Longboard Wheels 101: What Durometer Means

One of the most commonly asked questions we receive, is asking what durometer means? Durometer is a measurement of hardness for plastics, rubbers, and in the case of longboarding urethane. An immense amount of data was calculated to produce durometer rating. The average longboarder is uninterested in the data, and is instead interested on what durometer their next set of wheels will have.

Urethane is the plastic that makes up skateboard and longboard wheels, bushings, and pivot cups. Since we use durometer to measure the hardness of urethane it is important to know its means. Firstly, durometer also known as duro, a number usually followed by an “a” in a wheel’s description. It is also important to keep in mind that not all companies’ wheels containing the same duro will feel the same. Differences in their urethane formuals will feel different, and the shape of the wheel will change the feel as well.

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Harder Vs Softer Durometer

The durometer can affect several things, including: slide characteristics, amount of grip, the lifetime and lovegivity of the wheel, and the roll speed of the wheel. Typically a harder wheel will have a faster roll speed, less grip, icier slides, and a longer life. The higher roll speed is a result of the ability to keep its shape under the weight of the rider and not “squishing”. The lack of grip and icier slide are due to the fact that the wheel has less traction, because it is less”rubbery”. Harder wheels last longer because they do not leave grip the roads as much as softer wheels do. Thus harder wheels leave less urethane on the roads during slides, resulting in a more resilient wheel.

Softer wheels are typically the opposite. Soft wheels may have a slower roll speed, though it may not be noticeable or significant. Soft wheels  grip the road better, making them the perfect choice for tight high speed turns or aggressive carving. The slide will generally be more “buttery” and blow off more speed, which is favorable for downhill. Soft wheels are also much more likely to “thane” or leave lines on the road when you slide, as a result softer wheels are much less durable when being used for sliding. Softer wheels are more prone to flat spots, coning, and coring when compared to harder wheels.

Keep in mind that durometer is not the only factor in a wheel and durmoter can vary by wheel models & manufacturers. Shape, size, width, and lip type all have major effects on a wheel’s characteristics. Different compounds and formulas may react different, even if they are the same “duro”. These different wheel characteristics can be further explored by reading, “How to Choose The “Perfect” Wheels.”

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Source: Rob Green

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4 thoughts on “Longboard Wheels 101: What Durometer Means

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