As skateboarders, we all know that larger wheels roll faster than smaller ones. But have you ever wondered why? Is it just a matter of size or is there some science behind it? In this article, we’ll dive into the physics behind large wheels and understand why they provide a faster ride on skateboards.
The Basics of Skateboard Wheels
Before we get into the physics, let’s quickly go over the basics of skateboard wheels, including the best skateboard for a big guy. In simple terms, skateboard wheels are made up of two main components – a core and a polyurethane (PU) outer layer. The core, usually made of plastic or metal, provides the structure for the wheel. On top of that, there is a PU layer which makes contact with the ground and provides traction for the skateboard.
Skateboard wheels come in various sizes, typically ranging from 50mm to 75mm. The size of a wheel is measured by its diameter (from one side of the wheel to the other) in millimeters. While larger wheels may provide a faster ride, smaller wheels tend to be more responsive and maneuverable.
The Role of Friction
To understand why large wheels roll faster, we need to first understand the concept of friction. Friction is a force that resists motion between two surfaces in contact with each other. This means that when you push your foot against the ground, the friction between your shoe and the ground helps you to stay balanced and prevents you from slipping.
Now let’s apply this to skateboard wheels. When you riding your skateboard, the wheels come in contact with the ground and experience friction. The larger the wheel, the more surface area it has in contact with the ground which means there is more friction between the two surfaces. This increased friction helps to provide a faster ride.
The Effect of Wheel Size on Speed
Apart from just increasing friction, there are other factors that make larger wheels roll faster. One of them is the rotational inertia of the wheel. Rotational inertia is the resistance of an object to change its rotational motion. In simpler terms, it means that bigger objects tend to be harder to speed up or slow down compared to smaller ones.
When you ride a skateboard, your body weight and movement cause the wheels to rotate. The larger the wheel, the more rotational inertia it has and therefore, it takes more force to make it spin. This means that once you get a large wheel rolling, it will maintain its speed for a longer period of time compared to a smaller wheel.
The Importance of Wheel Durometer
Apart from size, another factor that affects the speed of skateboard wheels is the durometer. Durometer refers to the hardness of the wheel, measured on a scale of 0-100 (higher numbers indicate harder wheels). Generally, softer wheels have more traction and provide a smoother ride while harder wheels are faster but can be less forgiving on rough surfaces.
When it comes to large wheels, a higher durometer can make a big difference in speed. This is because larger wheels have more surface area in contact with the ground and therefore, need more force to rotate. A higher durometer means that the wheels will compress less under your weight, resulting in less friction and a faster ride.
Large Wheels vs Small Wheels
Now that we understand the physics behind large wheels, let’s compare them to small wheels. As mentioned earlier, smaller wheels have less rotational inertia and therefore require less force to spin. This means they tend to accelerate faster and are more responsive for tricks and maneuvers.
On the other hand, larger wheels provide a smoother ride due to their increased surface area in contact with the ground. They also maintain their speed for longer periods of time which can be beneficial for long-distance skating or when going down hills.
The Impact of Terrain
While large wheels are generally faster, the type of terrain you’re skating on can also make a difference. On smooth surfaces such as skateparks or smooth pavement, larger wheels will roll faster due to their increased surface area and lower durometer. However, on rougher surfaces like street skating, smaller wheels may be better suited as they can absorb more impact and provide better control.
So, to answer the question – why do large wheels roll faster physics skateboard? It’s a combination of factors such as increased friction, rotational inertia, wheel size, and durometer. Larger wheels have more surface area in contact with the ground which leads to more friction and therefore a faster ride. They also have more rotational inertia which helps to maintain their speed. However, smaller wheels are more responsive and better suited for certain terrains.
Q: Is it necessary to have large wheels for a fast ride on a skateboard?
A: No, smaller wheels can also provide a fast ride depending on factors such as terrain and durometer.
Q: Are larger wheels better for downhill skating?
A: Yes, due to their increased surface area and ability to maintain speed, larger wheels are preferred for downhill skating.
Q: Can I mix wheel sizes on my skateboard?
A: It is not recommended to mix wheel sizes as it can affect the stability and performance of your skateboard.
Q: Which is more important for speed – wheel size or durometer?
A: Both factors play a role in speed, but wheel size has a bigger impact due to increased surface area and rotational inertia.
Q: Are there any downsides to using large wheels on a skateboard?
A: While they can provide a faster ride, larger wheels can also be less responsive and more difficult for tricks and maneuvers compared to smaller wheels.