The hardness of the wheels plays an important role in the performance of skateboarding. There are several kinds of wheels with different levels of hardness. To determine the skateboard wheels’ hardness, a scale, durometer is used to assess the differences.
According to the Durometer, the wheel’s solidity is measured in durometers and ranges from 75A (softest) to 101A (hardest). A extremely soft skateboard wheel shows high grip, and top consolation and delivers a smooth ride.
Understanding the Skateboard Wheel Scale
When buying a new set of wheels, one must determine two aspects at the time of purchase. First, what is the size required for the specific style and the hardness?
Almost all of the brands have their specification printed on their packaging. But you need to understand what those numbers and characters mean in terms of performance and style.
Let’s Start With The Skateboard Wheel Sizes
Skateboard wheel sizes are measured in millimeters. A wide range of wheels is between 50 to 75 mm. A bigger number means big wheels. The diameter of your wheel will determine your acceleration ratio.
Slow speeds are achieved through smaller wheel sizes, while the larger ones are more apt for cruising or faster riding. Smaller wheels are ideal for street skaters. The smaller size allows you to make those tight turns for your tricks and technical riding stuff.
You need bigger skateboard wheel sizes if you use skateboards as a means of transportation or just starting. Larger skateboard wheel sizes allow for an increased speed and balance equation ideal for vert skating or cruising.
Your height and weight also factor into how those wheels are going to perform and feel. So here is a size chart for you to understand to make an informed decision at the time of purchase.
Wheels Hardness for Kids
50-53mm slower and small are perfect for tricks and smaller riders, street skating, park skating, etc.
54-59mm is Best for beginners because of their average size. Ideal for big-sized riders skating street style, bowls, vert ramps, and skate parks.
60mm + Specially made for longboard riding, downhill, and dirt boards. They are speedy wheels and perform well on uneven or rough surfaces.
Okay! so now let us look into the skateboard wheels’ hardness.
At the start of the article, I have mentioned a scale for skateboard wheels’ hardness called a durometer. It specifies if a wheel is suited for skateboards or longboards.
The majority of skateboard wheel manufacturers use a Durometer Scale A. It is a 100-point scale that quantifies the skateboard wheels’ hardness. A higher number will mean a harder wheel.
A small number of manufacturers use scale B for specification. It measures 20 points less than Scale A. The difference between the two scales is that the latter uses 20 points more for skateboard wheels’ hardness.
For customized wheels, some brands use dual-durometer wheels. In the dual-durometer measurement, inside and outside wheel hardness could be measured separately using two measuring standards instead of one.
Rule Of Thumb
As a rule of thumb, softer wheels are slower and harder wheels are fast. Thus, soft wheels are used for street-style skating, while hard wheels are more suited for smooth surfaces like skating parks and empty pools.
Here is a general guideline for the skateboard wheel’s hardness. This guideline for wheel durometer will give you an idea about what to go for depending on your skating style, level of skills, and personal preferences. This guide will use Scale A for its measurement due to the popularity of its usage.
Most skateboards are between 78 to 100 on Durometer Scale A. 78a to 87a are softer wheels more suited for rough surfaces such as cracked sidewalks, surfaces with rocks and pebbles, or aging roads. The softer wheels provide a smooth ride and the solid grip required for such surfaces. In addition, street boards and longboards use soft wheels.
88a to 95a This grade is slightly faster because they are generally a little harder than the previous grade, but they are still perfect for rough surfaces and have a good grip.
96a to 99a are all-rounders. This grade is balanced between speed and grip. Most beginners are recommended it is best for both types of surfaces. You can skate on sidewalks and skateparks using these wheels.
101a plus is used by professionals. They are the hardest with the least grip and are functional only on smooth surfaces.
The durability of harder wheels is longer than soft wheels, which are prone to faster wear and tear and develop flat spots. However, harder wheels are limited to only a handful of surfaces.
There is one more factor other than wheel sizes and hardness; Contact patch. It is also referred to as a riding surface. This part of the wheel is in direct contact with the surface. This factor affects the grip of the wheel.
Street skaters like to have a narrow wheel to be technical with their street skating. They easily slide for tricks and turns. The wider riding surface is for long distances and skating bowls. They are also faster.