Whether you enjoy an off-road challenge or a good old cruise, having the right set of wheels is important. Next to your trucks, your wheels are considered major components of your setup.
We know these parts warrant a closer look, so let’s begin by answering “what are skateboard wheels made of?” Skateboard wheels are made of polyurethane, a versatile plastic material that can be produced in varying degrees of strength and hardness.
Dig into this detailed guide to learn more.
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The History of Skateboard Wheels
Do you know that in the early days of skateboarding, metal wheels were all the rage? While metal wheels were originally designed for roller skates, riders installed them on their skateboards for lack of a better alternative. Metal wheels have proven to be difficult to ride with and offered little to no traction.
Fortunately, in a stroke of genius, Frank Nasworthy changed the game by inventing the very first polyurethane wheel in the 70s. Since this remarkable innovation, skateboard wheels have been solely made of this versatile and highly resilient material.
But don’t get us wrong, not all wheels are built the same. Manufacturers of skateboard wheels continue to revolutionize and innovate by experimenting with new formulas in a bid to create more resilient, grippier, faster, and flat spot resistant wheels.
How Are Skateboard Wheels Made?
The transition from metal wheels to urethane was impactful, to say the least. Aside from being abrasion-resistant, polyurethane wheels offer unparalleled traction, giving you full control over how you ride. You have this material to thank for high resilience and over-the-top rebound too!
By now, you’re probably curious to know, how are skateboard wheels made? Typically, polyurethane components or skateboard wheels materials are combined and heated in a metering machine using a specific ratio until they liquefy. The resulting mixture is then poured into aluminum molds and left to harden.
The formed wheels are then cured on trays then meticulously cut on a lathe. This step is critical as it pre-determines the radius and riding surface of the wheel. To mark the wheels, digital artworks are converted to a film to make a print plate with the images. The markings and images are then transferred to the wheel itself.
When choosing a set of urethane wheels, you need to consider the skate wheels hardness or durometer rating, as it is more commonly known in the skateboarding scene.
Whether they’re radial, flat, or conical skateboard wheels, they are measured using a durometer scale. This ranking system measures the level of traction a wheel has as well as the amount of impact or shock it’s capable of absorbing.
Most manufacturers use the Durometer A scale, which simply means your wheels’ hardness level will have an A next to it. Others use Durometer B, which, more often than not, measures around 20 points below the A scale.
Here’s a guide to help you find the right set of wheels to bag:
75A-87A Skateboard Wheels
These wheels are classified as extremely soft and are more appropriate for use on rough terrain and surfaces. These are grippy and absorb impact like a dream! Whether you use your longboard or standard skateboard for barrelling downhill, cruising, or getting from point A to B, you’re in for a smooth ride!
88A-95A Skateboard Wheels
These skateboard wheels are known to be faster and slightly harder than the previous. Although these wheels provide less traction, they are soft enough to use over bumpy roads. Wheels within this durometer range are considered an intermediate setup for skaters who are after a comfortable, urban cruise.
96A-99A Skateboard Wheels
If you’re into skatepark riding, cruising on streets, or taking on bowls and ramps, you can count on these wheels to see you through these conditions as well as other smooth surfaces. These are great all-rounders that provide ample traction while being moderately fast.
100A+ Skateboard Wheels
Wheels within this durometer rating are known to be the hardest and fastest among all durometer classifications. It’s not hard to see why professional riders use them when competing. Although these wheels are not very grippy, they’re perfect for skateparks and other surfaces designed for technical skateboarding.
This video about durometer ratings tells you more:
We hope you’re no longer perplexed when confronted with the question, what are skateboard wheels made of? Here are some takeaways:
- Skateboard wheels are made of highly-resilient Urethane
- Manufacturers continue to innovate and produce faster, grippier wheels
- Skateboard wheels come in a bevy of durometer or hardness ratings
If you found this article insightful, please share it with other riders who could use some advice. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome, so feel free to sound them off below!