There’s a lot more that goes into finding the best skateboard wheels than just liking the graphics on the side. The factors to consider include your personal skating style, where you usually skate, the type of trucks you have, and your budget.
I created this guide based on my 5+ years of skateboarding experience and by talking to friends who are still very involved in the industry or are sponsored local skaters themselves.
It’s important to remember that although I’m making generalizations and suggestions it’s imperative that you decide for yourself as everyone has a different set that is ideal for them.
The best skateboard wheels for cruising are typically large, soft, and have a very wide contact area with the ground. This combination provides maximum traction for fast speeds and stable turning.
Soft cruising wheels are typically rated from 60-85 on the durometer hardness scale. The recommended wheel size for cruising is above 55mm, typically bigger is better…but be careful about wheel bite!
Small wheels under 54mm that have a hardness rating above 99 are the ideal type of wheels for street skateboarding.
The smaller wheels allow the board to flip easier and the hardness makes reverts, powerslides, and certain grind tricks go much more smoothly.
In all honesty, you can skate any wheels in a street environment, but hard and small wheels will perform the best and last the longest.
Park/ Ramp Skating
Skating a park or mini ramp typically requires a wheel that is a combination of the best characteristics for street skating and cruising. Technically any wheel works, but a moderate size in the mid-’50s with average hardnesses will allow you to do both complex flips tricks and mini ramp sessions effectively.
Skateboards wheels generally range from sizes in the mid 40’s all the way up to over 60mm diameter, but most wheels for street skateboarding are between 50-58mm.
A good rule of thumb is that smaller wheels tend to be slower, but better for tricks and larger wheels are more favored by longboarders and those who just want to go fast and cruise around.
Wheel hardness is another major factor that must be considered when choosing a set of wheels. Wheels are measured used the Durometer A scale from 0-100, with higher numbered wheels being harder.
The hardest wheels (101a rated) are typically used by professionals due to their speed and ability to slide easily for tricks and pivots.
Up until the 1970s, skateboarders used the same wheels found in rollerblades. Then polyurethane was introduced and it changed the skateboard market forever.
This inexpensive material is hard, durable, and resistant to friction making it perfect for skateboard wheels. All wheels are made from polyurethane today, just in varying quality and hardness levels.
Also sometimes referred to as the “contact patch”, the contact width is the surface area of the wheel that is touching the ground when skated.
The more wheel touching the ground and larger the contact patch, the more control and friction you have when skating. Longboarders and downhill skaters typically love wheels with high contact widths, and technical street skaters usually prefer thin and narrow wheels for the ease of flip tricks.
Skateboard Wheel Types
You have probably noticed most wheels have logos and graphics on one side of them. I refer to these wheels as “pro” wheels because they are typically produced by a professional skateboard company and may be designed by a specific pro skater.
In my opinion, these wheels can look great, but there is really no major benefit from a performance standpoint. Also, the graphic quickly gets smudged and worn off from repeated landings and falls.
Great if you have some extra cash, but if you don’t I would stick with blank wheels.
Perfect for beginner skaters, blanks wheels are just pro-quality wheels without any graphics or logo. These will provide you with the same performance, but at a fraction of the cost.
Blank wheels are great for younger guys who don’t care about the brand and want to save some money.
A very new trend in skateboarding is the inventions of shark or curved wheels. They are advertised for cruising and the ability to ride over rocks and pebbles with ease.
I haven’t used them personally, but they definitely look like fun and something different from standard street skateboarding wheels. If you try them, leave a comment or send a message about what you think!
Similar to bearings, many skaters feel like their wheels get better and more “grippy” after skating them for a few days. This is typically talked about my longboarders and downhill skaters who want to perform long ground slides.
If the edges of the wheel are too sharp, they won’t slide as easily as a slightly rounded pair. Many skaters like to ride around for a few days to break them in and decrease the sharpness of a new set.
This is not necessary however as it will happen over time and you naturally skate more.
Wheels don’t last forever, and there are a few things to look out for and consider when deciding if you need to buy new wheels or not.
Flats spots occur when the wheels slide in the opposite direction that they are meant to spin. This happens most commonly to people who do a lot of powerslides, revert tricks or rough street skating.
You’ll know if you have flat spots as it will make a sound when skated and you won’t be able to go as fast. Flat spots aren’t really a big deal unless they become very large and significant, but to avoid them you could always look into wheels with a higher durometer rating.
Complete wheel breakage. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it can be a huge issue.
The only time I have seen this happen is with very, very old wheels that are worn down to a shadow of their former size combined with landing for very high heights (6 stairs +).
The wheel cracks and it’s virtually impossible to ride away cleanly. However, this happens so rarely I almost didn’t want to mention it and scare you.
Just know, that its possible you may want to look into replacing your set if you have used the same wheels for many years and have a lot of hard landings.
Pebbles and rocks can be a skater’s worst nightmare. You’re riding along minding your own business when suddenly you hear an odd noise and are thrown to the ground.
It’s painful, embarrassing, and can be avoided. If you continually have this problem, I recommend buying larger diameter wheels that will have more forgiveness with you hit small rocks and pebbles.
Despite my recommendation for larger wheels in the previous section, they do have their disadvantages. The main one is wheel bite. This occurs when your wheel comes into contact with your deck causing you to stop abruptly and not roll away from tricks.
It’s the combination of loose and low trucks with large sized wheels. So you can address this issue by using riser pads to heighten your trucks, tighten your trucks, or choose smaller wheels.
Best Skateboard Wheel Reviews
A completely different style from the Bones STF (see below), but these wheels also dominate their skating style category. They are perfect for cruising on a longboard or regular skateboard and have decades of positive reviews to back up their claim.
These wheels are quite large for a regular skateboard, so I would recommend looking to buying riser pads if you want to go that route. The rating for the wheels is 85a on the durometer scale, a full 20 point less than the Bones STF’s.
However this softnesses makes these wheels perfect for gaining traction and speed and minimizing the chance of unwanted sliding.
Like the previous wheels, you are going to pay a little more; but you’re not going to find a better set of cruiser wheels.
I firmly believe that these are the best wheels for street skating on the market today. These wheels are available in sizes from 52-55mm and have a 99a durometer (hardness) rating.
They are not the hardest wheels on the market, and that’s a good thing for grip, control, and comfort. If you’re familiar with Bones bearings, you know this a reputable brand you can trust for consistent, high-quality products.
One of the unique attributes of all Bones Wheels is that each rubber formula is developed and formulated in Bones’ own manufacturing plant in California.
Not only that, but each wheel model/type is made from a drastically different formulation and engineering properties than any other model.
That means each wheel has a very specific usage and the conditions for which Bones wheels are made are extremely wide and varied – much more so than any other brand in the industry.
The only real downside is the above-average price, but otherwise, these are great wheels for a street skater of any experience level.
These Shark wheels are by far the most unique wheels on this list and in the industry overall. They have only been around a year or two, but have caused quite a stir due to their unconventional wavy look.
The reasoning behind their odd shape is that the wheels will glide across the pavement and provide for a smoother ride than if the wheel had made contact with every pebble and crack along the way.
In practice the wheel appears to perform as advertised for cruising, however, due to the large size and softness, I would not recommend you try complex tricks and grinds with these wheels.
Spitfire is one of the most well-known brands in the skateboard wheel market. They have been around for decades and are most known for their high-quality street wheels and the many professional skaters they sponsor.
This is the classic hard wheel for street skateboarding with a 99A durometer hardness rating and sizes available from 50-60mm.
Although they offer these larger sizes, I would not recommend these specific wheels for cruising, instead, look for a wheel that has a softer rating between 60-85 on the durometer scale.
Also as I mention earlier in the buying guide, these are pro wheels that may be too expensive for some people. If you are on a tight budget, I would instead look for a blank wheel that has a similar size and hardness, but at a much lower price.
Since this is the second time Bones is appearing on this list, you are already familiar with the level of quality and consistently they are known for producing so I won’t repeat myself.
The key points about this wheel compared to the STF’s are that they are slightly softer and rated at 100a rather than 83b (103a). As discussed earlier, a harder wheel isn’t always better.
If you spend a lot of time cruising around as well as street skating you may prefer these as they will be smoother and less harsh when riding.
Freedare offers a well-rated wheelset at a great price. The ABEC-7 high steel bearings and spacers are standard with this set. They are 60mm in diameter and 45mm wide. They are rated as 83A Polyurethane wheels.
The smoothness is noted by many purchasers and the durability is also emphasized. They are great for cruising as well!
Smooth concrete is great, but these wheels perform very well on asphalt.
Plain black skateboard wheels for just a few dollars. This is one example of blanks wheels I’ve been referring to throughout the article.
These specific blanks are very hard (100a) and available in a variety of colors (pink, black, and white) and sizes from 50-56mm. Perfect for street staking of you don’t want to spend a lot of money or are just starting to skate and don’t really care about brand names.
Another option for blank wheels. The brand has additional sizes available from 50-59mm and is slightly softer (99a) compared to the other blank wheels. Again they are a great price and are available in many colors.
The 58’s or 59’s seem perfect for cruising if you are okay with not having any graphic or logo on the wheel.