Let’s get rolling — hehe. When it comes to skateboarding, your wheels are literally where the rubber meets the road. Riding the right wheels is sublime and riding the wrong wheels is…
The challenge is that there are many, many skateboard wheels on the market. That’s why we’ve put together this buyer’s guide to help you find the best skateboard wheels for park and street skating. First, we’ll make specific suggestions for the best skateboard wheels for different uses, in case you are just looking for a quick recommendation.
If you are looking to dive into more detail on wheel choice, lower in the article we’ll provide you with info on the key factors to consider, from size and durometer to shape and material.
Best Skateboard Wheels for Skateparks
We’re living in the Golden Age of skateparks. It seems like a new skatepark opens every week, and many of them are amazing. With the rise of parks, companies have started making wheels designed specifically for park riding. Here are some solid choices for the best skateboard wheels for skateparks.
Bones Skatepark Formula (SPF)
Bones Skatepark Formula (SPF) wheels are the real deal for park skating. I can’t tell you how many skaters I know that swear by them. They’re made with high-quality urethane that won’t flat-spot on slick or smooth surfaces, giving you a quicker response and faster roll.
|81b – 84b*
|54, 56, 58, 60 mm
These bad boys are like the Chuck Norris of skateboard wheels: tough as nails and almost impossible to wear out.
They’re some of the fastest, longest-lasting wheels you can get your hands on, and they’re the choice of both amateur and professional skaters who know what’s up. Tony Hawk, Lizzie Armanto, and many other transition skating beasts ride SPFs.
Best Skateboard Wheels for Street Skating
When it comes to street skating, having the right wheels can make all the difference. Street wheels need to be able to handle a variety of surfaces and terrain, from rough pavement to rails and ledges.
OJ Nomad wheels are my go-to wheels for street skating. I like the combination of a softer durometer and the square profile.
They can handle rough terrain without sacrificing slide performance. The Elite 95a urethane gives you a bit of forgiveness, so you don’t have to worry about getting jostled around too much.
|53, 54, 57 mm
The Nomads are also designed with a straight-cut, mid-width shape that lets you lock into grinds. Plus, the sharp edge and wide riding surface make it easy to slide with precision and consistency.
Overall, the OJ Nomads are a solid choice for street skaters who want a versatile wheel that can handle whatever the terrain throws their way.
Best All Around Wheels
All-around skateboard wheels are designed to provide a balance of features and benefits for both street and park skating. Not everyone who skates both street and park wants to own multiple boards. All-around wheels are the perfect choice for skateboarders who like to mix up their skating styles and enjoy cruising around town, hitting the local skate park, and performing tricks on different types of terrain.
Spitfire Formula 4 Wheels
If you’re in the market for a versatile skateboard wheel that can handle both street and park skating, Spitfire Formula 4 wheels are a solid choice to consider. These wheels are a tried and tested formula that are known as a great all-around wheel.
One of the main reasons why Spitfire Formula 4 wheels are so well-regarded is their quality and durability. These wheels are made with a high-quality urethane that is designed to resist flat-spotting and wear, providing a long-lasting and consistent ride. They also offer a fast roll speed that can help you pick up speed quickly, making them great for transitions and bowls.
Another advantage of Spitfire Formula 4 wheels is their versatility. They come in a variety of shapes and durometers, allowing you to choose the option that best suits your skating style and preferences. Whether you prefer a smaller wheel for technical street skating or a larger, more stable wheel for fast park skating, there is a Spitfire Formula 4 wheel that can fit the bill.
Powell Dragon Wheels
Power Dragon wheels are the latest inventions from the folks over at Bones Wheels (Bones and Powell are owned by the same parent company). They are intended as a ride-anything wheel, whether you are carving a bowl at the park are street skating.
|52, 54, 56, 58 mm
These all-around wheels use a unique urethane formula that is designed to offer both grip and speed. I’ve been riding a set of Dragons on a street deck that I also use to skate street features in the park. I also occasionally hit the park bowls with them and my local slappy curb. So far, I’m impressed. They really do offer a strange ability to both grip and slide — don’t ask my how — and they provide a smooth ride on sidewalks and asphalt.
The only thing about them is that they don’t bark like other wheels when you slide. They are eerily quiet. Depending on your tastes that can be a good or a bad thing. I’m neutral at this point.
How to Choose Skateboard Wheels
When it comes to choosing the right skateboard wheel, there are several factors to consider that can greatly impact your skating experience. The shape, hardness, and size of the wheel can all affect how it performs on different surfaces and for different styles of skating. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at each of these factors to help you choose the perfect wheel for your needs.
Skateboard Wheel Hardness (Durometer)
This is a tricky business. To measure the hardness of a skateboard wheel, a device called a durometer is used. The durometer is pressed against the wheel, and a needle penetrates the surface of the wheel to a specific depth. The depth of penetration is used to determine the hardness of the wheel on the Shore A or B scale.
For a long time, the Shore A scale was used to rate skateboard wheels (0-100a), but it was never intended to go beyond a hardness measurement of 95. In recent years, some manufacturers (Powell/Bones) have switched to the Shore B scale to more accurately gauge the hardness of skateboard wheels over 95a. As a result, it’s hard to compare apples to apples with wheel hardness sometimes – for example, Bones to Spitfires.
For reference, the Shore B scale is very similar to the Shore A scale but reads 20 points lower. So if you see a skateboard wheel that is an 83b, it’s equivalent to a 103a. So it’s a very hard wheel, by skateboarding standards.
Skateboard Wheel Durameter Scales
|Shore A Scale
|Shore B Scale
Generally speaking, harder wheels are faster. They also slide, making them more forgiving when you are doing tricks where the wheel needs to slide along a ledge, hubba, rail, or other feature. In the park, this is somewhat straightforward. You want to go with a wheel that’s hard enough to be fast, but not so hard to be grippy.
On the street, it’s a bit trickier. Hardwheels tend to be a rougher ride on the street and are more likely to lock up on pebbles and other debris. On the other hand, they slide better, so they are good for tricks like feebles and nose and tail slides where the wheels may be sliding also. They are also less prone to wheel bite. So if you ride loose trucks they will be more forgiving. So it’s a balancing act and one that may be very specific to how you skate.
What is the Best Wheel Durometer for Skatepark Skating?
The best wheel hardness (durometer) for skating in skateparks typically falls within the range of 95a to 101a. Harder wheels within this range, such as 99a or 101a, are generally recommended for skaters who prefer technical skating, which involves a lot of sliding, grinding, and trick-based skating. These harder wheels are more durable, offer less grip, and allow for easier sliding and grinding.
On the other hand, if you are a skater who enjoys cruising around the park or doing more relaxed, flow-based skating, then you may prefer softer wheels with a durometer in the range of 90a to 95a. These wheels provide better shock absorption and a smoother ride over rough surfaces.
What is the Best Wheel Hardness for Street Skating?
The best durometer range for technical street skating generally falls between 95a to 101a. Street skating often involves a lot of technical tricks, such as ollies, flip tricks, and power slides, which require a harder wheel for stability and control.
Harder wheels, such as those with a durometer of 99a to 101a, are typically better suited for technical street skating because they let you slide your wheels on ledges and rails and let you revert out of tricks more easily.
Similar to park skating, if you prefer a smoother ride for technical street skating, you may opt for a slightly softer wheel with a durometer in the range of 95a to 99a. These wheels provide better shock absorption and can handle rougher surfaces, but may sacrifice some of the forgiveness of harder wheels when trying tricks. Personally, I like my street wheels on the softer side (around 95a), but that’s just me.
If you are going to mostly be cruising and will have to contend with rough ground and debris, you could go down to as low as a 78 durometer. You’ll roll over stuff better, but beware of wheel bite.
Ultimately, the ideal wheel durometer for skatepark skating may depend on your personal preference and style of skating. It’s always a good idea to try out different durometers and see which one feels the most comfortable and effective for your skating needs.
Skateboard Wheel Size
Wheel size can have a significant impact on your riding experience on a skateboard. Here are a few ways wheel size can impact your performance:
More than park wheels, street wheels have to strike a balance. On one hand, if you are trying to flip your board or ollie high, lighter, smaller wheels can make this easier. On the other hand, you need to roll over cracks, rough pavement, and concrete, and not lock up on the rocks, bottle caps, and other crap you’ll encounter. The 52-56 mm range is a nice compromise.
Larger wheels tend to roll faster than smaller wheels, which can make them better for cruising or traveling longer distances. However, larger wheels can also be heavier, which can make them less maneuverable and less suitable for technical tricks.
Larger wheels have a larger contact patch with the ground, which can make them more stable and easier to balance on. This can be particularly important for beginner skaters or those skating on rough or uneven surfaces.
Smaller wheels tend to be more maneuverable and responsive than larger wheels, which can make them better for technical tricks and street skating. Smaller wheels are also better for performing tricks that involve flip tricks or other aerial maneuvers. Technical street skaters may go down to a small as 50 mm wheels. Most people, whether the skate street or transition tend to fall in the 54 – 56 mm size. I ride 54 mm wheels on my street deck and 56 mm wheels on my bowl board.
Larger, softer wheels can provide a smoother ride by absorbing more of the impact from cracks and bumps in the pavement. This can be particularly important for skaters who are cruising or commuting on their skateboard.
What is the Best Wheel Size for Park Skating?
The best wheel size for park skating typically falls in the range of 50-60mm. These wheels are smaller and lighter than those used for cruising or transportation, making them more maneuverable and faster-rolling on smooth surfaces.
In general, park skating involves performing technical tricks that require a lot of control, so a smaller wheel size can be more advantageous. Smaller wheels also allow for easier slides, grinds, and landings on ramps and other obstacles in the park.
Some skaters prefer slightly larger wheels in the range of 55-60mm for additional speed and stability, while others prefer smaller wheels for their lighter weight and increased maneuverability.
What Wheel Size is Best for Street Skating
While street skating wheels are typically very close in size to park wheels, but I like wheels in a tighter size range. From what I’ve observed, the optimal wheel size for street skating is generally between 52-56mm in diameter. Personally, I like wheels that are 54 mm for my street deck.
In general, the best wheel size for you will depend on your personal preference and the type of skating you enjoy.
Wheel bite is the enemy of every skater out there. It’s when your wheels make contact with the deck while turning, and before you know it, you’re eating pavement. It’s no bueno.
If you want to avoid wheel bite, go for smaller-diameter wheels and harder durometer wheels. The smaller size and harder material make it less likely for the wheel to hit the deck during a turn. A rounded shape can also help prevent wheel bite by reducing the chance of the wheel catching on the deck.
It’s not just about the wheels. If you ride tighter trucks, you may be able to get away with bigger, squarer wheels. If you ride looser trucks, you may need to consider smaller wheels.
Color and Design
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “who cares what color my wheels are as long as they roll, right?” But adding a little style to your setup can go a long way in making you feel more connected to your board. It’s all about the mental game.
Many wheel brands offer a range of colors and designs, from simple and classic to bold and eye-catching. Whether you want to match the color scheme of your deck or just make a statement, there’s a design out there for you.
Some wheel brands even collaborate with artists or graphic designers to create unique designs that are not only stylish but also collectible. So, not only can you express your personality through your wheels, but you can also snag some sweet limited-edition designs.
Skateboard Wheel Shape
Skateboard wheels come in a variety of shapes, with each shape offering different benefits and performance characteristics. Here are some of the most common shapes:
Round wheels have a smooth, curved shape and are the most versatile and all-purpose wheel shape. They are suitable for a variety of surfaces and types of skating.
Conical wheels are narrower at the riding surface and wider at the bearing seat. This shape allows for better speed and control, making them a popular choice for park and street skating.
Square skateboard wheels have a flat profile, which makes them more stable and provides a larger surface area for grinding on rails and ledges.
Beveled wheels have a slanted edge, which provides a sharper turn radius and more responsive turning capabilities. They are best suited for technical street skating.
Oval wheels have a rounded profile with flat edges, which provides a combination of speed and stability. They are well-suited for cruising and commuting on a skateboard.
The lock-in skateboard wheel shape typically features a square edge on the outer lip of the wheel, which creates a tighter fit with the truck and you stay–well–locked in when grinding on rails and ledges.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Soft Wheels Good for Street Skating?
Soft wheels can be good for street skating, especially if you often encounter rough terrain or cracks in the pavement. Soft wheels can absorb shocks and vibrations better than harder wheels, making for a smoother ride. However, they may be less responsive and less suitable for technical tricks that require a lot of grip and control. It really depends on personal preference and the type of skating you’ll be doing.
Do bigger skateboard wheels go faster?
In general, bigger skateboard wheels do tend to go faster than smaller wheels. This is because larger wheels have a larger circumference, which means they cover more ground with each revolution. As a result, they can roll over rough surfaces more easily and maintain their speed better on flat ground. However, it’s worth noting that bigger wheels can also be heavier and less maneuverable, which may affect your ability to perform certain technical tricks.
What is the Best Skateboard Wheel Size for Beginner?
There is no hard and fast rule for what wheel size a beginner should use. I recommend starting with a middle-sized wheel (something in the 54-58 mm range) and then trying other sizes after you become more adept at skating.