Question About Skateboard Wheels? Read The Vines Guide For All You'll Ever Need to Know About How to Buy Skate Wheels

One of the key components of any board, skateboarding would be impossible without wheels, so it's essential to know the in and outs. From what materials the wheels are manufactured with, to deciding on whether hard or soft wheels are best, and the correct size for you - we'll provide insight into the major technologies related to skateboard wheels.

 

1) MATERIAL

WHAT ARE SKATEBOARD WHEELS MADE OF?

In the early skateboarding days, wheels were made of clay or metal. Originally intended for roller skates, skaters still attached them to their boards. The use of these metal wheels was thankfully eradicated with the introduction of urethane wheels by Frank Nasworthy in the 1970s.

Skateboard wheels are now almost universally composed of plastic polyurethane, often referred to as urethane. This material can be produced in varying degrees of hardness, making it suitable for numerous skateboarding applications and allowing it to dominate the wheel market.

Though there is variation among skateboard wheel brands differing formulas, they all look to create a product that is strong, fast, can slide (but also grip), and won't quickly succumb to flat spots. We'll explain more about these attributes later.

SKATEBOARD WHEELS: WHAT ARE FLAT SPOTS?

When performing powerslides (turning the board sideways and sliding on all four wheels, perpendicular to their rolling direction in order to slow your board down), 180 powerslides (turning the board 180° while skating without doing an ollie or other tricks), and other slide tricks like the bluntside, it’s possible that your wheels will become worn, and you’ll develop whats known as flat spots on your wheels. When this happens, your wheels will no longer be perfectly round and consequently, won’t roll properly any more. This happens most commonly with softer wheels.

SKATEBOARD WHEELS: STANDARD WHEEL VS. CORE WHEEL

Skate wheels come in two varieties: standard and core. Core wheels feature a plastic core which is denser than the rest of the wheel and helps reduce weight while also keeping bearings in place by preventing them from being pushed into the wheel.

2) HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR WHEELS

When it come to buying your skateboard wheels, it is important to consider the size and hardness that fit your setup and skating style. We are here to help you understand the different wheel sizes, levels of stiffness and contact patches.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT HEIGHT

All skate wheels come in different sizes. The size specification indicates the diameter of the wheels and is given in millimeters (mm). Usually, skateboard wheels have a diameter between 50 mm and 59 mm. Anything bigger is not suitable for a popsicle-style skateboard and is intended for use with cruisers or longboards.

In General:
1. Street Skateboarding - USE SMALLER WHEELS BETWEEN 50 – 53mm

2. All-Around Wheels (Street, Park, Mini-Ramp) - USE
MID SIZED WHEELS FROM 53 – 56 mm

3. Vert & Cruising -
US LARGER WHEELS UP TO 58mm

Smaller wheels accelerate quicker and are more lightweight and compact. But, they can't reach the same top speed as bigger wheels. Additionally, larger ones are best when riding over difficult terrain, as they won't be impeded by minor stones and obstructions. Also, they are made to soar at higher speeds and are sturdier in construction.

- SUGGESTED SIZES BASED ON YOUR TRUCKS

Choosing skateboards wheel can be tricky if you you're not sure on size. In order to avoid unpleasant wheel bites, it is important that your wheels and trucks match up perfectly. Make sure they complement each other and you should be good to go! Wheelbite is when your deck comes into contact with your wheels. If you skate with large wheels, the distance between them and the skateboard deck is smaller. Landing tricks and hard turns can produce this unwanted meeting of deck and wheel and can lead to you eating some serious shit!

Should your wheel size not fit your trucks, you can use riser pads to increase the distance between your deck and wheels:

LOW TRUCKS
If you have low trucks and prefer to skate without riser or shock pads, then the max recommend height for your wheels should be 52mm
MID / STANDARD TRUCKS
In the case that you skate with mid/standard trucks without pads, we recommend skateboard wheels between 52 mm and 56 mm
HIGH TRUCKS
For high trucks without pads, you any skate any wheel size up to 58 mm

 

CHOOSING THE RIGHT HARDNESS (DUROMETER)

Another factor to bear in mind when buying new skate wheels is the hardness, or durometer of them. The hardness of skateboard wheels is given in Durometers, with the unit of “A.” This so-called A Scale is a 100-point scale, with skateboard wheels ranking between 75A and 100A. The higher the number is, the harder the wheels are.

Since the A Scale can only accurately describe wheels up to a hardness level of 100A and gets imprecise with high values, brands like Bones Wheels use an additional scale to more precisely describe even hareder wheels with a durometer of between 101A – 104A.

On the even harder “B Scale”, there are wheels harder than a 100a. For example Bones 83B wheel corresponds to a 103A, and an 84B wheel corresponds to a 104A. These wheels are way harder than the wheels on the A scale.

WHICH HARDNESS DO YOU NEED?

Softer skate wheels have more grip, are quieter, and roll much better over debris in the street. Because of this, they slide less than hard wheels and are slower. Below you can find out which individual degrees of hardness are most suitable for you.

SOFT SKATEBOARD WHEELS | 78A – 92A

Soft wheels are suitable for very rough surfaces and for cruiser and filming boards because they absorb ground unevenness and minimize noise. These wheels have a lot of grip and are slower in comparison to hard wheels. Powerslides are much harder to execute with soft wheels.

MEDIUM HARD SKATEBOARD WHEELS | 93A – 95A

Skateboard wheels with a hardness from 93A to 95A are slightly harder and faster than soft wheels, but still have a good grip. If your street spots have very rough ground, but you still want to street skate, or if you simply want to relax and cruise through the city, then wheels within this range are right for you.

HARD SKATEBOARD WHEELS | 95A – 99A

Skateboard wheels in the durometer range of 95A – 99A are the perfect wheels for every beginner. Whether you’re skating the streets, skate parks or mini ramps, you’ll be well off with these wheels. They’ll slide when you want, give you enough grip, and are reasonably fast.

VERY HARD SKATEBOARD WHEELS | 99A – 101A & 83B – 84B

Very hard skateboard wheels in the rage of 99A – 101A and more (as well as 83B – 84B Bones Wheels) are the perfect wheels for experienced skaters. Due to their extreme hardness, they slide fast, accelerate quickly, a can reach very high top speeds. For this reason, they are ideally suited for technical skateboarding. On rough or very slippery surfaces, however, very hard wheels can be unpleasant to skate on.

 

CONTACT PATCH

After the diameter and hardness level, selecting the right contact patch is the last criterion you have to do decide on when selecting the right wheels for your skateboard.

This area refers to the part of the wheel that stays in contact with the ground

Slim Wheels and Basic Wheels differ fundamentally in that Basic Wheels have a contact patch of 18-20mm, where as the range of Slim Wheels is 15-17mm. Because of this, the friction is minimized when skating and sliding, making narrow wheels particularly suitable for technical skating.

3) ASSEMBLY, BEARING REMOVAL & MAINTENANCE

Here, you can find out how to get the bearings into the wheels and how to mount the wheels on your trucks. We’ll also tell you how to get the bearings back out of your wheels, and how you can extend the longevity of your wheels and what to do if they stop rolling.

GET BEARINGS IN WHEELS

1) With deck on its side, remove axle nuts and top speed ring
2) Place bearing on axel (shield side down)
3) Place wheel onto bearing and push with force until bearing is full immersed
4) Repeat with other bearing

MOUNT WHEELS TO TRUCKS

Make sure that you don’t use excessive force when attempting to insert your bearings, as not to damage the wheel core or bearing. Your wheels should be neither too loose nor too tight on the axle. Try to give your wheels just enough space for clearance.

1) Remove axle nuts
2) Remove the top speed ring
3) Place wheel on axel (choose graphic to show or face in)
4) Replace speed ring and axel nut

BEARING REMOVAL

If your wheels are worn out, but your bearings are still in working order, you can get them out from your wheels in a few easy steps.

1) Turn your deck on its side, so that the axel is pointing upwards.
2) Loosen the axle nut and remove the top speed ring.
3) Take the wheel off the axle, and slightly reinsert it at an angle. Like this, you should be able to pry the bearing from the wheel core.
4) Make sure you don’t apply too much force, or you’ll damage the bearing. It will take a little muscle though.

PROLONGING THE LIFE OF YOUR WHEELS

Every skater has his or her own skating preferences. Whether it’s your typical route at the skatepark, or if you prefer to do your powerslides frontside or backside, it all affects the wear and tear on your wheels. To avoid one-sided wear on your wheels, you can regularly swap the position of your wheels so that they wear evenly.

OPTION 1: You can turn your wheels the easy way. Take the side of the wheel that used to be facing outwards, and face it inwards.

OPTION 2: What’s more effective is when you switch your wheels in an X-pattern. That is, you swap the front right wheel with the rear left and the back front left wheel with the rear right.

WHY AREN'T YOUR WHEELS TURNING PROPERLY?

There could be multiple explanations for your skateboard wheels not spinning correctly. Start by confirming the axle nut is not overly tightened and that the components between the bearings, speed ring, axle and/or nut are clear of dirt. If it is dirtied up, unscrew the wheels and clean them off with a moist cloth.

Remeber: All brands are using different mixtures that have an influence on a wheel’s performance. Unfortunately, there is hardly any information about the urethane compounds used by the various manufacturers. Therefore, it is possible that wheels with the same specifications like hardness (durometer), diameter, riding surface etc., will still perform differently. Therefore, it definitely makes sense to give other brands a try if you weren’t 100% satisfied with your last wheels.

If you still have any questions regarding skate wheels you can leave a comment under this post, come in to store or contact us in any of the usual ways.

Some info on the most popular wheel brands:

BONES WHEELS

The STF is the flagship model of Bones Wheels of California. STF stands for “Street Tech Formula”. With 103A Bones STF Wheels are pretty hard.

As the name suggests, the wheels are geared specifically toward street skating. The wheels are very fast and slide-friendly.

The STF Line is divided into five different types of wheels; each version of the STF has been adapted in width and shape for various specific applications.

BONES STF V1 STANDARDS

The Bones STF V1 Standard Skateboard wheel is a versatile, durable all-around wheel for classic street skating.

BONES STF V2 LOCKS

The Bones STF V2 Lock Skateboard wheel has been specifically designed for skating curbs and rails. It is very light, slides quickly, and its profile makes it easier to lock in slides and grinds.

BONES STF V3 SLIMS

The Bones STF V3 Slim Skateboard wheel is the most popular wheel among street skate pros. The V3 is lightweight, extremely fast, and thanks to friction reduction technology, very slide-friendly.

BONES STF V4 WIDES

The Bones STF V4 Wide Skateboard wheel is made for all-round skaters who prefer a somewhat broader wheel. Next to its versatility, the V4 stands out above the rest with its flat spot resistance.

BONES STF V5 SIDECUTS

The Bones STF V5 Sidecut Skateboard wheel was developed for bowls and for skating rails and curbs. This versatile wheel is very light and ensures faster and longer grinds and slides. Due to its curved profile, the wheel artwork is protected against getting torn up.

 

SPITFIRE FORMULA FOUR

Spitfire are the most popular wheels on the market. The special urethane mixture used in these wheels makes them extremely flat spot-resistant. In addition, the wheels wear out more slowly than most other wheels on the market and are some of the fastest wheels available for both rough and smooth surfaces.

With their Formula 4 Wheels, Spitfire guarantees a fast, controlled Slide. If you are looking perfect all-around wheels, then the Spitfire Formula Four wheels are the right ones for you! Formula Four models are available in 99A and 101A and in six different shapes.

FORMULA FOUR CLASSIC

Spitfire Formula Four Classic Shape wheels have the same profile as most of the skateboard wheels on the market. This established shape is distinguished by its high speed and versatility dues to its narrow contact patch. The perfect all-round wheel!

aFORMULA FOUR LOCK INS

The Spitfire Fomula Four Lock In Shape skateboard wheels have a conical shape on the outside and a straight edge cut on the inside. This asymmetrical shape locks perfectly into grinds on curbs and rails. Ideal for more control when you're skating street.

FORMULA FOUR CONICAL

Spitfire Formula Four Conical wheels are classic all-around wheels with conical profile. These wheels are very reactive and lightweight, making them perfectly suitable for universal street skating.

 

 

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