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Soft vs Hard Skateboard Wheels: What’s Your Jam?

Written by Kevin Gerard

If you’re a skater, then you know how important skateboard wheels are. There are so many different types of wheels out in the world and so many things to consider.

Here we will talk about the pros and cons of soft and hard wheels so you can easily determine the right type based on your skill and stance.

Soft Vs Hard Skateboard Wheels – Which Is Best For You?

Soft wheels

Pros

1) Comfortable and safe

Comfortable and safe

Soft wheels need less effort to push and they provide a good grip in case you run into small rocks or cracks.

Since there is less chance of falling and getting hurt, soft wheels are safer and more comfortable than hard wheels.

2) Easy Transportation

Maintaining high speed is easier on these big and soft wheels. The strong grip ensures there is less risk of sliding and you can use them on your daily commute or simply for cruising around the town.

Cons

1) Heavy Bounce

Soft wheels aren’t suitable for tricks because they tend to bounce a lot. The soft and larger wheels may cause you to lose your balance and trip over easier.

Do not choose soft wheels for skateparks, mini ramps, or bowls. Harder wheels work better in those environments.

2) The grip can be a nuisance

Soft wheels tend to grip on the surface that doesn’t help with technical tricks.

3) Flat spots

This isn’t a problem specifically for the soft wheels. However, cheaper and low-quality wheels won’t be able to support your weight and will create flat spots on your wheels.

The problem will not only make your riding harder, but it also can cause major damages if you fall off the board.

Hard wheels

Pros

1) Long-lasting and great control

Hard wheels have a lower tendency to get flat spots because of the hardness. They can last a long time, provided you take good care of them.

They’re especially good for tricks because they don’t bounce like the soft wheels. They provide better stability and control while you ride.

2) Faster acceleration

Small and hard wheels are good for acceleration. Whether you’re racing downhill or doing tricks on a skate park, faster acceleration will come in handy.

3) Great for bowls, skateparks, and mini-ramps

Bowls, skateparks, and mini ramps help you hone your skateboarding skills. Hard wheels help by allowing you to ride at higher speeds with great maneuverability.

These wheels are good for making sharp turns, jumping, or cruising. No matter what your specialty is, hard wheels probably can offer some help.

Cons

1) Creates noise and vibration

Hard wheels make noise while they produce friction with the surfaces. You’ll feel a non-stop and uncomfortable vibration coming to your body from the board.

The rougher the surface you ride on, the louder the noise and vibration will get.

2) Stops immediately if faces any object

Hard wheels tend to stop unexpectedly if there is a clash with any object. As a result, you may end up flying off your board and receive a major injury.

3) Hard to push

Hard wheels are stubborn and need more strength to start. That’s why they are a bit challenging for a beginner.

Primarily, hard wheels are designed for tricks. They handle smooth surfaces better and have less tendency to stay gripped on the floor.

Where do medium-hard wheels stand?

Medium-hard wheels are for a rider who doesn’t know whether he/she wants to cruise around or practice tricks. You can consider them as all-rounder wheels for your skateboard.

Generally, the wheel diameter ranges between 50 mm and 59 mm while medium-hard wheels have a diameter of 53 or 54mm.

They offer less vibration and more grip than the hard wheels. These hybrid wheels also feature greater speed and maneuverability than the soft wheels.

Medium-hard wheels can be a great buffer between performing tricks and cruising around. They are beginner-friendly so you can start your skating journey with these medium-hard wheels.

Soft vs Hard Skateboard Wheels: How They Differ

Durometer

You can find the hardness of your wheel by looking at the durometer. The higher the number, the harder the wheel.

Scale A durometer

Scale A means they are softer compared to Scale B. They go up to 100. Generally, 78A to 87A are considered as soft, 90A-97A are medium, and wheels that have a rating above 97A are known as hard.

Scale A durometer

75A to 85A

They represent soft wheels. If you want to go for longboards and cruisers, you’ll need them. They can easily handle cracks and small rocks that come surprisingly in your way.

88A to 95A

Harder than the previous class but can handle cracks and bumps well.

96A to 99A

Harder among scale A durometer and assist in skateparks. If you are a beginner who wants to try tricks then choose them.

Scale B durometer

Though similar compared to the A scale, they go 20 points higher. Scale B durometers cover the hardness needed for wheels to do tricks. They are the first choice of pro skaters.

81B to 82B

These wheels are harder than the A scale and are perfectly suited for technical tricks.

83B to 84B

Hardest wheels and best fit for experienced trick skaters. They can be called 104 on an A scale.

Rebound and bounce

Soft wheels bounce more than the hard wheel. That’s why it’s easier to bounce on hard wheels.

Wheel size

The wheel size is measured in millimeters (mm) and ranges from 50mm to 75mm. Smaller wheels stay closer to the ground. As a result, you’ll have better control.

However, the speed will be a bit lower than bigger wheels.

Bigger wheels provide more speed and balance.

48 to 53mm wheels are considered smaller. They are best for experts and professionals. 54 to 59mm are best for beginners.

60 to 75 are considered larger wheels you’ll find in your daily riding boards.

Speed and Balance

Soft wheels will give you higher speed, but their balancing power is limited.

On the other hand, you need hard wheels for better balance.

Skatepark vs street wheels

Skatepark wheels

Skatepark wheels

Skateparks are designed to practice tricks such as ollie,180 heelflips, kickflips, 360 flip/tre flips, and grind. Hard wheels are essential in these recreational parks.

Ollie

ollie

Street wheels

Street wheels

Smaller wheels are probably the best for street skating since they make flipping easier. Even if wheel sizes start from 48mm, popular street wheels are in between 52-54mm.

You can also try street skating with bigger wheels. However, they will feel heavier and you’ll become exhausted pretty quickly.

When should you use soft skateboard wheels?

If you want to go for a long ride and don’t care much about performing tricks, soft skateboard wheels are what you need. They are also a good fit for cruising, longboarding, and bomb hills.

When should you use hard skateboard wheels?

If you have a bit of prior experience in shaking, you can go for the harder wheels. They will assist better when you are trying to learn tricks as a beginner.

If your favorite hanging out place is the skatepark, you probably are a hard wheel person.

FAQs

1. Can I use longboard wheels on a regular skateboard?

Ans: You can but make sure they are not bigger than 70mm. You’ve to be careful about wheel bites. Attach ½ inch riser pads and 1 and ½ inch bolts and make sure the trucks of your board are tight to avoid injuries.

2. Are rubber skateboard wheels good?

Ans: They will be subject to wear and rear comparatively sooner than other skateboard wheels. We recommend you go for good quality material such as urethane.

3. Why are my skate wheels so loud?

Ans: The friction causes loud noises. Clean inside your wheel and the bearing thoroughly. Make sure the wheels are dry before putting them back together.

Don’t forget to use some lube on the outer bearing and the core of the wheel. This will reduce sounds.

About the author

Kevin Gerard

Kevin started off his career as a mechanical engineer at a scooter manufacturing company back in 2012. He’s been into kick scooters and swimming from the early years of his life. Over time, he quit the latter for the love of the former and soon started to be recognized as a kick scooter expert. He wanted to take kick scooter design professionally but his family forced him to study engineering. Luckily, he decided to study mechanical engineering. That made way for him to work in the field of kick scooter designing as a core researcher and developer. Kevin is also one of the founding members of Scooterlay and contributes to the website as the head of the kick scooter research team. He is currently working on his first book on the basics of kick scooter riding. This is a guide for beginner riders and will soon be published by Warner House Press, Arizona.

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