Longboards are strongly linked with soft wheels for good causes. Unless you are riding on the smooth and low-profile concrete of a skate park or grinding ledges and handrails, soft wheels will roll faster, grip firm, and give you more quickly controlled slides than those hard wheels. This guide will focus on the broad range of unique soft longboard wheels so you can find a set of wheels with the ideal size, shape, durometer and other factors.
Top 5 longboard wheels
Sine-wave shaped wheels that are fast
Have better slide control
Go over rough terrain better than any wheel
The first decision you need to make when picking longboard wheels is what size you require. Most longboards are between 64-80mm in diameter with 70mm being the most used size. In general, larger wheels accelerate slower but have a better top speed and will more easily roll over cracks and gravel. Smaller wheels will fit on more setups and accelerate faster compared to large wheels but have a lower top speed.
The most important factor to consider when picking wheel size is whether they will fit properly on your setup without causing wheel bite. Reverse kingpin trucks are taller and will give you more ground wheel clearance than standard kingpin trucks. If your deck has large holder slots, then you should be able to fit any size wheel. However, if your board has small holder slots or none at all, you may need to add a riser pad to accommodate wheels that are larger than 70mm. 65mm wheels and a pair of riser pads work great for turning a parking deck into an all-city.
These wheels can tackle bumps, rocks, and cracks EXTREMELY well and provide an incredibly smooth ride when used in conjunction with some quality trucks. They are coated in Orangatang’s Happy Thane which gives it a slick shine out the box and breaking them in is a fun and quick process if you ride on a regular basis.
The lip of a wheel refers to the outer border or edges of its contact patch. The shape of the wheel’s lips ideally provides signal on how it rides. Sharp or thick square lips will make the wheel grip firmly, while rounded lips allow the wheel to break traction more easily and offer smoother moves from grip to slip. For these causes, sharp-lipped wheels are preferred for downhill and round lipped bases are preferred for freeride boards.
If you are using your long wheel board for carving or transportation, then lip style is not that important. However, if you do not plan to slide your wheels, then lipped wheels are a good pick because you will be able to contact deeper and corner tighter without worrying about losing friction on ground.
RAD wheels are an excellent example of a longboard wheel that has been crafted from the core out with all these factors addressed. They are one of the most energetic after longboard wheels because of their firm grip, fast roll speed, and slow, even wear.
Contact Patch level
The contact patch level of a longboard wheel is the rounded surface which rolls on or makes contact to the ground. Longboard wheels have contact patches that range from of 29-70mm and most wheels are placed somewhere in the middle between 38-55mm. A deeper contact patch gives a wheel firm grip and is preferred for downhill ride while a narrower contact patch gives the poor wheel grip and is preferred for freeriding. While sliding, a wider contact patch slows you down quicker and gives you more control over the long wheel board, but will be harder to adapt and have a more abrupt shift from grip to slip.
Stone ground contact patches have become very popular for freeride board wheels during the recent past. When brand new wheels come out of their product molds, they have a gloss coating on their surface which is commonly referred to as its mold release in general terms. The wheel’s skin is very bold and makes the wheels very hard to slide. It usually takes quite a few slides to break out or wear the skins out so that they slide soft and smooth. For this particular reason many manufacturers now stone grind the skins off the contact slots of their round lipped freeride wheels so that they slide better right out of the package. Stone ground wheels are well recommended for new movers who want to learn how to slide.
Arbor’s all new wheels featuring the “sucrose initiative”.
The Sucrose Initiative was developed for performance across a wide range of conditions.
The durometer rating of longboard wheels decides its hardness. Most longboard wheels have a durometer ranging from 75-88a, making them very delicate in comparison to regular skateboard wheels which usually have durometer ratings of 90-101a. In common, lower durometer longboard wheels have more grip but play slower while higher durometer longboard wheels have poor grip but move faster.
Durometer also affects slide timing and characteristics. Harder wheels usually slide faster, slow you down less, and tend to glide across the surface of the path. Softer wheels will often slide slower; slow you down faster, and tend to smear urethane across the surface of the path. Wheels with a soft, smeary slide are often described as milky and wear quickly but are very simple to control. Softer wheels commonly leave thick thane stripes as the wheels urethane is transferred from the wheel to the path.
78a and 80a are the most popular durometers for nearly all types of longboards because they have a health medium of grip, roll speed, and sliding capacity.
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Core Size and Shape
The size, shape, and alienation of the core of a longboard wheel also play a huge role in the way it slides and performs.
Adding a wider diameter core will make will make a wheel roll faster, which is a significant advantage for transportation, freeride, and downhill methods. Wider cores coordinate the urethane better which makes the wheel more resilient to bloating and promotes even wear. Using a strong material in the core will also improve roll speed and help prevent breakage of the urethane during slides to promote any possible damage. However, these qualities can also make the wheel slide better and faster. Slowing down quickly is a must for downhill sliding, so manufacturers keep an eye on the size and composition of the cores they decide to go with.