When choosing wheels for your next skateboard, you’ll notice they are either classified as soft, hard, or somewhere in between.
Unfortunately, there isn’t one quick answer for what is best for you. You’ll have to learn a little bit about the benefits of each and decide what is best for you. Find out everything you need to know below.
What qualifies as a hard wheel or a soft wheel?
Skateboard wheels are made up of polyurethane plastic.
Different mixes of this ingredient will provide a different level of hardness.
A measurement called the durometer is used to describe how soft each skateboard wheel is.
The durometer scale tells you how hard wheels are compared to others.
Many brands stick to the A scale, which goes up to 100.
However, due to the limitations of the A-Scale, some brands use the B-Scale to get more specific.
If a wheel is classified on the A-Scale with a measurement of over 100, it is deemed inaccurate by some. To see where it falls on the B-scale, subtract 20 points. For example, a wheel durometer of 104A on the A-Scale is 84B on the B-Scale.
Let’s start with hard wheels.
Arguably, wheels with a durometer measure of 97A to 104A (aka 84B) are considered hard.
Hard wheels are popular amongst experienced or professional skaters. They are not comfortable or necessarily safe for beginner skaters or rough roads. The harder the wheel, the less forgiving they’ll be over rough surfaces.
They aren’t the best option for slicker surfaces, either, because they are known to slide out of the skater’s control.
Compared to softer wheels, they take a lot more effort to get moving and are very loud.
They aren’t very comfortable for long rides because of the high vibration you’ll experience when skating over rough surfaces. As a beginner, you won’t want to opt for hard wheels because they are much harder to balance on.
Pro skaters opt for hard wheels because they are easy to maneuver during tricks, like flips and slides.
They provide high control and the ability to accelerate quickly in a confined space like a skate park.
They aren’t likely to bounce and act in unpredictable ways like a softer wheel might.
Skaters are able to quickly pivot and correct their stance when skating on harder wheels because they are less prone to sticking to whatever surface is being skated.
Soft wheels typically include those with a durometer ranging from 77A to 87A. They’re great for beginners and experienced skaters that are looking to cruise longer distances more comfortably. These are the wheels that are commonly used for longboards and cruisers.
Because they are big and soft, the skater doesn’t need to put much effort into pushing themselves forward and maintaining speed. If this is what you’re after, rather than technical street tricks, soft wheels are for you.
Soft wheels are safer because they’re much less likely to stop when they hit rocks, cracks, and other rough surfaces.
On the other hand, they can be tough to land tricks on and more likely to cause a flat spot—meaning an unintentional slide or skid on a surface—because they stick to the ground more than hard wheels. This isn’t anything major that you should worry about, though. We all fall while skating from time to time and recover just fine.
These can be a safe choice for any beginner skater looking to ramp up their skills under any circumstance.
They don’t necessarily excel in any aspects like hard or soft do, but you won’t notice this as you are beginning.
If you’re looking for a middle of the rough wheel in terms of hardness, check out wheels in the 90 to 96A range.