17 Best Longboard Wheels in 2020 & Buying Guide

No matter what a rider wants to do on a longboard, some company somewhere makes a wheel for it. The problem for beginners is locating a wheel that does what they need. Purchasing a wheel just because it looks cool is a sure way to be disappointed.

For those who don’t know the characteristics that differentiate longboard wheels, scroll down to our comprehensive buyer’s guide. The following list is full of the wheels we like best for their niche-filling properties and performance. The industry is full of wheels that will move a board around, but the following examples do their jobs like purpose-built works of art.

That said, if you’re specifically searching for the best sliding wheels read this guide.

17. Orangatang – The Kilmer

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The Kilmer is a 69mm freeride-focused wheel from popular wheel company Orangatang. It has slightly beveled sidewalls and a rounded lip to ease the break into sliding.

Orangatang stone grinds the 39.5mm contact patch, so the Kilmer is ready to slide from the word go. The Kilmer has developed a reputation for smoothness and speed that few wheels have in a similar combination.

There are three flavors of Kilmer available, all of which have wide, centerset cores. The softest Kilmer is the orange one, with an 80a durometer. The purple Kilmer has a durometer of 83a, and the yellow Kilmer is a hard 86a. Unfortunately, riders who are averse to certain colors must compromise, but that is the only compromise required for freeride longboarders.

Orangatang uses its proprietary Peachy Thane formula for the Kilmer line. Peachy Thane is Orangatang’s compromise formula, between its slippery Euphorethane and ultra grippy Happy Thane. Wheels poured in Peachy Thane allow for long slides that are easy to enter and control, while also providing a smooth ride. To see the Kilmer in action, check out this Orangatang promo video on YouTube.

 

16. Arbor – Summit

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The artisans at Arbor make some of the prettiest decks on the planet, but their wheels are another feather in the company’s cap. Arbor’s Summit is designed specifically for technical downhill skating. It is 71mm tall with a 56mm contact patch, and it has a soft 78a durometer. The Summit is a non-cored wheel.

The beveled sidewall on the Summit is meant to bend, much like a leaf-spring, to provide rebound and aid the rider in powering through curves. This results in a cushioned-feeling ride, which is aided by the soft durometer. The lip is mid-angle, lending superior traction when needed but allowing slides for the adventurous. The Groovetube core has a slight, 2.5mm offset that helps when breaking into slides, but provides nearly the grip of a centerset wheel. 

Like all current Arbor wheels, the Summit utilizes one of the company’s three Sucrose Initiative formulas, which utilize sugar in the mixture to lessen the need for petrochemicals. Specifically, the Summit is poured with Arbor’s Speed Formula urethane, which is a durable and long-lasting thane. So, despite having a 78a durometer, the Summit has the feel of a harder wheel. It slides easily and for a long way, but it can achieve remarkably high speeds.

 

15. Powell Snakes

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Are you looking for a slide wheel? Look no further, the Powell Snakes are some of the best in the business. These wheels slide out easily and slide forever.

These use a unique soft-slide formula developed by Powell-Peralta. This allows them to make the wheels in a super-soft durometer that lasts long. whilst still maintaining their ability to slide a lot without gripping too much. This allows for a ton of control over the wheels whilst also making them very difficult to flat spot too. It’s why Powell riders like Cole Trotta are so good.

At 66mm in height, these wheels will fit under most longboard decks without risk of wheel bite. 

The Snakes might be too slidey for a beginner to learn to slide on. I think a beginner needs a sharp lipped wheel like Orangtang Kilmers if they want to get their form right. Still, Snakes are a good choice. Find the Powell Snakes here on Amazon.com.

 

14. Powell-Peralta – Rat Bones

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Powell-Peralta has a long history in skateboarding, particularly in making quality urethane. The Rat Bones wheels were supremely popular in their day, and these re-issued wheels have all the smoothness of the originals. At 60mm and 85a, they are smaller and a bit harder than most longboard wheels. But, they should suit the cruisers and carvers out there perfectly.

Rat Bones are a no-frills wheel that bring a bit of old-school street cred to a cruiser setup. They are soft enough to roll easily over sidewalk cracks, rocks, twigs and other road debris, but their urethane formula resists wear. They stay smooth-rolling, with no tendency to flat spot or cone.

These wheels are not the best for sliding, despite their round edges and midsize contact patch. They have a smooth skin to start, which makes them ultra grippy out of the package, and they don’t slide much easier after they break in. But, for a legit cruiser wheel that carves up road and park terrain with ease, the Rat Bones are a contender.

 

13. Remember optimos

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Like the Snakes above, the Optimos come in a soft durometer (78a), that is slidey and durable. When slide wheels are soft, they allow for a ton of control without feeling too icey and uncontrollable. But, they do become easier for beginners to flat spot. But these wheels are long-lasting and hard-wearing – they won’t flat spot easy.

At 70mm in height, these wheels might give some longboards bite – but only if your trucks are very loose. They should fit under most boards with ease. 

The wheels come with a narrow 38mm contact patch, offset core, and radiused lips. In short, this means it will break traction easily and slide smoothly. The Offset core allows it to have a smooth transition between gripping and slipping.

The Optimos are one of the best slide wheels on the market at the moment. They are also quite affordable, so are often repeat buys for many riders. They aren’t that beginner-friendly though (beginners should look at the Snakes or Kilmers above). Check out the Optimos here on Amazon.com.

 

12. Freedare 70mm wheels

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One of the most affordable wheels on my list, these are good for cruising. When it comes to cruising, you don’t need much. In fact, almost any wheel would do. That said, some super cheap wheels aren’t that good to ride. They use bad urethane which isn’t firm and has low rebound – this makes them sluggish and they don’t roll fast. Some even have factory defects – the Tinder below is a higher quality wheel if you want to avoid these issues.

The Freedare comes in at 70mm in diameter, with a 51mm contact patch, and a durometer of 83a. The 70mm diameter allows it to roll over cracks, pebbles, rocks and other debris you find on the road with ease. It also allows it to maintain decent momentum, so you don’t have to push as it doesn’t lose speed.

Finally, it comes in a few colors, so you can pick if you want to match a given theme. Check out the Freedare here on Amazon.com.

 

11. Fireball Tinder 70mm 81a

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Similar in size and shape to the Freedare wheels above, these are also great for cruising. At 70mm in height, pebbles, cracks, and uneven roads won’t be an issue when using these.

If you decide to learn to slide, you’ll find that these break traction and slide smoothly. This is in part thanks to the large red core they have. The core provides a lot of support to the lips, allowing it to slide consistently, and wear down evenly throughout its life.

The large core and 81a urethane allow it to roll fast, whilst the 70mm height allows them to hold momentum over distances. Also, the urethane is a bit cushy and will absorb some road vibrations making the ride a bit more comfortable.

Altogether, some decent wheels. That said, they are twice the price of the Freedare’s above. Are they still worth it? Yes. They have a more comfortable ride which will feel better when you’re skating long distances. Check them out here on Amazon.com

 

10. Bigfoot Longboard wheels

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Another cheap longboard wheel, these are ok if you’re on a tight budget. They are some of the biggest wheels you can get for the price and are a choice for many riders looking for a cruiser wheel.

They come in a 76mm height, with a durometer of 80a. They have translucent colors ranging from blue, black, green, and red. 

These are not a high-quality longboard wheel but will get the job done. Their 76mm height will allow them to provide a comfortable ride. They will be able to roll over cracks, pebbles, twigs, and bumps without stopping. But whilst that is good, their height leaves you vulnerable to getting wheel bite. You might have to tighten your trucks or get harder bushings to avoid this. 

Finally, because they’re so large without a large core, they may feel sluggish especially for heavier riders. Still, they might be good replacement wheels if you have tiny ones on your cruiser. Find the Bigfoot wheels here on Amazon.com.

 

9. Orangatang Kegels

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Coming in at 80mm in height, these are monster wheels. Primarily made for downhill and long-distant skating, these wheels have been on many race podiums around the world. But their era is over – newer wheels like the Alphas and Magnums below are winning races.

But racing isn’t everything. These make for good downhill wheels. The Happy urethane they use allows them to slide smoothly and easily across different types of pavements. The large core and large 80mm height allow them to roll fast and hold a lot of momentum when going downhill.

They may be large, but don’t let them intimidate you. You could probably slide them and use them effectively. That said, a complete beginner should steer away, these wheels will probably be too much for them to handle.

Finally, if you don’t mind using a bunch of risers to avoid wheel bite on this wheel, they will make a great urban wheel. Their height will allow them to roll over anything and everything. Find them here on Amazon.com.

 

8. Seismic Alphas

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One of the fastest wheels in the industry, the Alphas are for serious downhill skaters … when they have the skin on. With the skin, the grip like nobody’s business, but without the skin the kinda slide like a freeride wheel. 

Alphas are some of my favorite wheels. Because they roll really fast they can help you reach your top speed. They also slide smoothly but can feel icey and uncontrollable. If you’re an experienced skater, this isn’t an issue. You should be able to handle these with no problem. But they may feel too wild for beginners. If you’re looking for a beginner downhill wheel, the Race forms or 4 Presidents may be best for you. 

At 75mm+ in height, 62.5mm in width, these wheels are both tall and wide. Thanks to their special ‘Defcon’ formula they will last a long time even if slid a lot. Personally, I think they are worth their steep price. Check out the Alphas here on Amazon.com. 

 

7. Orangatang 4 President

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If you’re looking for a beginner downhill wheel, the 4 Presidents in 83a are one of the best you can get. 

I recommend these wheels to a beginner who has some experience sliding but wants a wheel that will challenge them. The 4 Presidents are the right choice. When fresh, they come with the mold release skin so they are quite grippy. Once that skin is gone, they become easy to slide. 

They’re made with the Orangatang Happy Thane which is quite slidey but still slows you down a bit. They do have a sharp lip which gives them some traction to help you get around corners safely but will still allow the wheel to slip when you push it out. 

Finally, the 70mm height is perfect – a bigger wheel might feel too heavy and large to control when sliding. Check out the 4 presidents here on Amazon.com. 

 

6. Venom Magnums

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One of the heftiest wheels on the market, the Venom Magnums are no joke and beginners should look the other way.

At 78mm in height and 70mm in width, these wheels are meaty. Providing crazy amounts of grip with the skin on – even experienced skaters think twice before sliding these. They come with a large core and are made from Mach 1 urethane – Venom skates most dense urethane.

Most experienced sliders can slide these with a bit of effort. Beginners will find it very difficult, almost to the point of frustration. If you want a relaxed time skating, these are not the wheels to pick. Still, you can always footbrake if you want to come to a stop. 

The above said, these will be great for going fast on roads where you don’t have to slide – they’re a popular wheel for skating roads like Maryhill. Check them out the Magnums here on Amazon.com.

 

5. Blood Orange Morgans

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Morgans are a popular wheel for longboard dancing and it’s easy to see why. Their 66mm height allows them to roll quickly and their large core keeps them lightweight. Making your board easy to pick up if you’re doing tiger claws, and kickflips. Finally, they aren’t too grippy or too slidey, they have the right amount of give and don’t grip up when you land a trick badly.]

They are also great for sliding – but aren’t so durable. They wear quickly when slid and leave a lot of urethane on the road. This is by design and it helps make them slide smoother. A lot of riders also find it cool to leave slide marks on the road, so these are popular because of that. If you want to use them for slides, the 70mm option is the better choice. It will also allow them to have more momentum so you can go faster. Check out the Morgans here on Amazon.com.

 

4. Orangatang Fat-Free 65mm wheels

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Another great wheel for longboard dancing, these come in that perfect height of 65mm. They are a popular choice for a lot of dancers.

They come in 4 duros, ranging from 77a to 86a. I’d say the 83a are the right option for dancing – but a lot of dancers like the 80a better. 

The wheel itself is well built. It doesn’t have a large core – but that isn’t necessary due to its small 65mm height. They have a narrow contact patch of 37mm and a thick lip that supports the edge of the wheels. Finally, without a large core, the wheels absorb a bit more vibration from the road – so they feel nicer on rougher roads. 

They would also make good cruiser and sliding wheels. But for sliding, the Kilmers’s above are better suited (their large core supports the lips for more consistent slides). Check out the Fat-Free’s here on Amazon.com.

 

3. Sector 9 Race Formula 82a

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For a long time, these were one of the fastest wheels on the market. But that was ages ago and wheel technology progressed. That said, they’re still really good wheels for downhill, freeriding and cruising. I’d also say, they are pretty good beginner downhill and cruising wheels for heavier riders.

At 82a in hardness, these wheels will roll fast. For lighter riders, an 82a wheel might feel quite hard and might refuse to grip the road. But for heavier riders, 82a is a good durometer. When you have more weight you can make the wheel compress and push into the road more. With softer wheels, this could make them sag and go slow. Harder wheels behave better under compression and are a better choice.

The wheel comes in at 74mm in height with a 54mm contact patch. Because they have no core, they’ll absorb road vibration pretty well, with no sacrifice in roll speed because of the harder durometer. Check out the wheels here on Amazon.com.

 

2. Hawgs Wheels Zombie Hawgs

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This is the best slide wheel for a heavier rider. It comes in at 70mm in height, has a narrow 40mm contact patch and a large core. It also has a durometer of 82a.

It’s dimensions and features generally make it a good slide wheel. The core supports and stiffens up the wheel so the urethane around it doesn’t flex in an awkward way when sliding or riding. The wheels are able to slide consistently and wear down evenly. Finally, they come in the 82a durometer which is what makes them good for heavier riders. Softer durometers will flex too much under a lot of weight so will feel awkward when sliding. Hard durometers hold their shape better and heavier riders can hold out slides with ease.

Finally, these also have a stone-ground finish so are really easy to slide out of the box. Check out the Hawgs here on Amazon.com.

 

1. Hawgs Wheels Chubby

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Are you looking for a cruiser wheel for your skateboard? Look no further, at 78a in durometer and 60mm in height, these are perfect. These wheels will fit under your skateboard without much risk from wheel bite. Though you will probably get bite if you turn too hard. This is unavoidable even though they’re only millimeters taller than skate wheels. If you want to avoid biting completely, pick up some risers.

At their 78a durometer, they will be a lot softer than the 99a wheels typically found on skateboards. This will make them feel a lot nicer over asphalt and your board will ride completely different. If anything it will feel like riding on a cloud.

That said, avoid using these in the skatepark, they aren’t designed for use there and may perform poorly. Also, they are quite wide so they are too heavy to do tricks with properly.

These wheels are pretty great and are a good option if you want a more comfortable ride on your skateboard. Check them out here on Amazon.com.

 

Buying Guide: How to pick the right longboard wheels?

People who do not ride typically assume that wheels are all the same, but that is the furthest thing from the truth. There are many ways to ride a longboard, and there is a wheel type for each style. Learning what works — and what doesn’t — for your style and your deck makes for more enjoyable sessions.

The modern skateboard and longboard wheel is made from molded polyurethane. At first, skateboard wheels were, like skate wheels, made from clay or steel. They were hard materials, and their ride was rough and jarring. The innovation occurred in 1971, when Frank Nasworthy introduced the Cadillac – the first urethane skateboard wheel on the market. Nothing was the same after that.

The urethane wheel has come a long way since those first gummy Cadillacs, which were soon followed by the Bahne Road Rider and the first precision bearings. The modern wheel is precision-engineered, and each of its characteristics is formulated to near perfection. So, what are the characteristics that differentiate all the many colorful wheels available on the market? Let’s dig a little deeper.

Wheel Diameter: How Big Should The Wheels Be?

The most obvious way that wheels differ is in their diameter, or height from the concrete to the top of the wheel. This one variable will make the most difference in the overall performance of a longboard. The size of longboard wheels is given in millimeters, and most will be above 65mm. Wheels smaller than that are likely intended for street or park skateboards.

Bigger is Faster

Though some longboard wheels are as small as 58mm, they can run as large as 80mm in height. The tallest wheels are usually reserved for downhill riding, as the extra ground covered per revolution promotes faster speeds. Tall wheels also work well for cruising and transportation on the right type of board, as they negotiate cracks and debris well and require less pushing.

The main factor that limits how tall a wheel can be is the type of deck on which they are going. Boards with large cutouts, such as drop-through decks, can accommodate larger wheels without causing wheel bite. The same holds true for top mounts with large wheel wells. Riser pads can help top-mount boards with smaller wheel wells utilize taller wheels, but the ride height can negatively impact stability.

wheel sizing guide

Smaller is Quicker

The average wheel height is around 70mm, which is typically a good diameter for top-mount boards and freeride setups. The tradeoff from the loss of overall speed with smaller wheels is that they accelerate quicker than their taller counterparts. However, they bite harder on pavement cracks, and struggle to cope with pebbles, twigs and other bits of debris.

Still, smaller wheels enable riding without a riser pad. Keeping the center of gravity low like this makes for a more stable ride. Longboarders must weigh their options carefully when it comes to diameter. Choose a deck first, then whittle wheel options down to those that will work with the board.  

Diameter Facts:

  • Given in millimeters
  • Larger wheels are faster, but not suitable for many top-mount boards
  • Smaller wheels accelerate quicker, but have more trouble with debris

Pick The Right Hardness [Durometer]!

Wheel durometer is a measure of the hardness of the urethane. The measurement is given in a number, followed by the letter a. Longboard wheels typically are relatively soft, with durometers in the approximate range of 78a to 85a.

Their softness makes longboard wheels ride smoother and quieter than street board wheels. They also roll over debris more easily, making them good cruising wheels. Harder wheels are usually faster because of reduced friction, and they slide more easily.

longboard wheel durometer guide

Manufacturers determine wheel hardness the same way they would for almost any polymer — with a machine called a type-A Shore durometer. The device drives a mechanical indenter into the urethane and measures the indentation. Harder plastics are measured with a D-scale, while softer ones use the OO scale. The urethane durometer being an A-type explains why the hardness scale for urethane is given as it is.

Durometer Facts:

  • Longboard wheels run soft, from 78a to 85a
  • Softer wheels are smoother and handle debris better
  • Harder wheels are faster and slide more easily
  • Tested with a type-A Shore durometer

How Wide Should The Wheel Be?

The contact patch is the area of the wheel that contacts the pavement. It could also be said to be the width of the wheel from the inner lip to the outer lip, and it is denoted in millimeters. Contact patches can vary widely between wheel models, so knowing their purpose is vital. On the small side, a contact patch may only be 30mm wide. At the other extreme, wheels may have up to a 70mm contact patch.

longboard wheel contact patch guide

Wide Wheels For More Grip

All other things being equal, wide contact patches give more grip, thanks to the extra friction. They are most often used in fast downhill riding, where uncontrolled slides can lead to injury. Wheels with wider contact patches also often have a smooth skin, which helps them feel tacky on their first use.

Narrow Wheels For Easier Sliding

Because narrow wheels have less friction holding them on their line, they are typically better for the continuous sliding of freeride style. Their thinner contact patch makes them easier to push — or kick out — sideways, and helps them stay sliding longer. Manufacturers often stone grind these contact patches to roughen the surface, so that they will slide easily right off the shelf.

Contact Patch Facts:

  • Wider wheels provide better grip, normally used in downhill and racing
  • Narrow wheels slip easily, well-suited for freeride
  • The smoothness or roughness of the surface tells the intended use

Wheel Lip Profile: Round Or Sharp Edges?

The lip of the wheel is the outer most edge, where the wheel meets the pavement. Manufacturers contour the lips on their wheels to promote different ride characteristics to better suit one type of riding over another. Do not overlook this feature, as it has a profound effect on the way a longboard will maneuver and handle, especially at speed.

wheel lip profile

Sharp Lip = More Grip

Sharp, pronounced lips are best for downhill, because they provide tremendous grip. The sharp edge digs in to the pavement when lateral force is applied to the wheel, preventing it from slipping out. Wheels with defined lips can make a board feel as if it turns on rails, even at extreme speeds, but this stickiness in turns also works well for carving.

Round Lip = More Slip

Round lips have the opposite trait from sharp ones, in that they readily break traction. This eagerness to slide makes wheels with rounded lips a great choice for freeriding because riders don’t have to push as hard to initiate slides. Typically, the rounded edge will continue along the side walls to promote even wear.

Lip Profile Facts:

  • Sharp, defined lips provide the most grip, best for high-speed downhill
  • Rounded lips allow the rider to more easily break traction, best for freeride
  • For around-towners, sharper lips promote stable carves 

Wheel With Cores Or Nah?

longboarding wheel coresWhen it comes to cores, there are essentially two types of wheels: those with inserts and those without. Some wheels have a plastic insert in the middle, into which the bearings are set. Other wheels have no such insert, and the bearings seat directly into seats formed into the urethane.

A core provides stability and uniformity, while also reducing weight and keeping bearings in alignment. Tall cores make for faster wheels, while wide cores resist deformation during hard riding. Because they keep the wheel from ovaling, cores also promote even wear across the contact patch.

Wheel Core Facts:

  • Wheels may be cored or non-cored
  • Tall cores promote faster speeds
  • Wide cores stabilize the wheel

3 Types of Wheel Core Placements

Cores may be set in one of three places across the width of the wheel. They may be set in the center of the wheel, or can be moved more or less toward the inside of the wheel. Each placement brings with it characteristics that are meant to help with different ride styles.

Centerset Cores

Cores placed in the center of the wheel provide the most traction, owing to the equal size of the inner and outer lips. That said, they are also the only core set that allows riders to flip their wheels when they begin to wear unevenly, known as coning. Centerset wheels are the most common type, and are equally popular among downhill and freeride longboarders.

Sideset Cores

A sideset core is placed close to the inner lip of the wheel. This placement reduces the inherent traction of the wheel, allowing for easier slides. Sideset wheels are popular among freeriders, though they have short lives because they wear unevenly.

Offset Cores

Offset cores are a compromise between centerset and sideset wheels. Because the core is placed just slightly off center, they exhibit characteristics of both the other core placements. They break traction easier than centerset wheels, but are more stable in slides than sideset wheels and last longer. Downhill wheels will often have offset cores, because those riders will use slides to check their speed going into turns.

Core Set Facts:

  • Centerset wheels have the most grip, great for all-around use
  • Sideset wheels are an extreme, breaking traction quite easily
  • Offset wheels are a compromise, best for speedy downhill riders

Pay Attention To How They’re Made: Urethane Formulation

wheel urethane formulaUrethane formulas are proprietary, and each manufacturer has its own varieties. Companies will group their formulas according to their intended uses, so be sure to look into the formulation of a wheel before purchasing.

The durometer will specify much, but that number works in conjunction with the formulation of the urethane to tell riders what they can expect from a given wheel.

Wheels meant to provide greater downhill traction will have a different formula than those intended for freeride sliding. The densities of the formulas can vary greatly within a manufacturer’s product line, and even more so between different manufacturers. For this reason, wheels with similar durometer values may show tremendous variation in their perceived hardness. Durometer and formulation work together to inform us how a wheel will feel and perform.

Urethane Formula Facts:

  • Formulation varies between each maker’s line, as well as different manufacturers
  • Formula works with durometer to describe the wheel’s perceived hardness
  • Wheel companies usually specify the intended purpose of each formula

Your turn?

The longboard wheel market is vast and varied, and that is good for everyone. Gone are the days when wheels required compromises. Modern riders can now sift through the many options that the best longboard wheel brands offer until they find a wheel that suits their needs perfectly.

If you have been riding for a while, and you’re still riding the wheels that came with your board, consider upgrading to a new set of purpose-built wheels. It will be like riding a brand-new setup.

William Thaddeus Baker
 

My name is William and I’m boardsports enthusiast. I’ve been skateboarding streets since I was about 9. Also I’ve experimented with longboarding & downhill. As to this site my goal is to help beginner riders to find the right equipment. Everything that I write here is my own opinion…