Skateboard wheels could last anywhere from a few weeks to many months. It depends on a number of factors. There are also a few ways that you can prolong their lifespan and get more use out of them.
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How Long Do Skateboard Wheels Last?
Generally speaking, a good set of skateboard wheels should last for several months.
The biggest factor affecting how long your skateboard wheels last is how hard they are. Soft wheels wear much faster than hard wheels, and the higher the durometer, the longer they will last.
The durometer is a scale that measures wheel hardness—the higher the number, the tougher the wheel.
Softer wheels wear faster but offer greater cruising speed and a more comfortable ride. Hard wheels are better suited to tricks.
The biggest differences are between the wheels used on longboards (built for speed) and street skateboards (built for tricks). But that doesn’t necessarily mean that longboard wheels will wear sooner, as they are not subjected to the same harsh turns, tricks, and techniques.
Your riding style and how often you ride will also play a role. It goes without saying that if you’re only using your skateboard once or twice a month, the wheels will last much longer than if you were to use it every day.
Whether you’re performing a lot of tricks and riding rough surfaces will also dictate how much wear and tear the wheels experience.
How Often Should You Replace Skateboard Wheels?
Your skateboard wheels are not like your mattress or toothbrush. There isn’t really a set timeframe in which they need to be changed. If there are no issues, you don’t need new wheels. If the wheels are not performing as well as they should, consider buying a new set.
If you notice any of the following issues, it could be time for a change:
- You have irregularly shaped wheels
- There are flat spots affecting your grip
- You don’t have as much control as you used to
- The wheels are heavily worn
Why Do Skateboard Wheels Wear?
Skateboard wheels are made from something known as urethane, a material that sits somewhere between rubber and plastic. It’s harder than rubber but is still malleable and flexible.
Urethane compresses and expands as the wheels spin, creating a responsive ride.
Friction is the main reason that skateboard wheels wear. The constant rubbing and rolling gradually wears the wheels down and the more you skid and move, the faster they will wear.
Softer wheels wear faster as they are more susceptible to friction damage.
How to Make Your Skateboard Wheels Last Longer
There’s not much you can do to prevent general wear and tear. If you’re riding, your wheels are being exposed to friction and will wear as a result.
However, there are a few causes of wheel wear that can be prevented.
Buy Better Skateboard Wheels
The best way to make those skateboard wheels last longer is to buy a better set in the first place.
Look for harder wheels and make sure they actually fit your skateboard (see “Wheel Bite” below). They won’t last forever, but with a good set of hard wheels, you can perform tricks, jump mini ramps, grind rails, and cruise the streets for at least several months.
Bad bearings and bushings can also reduce the lifespan of your wheels. Not only should you buy high-quality skateboards and parts when you can, but you should also take the time to clean your skateboard and parts as often as you can.
Prevent Wheel Bite
Wheel bite occurs when the wheel’s surface rubs against the underside of the skateboard deck. The more it rubs, the more friction it creates, increasing the wear and tear and reducing the wheel’s lifespan.
You may need smaller wheels but can also purchase risers to increase the size of the gap between your wheels and your deck.
Skate Smooth Concrete
Smooth concrete is best for skating. Not only will it ensure a smoother and faster ride, but it will also reduce friction and make your wheels last longer.
Avoid rough surfaces where possible and don’t skate in the rain. The latter might not do much harm to your wheels directly, but it could lead to more crashes and skids. It could also rust your bearings and warp your deck.
You could also avoid power slides and watch how you skate.
Then again, skateboarding is about freedom. You should be flipping, jumping, sliding, grabbing, and grinding with complete freedom. If that means you’ll need to buy a new set of wheels in a few months, so be it.
Switch Your Wheels
Your skateboard wheels won’t wear evenly. Before buying new wheels and tossing the old ones, remove them, inspect them, and swap them around:
- Place your left rear wheel in the front right position
- Place the right front wheel on the left rear
- Place the right rear on the left front
- Add the left front wheel to the right rear spot
If there is a lot of wear on one side of the wheel, just turn the wheels around. Of course, this means that the graphics will be facing inward and not outward, but the performance is what’s important.
If you have already switched your wheels and can’t switch them anymore, it’s time to buy some new wheels.
Will Freezing New Wheels Make them Stronger?
Some skateboarders insist that freezing brand new skateboard wheels will make them last longer. We’re not sure what the apparent science is behind this theory, but there is no solid evidence to suggest that it works.
There’s no harm in doing this, so it’s all down to you. However, it’s probably a waste of time.
What are the Best Wheels For Me?
It comes down to personal preference. The goal of skateboard wheels is not to last for as long as possible. If that was the case, we’d all just buy the hardest wheels on the market.
You also need to think about speed, turning, cruising, and comfort. There are several varieties of wheel hardness for both longboards and street skateboards, and your main priorities should be performance and comfort.