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A Comprehensive Buying Guide!
Longboarding is surfing on wheels and has ardent enthusiasts around the world. Every sport has its gear and if you are a true and ardent player of any game, you are going to be very particular about the quality of the equipment you are getting. How to choose the longboard wheels is a question that every ardent player asks. Longboards come in many styles and basically have different longboard for different level of expertise. Same goes for the wheels of longboards. In this article, we are going to give you a guiding tour through different kinds of wheels being used these days in longboards and which kind of wheel goes with which style of riding. So sit back and enjoy the ride!
Wheels – The Burden Bearers Of The Longboard
Basically, wheels of the longboard are the one that makes the whole thing work. They are moving the whole structure as well as bearing the burden of the rider. Longboard wheels come in many shapes, sizes and materials. Mostly, they are made of Petrochemical called Polyurethane which is bouncy and have gripping characteristics to it. It comes in many cool colours as well. In the beginning, they were made with rubber and even metals. But with time, and more understanding of the demands of this particular sport, wheels are made with just the right stuff!
Read more: How To Choose The Right Longboard Size?
What To Keep In Mind For Choosing Longboard Wheels?
While choosing wheels for your longboard, there are many things to keep in mind. Why is it important to make a choice? Because the kind of wheel you choose will determine the kind of ride you get. Wheels not only determine the speed of your ride, but also provide the grip and control of longboard while making turns. These are important aspects to look into if you want an enjoyable riding experience.
The surfaces on which you choose to surf with your longboard are as important as the wheels you are using. Different surfaces provide different riding experience. Here are some examples.
- SMOOTH ASPHALT: It is very gripping surface and needs wheels with little gripping character while sliding
- ROUGH ASPHALT: It is less gripping than smooth asphalt but more clenching than cement
- SMOOTH CEMENT: Smooth cement doesn’t offer good grip and let the wheels to slide faster.
- ROUGH CEMENT: Although it is less gripping than asphalt but still has more gripping power than the smooth cement.
- BRICK/STONE: Brick or stone surfaces usually cause friction due to grooves.
- WOOD: It offers least amount of grip and is very slide-friendly.
- SAND/GRASS: Good luck moving at these surfaces!
In the following section, we are going to discuss different characteristics of the longboard wheels which differentiate them from each other.
That is the foremost decision you have to make while making the purchase for the wheels. The standard size that is available in the market is between 64 to 88mm in diameter. 70 mm is the most commonly available size you will find in the market.
- Larger wheels have slower start but provide higher top speed while smaller wheels accelerate faster but have lower top speed.
- Larger wheels will negotiate cracks and debris more easily while small wheels are adjustable on many longboards. Whichever wheel you choose, make sure it easily mounts your setup.
- For decks with large cut outs, any size of wheel would suffice; otherwise, you have to add one-quarter rise pad to accommodate wheels larger than 70 mm.
The lip of the wheel refers to the outer edge of the contact patch. Kind of ride you are going to get depends on the shape of the lips a lot. If the lip is Sharp Square in shape, it will have firm grip. While round shaped lips makes sliding easy and smooth. This is why; wheels with square lips are used for downhill, while round shaped lips are considered best for Freeride. The lip style of wheels is not important for carving and transportation purposes.
Contact patch, as the name suggests, is the rounded surface that is in contact with the ground at all times. The range available for the contact patches is from 29-70mm. Most wheels come with contact patch range between 38-55mm. The formula is simple; more contact with the ground gives the wheel more grip and stable ride and these wider kinds of wheels are naturally preferred for downhill surfing. On the other hand, wheels with narrower contact patch will offer fewer grips and are used for Freeride. Wider wheels give you more control over your sliding movement.
When a new wheel is manufactured, it comes with shiny smooth surface, referred to as mould release. This skin of the wheel makes it difficult to slide at first. The skin peels off after a few slides and then it becomes easier to slide. Nowadays, the manufacturers have started to stone grind the wheels to peel off the initial skin of wheels so that the customers can enjoy a great slide from the very first roll. Stone ground wheels are highly recommended for you if you are a beginner.
Durometer measures the degree of hardness of wheels. Hardness of wheels figure high in the quality of ride. Longboards are known for softer wheels as they will let you have more control and grip of your board in any kind of ride you are enjoying. Usually, longboards come with 75-88a Durometer. Lower the Durometer, higher the grip and slower the roll and the slides, while with higher Durometer, the grip is lower giving high speed to your rides and slides.
Urethane characteristics also fare high as far as the performance of wheels is concerned. Various urethane formulae are used in the manufacturing of wheels and they have different degree of grip, durability and sliding ability. Best thing to do is to try as many as possible and get the feel of each one. To make the choice easier for their customers, companies have categorised the urethane formula as Freeride and downhill. So whichever is your style, you can get the perfect formula for that.
Core Size And Shape
Core size and shape are also very important aspects to look out for while making the purchase.
- Wheels with larger diameter core rolls faster and is best for commuting, Freeride and downhill.
- Wheel with wider cores support urethane better and make the wheels more enduring and wears evenly.
- Harder material used in core improves speed of the roll and prevent the deformation of wheels for longer time.
- This wearing of wheels make them become faster and slowing down while riding downhill become difficult. For this, RAD wheels are introduced in the market which is quite in demand. These wheels are designed from the core. It features firm grip, fast rolling speed and slow, even wear.
There are three kinds of core placements that are available in the market and their placement has effect on the performance of the ride.
In this kind, the cores are placed in the centre of the wheel. They provide firmer grip than the other types and can be flipped inside out that make it wear evenly and increases its lifespan.
Side set wheels have core placed on the inner lip of the wheel. They offer least amount of grip with little to none inner lip present. They allow smooth sliding and even though they have little grip and also wears at faster rate, it is quite popular for Freeride and beginners.
These kinds of wheels have their cores placed somewhere in between centre set and side set. They combine the characteristics of other two core placements giving you benefits of both kinds.
These are the salient features of a longboard wheels that you have to bear in mind before rolling out your cash to buy them. Make sure you buy wheels that are meant for your kind of ride.