Longboard Wheel Guide: For Selecting the Best Wheels

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Are you new to longboarding and feeling overwhelmed by all the different types of wheels available? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Choosing the right wheels for your longboard is crucial for a smooth and enjoyable ride, and I’m here to help you navigate through the options.

Longboarding is all about finding the perfect balance of speed, control, and maneuverability, and your choice of wheels plays a significant role in achieving that balance. Whether you’re a beginner looking for stability or an experienced rider seeking high-speed performance, understanding the different types of longboard wheels and their characteristics is essential.

In this comprehensive longboard wheel guide, I’ll break down everything you need to know about choosing the right wheels for your longboard, including the various durometers, shapes, and materials available. By the end of this article, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence to select the perfect wheels for your riding style and preferences.

Longboard Wheel Guide

Longboard Wheel Guide

When it comes to longboarding, the right set of wheels can make all the difference in your riding experience. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the perfect wheels for your longboard. In this guide, we will break down the key factors to consider when selecting longboard wheels.

First and foremost, let’s talk about wheel hardness. Harder wheels, typically ranging from 78A to 87A durometer, are ideal for smoother surfaces and faster speeds. They provide more slide control and are perfect for downhill riding. On the other hand, softer wheels, ranging from 78A to 87A durometer, offer a smoother ride and better grip on rough surfaces. They are great for cruising and carving.

Choosing Longboard Durometer

When it comes to choosing the right durometer for your longboard wheels, there are a few key factors to consider. Durometer measures how hard or soft your wheels are, and it plays a significant role in determining your ride quality.

Generally, harder wheels are faster, while softer wheels offer better grip. For longboards, larger and softer wheels are typically preferred to provide stability and a smoother ride. This is in contrast to shortboards, which typically use smaller and tougher wheels for increased maneuverability.

78a-87aSoft wheel good for rough surfaces, longboards, or street boards that need lots of grip to easily roll over cracks and pebbles. Designed for smooth rides, cruising, longboards, hills, and rough surfaces.
88a-95aSlightly harder and faster with a little less grip, but the grip’s still good. Good for street and rough surfaces.
96a-99aNice speed and grip– an all-around good wheel. Great for beginners skating street, skate parks, ramps,pools, and other smooth surfaces.

Most companies use the Durometer A Scale to measure wheel hardness, which ranges from 1-100. The lower the number, the softer the wheel. Some companies may use the Durometer B Scale, which measures 20 points lower but allows for an extra 20 points for harder wheels. For example, a 60b durometer has the same hardness as an 80a durometer.

Contact patch size

The contact patch size of a longboard wheel plays a crucial role in its performance. The contact patch refers to the area of the wheel that actually makes contact with the pavement. When you have larger longboard wheels, your contact patch will also be larger.

Why is contact patch size important? A larger contact patch means that your weight is distributed over a larger area. This reduces the compression of the urethane in your wheels and leads to decreased rolling resistance. In other words, a larger contact patch can contribute to a smoother and faster ride.

The shape of the wheel also impacts the size of the contact patch. Rounded wheels make less contact with the pavement, while square wheels provide maximum contact. Additionally, the placement of contact patches on the wheel can affect performance.

Choosing wheel core

When choosing longboard wheels, one important aspect to consider is the wheel core. The core is located inside the wheel and serves two main purposes. Firstly, it helps to evenly distribute the heat generated from the rotating bearings, preventing the wheel from melting or deforming at high speeds. Secondly, the core determines the location and weight distribution within the wheel, affecting its performance.

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There are three basic types of longboard wheel cores: backset, centerset, and sideset cores. Backset cores are located at the back of the wheel, allowing for more play on the outside of the wheel. This makes them ideal for carving and sliding.

Centerset cores are located in the center of the wheel and are commonly used for street and vert skating. They allow for easy rotation and flipping of the wheels and distribute weight evenly, resulting in a longer-lasting shape.

Wheel Shapes: Choosing the Right Shape for Your Longboard

When it comes to longboard wheels, the shape plays a crucial role in determining the riding experience. Here are some key aspects to consider when selecting the right wheel shape for your longboard:

1. Diameter:

Wheel diameter affects both speed and acceleration. Larger wheels have a higher top speed but slower acceleration, while smaller wheels offer faster acceleration but a slower top speed. Smaller, lighter wheels are often preferred for sliding, while bigger wheels provide a smoother ride over rough surfaces.

2. Contact Patch:

The contact patch is the width of the wheel that touches the ground. A wider contact patch offers more grip and a less progressive slide, making it ideal for downhill riding and rough terrain. Narrow wheels, on the other hand, provide a looser and more slide-friendly experience, but they wear down faster and are more prone to flatspotting.

3. Wheel Width:

Wheel width also affects the riding characteristics. Narrow wheels are slidier and offer quicker turns, while wider wheels provide more stability during slides and turns. It’s important to find a balance between the desired slide performance and wheel longevity.

4. Wheel Shape and Core:

Different wheel shapes are designed for specific riding styles. Square-edged wheels deliver maximum grip for downhill and freeriding, while rounded-edge wheels offer smoother slides. Additionally, the type of wheel core (backset, centerset, or sideset) influences weight distribution and the ability to flip wheels for even wear.

Consider these factors and choose a wheel shape that aligns with your riding style and preferences. Experimenting with different shapes and sizes can help you find the perfect wheels to enhance your longboarding experience.

Longboard Wheels On Different Surfaces

When it comes to longboard wheels, the surface you ride on plays a significant role in their performance. Different surfaces will have varying effects on how your wheels grip and slide. Here are some common surfaces and their relative impact on longboard wheels:

  1. Smooth Asphalt: Smooth asphalt surfaces offer high grip and require less grippy wheels for sliding. These surfaces provide excellent traction, allowing for faster rides and tighter turns.
  2. Rough Asphalt: Rough asphalt surfaces offer slightly less grip than smooth asphalt but still provide more traction compared to cement. You may need wheels with a bit more grip to maintain control on these surfaces.
  3. Smooth Cement: Smooth cement surfaces offer less grip than asphalt and allow for faster sliding. Some cement surfaces may have coatings that further enhance sliding capabilities.
  4. Rough Cement: Rough cement surfaces provide more grip than smooth cement but less than asphalt. Your longboard wheels will have a good balance of grip and slide on these surfaces.
  5. Brick/Stone: Brick or stone surfaces are typically less grippy than asphalt or cement. However, the grooves on these surfaces can cause friction and drag during slides.
  6. Wood: Wood surfaces, especially those made of masonite found on skate ramps, offer the least grip. These surfaces are highly slideable, allowing for easy execution of tricks and slides.
  7. Sand/Dirt/Grass: These surfaces pose challenges for longboarding as they offer minimal grip. It’s challenging to achieve significant movement on these surfaces, and we recommend finding an alternative location for a smoother ride.
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Considering the surface you’ll be riding on is crucial for selecting the right longboard wheels. Opt for grippier wheels on smoother surfaces, while opting for wheels with more slide capabilities on rougher surfaces. Understanding how different surfaces affect your longboard wheels will help optimize your riding experience.

Edges and Lips: A Guide to Longboard Wheel Profiles

When it comes to longboard wheels, the profile of the edge, also known as the lip, plays a crucial role in determining the grip, slide, and overall performance of the wheel. Whether you’re carving, sliding, or need maximum grip, understanding the different edge profiles can help you choose the right wheels for your riding style. Here’s a guide to the various longboard wheel edges and their characteristics:

1. Square Edge:

  • Square edges are sharp and provide maximum grip.
  • Ideal for slalom and fast carving where grip is essential.
  • These edges can grip well but may slow you down faster while sliding.
  • They tend to wear quickly, rounding off the corners and becoming more slidey as they wear down.

2. Bevelled Edge:

  • Bevelled edges are a balance between square and radiused edges.
  • They offer less grip but are still more progressive than radiused edges.
  • These edges maintain their shape until the bottom of the bevel, providing consistent performance.
  • Bevelled edges are suitable for riders who want a compromise between grip and slide.

3. Radiused Edge:

  • Radiused edges have a circular shape that allows for smooth slides.
  • They release earlier and more progressively compared to square or bevelled edges.
  • Great for drifting or sliding at slower speeds but provide less grip.
  • Larger radii last longer as the wheel wears down but offer less grip compared to smaller radii.

Consider the Core:

The core of a longboard wheel also plays a significant role in its performance. Here are some core-related factors to consider:

1. Core Position:

  • Centerset cores are located in the middle of the wheel, making it flipable and adjustable.
  • Centerset wheels wear evenly and are suitable for riders who want consistent performance.
  • Backset cores are flush with the back of the wheel, creating a slidey and progressive wheel.
  • Ideal for freeride enthusiasts but may cone faster than other core positions.
  • Offset cores sit between the back edge and center, offering maximum grip.
  • An exact core position depends on various factors like lip thickness, inner edge profile, and contact patch width.

2. Core Size:

  • Wheels with larger cores provide better support, smoother slides, and more even wear.
  • Large cores are also more resistant to melting if your bearings are under-lubricated.
  • However, large-cored soft wheels may be slower on rough surfaces due to increased compression.

Flatspots, Coning and Egging

Flatspots, coning, and egging are common issues that can affect the performance of longboard wheels. Flatspots occur when a wheel stops spinning during a slide, causing one area to wear down faster than the rest of the wheel. This can result in a distinctive noise and decrease the overall speed of the board. To avoid flatspots, it is important not to hold the board fully sideways during a slide and to rotate and swap the wheels regularly.

Coning and egging also affect wheel performance. Coning happens when a wheel wears down unevenly, creating a cone shape. This can lead to vibrations and instability at high speeds. On the other hand, egging occurs when a softer durometer wheel becomes egg-shaped instead of developing a pronounced flatspot. Egging also slows down the board and can cause vibrations.

To prevent coning and egging, it is recommended to perform fast Coleman slides, ensuring the wheels keep moving and wear down evenly. Additionally, using harder durometer wheels can help minimize the occurrence of coning and egging.

Hookup and “Progressive Grip”

Hookup and “progressive grip” are two important factors to consider when choosing longboard wheels. Hookup refers to the transition between grip (traction) and slip (slide) on the wheels. A sudden hookup can be beneficial for pre drifts, where the board quickly transitions into a slide.

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On the other hand, “progressive grip” refers to a wheel’s ability to gradually lose grip, resulting in a predictable and controlled slide. Wheels that offer a progressive, predictable slide generally have less overall grip compared to non-progressive wheels.

However, this characteristic makes them easier to control and maneuver. Progressive wheels are designed to slide slightly sideways, making them more suitable for various surfaces. They allow riders to learn high-speed checks and slides more safely and effectively.

What wheels are best for Sliding/Freeride?

When it comes to sliding and freeride, the best wheels are those that offer a predictable hook up and slide, have a decent lifespan, and are affordable. These wheels should have a narrow contact patch and width, a strong and supported core, a medium or harder durometer, and radiused or beveled edges.

It is recommended to look for slide/freeride wheels with a diameter ranging from 65mm to 72mm. For a smoother slide, wheels with a backset core are ideal, while centerset cores allow for wheels that can be flipped to avoid coning.

While expensive high-end urethane may be great for other purposes, it is often unnecessary for slide and freeride wheels. Instead, opt for wheels made from a urethane that breaks up fast, which creates an ultra-smooth slide. This type of wheel is more likely to handle the abuse and wear associated with sliding and freeriding.

What wheels are best for Cruising and Commuting?

When it comes to cruising and commuting on your longboard, there are a few key factors to consider for choosing the best wheels. First, you want a smooth ride and good roll speed. To achieve this, opt for wheels with a softer durometer. This will provide a more comfortable and enjoyable ride over various surfaces.

In terms of diameter, aim for a mid to large size. A larger diameter will allow the wheels to roll for a longer time, reducing the need for constant pushing.

For a smoother ride over rough surfaces, look for wheels with rounded or beveled edges. These edges will help you navigate bumps and cracks more easily. On the other hand, if maximum grip is your priority, go for wheels with square lips. They provide excellent traction for more technical riding.

FAQs

What Does 78a Mean On Longboard Wheels?

Durometer is a term commonly used to describe the hardness of longboard wheels. The durometer rating is indicated by a number followed by the letter “a,” such as 78a. In this case, the number 78 represents the hardness level of the wheel. The higher the durometer number, the harder the wheel. A 78a durometer is considered relatively soft, providing a smooth and comfortable ride. Soft wheels are preferred for cruising and carving on rough surfaces as they absorb shocks and vibrations better, ensuring a smoother ride overall.

What Does 80a Mean On Longboard Wheels?

When we see a longboard wheel with a durometer rating of 80a, it means that the wheel falls on the softer side of the hardness spectrum. Soft wheels like the Sector 9 65mm 80a Butterballs are great for riders who prioritize grip and a smooth ride. The softer durometer provides excellent traction on both smooth surfaces and rough terrain. These wheels are often favored for freeride, downhill, and sliding disciplines.

What Does 83a Mean For Longboard Wheels?

Longboard wheels rated between 80a and 83a strike a balance between soft and hard. This durometer range offers riders the freedom to control their speed and enjoy a good grip while riding. Wheels in this range are versatile and suitable for various riding styles, including freeriding, downhill, and sliding. They provide an optimal combination of grip, control, and speed.

Conclusion:

Choosing the right longboard wheels can make all the difference in your riding experience. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned rider, understanding the different types of wheels and their characteristics is essential.

So, next time you hit the pavement, remember to consider factors like durometer, shape, and size to find the perfect wheels for your style. Get ready to carve, slide, and cruise like never before! Happy riding!

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