Searching for the best longboard wheels? Longboarding is one of the most thrilling extreme sports out there and, perhaps, the best thing about it is that it is extremely versatile. You can achieve amazing speeds, do tricks and use it for an eco-friendly form of transportation.
However, if you want your longboard to perform at its best and provide you with an amazing experience, you have to consider the parts that will go into it. Every longboard part is important, though some have a bigger effect on performance than others.
One of such parts is the wheels, so it is essential to find the best longboard wheels. And to make this important task easier for you, we present you some of the best wheels in the market.
The essential part of your board
Picture having to jog in shoes with no soles! It wouldn’t be very fast, it will certainly be extremely uncomfortable and probably even painful. The wheels of a longboard are pretty much what soles are for skate shoes and boy are they absolutely essential. The quality and properties determine how pleasant, comfortable and effective the experience will be.
Just like with shoes, there is a wide variety of longboard wheels. There are different shapes and sizes, manufacturers, and even colors. Most importantly, longboard wheels differ in quality, and that is something that should be considered very carefully before choosing them.
Even though no one type could be called the absolute best longboard wheels, certain things make some wheels better than others. Just like with any other product, it is very important to consider the manufacturer. Companies that have traditions in quality almost always produce worthwhile gear.
Secondly, wheels must always be chosen according to the longboarding style as every discipline requires wheels with different specifications. Not coordinating the shape and purpose of the longboard with the wheels will only lead to poor performance and disappointment.
Size, hardness, shape
When choosing wheels, every skater should consider three main parameters – the diameter (size) and durometer (hardness) and shape – every style requires different features in those aspects of the wheel design.
This is important because wheels that are bigger and softer tend to be slower but will provide better stability, especially when riding tough terrain, while small, hard wheels will gain high speed faster, yet they won’t give you the absolute feeling of smooth riding. Meanwhile, the shape affects traction and speed.
Another thing to consider is the color. Color-coding a longboard does not always guarantee good results, as some companies use different colors on their wheels to indicate different durometers and so basing the wheel choice on color alone can turn out to be a mistake.
So, let’s start with freeriding which is perhaps the most adventurous and dangerous discipline in longboarding. In freeriding, it is absolutely essential to have a perfect grip with the road. Otherwise, controlling the board might become difficult and that might lead to injuries.
That is why low durometer (soft) and large wheels are most suitable. Smaller wheels will wear very quickly from the high speeds and friction with the road. The best downhill shape is usually sharp-lip as, again, it provides more stability and guarantees a thrilling experience and amazing speeds.
Best Longboard Wheels
A great option for downhill longboarding is the Orangatang In Heat Longboard Wheels. They are quite large at 75mm, and come in three different colors, according to durometer, so every skater can choose what he or she finds most comfortable.
These wheels, which are also sharp-lipped, provide excellent grip and stability. They are made out of high-grade urethane, which means that their rebound properties are some of the best out there.
What’s more, every downhill rider knows that sometimes there are large cracks in the road that can lead to serious problems – well, the Orangatang in Heat wheels make rolling over the imperfections in the road a breeze!
Orangatang In Heat Longboard Wheels
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If you are looking for the best longboard wheels for cruising, the Orangatang in Heat is a good option. Cruising might not always be as thrilling as downhill, yet it is one of the most popular longboarding styles and rightfully so. Cruising is an extremely versatile discipline, which can fit any mood, terrain, and preferences.
Choosing the most suitable wheels for cruising means going with large, soft, sharp-lipped ones. Large wheels are really great because they provide for a smoother ride, despite the roughness of the road.
However, the diameter must be coordinated with the size of the board as large wheels on a small board will lead to wheel bite and the wheels potentially carving the bottom of the board.
ABEC11 Big Zig HD
For larger decks (40″ and up) one of the best options are the ABEC 11 Reflex – Thane Big Zig HD Longboard Wheels. They are large and come in four different durometers.
These wheels are extremely popular among longboarders as they feel very comfortable, provide a truly excellent grip and ensure a smooth ride at all times. A good option for small decks (34″ and below) are the ABEC 11 NOSkoolZ Longboard Skateboard Wheels.
The diameter is 75mm and they come in an unbelievable variety of six different durometers, which means that skaters are able to choose with extreme precision which type feels most comfortable for their board.
These wheels are also extremely lightweight, which makes them very practical and comfortable.
ABEC 11 Big Zigs Longboard Wheels
When talking about freeriding, the wheels are a crucial part of choosing the best longboard. As freeriding includes a lot of tricks, the wheels need to meet certain specifications in order to make it easy for skaters to be flexible and quick, but also stable. Freeriding wheels shouldnâ€™t be too large â€“ 68-72mm is a perfect size, as large wheels will cause wheel-bite and small ones will wear off too quickly and will have to be replaced often. Also, these wheels should not be too high in durometer. It is true that harder wheels speed up faster, but they can also be too difficult to control.
Getting everything out of freeriding is made super easy with the Cloud Ride Freeride Longboard Skateboard Wheels â€“ they are 70mm in diameter, which is the absolute perfect size, and also come in three different durometers. Whatâ€™s more â€“ these wheels were specifically designed for nothing but freeriding, so they really do an incredible job. These wheels guarantee amazingly smooth slides and predictable drifts, transforming the freeriding experience into something even more special.
On top of it all â€“ they look super cool! If youâ€™re asking. â€œwhat is the best cheap longboard wheels,â€ you can consider buying these.
Cloud Ride Freeride Longboard Skateboard Wheels
Sector 9 Butterballs
One of the best longboard wheels for sliding, the Sector 9 Butterballs are available in two variants: 65 mm 80a and 70 mm 80a. These wheels have a 38 mm contact patch and are able to grip and drift whenever needed. These best longboard slide wheels have a slide formula urethane that provides smooth, controlled rides. If you want to buy these wheels, click here.
Sector 9 Top Self Butter Balls Slide Wheels
How to Choose Longboard Wheels
Longboard wheels vary in diameter. This variable affects the overall performance of a longboard. The diameter of longboard wheels can range from 58 mm to 80 mm. Tall wheels (wheels with a large diameter) are ideal for downhill riding, as they cover more ground per revolution and are therefore ideal for high speeds. They also work well for transportation and cruising, as they can negotiate cracks and debris better than smaller wheels.
One factor that determines how tall a wheel could be is the type of longboard deck they’re going. Boards with large cutouts, such as drop through decks, can take in larger wheels without causing wheel bite. This also applies to top mounts with large wheel wells. Although riser pads can help top mount boards with small wheel wells utilize tall wheels, the ride height may negatively impact stability.
The average wheel height is about 70 mm, which is usually a good diameter for top mount boards and freeride setups. One advantage of smaller wheels over their taller counterparts is that they can accelerate quicker. But they bite harder on cracks on the pavement and may struggle to cope with pebbles and other debris. When it comes to diameter, longboarders should weigh their options carefully. Choose a deck first, then reduce wheel options to those that will work with your board.
What are longboard wheels made of? They are made from polyurethane. The durometer is a measure of urethane hardness. This measurement is expressed in a number followed by the letter a. Longboard wheels are relatively soft, with a durometer range of 78a to 85a.
Soft wheels can provide a quiet and smooth ride much better than street board wheels. Additionally, they are good cruising wheels as they roll over debris more easily. On the other hand, harder wheels slide more easily and are usually faster because of the reduced friction.
The contact patch of a wheel is the area that makes contact with the pavement. It is denoted in millimeters and is also the width of the wheel from inner lip to outer lip. A wheel’s contact patch could be anywhere from 30 mm to 70 mm.
Take note that wide contact patches provide more grip because of the extra friction. Because they help prevent uncontrolled slides, they’re often used for downhill riding. Meanwhile, narrow wheels produce less friction, making them suitable for freeride. Their thin contact patch makes them easier to push sideways, allowing them to slide for longer.
The lip is the outermost edge, where a wheel meets the pavement. Lips are contoured to support various ride characteristics. This can affect the way a longboard handles, especially at speed.
Sharp lips are best for downhill because they provide excellent grip. The sharp edge digs into the pavement, preventing the wheel from slipping out. Round lips have the opposite effect, as they readily break traction. The rounded edges make it easy to slide, making it suitable for freeriding as a rider doesn’t have to put too much effort to initiate slides.
With regards to the core, there two types of wheels. The first type has a plastic insert in the middle (in which the bearings are set). The second type has no such insert. A core provides stability and keeps the bearings in alignment. Tall cores allow faster speeds, while wide cores help prevent deformation during hard riding. Also, cores promote even wear of the contact patch and keep the wheel from ovaling.
Can You Use Longboard Wheels on a Skateboard?
Technically yes, you can put longboard wheels on a skateboard, but with some limitations. One problem you might encounter if you put longboard wheels on to a regular skateboard is wheel bite. It occurs when the wheels touch the edge of the board, usually when turning. The wheels will stop spinning, which might throw you off the board.
To prevent this from happening, you can opt for smaller longboard wheels. If you get 55 mm wheels or close to that wheel size, you probably won’t have any issues. If you want to go for large longboard wheels such as the 70 mm, you’ll have to do some upgrades. To prevent wheel bite, you may need to lift your board. Doing so will give the wheels more clearance room.
For this, you’ll need to install risers. The riser pads fit between where trucks connect to the board. How much you have to raise depends on how big the wheels you want to install. The problem with risers is that it makes the board higher off the ground. If you want to do tricks, it’s not a good idea to use longboard wheels on your skateboard.
Final Thoughts on the Best Longboard Wheels
Choosing the best longboard wheels is not an easy task, but making the choice carefully is essential for achieving some great longboarding sessions. Holding off on good wheels is a rookie mistake that no skater who wants to achieve amazing results should make.