CHOOSING THE RIGHT SKATEBOARD WHEELS
The first urethane wheel came around in the 1970’s and changed skateboarding forever. Prior to urethane wheels, skaters were riding wheels made from steel and clay. Steel and clay are obviously hard, unforgiving materials that made skateboarding on variable terrain harsh and challenging. Modern urethane wheels are now higher quality than ever and help skateboarders perform at their best.
"What size of skateboard wheels should I get?" is the classic question when it comes to pick up a quatuor of wheels from a skateshop. Well, here are some clues for you!
CHOOSING A SKATEBOARD WHEEL SIZE | Diameter
Wheel Size (Diameter)
The size of your wheel will change how your skateboard performs. Wheel size is measured in millimeters (mm) and refers to the diameter of the wheel. Diameter is the overall width or height of the wheel (also calculated as 2 times the radius of the wheel.) The bigger the number, the bigger the wheel size. Larger wheels will go faster at top speeds, but will have a slower rate of acceleration, while smaller wheels are slower at top speeds, but have a quicker rate of acceleration. Larger wheels also raise you and your board higher off the ground, which can affect your maneuvers.
Street skaters typically ride smaller wheels (ranging from 50mm – 56mm) because they allow for good pop, are shaped better for sliding and are lighter for flip tricks. Transition skaters typically ride a slightly larger wheel for higher speeds in the park and better control when riding over coping.
Wheel Size Explained
CHOOSING A SKATEBOARD WHEEL HARDNESS | Durometer
Wheel Squish (Durometer)
Most wheel manufacturers use the A-Scale for measuring durometer, which is a 100-point scale that indicates how hard or soft the wheel is. Some manufacturers will use a B-Scale which is measured at 20 points lower than the A-Scale. For example, a wheel with a durometer of 80B is the same as a wheel with a durometer of 100A.
Depending on the terrain, harder wheels can roll faster and softer wheels may roll slower, but will have more grip. Harder wheels are built for smoother surfaces like smooth streets and skateparks, while softer wheels are better for rougher terrain.
Wheel durometers Explained
CHOOSING A SKATEBOARD WHEEL | Shape
Why is shape important on skateboard wheels?
After diameter and hardness level, choosing the right "patch" is the last criterion you need to decide when choosing wheels for your skateboard.
Contact patch is an important performance characteristic of skateboard wheels. The contact patch of a wheel refers to the area of the wheel that actually makes contact with the road. If you have large longboard wheels, your contact patch will also be large.
So why is contact patch important? If your contact area is large, your weight will be distributed over a larger area. This reduces the compression of the urethane in your wheels and decreases rolling resistance, which can slow your wheel down.
The shape of the wheel also affects the size of your contact patch. Rounded wheels have less contact with the road, while square wheels have maximum contact with the road. The location of the contact plates can also affect the performance of the wheel.
Wheel shape Explained
1: Wheel Diameter
2: Patch of the skateboard wheel
A: Basic wheel
B: Slim wheel
Skateboard Wheels vs. Cruiser Wheels
What makes a cruiser wheel so much different than a street skateboard wheel? Typically, cruiser wheels are much softer than skateboard wheels, and usually range in durometer from 76-90A, whereas skateboard wheels usually range in durometer from 91-101A. Cruiser wheels are made for just that: cruising. Some refer to cruiser wheels as filmer wheels since they ride smoother on rough surfaces and make for a quieter ride when filming skateboarding, helping to avoid the background noise from the filmer’s skateboard. If you want to skate around town with good speed and minimal turbulence, we recommend our classic cruiser wheels.
Skateboard wheels are harder, smaller and lighter which makes popping ollies, learning flip tricks, sliding, grinding and other technical tricks easier.
Links to shop Skateboard Wheels
You can check out our complete skateboard wheel collection .
Or purchase a complete skateboard already assembled and ready to ride.
Learn how to select the right skateboard size for you.
Summary in video: skateboard wheel size, hardness and shape
The 54 mm wheels are surely the most versatile and widespread wheels in the street world. This size represents the best compromise between speed and maneuverability.
Small wheels make it easier to perform tricks. The board being closer to the ground, it is therefore more maneuverable, especially for all that is "flip", "varials" etc... The larger wheels are more suitable for "vert" & transitions for example. But nothing prevents you from doing ollies with big wheels. It works too!
The diameter of skateboard wheels is measured in millimeters (mm); most wheels are 44-75mm.
Wheel diameter affects skateboard speed and maneuverability. A wheel with a large diameter makes it possible to roll quickly but will be less manageable. A wheel with a small diameter will be slower but much more maneuverable. The small wheels will be perfect for the street while the big wheels will be used much more in vert and transitions for example.
If you are a beginner and rather want to "cruise" quietly, wheels with a large diameter are recommended.
If you're a beginner or someone who uses a skateboard for everyday transportation, you'll want to look into larger wheels instead. Their increased diameters offer speed and balance all in one, making them perfect for cruising or vert skateboarding.
Your height and weight can also be criteria that can influence the choice of wheels.
Let’s take these few examples:
48-54 mm Small and relatively slow but stable wheels. Perfect for street and tricks.
55-59 mm Medium wheels. Generally for beginners and transition & vert skateboarders.
60mm + Big wheels for longboard, down-hill & old-school skateboard fans.
Typically wheel sizes range from 44mm to 75mm and are measured across the diameter of the wheel. A wheel that is one millimeter smaller is generally preferred for street skateboarding, as it is lighter and therefore makes the skateboard more maneuverable for tricks. The most popular street wheel sizes are between 52 and 54mm.