Salty Peaks, back in the mix! Welcome to the third edition of our longboard buying guide on the part of the set-up that either grips and rips or breaks and slips; the wheels. Similar to picking the deck, the first thing you have to figure out is your riding style. Once you have that decided, it is time to jump into the different aspects of the wheel. In this article, we will be going over how size, shape, hardness, and bearing mounting affects a wheels performance, so let’s get started.
When we talk about size, we need to discuss height, or diameter, and width. The diameter of the wheel affects the speed of the board. Larger wheels have slower acceleration but can reach higher top speeds, whereas smaller wheels accelerate quickly but cannot get going as fast. The width of the wheel can affect speed a little bit, but it mostly determines whether or not it is good for carving or sliding. Narrower wheels have less grip simply because there is less urethane contacting the road, making them better for sliding. Wider wheels are super grippy and great for carving. Width can affect speed because the more urethane touching the road, the more friction there is to slow you down.
There are two distinct shapes within longboard wheels. One has squared off edges when you look at it from the side, and the other has rounded edges.
The squared off shape is better for carving or racing. The squared-off lip allows the urethane to compress when you add weight while turning, which really digs the edges into the pavement for super hold.
Rounded edges are better for sliding. The idea here is that you do not have the squared-off lip of the wheel digging into the road, so it is easier to break the urethane from the pavement when pushing the board into a slide.