Does Skateboard Wheel Size Matter? The Truth

Explore how skateboard wheel size matters. Learn about choosing optimal wheel size and durometer for better tricks, cruises, and rides!

Have you ever pondered the question: How does skateboard wheel size matter? Well, surprisingly enough, wheel size matters a lot—almost as crucial as a perfect kickflip or a balanced grind! Gear up as we embark on a journey diving deep into the world of diameters, uncovering the mysteries of momentum, and unraveling the not-so-secret secrets of hardness that make your ride. So, let’s shred the knowledge of selecting the right skateboard wheel size one trick at a time.

Why does skateboard wheel size matter?

First, let’s tackle the giant in the wheels—does skateboard wheel size matter? Yes, it most definitely does! If the wheels are too large, you’ll struggle to land tricks, and these bigger wheels might bump into your board. For a sweet skateboarding experience, you should aim for wheels between 52 and 54 millimeters, based on your style and where you skate.

Snapshot of new skateboard wheels with different sizes and colors. Source: tactic boardshop youtube channel
Snapshot of new skateboard wheels with different sizes and colors. Source: tactic boardshop youtube channel

But don’t just fall head over heels with the diameter! The hardness and quality of the polyurethane have a big impact on your skating, too. Buying cheap, large wheels won’t necessarily give you a smooth cruising experience!

Advertisements
My favorite complete skateboard (at the moment):

Enjoi Whitey Panda Complete Skateboard

Does skateboard wheel size matter? The truth | 61vn95mf7ql. Ac sl1184 | skateboard salad
My favorite complete skateboard (at the moment):

Enjoi Whitey Panda Complete Skateboard

I had my board stolen a few years ago and was forced to quickly replace it with a complete. I got one with an Enjoi deck and loved it so much that I still buy the Whitey Panda deck each time I need a new deck. This complete with budget-friendly, beginner-friendly parts, but I still swear by it.

What’s the deal with wheel diameter?

When it comes down to picking the right wheel diameter, there are a few factors to consider. Large wheel diameters might slow your acceleration, but they’re more adept at keeping momentum. Sure, they need more effort to gain speed, but once you’re rolling steadily, it’s easier to maintain.

Meanwhile, smaller wheels make your board more responsive and are perfect for technical street skateboarding. If you’re grinding a ledge or rail, smaller wheels won’t get caught up in the act as larger wheels might.

How does wheel diameter impact tricks?

The wheel diameter also influences your fancy tricks. A kickflip, for example, with smaller wheels is less likely to land primo (both feet landing on the side of your deck and wheels). So, when rolling on smaller wheels, you’re less likely to fall on your face during a trick! But don’t forget, it’s not just the diameter you must look at. The durometer, or hardness, of the wheels, plays a significant role!

How do you know what size of skateboard wheels to get?

Choosing the right size skateboard wheels largely depends on your skateboarding style, where you’ll be skating, and personal preference.

Determine your skating style

  • Street skating (technical or trick skating): Smaller wheels (around 50–54 mm) are preferable. They are lighter, making it easier to perform tricks.
  • Ramp or vert skating: Medium-sized wheels (around 54 mm–58 mm) are ideal. They provide the balance of speed and stability required on ramps.
  • Cruising and longboarding: Larger wheels (above 60mm) are perfect because they offer a smoother ride over various surfaces and maintain speed.

Consider the terrain

  • Smooth surfaces (like skateparks): Harder wheels (with a higher durometer) around 52 mm–56 mm are suitable.
  • Rough surfaces (like sidewalks and streets): Softer wheels absorb shocks better, and a size of around 54 mm to 60 mm can help navigate cracks and debris.

Wheel durometer (hardness)

While size is essential, hardness also plays a significant role. A wheel’s durometer is rated on the ‘A’ scale (most common for skateboards), or the ‘B’ scale (20 points lower than a tan80b durometer is the same as a 100a).

  • 78a-87a: Soft wheels are ideal for rough surfaces, longboards, cruisers, or smooth rides.
  • 88a–95a: A bit harder and faster, but still good grip. Versatile for street or rough surfaces.
  • 96a-99a: Good speed and grip—an all-around wheel. Ideal for beginners.
  • 101a+: Hard wheels used by pro skateboarders for street and park skating

Board and truck compatibility

Ensure the wheels fit the width of your skateboard trucks and don’t cause wheelbite (where the wheel touches the board during turns). If you want larger wheels, you might need riser pads between your board and trucks.

Personal preference

Sometimes, the right size is just what feels best for you. Some skaters might prefer slightly larger wheels for street skating because they like the increased speed, while others might want smaller wheels for ramp skating for better control.

Experimentation

If you’re new to skateboarding, trying different wheel sizes as you progress can be beneficial. Over time, you’ll develop a feel for what suits you best.

Snapshot of spitfire skateboard wheels. Source: tactic boardshop youtube channel
Snapshot of spitfire skateboard wheels. Source: tactic boardshop youtube channel

My opinion of the ramp

Even though I’m not an expert, just a 24-year-old skateboarder who’s stoked about the lifestyle, I think it’s super crucial to select the right wheels. Bigger wheels might give you speed, but a bad choice can be a bummer for your tricks. Smaller wheels, in my experience, have saved me from some pretty insane and sketchy falls during a grind or kickflip! Undeniably, I can’t ignore the hardness either.

“Picking the right skateboard wheels is not just about the size or hardness. It’s about understanding the rhythm of your ride, and how your wheels can enhance it!”

It dictates how the wheel performs. If you’re interested in the technicalities of a board and its parts, check out this detailed guide on picking skateboard parts. So, balance between diameter and hardness for a killer ride!

And remember, you’ll always be a novice at something until you learn more. So, let’s keep skating and learning, one wheel at a time!

Dos and don’ts of choosing skateboard wheel size

As you now probably understand, choosing a skateboard wheel size can tremendously impact your skateboarding experience. Here are some crucial do’s and don’ts to guide your next wheel choice. Aim to make your rides smoother with a size corresponding to your skate style.

Do’sDo’s
Understand the impact of wheel size on acceleration and momentum.Don’ts
Understand the impact of wheel size on acceleration and momentum.Don’t choose a wheel size without considering its hardness
Pick larger, harder wheels for cruisingDon’t overlook the importance of hardness or durometer
Consider smaller, harder wheels for street skateboardingDon’t use big wheels if your primary interest is landing tricks
Dos and don’ts when choosing skateboard wheel size

To further provide a perspective and encapsulate our discussion about wheel size, hardness, and styles, let’s peek into an instructive data table, diving deeper into these comparative spectrums.

In this table, we can see a fine breakdown of different wheel sizes, their compatibility with certain skateboarding styles, and how the hardness factor fits into it. This will arm you with more clarity on how to make your call.

Skateboarding styleIdeal wheel sizePreferred hardness (durometer)
Cruising56mm to 60mm78a to 87a
Street Skateboarding50mm to 53mm97a to 99a
Bowl/Vert Skating56mm to 58mmAt least 100
Cruising and a Few TricksAround 56mmAround 92a

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

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

It’s pretty normal if you still have some questions about skateboard wheel sizes. After all, we deal with an essential aspect of your skateboard that largely shapes your ride. Let’s address some frequently asked questions that might assist you further in this wheel-choice journey.

Can larger skateboard wheels damage my board?

No, larger skateboard wheels won’t damage your board per se. However, if they are too big without the addition of riser pads, they might bump into your board during turns, causing what’s known as a wheel bite. This can potentially cause you to lose control or face an unexpected tumble. So, if you’re choosing to go larger, a set of riser pads is more of a necessity than a luxury!

Can I use different-sized wheels on the same board?

While it’s technically possible to use different-sized wheels on the same board, it’s not advisable. Mismatched wheel sizes can lead to an unbalanced ride and increase your risk of tripping or falling. So, for a smoother ride, stick to a uniform wheel size that matches your skateboarding style.

Will smaller skateboard wheels slow me down?

Smaller skateboard wheels offer quicker acceleration but may not maintain high speeds compared to larger wheels. While they won’t substantially slow you down, they will require more effort to maintain your speed. If speed is what you seek, you might want to sift through this skateboards vs. cruisers vs. longboards guide to explore your options!

Can I use harder wheels for cruising?

It’s technically possible to use harder wheels for cruising, but the ride may not be as comfortable or smooth as using softer wheels. Harder wheels have less grip and are more uncomfortable on rough surfaces. So, if your prime goal is cruising, softer wheels, typically 78a to 87a, would be a better choice. This quick link to the guide on skateboarding for commuting could be your thing!

Final thoughts

Everyone has their unique skateboarding style, and you’ll always be learning something new! Whether they are big tricks, magical flips, complex grinds, or simple cruises, your skateboard wheel is eventually your ride partner. Try considering the insights shared in this post next time when you’re choosing your skateboard wheels! Do you have any questions about skateboard wheel sizes? Let me know in the comments section below. I read and reply to every comment. If you found this article helpful, check out my full blog for more tips and tricks on perfecting your skateboarding experience.

Key takeaways

This article took you for a spin on skateboard wheel size and its importance. Here are some key takeaways:

  • A larger wheel size doesn’t essentially promise a smoother ride without considering hardness.
  • Smaller, harder wheels are your best bet for street skateboarding.
  • Choose wheels of at least 56mm up to 60mm for a comfortable cruising experience.
  • For bowl/vert skateboarding, go for larger wheels with a hardness of at least 100A.
  • Skateboarders who like to cruise and do tricks prefer a medium-sized wheel.
  • The right skateboard wheel size enhances the overall ride, making tricks smoother and providing better control.

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

Fact-Checked

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

Event Available Black 24dp

Up-to-Date

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

Leave a Comment