Skateboard wheels are manufactured in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and durometers. It's important to get the right wheel for the type of skating you intend to do. Start by understanding how to read the designations on a wheel and what they mean.
Wheel height is an important consideration when picking a wheel. A tall wheel will roll faster and more smoothly over pavement, rocks, etc. A small wheel won't roll as fast or smoothly but will be more nimble and will make your board lighter weight.
- For Vert -Go for speed, bigger wheels from 55mm-60mm are best.
- For Park- Go small - small wheels are better for technical tricks, anywhere from 50-55mm.
- For Commuting - The bigger the better. Think 60mm+, don't forget to add riser as you go bigger for better wheel clearance.
The durometer of a skateboard wheel is a measurement of the hardness of the wheel's urethane on a Shore A scale. In example you may see "97A" or "101A" on the side of your wheel, this is the durometer.
- For the Skate Park and Vert - Harder urethanes (97a-100a+) provide better road feel and control. Hard urethane is great for the park or vert where you are skating on smooth constant surfaces and seek control over vibration reduction or grip.
- For Street - Softer skateboard urethanes (90a-97a) are better for street since the are more forgiving over inconsistent or changing road conditions. These wheels won't give you as much control but will help "smooth" things out when the road is rough.
- For Commuting - If you are using your skateboard to get from A to B go with a very soft durometer (80a-86a). A soft wheel will provide a smoother ride over rough surfaces that is much more comfortable for commuting.
The lip of a wheel is the transition point between the contact patch and the side wall of the wheel. A sharper wheel will offer more grip but will be more likely to catch. A rounder lip will be less likely to catch but won't grip as well.
- For Park and Vert - Round lipped wheels are best
- For Commuting - Both round and square lipped wheels will work. Square lips will provide more grip and an easier push.
The contact patch is the affective width of a skateboard wheel. This is the surface of the wheel that rides on the pavement. Wider contact patches provide more grip, narrower contact patches provide less. Contact patches can be ground (power slides easily) or shiny (grippier but does not slide well).