Soft vs Hard Skateboard Wheels – Most Trusted Analysis 
Soft vs hard skateboard wheels is a highly anticipated topic, as wheel hardness is one of the two core criteria besides wheel size in selecting a skateboard.
Understanding the specifications of skateboard wheels is a very puzzling task, especially when you are a beginner at the sport. You will be surprised at the vast amount of options you have with the object.
Therefore, if you want to learn more about skateboard wheels, you have come to the right place. I am going to deliberate about the differences among different wheel hardness options.
Durometer - Official Measurement For Skateboard Wheel Hardness
1. Overview on Durometer
Before diving into the comparison between soft skateboard wheels vs hard, it is better to understand how to determine the wheel hardness.
If you have looked into skateboard wheels before, you will quickly notice a printed figure on the front of each wheel. It is the Durometer measurement.
Invented by Albert Ferdinand Shore, Durometer is a measurement tool used for expressing the hardness of rubber and plastic items within the spectrum of 1 to 100.
Many reputable skateboard manufacturers employ the scale to measure their skateboard wheels. This number signals the users that their set of urethane wheels have undergone a stringent testing procedure, the ASTM D2240 Standard Test Method For Rubber Property.
The lower the figure, the softer the wheels would be. Vice versa, the higher number indicates harder wheels.
Generally, there are two kinds of Durometer scales, which are scale A and scale B. I will discuss them further in the following sections.
See also: What Size Skateboard Wheels Do You Need?
2. Durometer Scale A
Durometer scale A distinguishes soft vs hard skateboard wheels with a spectrum running from 1 to 100.
Typically, skateboard wheels have their hardness fluctuating between 75A to 100A. Each range signals different wheel characteristics. The following table will provide you with more in-depth information.
Table 1: Skateboard wheel characteristics at different ranges on Durometer scale A.
75A - 87A
Extremely soft wheels, suitable for longboards or standard skateboards running over rough surfaces.
Best for: cruising, commuting, downhill skateboarding.
88A - 95A
Slightly harder wheels with faster velocity, providing less grip, soft enough to run over bumps.
Best for: street skating in urban areas.
96A - 99A
Hard, all-round wheels with outstanding balance, providing excellent grip and moderate speed.
Best for: street skating, smooth surfaces skating (bowls, ramps, skatepark, etc.)
3. Durometer Scale B
When the wheel hardness goes beyond 100 in Durometer scale A, it is time to use Durometer scale B to describe the figure. Scale B is simply subtracting 20 points from scale A.
For example, 81B and 101A mean the same thing. Or, 84B is the same as 104A.
The below table will give you a brief description of two additional ranges of Durometer scale B.
Table 2: Skateboard wheel characteristics at different ranges on Durometer scale B.
80B - 82B
Very hard wheels with little grip, providing exceptional speed, not designed for slick and rough surfaces.
Best for: professional skateboard players.
83B - 84B
Extremely hard wheels, the toughest ones in the market.
Best for: professional skateboard players.
Soft Skateboard Wheels Vs Hard: What Should You Choose?
1. Soft Skateboard Wheels: An In-Depth Look
Soft skateboard wheels have their Durometer figure running between 75A to 95A. They are wonderful choices for cruising and wandering around, as they require little effort to push and maintain speed.
Soft wheels provide safer skateboarding experiences as they can effectively handle small cracks, rocks, or any obstacle that your board runs into.
If you are planning to run in the skatepark, cruising a bowl or a flat bank, you must choose soft skateboard wheels as they add more speed and flow to your style.
However, if you are into technical street skateboarding tricks, you should leave soft wheels out of your selection list. Any wheel below 95A is not built for stair jumping and trick performing, as they generate a lot of resistance and grips.
In short, soft wheels have the following pros and cons:
2. Hard Skateboard Wheels: A Comprehensive Explanation
Any skateboard wheel ranging from 96A to 104A (or 84B) belongs to the hard category. These options are built and dedicated to veteran and professional street skaters.
Running these hard wheels on rough roads is not recommended. On slick surfaces, they have a tendency to slide more. Pushing it requires more effort and also creates louder noises. Hard wheels are also difficult to control the balance.
The safe choice for beginners to technical skateboarding is between 96A and 99A. Anything beyond that number requires higher levels of skills and experience.
The table below will summarize certain pros and cons of hard wheels.
3. The Ultimate Comparison
First of all, let’s talk about the most obvious criteria, which is the Durometer figure. Hard wheels’ number ranges in the higher end (from 96A to 104A), while soft wheels’ data falls between 75A and 95A.
Another important criterion is the wheel structure. Compared to soft skateboard wheels, hard wheels are smaller in size and lighter in weight. That is the reason why hard wheels generate better acceleration.
The third criterion is the grip factor. Hard skateboard wheels create less grip and friction than their soft counterparts. Therefore, when performing maneuvers, you will have an easier time with hard wheels as they give your rides more quickness with technical style.
In terms of speed, hard wheels gain the upper hand. Harder skateboard wheels are faster, owing to the lower friction they have with the ground.
Regarding the applicable playground, there are also certain distinctions. If soft wheels are designed for cruising on rough surfaces, their hard counterparts are ideal for aggressive and technical plays in the skatepark.
This article has shed light on the matchup between soft skateboard wheels vs hard. All information mentioned in this writing is relatively basic, which is suitable for beginners to the sport.
I hope you have gained some knowledge on both types of wheel hardness, which is useful for your purchasing decision.