Guide to Skateboard Wheels and Bearings
Skateboard wheels are simply the elements of a skateboard that roll to facilitate movement. Skateboard wheels come in different sizes, colors and performance endurance. Round metallic rollers called bearings are inserted to the wheels to facilitate attachment to the skateboard. The quality of skateboard wheels and bearings affects the effectiveness of a board.
The size of skateboard wheels is expressed in millimeters, with smaller numbers representing small wheels and vice versa. On the other hand, wheel durometer is a measure of its hardness. The speed of skateboard wheels is directly proportional to the wheel size and hardness. However, smaller wheels are more stable and preferable for street skating and trick riding.
While skateboard wheels are generally made of polyurethane, some are soft while others are hard. Soft rubber wheels are made of urethane and are mostly used for long skates in order to attain a greater grip. Mixing a variety of chemicals gives rise to the difference in durometer. Rubber wheels are also the better choice when skating on the street as they are slower. If you prefer skating faster, then go for harder wheels.
Wheel hardness is expressed in the Durometer A scale and varies from 1-100. Durometer B scale is also common, and it has additional 20 points for the hardest wheels. Wheels ranging between 78a-87a are usually soft and are meant to be used in long boards or for riding downhill and on rough surfaces. The range between 88a and 95a represents wheels of mid hardness. Such wheels are faster and have a better grip than those in the first range. Wheels rated 101a+ are the hardest and fastest since they do not have a firm grip. It is difficult to skate with hard wheels on rough surfaces.
Each of the four skateboard wheels houses two bearings that help to eliminate friction between the wheel and axle. The bearings graded using the ABEC scale with the numbers 1, 3, 7, and 9. ABEC rating is a measure of the quality of the materials used to make bearings and the precision of the manufacturing process. Number 9 represents bearings of the highest quality. Most importantly, selection of skateboard wheels and bearings is a matter of choice.