Choosing wheels for your longboard and knowing which hardness is best can be difficult, especially if you’re relatively new to skateboarding. So in this guide, we’ll help you understand different types of skateboard wheel hardness, explain why wheel hardness matters, and what is the best wheel hardness for longboard wheels to help you pick the right wheels.
The importance of skateboard wheel hardness
Taking into account the hardness of your wheels is a crucial aspect of selecting new wheels for your longboard and will directly impact and affect your skating style, technique and ability. There is a lot to consider, but first, you shouldn’t understand the importance of choosing the correct wheel hardness, including their impact on your:
The hardness of your wheels will have an impact on the speed at which you can travel. Of course, the importance of speed does depend on the purpose of your skateboarding pursuits. If you are an avid adrenaline seeker and prefer to focus your boarding action at a skatepark, harder wheels may be best for you. Generally speaking, harder wheels are faster and designed for acceleration into tricks rather than cruising.
The slightly harder wheels do, however, have less grip, which means they are not great on rough surfaces like roads. This is why hard wheels are better suited to skate parks and smooth ground while softer wheels are ideal for cruising. Typically, the harder the wheel, the least grip there is and the faster you will go, so it’s important to take into account your own skill and ability along with your purpose and intention before deciding on which wheels to buy.
As well as offering less grip, harder wheels are typically springier, so they don’t offer as much stability as softer wheels either. Softer wheels are also better at absorbing shock, which will be preferable if you’re riding on rougher terrain rather than in a skatepark. In fact, soft wheels are much slower on smooth surfaces as their better grip makes them hard to slide.
Ability to do tricks
If you’re a skateboarder with a little more flare and like to practice the latest trends and skateboard trick sequences, hard wheels will be better suited to your pursuits. As well as being springier and more fluid, they are smaller and don’t bounce as much, making it much easier to land tricks.
Soft wheels tend to be a lot bigger than hard ones, meaning they can handle cracks and stones without your wheels getting blocked and coming to a sudden stop. However, this also means they’re not suitable for doing tricks and stunts as they’re too bouncy.
How is wheel hardness measured?
Before we explain this, we need to clarify what a durometer is. A durometer is a device that measures the hardness of a material, typically polymers, rubbers, and elastomers. It does this using what’s known as an A Scale, which is a 100-point scale where 100A is the hardest. The lower the number before the A, the softer the wheel.
In addition to the A scale, there is also the B Scale, although this is less common. Wheels using the B Scale are extremely hard as they measure 20 points lower than the A Scale, allowing an additional 20 points for the hardest wheels.
What is the best wheel hardness for longboards?
Nearly all skateboard wheels are made from polyurethane because it’s highly durable, have the best abrasion resistance, and can be manufactured in different hardnesses. Bearing in mind that a longboard is most suited to cruising, the best wheel hardness for longboards tends to be between 70A and 80A, with the most popular durometer for longboards being 78A. In comparison, shortboard wheels are usually 90A to 101A.
How to choose your wheel hardness
All in all, choosing the best wheel hardness for a longboard comes down to one thing: personal preference. There is no right or wrong answer. Both soft and hard wheels are good, they just have different purposes. For example, softer wheels offer more stability as they have a much better grip, making for a safer ride. So if you’re more of a cruiser, soft wheels may be better for you.
While harder wheels lack grip, they make up for this in terms of their speed and agility. If you prefer to stunt and perform airborne skating elements, you’d have a much better chance at perfecting your skills with harder wheels. Ultimately, the wheels you choose depend on your purpose, skill level and personal style when skating.
The best longboard wheels for cruising