Getting back to skateboarding recently after a 10-year break meant I had to know my wheels and boards all over again so with my decision to take up the sport once more, I had to do some research.
The kind of skateboard you pick depends a lot on how often you skate, locations you frequent and your general style. For wheels, the type of truck and its diameter will determine the type of wheels to get.
The performance of your wheels is critical, so while the technical stuff can be boring, it is vital information.
The Best Wheels Under Different Circumstances
The location you are skating on determines the performance of your wheels. Cruisers require different wheels same as street skaters and vert skaters. There really is no type of wheel that is great for everything.
Now to the good stuff!
So what are the best skateboard wheels for street? Street wheels are designed with a smaller diameter between 49mm and 53mm. Street skating requires skateboards with small components for easy manoeuvrability and quicker response.
Wheels for street skating also require harder wheels of 99A and 101A. Softer wheels will have your skateboard bouncing all over the place as you perform tricks.
Skateboard Wheels for Mini Ramps
Go for large diameter wheels for mini ramps, 54mm preferably. You may go below at 53mm or above if you wish. When purchasing mini ramps, look for:
- 96A to 101A durometer or 82B.
- Conical shaped wheels with a soft texture and round lips.
Wheels for Bowl Skating
A large diameter will help you maintain speed when skating Bowl though this type of skating is strenuous. To use bigger wheels, try to get an old school deck. Bowl skating also requires suitable bearings such as Bones Swiss which is affordable and durable.
Skateboard Wheels for Cruising
For cruise skating, something over 60mm will suit you nicely. Anything smaller will accelerate quickly but won’t roll for long. My cruiser wheel guide will show you wheels that are perfect for cruising.
Riser pads are helpful too in preventing wheel bites.
Your cruiser wheels should have:
- A diameter of at least 60mm
- Softer wheels with 96A durometer
- Large contact patch
You can make your wheels more lightweight by replacing them with plastic.
Skateboard Wheels for Concrete Skate Parks
Skating on concrete will require you to get 53mm-54mm wheels with the durometer around 96A and 101A. Wheels should conical shape with round lips.
Skateboard Wheels for Cruising and Tricks
If you want to combine cruising around and doing occasional tricks, your wheels should be between hard and soft that lets you pop your deck and still ride smoothly.
Look out for:
- The durometer of 86A and 95A
- Diameter somewhere between 54 mm and 56 mm
Skateboard Wheels for Transition Skateboarding
A good transition skateboard ought to have about the same features of skatepark wheels. Durometer should be around 96A and 101A with a range of 53mm and 54mm or in between. Spitfire, Ricta, and Bones are the brands to look for.
Skateboard Wheels for Transition Skating
Soft wheels will do. Anything other than soft wheels is uncomfortable and noisy. Ask the salesperson for a way to reduce vibrations to prevent tingly sensations and limit the likelihood of falling.
Skateboard Wheels suitable for skating coarse surfaces
- Soft wheels with a durometer between 78a and 87A.
- Square lipped wheels
- Threaded wheels.
- Large contact patch.
One Wheel to Rule Them All
As impressive as the prospect sounds, there is no such thing as a wheel that anything and everything a skater could think of. You can’t perform all the tricks there are and still cruise home smoothly. Check out Bones All-Terrain Formula if you’re a skater that likes to do everything without having to swap. An ideal Wheel will have a diameter between 53mm and 55mm.
Skateboard Wheel Technology
Here we would learn the anatomy of skateboard wheels
- Flat spots are checked using urethane flat-spot machines.
- A wheel abrasion machine designed to simulate long use checks durability.
- Concentricity testers are used to test wobbles and smoothness.
- A dynamometer tests the wheel speed.
Choosing the Right Wheel Height and Diameter
Diameter makes a huge difference when it comes to wheels. The large diameter will give you speed. Smaller wheels help will you to execute tricks as they are lighter. The diameter of wheels is measured in millimetres (mm), from 48mm to 60mm. For longboard and cruiser, wheels are up to 75mm.
Small wheels are lower in size, great for acceleration but they won’t go fast. They are perfect for street and skate parks but not vert and larger bowls.
Medium Sized Wheels
These are between 53 MM and 59 MM. Go for an average diameter if you are a beginner. This is still suitable for street skating, verts and ramps.
Large Wheels 60 MM
Large wheels are good for longboards and old school boards but not street decks. With these, you will get a grip, speed and momentum, but they have low durometer.
Small Wheels vs. Large Wheels
Small wheels will not go over obstacles as easily as large wheels. Larger diameter means the larger distance between your board’s tail and the ground. Unlike small wheels though, it is harder to flip your deck due to weight.
Low, Mid, and High Trucks and Maximum Wheel Size
Lack of standard in the industry is to blame in this case as there three standard heights. Most brands, however, prefer to refer to their trucks as high or low even when they are really in between. Get high trucks if your wheels are above 53mm and leave it at 53mm if your trucks are low. Choose 60mm wheels for mid trucks.
Picking the Right Wheel Hardness (Durometer)
Durometer is a made-up word by scientist Albert Ferdinand Shore from the Shore durometer machine used for measuring the hardness of materials. It will go up to 100 depending on how hard your wheels are and vice versa.
Difference Between A & B Durometer Ratings
Durometer A scales do not cover the entire range of skateboard wheel hardness, unlike durometer B scale, meaning that anything over durometer 95A is hard to measure accurately.
Brands nevertheless stick to durometer A as skaters are more familiar with it. C and D scales also exist, but skateboard wheels use just A and B.
Durometer A skateboard wheels between 78A and 87A
Soft wheels are usually under durometer A (87A), giving them grip on rough surfaces. This makes them suitable for longboards and cruisers.
These are between 88A and 95A. They are great for cruising and will move effortlessly through cracks and rocks. They have lesser grip though.
These are between 96A and 99A and are the hardest available on the A scale. Ideal for street and park skating, they are the most common on the market.
101A+ will do very well on rough and slick surfaces. They are so hard they do not exist on the scale. Experienced skaters and pros mostly use 101A+ wheels.
Durometer B wheels between 83b and 84b
The Shore Durometer B wheels are the hardest on the B scale. Durometer B wheels are right for high speed and quick acceleration but not ideal for slippery or rough surfaces. B wheels are used by experienced technical skateboarders and pros alike. They are also great for street and skate parks.
The surface determines the contact patch of your wheels you skate. Contact patch evenly distributes your weight, meaning that a small contact patch will send the weight to your wheels.
Pressure on the urethane will reduce your momentum. Never substitute your longboard wheels for a regular skateboard and vice versa.
The importance of your contact patch is such that a large contact patch will give you more grip and reduces rolling resistance.
Shape and Width of the Wheel
Narrow Outline Wheels
These are designed for technical skating. Less contact with the ground means more responsive thanks to a small lip radius. This is most likely the most common wheel.
Wide wheels have large contact patch that makes them great for skateparks, verts and bowls and speed skateboarding. Heavy wheels mean they are difficult to get off the ground for technical moves, but they are stable.
Classic shaped wheels will give you a smooth ride plus speed, momentum and grip. They are bouncy and hard to control, making them ideal for cruiser boards. Make sure your wheels have this shape if you are looking to get a smooth ride.
Conically Shaped Wheels
These are wider from the core to the outer edge allowing the contact patch to be wider with less weight. They will support tricks and street or park skating.
While I have scarcely heard of it before, research helped me discover that lip radiuses are the piece between the side of your wheel and the contact patch.
Most skateboarders require round lipped wheels because they are suited to street, vert, bowl and park skating.
Square lips will give you more grip and make pushing effortless. Skaters who like to cruise will enjoy square lip wheels immensely.
Your wheels will feel sticky or smooth depending on the urethane formula. While the texture differs, most wheels are made from polyurethane.
Sticky wheels have more grip as they can stick to surfaces and will offer a smooth ride though they are not precisely very responsive.
Threaded wheels are wheels that are made of a threaded structure. They are good for riding over an obstacle and also suitable for rough surfaces.
Cores are minute details of wheels you rarely think are essential. They initiate the performance of wheels and have a couple of different types. Regular wheels have a small ledge that prevents your bearings from shifting. Plastic cores, on the other hand, boost your bearings’ performance.
Reliable brands for quality wheels have formulas such as STF, Formula Four, SPF and ATF. These refer to the components or mixture that goes into production or the purpose for which the wheel is designed. Many brands make their wheels out polyurethane. Any material except these means you ought to run in the opposite direction. There is, however, the science behind the fact that they don’t all use the same material.
Spitfires are the most popular wheels on the market today. They are designed with a durometer range of 99A and 101A. The key features of Spitfire wheels are that they don’t have flat spots. Your wheel won’t show signs of wear and tear even when you slide.
- Spitfire Formula Four Classic
These feature standard narrow profile, meaning responsiveness and speed due to small contact patch. Sliding is also more comfortable with this type of wheel.
- Spitfire Formula Four Classic Full
Large contact patch makes it suitable for sliding at higher speeds. They are slightly wider than the classics.
- Spitfire Formula Four Conical
Its shape makes it lighter and responsive. This is due to removable urethane.
- Formula Four Conical Full
The wheels are designed to provide more stability, making it like the classic full. If you are not hesitant around mini ramps, then its wide contact patch is perfect for you.
- Formula Four Radials
These are solely for transition skateboarding. Its wheels have a wide contact patch that won’t compromise speed.
- Formula Four Radial Slim
They are similar to the former but with narrower contact patch. They are also faster and slimmer.
- Formula Four Lock-Ins
Conical shaped wheels but with a difference in the edge which helps in lock-ins and provides more control.
Bones are side by side with Spitfires in terms of durability and quality. With high-quality wheels for every type of skateboarder, they are a famous brand with STF wheels.
Bones wheels have wheels of up to 100A hardness in durometer for street skating and SPF wheels with durometer of 83B and 84B.
Their solid formula does not show signs of flat spots and the quality materials that go into its production help all Bones wheels keep their shape and size for a long time.
Bones STF Wheels – Street Tech Formula
- Bones STF V1
Are all-round wheels built for street skating? Its sturdy build means they last long and endure harsh surfaces.
- Bones STF V2
Are great for curbs and rails as they slide and lock in easily. They are also light and nearly weightless.
- Bones STF V3
Are lightweight pro wheels perfect for sliding?
- Bones STF V4
Have very flat spot proof and are all-around wheels with the larger surface patch. They are very flat spot proof!
- Bones STF V5
Are specially designed for long grinds and slides. They are fast and light, making them good for momentum and vert/bowl skating.
- Bones SPF P1
Built with narrow wheels that make them responsive, these are perfect for technical skateboarders.
- Bones SPF P3
Wheels are a bit wider than the P2. This allows for maximum stability (as far as wheels can provide). If you skate at high speeds and you are looking for something to keep you stable while you ride, then consider these wheels.
- Bones SPF P4
P4 wheels are designed to be like P1 for technical park skaters. P4s provide perfect and excellent support for a bowl and vert skating, making them a great all-around transition wheel.
- Bones SPF P5
These wheels are specifically designed for the hardcore bowl and vert skaters. It’s designed to make it great for locking your grinds and slides on-ramps and other surfaces.
This is the wheel to buy when you are on a budget. They provide A-cut wheels plus C-cut wheels for bowl skating, vert skating and street skating respectively. They are perfect for beginners but will not last as long as Bones or Spitfire.