There are a lot of options to choose when it comes to skateboard wheels and it can be really confusing, especially for beginners. The wheels of a skateboard impact you as a rider in many ways, in fact they impact your speed, feel and control over the board. So how do you choose? Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, to understand the skate wheel we must understand what’s attached to it and how it impacts it.
Parts of The Skateboard
The traditional skateboard it constructed from five parts, although there are a lot of newer models with exotic designs. The main parts include:
- Deck – This is the main wooden structure or the body of the skateboard. Its regular size is from 18 to 27 cm. The lower side of the deck is usually blank but can also come with a printed design.
- Grip tape – This is a sandpaper textured tape and is glued on top of skateboards to help the rider remain securely on the board.
- Trucks – These are found on the bottom of the deck there. There are two aluminium trucks that hold the wheels and keep them connected to the deck. The trucks are made of two parts, connected by an axle, allowing the wheels to turn (the sensitivity is adjustable).
- Wheels – The skate wheel is composed of polyurethane, and it comes in a lot of different sizes, shaped and forms, each having its own purpose. Wheels can be found with a lot of different designs to make the riders board more personal.
- Bearings – These are located in the middle of every skate wheel and they hold two sets of steel balls. They are really crucial to the skateboard as they eliminate friction.
Choosing the Right Wheels
Use the following performance measurements as to determine what are the right wheels for you.
The durometer is a measurement of the wheels’ hardness and resistance to abrasion. Skate wheels are in the ‘A’ list durometer ratings. The hardness of the durometer rating is usually printed on the wheel that reads ’75A ‘or ’90A’. Some manufacturers use the ‘B’ scale which is 20 points lower than the ‘A’ scale, which gives it more accuracy (ex. ’80B’ is the same as ‘100A’). Each hardness level comes with a specific use and knowing what kind of style of riding you want to perform is key to choosing the right wheel.
- Street skater: If you want to ride on the streets and perform tricks (such as ollies, 360’s, ext.), you’ll need something with more grip and pop. For such riders anything from ’97A’ and above is ideal.
- Divergent skater: If you are a skater that likes to glide around, and occasionally drop in a half-pipe, the ideal set would be ’90A’ and ’97A’.
- Cruise skater: If you prefer to use your skate only as a means of transportation, you’ll need a soft set of wheels designed to combat the bumps on the road. The ideal cruising wheel would range from ’75A’ to ’85A’.
The size of the wheel determines the skates’ top speed, acceleration time and turn mobility.
The diameter of skate wheels is determined in millimetres, usually from 48-75 mm (most commonly used are 52-55mm). The speed at which the board is going is perpendicularly determined by the size of the wheels been used. In other words, the bigger the wheel, the faster you will go, however the opposite applies for acceleration time. Yet again, the riding style is quite important when choosing wheel size.
- Street skater: If you want to do tricks like kickflips or 360-flips you’ll need something small that won’t get in the way. So if you’re going street, go small. The appropriate size should range from 50-55mm.
- Divergent skater: Divergents like the middle ground. So if you want to have the best of both worlds, look for sizes from 54-60mm.
- Cruise skater: Longboard riders need big wheels to give them the speed and manoeuvrability they need and desire. If you too are a speed hyped junky, you will need something from 64-75mm and even custom made larger ones.
Once you’ve found your desired wheels, you will need to place them on your board. This can be done in a few easy steps.
- Put the wheel on the axle and press firmly to embed the bearings (repeat on both sides of the axle for each wheel);
- Place a washer onto a truck, then the wheel, then another washer;
- Using a skate tool, secure the wheel with a nut;
- Repeat for each wheel.