm-75mm longboard wheels tend to be the most common.

8 Factors to Consider When Choosing Longboard Wheels

Below is a list of 9 factors you need to pay attention to when shopping for longboard wheels that’ll work right for your board.

1. Wheel Diameter (Wheel Height or Wheel Size)

diameter of a longboard wheel

Wheel diameter measures the distance between one point on the edge of a wheel to another point sitting directly opposite that point.

Wheel diameter is sometimes referred to as wheel height or wheel size. And I’ve used all three terms interchangeably throughout this longboard wheel selection guide.

As noted above, longboard wheels can be as small as 54mm and as tall as 80mm. And 7omm happens to be the sweetest spot as far as wheel height.

When deciding what longboard wheel diameter to go with, consider what kind of deck-trucks setup you want. The wheels you finally pick up must work perfectly well with your setup — without causing wheel bite.

Wheelbite is when your board suddenly stops mid-roll. When wheel bite happens, it can sometimes violently throw you off your board, launching you into the air!

Some longboard decks have wheel wells to curb wheel bite. Wheel wells are basically wheel cutouts, spaces cut into the deck to increase clearance around the wheels.

Wheel wells work in cars, and they also work really well in longboards. What if you want to address wheelbite but don’t want wheel wells for some reason?

You can use riser pads to raise your deck a little, creating more room between the deck and the wheels. But raising the deck by whatever amount destabilizes your ride to some extent.

Wheel Size and Riding Style

The right size for your longboard depends on your preferred skating style. For example, freeride wheels tend to be smaller than freestyle wheels.

If you’re a beginner in longboarding or skate vert ramps, bowls, and street, smaller longboard wheels would work best. Warehouseskateboards recommends 54mm to 59mm wheels for skatepark and street longboarding.

But if you’re a pro-level rider, maybe a downhill racer, you need taller longboard wheels. Choose longboard wheels with a diameter of over 60mm.

If you care more about stability than speed, definitely choose smaller longboard wheels. But if you are an adrenalin junkie with a secret death wish, go with the largest longboard wheels you can find.

2. Wheel Hardness or Softness (Durometer)

Durometer Hardness Level Riding Style
78A-87A soft wheels, slowest Good for skating on rough surfaces. Super grippy and smooth rides. Great for cruising, downhill over rough terrain.
88A-95A Moderately hard and fast. Moderate traction. skating street and rough surfaces
96A-99A Great grip and speed Ideal for pretty smooth surfaces. Recommended for beginner skateboarders skating vert ramps, parks, street, pools, and other smooth surfaces

Longboard wheels can be 73A soft up to 90A hard. The higher the wheel durometer, the harder the wheel, and vice versa. Most longboard wheels are 78A hard. But it’s important to adjust wheel hardness to your weight. Here’s the rule: Harder wheels for heavier longboarders and vice versa.

Harder wheels travel faster than softer wheels. However, the ride tends to be bumpier. Harder wheels are the best bet for speed and doing all kinds of longboarding tricks.

In contrast, softer longboard wheels (lower durometer wheels) give smoother riders and roll moderately fast.

Your riding style determines how hard or soft your wheels need to be.

For example, freeride wheels tend to be harder than freestyle wheels. Typically, freeriders skate within the 80A-86A duro vs. 75A-80A duro for freestyle wheels.

And that’s the same duro for dance longboarding. As for downhill riding, the recommended wheel durometer lies in the 78A-80A range.

Cruising longboard wheels are sold in the 75A-80A duro range, just as are wheels intended for carving.

Remember: harder wheels roll faster than softer wheels. But they don’t roll as smoothly as softer wheels. Softer wheels have greater traction.

Here’s the thing.

Don’t follow longboarding dogma when it comes to deciding what durometer to choose. Instead, keep testing different duros alongside different setups until you discover the sweet duro/setup spot that completely transforms your rides.

3. The Shape of the Longboard Wheel

Wheel shape is just as important as wheel size and wheel durometer. Ignoring wheel shape can detract from your overall riding experience.

If you get your wheel shape wrong, you’ll likely end up as the unlucky guy who slipped out during an intense downhill race.

The dude that got their wheel shape right will keep making neat turns, eventually winning the competition.

3 Different Longboard Wheel Shapes (Lip Profiles)

Lip= wheel edge

Longboard wheels can come in any of three shapes:

  • Square edge
  • Round shape/rounded edge
  • Beveled edge

At this point, I’ll describe briefly what each longboard wheel shape looks like.

(i) Square Edge Wheel Shape (Best for Slalom and Downhill Riding)

square-shaped longboard wheel
The wheel looks pretty much like a square

Square-shaped Longboard wheels feature perfectly squared edges. In other words, square-edged wheels for longboarding have a distinct square shape.

With this shape, your wheel maintains lots of contact with the surface you’re skating. That means square-shaped wheels really shine in the grip and speed department.

Small wonder slalom and downhill longboarders almost always choose square-edged wheels for their setup.

(ii) Round-Shaped Longboard Wheels (Ideal for Carving and Sliding)

Have you ever wondered why cars have round-edged wheels and not square-shaped ones? Wheels with round edges experience reduced friction with the asphalt or pavement.

But that’s not all. Round-edged wheels drift turns super smoothly.

If you’re planning on doing lots of carving and sliding around, you better choose longboard wheels with round edges.

With round-shaped wheels on your carving longboard, you’ll always enjoy buttery slides. I’m talking about those butter-smooth powerslides that leave onlookers gawking.

(iii) Beveled-edge-shaped Longboard Wheels (Great for Turning)

beveled-edge-shaped longboard wheels
The beveled edges become part of the wheel’s contact patch

Beveled-edge-shaped longboard wheels are a hybrid option formed by blending some elements of square longboard wheels and round-shaped wheels.

That means beveled-edge-shaped wheels aren’t prominently round-shaped, nor are they noticeably square-shaped.  The angled cuts between the length and width of the wheel become additional contact patches.

These angled edges not only enhance the aesthetics of the wheel, but they also help in turning enormously.

Beveled-edge-shaped longboard wheels are a reliable friend while you’re out bombing hills on your demon-fast downhill or freeride board.

These wheels give you the assurance that you’ll always make even the sharpest turns without slipping out.

Downhilling can use square-shaped longboard wheels as well as beveled-edge-shaped wheels. Just not at the same time, you know.

4. Wheel Width (Contact Patch Size)

contact patch of a longboard wheel
This is a contact patch of a wheel with round lips

The contact patch of a longboard wheel is the area between the edges of the wheel. It’s that section of the wheel that stays in contact with the ground or pavement throughout the ride.

Wheel width is an important aspect and affects longboard wheel performance.

So, how wide should the contact patch of longboard wheels be?

Longboard wheels with larger contact patches have a larger area over which to distribute your weight. When your weight gets distributed over a larger area, you exert a reduced amount of compression or pressure on them.

Reduced compression translates into decreased rolling resistance, which in turn slows you down. So, the wider the contact patch, the slow your longboard wheels roll, and vice versa.

Wheel Shape Determines Contact Patch Size

Square-shaped wheels have the most contact with the surface, followed by round-shaped wheels. And beveled-edge-shaped wheels provide the least wheel width.

Visualize these wheel shapes, and you can clearly see how wheel shape affects the contact patch. That suggests that square-shaped wheels should be the slowest and wheels with a beveled edge the fastest, all things being equal.

But a few other factors including your weight, wheel diameter, and how hard you push come into play.

It’s all these factors plus wheel width that determine how fast you roll.

Riding style Wheel Diameter Contact Patch
Freeride 65mm-70mm 45mm
Freestyle 55mm-65mm 45mm
Carving 75mm and bigger 55mm
Cruising 75mm and bigger 55mm
Downhill 70mm-75mm 55mm

5. Wheel Core Placement

A longboard wheel’s core is basically a cavity within the wheel that houses the bearings. Note that not all longboard wheels feature a wheel core — only high-quality wheels do.

When a wheel’s ball bearings rotate, they naturally generate tons of heat. And the core disperses the heat away from the bearings.

Have you ever bought cheap skateboard or longboard wheels that flatspotted after a while? The odds are that the wheels didn’t have a core. Wheels like these have no way of directing bearing heat evenly to the other parts of the wheel.

Related: Best Longboard Bearings 

One likely scenario when there’s too much heat inside a wheel is that the wheel melts or deforms. And you get flatspots that make your ride the bumpiest it’s ever been.

You want to buy cored longboard wheels, or even options with a double core if you want to minimize flatspotting.

But part of the problem could be your riding style. You could have the best longboard wheels with a plastic core from Bones or wherever and still get flatspots.

3 Core Placements in Longboard Wheels

Three longboard wheel core placements exist namely:

  • Centerset core placement
  • Sideset core placement
  • Offset core placement/Backset core placement

(i) Centerset Core Placement

This is a symmetrical longboard wheel core that sits in the center of the wheel. The greatness of the centerset core is that wheels wear evenly.

What’s more, this core type lets you flip your wheels so they can last a little longer, saving you money. Good quality longboard wheels for skating street or vert typically have a centrally placed core type.

(ii) Offset core placement or Backset Core Placement (Common in DH and Freeride Wheels)

This core type sits somewhere between the centerset and sideset placement. The offset core brings together the strengths of centerset and sideset placements in one wheel.

The backset core placement offers more grip while making it easier to initiate slides and control them.

But it gets better.  You can flip worn longboard wheels with an offset or backset core.

One downside of flipping wheels with a backset core is that it reduces your ability to control slides. Also, hookup tends to be somewhat abrupt.

(iii) Sideset core placement (for Beginners Learning to Slide)

A sideset core placement stays in perfect alignment with the inner wheel edge. One disadvantage of this core placement is that it reduces the amount of inner lip of your wheels.

And because there’s a small inner edge, wear happens faster than it does with other core placements. Result? You get wheel conning— not desirable.

But there are good things about this core type, too. Wheels that feature a sideset core make breaking traction easier so you can slide.

Are you a beginner in freestyle and have been wondering what longboard wheels are the easiest to slide on? Wonder no more.

Instead, obtain a good set of wheels with a sideset core.

6. Best Longboard Wheel Brands

I’m not endorsing any of these longboard wheel brands. I’m simply listing them out in a bid to make you make your shopping journey a tad easier. I’m also mentioning these longboard wheel brands because I and many other skaters have found their wheels good enough.

Good Longboard Wheel Brands

  1. Rainskates
  2. Landyachtz
  3. Gravity
  4. Oustwheels
  5. Venom
  6. Orangutan
  7. Sector 9

Tip: Some well-known brands give the longboarding community a bad set of wheels every once in a while.  Sometimes, the best longboard wheels for your riding situation may come from a company you’ve never heard of.

So, keep looking — for better wheels and better deals.

7. Pay Attention to the Urethane Formula

Two sets of longboard wheels may have the exact same durometer rating. But they may not necessarily demonstrate a similar performance level. Or they may not wear the same.

What causes those performance-related disparities? It’s the urethane formula used to produce the wheels.

Longboard wheel companies are always innovating and developing new, supposedly better urethane formulas. And each thane formula translates into a certain level of traction, slide-ability, and longevity.

Wheel makers often classify their urethane formulas in terms of what their wheels are designed to do best. So, you can choose from a variety of freeride formulas, downhill formulas, cruising formulas, and whatnot.

Usually, downhill longboard formulas provide wheels with more traction and durability than freeride formulas. But freeride formulas typically produce wheels that roll faster and slide better than downhill formulas.

Some formulas feel buttery, icy, or chalky while others feel grippy (less slidey) or greasy/oily. I suggest that you experiment continually with different thane formulas until you find one you really like.

8. How Much Do Longboard Wheels Cost?

Some cheap longboard wheels may surprise you when it comes to performance and durability. Likewise, some supposedly premium-quality longboard wheels may show dismal performance and wear insanely fast.

So, make sure to read credible reviews of longboard wheels so you can reduce the likelihood of buying expensive crap.

That said, the cheapest longboard wheels almost always look, feel, and perform like dirt-cheap wheels. And many higher-end options tend to outlast and outperform the cheapest deals.

If you’re a beginner, consider starting with more affordable longboard wheels. Amazon and other online stores offer deals as cheap as $20 for a complete set of usable wheels.

But as your longboarding abilities improve, you’ll likely want to upgrade to much better wheels. I’ve seen options that cost way more than decent complete longboards and skateboards!

As mentioned above, cheaper doesn’t always mean junk. Likewise, crazy-pricey doesn’t always mean superior quality.

Selecting Suitable Longboard Wheels: Conclusion

When shopping for good longboard wheels, there are a few considerations to keep top of mind.

You should pay attention to the wheel’s size, durometer, and shape. Wheel width or the size of the contact patch is another critical consideration. Also, you need to know what kind of material the manufacturer used to make the wheels you’re eyeing.

The kind and quality of wheels you end up with determine how smooth and fun your longboard rides will be. Choose the right wheel, and you’ll love longboarding more. Select the wrong wheelset for your skating style and ability, and you’ll soon start looking for an easier outdoor activity.