There are a lot of things to consider in choosing a skateboard. Most people mainly focus on choosing the deck so that sometimes the wheelbase is being overlooked.
The wheelbase selection may not be a priority for newbie riders but for the intermediate and professional level skateboarders, the wheelbase is just as important as the skateboard’s deck.
A good deck will generally perform like a mediocre one if the quality of the wheelbase is not on the same level. So we’ll save the discussion on choosing a skateboard’s deck and just focus on wheelbase selection this time.
Types of Wheelbases
The deck’s wheelbase is definitely an important parameter in the skateboard’s overall performance. It basically dictates how smooth the ride will be. It is also a factor in the skate’s maneuverability.
Generally, the wheelbase is divided into two major categories based on its size:
- Longer wheelbases which range from 25 inches above are better in terms of stability at high speeds, easier to control and are predictable in a slide.
- Shorter wheelbases which measure 25 inches or smaller tend to be more responsive, especially in doing turns, and provides a better grip.
Those who are just learning how to ride a skateboard are advised to choose the longer wheelbases mainly for the stability they provide.
Intermediate and advanced skaters prefer the shorter wheelbases because they are easier to learn and test different tricks with as they are more responsive and easier to control.
The most common material used for skateboard wheels is polyurethane. It has been proven to be more durable and resilient.
It has been tested over the years and it has just the right amount of shock-absorbing and ride-smoothing properties that it has been a common ground for most manufacturers.
Aside from the material for the wheelbase, a few other things that need to be considered are the diameter and durometer of the wheels.
Diameter for Skateboard Wheels
Usually measured in millimetres, the diameter mostly affects how tight the turns will be and how much acceleration the board can manage. The most common diameter size for wheels ranges between 52mm to 56mm.
The average wheel size for newbie riders ranges between 54-59mm. For average riders, a 50-53mm diameter size is more preferable since it is better for trick riding.
For those who mainly use their boards for transport, 60mm and bigger diameter sizes for the wheels are recommended.
Aside from the size, the hardness of the wheels matter in the overall performance of the board. That’s what the durometer parameter is for.
Based on the Duromater A Scale used by the majority of the manufacturers, a higher number means harder wheels. The average wheel has a durometer of 99A.
The difference between a harder and softer wheel can be recognized in the speed and the grip. Softer wheels are slower but they have better grip, while harder wheels give more speed but can be harder to control.
The ideal durometer is between the range of 96a to 99a. Pro wheels measure 101a and above. These are the fastest and hardest wheels but the also have the least grip. It takes a pro to control this wheelbase properly.
One other factor to consider is the contact patch for the wheels. Technically, it is the surface of contact for the wheel and the pavement.
The standard ruling is that larger longboard wheels have bigger contact patches. This is necessary for better distribution of weight and the achievement of stability. Wheel shape affects the contact patch size.
For maximum contact with the pavement, square wheels are highly recommended. Rounded wheels, on the other hand, offer less contact.
Skateboard wheelbases have improved over the recent decades. In fact, adjustable wheelbases are being drilled into a lot of popular deck brands these days.
This actually provides flexibility for riders, especially for those who are yet to discover their rhythm. If you are new to skateboarding, it would be better to choose a board with an adjustable wheelbase for you to be able to adjust them later.
For a list of products with adjustable wheelbases, this review will definitely help you get started.