Small wheels or big wheels; soft wheels or hard wheels? Which option is best for you and your preferred style of skating?
Types of Skateboard Wheels
There are three general types of skateboard wheels:
Soft Wheels (Cruiser Wheels)
Soft wheels are much bigger than street skating wheels and provide more of a smoother ride. They roll smoothly over rough surfaces and are great for getting around.
- Size: 54 to 60mm
- Type: Cruiser
- Suited For: Smooth Riders
Made from street skating and park skating, these hard wheels are made to move quickly over smooth surfaces. They are lightweight and strong—perfect for flipping tricks and performing slides.
- Size: 50 to 60mm
- Type: Street Skating
- Suited For: Performing Tricks
Longboards tend to have much larger wheels to deliver the ultimate smooth ride, perfect for rough surfaces and high speeds. You can use them to race downhill, slide with ease, and cruise on your commute.
- Size: 50 to 75mm
- Type: Cruising, Racing, Carving
- Suited For: Rough Terrain and Grip
Skateboard Wheel Size
The diameter of skateboard wheels will affect whether they provide more speed or more responsiveness. Smaller wheels are lighter and better for tricks; larger wheels are heavier but quicker and better for cruising.
The riding surface will also play a role. Also known as the contact patch, the riding surface is the part of the wheel that touches the ground. It essentially governs the width of the skateboard wheel. The wider it is, the more suitable it will be for cruising. The narrower it is, the easier it will be to perform technical tricks.
Skateboard Wheel Hardness
The hardness of the skateboard wheel is measured using a durometer and they typically range from a low of 75a to a high of 104a, with the lower end indicating a soft wheel.
The Shore B scale is also used by Bones wheels, which can be a little confusing. Generally, you just need to add 20 points. For instance, Bones wheels with a rating of 80b will equate to 100a.
Street skaters should opt for harder wheels, as they will provide more durability when landing tricks. Softer wheels are basically cruiser wheels, although the size is important as well.
Why Do Skaters Put Wheels On Backwards?
There are several reasons why a skater might place a wheel on backwards.
The main reason is that they become “coned”, whereby the outer edges of the wheel wear down. It doesn’t have much of an effect on performance, though, and is more of a visual thing. Pro skaters may also place them on backwards to avoid getting into trouble with sponsors and event organizers.
For instance, if you’re sponsored by Brand A and you hate their wheels, you may choose Brand B wheels instead. But you have contracts to fulfil, and so you don’t want to show Brand A or your fans that you’ve made the switch.
Some skaters do it because they hate the graphics on the wheels but really like the performance.
Summary: What is the Best Skateboard Wheel for Beginners?
If you’re a beginner, the best thing to do is look for an all-round skateboard that falls within your budget and looks good. Don’t get caught up in all the finer points.
As tempting as it is to build your own custom board and get the best wheels, trucks, and deck, you won’t really know what the best is until you start skating and find your style and level.
Generally, however, mid-sized skateboard wheels will suit most beginners, falling somewhere between small and big and providing a balance of benefits.