How to choose skate wheels: hardness, diameter, manufacturer
Modern skate wheels, along with the concave of the deck and the quality of the bearings, determine the ability to maneuver and easily control the board.
Manufacturers offer various options for wheel diameters to suit the specific needs of riders. Their size varies between 49-70+ mm. For high speed movement, a larger diameter is preferable, while a smaller one will be necessary for ease of performing tricks.
Soft skate wheels are usually chosen for skating in urban environments. They are comfortable when driving on rough and uneven roads. It is worth considering that the softer the wheels, the faster they lose their operating parameters – they wear out and become deformed. Stiffer skateboard wheels can be purchased for skating in skateparks with smooth surfaces. Stunt skate wheels usually have high rigidity and are smaller in size. Many manufacturers offer skateboard wheels with bearings, which is convenient when assembling the board yourself.
How to choose wheel size?
The range of wheel sizes for skateboards is wide – we came across wheels from 48 mm to 75 mm (probably there are more radical options, but we did not come across them). The diameter of the wheel is inversely proportional to the quality of the coating. That is, the worse the surface (for example, paving stones, old asphalt with cracks, etc.), the larger the diameter required. But don’t overdo it. You need to remember that for tricks you need wheels of a smaller diameter (they provide better handling), and large wheels (from 56mm and more) are wheels for cruisers and longboards, the main purpose of which is good cross-country ability and solid rolling.
Small wheels guarantee fast acceleration, but, as a consequence, rapid deceleration. Larger wheels are more difficult to accelerate, but they maintain speed much longer.
How to choose wheel hardness?
Simply put, when there is a choice about the stiffness of the wheels, it all comes down to a simple rule: for tricks you need hard wheels, and for a comfortable ride – soft ones. All stunt skateboard wheels are made from polyurethane. In the classification of polyurethane hardness for skate wheels, the indices A and B are used.
The A hardness scale ends at 100. That is, theoretically, wheels with an index of 100A are the hardest. But that’s not true! This is where the B hardness scale comes into play. It is also limited to a maximum value of 100, but the trick is that its value is 20 points lower than the A scale. Thus, 100A wheels are identical in hardness to 80B.
What is scale B used for? In order to mark wheels harder than 100A. In fact, indexes like 101A, 102A, etc. not entirely correct. It would be more correct to use 81B, 82B, etc. But some manufacturers still “jump over” the boundaries of the scale.
- For a smooth ride, you’ll want soft wheels ranging from 78A (the softest we’ve encountered) to around 85A. Stiffer options are likely to cause discomfort on uneven surfaces.
- Medium hardness wheels up to 98A are an option for trick skateboards, but they are still soft enough to stop slides.
- Wheels with hardness 99A, 100A and harder (i.e. all variations with index B) – super-hard wheels for maximum skateboarding with the most hellish slides.
Choosing wheels for a beginner
When choosing your first skateboard (or wheels), a beginner should first decide whether the skateboard will be used for tricks or just for skating?
- If your choice is comfort and softness, then you should opt for wheels with a diameter of 55-75mm and a hardness of 78A-85A. These wheels will provide you with a smooth ride, good board control and stability.
- If you are attracted to skateparks and street spots, then we recommend wheels with a hardness of up to 98A and a diameter of 51-54mm.
We do not recommend stiffer wheels for beginners. You will come to them yourself over time, when you gain full control over the board and rush to new heights of skateboarding.
p.s. It is worth noting that all recommendations must be reviewed relative to the brand of wheels purchased. Each manufacturer interprets stiffness and shape indicators in its own way.