Skateboarding is a fun and exciting activity that requires skill and dedication. To fully enjoy this sport, it’s important to have the right skateboard setup, including the right wheels.
Choosing the right skateboard wheels can be confusing, but with the right information, it can be easy. In this blog, we will discuss how to choose skateboard wheels based on size, materials, and more.
What Is Polyurethane?
Polyurethane is a type of polymer that is created by combining polyols and isocyanates, resulting in a plastic-like material with versatile properties. It is used in a wide range of industries due to its durability, resistance to abrasion and chemicals, and its ability to be molded into various shapes and sizes.
In skateboarding, polyurethane is used for making wheels because of its toughness, resilience, and ability to provide good grip and traction. Skateboard wheels made of polyurethane can withstand the wear and tear of rough surfaces and provide a smooth ride over various terrains.
Why Is Polyurethane Used To Make Skateboarding Wheels?
Polyurethane is used to make skateboard wheels because it provides a durable, resilient, and versatile material that can withstand the wear and tear of skateboarding. Skateboard wheels made from polyurethane offer excellent grip, traction, and shock absorption, which are essential for a smooth and safe ride.
Polyurethane skateboard wheels come in different durometer ratings, which refer to the hardness of the wheel. Softer wheels with a lower durometer rating provide better grip and shock absorption, making them suitable for rougher surfaces and cruising. Harder wheels with a higher durometer rating are faster and better suited for smooth surfaces and performing tricks.
Polyurethane is an ideal material for skateboard wheels because it can be molded into different shapes and sizes, allowing for customization to meet the specific needs of skateboarders. Additionally, polyurethane is resistant to abrasion and weathering, ensuring that skateboard wheels made from this material will last longer and perform better than those made from other materials.
How Are Skateboarding Wheels Made From Polyurethane?
Skateboarding wheels made from polyurethane are typically manufactured using a process called injection molding. This process involves the following steps:
- Mixing: The polyurethane is mixed with other materials, such as pigments and additives, to achieve the desired properties and color.
- Heating: The mixture is heated to a high temperature to melt it into a liquid form.
- Injection: The liquid polyurethane is injected into a mold under high pressure, which fills the mold and creates the shape of the skateboard wheel.
- Cooling: The mold is cooled to solidify the polyurethane and form the final shape of the wheel.
- Finishing: The skateboard wheel is then removed from the mold and trimmed to the correct size and shape. It may also be polished or coated with a special finish to improve its performance or appearance.
The durometer rating of the skateboard wheel can be adjusted during the mixing process by varying the amount and type of additives used. Softer wheels are created by using more additives, while harder wheels are created by using fewer additives or a different type of polyurethane.
Skateboard wheels come in different types, each designed for specific styles of skating. In this blog, we will discuss the most common wheel types and their characteristics.
These are the most common type of skateboard wheels. They are designed for street skating and performing technical tricks. Street wheels are usually small in size, ranging from 49mm to 54mm in diameter. They are lightweight, which makes them easier to flip and maneuver. Street wheels have a hard durometer, ranging from 99a to 101a, providing excellent speed and slide for performing technical tricks.
These are designed for cruising and commuting. They are usually larger in size, ranging from 55mm to 75mm in diameter. Cruiser wheels are softer than street wheels, with a durometer ranging from 78a to 85a, providing excellent grip and shock absorption for a smooth ride on rough surfaces. Cruiser wheels are perfect for commuting long distances and cruising around town.
Longboard wheels are specifically designed for longboarding, a type of skateboarding that involves cruising, carving, and downhill riding. Longboard wheels are larger and softer than traditional skateboard wheels, providing a smoother and more stable ride on a variety of surfaces.
Skateboard and longboard wheels come in a range of sizes along with skateboard sizes, each designed for specific styles of skating. The size of the wheel affects the speed, stability, and maneuverability of the board. Smaller wheels are lighter and easier to maneuver, making them ideal for technical tricks and street skating. Larger wheels provide more speed and stability, making them ideal for cruising and downhill riding.
The size of the wheel you choose will depend on the style of skating you will be doing. It’s important to consider the size of the deck and trucks when choosing the size of the wheels to ensure compatibility and optimal performance.
The diameter of the wheel is an important factor to consider when choosing skateboard or longboard wheels. Wheel diameter refers to the size of the wheel, measured in millimeters.
The size of the wheel affects the speed and stability of the board. Smaller wheels, ranging from 49mm to 54mm, are ideal for technical tricks and street skating as they are lighter and easier to maneuver. Larger wheels, ranging from 55mm to 75mm or more, are ideal for cruising and downhill riding as they provide more speed and stability. It’s important to consider the compatibility of the wheel diameter with the size of the deck and trucks to ensure optimal performance.
Wheel Contact Patch
The contact patch of a skateboard or longboard wheel refers to the area of the wheel that comes in contact with the riding surface. The size of the contact patch affects the grip and slide of the wheel, as well as its durability.
A larger contact patch provides more grip, making it ideal for carving and cruising. However, a larger contact patch also means more friction and slower speed. Smaller contact patches provide less grip but more slide, making them ideal for freestyle and downhill riding.
The profile of a skateboard or longboard wheel refers to the shape of the wheel’s surface. The wheel profile affects the way the wheel performs on the riding surface and how it interacts with the trucks.
Wheels can have a rounded or flat profile. Rounded profile wheels are often referred to as “conical” or “beveled” wheels. They have a wider surface area and provide more stability and control, making them ideal for downhill riding. Flat profile wheels, on the other hand, provide a wider contact patch and better grip, making them ideal for cruising and carving.
The hardness of a skateboard or longboard wheel is measured by its durometer rating. Durometer measures the wheel’s resistance to indentation and is usually indicated by a number followed by an “A” on the wheel, such as 99a or 78a.
Harder wheels, with a higher durometer rating, are ideal for technical street skating and provide a faster ride with less grip. Softer wheels, with a lower durometer rating, provide more grip and a smoother ride, making them ideal for cruising and carving.
Choosing the right skateboard or longboard wheel is essential for optimal performance and enjoyment of the sport. The size, diameter, contact patch, profile, and durometer rating of the wheel all play a crucial role in how the board performs on different types of terrain and how it handles various styles of skating. It’s important to consider your own skating style and preferences when choosing wheels, as well as the compatibility of the wheels with your deck and trucks.