There is nothing more annoying than landing a trick and your skateboard coming to a sudden halt. It’s not only a problem for technical skateboarding. Even cruisers and longboarders experience wheel bite, mostly when you’re not expecting it.
Wheel bite happens when the wheels come in contact with the bottom of a skateboard deck. The wheels suddenly blocks and stops moving. This results in the skater losing balance and and even fall of the board.
There are easy fixes for wheel bite and it’s actually quite common. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be a bad thing, as long as your skateboard doesn’t entirely block.
How To Prevent Wheel Bite When Skateboarding?
There are many way to prevent wheel bite on a skateboard, some fixes are easier than others. There isn’t a standard space between your wheels and deck to prevent wheel bite. It depends on how loose you skate your trucks, the softness of your bushings, your weight, and the type of skating.
Here are a few way to prevent wheel bite:
- Consider adding riser pads
- Tighten your skateboard trucks
- Replace the bushings
- Buy smaller wheels
- Get a deck with wheel wells
Let’s look at each solution in more detail and when to consider them. Sometimes it can be a combination of methods to make wheel bite a thing of the past.
1. Consider Riser Pads
As a general rule skating wheels over 56mm require riser pads. Riser pads are probably the best way to prevent wheel bite.
Riser pads are rubber or hard plastic blocks that add some extra clearance between the wheels and skateboard deck. They also allow for sharper turning because of the extra room between the deck and wheels. Rubber riser pads, or shock pads, prevent pressure cracks from hard impacts.
There is a lot more too riser pads and I don’t recommend them for skateboards, check outy my riser pad guide to learn more. Also, skateboarders shouldn’t worry about angled riser pads or riser pad durometer. It’s irrelevant for regular skateboarding and applies to cruisers and longboards.
Keep in mind that the bigger the wheel, the thicker the riser pad. To make it simple I made this table that shows you everything you need.
|Wheel size (mm)||Riser size (inch)||7-Ply deck Hardware length (inch)||8-Ply or 9-Ply deck hardware lenght (inch)|
|49mm – 54mm||No risers||7⁄8″||1 1⁄8″|
|55mm – 56mm||No need if you ride trucks tight||7⁄8″||1 1⁄8″|
|55mm – 56mm||1⁄8″ if you ride loose trucks||1 1⁄8 – 1 1⁄4||1 1⁄4 – 1 1⁄2″|
|57mm – 58mm||1⁄8″||1 1⁄8 – 1 1⁄4||1 1⁄4 – 1 1⁄2″|
|59mm – 60mm||1⁄8″ – 1⁄4″||1 1⁄8″ – 1 1⁄4″||1 1⁄4″ – 1 1⁄2″|
Make sure you buy the right size hardware, it’s annoying when you’re building a new setup and discover you bought the wrong hardware size. More about this in my skateboard hardware size guide.
Lastly, thicker riser pads means there is more room between the deck and the surface you ride. While you won’t notice this on 1/16″ and 1/8″ risers, 1/4″ riser will make your board less stable and 2/4″ will make tricks very difficult. The higher center of gravity makes it harder to land certain tricks. Thicker riser pads are usually just for cruising, so I wouldn’t worry about that.
2. Tighten Your Skateboard Trucks
One of the easiest solutions to prevent wheel bite is by adjusting the tightness of your skateboard trucks. Loose trucks often result in wheel bite and by tightening the kingpin nut using a skate tool, you can easily solve this problem.
The downside is that this method makes your skateboard less responsive. It will increase the resistance on your trucks when you pivot. It might feel a bit stiff at first, but in time you will adept.
Sometimes this doesn’t solve the problem of wheel bite which can be caused by old bushings that need to be replaced, or just the type of trucks. Grind King trucks, for example, are known to be very turny and adjusting the tightness doesn’t help much.
In this case you either get harder bushings or replace the old bushings. Replace your bushings when they are squashed or have cracks. Bushings aren’t expensive and there are some great options other there that will improve your skating abilities.
3. Replace Your Bushings
When tightening your skateboard trucks doesn’t work, consider different bushings. This is often overlooked but bushings are pretty important. The best bushings are the ones that can carry your weight. A heavier skateboarder needs harder bushings, wheel bite occurs often if you are too heavy for your skateboard setup.
Check out the table and check your bushings hardness to see if this is what’s causing wheel bite.
|Bushing Hardness||Best For||Truck Feel||Recommended Skater Weight|
|Soft Bushings (80a – 90a)||Lightweight skaters||Loose||Up To 140lbs|
|Medium Bushings (90a – 96a)||General skateboarding, street, and bowl||Medium Tight||140lbs – 190lbs|
|Hard Bushings (96a+)||Heavier skaters, jumping big objects||Tight||190lbs+|
Heavier skaters should consider Bones hardcore bushings (if you’re over 220LBS). These bushings will make a huge difference and often solve the problem. Keep in mind that over time bushings become less efficient. especially when you’re a heavier skater. When adjusting the tightness doesn’t work anymore it’s time to get a new set.
4. Get Smaller Skateboard Wheels
Sometimes your wheels are too big and there isn’t enough clearance between the wheel and the deck. When you ride 60mm wheels without risers, you will get wheel bite. Consider replacing your wheels with a new set, preferably between 50mm and 54mm.
Keep in mind that smaller wheels impact performance in several ways. If you just want to cruise, smaller wheels aren’t the best option. If this is you, check option number 2, adding riser pads is probably your best bet.
While smaller wheels prevent wheel bite, they are also slower and loose momentum quickly. Not ideal for cruising but great for tricks. The bigger the wheel, the faster you go.
On the other hand, bowl and pool skaters appreciate larger wheels. You need to keep your speed when you pump a bowl otherwise it’s exhausting. If this is you, also check option number 2. Wheel bite when carving bowls happens if there isn’t enough clearance, easy to fic.
Technical street and flat ground skaters should consider smaller wheels if wheel bite is an issue. But there are more options to consider.
5. Get a Deck With Wheel Wells (or DIY)
Wheel wells allow you to get your board lower to the ground without having to replace the wheels or adding riser pads. This way you won’t have to sacrifice control or stability. Because of the lower center of gravity you’ll have more control and stability.
Wheel wells are pretty old school but still common on wider setups and obviously cruisers and longboards. I recently ran into a guy that made his own wheel well but for that you need proper tools. It’s actually pretty easy.
Wheel wells are pretty uncommon on street skateboards and I still have to meet the first street skater that sanded down his deck and made his own wheel wells. Not a great solution for flat ground and street skating but a good solution for those who want to cruise and carve.
How Common is Wheel Bite on a Skateboard?
Wheel bite is a very common problem but for some more than others. With these 5 tips I’m sure you will find a solution that works for you. You can never prevent wheel bite but you can prevent your wheels from blocking.
Some skateboarders are more prone to wheel bite because of how they tweaked their setup. Very loose trucks will result in wheel bite more often than skaters who ride tight trucks. A skater who rides 56mm wheels is more prone to wheel bite than someone who rides 52mm wheels.
Of course your weight, the hardness of your bushings, and the type of skating all play a part.
I hope you we’re able to find a solution, often wheel bite is easy to prevent with a few simple tweaks. One thing I didn’t mention is putting wax on the wheel bite spots. This works great but also has a huge downside. Imagine ridding a park with wax on your wheels, or dropping in on a bowl. Your board might just slip away before you know it, I rather get wheel bite to be honest.
Landing a trick on the side of your deck often results in minor wheel bite without you even noticing. If you don’t notice anything, you don’t have prevent wheel bite. Fix the problem when it really affects your skating abilities.
I’m an aged skateboarder and I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago but also love surfing, snowboarding, or anything that involves a board.