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6 Best Performing Skateboard Wheels for Rough Roads

The right skateboard wheels can make even the bumpiest surface enjoyable to skate on. Whether you’re skateboarding on a road or a badly cracked pavement, if you own a suitable set of skateboard wheels, your whole experience can be elevated. 

A skateboard wheel with a diameter of 52 to 55mm and a durometer between 85a and 92a is ideal for rough roads. The best wheel depends on your type of skating and how bad your local roads are.

I picked 6 wheels that can be used for rougher surfaces and or cracked pavements. I ordered them by their durometer from softest to hardest.

  1. OJ Super Juice 55mm 78A
  2. Bones ATF 54mm 80A
  3. Powell Peralta G-Slides 56mm 85A
  4. OJ Plain Jane Keyframe 54mm 87A
  5. Ricta Clouds Wheel 56mm 92A
  6. OJ Elite Nomads 53mm 95A

Top Skateboard Wheels for Rough Roads

Don’t confuse skateboard wheels for rough roads with cruiser wheels. For that I suggest to read this cruiser wheel article. Though some of the wheels here come close, cruising requires much larger wheels.

These wheels are small and a bit softer which makes them suitable for basic and technical tricks, let’s go.

1. OJ Super Juice 55mm 78A

OJ Super Juice 55mm 78A
Wheel ShapeWide
Sizes (mm)55, 60
Available ColorsMany
Wheel SurfaceSmooth
Ideal forCruising and tricks

Let’s start with the softest wheels suitable for the most roughest of roads. The OJ Super Juice are one of my favorites because they offer a smooth ride and are very affordable. At 78A they tend to bounce so landing a tre-flip or regular kick flip is a bit more difficult.

I advice to use these wheels for basic tricks that don’t require much technical skill. Ollies, nollies, shuvits, boneless, are pretty doable. Kickflips work but make sure to catch your deck before you land.

OJ is a reputable wheel brand and offer the Super Juice in 2 sizes (60mm and 55mm). The smaller 55mm OJ Super Juice wheels allows for some basic tricks on rough surfaces. The 60mm wheels are dedicatedf cruiser wheels.   

Pros:

  • Very smooth ride
  • Very affordable wheel

Cons:

  • Tend to chunk with ledge tricks
  • Not the most durable wheel

2. Bones ATF (80A)

Bones ATF skateboard wheels
Wheel ShapeNarrow
Sizes (mm)54, 56, 60
Available ColorsWhite
Wheel SurfaceSmooth
Ideal forCruising, basic tricks, bowl skating

The Bones ATF wheels are among the finest and the most resilient wheels available on the market. These wheels are well known for their resistance to flat spots. At 80a, this wheel is incredibly soft and feels very smooth even on the roughest roads. Due to its polymer core, its rebound abilities are also excellent. The wheel maintains its motion even after striking bumps and splits.

Unfortunately, 80a is a little too soft and light for most riders who prefer doing tricks. However, these wheels are perfect for skateboarders who would like to have a smooth riding experience even on rough and bumpy surfaces.  I ride these wheels on my trick/cruiser setup which is ideal for a short commutes and ollying curbs.

Pros:

  • Extremely durable wheels
  • Very smooth even on badly cracked surfaces
  • Has great rebound abilities
  • Provides extra stability on cracks

Cons:

  • Too light to perform tricks on

3. Powell Peralta G-Slides (85A)

Powell Peralta G-Slides 85a Skateboard Wheels
Wheel ShapeWide
Sizes (mm)56mm, 59mm
Available ColorsRed, Black, White
Wheel SurfaceSmooth
Ideal forCruising and some basic tricks

Due to the variety of hardness they come in, the G-Slides are among the most desirable wheels on rough roads. To enable the wheel to maintain its speed on any terrain, the inside component of the wheel is harder than the outside 85a section. 

The disadvantage of this wheel is that it is only available in larger sizes, which makes it less than ideal for skilled trick skateboarding. because of their softness they will bounce which makes landing primo more likely when performing flick tricks. However, the 56mm option is adequate for transition and bowl skateboarding. 

Pros:

  • Great for sliding
  • Easy to maintain your speed
  • Ideal for slippery bowl skateboarding

Cons:

  • Not ideal for flick tricks
  • Rather expensive

4. OJ Plain Jane Keyframe (87A)

Wheel ShapeMedium
Sizes (mm)52, 54, 56, 58
Available ColorsWhite
Wheel SurfaceSmooth
Ideal forCruising on rough surfaces and performing basic tricks

The OJ Keyframes are one of the best rough terrain wheels available on the market because of their softness. These soft wheels are able to efficiently absorb most of the vibrations that come with skateboarding on a rough surface. However, they are also firm enough to execute tricks without the risk of damaging them. 

These wheels are great for skateboarding around your neighborhood or on the streets. They are also reasonably priced as compared to other wheels, which makes them a great option to consider.

Keep in mind that the hardness of these wheels may make it difficult for you to maintain your speed. This depends on the surface but you need to push harder on rougher spots. 

Pros:

  • Can absorb vibrations easily
  • Ideal for performing tricks
  • Not too expensive

Cons:

  • Difficult to maintain speed 

5. Ricta Clouds Wheel (92A)

Ricta clouds cruiser wheels
Wheel ShapeMedium
Sizes (mm)52, 54, 56
Available ColorsWhite
Wheel SurfaceSmooth
Ideal forSkateboarding on medium rough concrete

The Ricta Clouds are one of the most famous skateboard wheels because they are extremely durable, excellent for tricks, and perform smoothly on bad roads. At 92A you’ll be able to do more technical stuff on rougher asphalt, though technically they are filmer wheels.

Ricta’s are also great for tricks on rough concrete surfaces. They offer a good balance between street skating and a smooth ride. If you’re used to harder wheels, they may fel a bit awkward at first but take some time to get used to them and break them in.

Pros:

  • Great balance between tricks and a smooth ride
  • Reasonably durable
  • Lots of sizes and durometer to pick from
  • Grippy

Cons:

  • Can feel a bit bouncy
  • Takes some time to get used to
  • A bit too grippy at first

6. OJ Elite Nomads (95A)

OJ Elite Nomads 95A skateboard wheels
Wheel ShapeNarrow
Sizes (mm)53, 54
Available ColorsRed, Black, White
Wheel SurfaceSmooth
Ideal forBowl Skating

Featuring a durometer of 95a, the Elite Nomads are not very exactly smooth to ride on rough or rocky surfaces but perfrom well on gritty aphalt. However, you will find that these wheels feel more responsive when you are performing tricks. Moreover, these wheels roll noticeably faster because of their WTF (Way Too Fast) formula employed in the wheels. 

The wonderful thing about the Elite Nomads is that they’re firm enough to ride on smooth concrete while still being usable on rougher terrain. Great skateboard wheels for beginners who intend to skate on a variety of surfaces, these wheels will provide some more grip and balance on flat concrete.

Pros:

  • Ideal for rocky roads
  • Great for pivoting stunts
  • Can be used on both smooth concrete and rough terrain
  • Provide extra grip and balance

Cons:

  • Not the smoothest to ride

Which Skateboard Wheels You Should Buy for Rough Roads

When selecting a wheel for skateboarding on rough roads, there are four major factors you must consider. These include the wheel size (also known as diameter), wheel hardness (also known as durometer), the surface you ride, and the type of skateboarding you do.

Wheel Size

The size of your wheel influences how effectively your skateboard can travel over ruts and fractures in the road, as well as how fast the skateboard accelerates and how well it maintains its speed. 

Small vs. Large Wheel Size

Smaller wheels have the advantage of being lighter and more agile for tricks. Their main disadvantages, however, are that they have a slow acceleration and a lower maximum speed. This isn’t a big deal for many technical skaters, but for beginners, the small diameter of the wheels can cause stability problems.

Larger wheels, on the other hand, accelerate slower but maintain speed far better than small wheels. They are certainly the way to go if you want to maintain your velocity.

Since bigger wheels often have a larger contact area, they are bulkier and slightly more challenging to pivot and slide. Even though you can still perform professional tricks with these wheels, it may require considerable practice.

Ideal Wheel Size for Rough Roads

For skateparks, the common skateboard wheel size that people use is between 50mm and 54mm. A 50mm wheel, however, is far too narrow to handle large cracks in roads.

You will most likely stop when you strike a rock when you don’t expect it. Pick wheels with a diameter of at least 52mm. Increasing up to 54mm or 55mm will provide likely be wise.

Wheel Hardness

The durometer rating of skateboard wheels describes the hardness of a wheel. The durometer is commonly measured on the A-scale, which is a 100-point scale. The closer the wheel’s rating is near 100, the harder the wheel is going to be.

An 87a wheel, for example, would be a lot softer than a 97a wheel. The “a” next to the durometer rating specifies the scale being used, which is the A-scale in this case.

It’s worth noting that some manufacturers also use the B-scale to test wheel durometers. The B-scale is 20 points lower than the A-scale. A 79b wheel has the same hardness as a 99a wheel. 

If you want to learn more read my skateboard wheel durometer guide, or check out the difference between hard and soft wheels.

Soft vs Hard Skateboard Wheels

Skaters who wish to execute tricks on rough cement must find the perfect balance between hard and soft wheels because of the extra grip. Wheels that have a durometer rating of 87a – 95a are ideal for a smooth riding experience and will also allow you to perform tricks easily.

Having said that, skateboarders who aren’t interested in stunts and just want to simply cruise around should choose the softer wheel durometer.  

Ideal Wheel Hardness for Rough Roads 

A harder wheel will carry more vibrations into the skateboard which is detrimental on rough terrains. In this sort of terrain, a softer wheel will prove to be more useful since it absorbs the vibrations from the patchy concrete and offers a smoother ride overall.

Ideally, you should look for a wheel with a durometers rating in-between 85a – 92a for rough roads. 

You might be enticed to go with the softest wheel out there, but that’s not a wise idea, especially, if you intend to do tricks on your skateboard. Softer wheels have more grip with the ground because of the greater friction they create with the ground. This extra grip makes landing more difficult. Rather than sliding, your wheels just stick to the ground and make you lose your momentum. 

Wide vs. Narrow Skateboard Wheels

Skateboard wheels are available in several sizes and hardness ratings. However, another major factor that you need to consider before skateboarding on rough roads is the width of the wheels. The two most common types of wheel shapes for skateboards are narrow and wide.

Narrow Wheels 

Wheels with a narrow lip size provide a smoother ride and produce less friction on damaged surfaces. They are perfect for those who want to merely cruise around because they respond more quickly to dynamic motions. However, due to their small width, they can prove challenging for beginners as it can be hard to balance yourself on them.

Wide Wheels

Due to their balance and strong build, taller or burly riders, commuters, and novices may prefer a broader lip or a cruiser wheel since they provide the best grip. You may use them for tricks at skate parks as well as on your regular commute. However, these wheels are slower than their narrower counterparts and may not be as maneuverable.

Skateboarding Purpose

It is important to know which category of skateboarding you fit in before choosing the best wheels for your skateboard. The three most common ones can be divided into trick skateboarding, cruise skateboarding, and beginner skateboarding.

Technical Skateboarding

These are skaters who are solely focused on performing tricks and prefer to skate on flat terrains. These skateboarders require wheels that are easy to handle and are slightly soft. For them, a 99a – 104a durometer wheel with a 52mm–53 mm diameter would be a perfect choice. 

Although these wheels will not be super smooth on rocky roads, they are significantly better than your typical skatepark wheel. In terms of diameter, a smaller wheel may not roll as quickly, but accelerates a lot faster.

Cruise Skateboarding

For cruise skateboarding, a softer and bigger wheel would function the best. This is ideal for those who want to simply roll around the city or slide down the street.

Since, how heavy or sticky your wheel is to the ground is of no concern to you, therefore, a low durometer, such as 78a–85a, will provide you with the finest and most pleasant ride.

When it comes to wheel size, a wider diameter, such as 55mm+, will allow your skateboard to maintain its speed and momentum.

Beginner Skateboarding

Lastly, if you’re a novice skater, you’re probably still experimenting with different forms of skateboarding. If you want to skate on the street in front of your house, cruise around town, or even shred the skatepark, you will want a wheel that feels excellent in almost any circumstance.

A wheel that is 87a–92a with a diameter of 52mm – 55mm will be ideal for you, if you mostly skate on bumpy roads that are common in a city.

Type of Rough Skateboarding Surfaces You Might Encounter 

Not all roads are ideal for skateboarding purposes. From gritty asphalts to badly maintained roads, skaters have to be careful of where they take their skateboards. This is because most wheels are not equipped with the ability to deal with rough surfaces, and may start to deteriorate quickly.

Gritty Asphalt

Asphalt is one of the most difficult surfaces to skate on. It’s a sand, gravel, and stone combination kept together with asphalt cement. The problem this poses to skateboard wheels is that the tiny stones in the asphalt can frequently come loose. This requires you to be extra careful of the stones and obstacles you are rolling over or else you risk falling over.

Ideal Skateboard Wheels for Gritty Asphalt

Skateboarding on such gritty asphalt surfaces requires you to use a different wheel than you would normally use on a concrete surface. In this case, the softer the wheels are, the better equipped they are to handle asphalt surfaces.

Make sure that the durometer rating of the wheel is on the lower side, preferably around 80a. This is because lower numbers indicate softer wheels. 

The second aspect that you should look for is average wheel size. Wheels that are around 52mm to 55mm will strike the ideal balance between providing you with decent acceleration on gritty asphalt while allowing you to perform tricks smoothly.

Larger wheel sizes are most suitable for riding over cracked pavements, which will be discussed later.

Cracked Pavements

Bustin Maestro on rough pavement

You will often come across cracked pavements and roads while skateboarding. Cracked pavements can also deteriorate the condition of your wheels, which is why you need to choose the ideal wheels for cracked surfaces. 

Ideal Skateboard Wheels for Cracked Pavements

To skate over cracked pavements, you need softer wheels that can roll over these cracks as smooth as possible. These soft wheels also provide cushioning effects, which allow you to remain stable on the skateboard. The ideal durometer rating for such wheels is anywhere around 77a to 80a. 

Moreover, the larger the wheels, the more comfortable you will feel skateboarding on cracked surfaces. This is because the large surface area of these wheels prevents them from getting stuck in cracks.

Look for wheels that are around 65mm or above, which are perfect for extremely rough terrains. At 65mm tricks will be a lot harder, and 77A wheels bounce a lot. Don’t expect to pull off many tricks as these wheels aren’t made for that. For that I suggest to pick on of my recommended top skateboard wheels.

Badly Maintained Roads

Badly maintained roads in the US often cause a lot of problems to skaters. Roads with uneven textures and rugged features can damage your skateboard and the wheels.

Over time you may find that large chunks of your wheels are missing, or there is friction developing in your wheel’s bearing.

Ideal Skateboard for Badly Maintained Roads

The ideal skateboard wheels for badly maintained roads should have softer wheels. Softer wheels allow a skateboard to ride over uneven pavements, with stones and fractures, without getting stuck.

Wheels that have a durometers rating of around 80a to 90a will allow you to ride over small pebbles and patchy surfaces with ease. 

Additional Tips for Skateboarding on Rough Roads

Skateboarding on rough roads isn’t ideal, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. It requires you to focus to keep yourself balanced, slams are more likely because your wheels can get stuck.

Longboard vs. Cruiser Board Wheels

Longboards, as opposed to street skateboards, are often better suited for rocky roads. Longboards often have bigger and softer wheels, with diameters ranging from 60 to 75mm and durometer ratings ranging from 75A to 80A.

Moreover, longboards have a larger deck, which is designed to assist large wheels. This is great for beginners as it helps them to find their balance better and far quicker than on a regular skateboard. A longboard also allows you to skate over small rocks and pebbles with relative ease.

However, you can buy a cruiser board if you’re looking for a more portable option. A cruiser board is better for making rapid turns on sidewalks and small streets. 

Moreover, because of their larger and softer wheels, a cruiser is better suited for rugged terrain than an average street skateboard. 

Avoid Wet Surfaces

Wet surfaces can prove to be very dangerous for skateboarders and can also damage the deck. Water can seep into the board leading to deformation. It may also cause rust to build on the metal components of your skateboard, such as the truck’s steel axle. Not to mention destroying your bearings.

Water can also make the surface of the board slippery, and your wheels will lose grip. Moreover, moisture will also cause dirt to combine with the lubrication in ball bearings, causing friction to build up. 

Learn the Basics

Before you skate over rough surfaces, make sure you know how to ride. Skateboarding on rough surfaces is more difficult and takes more practice to learn. 

You must learn how to place your weight on the board properly. Moreover, remember to elevate the front of your board and apply some pressure on your tail to allow you to hop more easily across cracks and bumps.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a contact patch on a skateboard wheel?

The contact patch is a critical aspect of the wheel’s performance. The contact patch of a wheel refers to the region of the wheel that makes contact with the surface. Having a larger contact patch disperses your weight evenly and minimizes the rolling resistance.

Do different shapes of the wheel matter in skateboarding?

Skateboard wheels are available in a variety of forms and cuts, such as narrow or broad lip wheel shapes. Standard wide lips are most suited for beginners because they provide extra stability, while narrow wheels are used by technical skaters.

What is the B Durometer Rating? 

The B-durometer scale is an alternative to the durometer A-scale, and more accurate at the end of the A-scale. For example, a 99A wheel from Spitfire feels different than a 99A wheel from Mini Logo.

Conclusion

Choosing the right skateboard wheels is for rough roads is tough because it completely depends on what type of surface you skate. Usually a safe choice is between 92A and 95A for medium gritty asphalt, these wheels also don’t bounce too much.

Softer and bigger wheels work well on the roughest of roads but your tricks will be limited because controlling your tricks on a skateboard is a lot harder on big soft wheels. Great for a smooth ride though but finding the right balance can be tricky.

No skateboard wheel is great for rough surfaces and tricks, but the ones mentioned here come close.

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