Soft Vs Hard Skateboard Wheels – The Difference
If you’re new to skateboarding, you may want to know the difference between soft vs hard skateboard wheels since being able to distinguish the two types of wheels can help you choose a suitable board to suit your preference.
In today’s article, we will give you an in-depth comparison of soft and hard wheels, helping you know better about the circumstances you’d want hard wheels and vice versa.
Overview On Durometer - Official Measurement For Skateboard Wheel Hardness
The durometer is the factor to determine whether a wheel is soft or hard. Albert Ferdinand Shore invented this measurement tool to evaluate rubber and plastic items’ hardness within the spectrum of 1 to 100.
For skateboard wheels, there is an exception - the measurement can go up to 101. The higher number leads to the harder wheels, and vice versa.
In case you haven’t noticed, most skateboard wheels, if not all, come with a printed variation of the numbers and either the letter A or B, which used to gauge the different levels of hardness.
Durometer scale A distinguishes soft and hard wheels between 1 to 100, whereas durometer scale B can go beyond 100. Wheels on scale B measure 20 points higher than those on scale A; for instance, 85B equals 105A.
Usually, skateboard wheels propose a hardness level between 75A to 100A, making them suitable for multi-purposes. Professional skateboard players often use skateboards with wheels on the scale B as they offer exceptional speed with little grip.
There is also a D scale which uses a different shaped spike/probe to measure. At some point, the A durometer cannot go any further; e.g., there’s no such thing as 101A.
This is when the D scale comes in handy. The probe used to measure the D scale is much more pointed, meaning materials offer less resistance to it. This makes it far more accurate when measuring harder materials.
Some brands have picked up the D scale, which is why you see it in the latest street wheels. So, when you see wheels with a D-rated durometer, you know it’s going to be very hard.
Differences Between Soft VS Hard Skateboard Wheels
Skateboard wheel diameter is measured in millimeters, with most wheels ranging from 50 to 75mm.
Compared to soft skateboard wheels, hard wheels often have a smaller diameter and are also lighter, generating better acceleration. This is mainly because they contain harder urethane in their design.
Some brands provide a dual-durometer where the wheel’s interior measures one way, and the exterior is either harder or softer. This type of wheel is preferred by skaters who need custom wheels to suit personal likings.
Skateboard players who want more speed can choose soft wheels for their regular-sized deck. It is because this customized style is exceptional for riding snake runs or concrete bowls at higher speeds.
See also: What Size Skateboard Wheels Do You Need?
Soft wheels have their durometer measurements running between 75A to 95A, being the better option for those looking for an easy, float-like riding style. Those who are new to skateboarding should start with a set of soft wheels.
On the other hand, hard wheels, measuring from 96A to 104A (or 84B), are the go-to for professional skateboard players as they’re more challenging to control on different terrains. They tend to slide more, especially on smooth surfaces.
Veteran skaters often use the hardest wheels on the scale (84B and beyond) as they’re significantly harder to maneuver.
Rebounce And Bounce
Rebounce and bounce determine how fast a wheel gets back to its primary shape after bouncing off the ground. Skateboard wheels are made of polyurethane, and some formulas appear to be more superior to others.
Soft wheels take longer to rebounce, and they’re more likely to bounce when you skate on them.
Back in the day, a lot of softer wheels got a bad reputation for being slow. There's a good reason for this; soft wheels don’t keep their shape, and a wheel, which deforms under you, loses/wastes energy and slows you down.
Harder wheels went faster, and gradually, skateboard wheels got harder and harder in search of better performance. They can also slide with less effort, which was important as tricks like blunt slides became prominent in the skating community.
Soft Skateboard Wheels: An In-Depth Look
Soft wheels with a hardness level of 75A to 95A make a good choice for cruising and other tricks that don’t involve sliding with them.
In fact, cameramen often use skateboards with this kind of wheel to take skate photos and footage. People who often ride their skateboard from one place (go to college, work, etc.) to another also use soft wheels due to its superior cruising performance.
Featuring a stronger polyurethane mix in their design, soft wheels are softer at the edges for extra grip and control. They also support a wider shape for stability, aiding the skaters to retain their balance.
Thanks to the soft and resilient thickness, you can ride soft wheels on pebbles, small rocks, or cracks at ease, making it perfect for cruising at a bowl or the flat banks at your local skatepark.
Harder wheels excel on smooth, hard surfaces like ramps and concrete bowls, but can easily suck on most medium-grade tarmac or rough side-walk concrete. They have significantly less resilience and grip compared to softer wheels.
When comparing hard vs soft skateboard wheels, you see that soft wheels offer superior flexibility, more grip, and stability for those who seek a thrilling, dynamic ride.
Nonetheless, when performing tricks or jumping stairs with soft wheels, it is easy to notice that the board tends to be sluggish. This is because soft wheels are often wider, heavier, and, as mentioned, provide better grip.
So, remember that soft wheels have more grip and resistance than their counterparts, which could be challenging when learning or practising aggressive skateboard styles or performing flip tricks.
Pros & Cons
Great for cruising
Easy to maintain higher speeds
Good for riding over pebbles and cracks
Provide extra stability
Hard to perform tricks
Hard Skateboard Wheels: A Comprehensive Explanation
Skateboard wheels in the spectrum between 96A and 104A (or 84B) are considered hard wheels. These wheels are not easily maneuverable on rough roads, and they also tend to slide on smooth terrains.
Those who are not familiar with using hard wheels can hit the ground and bleed easily should you not know how to keep balance and land correctly. That being said, beginners can try wheels with a hardness level ranging from 96A to 99A, being an easier thus safer choice.
Pros & Cons
Great for technical tricks
More control in closed space
Not good for long rides
Make lots of noise
Soft Skateboard Wheels VS Hard: What Should You Choose?
After finding out the difference between soft vs hard wheels skateboarding, you might be wondering which type of wheels are better for you. The truth is, it relies on the surface you’re skating upon and your feel preference.
Who Should Use Soft Skateboard Wheels
Soft skateboard wheels are meant for cruising and a comfortable ride as they tend to bounce a lot and stick well to the surface.
Those who want to get right from point one place to another effectively and quickly should definitely opt for soft urethane wheels. In fact, they’re excellent for going considerable distances due to the grip they propose.
Who Should Use Hard Skateboard Wheels
Hard skateboard wheels make the perfect option for those who want to skate street, vert, or skateparks since they create less grip and friction. They’re ideal for beginners who are learning to have more control and balance beneath their feet.
You’ll be able to perform tricks with snappy, light, and quick performance. If you still want to cruise around sometimes and do tricks with your board, it’s best to get hard wheels with a bigger wheel diameter, around 55-60mm.
It also depends on the terrain you’ll be riding on; if it’s really tough terrain, consider getting a hardness level of 80A; otherwise, 90-100A is a good pick.
Now that you know the difference between soft vs hard skateboard wheels, we hope you can come down to a thoroughly considered buying decision.
Getting the right wheels has a huge impact on your skateboarding performance. Some people like soft wheels for their speed, grip, and smoother ride, if not their versatility as well, whereas others are more fond of hard ones because they’re better for smooth surfaces.
If you’re still unsure of what to get, it’s best to try both options to see which ones you like better before finalizing a purchase.