Picking the right skateboard wheels depends on your style, how often, and where you skate. Pick wheels based on their hardness, diameter, and the surface you skate.
- Street and park skaters benefit from small hard wheels
- Bowl and vert skaters benefit from bigger wheels
- Cruising requires big soft wheels
- Cruising and tricks requires medium sized and medium hard wheels.
Wheels come in all sorts of colors and sizes, but the most important thing is how they perform. First I’ll go into the wheels you need for your style of skateboarding and after that more into the technical details.
- Choosing The Right Skateboard Wheels
- Choosing the Right Size
- Picking the Right Wheel Hardness (Durometer )
- Skateboard Wheel Shapes Expained
- Related Articles
Choosing The Right Skateboard Wheels
There isn’t a wheel that is good at everything. It really depends on where you skate. Street skaters need different wheels than cruisers. A Vert skater really shouldn’t ride soft wheels etc.
So let’s look at the different types of situations and the features you should look for. Here’s a short overview:
- Street wheels: 49 mm to 53 mm, duro 99A / 104A.
- Transition (skate park) wheels: 52 mm to 54 mm, duro 99A / 104A.
- Mini Ramp wheels: 54 mm to 56 mm, duro 97A / 104A.
- Bowl Skating wheels: 56 mm to 58 mm, duro 97A / 104A.
- Vert Skating wheels: 58 mm to 60 mm, duro 99A / 104A.
- Cruise wheels: 58 mm to 65 mm, duro 78A / 80A.
- Cruising and trick wheels: 54 mm to 56 mm, duro 85A / 92A.
Skateboard wheels for street require smaller wheels, anything between 49mm and 53mm is fine. Street wheels have a smaller diameter which makes them more responsive and usually weigh less.
This helps you to perform tricks, like kickflips, varials, and heelflips. Larger diameters will cause your wheels to get stuck when you grind.
You’ll also need hard wheels with a durometer between 99A (more grip) and 104A (less grip). Softer wheels have more bounce and your skateboard will be all over the place when you try to land a trick.
For the street skating wheels look for the following features:
- Wheels diameter between 49 mm and 53 mm.
- Durometer A between 99A and 104A.
- Look for round lipped wheels or a conical shape.
Wheels for Transition Skateboarding
Skatepark wheels. Anything in the range of 53 mm to 54 mm is fine. The hardness should be around 99A and 104A. You need something that keeps a bit of momentum but still allows you to do some technical stuff.
- Diameter around 53 mm or 54 mm.
- Durometer 99A or 104A.
- Round lip wheels, conical-shaped
Wheels for Mini Ramps
Depending on the size of your local mini ramp, it sometimes is a good idea to go with a slightly larger diameter like 56mm. You’re also fine picking wheels with a diameter of 54mm but it requires you to pump a bit harder.
This way you’ll also still able to skate transition and street, which is perfect. Here’s what to look for when picking mini ramp wheels:
- A diameter between 54 mm and 56 mm, you may also go above if you prefer.
- Durometer 97A to 101A, or even 84B.
- Concial shaped wheels.
Wheels for Bowl Skating
In order to help you maintain speed, a larger diameter is recommended. This will help you to keep pumping for a longer time.
I personally recommend Spitfire F4 Conical Full, 97A/56mm. They are fast and grippy and the large contact patch makes them very stable. Go for Spitfire Classics if you like technical coping tricks. If you’re looking for skateboard wheels and only ride pools or bowl look for the following features:
- Durometer between 97A and 104A depending on the bowls’ grip
- Diameter 54 mm and 58 mm.
- Preferably a larger contact patch.
There are exceptions depending on the type of bowl you skate. For all the details about bowl skate wheels I suggest reading my best wheels for bowl skating post.
Wheels for Vert Skateboarding
When you skate vert you really need a larger diameter. Also, look for wheels that have grip so your skateboard won’t slide when you weren’t planning for it. There are some great vert wheels out there just look for the following.
- Durometer between 99A and 104A
- Diameter 58 mm and 60 mm.
- Large contact patch.
- Grippy wheels
Wheels for Cruising
You’ll need something softer to enjoy a smooth ride you’ll need something over 60mm. A smaller diameter requires more pushing.
So to keep your session enjoyable make sure to get bigger wheels. You might also want to look for a couple of riser pads to prevent wheelbite.
Look for wheels that have these features:
- A large contact patch
- At least 60 mm diameter
- Softer wheels with a durometer 78a to 80A
- Look for square or round lip wheels, both work. A wider contact patch offers more grip and makes pushing easier.
Wheels for Concrete Skate Parks
Just go with something about 53 mm -54 mm with a durometer between 99A and 101A. You want wheels that offer some grip because some concrete can be .
Features to look for:
- Diameter around 53 mm or 54 mm.
- Durometer between 99A and 101A depending on the type of concrete
- Round lip wheels, conical shape.
Wheels for Cruising and Tricks
If you just want to ride around and do some tricks now and then, there are options.
You’ll need something between hard and soft which offers a smooth ride but still allow you to pop your deck. You’ll need an average wheel size of anything between 54 mm and 58 mm.
Wheels you could get for cruising and tricks should have these features.
- Durometer between 85A and 92A
- Diameter between 54 mm and 58 mm
Choosing the Right Size
The wheel’s diameter makes a huge difference. The larger the diameter the faster you can go. Smaller wheels are better for street skating, they accelerate fast and are lighter.
This will help when performing flips and they won’t get stuck when you grind a rail.
Wheels diameter are measured in millimeters (mm), 10 millimeter is about 0.39 inch. The wheel’s diameter goes from 48mm to 60mm, and up to 75 mm for cruisers and longboards.
Small Wheels Between 48 MM and 52 MM
Smaller wheels excel in street skating and are ideal for tricks and grinding. They’re also suitable for skate parks.
While smaller wheels provide quick acceleration, they don’t match the speed or maintain momentum like larger wheels, making them less optimal for vert and bowls.
Medium Sized Wheels Between 53 MM and 56 MM
If you’re just starting out you should look for an average diameter. There’s quite a difference between 53mm and 56mm, 56mm wheels are a lot faster.
As a beginner, you should just go for either 53 mm or 54 mm. Assuming you want to do some transition or street skating. You can’t go wrong. These wheels are most suitable for street skating, bowls and ramps.
Large Wheels 58 MM and Up
Not a good idea to put these on your street deck. These wheels are specifically designed for longboards, old school boards, and daredevils that like to go downhill.
Takes some time to get up to speed but they have excellent momentum. The size also provides more grip and usually, they are a bit lower on the durometer scale.
The Pros and Cons of Small Wheels vs Large Wheels
Smaller wheels have a smaller diameter so they won’t roll over rocks and twigs as easy as larger wheels. Harder wheels last longer you’ll have less control performing slides.
The bigger the diameter, the bigger the distance between your tail and the ground. It requires more effort to pop and flick your deck.
Picking the Right Wheel Hardness (Durometer )
The Shore durometer measures the hardness of materials. The hardness of your wheels has quite an impact on performance depending on the surface you skate.
The durometer A scale goes up to 100 and basically just means how soft or hard your wheels are. The lower the number, the softer your wheels are and vice versa.
Difference Between A & B Durometer Ratings
There’s also a durometer B scale in which skateboard wheels hardness is measured.
The durometer A scale is limited and struggles with accuracy for readings over 95a. here’s where the Shore durometer B is more accurate.
However, many brands stick to durometer A due to its familiarity among skateboarders. Switching scales might confuse them.
Skateboard Wheels Durometer Between 78A and 87A
Wheels are considered soft when they are under durometer A 87a. This means 78a skateboard wheels are pretty soft. They have a lot of grip on rough surfaces and are more suitable for cruiser boards and longboards. Don’t slap these on your trucks if you skate street and parks.
Soft Wheels – Durometer Between 88A and 95A
These wheels are great for cruising but are a bit harder. You don’t have to worry about cracks and rocks as they don’t block your wheels. You’ll even be able to do a couple of tricks on the street. These wheels offer a bit less grip than the ones above.
Hard Wheels – Durometer 99A and 100A
Hard wheels that still offer a bit of grip depending on the surface you skate. Great for technical tricks, don’t bounce much and allow you to correct a sketch landing. Most street skater and park skaters pick this duro.
101A – 104A Wheels
Super hard wheels that are great for technical tricks because they don’t bounce and make it easier to correct a mistake if you land a bit sketch.
They are terrible on rough surfaces and but super fast on slick surfaces like concrete skate parks.
Skateboard Wheel Shapes Expained
- Area of the wheel that touches the ground.
- Distributes skater’s weight.
- Smaller patch = more weight on wheels = reduced momentum.
- Larger patch benefits cruisers, bowl, and vert skaters.
Shape and Width of A Wheel
- Classic wheels are narrow, good for skateparks.
- Narrow Outline Wheels: common, less ground contact, designed for technical skating.
- Wide Wheels: stable in verts, and bowls; less suitable for technical skating.
- Classic Shapes: best for cruisers, not ideal for street skating.
- Conically Shaped Wheels: widen from core to outer edge, great for tricks and street/park skating.
- Part between wheel side and contact patch.
- Squarer lip = more grip, suitable for cruising.
- Round lipped wheels ideal for street, park, bowl, and vert skating.
- Made of polyurethane, but texture varies.
- Smooth wheels: typical choice.
- Sticky/gummy wheels: smoother ride, more grip, quieter but less responsive.
- Threaded wheels: short-term extra grip.
- Impacts wheel performance.
- Regular wheels: insert bearings on both sides, has inner ledge to keep bearings in place.
- Plastic cores: can enhance bearing fit and performance.
For further reading and learning about skateboard wheels, check the following articles: