Like many obsessive skateboarders of my generation I spend a lot of time ruminating over my gear, even though it makes very little difference as to how I actually skate. Time on the board, rolling, skating, and yes…practicing, make the most difference. A lot of skaters don’t really practice. They just go skate, which of course creates “practice”, but they don’t really do it in a real intentional way. Freestylers do, however, practice. I think the really good vert skaters do too. Maybe a few street skaters do, but generally freestylers and vert skater are not the kind of people who dabble in things.
Anyway, regarding compulsive equipment worrying. I tend to think a lot about wheels. I complain that there aren’t enough wheels available in the lower 90s durometers. But then for most of my street skating I end up going back to hard wheels. I guess I’ve gotten used to them. I wouldn’t use them in most of the ditches down in Austin, but for the kind of skating I do around here they have become normal to me. I’ve been using some plain old Spitfire Bigheads for ditch skating and street for a while. They are not the best quality urethane, but they are cheap, and for some reason I like the particular “clunk” they make when they hit the ground. They are relatively smooth for a 99a wheel. Are they the best performance wheel? No, not even close. They are usually adequate for my needs.
However, I’m a big fan of Bones Street Tech formula. I was clued into these by a friend in North Carolina on a skate trip back in about 2007. I started using their 54mm standard profile, and I have to say they are the best newschool hard wheels I’ve had. They are hard as shit, but weirdly also resilient, and have a smooth ride. I’ve honestly never had a bad Powell wheel. They make their own wheels, and they’ve been doing it a long time, and every wheel they’ve ever made has been great in its intended niche. These STF just don’t wear down much at all!
Here’s my current set, that I’ve been riding for over two years. These look better after two years than a typical wheel does in a week. And I am hard on wheels. My boards last forever, but if a wheel isn’t durable I wear ’em out fast. I do lots of sliding.
For comparison, here is a brand new set I got a year ago, but have had no reason to start using! Weird thing is, these wheels just look like plastic. When you get them they have that look of a toy story boards’s wheels, but they are just superior.
I have friends who swear by the Spitfire Formula 4 wheels, and I believe them. I’m sure they are fantastic, but man, I feel like I’m about done buying anything but Bones STF. The only drawback is they make fewer of their profiles about 54mm. But That’s fine. These work for me.