What are the Best Surfskate Wheels?
There are many aspects of surfskate wheels to consider, including diameter, durometer, contact patch, surface, edge, core placement, and urethane thickness. Read this article to discover the best surfskate wheels.
Best Surfskate Wheels Review Topics
- Ideal Properties and Specifications of Surfskate Wheels
- Surfskate Wheel Guidelines Infographic
- Aftermarket Wheels that I Do NOT Recommend for Surfskating
- Recommended Small & Nimble Surfskate Wheels for Tight Carving
- Recommended Large Surfskate Wheels for Pumping & Cruising
- Best Surfskate Wheels for Sliding
- Best Surfskate Wheels for Park and Bowl Riding
After testing close to 20 sets of aftermarket wheels , I’ve discovered some universal properties you want to look for in surfskate wheels.
Obviously, I can’t definitively say which are the best surfskate wheels, because there are so many variables and so much personal preference involved. Also, I obviously can’t buy and test every wheel out there that might possibly work good for surfskating and give you my take on every single one.
So in this review, more than just giving you specific wheel recommendations, I want to give you good guidelines for choosing surfskate wheels so you know what you’re looking for on all the different wheel variables.
The first thing I want to cover is all of the different attributes of a wheel you should be considering for surfskate wheels. And with each of those attributes, when it comes to surfskating specifically, I’m going to give you a standard and an ideal range.
Next, I’ll take you through all of the aftermarket wheels that I’ve tested and end by revealing the top wheels I recommend for surfskating.
So let’s start by understanding all of the different aspects of wheels that impact their performance. And in each aspect, what are we looking for specifically when it comes to surfskate wheels?
The main aspects of wheels to consider for surfskating are:
- Diameter: Diameter determines how high a wheel is, which is important when it comes to surfskate wheels because of the potential for wheelbite.
- Durometer: The softness or hardness of the wheel, which determines whether a wheel gives you better grip or better slide.
- Contact Patch: The width of the wheel that touches the ground.
- Surface: Smooth, which make for more grip, or stoneground, which makes for more slide.
- Edge: Square for more grip, rounded for more slide.
- Core Placement: Offset for more grip, centerset for more slide.
- Urethane Thickness: Thicker makes for a softer ride.
When it comes to diameter, the principle is, the smaller the wheels, the faster they will accelerate, but the lower their top speed will be. And the bigger they are, the slower they’ll accelerate, but the faster their top speed.
When it comes to diameters to consider for surfskate wheels, the range I recommend is 63 millimeters at the very smallest and 75 millimeters on the very high end.
The bigger you go beyond 70mm, the more wheelbite becomes a concern. It’s possible to add as many risers as you want to get bigger wheels. But then your surfskate becomes very difficult to pump anyway.
For me personally, the ideal range for surfskate wheels is between 66 and 70 millimeters. That’s my recommended diameter range when it comes to surfskating maneuvers and street cruising.
But when it comes to parks and bowls, you want smaller wheels. So the diameter range I suggest in that environment is 58 millimeters to 65 millimeters at the biggest.
When you’re choosing diameter, you want to consider the terrain you’re riding and your riding style.
If your terrain is very rough with lots of pebbles, then you want to go on the bigger end because the bigger the wheel, the easier it can navigate rough terrain.
If you’re cruising for long distances without a lot of sharp, tight maneuvers in the process, then you’re also going to go on the higher end.
However, if you’re on smoother concrete and/or you are doing sharper, tighter surfskate maneuvers, then you’re probably going to want to be on the smaller end, like 66 to 68 millimeters at the most.
The next aspect of wheels to consider is durometer, which refers to the softness or hardness of a wheel.
The scale to measure durometer ranges from 75a to 100a. The lower the number, the softer the wheel. The higher the number, the harder.
Softer wheels give you more grip. Harder wheels are easier to slide. That’s just personal preference based on your style of riding.
When it comes to surfskating, specifically, my recommended durometer range is between 78a and 84a.
However, that is actually complicated because durometer is not an objective scale. Every urethane has a different formulation. So you can have two different urethane formulas with the same durometer rating, but one will be softer than the other. So navigating durometer can be a little bit tricky, and you really have to play around with that and get experience with it.
If your style of riding is sharp, tight maneuvers where you want a lot grip in tight carves, you will want wheels on the softer end of the scale, probably 78a. But if you want to be doing more sliding, you want to go on that harder end, closer to that 80 to 84a range.
For park and bowl riding, you want wheels that are both smaller and harder than typical surfskate cruising wheels. For that environment, you’re looking for wheels in a durometer range of between 84a and 97a at the very hardest.
The next aspect of wheels is the contact patch, or the width of the wheel. Although that’s a little bit tricky because you can have some wheels that have rounded edges where the wheel is wider than the contact patch. But generally speaking, when we talk about contact patch, we’re referring to the width of the wheel.
Contact patch matters in surfskating because the narrower the contact patch, the more nimble your carving will be.
I’ve found the ideal contact patch range for surfskate wheels to be between 42 millimeters and 51 millimeters on the high end. And honestly, 51 millimeters is even bit wide for me. For me, the ideal contact patch is right around the center of that scale, say 47-49 millimeters.
Wheels come in two surfaces: smooth and stoneground. Stoneground wheels are ground at the factory, which creates a rough surface that aids in sliding. So the bottom line is, a smooth surface wheel will give you better grip, a stoneground wheel will give you better slide.
My experience is that I much prefer smooth wheels for surfskating, and I’ve only found one set of stoneground wheels that I think works well. So for most riders, I recommend a smooth wheel surface for surfskating.
If you’re good at sliding, you can get a slide out of any of smooth wheels. Smooth wheels will give you both the grip that you want out of a surfskate, and the slidiness if that’s what you’re looking for as well, depending on the wheel that you’re using.
But if you’re a good slider and that’s a big part of your style, then I would say you definitely want to play around with some stoneground wheels, and I’ll give some recommendations below.
Wheel Edge or Lip Profile
The next aspect of surfskate wheels to consider is the edge or what you might call the lip profile. Some wheel edges are sharp, others are rounded. Sharp edges give you more grip and rounded edges give you more slide.
The next aspect to consider for surfskate wheels is core placement, which refers to where the bearings are positioned on the wheel. In centerset wheels, the bearings are positioned directly in the middle of the wheel. In offset wheels, the bearings are offset to one side.
Centerset wheels give you more slide. Offset wheels give you more grip. In most cases, you want offset wheels for surfskating, although there may be exceptions.
The final aspect of surfskate wheels to consider is urethane thickness. Different wheels have different core sizes, which make for different thicknesses of urethane. The thicker the urethane, the softer and more comfortable the ride. A thinner urethane is going be a little bit more jarring. You’re going to feel those cracks in the pavement a little bit more.
Surfskate Love 65mm Surfskate Wheels in 78a and 81a
Call me biased, but my favorite small and nimble surfskate wheels for tight surfskate carving are my own Surfskate Love 65mm surfskate wheels. After all, my partner, Gavin Conti, and I developed them for that very purpose.
The foundation of these wheels is the extremely high-quality, high-rebound urethane. Our flothane™ formula is grippy and fast, and feels buttery smooth for the flow of surfskating.
We took great pains to get the specifications just perfect for surfskating. The 65mm diameter gives you quick acceleration and nimbleness for surfskating. The 49mm width and 46mm contact patch are slightly narrower than Orangatang Love Handles. This makes them slightly easier and more nimble to pump and carve.
The offset core position gives you the perfect combination of grip and release for confidence through advanced maneuvers.
We also added a bit of a radius to both the outside and inside edges. This makes them a bit easier to slide and less prone to chunking than square-edged wheels, and makes them last longer.
They come in three durometers: 78a, 81a, and 83a. Use the softer 78a to get more grip and a more plush feel on rough surfaces. Use the harder 81a to get more slide and faster speeds on smooth surfaces. Use the hardest 83a for park and bowl riding and the easiest slides.
Orangatang Love Handles 65mm in 77a and 80a
I’m a big fan of Orangatang Love Handles and I find them to be the closest comparison to Surfskate Love 65mm surfskate wheels.
They’re fast, grippy, smooth, and nimble — everything you want in a surfskate wheel.
Orangatang’s “Happy Thane” formula is one of the most popular urethanes on the market.
Aside from the urethane formula, the biggest differences between Surfskate Love 65mm wheels and Love Handles is that Love Handles are wider and have a sharper edge.
They also come in two durometers: 77a blue and 80a orange. Use the 77a blue for more grip and comfort over rough surfaces and the 80a orange for more slide and faster speeds on smooth surfaces.
Surfskate Love 70mm Surfskate Wheels in 78a and 81a
The 52mm width and 48mm contact patch are slightly narrower than Orangatang 4Presidents. This makes them slightly easier and more nimble to pump and carve.
Orangatang 4Presidents in 77a and 80a
If you like to ride for long distances and you like to get speed, these are hard to beat.
I do not find these to be a suitable all-purpose surfskate wheel because they’re too big, which means they’re not as nimble for pumping and carving.
These wheels are stoneground and have rounded edges, which make sliding easier.
Orangatang Stimulus in 77a, 80a, or 83a
They come with a 49mm contact patch, stoneground surfsace, and a rounded edge. They come in several durometers. My favorite is the 77a in blue because they give you better grip as well.
These wheels are small and hard, which gives you faster speeds for bowl riding.
Surfskate Love 65mm 83a
We made the Surfskate Love 65m wheels in 83a durometer for park and bowl riding, as well as for easier sliding.
These wheels are extremely fast, but the size still works well on a surfskate, and the durometer gives you enough grip so you don’t slide out as you pump from side to side.
I use mostly these wheels for bowl riding, and occasionally I will switch to Powell Peralta Rat Bones.
Powell Peralta Rat Bones
I love Powell Peralta Rat Bones for surfskate bowl riding. They are 60mm in diameter, 44mm wide, and have a 35mm contact patch.
They come in two different durometers, 85a and 90a. I prefer the 90a because they’re faster than the 85a while still giving you enough grip.
Rat Bones give you great speed in the bowl but without sacrificing grip. With other park wheels, I find that my back wheels slide out when I pump. But Rat Bones allow you to pump on a surfskate without sliding out.
- Shark Wheels: Hard to pump, not good grip, slow. Watch my YouTube review here.
- Tunnel Tarantulas: Mushy, gummy, sticky, and slow.
- Powell Peralta Snakes: Too slidey for surfskating.
- Fireball Tinders: Too slidey for surfskating.
- Seismic BlackOps 63mm 84a: Too small and hard.
- Orangatang Fat Free: Too small and narrow to work well for surfkate pumping.