Let’s roll! Wheels make the world go round, at least in a skater’s world. With the variety of wheels out there, how does one make the right choice? Like so many other products in the skate world, how do you even know where to begin? Well that depends on how you roll…
If you’re a beginner, it goes without saying that just about any wheel is going to work for you, so you might as well just go for the budget wheels, ya know- something round that rolls. But do keep in mind that wheel size might make a difference in how you learn to ride. The laws of physics apply here: larger wheels=less rotations per revolution which means less friction, so if you want a smoother, faster ride to begin with, go for the 55 or 56 mm wheels.
Smaller skateboard wheels have some disadvantages and some advantages too. First the pros: Smaller rotations=more friction which means less speed. So if you’re still learning, speed may not be something you desire right away. Smaller wheels also mean less board bite on the underside of your deck. But those smaller wheels also have the probability to get hung up in the sidewalk cracks if you’re not going fast enough. So if you’re not looking for a free trip to the concrete with your face in first place, the smaller wheels (like 48mm-50mm) might not be a wise choice.
Okay, so you’re getting the hang of a few tricks now and you’re even starting to slide here and there… enter the problem of flat spots. You can spot the sound a mile away, like a firecracker on the concrete trying to keep up with a speed bunk beat. This is where the durometer rating comes into play. You’ve seen them marked on some wheels; 95A, 100A etc. The lower the number, the softer the wheel, and higher numbers are harder wheels.
If you’re gonna tear up the streets, then the harder the better! Soft wheels are really only useful for cruisers and longboarders who want a smooth ride. Though soft wheels grip the ground better and offer more control, they also ‘flat spot’ very easily.
Bones makes some of the best skateboard wheels money can buy, with different formulas to choose from. The STF formula are designed for street, the SPF for skateparks, and for ditch riders, the DTF formula. All of which are guaranteed against flat spots. The Bones 100’s are their competitively priced wheels, in case you’re on a budget and can’t afford to get the super formulas.
Of course, Spitfire is one of my all time favorite wheel companies. Not only are they made in the USA, they are also guaranteed against factory defects, or they reimburse you. They have the best selection of hard core wheel on the market. Need speed? Try the Firelight Core wheels, with built in airflow vents. Need a lighter wheel? Try the mini-cores. Cool prints and a variety of colors, including neon, make Spitfire the brand to look to for snarky pizzazz that also shreds.
For cruiser and longboard fans, let’s not forget Kryptonics– rollin’ since 1964! Some of their wheel are so grippy and soft that they bounce back to you like a rubber ball when tossed to the ground. That makes for a super smooth ride with lots of carving control.
There are heaps of wheel companies that make great wheels, and every brand also carries some of their own printed wheels in catalog, but the three names mentioned here have been the leaders in the industry for years. Other names like Ricta, ABEC11, Pig Wheels, and Venom. These are all great brands, but you’ll learn to develop loyalty by experience. Ride a few, and you’ll develop a preference. Now quit reading, and go skate!
Want to see the best, and cheapest, range of skateboard wheels in Australia? Just jump onto Radness.com.au and you can compare skate board wheels prices from all of the major Aussie skateboard stores.