Skateboarding doesn’t make you a skateboarder. Not being able to stop skateboarding makes you a skateboarder - Lance Mountain
Lance Mountain was the first professional skateboarder to vocalize the universal truth that, somewhere deep down inside, all skaters knew, and instinctively know. That no matter what else they’re doing with, and in, their lives, the one thing that makes them who they are, that forms the locus of their identity and allows them to express themselves without fear of recrimination, is skating. Skateboarders have to skate. It’s the unwavering code that all skateboarders adhere to rigidly.
If Descartes had been a skateboarder, his philosophical view of the human condition would have been radically different, and he would almost certainly have summed life up by simply saying “I skate, therefore I am”. For skateboarders, being able to do what they enjoy most means, and is everything to them. Skating isn’t just a hobby and it’s more than just a lifestyle. It is the wellspring from which the essence of existence flows, and skaters need to drink deeply, and heavily, from it as often as they can. They are what they do and what they do makes them who they are.
While it may seem a little extreme to dive so deeply into the collective psyche to formulate an idea of what makes a skateboarder a skater, in a world where increasing urbanization has become the norm, the traditional areas where skaters could discover who they were and establish and develop their identities through skateboarding have become increasingly rare. Skateboarders have to learn to ride the pedestrian highways and byways of the urban jungle or give up the thing that makes them who they are. For the true skateboarder, it isn’t even a decision worth considering, they just adapt to, and overcome the restrictions of, their constantly evolving environment.
However, conquering city streets, pathways, sidewalks and the sprawl of suburbia isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. In order to do it properly to rise up to the challenge and face it without hesitation, skateboarders need the right equipment. This means finding the most important piece of kit any skater needs to successfully complete a street-based mission; wheels. We’re guessing and feel free to correct us if we’re wrong, that you’re here because you’re looking for the best wheels to skate the streets with, which is fortunate for both of us and more than a little serendipitous. You’re looking for the best street skate wheels and we’ve found the five best wheels for skating the streets with. It’s a partnership that was meant to be. So let’s get talking about skateboard wheels…
Top 5 Best Skateboard Wheels for Street
OUR TOP PICK
Let’s get straight down to business. If you’re going to be riding city streets, you’re going to need a hard wheel to cope with all the stresses and strains that the tarmac and concrete are going to hand out to them. That’s where the Bighead comes in, measuring in with a durometer (the scale used to quantify the hardness or softness of skateboard wheels - the higher the number, the harder the wheel) of 99A, this wheel was made to conquer any sidewalk or street and let you skate freely and easily.
Spitfire knows skateboard wheels. They’ve been dedicated to making them since the end of the nineteen-eighties and they’re incredibly good at what they do. Some of the most notable street skaters of the digital age, like Chris Cole, have passed through the ranks of their team and if champion street skaters choose to ride on Spitfire Wheels, you know you’ll be in good company if you choose them for your board too.
The high durometer of the wheel makes them fast and also provides all of the grip and traction that you’ll need to get you from A to B and back again safely. They ride hard, they ride well and they won’t let the street get in the way of you skating. Throw the Bones bearings into the mix, and you’ve got a match made in street skating heaven.
They’re Spitfire wheels, so they come with an airtight manufacturers guarantee that protects you against any, and all, defects. If they’re not fit for purpose, Spitfire will exchange them or refund you. No questions asked and that’s a hassle-free guarantee.
Again, they’re a Spitfire branded wheel. The who’s who of the skateboarding world have, at one time or another, all used Spitfire wheels. These guys have, in skating terms anyway, been around forever and you don’t stay in business that long unless you’re doing something right.
If you’re just setting out on your skateboarding adventure or are looking to improve your street based skill set, these are the ideal wheels to do both with. They’re purpose made to help newbies get a feel for the concrete and to make it easier to up the number of tricks in your arsenal.
The internet knows all, the internet sees all, so do us, and yourself a favor, and google “Spitfire Bighead Wheels bad reviews”. Go on, do it, We’ll wait for you. Do you know how many bad reviews you’re going to find? None. Do you know why? Because there are none. Every skater who uses them loves them.
Life is all about progression, and sooner or later you’re going to become a better, and dare we say it maybe even a great, skater and when you do, you’re going to have to leave the Bigheads behind. The better you get, the more traction and grip you’re going to need, and sooner or later the Bigheads won’t be able to keep up with your demands and you’ll have to say adios to them. It’s sad but true.
Let’s talk about history and tradition, which as you know, play a not insignificant role in the skateboarding world. Hang around long enough and you’ll see the world change around you, and Sant Cruz has been around for longer than anyone else. They’re the world’s oldest skateboard brand and have been designing, crafting, and creating skate products since nineteen seventy-three. All of the expertise, knowledge, and experience that they’ve accumulated in five decades of continuous operation saturates everything they make.
Slimeballs have a slightly lower durometer than the Bigheads, weighing in at 97A, but that’s mainly due to the fact that Santa Cruz uses their own special urethane mixture to make their wheels. We asked them about it and they said “Sure, we can tell you, but if we do, we’ll have to kill you” and we believed them because when they said that to us, they were like a slightly less scary version of an old Italian grandmother talking about her family recipes. Anyway, even though they’re slightly softer than the Bigheads, the Slimeballs will still supply more get and go and sticking power than you or your board will ever need.
And talking about that special secret formula that they guard so well, do you know what else it does? It also guarantees that your slimeballs won’t chip, crack or cone and that they’ll ride hard and fast until the day you wear them out. We believe them when they say that because they’re Santa Cruz and they know all about those sorts of things.
You don’t stick around as long as Santa Cruz has without learning a thing or three thousand about skateboard, and skateboarding equipment, manufacture. Can you imagine how good these wheels must be if they’re the product of all of that collective experience? You can? Good, then multiply that fantasy by a factor of five thousand and that’s how good these wheels actually are.
Slimeballs won’t chip, they won’t crack and they won’t cone and if they do, Sant Cruz will replace them or give you your money back. They’ll be just as fast during the last hour they spend on your skateboard as they were on the day when you first fitted them.
Just look at how cool they are. They come in all sorts of weird and strange patterns and will add an extra sense of flair and dynamism to your deck. And they’ll also help you sail down the streets as though you own them.
We’re not going to lie to you, they’re not cheap. You’re going to pay for all of the time, knowledge, and experience that’s invested in them. Nothing that Santa Cruz makes is cheap, nor would we want it to be.
All of that money that you’re going to pay for them? You’re also going to have to hand over some more for bearings if you want to go anywhere because all you get for your Santa Cruz cash is the wheels and nothing more.
We love the classics and they don’t come any more classic than Powell-Peralta. Founded by one of the original Z-Boys (they were skating royalty and made history before most of the Bones Brigade even set foot on a board ) Stacey Peralta, these guys have been weaving their peculiar brand of devastating skate magic since the end of the nineteen seventies. These skateboarding wizards have discovered more of skateboarding’s dark, arcane secrets than any other brand on the plant and they use what they’ve learned to fashion innovative, inventive decks and wheels.
The G-Bones are Powell-Peralta’s all-purpose wheels and as they kick in at a healthy 97A on the durometer scale and are just as at home on the street as they are in the park or in the bowl. Why bother swapping your wheels out when your skating territory changes? With G-Bones, you won’t need to. You just fix them to your board and skate wherever you want.
Powell-Peralta wouldn’t have lasted as long as they have if they didn’t believe in everything that they produce. Which they do. That’s why the G-Bones, just like everything else that they make comes with a warranty. If they don’t do what they’re supposed to, you’ll get your money back. Or another set of wheels.
In case you didn’t hear us the first time, we’re going to repeat ourselves so that you fully take on board what we’re saying to you. The G-Bones are made by Powell-Peralta. That’s right, the Powell-Peralta. Those two words should tell you everything that you’ll ever need to know about these wheels.
They’re a one size fits all kind of wheel that’ll let you cruise and carve the streets to your heart’s content and then get as gnarly as you want to at the park or on the ramps. It’s your call, but these wheels do it all.
They’re a little costlier than most wheels, but if you want the best street wheels that money can buy, you’re going to have to pay extra for them. And they don’t come with bearings either, so you’re going to have to pay extra for them too.
We’ve venturing into the slightly unknown with the C-Lines, as even though we can vouch for the quality of these wheels, we know next to nothing about Pig Head. They’re one of those companies who like to let their product do all the talking for them while the masterminds who guide everything, hide behind the curtain, stay off-grid and keep a low profile. What we can tell you though, is that these wheels are made by skaters for skaters and are one of those well-kept secrets that no-one wants to talk to you, or tell you, about, unless your part of some furtive and mysterious in with the in-crowd organization. But as we don’t believe in all of that cloak and dagger stuff, we’re going to tell you all about them.
The first thing that you need to know about them is that they’re fast. They’re really, really fast and with a durometer of 101A, they were only made to do one thing. And that one thing that they’re made to do is skate the streets. They won’t grip, they won’t give you that little bit of traction that you’re looking for in the bends, but they will propel you down the road at a terrifying velocity. You wanted to know all about the best street only skate wheels? You just found them.
They’re fast. In fact, they’re so fast, when you go past something it’ll look all blurry and indistinct just like in the movies. That’s how fast you’ll be going. The C-Line is all about need. The need for speed.
The C-Line is a purpose-made street wheel. It’s built to skate the streets and that’s all it was made to do.
They’re fast. And when we say the C-Line is a fast wheel, we mean it’s a really, really fast wheel. It’s so fast it’ll scare newbies off their boards forever, so unless you’ve got some real skin in the skating game, it’s best to give these Pig Head wheels a wide berth. A really, really wide berth.
We thought it would be somewhat remiss of us not to mention at least one set of wheels that are designed to let you cruise the streets all day and every day while riding a longboard. They may not have been around as long as some of their competitors, but the environmentally-conscious skaters at Orangatang have quickly made a name for themselves as one of the best, if not the best, longboard wheel manufacturers in the world.
We know the durometer number is a lot lower than normal, and that 80A is way down the scale, but the rulebook for longboards is completely different from the one you use for skateboards and there’s a whole host of scientifically and mathematically calculated stuff and shenanigans that have to be taken into account. Look, we’re not even going to pretend that we understand the theory as we flunked out of basic chemistry and anything to do with physics is way above our paygrade, but it’s all to do with the length of your board, the way the wheels deal with and handle the street and the different trucks that are fitted to, and used by, longboards. What we can tell you is that all the science stuff is on the side of Orangatang, which is good enough for us as these wheels will tear any street up and let you carve and cruise any road you fancy traveling down.
Orangatang has carved their name in the longboard scene with their rip-snorting, high speed, easy-riding wheels. They’re the name that all of the skaters in the know are whispering about, so we suggest that you listen. Because the skaters in the know, know more about this stuff than you, we and most of the people in Skatesville ever will.
Orangatang is one of those mad-genius brands who invented their own urethane (the material that skateboard wheels are made from) formula to make their product. It works and it works well. And it’s kinder to the environment too.
They’re by far the most expensive wheels on our list. They’re not cheap, but neither are longboards. You get what you pay for, and you’re getting a whole lot for your money with these wheels.
A few less than satisfying longboarders have complained about the quality of the 4 Presidents. After taking note of everything that they’ve mentioned and all of the points that they’ve raised, the best advice that we can offer is this - always go for orange and never buy blue.
Best Skateboard Wheels for Street Buyers Guide
Before you make a final decision and buy the street-friendly wheels that have no doubt, already stolen your heart, there are a couple of things that you should consider and take into account
Skateboard wheels are made to cope with just about any environment that can be skated, and as such, they’re all made slightly differently. Street wheels are different to park wheels which in turn are different to longboard wheels, so ideally you’ll want a set of wheels that are suited to the sort of area that you’ll spend the majority of your time skating.
If you’re predominantly going to skate streets, roads, and sidewalks, you’re going to need harder wheels as they’ll be able to easily manage whatever the concrete puts in your path. Harder wheels are also faster and far more responsive than softer wheels and make it easier to learn all the street-based tricks and stunts that should be part of every street skaters’ four-wheeled lexicon.
Believe us, we know exactly how confusing it can be trying to find out everything that you need to know about skateboard wheels. As much as you think you know, there’s always more to learn.
However, the easiest way to find out how hard a skateboard wheel is can be easily done by checking its durometer rating. Durometer scores are used to measure the hardness of a skateboard wheel and how responsive it is. The higher its durometer rating is, the harder a wheel is.
The best street wheels should have a durometer rating between 96A and 101A. Anything less than that and the wheels aren’t going to perform as they should, or how you’ll want them to, on the street.
What’s In A Name?
Our advice, when looking for a set of street-friendly wheels, would always be to go with a recognizable brand name. If you know the name, you can usually trust the product.
That said, there are some up and coming skateboard manufacturers and skate product firms, such as Orangatang and Pig Head, who are producing incredible, environment, and skate style-specific wheels.
It never hurts to do a little extra research and find out all that you can about a brand (and whatever it is they make) before buying their product.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Street Skateboard Wheels Are The Right Ones For Me?
That’s entirely up to you. While all of the wheels on our list are ideally suited to street skating, they’re all slightly different and will perform differently according to your individual skating style.
If it were up to us though, we recommend the wheels that we always use on our boards, and we’d always point you in the direction of Powell-Peralta’s G-Bones. They’re not only a first-rate, speedy street wheel, they’re also more than capable of dealing with the demands of parks and bowls, so you won’t have to change your wheels if you fancy a change of skate scene.
After all, at the end of the day, skateboarding isn’t just about the streets. Skating is all about finding the space and freedom to ride your board. The location isn’t important, all that matters is finding somewhere to skate. Because, as Lance Mountain said, if you’re not skateboarding, you’re not a skateboarder.