How to Choose the Right Skateboard Wheels: Top 5 Must-Know Tips

Master picking skateboard wheels with this guide. Uncover the ideal choice for street, ramp, bowl skating, vert and cruising.

When it comes to skateboarding, one often overlooked but crucial component is the skateboard wheels. They seem small compared to the deck and trucks, but the right wheels can make a difference in your riding experience. Whether you’re a seasoned skateboarder looking to upgrade or a beginner getting your first board, selecting the perfect set of wheels is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

This comprehensive guide will take you through the ins and outs of choosing the right skateboard wheels to ensure you roll smoothly, maintain control, and get the most out of your skateboarding adventures. So, let’s explore the world of skateboard wheels to ensure you’re equipped for an epic ride!

What should skateboarders consider when selecting the right skateboard wheels?

When selecting the right skateboard wheels, skateboarders should consider the following factors:

Image of a male skateboarder removing the skateboard wheels from its deck. Source: unsplash
Image of a male skateboarder removing the skateboard wheels from its deck.
  • Durometer rating: The durometer rating indicates the hardness of the wheels. Softer wheels (lower durometer) provide more grip and a smoother ride, while harder wheels (higher durometer) offer better slide and durability.
  • Wheel diameter: Wheel diameter affects speed and stability. Smaller wheels accelerate faster and are more agile, making them ideal for street and technical skating. Larger wheels maintain speed and roll over cracks easily, making them suitable for cruising and downhill riding.
  • Terrain and riding style: The terrain you skate on (e.g., street, park, vert, or rough pavement) and your riding style (e.g., street, vert, freestyle, or cruising) should influence your wheel choice. Different styles and terrains require specific wheel characteristics.
  • Wheel shape/profile: Skateboard wheels come in various shapes, including conical, square-edged, and round-edged profiles. Each shape affects the way the board feels and responds. Choose a shape that suits your preferences and style of skating.
  • Core type and bearing compatibility: The wheel’s core can affect how it rolls and performs tricks. Some wheels have a solid core for added durability, while others have a hollow core to reduce weight. Ensure your chosen wheels are compatible with your skateboard bearings for smooth rolling.
My favorite wheels (at the moment):

Spitfire Classic Skateboard Wheels

How to choose the right skateboard wheels: top 5 must-know tips | 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.

Is hardness important when choosing skateboard wheels?

The hardness of skateboard wheels, often called the “durometer rating,” holds significant importance when selecting skateboard wheels. This rating directly influences the performance and feel of your skateboard. Soft wheels, indicated by a lower durometer rating (e.g., 78A-87A), offer increased grip, making them suitable for challenging terrains and tricks that demand traction.

In contrast, harder wheels with a higher durometer rating (e.g., 95A–101A) provide less grip but excel in sliding and technical tricks. Additionally, wheel hardness affects ride smoothness, with softer wheels absorbing shocks and vibrations for a smoother experience on uneven surfaces. Harder wheels are more durable, wearing slowly, making them preferred for abrasive surfaces.

The choice of durometer also depends on your skateboarding style and the tricks you aim to perform. Street skaters often opt for harder wheels for slide tricks, while vert and ramp skaters might prefer slightly softer wheels for better grip when landing aerial maneuvers. Ultimately, personal preference plays a role, with some skateboarders choosing medium-durometer wheels (around 90A) for a balanced experience.

Which skateboard wheels should I get?

Navigating the sea of skateboard wheels can be as daunting as landing a frontside 180 on a vert ramp. But don’t sweat it! As a refresher, remember that choosing the right wheels is vital to your skateboarding journey. You can’t simply close your eyes and pick one off the wall. Here’s a selection of the five main types of wheels you should consider, depending on your style and where you’ll mainly be skating.

1. Street skateboarding wheels

Small and hard wheels should be your solid choice for concrete jungle dwellers. Generally, street wheels should be between 49 mm and 53 mm in diameter. The smaller size makes them agile and responsive; it helps that they’re lighter, too! It’s ideal for some sick spins and flips without getting stuck mid-grind.

As for hardness, a durometer between 99A and 101A navigates that sweet spot between being forgiving enough to land tricks while not bouncing off the roof. Look for wheels with round lips or a conical shape for maximum performance. These babies will make your street scene more dynamic!

2. Mini ramp wheels

The semi-circular haven demands slightly larger wheels. It’s okay to go for a 54 mm–56 mm diameter here. A tad larger than their street counterparts, these wheels make it easier to keep up your speed on the ramps without pumping your legs until they’re on fire.

A durometer of 97A to 101A (or even 84B for the daredevils!) is ideal on the hardness front. Remember to opt for a conical shape for the best results. Trust me, with these wheels; you’ll be stoked to shred the mini ramps!

3. Bowl skating wheels

Hello, big wheels! Bowl skating commands wheels with a diameter between 54mm and 60 mm, allowing you to maintain speed and satisfyingly cruise in and around the bowl. If your knees give up on marathon-stretch bowl sessions, these wheels will be your lifesaver.

Aim for an 880A–99A durometer to ensure smooth slides and resist wheel bite. Above all, a larger contact patch will aid in stability. Remember, size matters when it comes to bowl skating!

4. Vert skateboarding wheels

Thank goodness for Vert skateboarders; you’ve got us looking like Kanye at an award show. Vert skating is demanding. It requires wheels with more grip to ensure your board doesn’t go astray when you least expect it. Hence, a durometer between 97A and 100A fits the takeoff.

As for the diameter, aim for something between 56 mm and 58 mm. The larger size provides better grip, especially when staring down a 15-foot vert ramp. With these wheels, you’ll be shredding vert like Tony Hawk in his prime in no time.

5. Cruising wheels

Ahh, the chill crew! Cruising around your neighborhood or down a beachside bike path demands comfort. You don’t want to feel every little pebble or crack in the sidewalk, do you? That’s where softer, larger wheels come in.

Aim for wheels with a diameter above 60mm. These big boys give you that lovable, buttery, smooth ride. As for the hardness, softer wheels with a durometer around 78A will keep you rolling smoothly across rough terrain.

Image of orange skateboard wheels and part of its deck. Source: unsplash
Image of orange skateboard wheels and part of its deck. Source: unsplash

What are the different surfaces for skateboarding and their ideal wheel types?

A reality we skaters learn fast is that different surfaces demand different wheels. The rigid, uneven asphalt of street skating versus the smooth curves of a well-kept skate park create different skate experiences. On the flip side, you’ve got velodrome-like bowl surfaces, immense vert ramps, and then your familiar neighborhood pavements for cruising.

Wheel TypeDiameter (mm)Suitable TerrainDurometer
Street49-53Concrete, Asphalt99A-101A
Mini Ramp54-56Wood, Concrete97A-101A
Bowl54-60Concrete, Wood80A-99A
Vert56-58Wood, Concrete97A-100A
CruiserAbove 60VariedAround 78A
Comparison of skateboard wheel types, diameters, suitable terrains, and hardness.

Understanding the quiet symbiotic relationship each of these surfaces has with your board’s wheels is game-changing. It’s like choosing the right wand in Harry Potter—the skateboard wheels you choose should complement the surface you shred.

Dos and don’ts of choosing skateboard wheels

Are you hyped about finally making sense of skateboard wheels? Awesome! But before you rush off, here’s a list of dos and don’ts when choosing skateboard wheels.

Understand your skate style and terrain preferenceDon’ts
Check wheel hardness (durometer) and diameterAvoid picking wheels based only on colours or graphics
Research well and ask for suggestionsDon’t buy solely based on brand popularity
A table of dos and don’ts when choosing skateboard wheels

My opinion

To wrap it all up in my own newbie words, there’s nothing quite like when you first realize just how significant your wheel choice is. It’s like a mini-awakening. Like that time, I tried to Ollie on some chunky cruiser wheels—an absolute pandemic!

“Understanding the quiet symbiotic relationship each of these surfaces has with your board’s wheels is game-changing. It’s like choosing the right wand in Harry Potter – the skateboard wheels you choose should compliment the surface you shred.”

More than not, the setup changes make the most impact. Like when I replaced my skateboard deck for the first time, you understand the whispers between different components better with every alteration. That’s the insane thing about skateboarding. It’s an art, a science, and a sport, all wrapped up in one awesome package.

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

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Post-skate shop choice overload, you might find yourself with questions galore. It’s only natural, especially when getting a shredworthy setup. Here are a few additional noteworthy queries I’ve come across.

What’s the importance of skateboard wheel color?

The color of your wheels is largely a cosmetic choice. It lends a personal touch to your board. But remember, performance is key. Handling and control won’t change whether your wheels are neon green or midnight black.

Can beginner skaters use hard wheels?

Yes, beginners can use hard wheels, especially if they’re primarily skating at concrete parks or smooth, paved surfaces. Harder wheels provide a faster and smoother ride on these terrains. Remember, they’re not as forgiving as softer ones on rough terrain. Curious to know more about it? Check out my post on when to replace skateboard wheels.

What’s the average lifespan of skateboard wheels?

The lifespan of your skateboard wheels depends greatly on how often and where you’re skating. Wheels can last from a year to a year and a half for an average skater hitting the parks or streets a few times a week.

Are skateboard wheels interchangeable?

Skateboard wheels are interchangeable. But swapping them is more than a style statement. Each wheel type serves a specific purpose and terrain. So choose wisely.

Final thoughts

Navigating the world of skateboard wheels may seem difficult at first, but once you understand the core aspects, it’s much like learning a new trick. You’ll mess up a few times, but eventually, you’ll figure out what works best for you. Always remember to choose your wheels according to your skateboarding style and the kind of terrain you’ll shred.

So tell me, What type of skateboard wheels have you been riding, and how has your experience been so far? And did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below. I read and reply to every comment. If you found this article valuable, share it with a skate buddy, and peruse my full blog for more tips and tricks in the skate-verse. Thanks for hanging out, and keep rolling!

Key takeaways

This article listed the tracks for choosing the right skateboard wheels for different styles and terrains. Here are your key takeaways:

  • The hardness and diameter of wheels vary according to the skateboarding style and terrain.
  • Street skateboarders should opt for smaller, harder wheels between 49mm and 53mm.
  • Mini ramp skaters would benefit from slightly larger wheels of 54 mm-56 mm.
  • Bowl and Vert skaters should go for wheels with larger diameters for stability and speed in the curved landscape.
  • Cruising requires big, soft wheels for a smooth ride.

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.

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Edited by Nick Eggert, Staff Editor

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