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The Evolution of Skateboard Wheels

The Evolution of Skateboard Wheels

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Published by firstbornskate

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Published by: firstbornskate on Mar 02, 2010
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05/12/2014

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The Evolution of Skateboard Wheels The skateboarding wheels of the past weren’t so high tech as their modern counterparts

. Depending on your sources, the roots of modern skateboarding were either began by kids in the early 20th century who nailed on wheels on wooden boards, or when the first commercial skateboards went on sale in the mid-20th century. But what’s for certain is that early skateboarding wheels were made of steel. Using steel skateboard wheels were well and good in the technology of the past. However, the flaws of using this kind of material became soon apparent among skateboarders. While steel wheels were pretty tough, they couldn’t grip the surface quite well, preventing any chance of controlling one’s speed while on the board. Also, the hard steel skateboard wheels didn’t offer any rebound, making for a very rough ride. By the 1960s, the skateboarding community took its cue from the development of roller skating wheels. Skateboard manufacturers then used clay wheels similar to those found on roller skates. It was not, however, very different from steel wheels. Clay wheels also lacked traction, and were very uncomfortable to ride with. Then a breakthrough. Once again, skateboarders took ideas from the roller skating community. Urethane wheels were being tried on in the 1970s as roller skating wheels. Frank Nasworthy—the father of Cadillac Wheels—then tried using these urethane wheels on skateboards. The use of urethane wheels and precision sealed bearings ushered in a new high in the evolution of skateboard wheels. What difference did the urethane wheels make compared to steel and clay wheels? Unlike the latter two wheels, urethane wheels could be molded into different sizes and hardness. That means skateboarders have a choice of gaining more speed or more control over their skateboards depending on the type of wheel they choose. Aside from that, urethane skateboard wheels are very tough, which made for longer lasting wheels. While these wheels are tough, they also provide the much-needed rebound for a more comfortable ride. Skateboard wheel manufacturers eventually experimented with adding colors to urethane wheels. Pure urethane wheels are clear and colorless. Adding colors made for more personalized skate boarding wheels. However, it was soon discovered that adding paint to urethane wheels made the wheels weaker, and thus more prone to flat spotting. Having precision-sealed bearings on the skate wheels also helped in the evolution of skateboard wheels. In the past, the old design allowed dirt to get in the bearings which shortened the life of the bearings. Now precision-sealed, the bearings kept away dirt which allowed skateboard wheels to spin smoother for a longer time. That’s the story so far of how skateboarding wheels were developed over the years. While most, if not all of skateboard wheels being made today are made of urethane, the difference lies on how each manufacturer creates their own recipe for their wheels. Some mixes are naturally better than others. And the popular skateboard wheel brands have made a name for themselves by creating wheels that aren’t just tough against the use and abuse of pro skateboarders, but also by delivering wheels of consistently high quality.

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