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Skateboard wheels are the most important part of your skateboard setup… and the most difficult to shop for. Although skateboard wheels are mostly the same (especially if you’re new to the sport), there are actually some small variations that make a big difference in how your board rides.
There are two key elements of skateboard wheels that must be considered when shopping: size and hardness. Most wheels for street skating, parks and tranny (skating on ramps, pools, halfpipes, etc) range from 50-56mm in size, with bigger wheels offering higher speeds and less acceleration. Beginners should go with something average and on the small side (around 52mm). Then there are bigger wheels for cruisers and longboards (up to 80mm+), but differences in those wheels’ are mostly determined by your truck height, board and so on.
The second thing to consider is hardness, which is measured in durometer. Durometer usually ranges from about 73a to 101a, with 99a being the typical hardness for regular skateboard wheels. Durometer can get very technical, but if you’re just starting out, stick to something around 97-99a.
After all that technical stuff comes the fun stuff: brand and design. Below are some of our favorite wheels with a range of styles from best-selling brands such as Spitfire, Santa Cruz and Orangatang. You’ll also find the best longboard and cruiser wheels down towards the bottom.
1. Spitfire Bighead 52mm
You can’t go wrong with Spitfire’s 52mm Bighead wheels. They have a versatile 99a durometer, meaning they’re just about average and ideal for street or ramp skating, but they’re still just soft enough for cruising to the skatepark. The wheels come in a range of widths, but for most purposes, 52mm is best. Plus, you’re buying from Spitfire — arguably the most trusted, best-selling skateboard wheel out there.
2. Cal 7 Skateboard Wheels with Bearings
Skating is one of the most affordable action sports around. If you’re really looking to keep costs at a minimum, go for these wheels from Cal 7. They come in at just $11 and even include bearings and spacers (the pieces that connect the wheels to the trucks). They’re straightforward street and ramp skating wheels with a 52mm size and a 99a hardness. They also feature enough positive reviews to assure us of lasting quality, despite the low price.
3. Spitfire Bighead 54mm
BEST FOR BEGINNERS
If you’re just starting out, a slightly larger wheel is a good idea. These are the larger, 54mm version of Spitfire’s Bighead wheels (our top pick above), offering more grip and stability than the smaller 52mm Bighead. This will give you more leeway to practice basic tricks, and will also make commuting and cruising smoother. Plus, riding Spitfire will earn you a little respect with other skaters, which is always needed as a newbie.
4. Santa Cruz Skateboards Slimeballs Wheels
BEST FOR BOWL SKATING
Make pool or halfpipe sessions even better with these Santa Cruz Slimeballs. They’re old school wheels from an old school brand with a 97a durometer, providing a softer, smoother ride and more grip. The wheels also feature a smooth urethane build, making it easier to slide. This means you can pull off old-school staple tricks while still being able to nail the modern stuff, too.
5. Spitfire Classic Series Skateboard Wheel
BEST FOR STREET SKATING
Another great go-to wheel for street skating is Spitfire’s Classic Series wheels. They have a high performance yet manageable durometer of 99a and a standard 52mm width, fulfilling their moniker as classics. The ride is incredibly balanced thanks to Spitfire’s Formula Four Urethane construction which offers abrasion resistance, serious grip and lasting speed. They also have a stylish spinning design with minimal branding — although most skaters will be able to spot these Spitfires from a mile away.
6. Orangatang Kegel Downhill Longboard Wheels
BEST LONGBOARDING WHEELS
Longboarding is a very different beast than regular skateboarding, and the necessary wheels follow suit. Longboarding wheels are big and soft for extreme traction, high speeds and a smooth ride over bumps or small rocks. If you’re buying longboard wheels for serious downhill riding, we suggest these Kegel wheels from Orangatang. They’re highly rated with over 150 reviews which feature glowing words from competitive and casual longboarders alike.
7. FREEDARE 58mm Skateboard Wheels
BEST CRUISER WHEELS
Cruiser wheels are somewhere in-between longboard wheels and regular skateboard wheels. We like these Freedare wheels because they’re not too big at 58mm, and feature a soft yet nimble 82a hardness. This means you can comfortably cruise on streets and sidewalks, but you can also bust out tricks or hit ramps without a problem. And at $18 (bearings included), they’re very affordable, too.
8. VJ 5.0 Skateboard Setup
Need a complete setup? Grab this total set from VJ. It includes everything — minus the deck — and comes with a range of wheel and truck varieties to fit your needs. It’s a good option for beginners putting together their first skateboard, as the whole set is incredibly affordable at just $29. But despite this low price tag, users say everything included is durable and well-built.
9. Zeato All-in-One Skate Tools
Most skaters keep one of these handy skate tools in their pocket at all times. It’s essential for assembling a board or replacing wheels, so be sure to pick one up if you don’t already have one. This one from Zeato is well-built, highly-rated and easy to use — no matter your level of expertise. Plus, it’s quite cheap at just $7.