The skateboard wheels market offers three main types of skateboard wheels. We have skatepark and street wheels, cruiser wheels, and longboard wheels. The main differences between skateboard wheels revolve around aspects such as diameter, hardness, smoothness, and purpose.
Also Read: Best Skateboards On the Market
In this post, I’ll introduce to you all 3 different kinds of wheels so you can easily decide what option to use. Choosing the best wheels for whatever use will stop feeling confusing and daunting. You’ll even start enjoying shopping for these products, and that means you’ll love skateboarding even more.
3 Main Types of Skateboard Wheels
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1.Park and Street Wheels (View a Park/street skateboard wheels at Amazon)
2.Cruiser Skateboard Wheels (View Cruiser skateboard wheels at Amazon)
3.Longboard wheels (View Longboard wheels at Amazon)
1.Skatepark and Street Wheels
These skateboard wheels are typically lightweight. And they roll insanely well on most smooth surfaces. They slide almost effortlessly. They’re precisely what you should choose if you like doing ledges, bowls, rails, and flip tricks. In addition, they’re remarkably smooth because they’re produced from extremely hard polyurethane.
The smoothest skateboard wheels also happen to be the hardest. Their hardness ranges from 95a to 104a. That’s like from just hard to super hard. More on hardness vs softness down the road.
Their diameter ranges between 50mm and 53mm. Unsurprisingly, skatepark and street skateboard wheels don’t handle pebbles and cracks very well. And they’re almost useless when it comes to riding on gravel.
When it comes to pulling off an ollie, powerslides, various flip tricks, and suchlike technical tricks, go with small, hard wheels. Believe me, ollieing on soft wheels feels awkward.
Skatepark Vs Street Wheels
What’s the difference between street skateboard wheels and skatepark skateboard wheels, if any? Skatepark wheels are for riding on very smooth surfaces, mainly skateparks. You want hard wheels for such surfaces. I once rode on a set of super-soft wheels on a smooth tennis court. That’s the crappiest experience I’ve ever had.
Street skating, on the other hand, is any skating you do outside of a skatepark. Think of ledges, gaps, sets of stairs, canal banks, and of course the streets in your hometown.
Not everyone agrees on whether you should use soft or hard wheels for street skating. But in my experience, hard wheels are the best deal for street skating.
2. Cruiser Skateboard Wheels
Not everyone calls these wheels cruiser wheels. Some people call them filmer wheels. These wheels are a lot softer than street and park wheels. And they’re great when it comes to skating on rough pavements and even cracks.
I recommend cruiser skateboard wheels as the best option for skating on asphalt because they’re incredibly grippy. And they don’t vibrate all that much on such rough surfaces. They’re good but not the best wheels for rolling over rough places, though. Longboard wheels are.
Their hardness ranges from durometer 78a to 98a. As you can see, they range from very soft to relatively hard. But they’re not like the hardest wheels in the world.
Also, cruiser wheels are larger (in diameter) than street and park wheels. Their diameter stays in the 54 mm – 59 mm range.
Any wheel that’s 56 mm or larger has trouble fitting on a regular skateboard, though. With such wheels, make sure to add a riser to your board. If you don’t do that, your wheels might grind against the board (wheel bite). And wheel bite is one of the surest ways to fall and get hurt or break a limb.
3. Longboard Skateboard Wheels (Softest + Grippiest Wheels)
You won’t find skateboard wheels that are softer or larger than longboard wheels. In terms of diameter, these wheels measure between 60 and 75 mm.
Longboard wheels are the softest wheels you can ride on. They range between 75a to 85a on the durometer scale. Now, 75a is super soft, and 85a is just soft.
Manufacturers design these wheels for use over all sorts of pavements. And when it comes to doing corners, they’re the surest bet. That’s because they’re the grippiest skateboard wheels you can find.
These wheels are available in many different shapes and sizes. They’re for when you want to do specific stuff such as carving, sliding, and even racing.
One great thing about longboard skateboard wheels is that they don’t need that much energy to roll.
When traveling on a road full of bends, you’ll want to be riding on a fine set of longboard wheels. These wheels are peerless when it comes to maneuvering corners at high speeds.
Can You Use Longboard Wheels on a Regular Skateboard?
Yes, you can. Longboard wheels are large and soft, and they offer the smoothest ride you’ve ever seen. And because they’re large, they pick up speed pretty quickly. Plus, they look cool on a regular skateboard.
Attaching cruise wheels to a regular skateboard converts it into an awesome cruising beast for skating streets in your city.
But using longboard wheels on a standard skateboard without riser pads isn’t a good idea. Using risers eliminates the possibility of wheel bite happening, keeping you safe throughout rides. A riser prevents wheel bite by increasing the distance between the wheels and the deck. But doing that also raises the center of gravity of your board. And that means less stability.
Now, let’s move on to some other critical things you should know when choosing the right skateboard wheels.
Durometer vs Diameter
When describing skateboard wheels, durometer, and diameter are some of the most important aspects. Diameter is the distance between one point on the wheel’s circumference and another when measured across its middle. The smallest wheels I’ve seen are 50 mm, and the largest stand 75 mm tall.
Durometer, on the other hand, expresses how hard a wheel actually is. The durometer number tells you that a set of wheels has gone through a rigorous testing method. For skateboard wheels, the testing method used is the ASTM D2240 Standard Test Method for Rubber Property.
When is a skateboard wheel considered soft? And when is it considered hard? How hard (or soft) are standard skateboard wheels? I’ll answer all these questions in a bit.
If a wheel’s durometer sits between 78a and 90a, it’s a soft wheel. But 90a wheels don’t feel that soft in my opinion. Standard wheels come with a durometer that hovers between 90a and 98a. But if a wheel comes marked 99a and above, know it’s a hard wheel.
Note: NOT all companies follow the durometer scale exactly the same way. Bones wheels are a good example. This popular skateboard wheels and bearings company doesn’t use the more common “A scale.” Instead, the company uses the “Shore B Scale.”
Now, the two scales are pretty similar, but there’s one key difference. Shore B Scale wheels are 20 points below the A scale. So, if a skateboard wheel’s description says 84b, understand it’s actually a 104a durometer wheel.
Scale-A Vs Scale-B Skateboard Wheels
Scale-B wheels are some of the hardest skateboard wheels on the market. In fact, they’re the hardest wheels sold today. The B scale starts at 83b and ends at 84b. When you convert these numbers to the A scale, that’s 103a and 104b, and that’s extremely hard.
It’s easy to see why Bones wheels are so popular — they’re super hard. I’ll let you in on a little secret. If you want skateboard wheels that DON’T flatspot, go for Bones wheels. I know. I ride them. Bones wheels are as perfectly circular after 4 months as they were when you first used them. I like using Bones pairing Bones wheels with the best bearings for skateboards. For most people, Bones are the best bearings.
Hard Wheels Vs Soft Skateboard Wheels
Hard skateboard wheels are those that sit above 99a on the durometer scale. Soft wheels, as stated elsewhere in this post, have a durometer number below 95a. A wheel with a hardness number of 78A, for example, is a very soft one.
Hard wheels roll appreciably faster than soft wheels. They’re faster because they get much less friction with the ground. However, they offer significantly less grip than their softer counterparts do. By comparison, soft skateboard wheels are noticeably slower than hard ones, but they offer the rider a lot more grip.
So, what’s better, hard or soft skateboard wheels? Neither type is better than the other. It all depends on where or how you intend to use them. If you do lots of powerslides or ollies, for example, go for harder wheels.
Well, you can still powerslide or ollie using softer wheels. In fact, controlling softer wheels is super easy. But the downside is they just won’t last if you expose them to that level of abuse.
If your road or street is bumpy or rough, I’d go with soft wheels. If the surface is super smooth, like a tennis court or a skatepark, hard wheels are almost always the best choice. And if cruising is your thing, I’ve found that softer wheels perform satisfactorily. However, softer wheels tend to be a little bouncy while cruising. Maybe that’s just me. Actually, I’m considering buying harder wheels to see if I’ll get a smoother ride than I’m getting.
Generally, the rougher the surface, the softer your wheels need to be.
White Urethane Wheels Vs Other Colors
Pretty much all skateboard wheels are made from a synthetic material called polyurethane (PU). But have you ever wondered why pretty much every skater you know or meet rides white wheels? It’s because white wheels take abuse better than other-colored wheels.
To make blue, red, green, or whatever other colored wheels, manufacturers dye them. Now, the dyeing process dilutes urethane, making it softer. So, it’s safe to say that white wheels are harder than those in other colors.
Small Skateboard Wheels vs Large Wheels
What’s better, small skateboard wheels or large ones? I’m sorry, but the best answer I can think of is a foggy “it depends.”
Some skating situations demand smaller wheels while others require larger ones. Wheel diameter is an aspect experienced skaters pay a lot of attention to before buying a set of wheels. How small or large your wheels are determines how fast your ride gets and how well you can do turns.
Smaller wheels give you a slower ride than larger ones. However, smaller wheels make it a lot easier to control your skateboard. That’s because they roll nearer to the ground than larger ones do.
Large-diameter wheels are designed to offer two critical things: balance and speed. Those two aspects make them the best option for vert skating and low-powered cruising. If you’ve been thinking of buying a skateboard for transporting yourself to work, pick larger wheels. Larger wheels are also the best option for beginners.
Skateboard Wheel Sizes
Standard skateboard wheels have a diameter ranging from 54 to 59 mm. They’re best for beginner riders and larger skaters who mainly do bowls, vert ramps, skatepark, and street skating.
And if a skateboard wheel has a diameter of between 50mm and 53mm, it’s considered small. Think of these wheels as a slow but sure ride for bowls, skatepark, and street skating. To get the most out of these wheels, especially if you’re a beginner, choose those whose durometer hovers between 90A and 100A.
Finally, there are wheels with a diameter that’s larger than 60 mm. These are considered large wheels. And they’re what you need if speed is the most important part of your skating experience. These wheels are the best option for rougher surfaces. Note that they also need to be relatively soft for rough surfaces. Who uses large wheels? It is old-school board riders, longboard riders, downhill board riders, and dirt board users.
Wide Skateboard Wheels Vs Narrow Ones
If you’re always looking to learn new skateboarding tricks, it’s best to choose narrow skateboard wheels. They’re the best bet when it comes to helping you pull off the most complex tricks. Wheels without a huge riding surface/contact patch defy friction to some extent. That’s why they’re the best for the most demanding skateboarding tricks.
Doing certain tricks also doesn’t need extremely grippy wheels. Narrow wheels offer a limited amount of grip, and they experience much less friction. That’s why pro skaters love them.
Wider skateboard wheels, on the other hand, provide a bit more grip than narrower ones do. In addition, they’re sturdier and offer a lot more balance. While you may use wider wheels for various tricks, they’re not as responsive to agile tricks as their narrower counterparts are. Plus, they’re not as fast. Use wide wheels for your everyday commute and beginner skateboarding tricks.
Different Types of Skateboard Wheels
You’ve interacted with different kinds of skateboard wheels. I’m sure you can choose what’s best for you for different skating situations. Whether you’re into powerslides, ollieing, racing, carving, skatepark, or street skating, you can now choose your wheels with confidence.