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Choosing Wheels for Your Kick Scooter: An In-Depth Guide on Kick Scooter Wheels

kick-scooter-wheel

Kick scooters have grown in popularity over the last few years. They are easy to operate, affordable, and can get you around on your terms. So why not give them a try?

Kick scooters have a range of wheels that help you navigate through the city or on the road. However, as you will see, there needs to be more clarity when choosing the right wheels for your kick scooter. And we are here to clear things up!

The Early Days of Kick Scooters

Kick scooters surfaced in the 19th century alongside motorized bicycles and cars. The early kick scooters were small wood planks with crude steering and wheels taken from roller skates. Rudimentary as it may sound, it brought kids to places and gave them oodles of fun that did not require any training. 

Arthur H. Gibson invented the first motorized scooter in 1916 and called it "Autoped." His application for a patent was published on July 25, 1916, and he sold the motorized scooter as a way to get around town that would save time and money.

the-autoped

The Autoped, Image Courtesy of The Smithsonian Magazine

The Autoped was a two-wheeled, gas-powered scooter that folded up. It was called "the motor vehicle of the millions." It could achieve 125 miles per gallon and was priced so that almost anyone could afford it. It had 10-inch tires, an air-cooled, 4-stroke, 155cc engine, and was powerful enough to reach speeds of up to 35 mph. Despite these impressive specs, it was not exactly true that it was a motor vehicle for the masses. One hundred dollars in 1910 (roughly $3,136.97 in today's money) was quite a chunk of cash and was a significant turn-off for many.

Even though it hasn't changed as quickly as other ways to get around (like the bicycle), the kick scooter is making a comeback. Kick scooters are great for people who want to try riding a scooter for the first time and need a way to get around town that won't break the bank. 

Lady Norman Florence on her Autoped in London in 1916. Paul Thompson/FPG/Archive Photos/Getty Images

What is a kick scooter for?

Kick scooters are designed to be lightweight, easy to ride, and inexpensive. You cannot beat these characteristics when looking for a commuter vehicle. 

The kick scooter is perfect in the following use cases:

  • Commuting Around the City
  • Walking the dog.¬†
  • Moving around the house.¬†
  • Light shopping trips.¬†
  • Going on errands.¬†
  • Getting groceries
  • Travelling short distances.¬†
  • Moving in and around the campus.¬†
  • A quiet stroll in the park
  • Fun on the playground.¬†

Understanding Kick Scooter Wheels

Believe it or not, scooter wheels are easy to understand. Finding the best kick scooter is possible once you know what it is. Let us begin by discussing the five elements of a kick scooter wheel. 

Diameter

The diameter is a measurement of the total circumference of the wheel. The bigger the wheel, the faster the takeoff, but the greater the chances of reaching maximal speed.

scooter-wheel-diameter

 

There are five different wheel diameters to choose from: 

100mm: This is a good starter wheel for beginner riders or those commuting to and from school. They usually have plastic cores and plain bearings and are not sturdy. This type of wheel is perfect for people who are just starting.

110 mm: this is the standard wheel size used by most riders. These wheels are the best for most riders because they offer excellent speed, durability, weight, cost, and style. They are the most common wheels on the market and are suitable for both park and street riding.

115 mm: These 115 mm wheels are perfect for riders who want more speed and control in hybrid riding. The heavier design increases speed and power, so if you want to make sharp turns and execute technical tricks, your size is 115 mm.

120 mm: These wheels are fast and useful. They were originally made for bigger, older skaters with a flow style. 120 mm wheels provide a solid speed and are great for charging around the skate park at full speed. The biggest drawback of 120mm wheels has traditionally been their weight.

125 mm: As with the 120 mm wheels, the 125 mm wheels were designed to go fast. If you don't mind carrying extra weight, they're an excellent choice for riders looking for a lot of bang for their buck. 

Having the right wheels for your riding style and ability is vital to pulling off more tricks on a ramp. Larger wheels will help in this respect, but the larger they are, the heavier they are. 

Wheel Core

Wheel cores are made of various plastic, metal, or aluminum alloy materials. Even though the idea behind most wheel cores is the same, the way they are made and the materials they use could affect how they ride. Wheels with plastic cores tend to be lighter and less durable. Aluminum alloys are also lightweight but more durable than their plastic counterparts. Metal wheel cores are the best in the bunch, as they are the most durable and strongest and are often the preferred wheel core of most kick scooter enthusiasts and professionals. 

The following are the various types of wheel cores available on the market:

Solid core: This features a massive core for long-term durability.

Spoked core: This core has holes and cutouts along its body, which tremendously affect the weight. Unfortunately, this also weakens it.

Hollow core: This type of core is lightweight because it is hollow inside but not as strong as a solid core.

Plastic core: The plastic material makes it somewhat flexible. However, they are not as durable.

Honey core: This has the same principle as the hollow core but is even lighter owing to the perforated holes.

different-scooter-wheels-core

Polyurethane (PU) Thickness and Hardness

Polyurethane Hardness (durometer)

Polyurethane is one of the best materials available today and is used to produce kick scooter wheels. Unlike other materials, polyurethane doesn't need to be maintained and can last for a very long time. Polyurethane wheels are much lighter than rubber wheels, durable, and resistant to damage.

There are three levels of hardness for kick scooter wheels: 85A, which is the softest; 88A, which is the average; and 91A, which is the hardest. Regarding speed and slide, 85A has less of both compared with 91A.

The question of which hardness is best depends on where you plan to skate. For example, riding on the street is rough and unpredictable, so you need a softer wheel to get a better grip. On the other hand, park riding is generally done on smooth surfaces, so 88A (or standard hardness) is recommended.


Polyurethane Thickness

You will need thick polyurethane if you buy a kick scooter with high-grip wheels.  

The polyurethane thickness is measured in millimeters and has four different values: 24 mm, 26 mm, 28 mm, and 30 mm.

scooter-wheel-polyurethane-thickness

 

The less grip there is on the wheel, the thinner it is. However, the wheels become faster as they become thinner. In contrast, the thicker the wheel, the heavier it is, but it has a better grip. While wheels don't become lighter because of their thinness, more lightweight wheels mean a higher-quality product that performs better on the road.

The trade-off of a thicker wheel is that they are heavier and slower in tight turns but also perform well when carving through fast transitions, and they're also zippy in all situations, whether on the street or at the skate park.

Bearings

A bearing is a piece of machinery that lets two parts move relative to each other with less friction. In general, the more expensive the bearings, the higher their quality and longevity.

Most of the time, they are made of stainless steel or an aluminum alloy, and they have between six and eight balls in between an outer race and an inner race. The space between these balls is held in place by a retainer, and a thin outer shield keeps dirt, grime, and damage from getting in.

In a kick scooter, each wheel has two bearings with a spacer in between. This ensures smooth operation and good performance when turning sharp corners.

scooter-wheel-internal-structure

 

The manufacturing of bearings is rated according to the ABEC rating (Annual Bearing Evaluation Committee) and graded between 3 and 9. A higher value means that the bearing was made with high precision and better tolerance, which makes it less likely to wear out. However, this does not imply that bearings with lower ABEC ratings could be better made. Many wheels use inexpensive ABEC 4- and 5-grade bearings. Just the same, they are of great quality and have excellent performance.

Scooter wheels/spacers

The spacer is minor, but it is not insignificant. If a spacer size is wrong or worn out, the bearings will be out of alignment. In most cases, a 10 mm spacer will work with any wheel. However, check with an expert to see which spacer is recommended for your setup.

Conclusion:

The wheels are one of the most important parts of a kick scooter. They can make the difference between a smooth and safe ride and one that is uncomfortable, dangerous, and out of balance.

The quality of the wheel will affect how long you can expect it to last and how much money you will have to spend replacing it. As a rule of thumb, the more expensive the wheel, the more precise its tolerances, the better the quality, and the more robust it will be. However, even with the best-quality wheels, you can expect them to wear out after several months to a year.

If you notice any cracks, chips, or flat spots on your wheel, you should replace it as soon as possible. You can find replacement wheels for scooters online or in local stores that sell scooter parts and accessories.

Replacing your scooter wheels can also give your scooter a fresh look and make it stand out from the crowd. Whether you need 100mm or 120mm wheels, we have a wide range of options for you to choose from. Browse our selection of replacement scooter wheels today and find the perfect match for your kick scooter!

I hope this article has helped you find a scooter wheel that meets your needs and allows you to make an informed decision. Thanks for reading, and happy riding! 

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