Why do Skateboard Wheels Turn Yellow? Does it Even Matter?


yellow skateboard wheels vs white

When you buy a skateboard you have many options to choose between, from the design of the board to the color of your wheels. For many people, white wheels are the way to go. They shine bright in the sunlight and can give your skateboard a bright, intriguing appearance. However, you might soon notice that your wheels begin to share an unappealing yellowish hue. But why?

Why do skateboard wheels turn yellow? The main reason why the skateboard wheels turn yellow is that the urethane breaks down and degrades from exposure to sunlight. You can also end up with yellow wheels over time as the wheels soak up dirt, oils, and other materials from the ground.

If you’re noticing an off shade of yellow beginning to appear on your skateboard wheels, there is no need to panic. Unfortunately, this is a fairly common thing to happen- especially if you’re using cheaper wheels. Let’s see why your wheels are turning yellow and I’ll give a few tips and tricks for the desperate that want to clean them.

Reasons Skateboard Wheels Turn Yellow

Not many skaters care if they end up with yellow skateboard wheels.  But to some, it can put a real damper on the aesthetic of their skateboard. If you are that person, you will be happy to know it doesn’t have any impact on the safety and reliability of your board. But what is the reasoning behind your once bright white wheels turning this off shade? Let’s take a look:

The Urethane Has Degraded

The main reason why the skateboard wheels turn yellow is that the urethane of the wheel degrades over time. Urethane is sensitive to the sun’s UV rays and the material will begin to degrade aesthetically over time.

But why does the skateboard wheel turn yellow instead of some other degraded shade, like brown or black? Urethane actually starts off as a beige/yellow hue. However, companies will bleach the urethane to create the bright white wheels you’re interested in. But as the bleach wears off and the urethane degrades, the ‘real’ color of the wheels begins to appear.

What is Urethane?

Urethane was first introduced to the skateboarding world in the 70s by Frank Nasworthy. The material gained popularity in the skateboarding world due to its durability and ability to be completely customized- as you will see in the bright white wheels that are made with a generous amount of urethane.

Urethane comes with a wide range of benefits, as described by Plan Tech in What Is A Urethane Wheel?. Some of these distinct benefits include:

  • Urethane is a very resistant material. It will not be impacted due to any type of abrasions or harsh chemicals. It is also resistant to acids and solvents.
  • Urethane is non-marking. This is ideal for skateboard wheels as you won’t end up with undesirable marks and scuffs, as you would with other types of wheels.
  • It can be customized and manufactured in a wide range of colors. Urethane is easily customized and can be turned into virtually any color. The colors are also known to stick for extended periods of time.
  • It is also able to handle extreme weather conditions. Whether extremely hot or bone-chilling cold, urethane is able to handle the temperatures without breaking down. Of course, this can mean that they degrade a bit aesthetically, but they will never lose durability.

Oils, Dirt, Wax, and Other Materials

It’s not just sun exposure that can impact your skateboard wheels, although it is the most likely to cause the tint of yellow on your wheels. The other thing that can cause yellowing is simply your wheels rolling across the ground.

Think about it this way: there are a lot of things that end up on the ground, some natural and some not. But oils, dirt, wax, and other grime and buildup seem to have the most impact on the aesthetics of your skateboard wheels. To put it simply, oils, dirt, and waxes are ‘soaked up’ by the skateboard wheels over time. This can leave an unsightly yellow residue.

Unfortunately, there is no way to stop the yellowing from grime buildup or sun exposure. But a diligent skateboarder who cleans his wheels regularly may be able to stave off yellowed wheels for a longer period of time. Why though.

How to Clean Your Skateboard Wheels

If you are concerned about your skateboard wheels turning yellow, you could clean them once every while. I don’t think there is a point as the discoloration won’t affect performance. However, if you want to see if this has any effect, go ahead. After all, there is truly no avoiding grime on the street or the sun’s UV rays- unless of course, you simply don’t ride your skateboard; and that’s never going to happen.

  • Remove the wheels from your skateboard.
  • Remove the bearings from the wheels, you can use your truck’s axle to force it out.
  • Clean the wheels.
  • Make sure they are entirely dry before reassembling.

As stated in the previously mentioned water, you can get away with simply using a rag and water to clean off your skateboard wheels. If that isn’t doing the trick, though, there are a few other great tips and tricks for cleaning skateboard wheels, mentioned in.

You can also use some household products to clean your wheels. Soak your wheels in hot water and a few drops of dish soap, then scrub clean. The dish soap will work to remove caked-on grease and oils that would otherwise be difficult to remove, especially around the bearings.

You may use a toothbrush or wire brush to clear off stuck-on goop and dirt. Don’t worry about scratching your skateboard wheels- this is very hard to do and nearly impossible to do using a wire brush. 

What Are the Best Wheels That Won’t Turn Yellow?

ricta clouds skateboard wheels color over time

Unfortunately, there is no foolproof method of keeping yellow tints off your skateboard wheels. This is because over time, the oils and dirt of the ground paired with the sun’s UV rays you are going to end up with a yellowish tint. This is true even for those who clean their wheels religiously. Your best option if this really bothers you is to buy black wheels or anything but white.

Cheap wheels are known for turning a yellowish color more readily than more expensive, higher quality skateboard wheels. That is why it’s important to make sure you don’t skimp on your wheels. This will not only ensure that they don’t end up yellowing too quickly, but that they remain reliable and durable over time.

These wheels are hardier than others on the market and won’t yellow as quickly. This blog also shares some useful information on types of wheels and when to use which, alongside other useful information you may be interested in.

The best skateboards wheels are made by Spitfire and Bones. There are other brands like OJ, Organgatang, and Venom but these wheels are designed for longboards and cruisers.

I noticed Bones and Spitfire don’t turn yellow as quickly compared to my Ricta clouds you see in the image above.  Before you buy I would advise you to check out my skateboard wheels buyers guide. There are so many different wheels for different purposes and before you spend 30-40 bucks on new wheels, you better know what you’re going to use them for.

Conclusion

Yellowing skateboard wheels are inevitable, as they come into contact with oil, dirt, and other grime on the ground as well as the sun’s UV rays. However, buying high-quality skateboard wheels and cleaning them regularly may help but cleaning is a bit pointless. It won’t have any impact on performance and skateboards and wheels are for riding, not just looking at them.

Ruben Vee

I 'm an aged skateboarder, but I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago and I'm out there whenever I can.

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