Hard vs. Soft Skateboarding Wheels: Skateboarding Wheels for Every Style

Explore the world of skateboarding wheels. Find out the ideal choice between hard and soft wheels for your style and terrain.

Ever found yourself scratching your head while picking skateboard wheels from an overwhelming range of options? Doesn’t the choice between hard and soft wheels feel like a conundrum? Let’s simplify that intricate decision point for you. In this post, you’ll learn when and why you might want to ride harder wheels or go for the softer ones, depending on your skateboarding style and environment. We’ll delve into the role wheel quality plays and why you should never, and I mean never, cheap out on wheels.

What’s the difference between hard vs. soft skateboard wheels?

“…soft wheels are ideal for cruising and longboarders, while their tougher counterparts are tailored for technical trick aficionados.”

Image of a skateboard with orange wheels. Source: pexels
Image of a skateboard with orange wheels. Source: pexels

When it comes to understanding the difference between hard and soft skateboard wheels, the rule of thumb here is that soft wheels are ideal for cruising and longboarders, while their tougher counterparts are tailored for technical trick aficionados. Basically, if you’re into hopping curbs and cruising around campus, cruising boards with soft wheels would be a solid choice. However, if your passion leans more towards nailing sick new tricks like an ollie or a kickflip, definitely go for hard wheels!

My favorite wheels (at the moment):

Spitfire Classic Skateboard Wheels

Hard vs. Soft skateboarding wheels: skateboarding wheels for every style | 61cahmq78ml. Ac sl1050 | skateboard salad
My favorite wheels (at the moment):

Spitfire Classic Skateboard Wheels

These are the quintessential street skateboarding wheels. These wheels are very hard and therefore are not great on bumpy roads, but for street skating tricks, they are awesome and really, really smooth.

How do soft skateboard wheels measure up?

Let’s dive a bit deeper into these soft skateboard wheels, which are typically considered soft between Durometer 77A and 87A and are perfect for a comfortable and smooth cruising ride. Their great traction makes them ideal for cruising because they can easily maneuver over small objects and rough roads without sending you flying off your board—an experience pretty much every skateboarder has encountered, right?

However, there is a flip side. With soft wheels, pulling off technical tricks or gaining speed at a skate park can become quite the challenge, thanks to the surface friction. Additionally, they’re more prone to flat spots, which reduces their lifespan.


  • Excellent for cruising.
  • Requires minimum effort to maintain speed.
  • Navigates small rocks and cracks flawlessly.


  • High chance of flat spotting.
  • Tough to gain speed and balance at skate parks.
  • Not made for technical tricks.

In case you’re more into technical tricks or park skateboarding than cruising, you should consider medium-hard wheels. The Bones ATF (all-terrain formula), for example, is a popular option. Here’s a point to remember: going beyond 60mm, you would need to install riser pads to prevent wheel bite.

Are hard skateboard wheels the right choice?

Now, if you’re all stoked about performing slide tricks or if passion takes you towards rotational flip tricks, hard skateboard wheels are the path to tread on. Wheels ranking between Durometer 96A and 104A are usually the go-to options for regular street skaters.

These hard wheels offer sliding ease, particularly for power slides, great control over small spaces, and less likelihood of unpredictable bouncing. On the downside, be ready to experience quite some noise and vibration on rough surfaces, which can make longer rides a tad uncomfortable.


  • Ideal for technical stuff.
  • Excellent control in closed spaces.
  • Low risk of developing flat spots.
Image of a skateboard facing upside down. Source: unsplash
Image of a skateboard facing upside down. Source: unsplash


  • Can cause discomfort on long rides.
  • Noisy and vibrant on rough surfaces.
  • Not suitable for beginners.

To grasp more about wheel size and its correlation with hardness, don’t forget to hop over to Bones vs Spitfire Wheels comparison.

What is the durometer scale?

The Durometer scale devised by Albert Ferdinand Shore is crucial in understanding the hardness of wheels. While most brands use the Durometer A scale, a few, like Spitfire Wheels, rate their wheels with D, which stands for Durometer. Remember, 99D Spitfire skateboard wheels are the same as 99A skateboard wheels.

When you’re comparing skateboard wheels of different hardness levels, pertinent data can be an absolute game-changer in making a calculated choice. Let’s look at a quick comparison to get a better idea of what we’re dealing with.

Wheel TypeDurometer RangeWheel Size Range (in mm)
Soft Skateboard Wheels77A – 87A60 – 70
Hard Skateboard Wheels96A – 104A48 – 60
Medium-hard Skateboard Wheels88A – 95A52 – 58
A summarized comparison of different skateboard wheel types

My two cents on skateboard wheels

Speaking strictly from my perspective, I’ve always found soft wheels to be a great choice for an easy-breezy cruising experience. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy getting my feet dirty with a couple of technical tricks now and then using hard wheels. I guess it really depends on where and how you skate. Not sure about your style yet? Check out our guide on choosing the right skateboard for tricks.

Dos and don’ts of choosing skateboard wheels

Before you sprint ahead into the exhilarating world of skateboarding, it’s vital to understand the dos and don’ts of selecting the perfect set of wheels. Make a wise choice, and your skateboard experience will swerve from a shaky start to a smooth ride, seamlessly.

Always consider your skating style.Don’t ignore the durometer scale.
Factor in the terrain you’ll be skating on.Don’t go for cheaper wheels.
Experiment with different brands and hardnesses.Don’t forget to check the quality of the wheels.
Choose a reputable brand for longer durability.Don’t overlook the skating terrain.
Crucial tips to remember while selecting skateboard wheels.

If you are a visual learner, check out the video below from YouTube.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

There’s always more to uncover when it comes to perfecting your skateboarding experience and choosing the right set of wheels. Below, you’ll find some common questions that often buzz in the minds of both novice and intermediate skateboarders.

What are some reputable brands when buying skateboard wheels?

When you’re looking to invest in high-quality skateboard wheels, brands like Bones or Spitfire are definitely worth considering. Opting for a reputable brand may require a higher initial investment, but trust me. It will be a worthy purchase in terms of durability and a smooth skateboarding journey. You can explore our detailed comparison of Bones vs Spitfire wheels for comprehensive insights.

Can I use the same type of wheels for street skating and park skating?

Not really. The choice of wheels largely depends on the type of skating you prefer. Soft wheels are ideal for street cruising as they handle the roughness of the terrain smoothly. On the other hand, if you’re looking for speed and performing tricks, hard wheels would be the best skateboard for these tricks. They work well in skate parks and on other smooth surfaces.

Does the hardness of skateboard wheels affect the sound it makes?

Absolutely! Hard wheels tend to create more noise and vibrations due to lesser absorption of the impact. This is more noticeable when you’re riding on rough surfaces. Whereas softer wheels, being more absorbent due to their lower durometer, are notably quieter and provide a smoother cruising experience.

Who would choose medium-hard wheels?

When you’re in a bit of a dilemma about whether to go more on the cruising end of the spectrum or delve into the tricky business, the middle ground that medium-hard wheels offer can be your savior. They’re a pretty versatile choice in conditions where hard and soft wheels might not be your best bet, for instance, when the terrain type varies. A popular choice for such unpredictable conditions could be the Bones ATF wheels.

Final thoughts

Whether it’s soft wheels for cruising around or hard ones for pulling off crazy tricks, the endgame is to have a blast riding your skateboard. Remember, the choice of skateboard wheels has a tremendous influence on the ride, so don’t hesitate to switch them occasionally and experiment to see what works best for you.

Have you tried both hard and soft wheels? What’s your experience like? And did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below, because I read and reply to every comment. If you found this article helpful, share it with a friend, and don’t forget to check out my full blog for more tips and tricks on making the most of your skateboarding journey. Thanks for reading, and keep shredding!

Key takeaways

This article covered the ins and outs of figuring out the right hardness level for your skateboard wheels. Here are some key takeaways:

  • The thumb rule is soft wheels for cruising and longboarders, hard wheels for performing technical tricks.
  • No wheel is a total all-rounder when it comes to tackling every type of surface.
  • Cheap wheels flat-spot and need to be replaced sooner than quality wheels.
  • Soft wheels are safer to ride as they handle small rocks and cracks effortlessly.
  • Hard wheels excel at handling rotational flips and slide tricks like board slides.
  • The durometer scale is a method to determine the hardness of skateboard wheels.
  • You should always align your choice of wheels with your skateboarding style and the terrain you will be skating on.

Helpful resources

Steven Portrate
Written by Steven Sadder, Staff Writer

Hey! I'm Steven, a lifelong skater, and proud New Yorker. I’ve been skating since I was a teenager. I may be a bit older now, but I'm not slowing down. Follow me for skating tips and latest gear reviews.

Nick eggert.
Edited by Nick Eggert, Staff Editor

Nick is our staff editor and co-founder. He has a passion for writing, editing, and website development. His expertise lies in shaping content with precision and managing digital spaces with a keen eye for detail.

Verified User Black 24dp


Our team conducts thorough evaluations of every article, guaranteeing that all information comes from reliable sources.

Event Available Black 24dp


We diligently maintain our content, regularly updating articles to ensure they reflect the most recent information.

Leave a Comment