We have to talk about wheel size because it’s important and relevant to choosing the best wheels for your needs.
Wheel size is usually measured in millimeters (mm). That’s the diameter of the wheel. You’ll usually find skateboard wheels ranging from 50-75 mm on the market today.
Wheel size affects your speed and acceleration. Smaller wheels are slower than bigger wheels. But speeding up on small wheels is faster than speeding up on big wheels.
Because small wheels are lower to the ground, they make an ideal choice for street skating and doing other technical stuff. For beginners, starting with bigger wheels is a good choice. They give you more stability and balance for easy cruising, commuting, or vert skating.
50-53 mm: small wheels, good for tricks, skate parks, and bowls
54-59 mm: average wheels, good for beginners, good for skateparks and vert ramps
60+ mm: for longboards, high-speed racing, good for rough surfaces
Wheel durometer measures the hardness of the wheel. You’ll usually find most wheels measured on the Durometer A scale.
This scale goes to 100. The higher the number, the harder the wheel. For example, if you see the manufacturer labels a wheel 78A, you’ll know that it’s not way too hard but not way too soft either. Compared to a 99A wheel, the 78A is definitely softer.
Also, there’s a Durometer B scale that you should know about. The B scale is 20 points off compared to the A scale. For example, an 83B wheel is the same as the 103A wheel on the A scale. You simply need to add an extra 20 points. So, make sure you’re in the correct dimension.
Generally, longboard wheels are softer than skateboard wheels. This is usually because you need much more grip when racing downhills on a longboard than doing tricks on a skateboard.
Softer wheels are not as fast as hard wheels. However, soft wheels perform better in street skating. Hard wheels, however, shine in skateparks and on smooth surfaces.
78-87A: soft wheels, great for longboards, street skating, hills racing, and rough surfaces
88-95A: slightly harder, good for street skating and rough terrains
96-99A: nice grip, good for beginners skating the street or smooth surfaces
101+A: very hard wheels, great for sliding, great for pro riders
83-84B: extremely hard, great for sliding on street
Getting the wheel size and durometer is not the end of the story. For the perfect wheelsets, you need to look out for the wheel shape as well.
This is quite an easy one as it involves no numbers at all. There are 3 shapes you should keep in mind:
Square lip (square edge)
The lip of the wheel, as many riders call it, is the edge of the wheel. When you look at the wheel from the side, you can see its edges clearly. And square lipped wheels have very straight edges.
It’s kind of like this: [ ]. It’s not a perfect representation, but imagine it’s a wheel alright. With this type of design, you’ll have more grip on the road.
That’s why square lipped wheels are a killer weapon for downhill racers who need their wheels to be in contact with the ground at all times. This helps maintain their speed tremendously.
Beveled lipped wheels are not exactly round but not exactly square either. It’s somewhere in between. It’s curvier on the top and bottom edges but more straight in the middle part.
This kind of wheel is perfect for carving. It allows some space between the wheels and the road, which makes turning a bit easier than square lipped wheels.
Round wheels look like this: ( ). These are very much like your car wheels. They have the least friction on the road compared to the other two.
Turning and flipping on these wheels are super easy and awesome. Also, the round lipped design allows much smoother sliding.
Wheel Patch Size
Simply, the wheel patch size is the area of the wheel that comes in direct contact with the road. You’ll usually find patch size around 22-35 mm.
Why is this important?
Well, it’s very simple if you think about it. With a larger patch (i.e. a larger area of the wheels is touching the ground), you’ll have much better grip.
A larger area will help distribute your weight and some heat as well. This is why longboard wheels are usually bigger and have a larger patch size.
A smaller patch size, on the other hand, will reduce friction. And with less friction, you can roll and slide much faster. That’s why skateboards usually have smaller wheels for quicker sliding.
Still can’t decide?
We hope we didn’t confuse you too much at this point. It’s really simple. You just need to mix and match the 4 elements and work them out.
If you want a longboard skateboard to do powerful pumps and downhill racing, get some big, soft, square lipped wheels with large patch size.
If you want a longboard or skateboard to do tricks and flips on, get medium-sized, soft, beveled or round lipped wheels.
Finally, if you want a board to do exciting sliding on, get those hard wheels.
That’s all we have for you today. We hope the info was helpful to you. Also, remember to get some fast bearings if you intend to buy a longboard. That will help the board roll much faster and smoother. See you in the next post!