How To Master Your Ride By The Wheels And Bearings
If someone had to ask about the most important parts of your longboard, what would you say? The trucks? The wheels? The bearing? Well, we think it’s the wheels, bearings and bushings that affect the quality of your ride. Irrespective of the type of deck of your longboard, these have an invariable importance to the sport of longboarding.
Now I will be telling you exactly how the wheels, bearings and bushings affect your everyday experience with the longboard. Here we go then:
The wheels of your longboard have a telling effect on how your longboard behaves. Depending on the hardness, size, hub material, hub placement, contact patch and the texture of the wheels, your longboard behaves very differently. Here’s how some of these make wheels behave:
Hardness: It is common knowledge that the durometer rating of a wheel affects its grip, speed and comfort. Generally, the harder the wheel, the faster it goes but with less grip. So soft wheels mean greater grip.
Size: The smaller the wheel, the slower it is. The larger wheels can cover greater distances in the same amount of time compared to smaller ones. The acceleration is similarly dependent on the diameter of your wheels.
Hub Material: A urethane hub gives the most comfortable ride. However, it is Aluminium that has the most speed in it. Plastic is the most common component for hub material due to its cost effectiveness. It is right to say that performance comes at a price.
Hub Placement: What part of the wheels has the hub is differentiating in terms of grip. There are three placements: Center, Side and Off set. The centerset is in the middle and causes even wear and uniform grip. Offset is closer to the inside edge of wheels and results in reduced grip. Side set provides the least grip and uneven wear on the wheels.
Contact Patch: Greatly affects what kind of longboarding the wheels are suited for. It is the amount of area that is in contact with the surface. Hence, it affects grip and the ability to slide. Also, bombing hills on a thin contact patch is a very, very bad idea.
Bearings are also one of the most important components your longboard. They determine drag, ease of ride, etc.
ABEC Rating: are given on a scale of 1-9 of odd numbers only. It is more or less a misconception however, that higher ABEC ratings mean it is a better longboard bearing. Nevertheless, a high ABEC rating almost always entails a high price.
Ceramic or Steel: The bearings have a great impact on longboard performance. This is why cheap longboards sometimes need an immediate bearing replacement to ensure acceptable performance. The material of wheels is also of great consequence. Steel bearings are the norm and some are good enough for your longboard. However, for performance driven people, there are ceramic bearings. They have much less friction, literally more balls and an insane performance difference. You guessed it, they are expensive.
Conclusion: Now that you know how different properties of wheels and bearings affect their performance, you are well placed to decide the best of both worlds for your longboard. Enjoy your improved ride!