Choosing the right skateboard wheels is not instantly an easy decision to make, especially if you’re a beginner skateboarder. Do you want big wheels or small wheels? What’s the difference between a hard wheel and a soft wheel? And what the hell is a durometer reading?
Of course you could opt to buy a complete setup rather than individual components for your first skateboard. But if you don’t there are a few basic rules that you can follow which should allow you to make an informed choice about skateboard wheels without needing a PhD in advanced material science. The main factors you should be looking at are:
Choosing Skateboard Wheels: Big wheels or small wheels?
Skateboard wheels usually range between 48mm and 60mm in diameter, but the most common sizes are 52mm and 58mm. Wheels with a smaller diameter are slower at top speeds, but tend to accelerate faster and are often preferred by street skaters. Larger wheels offer a higher top speed and can be easier to balance on, but you sacrifice acceleration. Vert skaters usually prefer slightly larger wheels.
“What’s the difference between a hard wheel and a soft wheel? And what the hell is a durometer reading?”
Choosing Skateboard Wheels: Hard wheels or soft wheels?
In general harder wheels are better for trick-based skating as they slide easier, making things like power slides simpler. Softer wheels offer more grip and tend to handle better at high speeds. The ‘hardness’ of skateboard wheels is measured by a durometer rating, which for most wheels ranges between 80a and 100a. The higher the rating, the harder the wheel.