A longboarders most consumable item would have to be wheels. They do all the work and take more abuse than any other part of skateboarding equipment. Wheels are the vital part of our setup that links us to the road. Not enough can be said about the importance of understanding your wheels and how they respond in every different situation a longboarder is confronted with. Understanding the style of hill and choosing the right wheel to best suit your personal style and the way you intend to skate it is important. Incorrect wheel choice can not only lose you a heat in a race, it can also be a dangerous and unwise decision in regards to your personal safety and potentially the safety of other riders on the hill. A skateboarder should understand the dynamics of riding worn wheels on fast and technical roads - there is nothing wrong with skating on slippery wheels as long as the rider is aware of the lack of grip and the extra speed that may need to be lost in order to grip corners and turns. Slides and predrifts generally need to be longer therefore need to be initiated earlier when using toasted wheels to control speed for corners. Sliding too late can have severe consequences if traction is not gained when needed. Guardrails, poles, cliffs and upcoming traffic await those who drift off line. Some hills in Australia need to be skated with grippy wheels, roads with traffic leave less margin for error. Losing traction and icing out simply aren't an option on some hills. Downhill skateboarders need to learn to be able to slide and control a grippy race wheel (even when its brand new) not just for racing but for open road riding as well. High speed tucking and cornering can be unpredictable and therefore dangerous if your wheels are coned or flatspotted. Avoiding a dangerous unexpected situation is also easier and more likely to end well on grippy wheels. A decision needs to be made at the top of every hill - the question that you should ask yourself is how am i going to skate this hill and what wheels are best for my intentions. Realising your not gripping while mid corner is a realization made too late. On an unfamiliar hill it is worth riding with good wheels a few times first, this allows you the grip you may need to correct a dodgy line. If you cant footbrake and grip or slide fresh wheels maybe you shouldn't be skating 'busy' hills until you can. Some hills are definitely more fun on freerides or slippery wheels, but others are more demanding and require more grip. Excessive sliding can be unpractical and awkward for other riders around you. Skateboarders attending races should always bring spare wheels and wheels that they are familiar with. A set of rain wheels are also worth having in your bag in case the weather turns bad. Having a few practice sessions in the wet on rain wheels is a good way to familiarize yourself with how well they grip and how to ride them. Skating in the rain is also a good way to learn new slides due to grip being reduced it enables you to slide at a slower speed for longer. If you are heading off on a days skating and you are unsure what type of terrain you might be riding, its worth taking a few sets of wheels to suit different situations. I like to save my fresh wheels for racing and fast gripping hills and get the most life out of them that i can. Fast tech freeriding is where i use my slightly worn wheels and the worse they get the more they get demoted to thrash slide/freeride wheels. Choosing the right wheel is an important decision - everyone has their favourite brands but the more important choice to be made is that of wheel condition and understanding their limitations and practicalitys.