Replacing skateboard wheels from time to time is one of the major responsibilities of a skateboard owner. It is one kind of service maintenance.
They say that the board is the sign bearer of a skater. How well he takes care of the board tells how much the owner loves his plaything.
To know when you should replace the wheels with a new pair is one of the very basics. If your wheels are worn out, reveal major flat spots or rugged spots, they change shapes finally.
Irregularly shaped wheels are hazardous as they might cause casualties while riding. You don’t want to fall victim to a deadly accident because you were ignorant of the condition of your wheels. It’s better if you replace them in time.
Replacing Skateboard wheels requires little mechanical knowledge. You can go to a sports shop or skaters’ store to get it changed. You can also Do It Yourself at home if you have the right tools and skills.
Our article will answer all the ifs & buts of how to understand when to replace skateboard wheels. We have also inserted little tips & tricks from practical experience for your ease.
How Long Do Skateboard Wheels Last In General
Quality and durability are the major factors that play when the question of longevity arises. The Durometer tells us the hardness of our wheels. While buying the board or spare wheels, we must check the hardness using a durometer and buy a quality product.
Next comes the treatment. What kind of a later you are, regular or occasional, how you treat your board, the roughness of the path you use for your rides, etc. affect how long will your wheels last in good condition. You cannot expect a lifetime performance out of your wheels while you treat them for granted.
Skaters who spend most of their time in the skateparks have a longer-lasting span of the wheels, sometimes a decade. Skatepark ramps are mostly made of wood or steel which doesn’t tire the polyurethane that much. But a skateboard that rides on a rough concrete surface is likely to expire faster.
Lastly, if you attach poor-quality trucks to your board, it might be uneven compared to the surface of the deck and make your wheels wobble a lot more than gliding. This causes the wheels to lose shape and get deformed soon.
How To Know If Your Skateboard Wheels Are Good
Whether you are playing to buy new wheels for your board or thinking of a replacement, you must learn about what makes a skating wheel good enough. After all, you’re going to bet your money on it!
Skateboard wheels are made of urethane. Urethane mixed with synthetic rubber proves to be a good choice for the elasticity of the wheels.
Good quality wheels are like an investment. Lower quality of material degrades faster in the sun, turns yellow, and breaks into creeks which soon results in rejecting your wheels.
Types Of Skateboard Wheels
Depending on the type of skater you are, you should choose your wheels accordingly.
If you’re a sporty skater and like to race a lot, you need something harder and bigger to cross long lengths in less time. Cruiser wheels or longboard wheels are for you! They are softer but bigger for your preference.
Being a street skater, you may buy street wheels. They are lightweight and easy to perform tricks with such as flips or Ollie. You can also ride these wheels at a skatepark.
Size of the Wheels:
The size of the wheels deserves some attention too as it holds the deck as well as the entire weight of the rider.
Your wheels are going to last longer if they are chosen right. How long you ride or the surface you ride on affects your wheels. If they are wrongly sized, they are going to lose form soon and you will need to replace your skateboard wheels.
Choose stronger and bigger wheels even if they are a bit costly. Whether you are buying for the first time or a pair of replacements, you don’t want to bite a hole in your pocket again & again. Choose wheels so that they last longer.
When Should You Replace Skateboard Wheels
Here we discussed what hints you should look for to understand it is time to replace your skateboard wheels.
One obvious sign of skateboard wheels wearing off is experiencing unsmooth rides. No matter where you are riding, a ramp or flat surface, your rides will feel bumpy and the wheels will wobble a lot. That’s when you know it’s time to replace them.
If your skateboard wheels start to lose shape and get flat spots in between the curves, it will slow down your rides. Furthermore, the wheels will start to change shape and they will be a deformed circle. Do not ignore these signs.
Urethane bonds break under long exposure to the sun and degrade. One hint of such occurrence is the wheels start to lose their original color. If your wheels were transparent before, they would turn yellowish. So if you start noticing any of the signs above, it’s time to replace your skateboard wheels.
A rare phenomenon is the shrinking of the wheels. This as well causes deformation and misalignment among the pairs. Replace your skateboard wheels in such a case before it causes an accident.
Why Do Skateboard Wheels Wear-off
Manufacturers use Urethane for making the wheels. Urethane has all the properties that make a wheel competent enough for the perfect bounce. The elasticity, durability, tear endurance, or anti-compression of urethane is mixed with synthetic rubber to prepare skateboard wheels. This turns urethane into polyurethane.
The downside of this material is the wearing off. As you ride the wheels, the urethane goes under expansion & compression. Its elasticity is what brings back the shape. With more & more usage, skateboard wheels lose elasticity which fails to bring them back in shape. As a result, you experience speed loss.
We can say that usage is the main cause of skateboard wheels wearing off. But other factors are working behind it too. It could be the rainy weather that makes the bearings, bushings & base plates catch rust. Misalignment of the wheels caused by an overweight rider, or a low-quality base plate & trucks can push the wheels’ lifespan out of service too early.
If you install the wrong sized wheels at the beginning, it is likely to trouble you throughout the time. It is in your well-being to replace the wheels as soon as possible. If your older wheels are too big, install a spacer between them & the board. Or replace it with smaller wheels.
Tips To Make Your Skateboard Wheels Last Longer
Skateboard wheels have a lot to do with your riding style. Even the wear-off starts with the side you take most turns. Every rider has a personalized way of riding. The major visible change is cone spots. Your wheels become uneven & go out of use.
Depending on how often you clean & service your wheels, you can swap sides between the pairs of wheels. You can also swap the sides of the wheels while attaching them back. This will make them last evenly or wear out evenly. What you do is,
- Switch the whole frontal pair with the rear pair
- Swap the right wheel with the left wheel
- Switch between corners such as frontal right goes to the left rear
- Flip the printed side inside. This might make the wheels look plain but it’s for your good
Power slides rug your wheels quickly but if you avoid it, all in all, you will miss out on the fun of skating. You can also try internet hacks such as freezing the wheels etc but there’s no scientific evidence that this will work.
Step By Step Method To Replace Your Skateboard Wheels
Replacing skateboard or longboard wheels is nothing more than the same method of re-installing them after a cleaning session. You can find the process described step by step in my article about how to tighten or loosen skateboard wheels, or how to clean skateboard wheels.
However, this article is a piece where you’d find everything under one roof. Following the methods written below you can alternate a new pair of wheels under your board deck:
- Find a suitable working station first. It can be a surface suitable to work on or a countertop, Whichever makes it easy to work standing.
- Your working area should be hassle-free. As you dismantle your skateboard wheels, little pieces like washers & bearings will come out & you mustn’t lose any of them by the end of the replacement process.
- Take a wrench and screw out the hexagonal-shaped nuts from the truck axle. At this point, your wheels will come off from the axle too.
- The Second step is to take off the bearings. These are sensitive little parts of any machinery. So if you intend on keeping them, store them in a container. Or you can replace them along with the wheels too.
- Use a skate tool to take out the bearings. You can get one in any skate shop or sports shop. Bearings break easily so use a puller to pull them out.
- Push the bearings back in your new wheels. Use the same skate tool or a truck axle.
- Remember to put on spacers at this stage if you used them earlier too. Otherwise, you might need to repeat steps.
- Put the washers in front & behind the wheels. Put everything back on the trucks and screw on the nuts.
- If you screw the nuts too tightly, you will have a hard time spinning the wheels for speed. If the nuts are too loose, you might fall into an accident. Follow our article on how to tighten skateboard wheels or how to loosen skateboard wheels for a better guideline.
- Repeat the process for the three other wheels similarly.
Most frequent questions and answers
Do skateboard wheels degrade?
Skateboard wheels do degrade. Not only do they lose shape but they also break down as the bond of urethane breaks. Continuous sun & rain exposure is the major reason for the urethane to degrade or turn yellowish.
How to make my skateboard wheels last longer?
Go on & try this hack to make your skateboard wheels last longer. Rotate among the wheels. Mark your right rear wheel your left frontal & your left rear wheel your right frontal & vice versa. This will divide the pressure on all wheels equally & prolong the lifespan.
How Often should skateboard wheels be replaced?
You can replace your set of skateboard wheels or just any one of them if they are degraded. It depends on how many miles you rode or how much you used your wheels. But you can swap and rotate them every 3-4 months.
What are the best skateboard wheels?
Honestly, it mostly depends on the type of surface you ride. Softer longboard wheels are good for cruising through rough surfaces such as dirt, road & concrete. If you mostly skate at parks on trick decks or ramps, harder wheels are for you.
Any wheels or tires are to experience wear & tear, skateboard wheels are no different. How you treat them determines how long they last but there are other determining factors too such as wheels quality, usage pattern & servicing on time, etc.
I hope this article successfully describes all the insights on how to make your skateboard wheels last a longer lifespan & give proper services. Skateboarders need to take good care of their wheels if they want to slow down the aging or wear off.
Let us know if you have any questions after reading the article. If you found this helpful, do share it with other fellow skaters too!