Wheelbite is one of the worst things that can happen to you on a skateboard. The fun comes to a literal screeching halt …
Today I’ll be talking about wheelbite and what you can do to prevent it. I go over a ton of solutions so you should be able to find one that works well for you. Check it out below.
What is wheelbite?
Wheelbite is basically when your wheels touch your board.
This happens when you turn/lean too much and it could result in your board completely stopping and throwing you forward.
Because of wheelbite, a lot of skaters end up getting hurt. Because the stopping is often so sudden, you end up falling awkwardly when you fall forward. I’ve been lucky enough to end up with a few bruises, but some people walk away with some nasty injuries (think skinned palms).
So yeah, wheelbite can be a real vibe killer, and skaters try to avoid it most of the time. But how does it actually happen?
How and why wheelbite happens
As I said earlier, wheelbite happens when your wheel touches your board. It can happen because of a few reasons:
- Your trucks are too loose and they articulate to the point your wheel can touch the deck.
- Your wheels are too big. When wheels are big, the wheel clearance is less and you don’t have to lean too much to get wheel bite.
- You don’t have any wheel wells. Wheel wells increase the distance between the deck and the wheels (basically clearance). No wheel wells mean less clearance, making it easier to get bite.
So now that we’ve established why we get wheelbite, let’s look into how we can prevent it altogether.
Why should you prevent wheelbite?
Not getting wheelbite will allow you to cruise and carve with confidence. You can turn and dive as hard as you want, without worrying about your board suddenly stopping. It’s a good confidence boost and it makes skating a bit safer.
It also will increase the durability of your deck and wheels, saving you money.
How to prevent wheelbite on your longboard
Get smaller wheels
Getting smaller wheels is an easy way to prevent wheelbite. Small wheels increase the clearance between the wheel and the deck. You’ll be able to lean pretty hard without worrying about the wheel touching the deck.
Also, be mindful that going for a smaller wheel has its disadvantages. Namely, they won’t be able to roll over cracks and pebbles as easily as bigger wheels and they won’t smoothen out the ride quite as much …
If you have reverse kingpin trucks (RKPs), you could probably go for 65-70mm wheels and skate them without the worry of bite. If you have traditional kingpin trucks (TKPs), you could get 55-59mm wheels and skate it without worrying too much about bite. Of course, trucks also have different heights and that affects how easy it is to get bite.
Change the trucks
Longboard trucks aren’t all the same. Some are tall and others are short. The taller ones will give you more wheel clearance whilst the shorter ones will get bite easier. You can typically split them into two categories, RKPS vs TKPS.
Traditional kingpin trucks (TKPs) are usually super low.
TKPs are designed for normal skateboards. They’re designed to run wheels between 50-60mm in height. You can usually get TKPs in 3 different heights:
The “Hi” trucks will have more clearance than the low ones, and they’ll be better for wheels about 55-60mm in height. They’re the TKPs to go for if you want to avoid bite.
Reverse kingpin trucks (RKPs) have more clearance.
RKPs have a different geometry to TKPs. Because of this, they tend to be taller and have more wheel clearance. You can run wheels between 60-72mm on most RKPs without the worry of bite.
Like TKPS, different brands will have different heights, but most of the time they should decently tall. Our current recommendation:
Risers are an affordable solution
Ok, so what if you like the trucks you have and don’t want to change them around? You can simply use risers.
Risers are these little plastic pads that go between your trucks and the deck. They increase the height of the trucks and increase wheel clearance. They’re pretty cheap and you can buy some for under $5. They will allow you to run huge 75mm+ wheels.
They come in heights from ⅛inch, ¼inch, to 1/2inch in size. Just remember to buy longer bolts, as some bolts might be too short to go all the way through them.
Though they’re an easy solution, they change how your trucks feel. Because they increase height, they can make the ride feel more divey, and more unstable at faster speeds. They will also make it feel super carvy, so you can lean in and turn deeply even at slower speeds.
Risers are, in my opinion, the best solution to wheelbite in this article. Here is a super affordable model that works great:
Ok, what if you don’t want to change your trucks or add risers? You can simply get harder bushings.
Bushings are the little things in your trucks that control how you lean and turn. They squish as you lean left or right, and depending on how hard they are, they either squish a lot or a little.
So yeah, they come in different durometers (hardness) and they determine how much your truck will lean. So if your truck leans too much and gets bite, you can get slightly harder bushings and it won’t lean as much.
Of course, this also means you lose some flow and carvyiness. Your truck won’t be able to turn as quickly and won’t feel as nimble.
You can also tighten your trucks – the easiest solution
You could also simply tighten your bushings. Tightening the kingpin nut down a couple of times will restrict how much your trucks turn and lean. This kind of works in a similar way to getting harder bushings. But now, you significantly restrict the articulation of the truck …
This isn’t the best method. It will destroy your bushings with time and you will lose a lot of flow from the truck. However, it is a pretty simple solution and should work well if you need something short term.
Get a board with wheel wells and wheel flairs
Wheel wells and wheel flairs essentially increase the distance between the wheel and the deck.
Wheel wells are cutouts on the deck where the wheels are expected to touch the board. They’re made by either sanding that part of the deck down, or by cutting out it with a CNC machine or a wood router.
Wheel flairs are a bit different. The part where the wheelbite should occur is raised. This is made by pressing the board in a certain way, resulting in a bump/raised bit about where the wheels are. This increases clearance by a bit too.
Some decks have only wheel wells, whilst others have both.
Sand in some wheel wells to your current board
If your deck doesn’t have wheel wells, you could always sand them in yourself. It will require some jerry-rigging, but it is a good solution. You won’t have to change anything about your trucks/wheels and you can turn deeply without the worry of bite. Just be careful about sanding composite decks as carbon and fiberglass dust is nasty stuff.
So, What do you think? What solution are you going to try?
If you need a quick fix, simply tightening your trucks will work well. Buying some risers will be the next easiest solution, but I ultimately recommend get a board with deep wheel wells or sanding them in yourself – if you’re up to the challenge.