Why Are Skateboard Wheels So Expensive? – A Detailed Explanation
If you are a newcomer to skateboarding, you might feel that buying skateboards in general and skateboard wheels, in particular, are somewhat costly. So why are skateboard wheels so expensive? This article will answer your question in detail.
High-priced skateboard wheels have better material, design, and performance. As a result, it costs a little more effort, budget, and research to manufacture these wheels.
Skateboard wheels are also designed to provide the utmost comfort and the best experience for skateboarders.
I believe that now you might quite understand why skateboard wheels are usually expensive. After reading the rest of this article, you will have a clear idea about their price and why it is reasonable to spend that much.
Let’s get started!
Factors That Leads To The High Prices Of Skateboard Wheels
The main things that you need to know about skateboard wheels are their construction and performance. Then, you will understand why good skateboard wheels often have high prices.
Let’s be honest with each other. Everyone knows that high prices often go with better performance. This statement is true in almost all circumstances, and the case of skateboard wheels is not an exception.
The cheaper wheels cost less than 20 dollars, while the prices of high-quality ones can vary from 40 to 50 dollars or even 100 dollars. It is undeniable that there must be appealing features so that people would invest in those expensive wheels.
Most low-budget wheels use non-durable and cheap material, which leads to uncomfortable or even dangerous experiences while using. There could also be design faults or construction defects, and you might find it difficult to skateboard on these wheels.
Purchasing skateboard wheels at a higher price point will ensure that you will not have to encounter these issues. With better wheels, you can ride your skateboard faster, safer, and more smoothly.
Most skateboard wheels are made from hard polyurethane, which is usually more expensive than other materials due to the fluctuating raw material prices. However, polyurethane has many unique features that make them superior to other materials.
First, polyurethane has good abrasion resistance, ensuring that the wheels will last for a long time. This characteristic is very important as the wheels always endure the weight of your body and apply friction to the road while you skate.
Wheels with cheaper materials are undeniably not as durable as polyurethane ones.
Second, the polyurethane material helps the wheels get a strong grip on the ground during skateboarding. It also provides good traction, which means you could control your board easily.
On the other hand, plastic wheels will not grip on the ground as effectively or, in some cases, at all, leading your skateboard to be out of your control and potentially very dangerous incidents.
Last but not least, polyurethane has high resiliency, which is the ability of a material to absorb energy while being deformed, then rebound to its shape and maintain its properties.
When the wheels go around, the parts of the wheels in contact with the ground will be flattened a little due to the weight of the person using the skateboard.
With the resiliency nature, the polyurethane wheels will quickly return to their original round shape and keep turning fast.
Cheaper wheels might not have good resiliency. If they could not rebound quickly, they would roll more slowly. These wheels might also not maintain their shapes in the long term, therefore requiring you to replace them frequently.
The designs of skateboard wheels will depend on the skateboard’s aim of use. The manufacturers will mainly focus on the diameter and the durometer in producing wheels.
The diameter of skateboard wheels is measured in millimeters (mm). As the diameters of the wheels are related to the speed of the skateboard, they will also affect the way you accelerate speed while riding and how sharply the skateboard can turn.
48 - 51mm wheels are the smallest size. These wheels will be the most suitable for new skateboarders as they roll slowly and provide high stability. The average diameter of wheels is 52 - 56mm, reasonable for intermediate riders or even beginners.
For professional skateboarders and people using longboards, 60mm+ wheels are the best choice as they roll very fast and smoothly on any terrain.
A durometer is the standard way to measure the hardness of the wheels. Manufacturers usually use the Durometer A Scale with 99a as the highest points or the B Scale with 80b as the highest points. The higher the number is, the harder the wheels are.
For specific use, the brands will design their wheels’ hardness differently. 78a-87a wheels are considered soft wheels. These wheels roll smoothly and are suitable for longboards and street boards.
For skateboarding on rough terrain and hill, 88a-95a wheels will be the most suitable choice as they are a little faster and give less grip to the ground.
96a-99a wheels have perfect speed and grip. Therefore, these will fit the most with people who are practicing tricks in skate parks or pools.
For pro skateboarders, 101a+ or 83b-84b wheels - the hardest and fastest ones - are the way to go since they give almost no grip at all.
- Contact Patch:
The contact patch is the area where the wheel contacts the ground when you are skateboarding. The size contact patch will depend on the size of your wheels.
As the contact path is where the wheel distributes your weight, a larger contact patch means less weight on your wheels. This also leads to the decrease of polyurethane’s compression, and the wheel will roll slower.
This will decrease the compression of the urethane in your wheels and rolling resistance, which can slow down your wheel. The wider your contact patch, the more grip you have.
If you are a street skater, you will want to choose wheels with narrow contact patches since they are more flexible. A wide contact patch will be the better choice for cruisers and bowl vert skaters, as it offers more grip to the ground.
How Much Should Skateboard Wheels Cost?
Skateboard wheels have a wide range of price options. The most expensive wheels are around 100 dollars, while the cheapest ones with decent quality are about 20 dollars.
It is not recommended to choose items with lower prices, which could lead to some issues during usage. As mentioned above, cheaper wheels tend to degrade quicker and require regular replacement as a result.
As for professional skateboard wheels, they usually have very high prices. They can cost you more than 50 dollars or even up to 100 dollars.
These wheels often have high quality and include some outstanding features, for example, curved tread design or stone-ground contact patch.
Which Brands of Skateboard Wheels Are The Best?
If this is your first time buying skateboard wheels, you would want to pick reliable manufacturers.
Choosing the most well-known companies in this field ensures that you will get a good purchase, as their quality and customer service are the reason why they are famous. After researching, I highly recommend the following brands:
As it was formed in 1987, this is one of the oldest brands in manufacturing skateboard accessories. The brand has developed significantly over time and always provides customers the best products.
Although it entered the skateboard market quite late, Ricta has been growing and expanding rapidly. Its products are well known for their great performance.
This is also one of the oldest brands in the skateboard industry. The company developed significantly in 1980 and soon became a favorite choice of skateboarders. It is also famous for its outstanding customer service.
This brand will be the best choice for people on budget while choosing skateboarding wheels. Mini-Logo provides not only high-quality yet affordable wheels but also skateboards and other accessories.
The company focuses on producing skateboard shredding and has successfully earned customers’ trust.
Are Expensive Skateboard Wheels Safer?
Yes and no. High-price skateboard wheels are developed for their performance. They will help you have a better grip on the ground so that you could keep your balance. They are also strong enough to bear the pressure while you are doing complex stunts.
Expensive wheels will have better designs, which makes them roll much faster than cheaper ones. Hence, if you are a beginner in skateboarding, you might want to check whether the wheels will turn quickly or not.
Although cheaper wheels roll slower, novices still need to consider them carefully before buying them. Some cheap wheels use low-quality materials and might have design errors, resulting in some problems while using.
Tips for Finding Affordable Yet Decent Skateboard Wheels
Although skateboard wheels are usually expensive, the cheaper ones are not always bad. In fact, if you are a new skateboarder, these might suit you better. All you need is to pay attention to specific factors while choosing skateboard wheels; then, you will be good to go.
The diameter of a skateboard wheel will be the most important factor to consider. Small-sized wheels roll more slowly, while bigger ones will go faster.
It is recommended to choose the size according to your skill level and your preferred skateboarding speed. The most common size is 52 - 56mm.
You will need to think about the diameter while looking for skateboard wheels. On the other hand, the hardness of the wheels is directly proportional to the number of durometers.
If you want to ride fast, hard wheels will be a reasonable choice. Despite its slow speed, soft wheels will offer more grip on the ground.
The contact patch is also a crucial factor. Wheels with large contact patches offer you a faster ride, while wheels with smaller contact patches have a slower speed.
When you have finished choosing the perfect wheels after considering the mentioned factors, you might want to go to a skateboard shop and check the wheels on your own before purchasing. If it is possible, try them out and choose the most suitable ones.
For people who have recently started skateboarding, the kind of skateboard wheels you choose is not very important as long as you find them suitable.
However, if you are going to practice skateboarding for a long time, you might want to invest in appropriate wheels.
Good skateboard wheels are often a little expensive. Nevertheless, the article has already answered the question “why are skateboard wheels so expensive” by explaining various factors.
Moreover, the fact that skateboard wheels have high prices does not mean there is no affordable but decent wheel. You can still find cheaper wheels with acceptable quality on the market.
I hope you now understand the reasons for the high price of skateboard wheels after looking through this article. Thank you for reading!