The Longboard Wheel Guide
I have read almost every wheel guide on the internet, from the "ultimate" to the "how to buy longboard wheels" and they are either filled with errors, or just over complicated.
We have written our own guide, and the aim is that this guide will help you choose your next longboard wheel.
Here is the first point: there is no perfect longboard wheel. If you are studying features like an engineering student before an exam, you are not going to find what you are looking for. Like all things, we can complicate a wheel purchase. So here is our one simple rule that will help you spend less time on the computer and more time longboarding. Choose a wheel based on what it was designed for.
What is the wheel designed for? Answer this, match that answer with the type of wheel or type of skating you want to do and you will find the best longboard wheel for your budget.
What do we mean by "designed"? All skateboard and longboard wheels go through a design and testing process. The brand or maker of the wheel decides what type of wheel they need. A downhill wheel? Cruising wheel? LDP? Wheel for dancing, freeriding, sliding. This is what you need to know, not the specific design aspects that have made the wheel.
If you have read other guides you would know that an offset wheel core creates a grippy wheel. That is true but you combine shape and urethane type and you can make an awesome slide wheel like the Blood Orange Morgan Pro which has an offset core. If you decide that an offset core is the number one feature you want in your new wheel, and you want to grip and carve then the Liam Morgan Pro wheel will be a poor choice. That first corner you want to grip will be interesting! Instead of gripping you will be learning how to stand up slide.
Want another example?
Rounded lip on a wheel is the best feature for sliding. However one of the best sliding wheels we sell is the Optimo, and it has square lip profile!
This is why the individual features of a wheel are not important. It is all about the overall design. The design takes in all features: core, shape, urethane and durometer and creates a wheel with a PURPOSE.
What is the main purpose for your new wheel?
Match that purpose with the design purpose of the wheel and you will find an awesome wheel that will make you want to skate every day.
This guide is built around these types (purposes) of longboarding.
Cruise and Carve
This is the most popular wheel, made for general longboarding, usually standard on a longboard complete.
LDP stands for Long Distance Pump. Endurance skating, commuting or skaters who dont like jogging but love skateboarding. A LDP wheel is a performance version of a Cruise Carve wheel and most are also Race wheels because there are similar aspects to a good race wheel and a good LDP wheel. Manufacturers like Seismic are modifying race wheels for LDP.
Downhill, slalom and LDP racing wheels. These wheels are design to go fast and are premium due to their specialty urethane formulas.
This one of the most varied categories, because there are so many different types of freeriding. A wheel for fast downhill is a lot different to one for putt putt sliding on a local hill. That is why we have two slide categories. Freeride is for fast downhill, for a wheel that is good for small slides is in a separate category called Slide and Skids.
Slide and Skids
Any longboard wheel can slide at a fast speed, an example is speed checks in downhill racing. A wheel designed to grip, can be slid in a corner due to the speed the skater is traveling. The Slide and Skid category has wheels that are designed to blast out big skids at any speed. If you are learning to slide, choose one of these wheels, it is easier to learn on a slidey wheel. This category also lists harder slide wheels for technical (Brazilian) sliding.
Dance x Freestyle
Many of these wheels, such as the 65mm Morgan Pro, were designed for another purpose but work perfectly for dance. Whether it is a technical wheel or one for a garage sessions, you'll fine what you need here.
Why is there no commuting category? We find commuters have a secondary purpose to their skating, it is not just pushing to work/college/school each day. What we mean by that is these skaters will find a second purpose that helps them choose a wheel. They like to slide or freeride so they choose a Blast wave, or they are into LDP so they choose a Seismic Alpha or there is a big hill they like to bomb on the way home so they choose a race wheel.
A quick word on price
The best wheel does not have to be the most expensive price. In every category there should be a value wheel and a premium wheel, so there is a wheel for every budget. It is hard to judge a wheel on price, because prices on urethane increased after COVID (2021-22). Prices have stopped increasing however the full effect has not reached every part of the market. A lot of extra stock was made due to the COVID skateboard boom, and all those wheels have not been sold. There is still some large variations in wheel prices.
Cruise and Carve
The best longboard wheel for cruising and carving will have a square lipped shape and offset core placement.
A square lipped wheel grips into the surface you are skating and gives you those joyful tight carves and pumping. A pump is using the board to do tight carves that creates a forward momentum without the need to push!
Durometer (hardness of the wheel) should be a personal preference. As a guide a skater who is up to and around 75kg will enjoy a wheel in the 77a to 80a duro. If you are in the 80kg to 90kg then look for a wheel in the 80a to 83a duro range. 90kg+ looking in the 82a plus range. Most skaters (50kg to 90kg) will find the following is true: 77a to 80a is the sweet spot, the wheel feels grippy and not too slow. 83a and above is a faster wheel but less grippy. Clear urethanes, no matter the duro, will be stickier (grippy) and slower.
There is one exception to the durometer rule, and that is high rebound. Performance wheels have been using high rebound to create faster rolling wheels. There are low durometer wheels, such as the 74a McFly Pro, will roll faster, but feel harder than the 76a McFly wheel. This is why purpose is so important, the McFly Pro is a racing wheel, the standard McFly is a general all round wheel.
This is the link to see our whole cruise and carve range of wheels
Our recommended wheels for Cruise and Carve.
The best wheel is the 73mm Seismic Speed Vent. The whole wheel has been design for performance. Core is supportive and light. The urethane has been perfected by racers over the last 20 years. Every year this wheel improves.
The best looking wheel has to be one in the Seismic clear urethane series. One of our favourites is the Avila clear blue. The only way to describe it is luxury. So much cushion, it feels like you are on clouds and they look amazing. Word of warning, the Avila is 75mm and wide, it only suits a big board or wide set up.
The best value for money has to be the Remember Collective cruiser wheels.
The pink 70mm Californian Cruiser is under $50, because we have old stock at the old price! Once they are gone, prices will be going up. Skaters buy them because they are an awesome wheel, they carve and grip and are so much fun to skate.
An under rated wheel from Remember is the Savannah Slammer. At 70mm and 78.5a durometer, it is surprising fast. We put this wheel on the Hopkin Skate surfskate demo board, and it rips at the pumptrack and fast carving.
Push or Long Distance Pump
There are a lot of unique board set ups for LDP. Short board slalom style...Classic drop thru longboard ... Double drop decks ... and speciality bracket platforms. Generally the most popular LDP wheels are downhill race wheels or wheels with race formula urethane. This is because downhill wheels are built to be fast. When you are pushing long distances, having a fast wheel with a big roll speed is essential. The best LDP wheels are fast, grippy in a pump and light with a big core. Welcome to the land of the big long push!
The main characteristics of a push wheel is an offset core and a sharp lip. Height and width of the wheel depends on your board. There are some race wheels that are too wide for LDP. Venom Magnums and Cuei Killers are two of the fastest downhill wheels on the market but they are both between 65mm and 70mm wide! Wheels in this push category are around 52-60mm wide. There is a good reason, a wheel that is too wide will give you wheelbite on a drop through deck. Most push set ups are low to the ground to reduce knee bending in a push, this conserves energy. Usually, this lowering to the ground is achieved via dropping the trucks thru the deck. Even though decks are designed with cut outs to allow bigger wheels, the enemy of these types of decks are wide wheels. With a top mount deck you remove wheelbite by raising the trucks with risers. You can not do this in a drop thru deck because it is the shape of the deck that causes the wheelbite.
Height and width of the wheel you choose should match your deck. A lot of the LDP boards we stock have recommended wheels. Many of the Pantheon longboard decks are designed around LDP specific wheels such as the 85mm Speed Vent, the 86mm McFly and the 92mm Pantheon Karma.
A sharp lip profile will grip in a carve, which is essential to the pumping technique. There is an exception to this sharp edge wheel, and that is the radiused outer lip (rounded). You see this type of edge on a wheel like the 88 McFly, it is a very subtle radioused edge. The same type of edge is found on the Seismic Blast Wave and Orangtang and Pantheon do a similar thing but there's is more beveled, the Caguama and the Karma have a small cut bevelled edge. There are a few reasons, not all of them public knowledge, some brands keep their designs secret. A small rounded lip helps performance, it allows the wheel an extra dimension for grip and slip.
Choosing a duro for LDP is not as simple as choosing a number. A low number is softer and a high number is harder. That is true but not a hard fact. The design of a LDP wheel makes it good for rough surfaces, the wheel is tall it will roll over debris and rough roads. A clear wheel, such as the 85mm 77a Seismic Speed Vents has a plush feel, feels softer on rough roads, but you are sacrificing speed. That speed relates to rolling, so the board will require more pushing becasue the wheels do not roll as far, softer wheels are harder to pump.
As mentioned above, there there is an exception to the durometer rule (lower the number, softer the wheel), and that is high rebound. Performance and race wheels have been using high rebound to create faster rolling wheels. There are low durometer wheels, such as the 74a McFly Pro, will roll faster, but feel harder than the 76a McFly wheel. The McFly Pro uses a race formula with higher rebound. For now we are saying the McFlys are better on rougher surfaces but we will test and report back.
A race wheel needs to grip and roll fast, that means they will be square lipped shape, offset core placement and a proprietary urethane. There are three types of skateboard racing: Downhill, Slalom and LDP. We are breaking up the race section into these sub sections. They all use the same type of wheel, the shape changes. Downhill wheels are tall and fat, slalom wheels are generally smaller, and LDP wheels are tall and skinny.
When we talk about racing, everyone is thinking downhill skateboarding. Downhill wheels have changed a lot since I (James Hopkin aka Hop) got involved in skateboard racing. The first Newton's in 2008, ABEC11, Seismic and Sector 9 wheels were everywhere. By the time we hosted the 2009 World Championships on Mt Panorama everyone had orange Orangatang wheels. I had a boot full of Orangatang inHeats (75mm) and on finals day, Kevin Reimer sorted all the wheels into production dates, then chose the wheels he need to race on. He won that day, crowned World Champion for the first time, on 75mm 80a Orangatang InHeats!. No one races on inHeats anymore, barely anyone sjkates them, and racing set ups changed forever after Zak Maytum won Maryhill on a slalom board. Decks are smaller, trucks are smaller and wheels are bigger. The biggest development in downhill racing has been the combination of small trucks (hangers 110-130mm) and tall wide wheels. Magnums are the most popular downhill wheel and they are 78mm tall and 70mm wide.
What matters in the world of racing is who is winning. If you look at a podium, everyone has Magnums on the deck, then you can assume magnums are the fastest wheel or the one worth buying.
In terms of winning performance there are 4 brands: Venom, Seismic, Cuei and 88 Wheel Co.
Venom is the number one wheel racing company in the world. Headed by Zak Maytum, they are relentless in their pursuit of winning and having the fastest wheel. Every development in the Magnum series has one goal in mind, being the fastest, winning more podiums. That is it, nothing else matters. The Veniom wheel most skaters race on is the 74a 78mm Venom Magnum Mach 1.
The brand that matches Venom on the race track is Seismic. If Venom is Ford, then Seismic is Ferrari. There rivalry is raw and pugilistic.
Seismic have a long rich history of racing. They are the oldest wheel racing brand in the world. The owner, Dan Gesmer, is an OG skateboard competitor and everything he does is meticulous and thought out. Nothing is by accident. Downhill racing has it's roots in slalom, and Seismic has been involved in slalom since the beginning. What skaters love about Seismic is the range of wheels. There is no one wheel fits all purposes, they have a wheel for every purpose. The perfect example is their race series. Their marque wheels for downhill are the Alpha series: 80.5mm 74a Aaron Hampshire pro wheels and the 75.5mm 74a Chase Hiller pro wheels. The beauty of Seismic wheels is the diversity. The 2019 World Tour showcased this perfectly. Three racers went head to head racing around teh world for the title of IDF World Champion. Harry Clarke on Magnums, Chase Hiller on Seismic and Dane Hanna on Cuei wheels. The most successful racer in Europe was Chase Hiller, becasue he had a range of wheels to choose from, using both 80.5mm and 75.5mm sizes. In Kozakov the larger roll speed of the 80.5mm wheel worked in hios favour but at Transvilania the race is speed and narrow. Changing to the smaller 75.5mm made Chase almost unbeatable. The manouverablity and stopping power of the smaller wheel helped him close out the European leg of the tour with the best result.
Cuei has Thiago Lessa, two time World Champion and the only racer in history to go undefeated in a single at World Cup racing. Thiago would strive for perfection in his racing, and he pursues the same goals with his wheels.
88 Wheel Co is the new kid on the block and in the interests of full disclosure, Hopkin Skate and 88 Wheel Co have a long development and partnership relationship. The first 88 downhill wheel was the Maverick. The Maverick was jointly developed by Jackson Shapiera, Hopkin Racing and 88 Wheel Co. The idea behind the Maverick was a fun downhill wheel that would win the party and not the race. Performance and value for money above winning the race. The next wheel developed was the Maverick Pro, developed with Mitch Thompson. It is a fast competitive wheel and starting to win podiums around the world. The 88 downhill wheels is the only competitive downhill wheel made in China. Jeremy, the founder of 88, is an Australia that now lives in China and moved his Boa wheel production from the USA to China. He spent years evaluating production and urethanes in China. 88 Wheel Co combines the best of Chinese production, Australian design and the world's fastest urethanes. The result is a competitively priced wheel and consistent, reliable supply.
This one of the most varied categories, because there are so many different types of freeriding. A wheel for fast downhill is a lot different to one for general sliding on a local hill. That is why we have two slide categories. Freeride is for fast downhill, for a wheel that is good for small slides or learning to slide is in a separate category called Slide and Skids.
This category is really for experienced skaters. Any wheel can be used for fast freeride, hence the graphic below. Depending on your skill and taste, you can freeride on anything.
The classic fast freeride wheel is squarish beveled wheel. When I say square, they are almost as wide as they are tall. They are usually stone ground. The big size helps with roll speed, a bigger wheel will get you to the fast part of fast freeride. The wider size means bigger contact patch. This allows you to slow down fast for a corner or speed check to line up the apex. The beveled edges allow for a quick initiation of the slide, less edge to dig into the road, most of these types of wheels are have a centreset core. This distributes to slide load across the whole contact patch making it easier to slide. One of the advantages of these wheels is size. Unlike a modern downhill wheel that can be 80mm tall, a beveled freeride wheel is between 70mm and 75mm. This makes it more forgiving on a smaller deck or loose trucks.
Click on the image to see more about the wheels
Best Selling Freeride wheel
This is the Remember Collective Optimo wheel. It comes in 4 duros and has almost every feature to make it a perfect freeride wheel, 70mm tall, centreset, slidey urethane, shape edge to help with hook up. Click on the image to pick your perfect duro.
This should be a new sub topic on all our guides, freaks. Every product has a freaky skater doing something different, new, weird, inspired or down right wtf?
In the history of sliding a longbaord the number one rule is small wheels. The smaller the wheel, the easy it is to slide. The harder the wheel, the easier it is to slide. Simple. Then downhill got freaky. Trucks got smaller, decks got smaller and wheels got huge. If you are going to downhill race or bomb hills on big soft 80mm downhill wheels, why not freeride on big soft wheels...I'm looking at you Jeb Brown, Benson and Mitty. I learned about this fetish after noticing downhill skaters buying LDP wheels. Their boards are set up for a 86mm wheel, why not use a LDP wheel, basically a skinny version of the downhill wheel to freeride on. You can watch Jeb flying down steep hills on McFly wheels and busting out massive slides and speed checks.
These wheels should not be in this section...unless you want to be a freeride freak
Slide and Skids
One of the most amazing things about longboarding is sliding. It looks impossible, when someone slides it is like magic. It never gets boring and it is probably why more skaters go to slide jams than races!
Any discussion on slide wheels has to start with the master, the skater who has owned this category for over 10 years: Liam Morgan. His videos are watched by so many people, he has almost gone mainstream! Liam is Mr Grease. He is smooth, stylish and always in control. His wheels reflect his skating. The Blood Orange Liam Morgan series was built to complement his style and skating. It probably is the most popular slide wheel ever made, and has crossed over to the dance scene, many dancers and freestylers use Liam wheel, it is that good.
The lips are rounded, the core is slightly offset and the urethane is sugary. When skaters describe slide wheels, they talk about how they feel when the wheel is sliding. The two common terms are slide in the road and on the road. A slide in the road usually means the wheel is thaning (leaving marks on the road) it will have a sugary feel, and the wheel is controlable, predictable and slows down fast. If the wheel is sliding on the road, then it means the slide is more buttery or greasy. The wheel is sliding fast on top of the road, a bit more unpredictable and the hard the wheel the more likey it will ice out. Ice out is when the board is lost under your feet, the slide is so fast it is like you are on ice, and the board shoots off. Most skaters want a combination of the two - a buttery slide. The Liam Morgan wheel has a sugury/buttery slide. The slide is smooth, consistent and predictable. It has an easy release point, and you get these beautiful sugary slides which are more on the greasy buttery side.
Time travel back in time
What if you could go back ten years, buy up all those wonderful cheap slide wheels? You can, we are selling the last of the Cult stock. Cult Wheels was built on the back of longboard sliding. No one thaned more wheels than Cult skaters. Silverfish longboard forum voted their wheels as the best slide wheels in the world.
In 2023, you can not buy a name brand slide wheel for under $100. We are selling Cult wheels from $59 to $79.
Best wheel to learn to slide on
There are a few factors that make a wheel good to learn how to slide on.
The wheel needs to roll fast but be the right shape and urethane. A harder slidey wheel will be less prone to flatspotting, it will roll faster, and it will initiate a slide easier. The downside is it can escape and ice out, you might spend some time on your bum. Ideal size is around 62mm to 72mm. This size should allow you to loosen your trucks, which helps with technique and starting the slide. You will destroy a lot of wheels perfecting your sliding, so you want something cheap.
All these wheels would be perfect.
Dance and Freestyle
This catagory is dance and freestyle on a longboard, generally it is called dance. The wheels can vary depending on the type of dance. If you are dancing on the deck and you want to grip and carve then a small grippy wheel is needed. If you are doing air tricks like a tiger claw then you want a light small wheel around 60mm. If you are doing shuvit style tricks where the deck and wheels are sliding or turning then then you are trying to catch them and roll away, then a 60mm-65mm wheel with a stone ground surface is a bit more forgiving and easy to learn on.
Most longboard dance wheels have a rounded edge. The most important favour is size.
We asked all the winners of the 2023 World Championships about their set up. The most common wheel size was 60mm. Experience dances like a smaller wheel because it can take off fast to set up the trick in a small space, it is lighter so it is easier to do more difficult tricks. A lighter board is easier to throw in the air and also catch and land.
If you are a beginner a larger wheel can be easier to learn on. A 65mm-69mm wheel will roll longer, it will be easier to push. This wil help you get more comfortable on the deck, as there is no rush to set up the trick. When you start, the tricks you learn involve rolling: cross step, 180 Step or a Peter Pan. These are easier on a bigger wheel that will roll longer and be stable on a range of surfaces.
There are exceptions to every rule and here is one. The Liam Morgan wheel was designed for freeride and slide. It is also perfect for dance. The wheels come in 60mm, 65mm and 70mm which are all the sizes used on dance boards. There are faster harder duros and softer one, a huge colour range and it is stone ground. This means it is easier to slide, which is not a big feature of dance, but it is if you think about it. Spinning a board, catch a board with your feet in the air, or stopping it rotating involves a small amount of slide. You dont want a wheel that catches the road immediately, you want a little bit of give. There are a lot of reasons why this is one of the most popular wheels in dancing.
88 Wheel Co
A new kid on the block for dance wheels is 88 Wheel Co. Their Moonwalker wheel has been a popular dance wheel due to it's competive price and excellent performance. Much like the Liam Morgan wheel, it crosses over between freeride and dance.
88 Moonwalker wheels
Wheels built for Dance
The number one wheel built for dance is the Travelol Lucky Wheel. We dont sell it but there are a few skateshops in Australia that do, one is Twelve Boardstore. The Lucky wheel was made for Travelol decks and completes. It is 60mm and 80a, comes in lots of colours. In our survey of winners at the World Championships, it was one of the most popular wheels.
Travelol Lucky wheel
Zenit Horizon 60mm dance wheel