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Understanding Skateboard Wheel Hardness: Soft vs. Hard

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Get the STF Staff’s Favorite Wheel List Here

When it comes to skateboard wheels, there is a wide variety of sizes and styles to choose from. One of the most crucial factors that influence a wheel’s performance is its durometer, which measures the hardness or softness of the wheel. In this blog, we’ll delve into the differences between soft and hard skateboard wheels, exploring their advantages, disadvantages, and the best use cases for each type.

Hard Skateboard Wheels


  • Best for Street and Park Skating: Hard wheels provide the precision and responsiveness needed for technical tricks. Those 270 outs would be smoother with these wheels, providing some extra wiggle room to powerslide and pivot to complete the rotation!
  • Speed: Hard wheels are faster, making them suitable for skateparks and smooth surfaces.
  • Durability: These wheels tend to last longer, especially when skating on smooth terrain. In my personal experience, harder wheels are more durable compared to the softer wheels and do not get as many flat spots (chips/splinters in the wheel).
  • Sliding Capability: Hard wheels can slide more easily, which is beneficial for certain tricks and maneuvers. Perfect for those Nose Slides, Blunt Slides, B/S tails on ledges!
  • Vert Skating: They are also ideal for vert ramps due to their speed and responsiveness. Hard wheels are also great for skating bowls as they allow your skateboard to slide according to your body weight distribution on sharp turns at high speeds.


  • Rough Terrain: Hard wheels are not suited for rough or uneven surfaces as they do not absorb shocks well. So those Spitfires 99 duro should not be your top pick for your cruiser board.
  • Grip: They have less grip compared to softer wheels, which can be a downside on slick surfaces.

Soft Skateboard Wheels


  • Smooth Ride: Soft wheels absorb shocks from rough terrain, providing a smoother ride. Crusty spots are now easy to skate!
  • Grip: They offer more grip, making them ideal for uneven and rough surfaces. 
  • Versatility: Soft wheels can be used on a variety of terrains, from rough roads to smooth concrete. Ever think about riding your skateboard on the boardwalk at the beach? Smooth wheels are the right choice.
  • Cruising: They are perfect for cruising around town or commuting. Bombing hills would be a lot safer and fun when you don’t have to worry about a pebble stopping your wheels!
  • Filming: Soft wheels are quieter and provide a smoother ride, making them ideal for filming skateboarding videos. Check out Nigel Alexander’s filming skateboard setup
  • Longboarding: These wheels are a top choice for longboarding due to their grip and smoothness.


  • Speed: Soft wheels are slower compared to hard wheels when on a perfect surface, such as a skatepark. However, they are most likely faster on a rough surface.
  • Durability: They tend to wear out as fast as hard wheels, especially when used on rough surfaces.

The choice between soft and hard skateboard wheels largely depends on your skating style and the type of terrain you’ll be skating on. Here’s a quick guide to help you decide, but remember – any wheels can work for you in the beginning:

  • Street or Park Skating: If you enjoy performing technical tricks and skating on smooth surfaces, hard wheels (95A and above) are your best bet. 
  • Cruising and Commuting: For a comfortable ride on various terrains, soft wheels (75A to 95A) are the way to go.
  • Filming: Soft wheels provide the smooth and quiet ride needed for capturing skateboarding footage.
  • Longboarding, Cruising, and Transportation: Opt for soft wheels for the best grip and smoothness, which are big soft wheels. Don’t forget, the bigger the wheel, means you may need to purchase riser pads.

In conclusion, understanding the differences between soft and hard skateboard wheels can significantly impact your skating experience. Whether you’re a street skater, a cruiser, or a filmmaker, choosing the right wheel hardness will help you get the most out of your skateboard.

Our Favorite Wheels List

Note: All wheels have been tested by STF staff, and the descriptions are based on our instructors’ feedback.

Support Your Local Skate Shop: The best way to keep your local skate community strong is to purchase these products from your local skate shop. If you don’t have a local shop, consider ordering from a skate shop in another city or state. 

Convenience Option: As a last resort, for easy convenience, we’ve provided Amazon links below, which are sold directly from the listed branded company (not private sellers). By purchasing through our links, you’ll be supporting STF with a small commission.

Brand: SpitfireWheel Type: Full Conical Size: 56mmDuro: 99
Type: Street, Park, and Transition.
Description: The top choice for skaters at STF! Also a top choice for our previous instructors, Max and Hugo. These wheels are slightly bigger, yet not so large that you need a riser pad. Perfect for high speed, locking into grinds, and executing powerslides effortlessly.
Price Estimate: $42 – $48
Purchase Here
Brand: SpitfireWheel Type: Full Conical Size: 54mm – 56mmDuro: 97
Type: Street, Park, and Transition.
Description: Another favorite among STF skaters, and our previous instructor Ace! Similar to the model above, but slightly softer (97 duro). These wheels are a bit faster due to their softness but don’t slide as easily. You can still perform slides, though it may require a bit more effort. If you plan to skate outdoor parks, these wheels are for you.
Price Estimate: $42 – $48
Purchase Here
Brand: SpitfireWheel Type: Classical Size: 56mmDuro: 97
Type: Street, Park, and Transition.
Description: A personal favorite of STF owner Brett Williams, these wheels are perfect for skating everything due to their size and hardness. They feature a tapered edge, making it easy to come out of grinds with minimal effort. 
Price Estimate: $40 – $45
Purchase Here
Brand: RictaWheel Type: CloudsSize: 54mm – 56mmDuro: 78a, 86a, 92a
Type: Street, Park, and Transportation.
Description: This is a cruiser wheel sized like a street wheel. Ideal for beginner skaters, transportation, filming, and advanced skaters at parks with rough ground. A top choice for skating at 9th & Poplar in Philly, PA. We recommend the softest option, a 78a wheel. This was one of the top choices for our Adult Beginner Class skaters who enjoyed cruising at skateparks.
Price Estimate: $35 – $42
Purchase Here
Brand: BonesWheel Type: DragonSize: 54mmDuro: 93a
Type: Street, Park, and Transition.
Description: This wheel made history in 2023 as the first to combine the softness of a cruiser (93a) with the slide of a hard wheel (99a). Perfect for outdoor skating and concrete skateparks, it’s not ideal for wooden or prefabricated ramps due to a bit of stickiness, which requires precise landings. One of our instructors, Lilah, actually enjoys that added challenge which made her tricks better!
Price Estimate: $40 – $45
Purchase Here
Brand: OJWheel Type: Plain JanesSize: 58mmDuro: 87a
Type: Filming and Transportation
Description: This is the ultimate board for getting around—big, fast, and quiet. A standout feature of these wheels is their versatility; you can use them on any type of skateboard. If you have an old board and trucks, you can easily convert it into a cruiser or a film board. Our instructor Jeff Rasp, who is sponsored by this company, absolutely loves them!
Price Estimate: $30 – $35
Purchase Here
Brand: Sector 9Wheel Type: Butter BallsSize: 65mmDuro: 80A
Type: Longboard, and Down Hill
Description: Perfect for experienced downhill bombers, these wheels deliver top speeds while allowing you to slide through sharp turns. Make sure to wear a helmet and hand sliding pads with these wheels! While our staff hasn’t tried them yet, this recommendation is based on feedback from seasoned downhill skaters.
Price Estimate: $50 – $60
Purchase Here