Whether owning a complete longboard already or building out your very own longboard part by part, a good set of longboard wheels is essential to experience longboarding at its finest.
Not all longboard wheels are designed or built the same. Indeed, there are many different sizes, inner cores, material compositions, wheel surfaces, and styles of the wheel to choose from, each of which offer a varied riding experience.
This guide breaks down all you need to know about what to look for in a good set of wheels for your longboard. This includes how to select the right wheels for your deck and which wheels’ suit different styles of riding (cruising, commuting, freeriding, slaloming, or downhill racing). We also review the top longboard wheels to help you narrow down your choice.
What you need to know
Longboard wheels are softer than skateboard wheels to provide a more comfortable ride.
Different urethane hardness levels allow riders to select softer or harder wheels, as needed.
The range of wheels is colourful and imaginatively designed.
Many types of wheels help improve performance when carving, sliding or cruising around town.
Good choice of brands producing longboard wheels including a few respected long-term businesses.
Longboard wheels are not interchangeable with skateboard or roller skate wheels.
Not all wheels fit all decks due to insufficient deck clearance (risers can be added to resolve the issue).
The wrong wheels can be so soft that they leave urethane on the road after a slide manoeuvre.
Different wheels are often needed for cruising, downhill racing, and freeriding. Changing longboarding activity gets expensive when needing to buy replacement gear.
Longboard Wheels: Features & Benefits
Longboard wheels are sold in sets of four. Each set uses its urethane formula, wheel design, and the inner core to differentiate the product offering. Different wheels are made for various types of longboarding activity making it easier for the rider to select the appropriate wheel type.
There are many levels of wheel hardness with each wheel being rated before being sold in the retail market. Riders can choose wheels by hardness level, purpose, and brand reputation.
Wheels are often made to serve as an expression of each rider’s personality with attractive wheel designs launched each year with features to attract new converts.
Riders tend to be territorial when it comes to wheel brand. Fortunately, many brands offer a full range of wheel types to avoid needing to stray from their chosen brand once it’s been adopted.
Our 3 Best Longboard Wheel Recommendations in 2017
Orangatang Kegel 80mm 80a Orange Longboard Wheels
The Orangatang Kegel 80mm 80a Orange Longboard Wheels are a colourful, fast option for longboarders.
These orange, blue and green wheels are sure to make your board stand out in any environment. There is nothing subtle about the look here.
The Kegel wheels are 80mm x 56mm with a durometer of 80a. The wheels are soft, rather than firm, so they take the knocks well and smoothly. This wider wheel grips the road well, and the slimmer width allows for good turns, but not as tight as some Sector 9 wheels.
The lip profile is square with an offset 46mm core that has a depression to boost acceleration, agility, and sliding. The strong core combines robust performance and resistance to heat for those hot summer months.
The orange urethane is covered with Orangatang’s Happy Thane protective coating that is quick to come off during early use.
The Orangatang brand is loud and proud with all their products. This one is no exception. Ride with pride.
Fireball Incendo 70mm Longboard Skateboard Wheels
The Fireball Incendo 70mm Longboard Skateboard Wheels is unusual because it comes with capable ABEC 5 bearings too.
There is a choice of colors with the wheels (black or red). The black model has an 87a hardness rating, whereas the red model is 84a. This means that the black model is harder and the red one is quite a bit softer (medium level hardness). So for buyers, they are not just choosing the color preference, but need to bear in mind they’re accepting the hardness level of the urethane wheel with that single buying decision too.
Both wheel types are 70mm which is a good size. The urethane has been stone ground already which avoids the need for an excessive period of wearing in the wheels before sliding is possible. Slide away! The lips are angled, with a contact patch that widens the more slides are performed. Obviously, these wheels are a good choice for freestyle riders and downhill racers too.
These wheels are wider than some others one might own. This additional width helps to smooth out bumps in the road and sudden dips.
The Mini Logo bearings provided are Abec 5 rated.
Shark Wheel Sidewinder Longboard Wheels
The Shark Wheel Sidewinder Longboard 70mm Wheels appeared on the TV show Shark Tank which is where they get their name.
These square wheels took a whole new approach at how to create a great longboard wheel and largely succeeded. The wheels are best used for cruising and commuting.
There are many colors available with these wheels: Red, Green, Transparent Green, Blue, Orange, Yellow, Pink, Turquoise, and Transparent Purple.
With a 78a hardness rating, these high rebound polyurethane wheels are fairly soft which makes cruising around on them a comfortable ride. Uneven sidewalks and poorly treated roads aren’t likely to upset the apple cart with these wheels.
The smaller contact patch balances grip with an ability to initiate and fully execute a slide quite easily. These wheels can plow though sand and water without difficulty. An audible humming is heard when picking up a good speed due to the contact patch.
These wheels do not come with any bearings. No spacers are required to use the wheels smoothly, but the addition of spacers is likely to improve stability.
This product has won or been runner-up in several international longboard wheel competitions.
What are Longboard Wheels?
Longboard wheels are the special type of colorful urethane product. These wheels differ from skateboard wheels which are not interchangeable at all.
The design and formulation of these wheels is entirely different than that of other products like skateboards or roller skates. These types are either supplied in a complete longboard product, sold as a set including wheels, trucks, and bearings, or separately in a set of four.
What makes Longboard Wheels different?
For longboards, ones must use different wheels to skateboard wheels. There are several reasons for this including longer, wider decks, different road grip requirements, and the varieties of longboard styles like downhill, slalom, cruising, and commuting.
Longboards are intended for use on longer journeys, going around campus or going down to the local store. The comfort of the ride is paramount to longboarders who don’t wish to feel every crack in the sidewalk or bump in the road. To achieve this, softer wheels are used to cushion the riding experience. With skateboards, harder wheels are used because the tricks performed would easily wear through a softer set of wheels.
Furthermore, due to the larger deck size and ability to have substantial cutouts, there is often no limit to the size of the wheels that are usable with longboards as long as there is sufficient wheel clearance below the deck (a 1.4-inch or thicker riser is often used to increase the clearance level).
Color selection, core variations, urethane formula differences, and a multitude of other factors play into the subtle (and not so subtle) distinctions between longboard wheels and other types like skateboard wheels.
Things to consider
Longboards have enjoyed a long association with soft wheels. While skate park enthusiasts require harder wheels that will hold up to the rigours of performing tricks and manoeuvres that will take chunks out of softer wheels, for longboarders, softer wheels are more the thing.
When thinking about wheels, there are a few different areas to consider like the size, durometer (hardness), shape, and materials used in the manufacture of the wheels themselves. Below we go into the specific characteristics and offer knowledge and guidance to longboarders looking to upgrade their ride with an improved set of wheels.
The lip profile is the shape on the very edge of each wheel. It is the most outer area of the contact patch that is the last part of the wheel to lose contact with the road. The importance of the lip profile is that is indicates how the wheels will perform with different types of longboards, road surfaces, and activities.
The lip of a wheel refers to the outer edges of its contact patch. The shape of the wheel’s lips will tell you a lot about the way it rides.
With a wheel that has an extremely sharp angle on the side of it, this wheel is capable of carving. Obvious uses for these types of rides including slalom and freerides where sliding is part of the enjoyment. The edge of each wheel is angled in such a way that it grips the road surface better than any other type of wheel, allowing for excellent control via superior grip.
With square lip wheels, the bottom of each wheel is flat with a 90-degree angle on it. This type of wheel remains the most popular amongst longboarders. The lip goes vertically up and down, only then rotating towards the core. The traction with these wheels is excellent. Carving support is solid because when turning, the force is moved towards the wheel edge. As a result, the wheels flatten out and improve after some early usage. This wheel type is most effective when switching from a high degree of grip to little grip, and back again, without missing a beat. Downhill racers tend to prefer square lipped wheels because they offer high speeds and good carving at speed too.
The bevelled lip wheels look like a close match the square lip wheels, but this is deceptive. One edge has a 135-degree angle on it, with a second edge has only a 90-degree angle. The unusual design improves smoothness, particularly when riding on rough terrain, over potholes, and the like. When it comes to cruising, the bevelled lip wheels are superior.
With round lip wheels, these are ones that skateboarders are most familiar with. These wheels are perhaps the best for sliding because they offer greater control during the slide when compared to other lip types. Curbs and cracked sidewalks offer little resistance to round lip wheels, and they are ideal for skate parks.
The term contact patch refers to the part of the wheel that touches the ground. With longboard wheels, their contact patches aren’t consistent. In fact, their contact patches are anywhere from 29mm to 70m. A typical wheel though falls into a tighter range of 38mm to 55mm.
With a wider contact patch, more of the wheel material maintains contact with the ground which delivers more grip; downhill racers prefer this type to ensure effective control at high speed. A contact patch that is on the smaller side grips the road much less, while still maintaining enough grip to not be out of control, and is the preferred option for freestyle riders. When making frequent sliding manoeuvres, wide contact patches will stop the slide earlier delivering control back to the rider sooner. However, this shortens the sliding time and makes the grip and slip transition harder to manage well. For freeride wheels, stone ground contact patches are currently all the rage, so look out for those if freeriding is your thing.
New Wheel Skin
A new set of wheels comes with a mold or skin that covers the wheel after it’s unpacked and fitted properly. The skin increases the initial grip on the road, which is good for beginners, but for experienced riders they may be initially frustrated by their lack of ability to slide with the wheels. The skins literally need to be worn away before the wheels show their natural surface and sliding becomes easier to execute and complete.
With round lipped freeride wheels, most manufacturers stone grind the skin from the contact patch. The effect of this is to make these types of wheels’ slide well out of the box rather than needing to be worn in first. With beginners who fancy learning sliding, a set of stone ground wheels is definitely a good idea.
Durometer / Hardness Rating
Wheels come with different hardness ratings. The rating helps buyers know how soft the wheels are and how they can best be used. Longboarders tend to prefer to use softer wheels than skateboarders because while skateboarders need tougher wheels to withstand their airborne tricks and rough landings, longboarders desire a smooth, comfortable ride without many bumps.
With longboard wheels, the durometer rating falls between 75 and 88a. The 75 rating is on the softer side of the two levels. With skateboard wheels, the durometer rating is usually between 90 and 101a. As a rough rule of thumb, the softer the wheels, the greater its grip on the road surface, but they’ll rotate more slowly. High durometer wheels deliver less grip on the road, but achieve higher speeds through a faster roll speed. For this reason, it is possible for riders to choose the wheels that suit both their type of longboard deck and trucks, but also their personal preferences.
With sliding, the durometer also plays a part. When using a set of harder wheels (82 to 88a), slides are quicker, with slides decelerating slower too, with a feeling of gliding rather than sliding at times. Using softer wheels (75 to 80a) to slide with, sliding is more pedestrian with quicker deceleration, with a tell-tale patch of urethane from the tires left in your wake. The faster wearing soft wheels are known as buttery which indicate the urethane smeared across the road surface during use. Clearly, when sliding, softer wheels are going to wear through much faster.
For riders who are looking for a middle point between harder and softer wheels, look for set of wheels with a durometer between 78a and 80a. This selection will provide enough grip, some sliding ability with good speed and reasonable deceleration to maintain control.
Urethane Formulation & Characteristics
While the durometer of a set of wheels is a good start to reduce down the list of longboard wheels that will suit your purposes, it is also fair to point out that every 78a rated wheel will perform its own way. The reason for the differences not only is because of brand variations, but also the urethane formula used by that manufacturer when making their wheels which materially effects how it performs on the road.
Even with wheels that have the same durometer rating, the varying formula will change how the wheels’ slide, what grip is available while cruising, and how long lasting the wheel turns out to be. Reading reviews is one way to determine how one set of similarly rated wheels perform compared to another. Another way is to buy a set, try them out and feel the differences for yourself. Over time, every longboarder will develop their own allegiance to a certain wheel manufacturer and swear by their wheels as the very best.
A few advanced wheel makers try to help riders by creating different urethane formulas and using categories to indicate the suitability of each wheel type. The main difference for advanced riders is whether a formula promotes freeriding for easy sliding or downhill wheels that offer more grip but less sliding ability.
When looking at Sector 9 wheels, their 80a Race Formula wheels are ideal for downhill use due to their better grip and roll ability, while their Slide Formula Butterball wheels offer freeriders the advantage of easier, quieter slide execution. It is also possible that a single urethane formula is used by a manufacturer in a range of wheel sizes and shapes because they find the formula to be multi-purpose.
At this point, it should be pretty clear that durometer and urethane formulas make a significant difference to the ride experienced.
With each wheel, both the diameter of the wheel and its overall size have a material impact on momentum, acceleration, how close to the ground you’ll ride, and how easy it is roll over cracks in the sidewalk.
When picking out a set of wheels, the first consideration is the right size for your deck. Longboard wheels typically have a diameter between 64mm and 80mm. The most popular size is 70mm. As a general rule of thumb, bigger wheels pick up speed more slowly, but patience rewards riders with a faster top speed and a smoother ride over discarded items on the road or cracks in it. With smaller wheels, they pick up speed quicker, but don’t roll as fast as bigger wheels. One advantage of smaller wheels over larger ones is that they will fit more decks without risking wheel bite.
The closing point about wheel bite is an important one. The most critical aspect when choosing wheels is that they fit your current longboard setup. If you’re using standard kingpin trucks, then the wheel clearance is less than when using reverse kingpin trucks. However, for decks with large cutouts, wheel size becomes less of a factor as these decks accommodate almost any size of longboard wheel. With decks with smaller cutouts or no cutouts, then the wheel size matters greatly. Consider purchasing a 1.4-inch riser pad, or thicker, to raise the deck further above the ground to make sufficient clearance space for your set of chosen wheels. A ¼-inch riser is usually enough to accommodate 65mm wheels, whereas larger wheels like 70m ones will require a thicker riser.
Core Size & Shape
With wheel performance, the shape, size and composition of its core influences the behaviour of the wheel.
A larger diameter core helps a wheel roll quicker, which is ideal for commuting, freeriding, and downhill racing. With wider cores, the urethane material is better supported which avoids misshapen wheels and helps smooth out general wear on the urethane. With cores that are harder, the roll speed rises and helps the wheel avoid deformation through excessive sliding. Harder cores promote faster slides. With downhill racing, being able to cut speed quickly is so important, so the wheel cores are especially important with wheels used for downhill longboarding.
The core position (or core placement) for longboard wheels fall into three categories:
The slide and overall performance is subtly different with each core position variation.
Centerset wheels use cores that are positioned in the very center of the wheel with equal space on each side to the lip. The central placement offers the best grip due to the enlarged inner lip. With centerset wheels, they also can be flipped around to use both sides of the wheel evenly to extend their useful life. Due to this fact, freeride wheels typically come with centerset cores, round lips, and smaller contact patches.
Sideset wheels use cores aligned to the inner lip of the wheel. With sideset wheels, the grip is the least of the three core alignment types due to the lack of inner lip in most cases. The upside to the sideset style is that slides are easy to start and are smooth during execution. The reduced grip does make controlling the slide harder to achieve and adds a greater risk factor.
With sideset cores, the inner lip wears through much quicker than the outer lip. A coning effect may occur which could become extreme and require a replacement of the wheel. Despite the negatives, freeriders like using sideset wheels for easier sliding. For beginners, a set of sideset core wheels is useful when starting to learn how to slide and brake successfully.
With offset wheels, they have cores that are in the mid-point between centerset and sideset. This mid-point offers some of the benefits of each core type above, but with less of the negatives. The majority of downhill racers and many freeriders use offset wheels for better slides and easier slide starts, while still offering good control through a sensible amount of grip.
Best Longboard Wheel Brands
Orangatang – This company is one of the leaders in longboard wheel manufacturing. Their colourful range of wheels have some of the most outlandish names, garish color schemes (we like it), and top performance. What’s not to like?
Sector 9 – The company makes complete longboards, branded and non-branded decks, wheels, accessories, and apparel. Their wheel range is over 5 different models to suit various longboard activities. With this business, they have a long history in the industry and use smart design and technological innovation to stay ahead of the pack.
Everland – This company mainly produces distinctive, bright wheel sets and skate tools. Their best product is their cruiser wheel set which is excellent for moseying through downtown, but won’t help get your slide on.
Shark Wheels – The company which came out of a startup incubator in 2012 makes all their wheels in California, USA. The wheels are known for good performance over difficult terrain and use a proprietary design to do so. The wheel range includes several longboard wheels at different sizes, and there are complete longboards available too.
Fireball Skate – This company was created with a goal of assisting longboard stores to provide exactly what they needed for their customers. There are three types of wheels, a bearings set, and a collection of apparel. The typography and logo on the outside of each wheel is perhaps their standout feature.
Longboard Wheel Reviews
Arbor Summit 78A Skateboard Wheels Review
The Arbor Summit 78A Skateboard Wheels are ideal for going downhill in a hurry.
These wheels are available in a number of different colors: White, Blue, Red, and Green.
This general longboarding and downhill racing 71mm wheel uses Arbor’s Sucrose Initiative urethane material which aims to balance grip through varied conditions and allow good sliding too without excessive wear. The offset Groovetube core is wider to help the wheels maintain their dimension and shape over their full life.
The 78a hardness level is somewhat soft and appropriate for basic longboarding and a few downhill moves. The wheels are soft to the touch, and it’s possible to create a brief indentation in them when pushing into the urethane. The leaf spring sidewall combined with a middle angle on the lip supply a healthy rebound and ability to maintain road contact when it’s truly needed. The wheels are also heavier than some others on the market which gives them a surer footing.
The set of four Summit wheels come with a 2-year warranty.
Sector 9 Slide Butterballs Longboard Wheels Review
The Sector 9 Slide Butterballs Longboard Wheels are an ideal cruising and sliding solution.
These 70mm wheels (set of four) are made from durable polyurethane that has an 80a durometer which indicates that they have a medium firmness level. The Cosmic Core from Sector 9 is centerset adding additional rigidity.
Impressive speeds are possible when riding a set of these Butterballs. Make no mistake, cruising at top speed is a real possibility when swapping out generic wheels for these puppies.
No breaking in period is required. The contact patch is 38mm which is plenty enough to provide sufficient grip to feel safe. Sliding is also possible right out of the box once the wheels are installed on your longboard. Made for sliding, anyone who wishes to learn this skill could do worse than pick these wheels.
There are no bearings supplied with this product.
Longboard Flywheels Wheels Review
Longboard Flywheels Wheels with a blank design come with capable Abec 7 bearings and spacers too.
These wheels have no exterior logo or design, but are available in several colors: Blue, Green, Black, Yellow, Baby Blue, Lime, Pink, Purple, Red, and White.
These cruiser wheels (set of 4) measure 83mm x 52mm and have an 80a hardness rating. The wheels have a medium level of firmness. The product itself is unbranded and is sold as a set with the wheels, bearings, and spacers. These would be suitable for anyone looking to either replace a worn set of inferior wheels or build an inexpensive complete longboard themselves.
There are 8 Abec 7 bearings and 4 bearing spacers (8mm x 10mm) included too. The Abec 7 rating for the bearings is a cut above the Abec 5 rating common to beginner and intermediate longboards, so it might exceed the quality of the standard bearings supplied with a previous longboard.
Everland Pro Longboard Wheels Review
Everland Pro Longboard Wheels with Bones Red Bearings & Spacers is an attractive package deal.
The wheels come in a variety of color choices: Green, Black, White, Pink, Yellow, and Blue.
These urethane 83mm x 52mm wheels (set of 4) ride reasonably quickly, but not super-fast. They are capable of breezing over small pebbles, but not necessarily a larger obstacle. You do receive a reasonable amount of performance for the price.
A box of top quality Bones Red bearings is supplied with the wheels, plus four jet black spacers. The bearings might benefit from an overnight soak in silicon to loosen them up before fitting them.
The pairing of these wheels with Bones Red bearings is a good choice by Everland which lends the whole package more credibility than if the wheels were sold on their own.
Sector 9 Slide Butterballs 80a 65mm Longboard Wheels Review
The Sector 9 Slide Butterballs 80a 65mm Longboard Wheels are excellent for sliding, but lose something when cruising at medium speed.
The Butterballs are built for sliding, pure and simple. As such, even at low roll speeds it’s possible to initiate a slide without any difficulty. For any rider wanting to learn how to slide effectively, these wheels are an excellent choice.
The centerset core is broad and durable, which ensures fast speeds. The slide formula Thane from Sector 9 is slippery, and at higher speeds, the grip tends to suffer. For inexperienced riders, this presents a bit of a problem when wanting to use these wheels for cruising or commuting (low speeds will most likely be okay).
With a 65mm diameter, these wheels will fit under most decks without any wheel clearance issues. The 80a durometer rating indicates that these are medium firm to soft.
No bearings or spacers are included with this product.
Longboard Cruiser Skateboard High Rebound Wheels Review
These Big Boy Longboard Cruiser Skateboard High Rebound Wheels come with capable Abec 7 speed bearings too.
The wheels (set of 4) are smaller 60mm ones which features an offset core and will fit just fine with 1/8-inch risers. These wheels are good ones for cruising or commuting and will suit different sizes of longboards. However, these wheels are not maybe the best choice for sliding. Butterballs or another wheel choice would be better.
The 78a durameter rating shows that despite being Big Boys wheels, they’re softer than many others reviewed, yet still have enough firmness to be perfectly usable.
There are some Abec 7 black standard 608 speed bearings supplied too. The bearings benefit from some lubrication before using them the first time.
These wheels are good for the price when wanting to cruise around and not much more.
Fireball Beast 76mm Longboard Wheels Review
The Fireball Beast Longboard Skateboard Wheels comes in two colors and two hardness levels for effective sliding.
These Beast 76mm x 65mm wheels (set of four) are available in Black or White. The Black color has a harder 87a rating, and the White color has a significantly softer 81a rating. The wheel’s core is sideset. In case we forgot to mention it, these wheels are fast.
The Beast urethane has been formulated to offer sure grip and pleasure-inducing sliding capabilities. The 45mm contact patch also works well to keep part of the wheel on the road when it should be. There are angular bevelled lips that contribute to the ability to slide easily and fly over cracks in concrete or stone. The SlidePrepped sand stone process takes off the upper most surface layer from the wheel’s contact patch. The preparation ensures that sliding is possible from day one.
There is a set of bearings supplied with the wheels which are sure to come in handy.
Fireball offer a 100% money back guarantee on their product.
Q: Are longboard wheels the same as skateboard or roller skate wheels?
A: No, they are not. Longboard wheels are softer and often larger too. Their softness is possible because the board is ridden for pleasure rather than to perform tricks.
Q: Does a longboard wheel have a core?
A: There are three types of cores. Each type has its own pros and cons.
Q: Does the wheel color affect the hardness rating?
A: Often clear wheel colors are not the exact same hardness level as solid color wheels due to the gel used with the clear wheels.
Q: Can I choose the hardness rating to get the feel just right?
A: Wheels come with a set hardness level. It is necessary to shop between different brands and wheel models to pick the one that matches your specific requirements.
Q: What is durometer?
A: Durometer is the hardness rating. The lower the rating, the softer the urethane wheel material is.
Q: Do I need different wheels when I want to freeride, downhill race or go cruising downtown?
A: Yes, indeed. Each activity mentioned requires a different response from the wheels to perform slides, fast moves or quick turns effectively. The choice of the right set of wheels is one factor in getting a longboard setup correctly for your chosen activity.
Q: Should I own more than one longboard if I wish to mix different activities?
A: That depends on your budget. It is possible to switch around trucks and wheels to create a different riding response appropriate to the activity each time you wish to switch things up, but repeatedly changing the longboard configuration isn’t fun.
Q: Does size matter with wheels?
A: Larger wheels accelerate faster but have a lower top speed. Smaller wheels get going more slowly, but ultimately are capable of higher speeds. Make sure with larger wheels that there is enough wheel clearance below the deck.
Q: How do I know whether I need to replace the wheels on my complete longboard?
A: Either they are not performing as well as you’d like, they’re worn out, or they are not suitable for the type of longboarding your wish to do (cruising, commuting, freeriding, slaloming, or downhill racing).
- Learn which trucks are the best for longboarding
- Learn which bearings are the best for longboarding
- Find out which longboard brands are the best
- Find out which longboard is the best
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