When choosing skateboard wheels, one of the key decisions is whether to go for soft or hard wheels. There is no single 'best skateboard wheel' (unfortunately), as each option has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on what type of skating you want to do. Here's a quick rundown of the pros and cons of each type of wheel to help you make your decision. If you're looking for recommendations for the best wheels, click here to jump down the page.
Let's start with a brief overview of what each wheel is typically used for.
Soft Skateboard Wheels:
+ Softer wheels are better for absorbing shocks and reducing vibration, making them ideal for rougher surfaces. They also provide more grip, making them good for beginners who are still getting used to skating.
- On the downside, softer wheels wear out faster than harder wheels and they're also more susceptible to flatspots (which occur when a wheel is repeatedly ridden in the same spot, causing it to deform and lose its shape). They are also harder to slide (unless they have been through a finishing process called sandstone grinding)
Hard Skateboard Wheels:
+ Harder wheels are better for speed and skating on smoother surfaces. They also tend to last longer than softer wheels and allow you to powerslide with ease.
- The downside of harder wheels is that they can be more difficult to control, especially for beginners. They're also more likely to slip on rougher surfaces.
So, which type of wheel is right for you? It depends on your skating style and the surfaces you'll be skating on. If you're a beginner, softer wheels may be the way to go. And if you're an experienced skater who plans on doing mostly street skating, harder wheels may be a better option. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide what works best for your skating.
[We love vert ramp skating.]
THE BEST SKATEBOARD WHEELS
There are a few things to consider when choosing the right skateboard wheels for you. The first is the size of the wheel. Skateboard wheels come in a variety of sizes, from small 50-mm wheels to large 100-mm wheels. The size of the wheel you need will depend on the kind of skating you want to do. If you want to do street skating, for example, you'll need smaller wheels (50mm - 54mm) that can maneuver easily over cracks and debris. If you want to do vert skating or cruising, however, you'll need larger wheels (56mm - 60mm) for stability and speed.
The second thing to consider is the hardness of the wheel, aka Durometer. Skateboard wheels are made of polyurethane, and come in a variety of duromters from 70a (softest) to 100a (hardest). The durometer of the wheel will affect how fast it wears down, the speed of the wheels and how well it grips the ground. Softer wheels, from 70a - 90a, are good for cruising and rougher spots, because they provide good grip and a smooth ride. Harder wheels, from 90a - 100a, are good for street, park, and vert skating because they wear down slower and roll faster on the smoother surfaces required with these disciplines.
[Here are some beginner snowboarding tips.]
The third thing to consider is the width of the wheel. Skateboard wheels come in a variety of widths, from narrow 27-mm wheels to wide 45-mm wheels. The width is pretty much personal preference but wider wheels ride a little smoother than narrow wheels.
The Last thing to consider is the shape of the wheel. By this we mean the profile shape, or cut. Commonly these are Classic, Conical and Radial.
Classic shape wheels features a round profile and therefore a smaller contact patch which allows for easier slides (less surface contact).
Conical wheels have a wider contact patch and are less prone to hangups in transition.
Radial shape wheels are essentially a hybrid of the Classic and Conical shapes. They have a rounded shape but with a wider contact patch than the classic. Typically you get a little extra support when grinding with Radial wheels.
Ok, now that you know what to look for in a skateboard wheel, it's time to choose the right set for your skating needs. Here are our picks for the best skateboard wheels below.
Spitfire Formula Four Classics
🤩 FAN FAVORITE
The Spitfire Formula Four Classics are hands down the best skateboard wheels for the majority of skaters. They're made from a super durable polyurethane that can stand up to plenty of abuse, and they're available in a wide range of sizes, as well as different durometers. Ask almost any street skater and they'll say they skate Spitfire Wheels. As mentioned above, the Classic shape is perfect for street and park skating, carrying high speeds due to their harder durometers.
Made in Mexico 🇲🇽
Powell Peralta Dragon Formula
🎉 BEST OVERALL
These wheels have created the most buzz for a wheel since, well, ever... Powell did a great job with concocting (possibly) the perfect urethane formula, managing to blur the traditional lines of having to pick either a hard or a soft wheel. The 93a Dragon Formula slides well, rides smooth, rides fast, and locks in. They have been declared the best wheels by many top skaters already and they were only launched back in October 2022.
Why they work? The 93a formula is 18% higher rebound than any other 93a urethane out, meaning you won’t lose speed in bowls or parks the way you would with an ordinary 93A wheel, and you will roll much smoother and faster on rough streets and sidewalks than harder wheels.
Made in USA 🇺🇸
Purchase Here (if you can get ya hands on any) >
Mini Logo C-Cut
💲 BEST ON A BUDGET
Mini Logo is an offshoot of Powell Peralta, aimed at providing price point skate components by manufacturing overseas rather than their California factory. If you are looking for wheels to get you rolling, you can't really go wrong with the Mini Logo C-Cuts (Classic). At 101a they are hard and perfect for smoother streets or park skating. They come in a range of sizes from 51mm to 56mm and, at around 20 bucks, are one of the cheaper wheels on our list.
The downside is that if you're looking to powerslide you are going to flatspot these fairly quickly. Basic skating and flip tricks are fine.
Made in China 🇨🇳
Bones Wheels SPF Skatepark Formula
🛹 BEST FOR THE SKATEPARK
This dedicated skatepark wheel from Bones comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, all at 104a (84b) durometer. They grip well on smooth surfaces but are hard enough to slide with ease. These are perfect if you are looking to skate bowls, mini ramps or the park.
We would recommend 54mm for those who skate the street section and 56mm if you like to skate transition.
Like Spitfire, these wheels come in multiple shapes for your preference:
IMAGE OF BONES SPF BREAKDOWN
- Bones SPF P1 wheels - Technical park skaters
Bones SPF P2 wheels - Mini ramp, vert, bowl skaters
Bones SPF P3 wheels - Fast skaters
Bones SPF P4 wheels - For skating transition
Bones SPF P5 wheels - Bowl and vert skating
Bones SPF P6 wheels - Bowl and vert skating (wider cut v P5)
Made in USA 🇺🇸
Fireball Terra 78a
⛰ BEST FOR ROUGH SKATE SPOTS
The Fireball Terra Wheels are designed for skating rough terrain and opening up new spots your thought previously unskatable. At 78a they are soft and comfy, yet still carry speed thanks to a solid urethane core. Here's the big question with softer wheels: Can these powerslide? Actually, yes! Fireball took the same approach to these wheels as their longboard line and used their signature SlidePreppedTM finishing to allow the wheels to break into slides.
These, along with the Ricta Clouds, have become some of our go-to wheels due to their diversity and ability to throw them on a board without the need for risers or changing the setup. They are able to deal with pretty much anything we have thrown at them so far.
Made in USA 🇺🇸
Choosing the best skateboard wheels for you, will ultimately require some trial and error. As with a lot of skateboard components, personal preference comes into play. That said, we aim to provide an unbiased look at the wheels we find to be the best, so that at very least you have a good starting point and understanding of what to look for when picking wheels. As always, check out some frequently asked questions and hit us up with any other questions you have by leaving a comment below.
Frequently Asked Questions:
There is a lot of debate surrounding soft wheels and whether or not they are good for street skating. Some skaters swear by soft wheels, claiming that they provide a smoother ride and better grip on the pavement. Others argue that soft wheels are more likely to cause flat spots and are overall less durable than harder wheels. So, what's the verdict?
The answer may depend on your personal skating style and preferences. If you do a lot of flatground tricks, then softer wheels may not be a good option for you as they will make things harder. However, if you mostly skate on smooth concrete or parks, then harder wheels may be a better choice. Soft wheels are better suited to rough asphalt or bumpy roads.
99a wheels are considered hard. Hardness is called durometer, and is measured on the shore scale which runs from 1-100, with 1 being the softest durometer rating and 100 being the hardest. Most wheels fall somewhere between 70 and 100a.
Our answer: Are 78a wheels too soft FOR WHAT? As mentioned above, everything is relative to what you are trying to do. 78a wheels are too soft for riding bowls but great for rougher terrain spots or beginners who are still getting used to skating. 78a wheels provide more grip and alleviate some shock when performing tricks as a beginner. However, softer wheels wear down more quickly and are not as fast or responsive as harder wheels, so they may not be ideal for experienced skaters who want to go fast and perform tricks.
Soft wheels generally provide a smoother ride, making them ideal for street skating in spots with rough terrain. We recommend the Fireball Terra Wheels and Ricta Clouds for this purpose. If you are looking to use these on a cruiser skateboard, bigger wheels are better for comfort, but harder to perform tricks with. Look for USA made wheels as they tend to be made of high-quality materials versus imports. In general, soft wheels are a great choice for beginner skaters.
Hard wheels are considered the best choice for park, ramp and high-speed skating. They are also more durable than soft wheels, meaning they will last longer.
There is no definitive answer to the question of whether hard or soft wheels are better for skateboarding. It depends on personal preference and skating style as mentioned at the start of this article.
There are a few key advantages and disadvantages to keep in mind when it comes to hard wheels. On the plus side, hard wheels tend to be much faster and easier to control than softer ones. They also last longer and are less likely to flatspot. However, hard wheels can be more difficult to break in, and they may not provide as much grip on rough surfaces. Ultimately, it's up to the skater to decide what kind of wheel is right for them.
There is a lot to consider, when it comes to choosing the right wheels. We couldn’t possibly fit it all in this article, so here are some other terms to research, if you want to learn more.