The Lowdown on Skatepark Wheels
I have been skating in parks for around 4 years now, and something I have learned over that time is that the wheels you use DEFINITELY make a difference. However, it’s not just as simple as choosing a wheel that says that its suitable for skateparks. Those of us who go to skateparks know that not all parks are created equal – there is a vast difference between the buttery smooth Convic parks and the old rough park built by someone’s uncle in 1999.
That being said, I don’t like changing my wheels. I try and find a wheel that will suit most situations, or try to adapt my skating to the terrain. Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to skate a whole lot of different wheels in parks (from derby wheels, which I do not recommend at all – to skateboard wheels which I loved minus a few issues which I’ll talk about below).
For me, the ideal skatepark wheel is pretty small, and really hard. I love a bit of slide, and I like that if my wheels hit the coping during a grind it’ll roll easily. Until about a year ago I exclusively used skateboard wheels (usually Spitfire 101’s) because this is what skateboarders use in parks, and I figured I was doing similar stuff, so they’d do the job. It worked out pretty well except that sometimes when putting skateboard wheels on certain roller skate trucks there isn’t a lot of clearance, and it can be hard to do the nut up tight enough. I was able to solve this by putting my nuts on backwards, but eventually I decided to test out roller skate specific park wheels to see if there was something out there I’d like as much.
Through my trials I have settled on 3 wheels that are now my go to park wheels depending on the situation.
These are the closest thing to skateboard wheels made for roller skates, and they are made by Rollerbones which is the roller skating arm of the skateboarding company Bones. This is the same company that makes Bones Bearings which are hands down the best bearings out there. I recently skated in a very wet drain and my bearings survived unscathed. So, when it comes to quality, Bones are pretty hard to beat. I have the Bowl Bombers in both 57mm and 62mm varieties. The 57mm I use in street sections and small bowls, and I use the 62mm in big bowls. This is because the 57mm’s allow me the agility and manoeuvrability I like for coping tricks, spins, jumps etc. Whereas the 62mm have really good stability, control, and speed which is what you want if you’re skating into a 13ft deep end. I still skate these on rough surfaces, but if you’re not down for a bumpy ride you’ll probably want something softer to change to.
I didn’t know much about Juice wheels until I tried these, and I was very pleasantly surprised. They are also 101a, but they are 55mm and a little narrower than the Bowl Bombers. These are the wheel I use if I’m wanting to do park skating and dance in one location, or on the same day without having to change my wheels. When I used skateboard wheels I used to use a 54mm, so I really like the size of these wheels, and the way they feel. On the first use they were suppppper slippery, so had a bit of a break in period. However, once they started to wear down after a couple of hours of skating, they were really nice and responsive. I wouldn’t really recommend them for big bowls where a larger surface area is preferable because they do have more of a tendency to slide out.
Moxi Fundaes are the ultimate wheel for the skater who wants a wheel for everywhere. These are great on the road and rough footpaths, and they go ok in the skatepark too. Personally they’re a bit weird for me because they don’t really make ANY noise. That might sound weird to some people, but I love the sound of hard wheels rolling over concrete and not having that is a definite minus for me. These are a soft compound (they aren’t labelled with a hardness but they’re around a 95a), so they are slower and absorb a lot more shock than the above options. If I am going on a cruise or skating a crusty drain and then hitting the skatepark, I can leave these on and still have a good time. If you are a beginner park skater, or aren’t really concerned about speed or the sonics of the skatepark, you will love these. As a bonus, they come in a range of cute colours.
These days there is absolutely no shortage of good quality roller skate wheels for skateparks. These are just my three favourites, and I’m sure there are other options out there that will serve a range of skating styles. However, I really don’t recommend skating in parks in big gummy wheels or roller derby wheels. These are not really the right shape or compound for park skating, and while they might be ok for the absolute basics, when you start to step up your skating, they can be an injury waiting to happen.