If you are looking to buy Skateboard Wheels and are confused about which ones will work best for you then you are in the right place. This guide will teach you more about hard wheels and soft wheels including how their durometer (hardness) is measured. It will also outline the pros and cons of each wheel type. By presenting this information and the reason people choose to ride hard or soft wheels you will develop a clearer idea of what will work best for you based on your skateboarding expectations. As a basic rule, if you want to learn tricks you will need a hard wheel but if you want a skateboard for cruising around then opt for soft wheels. Read on to learn more.
How do you know what wheels are hard and what wheels are soft? This is important information included on each product listing. Any wheel you look at will have two measurements. One will be their size in millimetres, this is the diameter of the wheel, edge to edge and will range from 50mm to 60mm. The other numerical measurement will be the durometer or hardness of the wheel which is traditionally measured using the A scale, invented to determine the hardness of materials. When using the A scale the higher the number, the harder the wheel and the lower the number, the softer the wheel.
Hard Skateboard Wheels
If you are looking to do your first ollie, learn tricks and get to grips with the streets and your local skatepark then you will need hard wheels. These will have no off-putting bounce factor to hinder you mastering the ollie, they will slide when you need them to and provide the necessary acceleration and speed to tackle what you come across. This is where you need to evaluate your goals and expectations. Hard wheels are made for the trick based skateboarding which inspires all of us to keep progressing. However if it’s just skating around the streets that’s on your agenda (and London’s aren’t the smoothest) they are more likely to rattle the meat off your bones than a soft wheel.
Hard wheels are generally 99A and above and most wheel companies use this scale of measurement. When you are starting out we recommend 99A or 100A as a good hardness. Officially the A scale stops at 100A. However you will notice that some wheels may be 101A or above, this means that they are super hard. Bones Wheels make many wheels which are harder than 100A and sometimes use a B scale to more accurately measure rock hard urethane, especially on their skatepark specific wheels. The B scale is 20 points below the A scale so a popular Bones 84B hardness is the equivalent of 104A. Spitfire when rating the hardness of their Formula Four wheels use a DU rating to denote the specific hardness of this superior compound. All of the super hard wheels offer increased speed, higher rebound and the best slide when you need it. They are aimed at the needs of experienced skateboarders and are perfect for skating the street or skate parks.
Soft Skateboard Wheels
Soft skateboard wheels are what you will need for cruising around and are often a bigger size for added speed. The harsh vibrations that rough streets, cracks and bricks create when riding hard wheels are minimised by the softer durometer meaning you will have a way smoother roll. Soft wheels also grip the surface you are riding on much better than a hard wheel. This is great for cruising but will make any tricks which involve sliding almost impossible and may prove problematic in the skate park.
Ricta Clouds are a great soft wheel for cruising, Ricta also make cored clouds which are made with a softer urethane surrounding a hard core. This changes the density of the wheel. The soft urethane minimises vibration still and makes harsher surfaces skateable but the core offers more rigidity and less bounce so ollieing up curbs is way easier for instance. These are a great all round option for navigating the city streets. Many of us who have been skating for years would use these wheels on a second board dedicated to skating around on errands. Soft wheels are favoured by skate filmers who want minimal vibration when follow filming on a board. They are also often purchased to skate a specific spot which wouldn’t be possible using regular wheels. You can find out more about the different options available in our Ricta Skateboard Wheels Buyers Guide.
Soft wheels are generally rated below 95A, the lower the number, the softer the wheel. For instance some of the softest wheels we sell are a 78A durometer. Once durometer dips below 80A the wheels really are noticeably much softer, there is even a little give when you squeeze them. Many of the softer wheels use a plastic core to maintain their rigidity. It is worth noting that many soft wheels are also bigger in size, once wheels are above 54mm you will also need to consider buying riser pads. Using a riser pad creates more clearance and stops wheelbite from occurring. Wheelbite happens when your wheels are too close to the board and turning causes them to grip your deck and stop you in your tracks. This is easily prevented with a riser pad.
We hope this guide has been useful to you in your quest for Skateboard Wheels. It is most likely you will be shopping for Hard Wheels. If cruising is on the agenda then you can shop specifically for Soft Wheels and Cruisers.