Posted by Amy Cook on
One question that we hear asked a fair amount is, “which wheel size should I get”, or “what is the difference between this wheel and that wheel”?
Here at RideMinded we want to help you make the best choices and have made this guide to help you understand the ins and outs of the scooter wheel.
Scooter wheels can be broken down into five elements:
- Polyurethane Thickness
- Polyurethane Hardness
- Core Diameter
So we have gone ahead and broken these down for you below:
Diameter is the overall size of the wheel. As the diameter increases, the slower you will get to speed, but the max speed you can reach is higher.
There are five main diameters when it comes to scooter wheels; 100mm, 110mm, 115mm, 120mm & 125mm, but as a stunt scooter rider, you only really need be looking at the final four.
100mm: These small wheels are a remnant from the days in which companies adapted inline skate wheels for use with scooters. 100mm wheels tend to feature plastic cores and basic bearings, although you can find the odd 100mm with a metal core (we will get to core material later). You will most often find these wheels as stock items on low-end / beginner complete scooters or those that have been intended as ‘scooter-to-school’ completes. These wheels are fine if you are a very young rider just starting out, but for older or more experienced riders, these wheels are best swapped for one of the bigger options.
110mm: The scooter rider’s staple and most standard wheel on the market. 110mm’s are the go-to wheels for the majority of riders out there as they fill a solid middle ground in terms of speed provided, durability, weight, cost and of course style. There are 110mm wheels that cater to both park and street riders, making them by far the most versatile and well catered for wheel size. These wheels also fit on 99% of all complete and aftermarket forks and decks, you really can’t go wrong! If you are looking for some very specific advantages that suit your riding style however, some of the bigger wheels may suit better.
115mm: 115mm wheels are a little less common than the other wheel sizes, but have recently grown in popularity among riders with hybrid street / park styles. While being a little more on the weighty side than 110mm wheels, 115mm provide a slight increase to speed and control when making sharp turns and executing technical tricks.
120mm: Fast and functional. Originally designed for bigger, older riders with flow styles, 120mm wheels provide a solid amount of speed and are great if you want to go charging around the skate park at full speed! The biggest drawback to 120mm wheels has historically been the weight. Bigger wheels means increased weight and having a lightweight setup is a key component to throwing down many high-level tricks at the skate park. That being said, 120mm wheels have recently been taken back to the drawing board, undergoing a renaissance of sorts with select brands pushing them back into the spotlight by heavily reducing the weight of the cores. With ramps in skate parks getting bigger and riders constantly pushing themselves to achieve greater air time, it only makes sense that bigger wheels will most certainly play their part in years to come.
125mm: As with 120mm wheels, these wheels are built for speed, and we really do mean it! 125mm wheels are essentially an extreme version of 120mm wheels and come with all the same pros and cons, just amplified. 125mm wheels are best suited to high-level riders that know they want them. These are also one of the only wheels types that are not, yet, progressing toward universal compatibility with aftermarket forks / decks. This can make them difficult to fit onto a given set up and, unless you are willing to go out and buy new parts specifically to facilitate these giants, it’s better to wait unless you are willing to commit to a full set up change. They are however the fastest scooter wheels you can get your hands on and if you are willing to accommodate the extra weight they will have you absolutely blasting around the skate park or the streets!
The material that makes up the inner core of the wheel. Stick with metal cores… just take our word for it.
Plastic Core: Plastic core wheels are a remnant of the inline era of scooter wheels. These are often cheaper to produce and are sometimes found as stock parts on low-end complete scooters. These wheels were designed more for ‘scooter-to-school’ audiences, although they can be used by riders just starting out on their scootering journey, you should look at upgrading to metal cores as soon as you start any kind of ramp or trick riding. These wheel cores are a lot weaker than their metal core counterparts are not up to scratch when it comes to trick riding.
Metal Core: Metal cores are the go-to wheel core for scooter riders. Almost all complete stunt scooters come fitted with these and if you are looking for an upgrade, metal cores are you standard and your go to!
Wheel Core Sizes
The thickness of a wheel’s core determines the forks and decks with which your wheels are compatible.
Because this statistic is directly tied in to fork size, you need to know that the two most common fork sizes on the market cater to 24mm and 30mm wheels.
- Each fork will come packaged with a set of spacers that you will need to use to fit your wheel to your fork.
- Almost all forks ship with 24mm spacers with the wider ones usually also shipping with a set in their specific size, eg. a set of forks built to allow 30mm will most likely ship with a set of 30mm spacers and 24mm spacers, though this varies by brand.
- Wheel core sizes range from 24mm, in 2mm increments, up to 30mm.
- A 30mm fork has the capability to fit any wheel with any core size, providing you have the spacers to make it work.
- A 30mm wheel core is never going to fit with a 24mm fork.
- Keep in mind that some wheels have a different core and polyurethane thickness. For example, your wheel might have a 28mm polyurethane thickness and a 24mm core. This wheel will only fit with a fork that is compatible with 28mm or higher but will be able to be fitted using standardised 24mm spacers.
Polyurethane (PU) Mixes
The scale that tells you how soft or hard the rubber of the wheel is.
Scooter wheels come in various levels of PU, starting from 85A and working up to 91A with 88A being the standard.
The lower the number on the PU scale, the softer the wheel. A softer wheel provides more grip, so you will slide out less, but you won’t be able to generate as much speed. Street style riders tackling rough terrain favour softer wheels due to their greater grip, whereas park riders who are riding smoother terrain in general, will often opt for a wheel in the middle of the scale as it provides both solid grip and ample amounts of speed. 88A is the most commonly used hardness.
The thicker the PU, the more rubber will be in contact with the ground, therefore the more grip you will have. This comes at the cost of a heavier wheel.
There are four major thicknesses on the market right now: 24mm, 26mm, 28mm and 30mm.
The thinner the wheel the more streamlined they will be, allowing for greater speed, but with less control or grip while turning. Thinner wheels are favoured by park riders who are looking to reduce the overall weight of their scooter in order to perform tricks where speed is a necessity.
Thicker wheels on the other hand, are ideal for those who want to carve through tight transitions and ride fast in both the park and streets.
The bearing is an element set within the wheel core that helps provide a smooth motion and reduces friction between moving parts.
Bearings come with an ABEC rating, although this is currently the established way of determining the speed provided, it is a controversial system that many do not think is overly accurate.
The ABEC rating for scooter bearings runs from 3 up to the supposed 11, although the legitimacy of 11s is up for debate.
The most common bearings you will find are ABEC 5, ABEC 7 and ABEC 9.
The scale runs with the rule, the higher the number, the faster the bearing, but the weaker and more prone to breaking.
Right then, we have reached the end!
Hopefully, this guide has helped you to learn a bit more about the range of scooter wheels that exist out there and has put you in good stead to make a choice about which wheels you will be shredding next.
As always, thank you for reading and stay RideMinded!