Skateboard Wheel Hardness Rating: Cruise or Bruise?

Skateboard wheel hardness is measured by the durometer scale. Most wheels range between 78A to 101A in hardness.


Selecting the appropriate skateboard wheel hardness can significantly impact your riding experience, whether you’re cruising city streets or performing tricks at a skatepark. Wheels with a higher durometer rating, around 99A to 101A, are typically harder and faster, ideal for smooth surfaces and technical skating.


On the other hand, softer wheels, typically rated between 78A and 87A, offer more grip and absorb ground imperfections better, making them perfect for rougher terrain. This wheel hardness guide is essential for skateboarders who want to tailor their setup to their specific style and the terrain they’ll be tackling. Understanding this crucial aspect will help you make informed choices for a smoother and more enjoyable ride.


Table of Contents

What Is Skateboard Wheel Hardness Rating?

Every skater knows that the feel and performance of their skateboard can change drastically with different wheels. But what dictates these variations? The answer lies in a key feature of skateboard wheels: the hardness rating, also known as durometer. This metric is a pivotal factor in how a skateboard will handle on various terrains. Understanding the hardness rating of your wheels can transform your skateboarding experience, tailoring it to your preferred style and the surfaces you ride on.

Definition Of Wheel Hardness Rating

Skateboard wheel hardness is quantified by the durometer scale. Typically, this scale ranges from soft (around 78A) to hard (101A or more). The ‘A’ denotes the type of scale used, as there are different scales for measuring the hardness of different materials. For skateboard wheels, the A scale is most common, providing a reliable measure for comparing the hardness of various wheels. The higher the number on the durometer scale, the harder the wheel. Harder wheels offer less grip but roll faster on smooth surfaces, whereas softer wheels provide more grip and absorb more shock on rough terrains.

Importance In Skateboarding Performance

  • Traction: Softer wheels grip the surface better which is ideal for street skating or on rough surfaces.
  • Speed: Harder wheels provide less friction, allowing for higher speeds on smoother surfaces such as skate parks and ramps.
  • Versatility: Wheels of medium hardness offer a balance between grip and speed, making them suitable for various skateboarding styles.
  • Longevity: Harder wheels tend to wear down slower than softer wheels, making them a more durable choice for frequent skaters.

The durometer of skateboard wheels plays a crucial role in maneuverability and comfort. Skaters looking to perform technical tricks may opt for harder wheels to facilitate quicker, sharper movements. Conversely, those cruising through the streets may favor softer wheels for a smoother journey over the unpredictable urban landscape.

Ultimately, selecting the correct hardness rating is vital for optimizing your skateboarding performance. By taking into account the terrain, your skateboarding style, and your personal preferences, the durometer rating provides a guideline to enhance your ride and progress your skateboarding skills.

Skateboard Wheel Hardness Rating
Skateboard Wheel Hardness Rating

The Durometer Scale

When selecting the perfect set of wheels for your skateboard, one critical factor often comes into play: the hardness of the wheels. This measurement of hardness is quantified using “The Durometer Scale.” Understanding this scale is essential for any skateboarder looking to tailor their ride to their specific style and the types of terrain they will be skating on. Let’s dive into the crucial aspects of this scale and how it applies to your skateboard wheels.

Explanation Of The Durometer Scale

The durometer scale is a standardized method to measure the hardness of various materials, including rubbers, plastics, and in our case, skateboard wheels. Devised by Albert F. Shore in the 1920s, the scale evaluates the material’s resistance to indentation under a defined force. The resulting measurement is expressed in a numerical value, accompanied by a letter scale which indicates the test’s pressure. The most common scale for skateboard wheels is the A scale, which ranges from 1 to 100, with higher numbers indicating a harder material. While there are other scales, such as B or D, the A scale remains the skateboard industry’s gold standard.

How The Scale Is Used To Measure Wheel Hardness

When assessing wheel hardness with the durometer scale, a specialized instrument called a durometer tester is utilized. This device applies a consistent force to a wheel and measures the depth of indentation. A higher durometer rating means less indentation and, consequently, a harder wheel. The entire process is instrumental for manufacturers to maintain consistency and for skateboarders to make informed decisions on the type of wheels that will suit their skateboarding needs.

Application In Skateboard Wheel Rating

In terms of skateboard wheels, the durometer scale provides a direct indication of the ride you can expect. Wheels with a durometer rating around 78A-87A are typically considered soft wheels, ideal for street cruising and providing a smoother ride over rough surfaces. On the flip side, wheels rated at 88A-101A (and above) are harder, offering less grip but faster speeds, suitable for smoother surfaces and technical street skating or park sessions. It is crucial to match your wheel’s hardness to your preferred skating style to optimize performance and enjoyment.

Here’s a quick reference guide to help you understand the differences:

Rating Type of Wheel Skating Style
78A-87A Soft Wheels Street Cruising/ Rough Surfaces
88A-94A Slightly Harder Wheels Beginner Street/ Rough Surfaces
95A-101A Hard Wheels Technical Street Skating/ Skate Parks
101A+ Extra Hard Wheels Professional Technical Skating

By understanding the durometer scale and its application, you can precisely fine-tune your skateboard setup. Whether you’re carving through the streets or flipping tricks at the park, a well-chosen set of wheels can significantly enhance your performance and overall skateboarding experience.

Impact Of Wheel Hardness On Performance

Understanding the relation between skateboard wheel hardness and performance is critical for skaters looking to optimize their ride. The hardness of a wheel, measured by the durometer scale, affects everything from grip to speed and influences the board’s handling on different surfaces. Choosing the right wheel hardness can make a profound difference in a skater’s experience. Let’s explore how different wheel hardness ratings impact skateboard performance.

Effects Of Softer Wheels On Performance

Softer wheels, typically rated less than 90a on the durometer scale, influence skateboard performance in distinct ways:

  • Better Grip and Traction: Soft wheels have a greater grip on rough surfaces, making them ideal for street skating or areas with lots of cracks and pebbles.
  • Smooth Ride: These wheels absorb shocks from uneven terrain, providing a smoother, more comfortable ride.
  • Quieter: Softer wheels reduce noise when rolling, making skateboarding less disruptive in quiet environments.

However, softer wheels may not be the best choice for high-speed skating due to their increased rolling resistance and decreased durability compared to harder wheels.

Effects Of Harder Wheels On Performance

Harder wheels, with durometer ratings above 90a, deliver performance attributes tailored to different skating styles:

  • Increased Speed: The reduced rolling resistance of hard wheels allows for higher speeds, essential for park or ramp skating.
  • Better Slides: They facilitate sliding tricks due to less grip on smooth surfaces.
  • Durability: Hard wheels are more resistant to wear over time, particularly on smooth concrete or wooden surfaces.

When precision and speed are priorities, harder wheels are usually the preferred choice, although they may result in a less comfortable ride on rough terrain.

Factors Influencing Wheel Hardness Choice

Skaters need to consider various factors to determine the ideal wheel hardness:

  • Skating Surface: Softer wheels are generally better for rough surfaces, whereas hard wheels excel on smooth surfaces.
  • Riding Style: Freestyle skaters may prefer softer wheels for control, while ramp skaters often opt for harder wheels for speed.
  • Skater’s Weight: Heavier skaters might lean towards harder wheels to prevent undue compression of the wheels, which can impede performance.
  • Personal Preference: Ultimately, the choice might come down to the individual’s comfort and the feel they desire from their skateboard.

Selecting the correct wheel hardness is an exercise in balancing these factors to match the skateboarder’s specific needs and environment.

Choosing The Right Hardness Rating

Choosing the right hardness rating for skateboard wheels is a critical decision that significantly affects your ride’s performance and feel. Also known as a wheel’s durometer, the hardness rating determines how the wheels grip the surface, absorb shock, and provide stability. Whether you are a cruising enthusiast or an adrenaline-charged street skater, understanding the nuances of wheel hardness will propel your skateboarding experience to new heights. Let’s dive into the essential factors you must consider.

Considerations For Different Skateboarding Styles

Different skateboarding styles require unique wheel types to optimize performance. For example:

  • Street Skating: Demands harder wheels for better slides and greater control on tricks.
  • Vert/Ramp Skating: A combination of hardness for speed and grip for control is ideal.
  • Longboarding/Cruising: Softer wheels are key for a smoother ride over rough terrain.

Impact Of Terrain On Wheel Hardness Choice

Wheel selection is also shaped by the skating terrain. Hard, smooth surfaces like skate parks and ramps may allow skaters to opt for harder, more durable wheels to maintain speed and maneuverability. Conversely, soft wheels better absorb the irregularities of rough, uneven streets, providing a more forgiving ride.

Terrain Type Recommended Hardness
Smooth Concrete 99A – 101A
Asphalt Streets 78A – 90A
Indoor Skate Parks 96A – 101A

Expert Recommendations For Hardness Rating Selection

Expert skateboarders recommend starting with a medium-hard wheel (around 90A to 98A) as a baseline, for they offer versatility across different styles and surfaces. This approach allows skaters to adapt to varied experiences and then make informed changes based on their preferences and skating habits. Experienced skaters might lean towards extremes, choosing harder or softer wheels once they’ve honed their style and know exactly what they want from their ride.

  1. Beginners: Begin with a middle-range hardness (90A – 98A).
  2. Street Skaters: Look for a higher durometer (99A – 101A).
  3. Cruisers: Go with softer wheels (78A – 87A).
Skateboard Wheel Hardness Rating
Skateboard Wheel Hardness Rating

Comparing Different Hardness Ratings

Welcome to the world of skateboarding, where the right set of wheels can make all the difference. Skaters know that wheel hardness ratings, measured on the durometer scale, significantly affect their ride. This essential guide will delve into the differences among hardness ratings and their impact on skateboarding performance.

Range Of Hardness Ratings Available

Skateboard wheels come in a variety of hardness levels, each tailored to specific styles and surfaces. The durometer scale, typically ranging from 78A to 101A for skateboard wheels, measures wheel hardness. Softer wheels, around 78A to 87A, are ideal for street cruising, providing a smoother ride. On the other hand, hardness ratings from 88A to 95A offer a good grip yet can handle more speed and are versatile for beginner to intermediate skatepark use. For those seeking performance on smooth surfaces, wheels rated at 96A and above are known for their speed and resistance to flat spots, making them perfect for pro-level park and street skating.

Pros And Cons Of Different Hardness Ratings

  • Softer Wheels (78A – 87A)
    • Pros:
      • Grip well on rough surfaces
      • Absorb road vibrations for a smoother ride
      • Ideal for cruising and filming
    • Cons:
      • Slower speed on smooth surfaces
      • Likely to get flat spots faster
      • Not optimal for technical tricks
  • Medium Hardness Wheels (88A – 95A)
    • Pros:
      • Better for rough surfaces than harder wheels
      • More speed than softer wheels
      • Suitable for street and transition skating
    • Cons:
      • May not provide as much grip as softer wheels
      • Less comfortable on very rough surfaces
  • Harder Wheels (96A and above)
    • Pros:
      • Exceptional speed on smooth surfaces
      • Great for technical and park skating
      • Resistant to flat spots and wear
    • Cons:
      • Poor grip on slick or rough surfaces
      • Can be uncomfortable for long commutes

Real-world Examples Of Performance Differences

A prime example of performance differences can be observed between the softer Ricta Clouds 78A and the harder Spitfire Formula Four 101A. The former, being extremely soft, allows for a smooth ride over cracks and debris, designed for skaters who prioritize comfort during their cruise around town. Contrast this with the Spitfire wheels, which excel in park environments where they enable skaters to achieve high speeds and perform precise technical tricks with confidence. In the middle of the spectrum, wheels like the Bones STF 99A allow for a balanced blend of speed and grip, making them a great all-around choice for skaters experimenting with different terrains.

Skateboard Wheel Hardness Rating
Skateboard Wheel Hardness Rating

Factors Affecting Wheel Hardness

Understanding the factors that determine skateboard wheel hardness is essential for any skater looking to optimize performance. Wheel hardness, measured on the durometer scale, is crucial as it affects grip, speed, and the overall ride on different surfaces. Let’s dive into some of the pivotal elements that impact this vital skateboarding component.

Material composition and its impact

Material Composition And Its Impact

Skateboard wheels are typically made from polyurethane, a material chosen for its resilience and capacity to withstand various levels of stress. The composition of this material significantly affects wheel hardness:

  • Soft wheels use a higher proportion of flexible materials to absorb shock and navigate rough terrains.
  • Hard wheels contain more rigid components, enhancing speed and slideability on smoother surfaces.

The precise mixture of materials can result in a wide range of hardness levels, tailored for specific skating styles and environments.

Temperature and environmental effects

Temperature And Environmental Effects

Temperature fluctuations and environmental conditions can alter the performance characteristics of skateboard wheels:

Condition Effect on Wheel Hardness
Cold temperatures Can make wheels harder, reducing grip and elasticity.
Hot temperatures May soften wheels, increasing grip but potentially decreasing speed.
Wet conditions Lead to reduced traction, emphasizing the need for appropriate wheel hardness.

Skaters must consider their local climate and seasonal variations to choose the best wheel hardness for optimal performance.

Maintenance and longevity considerations

Maintenance And Longevity Considerations

Maintenance plays a critical role in preserving the durability and performance of skateboard wheels:

  1. Regular cleaning prevents dirt and debris build-up, which can impact wheel hardness over time.
  2. Rotating wheels ensures even wear, maintaining consistent hardness and shape.
  3. Storing skateboards in a temperature-controlled environment helps retain wheel characteristics.

These practices contribute to extending the lifespan of wheels, ensuring they remain true to their original hardness and performance standards.

Testing And Measuring Wheel Hardness

The performance and durability of a skateboard ride critically hinge on wheel hardness. To deliver an optimal skateboarding experience, it is essential to test and measure wheel hardness accurately. Long-lasting and quality skate sessions largely depend on the hardness rating, commonly known as the durometer, of the wheels. This section of the post delves into the science and methods behind testing wheel hardness, the vital importance of verifying this characteristic, and how it aligns with industry standards.

Methods To Test Wheel Hardness

Testing the hardness of skateboard wheels involves scientific techniques and specialized tools. For accurate results, professionals and hobbyists alike use specific methodologies:

  • Durometer Scale: A definitive tool that measures the wheel’s resistance to indentation under a standardized force. It records a numerical value, such as 78A or 101B, indicating the wheel’s hardness.
  • Shore Hardness Test: This employs a durometer instrument – either type A or B, depending on wheel material – to apply pressure through a standardized indenter and gauge the depth of indentation.

Results from these tests ensure skateboarders pick wheels that match their preferred style and riding surfaces, from smooth concrete to rugged asphalt.

Importance Of Measuring And Verifying Hardness

Why is verifying the hardness of skateboard wheels paramount? The hardness affects:

  1. Grip on various skating surfaces
  2. Ride smoothness and speed
  3. Wear and durability over time

Meticulous measurement safeguards performance expectations and helps avoid mismatches between the wheels and the intended usage scenario.

Quality Assurance And Standards Compliance

Ensuring quality and compliance with industry standards is non-negotiable. Manufacturers adhere to regulations like ASTM and ISO to certify the uniformity and reliability of their products. Regularly testing wheel hardness and maintaining records serves as evidence of this dedication to excellence. Such practices directly tie into customer satisfaction, brand reputation, and product integrity within the skateboarding industry.

In summary, a comprehensive approach to testing wheel hardness underpins the skateboarding experience by catering to preferences and safety requirements. Wheels are scrutinized to meet or exceed established benchmarks, reinforcing trust and consistency in performance.

Conclusion And Application

Assessing the hardness of skateboard wheels is pivotal for skaters, as it can dramatically affect performance and riding comfort. This section encapsulates the essence of skateboard wheel hardness ratings and offers actionable insights for enthusiasts and professionals alike. Understanding the technology behind these wheels not only aids in selecting the right equipment but also hints at the exciting developments we may expect in the near future.

Summary Of Key Takeaways

Before diving into practical tips, let’s recap the essential points discovered about skateboard wheel hardness:

  • Hardness Scale: Skateboard wheels are rated using the durometer scale, with ‘A’ and ‘B’ scales indicating the level of hardness.
  • Hard vs. Soft Wheels: Hard wheels (above 90A) are optimal for street skating and tricks, offering higher speed and less grip. Soft wheels (below 90A), conversely, provide more grip and a smoother ride on rough surfaces.
  • Impact on Performance: The choice of wheel hardness affects sliding ability, speed, control, and comfort on different terrains.

Practical Tips For Applying Hardness Rating Knowledge

To apply your newfound knowledge of wheel hardness effectively, consider these tips:

  1. Evaluate your skating style: Opt for harder wheels if you frequent skateparks and ramps or prefer softer variants for cruising and transportation.
  2. Consider your environment: For those navigating rough or uneven streets, softer wheels can offer a smoother ride.
  3. Experiment: Don’t shy away from testing different hardness levels to discover what suits your preferences best.
  4. Customize your setup: Mix and match wheel hardness across your board for a tailored skating experience, if your style calls for such a setup.

The Future Of Skateboard Wheel Technology

Skateboard wheel technology continues to evolve, incorporating new materials and designs for enhanced performance. Upcoming trends hint at the use of advanced polymers and novel cores that could offer unprecedented control and durability. Skaters may soon have wheels with adjustable hardness settings, allowing for quick shifts in performance to match changing terrains and personal preferences. As these innovations unfold, staying informed will help you leverage the latest advancements for an improved skateboarding experience.



Frequently Asked Questions On Skateboard Wheel Hardness Rating

What Determines Skateboard Wheel Hardness?

Skateboard wheel hardness is determined by the durometer scale, with softer wheels having lower ratings and harder wheels having higher ratings.

How Does Wheel Hardness Affect Skateboarding?

Wheel hardness affects grip, ride smoothness, and ability to slide; softer wheels grip better while harder wheels are faster and slide more easily.

Can You Measure Wheel Hardness At Home?

es, using a durometer tool specifically designed for measuring the hardness of skateboard wheels can provide a home measurement.

What’s The Ideal Hardness For Street Skating?

Ideal hardness for street skating typically ranges from 99A to 101A, providing a balance between grip and the ability to perform tricks on smooth surfaces.

Does Weather Affect Skateboard Wheel Hardness?

Temperature can affect skateboard wheel hardness; colder temperatures can make wheels feel harder, while warmer temperatures can make them feel softer.



Selecting the right skateboard wheel hardness, or durometer, is crucial for a smooth ride and top performance. It’s your link to the terrain, impacting both grip and speed. Remember to match wheel hardness with your skate style and surface. Perfecting this choice elevates your skateboarding experience, so don’t overlook the importance of durometer when upgrading your setup.


Stay rolling smoothly!

Norman J. Wells
Norman J. Wells

Hello, my name is Norman J. Wells I am the founder of Get skater which is my blog.

I specialize in skateboarding and offer skateboarding services to businesses of all sizes around the world, ultimately improving their bottom line by teaching creative solutions to their problems. Shoot me a quick email to see how I can help you!

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