What Are Skateboard Wheels Made Of? Know Details
A skateboard wheel is a significant part of a skateboard. When buying a skateboard, endeavor to check out the wheels if they are perfect for the kind of skating style you will use it for;
The skateboard wheels allow the rider to move. It also tells how fast a rider can go. The skateboard wheels come in various colors, and sizes, as well as standards and durability, perfect for a rider’s preferred skating style or purpose.
Generally, the skateboard wheels are measured in diameter and durometer. The diameter tells the size of the wheels, and the durometer tells how hard the wheels are. Know that both factors are based on what you prefer, as well as your skating purpose for the skateboard.
Does Skateboard Wheels Matter?
Sure, the skateboard wheel is one of the most significant parts of the skateboard, and it should be given due consideration (depend on your preferred skating style) while buying a skateboard for yourself or your relatives.
The skateboard wheels tell how fast you can go while riding. It also helps to determine the technicality of your ride.
When you are riding on a larger skateboard wheel, it allows you to have a smooth ride and also provides you with comfort and stability, while smaller wheels will allow you to perform tricks and also allows you to turn in tight and sharp corners.
If you wish to have a very smooth ride, then go for skateboards with wide wheels when buying a skateboard. A wider skateboard gives you the perfect smooth ride, but it is not a better option if you wish to perform skills with your skateboard.
So, as earlier said, your personal preference will determine the perfect size of skateboard wheel you should get in the market. Other factors that can also tell the perfect skateboard wheel for you are your height and weight.
Measurement of skateboard wheels is based on the durometer and diameter. The durometer tells how firm and strong a skateboard wheel is, while the diameter measures the actual size of the wheel.
Skateboard wheels are measured in millimeters, and most times, they range from 50-75 millimeters. Smaller measurements tell that the durometer of the wheels are small, while higher millimeter measurement will prove that the wheels have a larger durometer.
The diameter tells how fast your skateboard will accelerate and how sharp and swift it can be when turning in tight corners. Note that larger wheels earn you a faster skateboard ride; while smaller wheels are relatively slow you down.
Nevertheless, small skateboard wheels are best for street skating, and this is because they are lower to the ground and also easier to control.
For beginner skaters or skaters that use their board for commuting from one place to another, it is advisable to go for a skateboard with larger wheels. The reason is that skateboard wheels with higher diameters provide balance, and it is the ideal type of skateboard wheel for cruising around, and also for vet skating.
What are Skateboard Wheels Made Of?
Generally, skateboard wheels are made of a synthetic rubber polymer, known as polyurethane.
But before now, skateboard wheels were made from steel back in the 1900s when skateboard wheels were invented. Then, the wheels had little traction because it was made from steel, and were very difficult to ride.
In the 1960s, the manufacturers tried making clay wheels because they found out the original metal wheels were not working well for skateboards. However, the clay wheels seemed just like a little upgrade compared to the metal wheels; it produces a fast and bumpy ride that gave riders a difficult time when trying to control it.
During the 1970s, skateboard manufacturers decided to switch to making skateboard wheels with polyurethane, and the then inventor of the polyurethane wheel was Frank Nasworthy.
Frank Nasworthy first observed that polyurethane wheels performed well on roller skates and then thought they would also be great on skateboards. So that was how polyurethane skateboard wheels started and are in use till now, and it is no doubt the perfect wheels for skateboards.
Below is a Process for Making Polyurethane Skateboard Wheels
Two polyurethane components are heated in metering machines and mixed in a specific ratio (the high-quality polyurethane wheels are mixed at high temperature, while the low-quality ones are mixed at room temperature). They create liquid after being heated through this process.
If you wish to color the wheels: the preferred pigment is then added and the mixture is poured into aluminum molds through a mixing chamber (the urethane is then heated again if it is a high-quality urethane wheel) and then allowed to harden up into a solid form.
After it has hardened into solid, the wheel is then removed by hand and placed on trays. A lot of wheel molds are running at the same time on the conveyor system. 300 wheels can be made in one hour.
The wheel slug is then cut into shape using your hand. The radius/sidewalls and the riding surface is also known as the tread are then cut into a proper wheel shape.
The next step is the semi-automated process (if you wish to decorate the already-made wheel). With the use of digital artwork, a photo-etched print plate is made. Using a pad printing machine, the image on the plate is printed on the wheel. The silicone pad is placed on an inked printing plate and then transfer images to the wheels.
Wheel printing that requires more than one color goes through one pad to produce different colors.
Your well-made and well-designed wheels are good to go and ready to be shipped.
Are all skateboard wheels the same?
Just like the board, the wheel of a skateboard comes in different shapes, hardness, and combos. These are all designed to match your preferred skating style, as every riding has a different skating style.
Skateboard wheel size varies. They start from the range of 49mm to about 60mm. Once a wheel size is over 60mm, then its wheels no longer be a skateboard wheel but a longboard wheel.
Smaller wheels are closer to the ground, lightweight, and accelerate faster than large wheels. So, a small wheel is better for performing street skating. A larger wheel, on the other hand, will give the rider a difficult time to control when trying to flip tricks but will provide a higher speed than the smaller wheels.
The typical wheel size for street skating and performing tricks is around 48mm-53mm. A wheel size that is ideal for transition and vert skating is about 50-60mm- these types of wheels give more stability and perform better on-ramps. The typical wheel size for cruising and muting is 60mm, and the above-these size provides more speed and helps you absorb more shock while riding.
The ideal wheel for a beginner is an average wheel of about 52-56mm- this wheel size is best for practice as a beginner rider.
In terms of the shape of wheels, narrow wheels have a smaller tip radius and have less contact with the ground that makes them more responsive, have less friction, and are lighter in weight. There are also wider wheels; these are sturdy and beefy wheels that are fast and are very stable. These types of wheels are slightly heavy than narrow wheels.
The wheel shape for a classic or cruiser skateboard has a wider outer lip and grips the ground better than the above. These types of wheels are meant for cruising and commuting. They are not for technical skating.
How to Make Skateboard Wheels Faster?
Most of us would prefer riding on a faster skateboard, as a slow one is not fun and may give a bad experience.
Below are a few steps to follow if you which to make your skateboard wheels faster:
Check the tightness of the nuts:
If you find out that the nuts are too tight, and then loosen it up a bit as tight nuts will require more energy to push wheels.
Use bigger wheels:
As said earlier, larger wheels provide more speed than smaller ones because of their bigger circumference and radius.
Use wheels made of high quality:
Low-quality wheel materials are slower and soft. Most people often go for low-quality wheels because they are cheaper. But if you which to have a good skating experience: go for high-quality materials, as they are durable and turn faster.
Go for harder wheels:
Softer wheels tend to turn slowly while harder wheels turn at a higher speed.
Regularly maintain your bearings:
A bearing that is maintained often tends to roll faster and better than the ones that are not regularly maintained. Clean and lubricate your bearing regularly to reduce friction and increase speed. Again, make sure you always dry and lubricate the bearing.
These few steps will help make your wheels faster. I had also advised you to get a new wheel and bearing that are fast. When buying, get a quality wheel to save you from the stress of cleaning. Quality wheels are more durable and do not attract dirt.
Now that you have known about what are skateboard wheels made of and the various types of skating wheels that suit different skating styles. With this proper guideline, you can be able to go for a wheel size that is best for your riding style. And make sure to maintain your wheel regularly for a smooth and faster ride.