Skateboarding on rough streets and sidewalks can feel like riding a jackhammer. If you do most of your skateboarding at the skate park you may not mind riding rough roads occasionally. But if you spend most of your time street skating—or if your local skate park is closed due to a pandemic so you don’t have a choice—you might want to try different wheels for a smoother ride.
When it comes to skateboard wheels, I’ve found four factors influence ride quality over the rough stuff.
Width. A larger contact patch will ride over bumps better, and the best way to increase your wheels’ contact patch is to make them wider. So a 52mm conical full wheel will be a bit smoother than a 52mm classic skinny wheel at the same hardness.
Softness. Just like letting air out of a car tire, softer wheels will smooth out the bumps. A typical wheel durometer is usually 99–101a, but for a smoother ride look for a wheel around 80–90a.
Diameter. Increasing the diameter alone doesn’t actually increase the contact patch very much, but bigger wheels also tend to be wider. Wheels that are big and wide will result in a smoother ride than big or wide wheels.
Rebound. Think of rebound as bounciness. Wheels with high rebound are better for rough terrain, with an important caveat: they won’t slide. But if you don’t care about power slides, board slides, and grinds, consider high rebound wheels.
There are, of course, some downsides to bigger, softer wheels.
Bigger wheels are heavier, which slows down the board’s rotation for flip tricks. On the other hand, you will probably be able to ollie a bit higher once you adjust.
Softer wheels have more grip, which means you’ll need to put a bit more effort into your power slides. But soft wheels can definitely still slide, depending on the urethane formula. Softer wheels may slow down your grinds, and may stick on ledges when you boardslide.
So with all that said, here are a few recommendations based on wheels I’ve ridden and that work for me.
Ricta Clouds 54mm 92a
If you want a smoother ride but you really don’t want bigger wheels, try 54mm Ricta Clouds. These are what I ride on my regular skateboard all summer. They’re fine at skate parks, and they make the rough surfaces at my local street spots way more fun.
54mm probably isn’t much bigger than what you are riding right now, so it won’t get in the way for doing tricks. Clouds are a bit wider than a typical conical street wheel, though.
92a is just a little softer than usual—just enough to smooth out your ride. They still slide easily with just a bit more effort than a regular wheel. But you will probably notice that they slow down your grinds and boardslides on ledges. I don’t mind, but you might.
Ricta Clouds also come in other diameters (52–60mm) and durometers (86a and 78a), but if you want a bigger or softer wheel I’d look into G-Slides.
Powell-Peralta G-Slides 56mm or 59mm 85a
I think 56mm G-Slides are just about the perfect wheels for rough roads. They’re big and soft enough to smooth out almost any surface, but not too big. The plastic core also helps to keep the weight down. And they have a smooth, buttery slide that takes just a bit more effort to initiate.
You might need to throw in 1/8″ risers if you get wheel bite.
I also use 59mm G-Slides on my cruiser. They are substantially wider, which makes them a little too big and heavy for tricks, but they are awesome for getting around while still plenty of fun at the spots along the way.
Bones Rough Riders 56mm or 59mm 80a
Rough Riders come in the same shapes and sizes as G-Slides, but they are softer and have lots of rebound. They are pretty much the best all-terrain skateboard wheels, with one important caveat: they don’t slide at all. But if you just want to cruise, they work great.
I think the extra comfort and security of Rough Riders make them great wheels for beginners. I have them on my daughter’s skateboard, and I often recommend them to friends who are buying a kid their first skateboard if they will be riding around their neighborhood.
These are far from the only options, of course. Just the ones I’ve tried that work well for me.
Published on April 23rd, 2020. Last updated June 30th, 2020.