The Durometer of Longboard Wheels
Introduction – Explaining the term
The durometer of longboard wheels measures their durability and resistances. There are a lot of factors that determine the durometer, but the overall resistances and performance of your wheels will also be determined by the type of surface you are riding on.
Simply speaking, the durometer of longboard wheels is the scale used to determine their hardiness and rate it accordingly. Depending on that rating, the wheels can be Hard (90-101a) or Soft (78-88a).
The riding surface – one of the key factors that determine the resistance and performance of longboard wheels
Depending on the type of surface, you will go faster or slower, you will feel bumps a lot or not at all. Various things are affected by whether the surface you are riding on is smooth or rough, so we’ve provided a list of surfaces and how wheels react to each one:
- Smooth asphalt – One of the best surfaces for riding, so the wheels grip on easily. Every type of wheels can be used on this kind of surface;
- Rough asphalt – While not being an ideal surface, it’s a bit harder for the wheels to take a grip, but it’s better than any kind of cement surface. Both soft and hard wheels can do the job;
- Smooth cement – Best surface for freeride and freestyle riding, it’s quite smooth so slides are done easier;
- Rough Cement – The last type of surface that is ideal for longboard riding, rough cement is not too favorable. Hard wheels should be used if you plan on riding rough cement;
- Brick or Stone – Technically speaking, you could ride over these surfaces, but the grooves might cause friction that makes the riding experience a bit dull and bothersome. Avoid it if you can;
- Wood – Specialized wooden ramps found in skate parks are the exception, but you won’t find much pleasure in riding over wooden surfaces;
- Sand, dirt, and grass – Longboards aren’t designed for these types of surfaces, so you should avoid them altogether.
Diameter of longboard wheels
This is just one of the many factors that determine the durometer of longboard wheels. Depending on the diameter, your performance will change – Wheels that are smaller (in diameter) have a good acceleration rate, but they have inferior top-speed. However, larger wheels accelerate slower but are faster.
How does the size affect the durometer rating?
It’s quite simple, but still not a rule – most smaller wheels are less durable. Smaller surface means that they will roll more times (to travel the same distance) when compared to their bigger counterparts, which further means that they will lick out faster.
There are exceptions, but if we take physics into account, the smaller wheels usually have a lower durometer rating. When it comes to big wheels, it’s not such a simple thing to determine their durability without mentioning a greater issue.
Some longboards can’t accept larger wheels without biting the tail (used for stopping and braking). This is a serious issue when it comes to size, as having a larger durometer rating does not necessarily mean that those wheels are better.
Hardness – the key factor of durometer of longboard wheels
All longboard wheels are built of polyurethane while the composition and quality of it determine the wheel’s hardness – the durometer rating is used to determine the hardness of polyurethane found in them.
The longboard durometer measure
General durometer measures have ratings of A, B, C, D, DO, E, M, O, OO, OOO, OOO-S, and R. These determine the hardness of different rubbers or plastics, but longboard durometer ratings are always rated with A (the category with least polyurethane hardness).
As mentioned before, wheels that grip easily has the rating of 75-78a, the wheels ideal for freeride and downhill racing are usually 75a-90a, while wheels that slide the best are always beyond 80a.
Core material of longboard wheels – the last factor which affects the wheel’s durometer
The core material is not to be mixed with the outer material (which is almost the same with every model). This material determines the longevity and the overall feeling you will get when you ride your longboard, and you should know what each type of material can offer you:
Aluminum Wheel cores
- They’re quite fast because they have more mass that increase the inertia of each rotation;
- Excellent traction and wear because of the stiff composition;
- They’re quite expensive;
Plastic Wheel cores
- Less mass when compared to aluminum, but they also weigh less;
- The most common category of wheel cores;
- Decently affordable;
Urethane wheel cores
- Really low mass levels. Heavier than plastic;
- Smooth to ride – great dampening capabilities;
The Width of your longboard wheels (lip profile)
The width of your wheels determines the amount of surface that grazes the ground floor when you are riding. There are two main categories of the width of longboard wheels which provide different advantages.
The square lip provides you with more control when you are driving fast. They aren’t too good at slides, but they’re ideal for downhill racers, and commuting longboard riders. They have a greater surface which touches the ground.
The round lip provides less grip which makes it ideal for slides. However, they have a smaller surface, so they are not capable of reaching the same speed levels when compared to the square lip models, but they’re perfect for freestyle and freeride styles of riding.
Texture – the wear of your wheels
The texture of longboard wheels affects how quickly they will wear – durable wheels will wear at a slower pace which will mean that those wheels have a higher durometer rating and vice versa. The wheels are defined by texture as smooth or rough (when purchased).
Every set of wheels need some time to break in – after a couple of rides your wheels will feel different but will remain that way until they wear out.
The durometer of your wheels is something you want to know about. Before you decide on purchasing your longboard take into consideration the hardness, the material (both outer and core), the width, and the texture.