Essential Guide to Longboard Wheels:
Longboard wheels play a crucial role in powering your ride. They're the force behind your movement and an essential piece of your setup. Your longboard's wheels hold the keys to your speed, acceleration, and grip.
When you're on the hunt for the perfect set of longboard wheels, a few factors come into play. You'll want to think about the wheel size that suits you best, find a style that matches your riding style, and consider their durometer. So, let's dive into the world of longboard wheels and discover what suits your ride!
In this blog we will cover:
- Sizings / Diameter
- Surface Styles (Stone ground v Surface skin)
- Contact patch and edge profile
- Wheel core (center set and offset)
- What wheel is best for your riding style
Just like with skateboards, the size of your longboard wheels is measured by their diameter. This size has a big say in how your ride performs. Think of it as your wheels holding the keys to acceleration and speed.
If you're hungry for speed, go big! Larger wheels give you that satisfying burst of velocity. They're like the turbochargers of longboarding. Take the Orangatang Dad Bods, for example. These beasts boast a massive 105mm diameter, putting them on par with the speed of a bicycle. And guess what? With these bad boys, you cover more ground with each push, saving that energy of yours.
But hang on a sec, there's a trade-off. The bigger the wheel, the slower the acceleration.
Now, if you're more into that quick and nimble vibe, smaller wheels are for you. Check out the Orangatang Love Handles, rocking a compact 65mm diameter. These wheels deliver a snappy, light-as-air ride that's perfect for zipping around.
Durometer? Think of it as the softness or hardness meter for your wheels. Just like sizes, durometer affects your speed, and it also throws in a twist by messing with your grip.
Now, here's the scoop on how they measure this stuff: Most companies use the A scale, which goes from 1 to 100. Higher the number, the harder the wheels. There's also the B scale that's 20 points below the A scale. For instance, a 60b equals an 80a. The sweet spot for longboard wheels? Usually around 75a to 90a.
- 78a - 87a (Soft): Perfect for leisurely cruises and ultimate comfort, these wheels hug rough terrain and glide over cracks. Beginners, this is your haven. It offers stability and a ride that forgives those wobbly moments.
- 88a - 95a (Medium): These wheels your all-around pals, giving you a bit of grip and slide. No matter your style, they're down to ride. Looking for that versatile companion? This range is where it's at.
- 96a - 99a (Hard): If you're into freeriding then these wheels are perfect. Hard duros offer less grip, breaking the traction from the pavement. They perform at their best on smooth surfaces, such as skateparks.
- 100a+ (Very Hard): Reserved for the pros. If you're into freeriding or downhill racing, these wheels are your ticket. They're minimal on grip, so it's all about control. Not for the faint of heart, but if you've got the skills, they've got the thrills.
Another thing that affects the grip of your wheels is your wheels surface. You've got 2 different wheels surface textures. There's stone ground (rought) and surface skin (smooth).
Longboard wheels with surface skin have that shiny appearance to them. This style provides you with optimal grip. Be aware that once you've done a couple of slides, these wheels will lose some of that grip and will need replacing. Wanting a more grippy ride? These wheels are for you.
Now, think of stone ground wheels as the seasoned veterans. They've had their top layer buffed away, mimicking the feel of well-worn surface skin wheels. And you know what that means? Less grip. They're like the drifty daredevils of the longboarding world. Perfect for sliding and freeriding fanatics, plus they're an awesome choice for beginner longboarders.
Contact patch and edge profile
When we talk about longboard wheels, the contact patch is the fancy term for the part of the wheel that actually meets the ground. It's like the wheel's way of shaking hands with the road. How big or small this contact patch is depends on the wheel's size and shape. Got a big wheel? Chances are, you've got a bigger contact patch.
Now, let's get into why this contact patch thing matters. When your wheel has a generous contact patch, your weight gets spread out more evenly. This helps keep the urethane (that's the material your wheels are made of) from squishing too much, which can lead to something called rolling resistance – kind of like putting on the brakes unintentionally.
Guess what? The shape of your wheel plays a role too. Rounded wheels, those that are, well, round, have a smaller contact patch. This gives you a looser, more slide-happy ride. But hey, keep in mind they're quick to wear down and can get those pesky flat spots or coning issues.
Now, square up those wheels, and you've got a larger contact patch. This means more grip on the road, and you're less likely to deal with any annoying flat spots. So, whether you're craving that slide-and-glide action or a super grip on the asphalt, the size and shape of your contact patch play a starring role in your longboarding tale.
What is the core of your wheel? The core is where the bearings seat and also where the urethan of the wheel attaches itself. Often a wheels core is made up of either hard plastic or sometimes aluminium. Without a core, the heat from your bearings when your riding will cause the urethane to melt and therefore causing what we call 'puking', this can be really dangerous so cores help to prevent such an issue.
Larger cored wheels are great if you like speed and they help prevent the urethane squashing and robbing you of your speed. If you ride them on smooth surfaces, big wheels with large cores over a great roll speed and perfect slides.
What's the difference between center set and offset longboard wheel cores?
Center Set Core
Center set is a core that is smack banging in the middle. Longboard wheels with a center set core are typically aimed for sliding as the wheel are able to be flipped around to help with an even wear. Typically they have a smaller contact patch making them more slidey.
Manufacturers have started making center set wheels wider so that they can offer grip too.
These wheels sport a bearing seat that sits right between the back and center of the wheel. The result? A perfect marriage of grip and slide that many riders can't get enough of.
Offset wheels aren't a one size fits all sort of matter. Brands are customising their wheels to suit particular riding styles. They're adjusting the wheel lip, contact patch width, inner profile edge etc.
What wheels are best for...
Longboard Wheels For Dancing
When searching for longboard dancing wheels, you'll find that most of the wheels are between 60mm and 75mm. Having smaller wheels means the board will be more lightweight and easier to manoeuvre.
Depending on what surface your riding on depends on the size of your wheel. As discussed earlier, if you're dancing on rougher ground, a larger wheel would be better as you will glide over those bumps with no issue. For beginners, we would recommend wheels around the 65mm mark as they're in the middle of the sizes, as you can get a feel for the riding style and then decide if you need a heavier or lighter wheel.
Longboard Wheels For Cruising
For those embracing a relaxed and laid-back riding approach, especially focused on cruising, the quest for the right longboard wheels takes center stage. To maintain an effortless pace while soaking in the scenery, opt for wheels with a diameter exceeding 70mm. This ensures a seamless blend of speed and momentum. Aim for a lower durometer, indicating a softer wheel, for a smoother journey gliding over road imperfections such as bumps and cracks. Among the top contenders, the Orangatang Caguama wheels shine bright. Boasting an impressive 85mm diameter, these wheels offer both a generous top speed and a satisfying mix of comfort and grip.
Longboard Wheels For Sliding
For the avid slider, finding the perfect set of longboard wheels can make all the difference. When your preferred riding style involves mastering those buttery slides, a few key features can take your experience to the next level. Opt for wheels with a lower durometer, ideally within the 78A to 85A range, as these offer the grip-slide balance you're after. Look for rounded or beveled edges, which facilitate smoother transitions into and out of slides. A smaller contact patch size contributes to the ease of initiating and controlling slides. Additionally, wheels with stone ground or smoother surfaces are advantageous, ensuring a consistent slide without jeopardizing control.
The Orangatang Moronga 72.5mm wheels. These tall and slender wheels can slide for days as they have a beefy lip which helps get those smooth slider and reliable traction.
Longboard Wheels For Downhill Riding
For you adrenaline junkies who love the speed of dowhill riding, nailing that perfect combination of control and grip with your longboard wheel is essential. You want to opt for generously sized wheels, ensuring you reach those high top speeds. Grip is your faithful companion for downhill adventures, so look for wheels featuring a square lip profile coupled with a spacious contact patch that has a smooth skin. This pairing guarantees supreme traction, eliminating any traction loss with the road.
The ABEC 11 Reflex Centrax Longboard wheels are a hit with downhill riding. Standing at 77mm with a whopping 68mm contact patch, these wheels offer you optimal grip with a side of speed.
Longboard Wheels For LDP (Long Distance Push)
In the world of LDP longboarding, size truly matters, and the bigger, the better. By embracing larger wheels you unlock the ability to cover more ground with each push and attain impressive top speeds. Embracing larger wheels isn't just about speed – it's about conquering road imperfections effortlessly. Their substantial size ensures a smoother glide over bumps and cracks, granting you the joy of seamless gliding along your route
We have been loving the Orangatang Dad Bod 105mm Wheels. These monster wheels are perfect for LDP riding as the amount of distance you cover per push is unmatched and giving you the speed of a bicycle, these wheels are a no brainer!
Longboard Wheels For Carving
When looking for longboard carving wheels, you want to look for a set that will provide you with the grip in those tight turns. We would recommend wheels that are on the larger side (65mm+) as well as them being soft. Having softer wheels mean they're a bit more plush so with grip onto the surface in those tight turns.
The Orangatang In Heat 75mm wheels are a popular model within the carving community. A well balanced and well proportioned wheel, it is perfect for those hard carves. The thick lip provides the wheels with progressive energy in and out of turns.