A skateboard usually consists of two parts, a specially designed maple wood board coated with polyurethane, in order to make it smoother and durable, and the skateboard wheels. This important segment of the board, is the part that wears out most frequently. Skateboard wheels allow you to move and determine how fast you can go, no matter where you are skating or on what type of surface.
There is a large selection of skateboard wheels available, and your choice is a big factor, that results in the set-up of your board. The wheels affect your ride in many ways, such as the speed, the ability to control its movements, and quite simply, just the way the board feels.
Skateboard wheels are measured by three aspects their diameter, durometer and the contact patch. This factors are a matter of personal preference, and depend on how you intend to ride your skateboard. This guide below, will help you to decide on a solid set that is perfect for you.
Skateboard wheel diameter refers to its height and size, which is measured in millimeters (mm). The lower the number, the smaller the wheel. The range of most wheels is from 50 – 75 mm. The diameter of skateboard wheels affects the board’s top speed, acceleration, and the ability to make tight turns.
Small wheels result in slow rides because they sit lower to the ground and because they are lightweight, they accelerate quickly, and are better for technical skating.
Bigger wheels will give you a faster ride, because a single rotation, covers more distance. But, it is difficult to make sharp turns easily, and they don’t accelerate as fast as their smaller counterparts.
The durometer is the measure of the skateboard wheel’s hardness. Most manufacturers use the “Durometer A Scale”, which is a 100-point scale, that quantifies how hard a wheel is. The higher the number, the harder the wheels will be, and the faster your skateboard will go. (The speed is also determined by the rider). Softer wheels, are generally slower, but they offer a much better grip.
A wheel’s contact patch refers to the area of the wheel that makes “real” contact with the pavement. So, why is the contact patch important?
The contact patch is an essential feature for a skateboard’s wheel performance. For instance, if you have a large contact patch, then your weight will be distributed over a larger area. This will reduce the compression of the urethane in your wheels, and decrease the rolling resistance, that will make your wheels roll faster
In addition, the precise wheel shape also affects the size of your contact patch. While square wheels make maximum contact with the pavement (which can slow down your wheel), they are actually offer better grip on sand and gravel. Rounded ones make much less contact with the pavement.
Similar to skateboard decks, skateboard wheels have greatly evolved since the 1940’s. Beginning with the metal roller skate wheels of old, the wheel companies changed the creation process of wheels. There are all kinds of advancements, including urethane technology. Professional skateboard wheels are made from polyurethane, these days.
It is very important to choose the wheels, by considering the type of terrain, where you will be riding. There are many factors that can contribute to performance loss. So, for technical skating and tricks, it is best to use small, hard wheels. This will prevent the wheels from catching on grinds, and makes it easier to perform tricks. Use the mid-sized, hard wheels for skating vert. On ramps and half-pipes, the harder wheels will give you added mobility and better control for your tricks. Another point to know is if you skate mostly for transportation purposes, it is best to use the big and soft wheels, for faster rides, and for absorbing vibrations.
There is another aspect that also plays a role in the proficiency of the skateboard and this is the core. Some wheels combine the benefits of durometer wheels with an inner-core, for a better ride. In the case of a hard outer-core, combined with a softer inner-core, you will get a wheel that can perform sliding tricks better, while absorbing the impact. On the other hand, with a softer outer-core and a harder inner-core, you will get a more durable and soft-feeling wheel ride, which offers a good bearing-fit.
So, if you want to become a better skater, you should choose the best skateboard wheels that will fit your needs.
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