Every skater goes through at least a few skateboard decks in their life, and probably about a few dozen pairs of wheels. Skateboard wheels are by far the most commonly replaced part due to the fact that they go through the most abuse, as they’re the main point of contact between the skateboard and the riding surface.
With that said, buying the right skate wheels can make a huge difference in your overall experience as well as in how easy it is for you to learn how to ride. So, you might be wondering – what are the best skateboard wheels? The truth of the matter is, it depends. Factors like how and where you skate and your preferred riding style will all impact your choice.
How to Choose Skateboard Wheels?
There is no single pair of skate wheels that’s great for riding all styles. The model you choose should mainly depend on where and how you mostly skate. For instance, street skaters need a different type of wheels than cruisers, and vert skaters shouldn’t ride with soft wheels. That being said, let’s talk about the different types of skateboard wheels for sale.
What skateboard wheels are best for street skating? Usually, the ideal street wheels are smaller in diameter, somewhere in the 49-53mm range. The smaller diameter makes them lightweight and more responsive. All of this can help you perform tricks, such as varials, kickflips and heelflips. Larger diameter wheels, on the other hand, may get you stuck when you grind. Further, the ideal street skateboarding wheels are very hard, typically in the range of 99A-101A on the durometer scale. Softer wheels provide more bounce, so your skateboard will be all over the place when you attempt to land a trick.
These are the complete opposite of what street wheels are – they’re soft so that you can get a smooth ride, and they’re usually bigger than 60mm. Smaller wheels would make cruising annoying – they’ll accelerate quickly but they won’t roll as long. With that said, look for larger wheels and consider getting riser pads in order to avoid the wheels hitting the bottom side of the board when you steer, which can lead to nasty falls. You can take the urethane off the wheels and replace it with plastic to make them lighter.
If you’re skateboarding on your local mini ramp, you’ll need wheels that are about 53-55mm in diameter. Wheels in that diameter will allow you to also skate in the street and transition, which is something ramp skateboarders need. Personally, I have slightly larger wheels, 58mm diameter, to be precise, on my ramp-dedicated deck. Additionally, you want the wheels to be on the durometer scale of somewhere between 96A and 101A, or even 82B.
If you’re a vert skateboarding daredevil, you’ll need larger diameter wheels that provide better grip so that you don’t slide when you don’t want to. There are a couple of great vert wheels, and they’re all in the 96A and 101A durometer range and in the 54-59mm diameter range. Furthermore, you should look for wheels that have a smooth structure and are round-lipped. And lastly, the wheels should have a large contact patch.
Best Skate Wheel Brands
There are many skate wheel brands nowadays, and most of them make their wheels with polyurethane. The ones that don’t – should be avoided. However, even though most wheels are made of polyurethane, they aren’t all made with the same formula. Some of the formulas you may see mentioned include Formula Four, STF, SPF and ATF.
Spitfire is arguably the most popular wheel manufacturer. Their best wheels are the ones made with Formula Four, which are great for park and street skating alike. They’re available in the durometer range of 99A to 101A. Spitfire wheels don’t have a flat spot, meaning that when you slide the wheel won’t show any signs of wear and tear. Wheels made by Spitfire that use the Classic Formula Four are narrow, so there’s a small contact patch. As a result, the wheels are more responsive and the board will go faster.
Bones are up there with Spitfire in terms of durability and quality. They produce some of the best wheels for every type of riding. Unlike Spitfire, Bones offer a wider range, and their top-shelf wheels are known as STF’s (Street Tech Formula). These wheels are ideal for street skating, and they have a durometer of 100A. They also offer wheels specifically designed for park riding – the SPF (Street Park Formula) that feature a durometer of 83B and 84B. Similarly to Spitfire wheels, Bones wheels don’t show signs of flat spots, and they keep their size and shape for a long time.