Longboards are growing in popularity recently, and there are many benefits to using one. What if you prefer a skateboard, but you’re looking for an improved cruising experience without the bumpiness of smaller skateboard wheels?
We are here to tell you that you can put longboard wheels on a skateboard for the best skating experience you could possibly have. There are some important things to note when considering switching out the wheels. Provided you follow all of our advice, you will be skating in no time.
What is the difference between longboard and skateboard wheels?
Longboard wheels are softer and larger than those found on skateboards. This means that the longboard travels faster and has a smoother motion than skateboards do. The larger size of the wheels also means that the path is smoother on a multitude of different surfaces.
The smaller wheels found on skateboards do not insulate the motion against bumps, cracks, and other obstacles. Larger wheels will do this more effectively. This means that if you are regularly riding over uneven terrain, longboard wheels are likely to improve your experience.
The smaller skateboard wheels are perfectly suited to performing tricks, but this is really the only upside. Larger wheels offer the skater more control and much higher speeds with much lower energy requirements.
Longboard wheels are much better for cruising and they allow the rider to carry their momentum better. You need to propel yourself with kicks much less often allowing for a smoother cruising experience.
What tools do you need?
You will need your skateboard and any skate tools to make this work correctly. You will need 4 longboard wheels to replace your skateboard wheels with.
These should not be larger than 70 mm in diameter, but it works best if they are between 63 and 66 mm. Standard street skateboard wheels are between 49 and 54 mm in diameter.
You will also need 2 riser pads which are ½ inches - the brand name is unimportant. Finally, you will need 8 x 1 ½ inch bolts.
What are potential problems?
The biggest issue with putting longboard wheels on a skateboard is that there is very little clearance between the bottom of your deck and the top of your wheels.
As you attempt to turn on your board, the wheels will begin to block and you could leave yourself open to injury. This is known as wheel bite.
One of the best ways to fix this is to add in some riser pads. This will work to increase the clearance between the deck and wheels.
You should apply a decent amount of force to the top of the board and see if the underside of your deck comes into contact with the wheels.
These are small plastic inserts for your skateboard that sit between the baseplate of your trucks and the underside of your skateboard deck.
They work by increasing the space between the ground and the deck, meaning that there is more space for your wheels as your trucks are now taller.
As we recommended above, for longboard wheels we would advise using ½ inch riser pads. You will need long, 1 ½ inch bolts to secure them onto your board.
Shorter bolts will not reach all the way through the riser pads and trucks, meaning that they will not be securely attached. This could lead you open to injury as you skate.
You should use this time to also check the tension on your trucks. You need relatively hard bushings and tight trucks. This works to increase the resistance between your truck and board, making steering more effective.
The bushing should be flexible but snug fitting. Once you have broken them in, you will need to tighten the kingpin nut on both of your skateboard trucks.
Center of Gravity
Adding risers and adapting the wheel size of your skateboard will have a knock on impact on your center of gravity.
The higher your wheel base and center of gravity become, the less balance and control you will have.
For pro skaters, this may not be too much of an issue, but for novices, this can be very daunting.
High quality bearings will set you back around 50 dollars, but if you are serious about skating this is a worthwhile investment.
It may seem like a good idea at the time to purchase cheaper bearings, because after all, what does it really matter?
Cheaper bearings wear out much faster than the better quality ones, meaning that they need replacing far more often. They can also have an impact on the performance and handling of your skateboard.
While $50 may seem like a lot to spend on such a small part of the skateboard, if you maintain them they can last for up to 12 months. You should make a point of cleaning the bearings completely at least 2 to 4 times per year.
Do not forget to apply some silicone lube to the cleaned bearings to allow them to glide more smoothly.
Wheel Hardness (Durometer)
The original skateboard wheels were created from steel or clay. Nowadays they tend to be made of plastic.
Cheaper iterations are commonly a blend of polyurethane plastics that are lower quality and do not perform well on the street.
We would always advise investing in some quality wheels made from durable materials. A lot of research has been done into the construction and makeup of skateboard wheels, and you will find it is always better to pay more. Treat your skateboard wheels as an investment and your board will thank you.
When your main goal is to cruise on your board, you want softer wheels. These are suitable for a wide variety of terrain types and can deal with small obstacles in your path.
Softer wheels will be able to glide over pavement cracks or small pebbles on the street. Larger wheel size allows your wheels to glide over small objects more efficiently.
A durometer is used to check how the wheel grips compare to the surface that you are skating on. The lower the durometer, the more grip the wheel has. The higher the durometer, the more slidey the wheel will be on the surface of the ground.
Wheel Lip Profile
This dictates the level of grip your wheel provides to the ground surface. You can get round or square lip profiles on your skateboard wheels.
Square lip profiles mean that your skateboard will be more grippy and gives you increased control at faster speeds. They also work to slow you down more as you slide.
Round lip profiles are better for performing slides as they have less grip. This means that they will slide further with a smoother and more predictable motion.
You can occasionally find wheels with a beveled lip. This is somewhere in the middle of both other wheel types and offers a mixed result. This wheel type is ideal for increased drift but without compromising on traction.
Square lips are best for fast carving and slaloms. They have this increased grip as the lip surface distorts over uneven surfaces. Over time, you will ‘blow out’ the edges of your wheels. This means that the square lip smooths out due to usage and they are no longer as effective.
This is referring to the width of the wheel that touches the ground’s surface as you ride your board.
The wider the width of the wheel, the more urethane is touching the ground. This then means that the wheels will have more of a grip on the ground.
Contact patches tend to range from about 30 mm to 80 mm.
Wheel Core Setting
This is referring to the position of the core inside the wheel. They tend to be made of plastic and are designed to distribute the heat evenly throughout the wheel.
This is important as if this does not happen, the temperature of the bearings could potentially melt the urethane casing of the wheel itself.
If this melting occurs, it is known as melting or puking a wheel. If you are looking for optimal heat loss, you should look for an exposed core. The core is also used to maintain the circular shape of the wheel, preventing flat spots from being created.
The larger the core, the better the wheel will stay spinning as it slides sideways. They are faster when used on smooth surfaces, but can be slow on rougher ones.
Wheel Core Positioning
You can get a center set, offset, or sideset core. The location of this core has an impact on the traction and durability of your skateboard’s wheels.
A central core allows you to absorb the force of a turn equally on both sides of the wheel. If you begin to cone your wheels, this core placement allows you to flip the wheel to compensate.
These wheels will wear down much more slowly as the weight and force is evenly distributed across the surface area of the wheel. It is not the best placement for grip or sliding abilities.
When the core becomes offset, the turn’s force becomes unevenly distributed. These cores tend to be situated between the center and back edge of the wheel.
This means that you will have a looser feel, but it will cause your wheels to wear out on one side faster than the other. They will give you an increased grip on the ground.
Sideset, or backset cores, are flush with the back of your wheel. This core positioning allows for a lot of slide. This is because the interior edge of the contact patch has a lot of support.
These core positions are best for a freeride wheel, but the only issue is that the wheels will cone much faster.
How do you put the longboard wheels on a skateboard?
Your first step will be to remove the old wheels from the underside of your skateboard. Locate your skate tool and use it to remove the axle nuts from the wheels. Once this has been loosened, slide the wheels off of the truck and place them to one side.
Pull the bearings out of your wheels with the axle of your truck. We recommend sliding the wheel half off the axle so that only one bearing is on it. The axle should catch on the interior of the bearing. At this point, twist the wheel outwards to pull the bearing out. Repeat for all of the other wheels.
Take the trucks off by loosening the bolts. Place your riser pads on the underside of your deck and align the holes in the pads with the holes on the deck. These will also work to protect the deck from sustaining pressure cracks from the trucks.
Replace the trucks over the riser pads that you have just installed. Ensure that the kinging bolts face inwards as you do so. Push your bolts through the top side of the skateboard and through all of the holes to join the pieces together. Screw the nuts onto the bolts and tighten with a wrench.
Insert your new bearings into the new wheels. You should keep them shield side down as you press them onto the axle of the trucks. You will need to push the wheel onto the bearing until it no longer moves and is snugly nestled in.
You may well need to rotate the wheel to ensure the bearing lies correctly on the truck. Repeat this for all wheels and bearings.
Mount the wheels back onto the truck axles. Some wheels will have graphics on them to indicate the correct alignment for reinsertion. Thread the axle nut on until it no longer turns with your fingers. Finish tightening this using a wrench.
There should be next to no movement between the nut and the truck. Take care not to over tighten this though, as this can lead to damage to the bearings.
How to Maintain Your Wheels
A cheap and easy way to extend the lifespan of your wheels is to alternate the axles they are mounted on regularly.
We suggest moving the back left wheel to the front right, and the back right to the front left, and vice versa. It is recommended that you do this once every 3 months.
If you begin to notice flat areas appearing on your skateboard wheels, this can lead to slower speeds and a bumpier ride. To even out the wheels, you can find a rough surface such as concrete and perform a series of powerslides.
This should grind down the wheel surface until the flat spot has been evened out. Alternatively, you can sand down the wheels.
It is very important to clean your wheels and bearings regularly to extend their lifespan.
How to Maintain Your Deck
You should always allow your deck to dry completely if it gets wet. You should not leave it outdoors to be stored, and we recommend covering it when not in use. One step further would be to not skateboard when it is snowy or wet.
When you notice chips and splinters on the deck, you should sand these off as soon as possible. If left, they can get increasingly worse and could eventually lead to you injuring yourself.
If there is any grip tape that begins to peel off of your deck, we recommend either stripping it off completely and replacing it, or clipping it back down. This will reduce your air resistance and will make it less likely for you to trip or get caught on something.
You should not allow your skateboard to experience temperature extremes at either end of the spectrum. Wood is a thermally sensitive material and temperatures that are too high or low can cause the wood to warp, much like moisture can.
This then leads to a deformed skateboard deck which could cause serious injuries for the person that is skating.
How to Clean Your Skateboard
You should first unscrew and remove the trucks from your skateboard. Get a brush with firm bristles and a bowl of warm soapy water.
Use a circular motion to scrub the upper side of your skateboard deck to remove dirt and debris from the grip tape.
WIpe the top clean with a sponge and then repeat this process until you are satisfied with the clean of the deck. Repeat this on the underside of the skateboard, taking care to focus on the area where the trucks sit.
Dry the skateboard off with a towel and then set it aside to dry out completely before you attempt to reassemble it.
If you notice your bearings squeaking or beginning to stick, it is important to check them out as soon as possible. They can rust and become damaged quite easily, and this can lead to injuries for the rider.
To clean the bearings, you will first need to take off the rubber shield that is used to protect them. Do this carefully so that you do not damage the bearings. Use mineral spirits, kerosene, or bearing cleaning solutions to dip the bearing into.
Move it around to agitate the solution and ensure that it gets into all of the nooks and crannies.
Use isopropyl alcohol to rinse off the wheel bearing and then place it to one side to air dry completely.
Coat the bearing in some specially designed lubricant. Check with the manufacturer of your wheels for the optimal lubricant to use. Place the rubber cover shield back onto the bearing and then replace this bearing onto the wheels.