It’s an age-old question that has intrigued skateboarders for generations: why are skateboard wheels so small?
Measuring in at only about 4 inches across, the size of a skateboard wheel just mystifies most non-skateboarding folk.
We know it lets us roll through the park or the street with ease and explore previously unseen worlds – but what is behind this peculiar little piece of transport technology?
Let’s dive deep into the physics behind skateboard wheels to discover how such small dimensions can lead to big thrills.
Quick Answer: Skateboard wheels are small to increase agility and maneuverability. The size of the wheel dictates how quickly it can break, accelerate, and turn in relation to its speed. Smaller wheels also provide a better center of gravity for a skateboarder as they learn tricks or navigate through tight spaces. Ultimately, the size of skateboard wheels ensures skaters are able to perform advanced techniques with ease and flow.
Why are skateboard wheels small?
Have you ever wondered why skateboards have such small wheels? The size of the skateboard wheel plays a huge role in how the board performs, but why are they so small? Let’s take a look at five reasons why skateboard wheels are small and how this affects the performance of the board.
Durability & Strength
One of the main reasons why skateboard wheels are so small is to ensure maximum durability and strength.
Smaller wheels can handle more pressure than larger ones, which is important for withstanding the constant impacts experienced during tricks and jumps.
This is especially true for street skaters who regularly use curbs, stairs, and rails as obstacles.
Smaller wheels also make it easier to maintain balance when performing tricks because their size allows for greater control.
Increased Mobility & Speed
Smaller skateboard wheels offer increased mobility and speed because they require less energy to move.
This is due to their lower rotational mass, which means that they can spin faster with less effort.
Smaller wheels also create less friction against surfaces, allowing you to move faster with more ease.
This makes them great for those who want a fast-paced ride or need to do tricks quickly.
Better Grip & Control
Skateboarders need maximum control when doing tricks or navigating tight spots, which is why smaller wheels provide better grip and control than larger ones.
The reduced contact area between the wheel and surface makes it easier to maneuver around tight spots without losing traction or balance.
Additionally, smaller wheels require less energy when turning due to their lower mass, making it easier to maintain your balance during sharp turns or slides.
Improved Maneuverability & Agility
Another benefit of having smaller skateboard wheels is improved maneuverability and agility when doing tricks or navigating tight spots on flat surfaces such as sidewalks or streets.
They allow you to make sharper turns without putting too much strain on your body or risking loss of balance.
Moreover, also allow for more precise movements that help with trick execution and overall board control during intense maneuvers like grinds or flip tricks.
Lastly, smaller skateboard wheels allow for greater flexibility during riding sessions due to their softer urethane material used in construction which is something that larger wheels don’t have as much of due to their stiffness (hardness).
This gives riders an overall smoother ride with increased shock absorption capabilities that helps protect them from potential injury while doing stunts or jumps off ramps/ledges/etc.
It also helps increase longevity since softer materials tend to wear out slower than harder ones over time – meaning your board will stay in top shape longer.
Difference between skateboard wheels and regular wheels:
Skateboard wheels and regular wheels look alike on the surface, but they are actually quite different. Both perform similar functions in that they allow a skateboard or vehicle to move, but there are several key differences between them.
Size & Durability:
One of the biggest differences between skateboard wheels and regular wheels is their size and durability. Skateboard wheels are typically smaller than regular car wheels, ranging from 50mm-75mm in diameter depending on the type of terrain you’ll be riding on.
Besides, skateboard wheels are made from harder materials such as urethane that can withstand rougher surfaces like concrete without wearing down too quickly.
On the other hand, regular car wheels typically range from 15”-20” in diameter and are made from softer metals that wear down quicker when driven over rough surfaces.
Shape & Contact Patch:
Another difference between skateboard wheels and regular car wheels is their shape and contact patch.
The shape of a skateboard wheel is usually round with a flat profile while car tires have an angled profile so they can grip the road better when turning corners or accelerating/decelerating.
Furthermore, skateboard wheels have a larger contact patch which allows them to gain more traction as they roll across different surfaces while providing more stability when performing tricks such as ollies or kickflips.
On the other hand, car tires have a much smaller contact patch so they can maintain speed better when driving on highways or city streets.
Durometer & Core Placement:
Skateboard wheels also differ from regular car tires in terms of their durometer rating or how hard or soft a wheel is and core placement inside the wheel itself.
Skateboarding requires that riders use harder durometer ratings usually more than 90a in order to gain enough momentum for tricks since it’s not powered by an engine like cars are.
The core placement also affects how fast a wheel rolls since it determines where most of its weight is located inside the wheel itself.
Most skateboarders prefer placing their cores slightly off-center for more control during turns or stunts while cars rely on evenly distributed weight throughout their tires to ensure stability at high speeds or tight corners.
Grip Tape & Bearings:
Perhaps one of the most important differences between skateboard wheels and regular car tires lies in how they interact with grip tape and bearings respectively.
A grip tape is applied underneath skateboards to create friction between the board and rider’s feet; this friction allows riders to perform tricks without slipping off their boards mid-air.
Further, cars rely on bearings inserted into each tire for smooth rotation which helps improve gas mileage and reduce wear-and-tear on suspension systems over time due to less friction when driving at higher speeds or turning corners quickly.
How do skateboard wheels affect the performance of a skateboard?
Skateboard wheels are arguably the most important component of a skateboard, as they have a major impact on how well you can perform tricks. There are five key factors to consider when choosing skateboard wheels: hardness, size, profile, core placement, and material. Let’s look at each one in detail.
The hardness of your skateboard wheels is measured in durometer ratings from 0-100. A durometer rating of 78-87 is best for street skating, while ratings of 95-101 are used for ramps and bowls. The lower the number, the softer the wheel—softer wheels provide grip but can slow you down; harder wheels give you speed but less maneuverability.
The size of your skateboard wheel affects both speed and stability. Smaller wheels (50mm – 54mm) offer more control when making sharp turns but tend to be slower than larger wheels (55mm – 65mm). Larger wheels will give you more speed but may require some getting used to if you’re new to skating or switching from smaller wheels.
The profile of your wheels refers to their shape/height—the higher the profile, the more area there is for gripping terrain like rough concrete or gritty asphalt. Low profile wheels roll faster on smooth surfaces like wood ramps because they don’t catch as much air resistance or drag as high profile ones do. Plus, low profile wheels are lighter so they are easier to pop off curbs or ledges with ease.
Your wheel’s core placement determines how much traction it will have on a given surface—centerset cores provide even traction all around while offset cores provide more traction on one side than the other; they typically come in two varieties – “street” offset which has more traction on the outside edge and “park” offset which provides more grip on the inside edge. Whatever type of riding style you prefer should dictate what core placement works best for you.
The material that makes up your wheel also has an effect on its performance—polyurethane (or urethane) is by far the most popular choice for skateboarding as it provides a good balance between grip and durability; plastic is lightweight but not very durable; metal is extremely durable but heavier than urethane or plastic; ceramic is lightweight and durable but not commonly used due to its expense; and rubber offers great grip but wears out quickly so it isn’t often used either.
All in all, skateboard wheels are an integral part of the skateboarding experience. They help give riders a little extra boost, while also helping keep the skater and their board stable. Understanding why they’re small is key to knowing how to optimize your ride.
Whether you’ve been skating for years or just beginning, having these basics down will ensure you have an enjoyable time as you practice and perfect your craft. With a better understanding of your skateboard construction, you can level up and take your skills to a whole new level.
So don’t be afraid to get in there and tinker with your grip tape selection, your deck size and shape, and most importantly, those small but mighty wheels.
Do smaller wheels go faster?
Yes. A smaller wheel has a smaller moment of inertia, meaning it takes less torque to get it spinning. Moreover, the smaller wheel has a higher gear ratio, meaning that it turns more revolutions per mile.
Is it easier to skate with bigger wheels?
Yes, it is easier to skate with bigger wheels. Bigger wheels provide more stability and smoother rides. They are also less likely to get stuck in cracks and other small obstacles on the ground. However, they also require more effort to push around and can be slower to accelerate.