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Skateboarding is an activity that can easily run the gamut from “just buying a plastic board off the shelf” to agonizing over the exact right ball bearings and trucks. The more advanced you get, the more you need to pay attention to the little details like board size, grip tape placement, and, of course, wheel quality.
To help skaters find the right gear for everything from downhill speed to empty pool traction, we present the best wheel options we could find.
Santa Cruz has been a major name on the skateboard scene since the 80s, and these wheels have a lovingly retro design that harkens back to the birth of the skate scene. Although a little slimmer and not as chunky as the original models they pay homage to, the Slimeballs come in 97a durometer, which is the unit of measurement that tells you how hard the wheels are. A 97 puts these at the higher end, so they’re great for beginners just starting out on the street or at skate parks.
Another classic from the heyday of skate culture, these Powell-Peralta wheels with skeleton ripping through a wall will remind skaters of a certain age of names like McGill and Mountain and Guerrero. The wheels are constructed of durable urethane and are designed for speed. Typically, a wheel’s diameter influences how fast they are, and they come in 58mm, which makes them slower on the acceleration but faster overall. They’re also designed to tackle rougher surfaces.
The MBS wheels look like something you’d find on a remote-controller monster truck, and that’s the point. Designed—as the name tells you—for longboards, these no-nonsense wheels are meant for unforgiving and unpredictable ground like dirt paths or sandy pathways. Cast at 78a durometer, these wheels are deceptively fast despite their garbage truck-like appearance. Pit crew not included.
You may think humankind was done perfecting the wheel, but you’d be wrong: Shark Wheel invented it with the California Roll. Although they look like standard skate wheels that have been left out in the sun, their wavy design actually gives you way more control, and provides less friction and more speed on nearly every terrain. Shark Wheel also guarantees that they last 13 percent longer than a standard skate wheel. They make look funny, but for those looking to ramp up (no pun intended) their skills, these are a unique new option.