Does skateboard wheel size matter? When you are going to buy a new set of wheels, I suggest you choose the size of the skateboard wisely, as it will greatly determine how your skateboard will perform. Unfortunately, no size is perfect for every type of skateboard, so you have to sort out what you want from your skateboard wheels before making a decision.
For example, if you are inclined towards skating a bowl, then it is obvious that you need a different wheel diameter than if you want to do street skating. Similarly, for performing complex skate tricks, you need different sizes of wheels as compared to if you do downhill skateboarding. Proceed with the reading to learn in detail how to skateboard wheel size affects the performance and riding experience on a skateboard.
What Wheels Do I Need For My Skateboard?
The below-given table will give you a quick view of what wheels you need for your skateboard for your desired type of skateboarding:
|Skating Style||Ideal Wheel Hardness||Ideal Wheel Size|
|Beginner||92A To 99A||54 To 56mm|
|Cruising||78A To 87A||56 To 60mm|
|Bowl And Mini Ramp||97A To 99A||54 To 58mm|
|Street Skating||99A To 103A||50 To 54mm|
If you follow these recommendations, you will get the right size of skateboard wheel according to your requirements. I have curated by keeping in mind how these wheel size and hardness combinations will affect the acceleration, turn, and balance while riding to enable you to select the right wheels for your setup. Let’s learn the heart of the matter in detail:
Big Wheels Vs Small Wheels For Skateboarding
The trivial difference between big and small wheels for skateboarding is that big wheels tend to roll fast. With a larger set of wheels, you can ride faster on your skateboard than the one who is riding a board with small wheels like 50mm.
If we look at this from another perspective, smaller skateboard wheels are lighter, making them ideal for quick turns. So, they are better suited for performing ground tricks and technical stuff.
Larger wheels with 55 to 56mm diameter are heavier than their smaller counterparts. Therefore, they will give you a stable ride and are easier to accelerate while going at speeds.
I recommend you to go with big wheels if you want to ride bombing hills or bowls. By large wheels, I mean at least 55m in diameter. Usually, people suffer from wheel bites. To tackle this problem, you should get a ¼” raiser or ½” raiser.
For beginners, I suggest a wheel size between large and small, so they can get the taste of both worlds. If you are a beginner, then 54mm diameter is an ideal spot for your skateboard wheels as you can perform tricks and cruise over your board with them.
Does Wheel Hardness (Durometer Rating) Matter?
Wheel size is not the only factor affecting how you use your skateboard. Even if you get the ideal wheel size, you can not get what you expect out of new wheels because wheel hardness is another factor that can make or break the deal.
Fortunately, understanding the hardness of wheels (durometer) is pretty simple. The durometer rating scale ranges from 78A to 103A. As the rating goes up, the harness of the wheels increases. Simply put, a 103A skateboard wheel will be much harder than the one with a 78A durometer rating.
“A” on the scale is the indication of the rating level of the durometer. Some skateboard wheel brands prefer using the B-scale, which indicates a durometer rating, but its equivalency is 20 points less than the A-scale. For example, 95A is equal to 75B if the durometer rating on wheels is on B-scale.
A softer wheel makes it comfortable if you ride your skateboard off the road, but they are tough to perform power slides. Similarly, hard wheels do not provide a calm ride on rough roads as they vibrate there. On a smooth track, they are easy to ride with a flow, so they are better suited for carrying out certain tricks.
How Is Skateboard Wheel Size Measured?
The size of skateboard wheels is always measured in millimeters (mm). Their diameter is calculated by measuring them from edge to edge. Other than the diameter, the skateboard wheels have different contact patch widths. These are also measured in millimeters (mm).
To keep it simple, I can say that a contact patch is the surface area of the skateboard wheels that actually comes in contact with the roads. Mostly hard wheels that are made for tricks have narrow contact width. On the other hand, wider wheels have wider contact patch width, making them great for Cruising.
So, it is clear that skateboard wheels have either narrow or wider contact patch width. But the question arises: how does the difference in contact patch width impact the skateboarding performance? For this, we need to understand their difference in detail.
Narrow Vs Wider Contact Patch
Narrow contact patch width indicates that there will be less surface area of the skateboard wheels in contact with the road. From this, it is clear that smaller contact produces less friction allowing the rider to easily take turns and perform tricks. With a narrow contact patch, you will be comfortable doing rotational tricks because it makes the wheels effortless to pivot.
With wider wheels, you can cruise around and skate at high speeds, as it offers stability because of friction. The friction will not let the skateboard diverge from its path, so these wheels are ideal for downhill skateboarding. I also recommend these wheels for bowl rides as additional traction comes in handy for this purpose.
The following image breaks down the difference between narrow and contact patches:
Common Skateboard Wheel Size
52mm, 53mm, 54mm, 55mm, and 56mm wheels are the most widely used among skateboarders. These sizes of wheels are great for pretty nearly every style of skateboarding. You can cruise around, learn advanced tricks, and use them at high speed.
What Is The Best Skateboard Wheels Size?
For me, a 99A durometer rating is a nice spot. If you are desirous of doing skate tricks, a smaller, harder wheel should be your pick. In contrast, if you are crazy about cruising around the town, a bigger and softer wheel will fulfill your needs.
If you have to skate around the town, your consideration for good skateboard wheel size is entirely different from the one who likes to practice pro tricks. Let’s check the best skateboard wheel size accordingly:
For Tricks – 50mm To 54mm
To perform ground tricks and maneuvering, the 50mm to 54mm skateboard wheels are good as they are lightweight, so they allow quick sliding and turning. These wheels do not create too much friction due to less contact patch width. Moreover, they will make your life heaven when performing skating tricks.
You can read my article on the best skateboard wheels for tricks. But if you are in a hurry, then these are some excellent options to look at:
- Bones STF V3 Slims 99A (Editor’s Choice)
- Ricta Naturals 101A (Great For Technical Tricks In Skate Parks)
- Spitfire Formula Four Tablets 99A (Ideal For Flat Ground Tricks)
For Bowls, Pools, And Mini Ramps – 54mm To 58mm
To ride in bowls, pools, and mini ramps in a skatepark, you need a consistent speed and locking into coping, which is only provided by larger sets of wheels. I recommend anything between 55mm to 58mm because it is an ideal spot. But do not forget to buy a ¼” raiser for 56mm to 57mm wheels and a ½” raiser for 58mm skateboard wheels.
I have written a dedicated article on top skateboard wheels for bowls, pools, and mini ramps. You can read if you are looking for a new pair of wheels. These are my quick recommendations if you are in a rush:
- Spitfire Formula Four Conicals 99A 99A(Editor’s Choice)
- OJ Elite Hardline 99A (Great For Locking Into Coping)
For Cruising – 56mm To 60mm
You need to choose softer wheels with a large size if you aim to travel around town, like going to school and roaming on footpaths in your free time. With larger wheels, you can easily go where you want as they can accelerate well means you do not have to push the board every second. At the same time, their softer durometer allows you to pass over cracks on concrete comfortably by absorbing vibrations.
There are tons of skateboard wheels on the market, so it can be confusing to get the right wheel that helps you cruise around. Read my post on some quality skateboard wheels for cruising if you are serious about buying one for yourself. Following are some quick skateboard wheels suggestions for your cruiser skateboard setup:
- OJ Keyframe 87A (Editor’s Choice)
- OJ Hot Juice 78A (For Super Smooth Cruising)
For Beginners – 54mm To 56mm
If you are just getting started, then I would recommend you to choose 54mm to 56mm wheels as they are slightly large wheels, so you will get the grip, balance, and stability required to learn the basics. With these wheels, you enjoy riding the skateboard with full control. As I always recommend 99A durometer wheels to beginners, but you can go for softer ones if you have to ride on rough roads like typical streets in North America are.
You can go through my guide on beginner skateboard wheels to get a promising set of wheels as a newbie. Here are my few remarkable recommendations if you want to pick the wheels for your initial skateboard without wasting a moment.
- OJ Elite Nomads 95A (Editor’s Choice)
- Spitfire Formula Four 99A (Excellent For Durability)
- Ricta Clouds 92A (Ideal For Rough Concreate Roads)
Evaluating the size of skateboard wheels is not at all a straightforward process. You can only assess it based on your necessities and what you want to do on your skateboard. I have shed light on the skateboard wheel size effects in detail, so you can make a solid decision when buying a new pair of skateboard wheels.