Without wheels skating would be pretty difficult. Next to the deck and trucks, wheels are a major component of your skateboard setup.
Which is why we’ll go into detail to explain to you what skateboard wheels are made of, what the deal is with hard and soft wheels, and the right size for your setup.
We’ll also give you an overview of the most important technologies in terms of skateboard wheels.
Skateboard Wheels: Material
1.1 Skateboard Wheels: Material
What are skateboard wheels made of?
In the ancient times of skateboarding, skateboard wheels were constructed of metal.
The wheels were actually intended for roller skates, but skaters attached them to their boards nonetheless.
This practice was fortunately put to en end with the invention of the first urethane wheel by Frank Nasworthy in the 1970s.
Since then, skateboard wheels have been made of the plastic polyurethane. However, it is frequently referred to just as urethane.
This versatile material can be manufactured in varying degrees of hardness and has therefore dominated the skateboard wheel market.
But not all urethane is the same, nor are all wheels the same.
The different skateboard wheel brands are constantly trying new blends of materials to make the wheels more durable, faster, smoother, slide better, and to make them especially flat spot resistant.
But we’ll get to that later.
Skateboard Wheels: What are flat spots?
1.2 Skateboard Wheels: What are flat spots?
When doing 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 severely abraded, and you’ll develop flat spots on your wheels.
When this happens, your wheel will no longer be perfectly round and consequently, won’t roll properly. This happens most commonly with soft wheels.
Skateboard Wheels: Standard Wheel vs. Core Wheel
1.3 Skateboard Wheels: Standard Wheel vs. Core Wheel
The basic distinctions in skateboard wheels are standard wheels and core wheels.
In contrast to standard wheels (also referred to as “non-core wheels”), core wheels have a plastic core, harder than the rest of the wheel.
This plastic core saves on weight and also helps the bearings stay in place, keeping them from being forced into the wheel.
1. Standard Wheel
2. Core Wheel
Skateboard Wheels: How to choose your wheels
2. Skateboard Wheels: How to choose your wheels
When purchasing wheels, you should make sure that the size and hardness fit your setup and your skating style.
Don’t panic though; we’ll let you know what’s up with the different wheel sizes, levels of rigidity, and contact patch.
Skateboard Wheels: Height
2.1 Skateboard Wheels: The right height
Skateboard wheels come in several different sizes. The size specification refers to the diameter of the wheel and is expressed in millimetres (mm).
Normally the size of skateboard wheels falls within the range of 50mm and 59mm.
Anything larger is not really suitable for your skateboard and is intended for cruisers or longboards.
1. Street Skateboarding
2. All-Around Wheels (Street, Park, Mini-Ramp)
3. Vert & Cruising
4. Cruising & Longboarding
Smaller wheels accelerate faster and are lighter and more compact.
However, their top speed is lower than larger wheels.
Larger wheels are devoted to reaching higher speeds and are more durable.
When buying skateboard wheels, you should check to make sure your wheel size fits with your setup.
What’s crucial here is your truck selection. When your trucks and wheels aren’t right for each other, you’ll end up with some nasty wheel bites.
What are Wheelbites?
A wheelbite is the result of your deck coming 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 unpleasant meeting of deck and wheel, leading to a very abrupt and likely painful stop.
Should your wheel size not fit your trucks, you can use shock or riser pads to increase the distance between your deck and wheels.
1. Truck Size
2. Wheel Size
If you’re going for low trucks and prefer to skate without riser or shock pads, we recommend wheels with a maximum height of 52 mm.
Another thing to keep in mind when purchasing skateboard wheels is the level of rigidity.
HOW IS THE HARDNESS OF SKATEBOARD WHEELS DESCRIBED?
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, the harder the wheels.
Since the A Scale can only accurately describe wheels up to a hardness level of 100A, brands like Bones Wheels use an additional scale to more precisely describe wheels with a durometer of 101A – 104A.
On this “B Scale”, around 20 additional units are represented.
To clarify, a Bones 83B wheel corresponds to a 103A, and an 84B wheel corresponds to a 104A. These wheels are substantially harder than the wheels on the A scale.
WHICH HARDNESS DO I NEED?
Soft skateboard wheels have more grip, are quieter, and absorb irregularities in the ground better than hard wheels.
Because of this, they slide less than hard wheels and are a bit slower.
Below you can find out which individual degrees of hardness are most suitable for you.
SOFT SKATEBOARD WHEELS | 75A – 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.
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.
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.
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.
Fun Fact: All info about the diameter, hardness, and contact patch of a wheel can be found in our item descriptions.
Additionally, you can use the filter options to easily find the level of hardness or brands you’re looking for!
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.
Skateboard Wheels: Assembly
3.1 Skateboard Wheels: Assembly
We’ll show you exactly how to mount your wheels on your trucks and how to get the bearings into your wheels in our Skateboard Assembly Instructions and in the comprehensive video below.
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.
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.
• Turn your deck on its side, so that the axel is pointing upwards.
• Loosen the axle nut and remove the top speed ring.
• 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.
• Make sure you don’t apply too much force, or you’ll damage the bearing. It will take a little muscle though.
Skateboard Wheels: Lifespan
3.3 Prolonging the lifespan 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.
Skateboard Wheels: Wheels aren’t turning
3.4 Skateboard Wheels: Your wheels aren’t turning?
There are several reasons as to why your skateboard wheels might not rotate properly.
First you should check to make sure the axle nut isn’t too tight and that the area between the bearings, speed ring, axle, and/or axle nut isn’t too dirty.
If that is the case, unscrew the wheels and clean the parts with a damp cloth.
If your wheels still aren’t turning, the problem probably lies in your bearings.
It’s likely they just need to be cleaned.
Learn how to properly clean your bearings in the Bearings Wiki.
If after all that, your wheels still aren’t working, it’s time for some new bearings.
Questions & More
Still have questions?
If you still have questions or suggestions, you can leave a comment under this post, send us an email through our contact form, or ask our customer service team for advice in choosing the optimal wheels.
You can find other interesting information on skateboard decks, wheels, bearings, bolts and more in the skatedeluxe Skateboard Wiki.
To ensure that the deck, trucks, and wheels as well as the bearings and screws fit together, we have created the skatedeluxe Skateboard Configurator.
This allows you to easily display your individual selections and create a completely customised skateboard in six simple steps.
Below you can find an overview of the most well-known special technology in the skateboard wheel business. Have fun skating!
The various wheel manufacturers in the skating world don’t just offer the same old wheels, simply in different colours and designs.
Many manufacturers are working feverishly to constantly improve their wheels in order to achieve more speed, higher performance and better flat spot resistance.
If you’ve ever wanted to know what the deal is with Bones STF, SPF, ATF and Spitfire Formula Four, you’ve come to the right place.
The Bones 100’s model is a fairly basic wheel. Bones Wheels has specifically designed this wheel to be an affordable entry-level 100A wheel.
The 100’s are more flat spot resistant than many other 100A wheels and as such, they’re a solid choice for skating the streets and in parks.
The STF is the flagship model of Bones Wheels of California.
STF stands for “Street Tech Formula.”
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.
The Bones STF V2 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
The Bones STF V3 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
The Bones STF V4 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
The Bones STF V5 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.
The SPF in this Bones model stands for “Skate Park Formula.”
Bones SPF S skateboard wheels are comprised of very hard and high quality polyurethane and are extremely resistant to flat spots on very smooth surfaces, which you’ll often come across in skate parks or skating halls. Additionally, the wheels have a good grip on smooth surfaces without compromising slide-ability. They are also considered some of the fastest skateboard wheels on the market.
The SPF Line is also divided into five different types of wheels; each having been adapted in width and shape for various specific applications.
Bones SPF P1
The Bones SPF P1 are small and narrow wheels, which were developed for technical skating and for parks with lots of street obstacles.
Bones SPF P2
Bones SPF P2 model wheels were developed specifically for skating bowls, mini ramps and vert.
This versatile wheel has a very wide contact patch for increased stability, which it also makes it easier to roll over lips.
Bones SPF P3
The Bones SPF P3 model was developed to meet the needs of bowl, mini ramp and vert skating.
The P3 wheel is currently one of the widest wheels on the market and ensures stability at high speeds in transition skating.
Bones SPF P4
The Bones SPF P4 wheel is designed especially for skate park junkies who prefer technical skating.
This model is ideal for skaters who not only want to skate bowls and mini ramps, but also street skate.
Bones SPF P5
Bones SPF P5 wheels are the most popular wheel among vert and bowl pro skaters.
This versatile wheel offers full support when locking in slides and grinds.
For this purpose the P5 slides extremely quickly.
Due to its curved profile, the wheel artwork is protected against getting torn up.
The “ATF” in Bones’ ATF model stands for All-Terrain Formula.
These wheels are designed for skating on all surfaces.
Meaning these versatile wheels are suitable for both street and transition skating.
The ATF model consists of a somewhat softer polyurethane and is great for rough surfaces.
Spitfire Formula Four skateboard wheels 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, uniform 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!
Formula Four Classic Full
The Spitfire Formula Four Classic Full model skateboard wheels also have the same classic profile, but vary in that they are slightly wider.
The larger contact patch promises stability and controlled slides even at high speeds.
Formula Four Conical
Spitfire Formula Four Conical wheels are classic all-round wheels with conical profile.
These wheels are very reactive and lightweight, making them perfectly suitable for universal street skating.
Formula Four Conical Full
The Spitfire Formula Four Conical Full model is wider than the normal Conical.
Due to their larger contact patch they are more stable and controlled, making them very popular with street skaters who also enjoy the occasional ride on a mini ramp.
Formula Four Radials
The Spitfire Formula Four Radials have a slightly wider contact patch for greater control and stability.
They are still fast and slide-able. An awesome all-round wheel with a propensity for transition skating.
Formula Four Radials Slim
The Spitfire Formula Four Radial Slim model has a narrower contact patch than the normal Radial. This makes them both lighter and faster.